Authors Blog

Writing in a Time of Plague

I must admit, when I wished that I had a bit more time to write and research, I didn’t intend that to herald the greatest plague since the post-World War I flu pandemic. But such is life and I have tried to make the most of it way down here in Auckland, New Zealand. I remain employed and officially working 40 hours per week, but I have had more time than usual without commuting, and… Read More »Writing in a Time of Plague

The Lodge house on Rancho Soquel, taken by Tom King.

Organising an Epic

Powell did not divide his seven-volume epic history into chapters but he did have four divisions in the first two volumes, each bookmarking an important epoch in California history, namely the start of the Spanish period, Mexican period, American colonial period, and finally statehood and beyond. But after this last bookmark, he appears to have felt that this aspect of the chronology was at an end and he discontinued it for the remaining five volumes.… Read More »Organising an Epic

Eliminating Redundancy

When I began the task of converting Ronald G. Powell’s great history of Rancho Soquel to print in May, one obstacle that I did not expect was his heavily redundant writing style. Granted, the manuscript in my possession is a first draft and Powell never made a second one, but he had an extraordinarily idiosyncratic way of writing that, while predictable, has taken far more time to correct than I had originally anticipated. More than… Read More »Eliminating Redundancy

Courier Font is Not Your Friend

Most people know what a typewriter is and a good majority of readers will have used one before. I mean, the personal computer in its modern iteration really only became affordable in the mid-1980s. But what everyone seems to forget is how awful the default font was. You see, newspapers generally use some variant of Times—a font literally designed for newspapers (the New York Times, anyone?). But the typewriter, after much give-and-take over a century,… Read More »Courier Font is Not Your Friend

Unexpected Discoveries

Research is by definition a work in progress. Once research is done, something can be published or something else can begin. But sometimes things get in the way and must be dealt with first, before continuing research. As I approached the end of writing the first draft of Section 3 of Railroads of the Santa Cruz Coast, which focuses on the Aptos-area lumber railroads, local historian and former UCSC archives librarian Stanley Stevens inadvertently revealed… Read More »Unexpected Discoveries