why I write

I was reviewing the other day why I got into the challenge of writing a novel. I suppose the childhood effort to entertain my siblings with stories and drawings was part of it. Then I was entranced by years in the writing seminars at Hopkins. The encouragement was spotty as I never worked in writing jobs. I worked in business and education. Along came the years after I had returned from the war -Vietnam- and there was this persistent urge to do something about the state of the world. I could not be a politician because I was not a personality type. So I sat back and worked on expressing politics any way I could. I drew cartoons and had them published. I wrote articles about Maryland and had them published. However, even though I had written stories before, I had not thought of them as political stories. Now I did. I took the region of the Chesapeake much like other authors had taken their own homes. From this I looked at world problems like freedom, homelessness, racism, greed and terror. I engaged my characters in combatting the evil that kept these issues form being solved. As my characters and stories got better I received reviews that suggested I was on the right track. So here I am now, a political storyteller, in some sense fulfilled.

Thoughts on the writing of Slave Graves



When I began writing Slave Graves in the early 1990’s  I was looking at a typical plot. From the classic files of plots (I think there are 22 possible in the old Greek plays) the one I liked was the stranger coming to town, finding love and cleaning out the bad guys.  This, as you might notice, is the traditional Western cowboy movie plot of Hollywood


Then, to comply with the tradition of southern writers always being  immersed in southern history, I knew that my region, the Chesapeake, had to play a part in the story with its interesting ambience of place. I had met Michener at a cocktail party in Maryland when he was working on Chesapeake and I suspected he was working on describing the same thing. Whether he accomplished it or not, is the reader’s opinion. As a youngster growing up in Maryland, most of my examples used in conversation with my pals sooner or later brought in a comment about local history, or the kid’s jingle from Dixie, ” “My feet stink but yours are rotten”  We were all historians of sorts, especially about boats. It was not hard therefore for me to visualize my characters and story  with reference to the Revolution and the Civil War. In that same culture women also had a certain  independence and respect sharing with their men the needs of the family and local townsfolk. These people had all carried guns to battle against the combatants of all sides, Tories and Rebels, Union and Southern, of the past. Most ancestors of current families indeed went back to those days. In the cultures of the region among the peoples of different colors, strengths  existed, albeit somewhat different among the cultures, but equally resourceful and strong. Each had their own wonderful story.

In Slave Graves I chose to pit an outsider, archeologist Frank Light, who digs up  a hidden secret protected by some of the local citizens. This group served an innuendo of violence toward Light and his team, a violence which grew to murder. The owner of the land where Light works, Terment, is the proper antagonist, someone of evil but as usual having his own goodness.

In all my work I enjoy the technical research. This book required work on bridge building, coffer dams and pile drivers. If there was ever a phallic symbol for the book, the pile driver served that purpose as it hammered the earth for bridge support construction.  Archeology too served as a scientific interest for my readers. Many visits to archeology digs taught me that the science is overwhelming, with its own language and spirit.


Of course  like all of us in today’s world I enjoy fantasy. In my books you will find ghosts, some friendly, some not. In a later blog I’ll describe the ghosts of Slave Graves.


Happy bird Corporation Nature Newsletter March 2015

Happy Bird Corporation NATURE NEWSLETTER

                           March 2015


(The latest about nature books, Chesapeake and other fiction, Solar Sipper animal drinking products, water resource issues, and wildlife cartoon books)





New Book on providing drinking water to backyard animals


       Our Solar Sipper retailers will enjoy this publication for their book and pamphlet sales. A 3rd edition of Happy Bird Corporation Tips on Watering Wild Birds in Waterers and Birdbaths is available at our EBAY store.  It’s great for wild bird lovers and pet fans who want to improve the watering of their furry and feathered friends.


      A new chapbook Watering Backyard Pets and Wildlife will be published in the spring of 2015 to draw attention to the need for fresh unpolluted water for wildlife. This short book provides ways to inventory your backyard for water and references to learn more about animal needs.


New Fiction, Poetry and Non-fiction


       Contractor Heaven   

Lynette Hartwig’s extensively researched guide to the world of hiring a contractor for your home updates.

     They   Sue Ellen Thompson  “The poems in They tell the story of a mother, her aging father, and her transgender child.”


     Family Secrets  Dr Fran White “Prompted by the powerful theme of South Pacific, Brandy Grey confronts her past of abandonment and lies and determines to close the chapter that has been haunting her entire life, the carefully hidden secret of her heritage.”


     A Week in Beijing   Meg Eden “This book of twenty-one poems charts the narrator’s relationship with the mysterious Beijing, a woman who personifies the city for which she is named.”


        Happy Bird Corporation will show its Chesapeake titles at the famous Gaithersburg Book Festival, Gaithersburg, Maryland .May 16.


     FREE Kindle EBOOK Slave Graves thrilling romantic murder mystery novel!  When Dr. Frank Light, archaeologist, is dragged into the marshes of Maryland, Maggie, his feisty colleague, is sure she’s found something amazing. 




      The Commercial animal Solar Sipper Model 10011 with its 4” larger animal opening has found a home    with backyard poultry and with dog owners. It has the features that count for animals.  Passive solar means that expensive solar cells are not used to convert heat to electricity and to use that electricity to run heaters. Instead it directly radiates the heat from a dark surface to the water that surface covers. It’s simple, inexpensive, and efficient in attracting radiant heat in the same way as solar pipes heating water on a roof. It is competitive to electric powered drinkers and operates in sunlight when animals range outside and like to drink. It has no wires for animals like chickens to peck or chew. Since it only works to about 20 deg. F, it doesn’t allow animals to freeze parts of their bodies as can happen with too hot open water being provided in frigid temperatures. On top of that, like all Solar Sippers, it covers the water to keep out bacteria and it has inner insulation from its three part construction.


     Check out our recent test  videos of these Solar Sipper units 10040, 10008, and the dog  or commercial version Solar Sipper 10011 in operation on YouTube.  These videos show backyard weather down to 20 degrees F.  with some clouds and light wind compromising the sunlight. The Solar Sippers consistently stayed ice free even though an open water dish froze solid.


       Remember, every effort you make to use less electricity keeps us from using fossil fuels to make that electricity, and thus, keeps the climate clean. Go solar!


From our friends in the wild bird and pet industry


      Plow and Hearth is offering a three decker Outdoor Cat House.


      Duncraft promotes a well designed three in one Bird Feeder


      Goldcrest in Mexico MO is excited to report that their 2014 warehouse sale grew to 600 retailers from 46 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Grant Toellner has announced expansion by opening a showroom at America’s Mart. For more, contact grant@goldcrestdistributing.com                                     


Update on World water resource news.        


“The Earth’s freshwater Reserves are Disappearing”  from James Farmiglietti, NASA, in  Business InsiderIn many parts of the world, in particular in the dry, mid-latitudes, far more water is used than is available on an annual, renewable basis. Precipitation, snowmelt, and streamflow are no longer enough to supply the multiple, competing demands for society’s water needs. Because the gap between supply and demand is routinely bridged with non-renewable groundwater, even more so during drought, groundwater supplies in some major aquifers will be depleted in a matter of decades. The myth of limitless water and the free-for-all mentality that has pervaded groundwater use must now come to an end.” Ed. The photographs of the Earth and the charts including those of California are terrifying.




      The National Cartoonists Society  has announced that the incomparable Mort Drucker will be the inaugural honoree of  the “NCS Medal of Honor” at the 69th Annual NCS Reuben Awards taking place in Washington D.C. on May 23rd, 2015. We all know him from his work in MAD magazine.


FREE EBOOK   ATTENTION NATURE RETAILERS:  Get your copy of the free Kindle EBook Nature’s Viewpoint, March 11.   Every nature store, wild bird store and pet store should carry this book in its print version  for YA fans of wildlife and pets. Put it on your book shelf.  Nature’s Viewpoint has placed number one in Kindle Short reads, Humor, and Entertainment.  Also check out Facebook Animal viewpoint cartoons for free use in your pet  or wild bird newsletters




     Happy Bird Solar Sipper Products  are sold by  vendors throughout  the world. Happy Bird Publications including Thomas Hollyday Ebooks are sold at Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, Itunes. Paperbacks are available at  Barnes and Noble, Powells, and selected bookstores such as Mystery Loves Company, Oxford, Maryland, Easton News Center, Easton, Maryland, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Massachusetts.


     Contact Happy Bird Corporation, PO Box 86, Weston, MA 02493,  tomah@solarsippers.com 


     Subscribe to our free newsletter. To aid in adjusting your mailing, please advise your original email listings. Be patient. The maillist computer takes time to adjust listings.