Archive for November, 2015

Nov 24 2015

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WTB 30 Years

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WTB 30 YearsWith Thanksgiving almost here, I figure now’s a good time to reflect upon the past and give thanks for all the good fortune that has come my way. Having Judy in my life is at the top of the list, certainly, closely followed by family and friends. Having a new business is also on the list, along with good health, a home, and access to the woods. Then there’s my dog Matika of course. But that’s not all. There’s also my literary work.

I’ve been so busy with online bookselling this year that I’ve completely ignored an important milestone: My small press, Wood Thrush Books, is now 30 years old.  I started it in 1985 with the self-publication of a chapbook of poetry, Shadows Dancing. I’ve published over 40 chapbooks and paperbacks since then – mostly self-publications but also anthologies, works by other writers like Walt Franklin, Rob Faivre and Michael Jewell, and the Writers of the 19th Century series to boot. So today I’m giving thanks for the ability to have done that, and for all the readers who have made that possible.

What is a small press without people like you supporting it? Some of you have done so for many years, for decades. What good are all my written words without readers? Some of you have almost as many of my books on your shelves as I do. And for that I am grateful. Your checks have kept WTB going. Your words of encouragement have kept me writing and publishing even though I’ve been close to quitting many times. So I count you, dear readers, among my blessings. Thank you. Thank you very much!



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Nov 16 2015

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Building a Book Business

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home bookstoreFive months ago, I stopped working a regular job and put all my time and energy into building an online bookselling business. My wife Judy and I agreed that I would go gangbusters for four months then we’d reassess the situation. Well, when October rolled around the business looked good so I’ve continued doing it. It’s an unconventional way to make a living, no doubt, but I’m having a great time.

During the past five months I have driven thousands of miles, hunting down all sorts of books at library sales, church sales, and thrift shops. The bookshelves that I built in my office are packed from floor to ceiling. I buy books, list them at Amazon, and ship five/six days a week. It’s a hustle that suits my temperament well.

I didn’t get out and hike as much as I wanted this summer and fall, but I figure there will be plenty of time for that in the years ahead. As for writing and publishing, I’ve done a little of that lately and hope to do more this coming winter. But building the business remains my top priority, even as the library sales taper off.

Now comes phase two. With Judy’s assistance, I am revamping the Wood Thrush Books website to make it more user friendly. Soon I’ll be offering secondhand books on a variety of nature-related subjects for sale there, in addition to the ones I publish. Some of you might remember my dalliance with online bookselling a decade ago. Well, this time I’m doing it right.

Once the new WTB website is fully operational, I’ll send out word to all of you. That will probably happen in January. In the meantime I’ll keep listing books at Amazon and writing blurbs for the nature books to come. It’s keeping me busy, that’s for sure.


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Nov 09 2015

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Hunting Season Tramp

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November woodsAfter reading John Burroughs’ Time and Change yesterday morning, I felt an overwhelming urge to get outdoors and stretch my legs. A blue sky underscored the urge. My dog Matika is always ready to go, of course. So we climbed into the car and drove to the pocket of woods on nearby French Hill.

Since it was the first day of deer season, Matika and I wore blaze orange. Usually I stay out of the woods when hunters are in them with high-powered rifles, but yesterday I simply couldn’t resist the urge to tramp through the woods without the constriction of a trail underfoot. I have days when only a good bushwhack will do.

It’s stick season now. All the leaves are down. They rustled loudly as I plowed through them, scaring off the local deer. Gunfire in the distance. Trees threw long shadows across the forest floor at midday, thanks to a drooping, late autumn sun. I crossed an old, stone wall, and that gave me my bearings while skirting a large beaver pond just out of view. Been here before. Without the distraction of a trail, it’s a lot easier to read the terrain.

There’s something about tramping through a trackless forest that calms me as nothing else can. It’s the absolute freedom of movement, I suppose, combined with a total lack of purpose. I tramp therefore I am. There’s nothing more to it than that.

Yet I couldn’t resist following the old logging trail that swept southward back towards the car, even though it muddied both my boots and Matika’s paws. The deer tracks we found there got our attention. And for a short while I was a hunter without a gun. It’s like that sometimes. I go into the woods with one purpose and end up doing something else. That’s what bushwhacking is all about.


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