Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Long Time

It’s been a long time. I guess I was lazy or bored or both. Probably I just forgot how much time has really passed since my last posting. At least, I’d like to blame my absence on the fleeting passage of time.

But a few weeks ago, I dusted off a few manuscripts in my desk and decided to publish them myself—print-on-demand-wise. I guess I finally realized the power of ‘why not?’

There are so many obstacles in one's way, so many powerful excuses, so much procrastination in life; yet like some bully you finally tell off, the obstacles, the excuses, the mañanas vanish with two simple words: ‘why not?’ Why not publish those manuscripts? Why not tell people about them in this blog? Why not redo your website so that these new books have a prominent place? 

And so, here is an introduction to four new books from my Mānoa Press. You can find them on Amazon. Just paste the title in the search box. The books are $12.50 or less. [Click on images to enlarge.]

The first book I want to tell you about is Miss Margaret, Cat Magnet [$9.75]. The germ of this book began many, many years ago, when my wife bought a patchwork doll made by Sonja Hagemann of Hale‘iwa. The creator had stuck a cloth cat to the doll. I was fascinated and wondered what it would be like if a girl had the power to attract cats just as a magnet attracts iron. It took several years to come up with a story. When I did, I had to bring Margaret to life in a drawing, but I liked nothing I did—until I met Pamela Telford of Maui. Her flowing, red hair stopped me dead in my tracks, and I went home to find a red-haired Margaret smiling from my drawing board.

Book two is very, very different from the whimsical nature of Miss Margaret. In Bright Star [$12.50], we meet an African king named Njoya [en-joy-ah], who lived a hundred years ago in the grasslands of the modern African nation of Cameroon. 

This book, too, began many years ago, as I was working on my book about Sequoyah, the Cherokee man who invented writing for his people. That book was published by Houghton Mifflin and was honored with many awards. As for Bright Star, I could find no publisher for it. Africa is too far away, too complicated for most publishers. It is hard for them to understand what happened there a hundred years ago. As for readers of such a story about an African king, where would they come from? I would like to think that such readers exist. After all, Njoya was unlike 99.9% of all the people who have ever lived. He was a Peter the Great, a George Washington of sorts, a man who understood his people and saw their potential. He stood up to colonialism in a way that made him more powerful than any rebellious leader, any guerrilla fighter or terrorist with a mass of weapons. He had but one weapon, his dignity and his belief in his people.

The third and the fourth books are a re-publication of my second children’s book about Polynesian navigation, The Island-below-the-Star, which came out in 1998. The remake is called: Island below the Star [$12.00], for which there is both an English and Hawaiian version. The new edition contains a star map as well as a series of maps so that the reader can follow the progress of the five brothers as they make their way up from the Marquesas Islands in the south to Hawai‘i. To find out more, see my website: 

In the coming months, I hope to dust off many more of my manuscripts and get them out there. After all, why not?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

United Nations Day II

After I had posted my poem a few days ago, I realized I should translate it. So, I put it into French, Hawaiian, and Persian. This last was the most difficult. Fortunately, I had the help of a Persian professor, Ladan Hamedani, at the University of Hawai‘i to smooth out my "wrinkly" Persian. 

Perhaps in the coming weeks, I will add more translations. Perhaps I will post the poem on Facebook and ask for translations. I wonder if I will get any volunteers, any responses. The blogosphere is so saturated these days. 

We'll see. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 20, 2014

United Nations Day

This coming Friday, October 24, is United Nations Day. I remember celebrating that when I was a kid in school. I don’t know if anyone celebrates it anymore, but I thought I would by posting this about a poem I wrote.

Last week, my poem was read at the United Nations Plaza during the award ceremony held by the Jane Addams Peace Association. I was delighted. (Each year the Jane Addams Peace Association recognizes those children’s books which promote world peace.)

I have two people to thank for getting me to write this poem in the first place. 

The first is a woman who contacted me last May about judging the best short stories submitted by Muslim children living in the U.K. and about writing a poem for their magazine Young Muslim Writers Awards, which is funded by a charity called Muslim Hands. 

I was a bit hesitant. What kind of organization was Muslim Hands? What kind of magazine did they put out? And most important, did I feel up to writing a poem for children, thinking that it needed to be in rhyme? 

So I checked out the organization and the magazine: religious in nature and a promoter of such social values as harmony, truthfulness, and responsibility. That sounded ok to me. As for writing the poem, I decided, after talking with my writer-friend Sue Cowing, that it didn’t have to be in rhyme. That sounded ok to me, too. Even so, I didn’t have a clue what I was going to write about and without that I knew my muse wouldn’t come calling. 

The second person I’d like to thank is Maya Soetero Ng, the President’s sister, who provided the subject for my poem. In June, I was part of a panel discussion which Maya chaired. The panel was on writing children’s books and relevant topics for such books. One of those topics was the importance of using children’s books to promote peace. After the discussion, I told Maya about the poem I had to write. We both agreed that it should be about peace.

All I had to do now was wait for my muse to show up, which would be last minute, if I knew my muse. (As expected she showed up the day before the deadline.) I wrote the poem and sent it off. About two weeks ago I decided to illustrate the what I had written. Then on a whim I sent it to the Jane Addams Peace Association, from whom I had received two awards. And thus it happened that my poem was read during last week’s ceremony.

Here’s the poem [click to enlarge]:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Black Orchid Code

After such a long silence, I wonder whether I will connect with any of my former readers. Eight months is a long time. 

During that time I have busied myself with pursuits other than blog writing. I wrote a book about the Latin poet Horace, which you can read about here:

I also "reconnected" with a box of oil paints that had once belonged to me as a teenager, my father before that, and his father before that. The result has been a series of seascapes that is fast filling up my house.

And, I found time around Christmas to write a chapter book, which I am self-publishing through CreateSpace and which is available at their online store and on

The book is called The Black Orchid Code. Here is the front cover of the paper back.

And this is the back cover.

About seven or more years ago, I came up with the idea for this story. The idea seemed fun, and I shared it with my mentor Harriett Oberhaus, who immediately loved it.

We spent the afternoon thinking of all kinds of plot points. We even came up with the main characters and the locale: Long Beach, California, where I grew up and where there was a park, an old pine tree, and the streets I knew so well. My notebook was filled with ideas. 

But actually sitting down to turn these ideas into a book didn’t seem fun but hard work. So, the years passed until last Christmas, when I stumbled across a half-written first chapter. As I began to rewrite the chapter, I could see the other chapters in my mind and in no time I had a first draft of the entire book. 

I have always loved languages and this book fits right in with this passion. In fact, I remember a Reader’s Digest article back in the 60s about plant communication and plant feelings. Perhaps I wondered then what it would be like to communicate with a plant, that is, have a real conversation with it. And thus it was in the 1960s, I suppose, that the real germ of The Black Orchid Code began to take root. 

Here is the title page, table of contents as well as the first chapter of the book. You can also order the book on for less than $9.

Happy reading! [Click on each image to enlarge.]

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Conclusion to Scrapbook

It has been a long time since I last posted anything. I have been busy with another project. You can find out more about that at

All I have to offer this time is the conclusion to the long serialized story, which I began in September of last year. Just click on the pages below to enlarge. If you'd like to read the story from the beginning, go to the September 30, 2012 entry located in the Blog Archive to the right.

My next posting will be a new serialized story, one designed for children eleven and up. I've illustrated it as well. It is called Z. Look for it soon.

Meanwhile, the conclusion to THE SCRAPBOOK:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Home Stretch

We're in the homestretch of the serialized book I began last September. Just this posting and the next later this month. Then in June, it is on to another book, this one just as fantastic. It has to do with Bamian, Afghanistan, a boy and a girl, and a mysterious zepplin. It is called Z.

Just click on the images below to enlarge. Here is a synopsis of what has happened so far:

Introduction: When Kenneth Dore’s grandmother dies, he finds on the kitchen table the scrapbook he and his sister had found in the attic several summers before. The scrapbook was intriguing and recounted the life a Rozelle G. Hodges, adventurer extraordinaire. Kenneth decides to reread the scrapbook.

Chapter One: Rozelle recounts her childhood and her and her brother’s fascination with Mandeville. Once she meets an Indian man who seems to corroborate Mandeville’s tale about finding the well of eternal life. Rozelle decides that she must find that well one day.

Chapter Two: Rozelle obtains a degree in anthropology and in 1929 sets out for Egypt to investigate a dog-headed people. There she meets Col. Lamont. The two fall in love, but he must return to England, where they plan to meet in a couple of months. Rozelle decides to take this opportunity to go to India to find the well.

Chapter Three: In India Rozelle goes on a wild-goose chase. Before she can do any real investigative work, the stock market crashes. She must return home.

Chapter Four: Col. Lamont, unable to wait for her, marries another. Dejected, Rozelle decides to go to Paraguay to search out Mandeville’s garsynts, long-necked llama-like animals. She is caught up in a war. She escapes and makes it to Brazil.

Chapter Five: In Brazil, she is almost lost in the Amazonian jungle looking for Mandeville’s cocodrylles. She falls in love with a Col. Lamão, but nothing comes of the affair. She returns to America and involves herself for a short time with actors and actresses in Hollywood.

Chapter Six: Tired of Hollywood, she decides to go to the southern Soviet Union in 1937 to look for griffins. She meets a Russian Col. Vasily Lamontov. The two fall in love, but he is sent to Kamchatka for fraternizing with an American.

Chapter Seven: Rozelle goes north into Siberia in search of Mandeville’s green-skinned people. She meets a Jewish family going east. She helps them enter China.

Chapter Eight: Rozelle goes into China to look for centaurs. She stays with a Col. Lai Man-t’e. In late 1937, she decides to go to India to look for the well again.

Chapter Nine: Rozelle goes to Rajasthan, where she believes the well to be. She meets up, quite by accident, with her college roommate, a German woman named Angela Mannheim, who is also a fervent Nazi.The Nazis want to find the well, too. They break into Rozelle’s hotel room and steal her notebook hoping to find clues to the well’s location.

Chapter Ten: Rozelle leaves Rajasthan and head for the Himalayas, where she finds not only Mandeville’s gold digging ants but a wise boy named Bedil, who teaches her about greed and generosity. Rozelle returns to the US. War breaks out in Europe in 1939. In 1941 Nazi Germany invades Russia. Rozelle tries desperately to get a visa for the Soviet Union to be with Vasily Lamontov, but she is denied access. She decides to cross the Pacific and enter Russia by bribing her way across the border. 

Chapter Eleven: Rozelle does meet two different groups of people described by Mandeville in the Philippines, the chestheads and the umbrella people. When the war intervenes, she escapes with her life aided by the Umbrella people. She lives with them during the war. At war’s end, she is in a hospital with a parasite. She learns of Vasily Lamontov’s death. She is also investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947 because of her involvement with Lamontov. After she is cleared, she decides to go to India to look once again for the well of life.