Archive for August, 2012

In the cockpit with Col C. J. Tippett

Standing in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, I can really imagine how it was to fly these amazing aircraft. Except The Spruce Goose. That defies imagination.

The Beechcraft Staggerwing and the Republic RC-3 Seabee, and the Fairchild PT-19, and the deHavilland Vampire…
Colonel Cloyce Joseph Tippett would have recognized every plane in there, because he flew almost every kind of plane in there!

All in one place, all in perfect condition, and I could walk right up to them all.

There’s a Douglas DC-3, and a Curtiss JN4, and a Curtiss Robin… and that’s not even the full list.

It was so awesome that I didn’t even notice the Gigantic Enormous Legendary aircraft sitting in the middle of them all.
The Spruce Goose, sitting right there.

I was staring at the helicopters, fighters, and B17 Flying Fortress.

This is the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
It’s under an hour from my home in Portland, Oregon and it’s way way bigger than I ever imagined.

The museum was created by Captain Michael King Smith and his father, Delford M. Smith. Captain Michael King Smith had a powerful passion for aviation and dreamed of founding a museum. As Captain Smith pursued flight all the way to the cockpit of a jet fighter for the US Air Force, he and his father collected the aircraft for the museum. When Captain Smith died in a car accident in 1995, his father completed the vision. This understated fact, described on the Evergreen website, doesn’t capture the story. When I stepped inside the Evergreen Aviation Museum, I immediately realized that this was a labor of love and respect beyond a simple passion for aviation. This museum is bigger, better, and more comprehensive than any I had been in since the Smithsonian in DC.

These are some of the aircraft that my grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett, flew during his lifetime of aviation pioneering – the basis for my book about his adventures. The opportunity to walk among these aircraft is invaluable. To see the size of the cockpits, the reach of the wings, the materials they are built from, and to imagine Tip flying them.

I had heard about the museum but I never imagined it was so amazing. I thought it was going to be hard to find, but the signs on the road were clear, and the full-size, real-life, retired commercial aircraft sitting on top of the waterpark at the museum caught my eye in time for me to make the turn. (There is also a waterpark there, also awesome, and totally overlooked in my aviation-drenched mind.)

I not only highly recommend this museum for anyone living in, or visiting, Portland, Oregon… I think I’m going to go back there this weekend!


What if there are too many self published books in the world?

Will the flock of self published books overwhelm readers or enrich our world? So many books, so little time…!

This is one of the biggest questions at the heart of the emotional furor against self publishing , regarding the publishing changes going on today. Bridget Kinsella frames it perfectly in her article in Stanford University’s alumni magazine, dated November / December 2010. Her question, and the discussion, continues to rage today, almost two years after the article’s publication.

Bridget asks, “If the traditionally high barriers to publication fall, will that produce a world of unimagined richness or one mired in dross?”

She first points out that one of the advantages of the changes is that books are available everywhere, and in a bewildering array of formats. Practically any book is available to anyone with an Internet connection… even out of print books because of the stashes in old bookstores made available.

But the disadvantage comes back to the issue of quality, not just of the books, but also of the reviewers. If any author can produce a book and any blogger can review it, how can a reader find a good one?

Bridget’s article goes on to pursue the issues of the business as a whole, with valuable interviews with key people in the big agencies… but my focus is the question she posed.
Will readers be enriched or mired in dross?

Because I believe this is the key issue behind the “stigma” of self-publishing and the root of the negative emotion behind so many of the traditional versus self publishing arguments. A real fear that the availability of publishing technology and distribution channels will flood readers with so much garbage that the good books will drown.

It’s not a frivolous concern on the part of traditional publishing. There are many, many, badly-written poorly-produced self-published books, and I’m just as mad as anybody else when I spend my money on one. As mad as I get when I spend my money on a bad one produced by a well-known traditional publisher.

But it is, and always has been, buyer beware.

  • I buy books from my favorite authors because of the previous books they’ve written.
  • I buy on the recommendation of friends and family with similar reading tastes.
  • I buy based on reviews that are specific about the story and its pros and cons.
  • I buy based on the back matter, the cover, the genre, and the table of contents.
  • I buy based on reviews, which are written by normal people. And I read every review when I’m getting ready to buy, especially the lower rated ones.

Nowhere in this list of things that drive me to buy a book is whether it is traditionally published or self published.
It simply does not matter to me… those other elements have to be in place before I will buy.

So a self published author has to do all those things same as a traditional publisher does, and has to do them well. And this is what will separate the dross from the riches, when it comes to actually selling books.

But there’s another element to the issue, and that’s outside of what is actually selling. So many self published books don’t sell very many copies. But they still exist, and the ideas contained in them, and the point of view of their authors, is an unbelievable gold mine of human thought and creativity.

In my opinion, it’s the best thing to happen to human thought since the Stone Age. Well written or not, it’s irreplaceable, invaluable, and inestimably precious.

But I still don’t want to buy a bad one, so I’ll stick to the way I buy books, and let the best book win.


Self Publishing Winter View

This is the winter version of my favorite view from our New Mexico property. Because I am entering edits, and that is a cold, gray, vista of gray coldness.

This week, the “Self” in Self Publishing is pissing me off.

Because this week, I am entering the edits to my book about my grandfather’s aviation pioneering history which will not be titled “CJT, A Biography” due to the unanimous thumbs down from my editors.

Not that it was the title. It was a working title. I’m still working on a title.

This week I am crawling through my book, page by page, carefully capturing all the fixes that my editors have provided.
My editors are very very good, and don’t miss a thing.
But I am apparently utterly unable to properly capitalize or numerate or subject/verb match or punctuate.

I imagine that if I had a book deal with a traditional publisher that some intern would do this for me.
I suspect that I’d still be doing it myself… but in the meantime, let me dream.

I had a job doing this kind of work twenty years ago. I quit that job.

I got tired of searching manually for the proper capitalization of the word “embassy” in my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
I wondered how much easier it would be to search for it on the online version.

I’d already dissed the online version in favor of the hardcover version glaring at me on my desk.
So I went online and discovered…that they had a one time 30 day free trial of the online version…

Sign Me Up!

And, and, and …. I typed in my question and got…
The same reference as I get in the hardcover version.

The table of contents.
An invitation to click crawl, rather than page crawl, the chapter on capitalization.
The same note about Chicago’s “down style” as I had sitting on my desk.

Where’s my intern?
Now the all the words in “self publishing” are pissing me off.

I searched further and I did find one benefit of the online Chicago Manual of Style.
The forum.
This is where other terminally frustrated writers and editors have posted their questions and either other people or the Editorial Priesthood of The Manual have answered, and that was really quite helpful because I did pick up a side comment to a tangent to a reference to another question that finally mentioned….

American Embassy (capitalized) or people from the embassy (not capitalized)

So, before I go back to my book and uncapitalize every instance of lieutenant colonel, except for those that should be capitalized… which means that I can’t just do a find and replace… let me summarize my comparison between the hardcover printed copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and the online version:

  1. They both contain the same nit picky, wickedly-confusing, non-obvious, trip wires of English usage rules organized in the same way
  2. Keyword searches really only bring you to suggestions for the right chapter, unless you luck out in the forum
  3. The forum is worth a lot
  4. But clicking through the chapter submenus using the forward button is a lot slower than running your finger down the printed page, because the website page refresh (on my computer) is slow
  5. The hardcover book is a pay once, page crawl forever, situation. Online is a pay yearly, click forever, version

My conclusion is:

Get an intern, give her the hardcopy book, and make HER enter the edits.


Bugs Moran met Cloyce Joseph Tippett

This photo is from Christine Nyholm’s article on

Welcome to my series about the many famous people who met my grandfather, Colonel Cloyce Joseph Tippett, as he pursued his passion for aviation, big game sport fishing, and international diplomacy.


Bugs Moran

George Clarence Moran met my grandfather, Tip, in the winter of 1930, when George was thirty-nine years old and Tip was sixteen. Tip was a short-order cook working the night shift in his step-father’s restaurant in Port Clinton, Ohio. Bugs Moran was a Chicago gangster, ordering up steak and coffee on a freezing night while leading a midnight bootlegging convey away from the shores of Lake Erie.

Bugs Moran’s gang had recently been gunned down by Al Capone in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, but Moran had found twelve more men to help him that night, and Tip fed them all.  In Tip’s memoir, which is included in my book, Tip noted that the men’s appetites were insatiable. He cooked and served twenty steak dinners. And noticed the shoulder-holstered .45 automatics some of the men were wearing.

Tip came through just fine. Turns out Bugs Moran was a good tipper.

Tip went on to become the director of the South American office of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Bugs Moran went on to spread mayhem and eventually die of lung cancer, which seems somewhat ironic considering his line of work.

More cool stories are in my soon-to-be-released book about my grandfather, Colonel Cloyce Joseph Tippett. Contact me if you’d like to be put on the book release list! And check back soon for the next Famous Person Who Met My Grandfather.





There's a reason the rooster is freeMid-summertime in cities with pro-backyard chicken ordinances  is the time when CraigsList, and every third telephone pole, is covered with offers of free roosters…

Because mid-summer is the time everyone finally accepts the fact that the gloriously feathered, proud, loud, non-egg laying, not-a-tiny-chick-anymore, flock member they thought was a hen, is in fact, not a hen.

And because the backyard chicken movement rolling across the United States generally has a uniform caveat no matter what city or state…. that….
Roosters are Not Allowed.

And much as I am a big chicken-fan, I agree with the law.

Because…  there’s a reason the rooster is free.

I have had relations with a large number of roosters.

Well, I should say that I have had relationships with a large number of roosters… but I had to go for the scandalous sizzle.
cuz I don’t get out much.

I have loved roosters. I have cuddled them, encouraged them, cared for them.
And each one, upon coming of age, has stalked me, attacked me, injured me, and caused me to experience real fear.

… and started crowing Really Loudly morning, noon, and night  – including midnight, three a. m., and every twenty minutes after that.

But why, in our omnivorous society, where chicken meat is THE most common dinnertime meat, are there still free roosters on offer?

Because another city ordinance in most states forbids butchering animals for food within city limits, unless you have a ream of permits.
And because the majority of urban chicken farmers see their chooks as pets, and it is in poor taste to eat your friends.
And because butchering is hard work,
But mostly because roosters don’t taste very good.

Personally, I think that’s why Mexico invented mole sauce.

So what are you going to do with that backyard rooster?

I can only tell you what I did, in my book “Just a Couple of Chickens” and point you to my other blog, which will soon be a blook, and is titled
Spoiler alert, it references a recipe for mole sauce.

(And… many of the urban feed stores that carry supplies for backyard chickens will have connections to farmers outside the city who may take roosters… but unless the rooster is a rare breed, it’s better not to ask what they do with them…)






Lots of eggs of self publishing advice

This is how many plugins I have. Is it too many?

You would not believe the trouble I’ve had in getting that question answered.
I think if a writer is going to post with that question in the title, they should answer the question!

So here is the answer…

If you are having to ask “how many plugins is too many plugins?” then you probably have too many plugins.
They can slow down your site. So if your site is loading too slowly
… more than 4 seconds…
then you have too many plugins.

It was who finally quoted numbers… thank you tentblogger!

Plugins should number 10 – 15 in general, and max out at 20 if you are using W3 Total Cache.

That sounds accurate to me because my website started to slow down with less than 20 and the last 5 plugins I installed were intended to try and speed it back up.
And it also means I need to give up some plugins, cuz I am at 29 and already installed W3 Total Cache (and configured it). Wah.

But another important point I came across was… why do I have so many plugins?  Perhaps I am fighting with my theme… or trying to do too much… or under-utilizing the other plugins.

That’s a big 10-4 on all of those points. Back to the dashboard…. Because a slow site is worse than any other website flaw.

I wonder if there is a plugin for figuring out how many plugins I can get away with.
Is there a plugin rehab?
because I think I may have a problem.




The sundog of Self Publishing Advice

This is a SunDog. It’s like a mini rainbow… just like Vanity and Subsidy Press are like mini self publishing. There’s less chance of a pot of gold at the end of a sundog than a rainbow… do you see my analogy? I hope so… cuz it’s a stretch, I know.

What if true self publishing is not for you?  What if the time, learning curve, effort, follow-through, and set up are beyond what you are willing or able or ready to do?

Possibly some of the other kinds of publishing solutions are a good idea.

While there are a few “bad” publishing solutions out there in this new and exciting world of self publishing, not all of the vanity or subsidy presses are wicked. And not all of the self publishing helper services are a waste of money. Different book self publishing projects match different book self publishing solutions.

Vanity press is called “vanity” because the author pays to have the book published. There is no editorial oversight. The author can have a published book in hand with no obstacles other than actually writing it. It could be a book of blank pages, so that’s not actually an obstacle either.

Subsidy press is another kind of “vanity” press, again tied only to the author’s ability to pay. And both those kinds of publishing services are often dissed because of the lack of perceived effort on the author’s part in getting the book to market. In both these publishing solutions, the ISBN number is given to the author by the press, either for free or for a fee. So those companies are the publisher. It isn’t self publishing, but the author doesn’t have to go through the gauntlet of traditional publishing rejection or the mountains of work in do-it-yourself self publishing.

Vanity or subsidy press are an ideal solution for a book that the author wants to make available to either family and friends, or even the general public, but has no concerns for the long term rights ownership, publishing contractual details, or profit margin.

A family memoir, for instance. Or a fundraiser cookbook. Or a collection of a child’s poetry or artwork.

The long-term rights ownership is a concern because of the ISBN number having been assigned by that press, and that affects the publishing contract issues and the author’s ability to have the book printed anywhere else. The book may also be more expensive to print and sell in small quantities, which can make it unfeasible for a true self publishing approach.

For an author with a serious plan to market and support a book, but no time or ability to go the whole journey into self publishing, subsidy press can work well. The cost makes turning a profit on the book more difficult, but at least the book is out there and in reader’s hands.

The key to choosing the right solution for self publishing a book is to match the right publishing solution to the publishing project.

And the right match depends on the author’s ultimate purpose for the book.


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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