Category Archives: About Ellis

September 2017 Updates, Goals

Hello again. This was quite an eventful month! I’ve been frantically trying to do everything possible to protect my credit in the wake of the Equifax hack, while also begging my senators not to jack up my health insurance and kill millions of Americans … again. And, as you see above, our construction adventures continue. When dealing with 70 year-old streets and 100 year-old plumbing, there are always surprises. For instance, did you know it was possible to shake a water main to death? Our water was shut off a few times as a result, but no big deal. The work is almost done, and it’s gonna be great when it’s finished.

Writing Updates:
Remy had some helpful notes regarding my outline for Book 3. There’s still parts that we’re both iffy on, but we agree pretty well on what should happen at the beginning.

So guess what? I’ve started drafting! :) It’s been slow to start—my inner editor pops up way too frequently—but I think it’ll be less of a problem once I settle into more of a word-churning groove.

Also, when drafting, I invariably put down my first ideas (usually not my best ideas), and then think of better ideas a few days later. It’s a bit of a dilemma: do I go back and rewrite, or keep plowing forward? While you always want to be making forward progress, I think there are times when you can or even should go back. If you have a good idea and the energy/will to implement it, why not?

Thus, slow going. But progress is being made.

Current Goals:
– Learning Italian. I’m a fan of the Fluent Forever approach, and am trying to follow that for the most part, which involves learning pronunciation and tons of vocabulary before looking at grammar. But I’m just not super-motivated to learn random words in this case. I find myself much more motivated to learn things I might need while traveling. Per favore? Grazie. Accettate carte di credito? and so on. Thankfully, there’s plenty that looks familiar from Latin and Spanish!

Learning Latin. I prefer my Latin study way more, to be honest. The dead language, of course! What can I say? I keep coming across  little surprises that keep it interesting. Plus, I can’t help but love that my book’s practice sentences aren’t so much The store is around the corner but rather more like He will pay the price for his lack of honor! It’s metal.

Updating website. I made good progress this month, but still have some testing to do. One big thing I’ve realized is that the home page should have pretty much everything on it that I want people to see. Based on Google Analytics reports of my current site, people do not like clicking hyperlinks or drilling down deep webpage hierarchies anymore.

Plan/schedule trip to Rome in 2018. My hope is to book travel and accommodations next month. Gotta research where we’d like to stay!

Later Goals:
– Ramp up selling/promotion
[[Not sure what else yet! Should start thinking about it.]]

August 2017 Updates, Goals

The eclipse wasn’t terribly dramatic in Pittsburgh. Even with 81% coverage, it just looked like heavy cloud cover (the Sun is kinda bright, who’da thunk it?). Still, the weather was great, and it was really nice how many people came outside to see it, passing around glasses and using telescopes and whatnot.

However, 2024 ought to be even more exciting for us! I might be persuaded to drive to a location with full totality. I just have to get over my utter loathing of traffic and crowds!

I’ve been incorporating ideas from a failed short story idea to use at the end of Book 3. Some time ago, I found out the hard way that a short story in the Sword and Starship universe just isn’t feasible; there’s too much that has to be explained. Even with cutting things to the bone, my attempts have been more novella-length. At that point, it’s time to throw in the towel and write a whole book. (Oh hey, I did! Two of them, even! ::shamelessly plugs Blood’s Force and Harbingers::)

While my outline isn’t 100% rock-solid, I’ve pulled together enough ideas by this point to “pitch” them to Remy. He’s really good at taking ideas and adding twists, suggesting edits, and elevating premises to something really interesting. He’ll have 2 weeks off in September, during which he’ll work with me on those things. It’s very much appreciated!

Current Goals:
– Learning Italian. I’m just starting on Italian pronunciation and simple words! I have a feeling it will color my Latin, but that seems appropriate. Speaking of …

Learning Latin. This is still a lot of fun, especially with all the Latin still in common use that I now completely get (post hoc ergō propter hoc, in vitrō, etc.). There’s just a few frustrating aspects (aside from all the declension lol): first, there are no classical Latin words for modern things. Laptop? Microwave? Coffee? It makes coming up with simple sentences, or writing about your day, harder. Second, you can’t exactly chat with native speakers and study their pronunciation, inflection, and so on. We have some idea of how things were pronounced, but it’s by no means perfect, and there’s plenty of room for disagreement. You’re left to do your own thing, basically. But I wanna do it right! Argh. :)

Updating website. Still slow going, but mostly because I lack the motivation to do it. For one thing, web development can be incredibly frustrating; when Sisyphus finally got his boulder up that hill, the gods put him to work fixing broken CSS. Besides, I get what, maybe 100 visitors a year? LOL I will really try to buckle down and get this off my to-do list.

Plan/schedule trip to Rome in 2018. I checked into recommended immunizations for travel to Italy. I’m mostly in good shape, except I never got vaccinated for Hepatitis A. There’s not much need for it in the US, but abroad can be different. So I got one shot this month, and I’ll need a booster in February. Turns out it’s fully covered by my insurance. Thanks, Obama! :)

Later Goals:
– Ramp up selling/promotion
[[Not sure what else yet! Should start thinking about it.]]

That’s all for now. Let me know how you’re doing, if so inclined! :)

July 2017 Updates, Goals

Hello again! Another month has flown past—and as you might’ve guessed, that 1-month construction project outside my house has stretched into Month 3. They’ve had to cut into stuff that was finished years ago to lay pipe or whatever; that’s what you see depicted above. Unfortunately, they’ve also ripped out all the greenery that the fireflies used to hang out in. They’re supposed to put it back in and then some, so I’m hopeful for that.

Still outlining book 3, working on new characters, character arcs, and what have you. When outlining, there’s so much work to do; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and sit there going, “What now?” I find it’s helpful to give myself at least 1 “assignment” every day. Look that up, figure this out, etc. Then I can at least feel like I’m moving in a positive direction.

Sometime soon, I’d also like to reread Blood’s Force and Harbingers to ensure I don’t leave out important details. I hope to minimize inconsistencies and loose ends between books as much as possible. It can be painful and occasionally mystifying to read my own stuff, though. “Ugh, did I really …?” I guess it’s a good reaction to have. It means I’m improving (or so I hope)!

Current Goals:
Updating website/blog. Slow going, but in progress. I found a Bootstrap template I like for the website, and now it’s a matter of tweaking it. I also found a prospective new blog template, but that changeover will be more difficult because WordPress doesn’t give you any way to fiddle with a template, fix all the bugs, then make it live. Nope, you gotta make the change live before you even know what fires will erupt! I may have to schedule some downtime for the blog when I get serious about updating it.

Learning how to roll Rs. I’m gonna call this one “done,” although I’m still practicing a little every day. My trilling remains inconsistent, but it’s way better than before I began trying! In case it may be useful to anyone, here are some things that helped me:

  • Hold your tongue in the position for saying S, then move it to the back of the alveolar ridge, close to the roof of your mouth. That’ll cut down on slushy, spitty noises when you start blowing air to flap the tongue.
  • Stay well hydrated, which also cuts down on spitty noises.
  • Relax the tongue. Now relax it some more. Lying on your back helps you figure it out.
  • Use the flap in the middle of the words “butter” and “ladder” to get an idea of what your tongue should be doing.
  • If you have a hard time with sustained trilling (like I do), practice with words instead. In Spanish for instance, there’s perro, erre, etc.

All this said, try not to think too hard about what you’re doing. Once you get the trill working, relax and let it happen.

Learning Latin. Still making interesting new discoveries all the time. For instance, in Sword and Starship, there’s a trade guild called Linum Dominorum: Flax (or Linen) of Lords. I came up with that name years before embarking on this Latin adventure, and did my best to get the translation right at the time using whatever resources I could google up. At this point, I’ve learned enough Latin to confirm that I did actually decline the phrase properly back when I had no idea what I was doing! LOL To be really pedantic, there are a couple of long vowels in there—Līnum Dominōrum—but many people don’t bother marking those. They really should, as there’s a difference between liber (book) and līber (free), for instance. However, I’m not going to worry about it going forward in Sword and Starship. In that case, consistency is more important than precision.

Later Goals:
– Learn Italian (at least enough to get around town with)
– Plan/schedule trip to Rome in 2018
– Ramp up selling/promotion

Feel free to let me know how you’re doing. Otherwise, see you next month! :)

June 2017 Updates, Goals

It’s been over 3 years since I left the rat-race behind and became a full-time writer! The time keeps flying past. I’m a much happier person overall, and I’ve never once entertained the idea of going back to the grind.

Income breakdown (just for fun, $$$ is never the goal):
– I’m still making about $300-$400/month writing and editing at The Daily WTF. (Feedspot recently ranked us #29 of their top 100 humor blogs, which is pretty neat!)
– My royalty income has been a bit higher with 2 books out. Books in a series help sell each other. Still, we’re talking maybe a few hundred a year across all venues, with the vast majority of that coming from Amazon. When I’m done with Book 3, I intend to get more aggressive about selling and promotion (although I think Sword and Starship has at least 4 books in it).

– Still outlining Book 3, also getting into some high-level drafting of how I want scenes to play out. What has been abstract up to this point is getting a bit more concrete.
– The Sword and Starship books are now available through Playster! Here’s Blood’s Force, there’s Harbingers. It seems like an interesting platform, so check it out when you have a chance.
– Construction continues along my street. So far it’s taken double as long as we were told it would take. LOL So it goes! I’ve mostly gotten used to the noise since there’s been construction in my vicinity for years now. My next-door neighbor has a toddler who has grown up with this as his normal. She tells us that one of his first words was “dirt.”

Current Goals:
– Keeping up with these monthly blog updates, and maybe some advising/ranting if the mood strikes.
– Possibly updating the look of and this blog, if I conclude it’s worth the trouble. Now that I have some exposure to Bootstrap, I’m tempted to go that route.
– Learning how to roll Rs. With a month of daily practice, I’m closer than I ever have been, but inconsistent. I have an easier time with Rs in the middle of a word (ex. cigarro) than at the front (ex. rápido). Another month of filling my house with annoying noises can only help!
– Learning Latin. I’ve kinda surprised myself with how motivated I am to do this. Unlike drawing, I don’t have to schedule a time and then force myself to actually abide by that commitment. I was expecting to work on Latin once a week, and it became a daily thing all by itself. There’s something to be said for pursuing what you really want, eh? My brain wants this, and it’s actually a lot of fun to translate dirty poems and old graffiti from Pompeii and realize that humanity has not changed for thousands of years.

Later Goals:
– Learn Italian (at least enough to get around town with)
– Plan/schedule trip to Rome in 2018
– Ramp up selling/promotion

Hope to check back in with you again next month! :)

Book 3 Update + Other News

Say hello to Book 3 so far! :)

I’m experimenting with storyboarding for the first time. It’s a little tough because my computer notes change a lot faster than I can keep up with on paper, but I like this exercise because it helps me realize when my ideas don’t have enough “oomph”—too little emotional content, too little conflict. I’ve saved myself several rewrites already. (As a general note, folks: the more you kick your characters in their metaphorical nuts, the better the story will be!)

I’m not sure how much longer outlining will take. I have 5 “sequences” I want to include in Book 3 (only 3 of which are in storyboard form; the rest are in Scrivener for now). Some are no more detailed than “They go to X and do Y.” Those have to get fleshed out in more detail before I proceed with drafting. I also want to develop at least some idea of what Book 4 will contain, so if there’s any groundwork or foreshadowing that must be set up in Book 3, I can do that.

My concentration has not been what it could be of late, because of this going on right outside my front door …

They’re digging up our street to lay new sewer lines for the town homes that will eventually be built next door. This has been going on for about 1.5 months now. The excavators are doing everything they can to minimize the inconvenience to us—we were even given a parking pass for a private lot close to our house—but still, I’ll be glad when they finish and the City repaves the street!

Otherwise, on the personal front, I might have gone just a tad insane: deciding I want to learn classical Latin, then maybe take a trip to Rome next year—which means learning some Italian, too! Guess what both of these languages have? Trilled Rs. And guess who can’t trill Rs with her tongue? Yup. It’s plagued me ever since introductory Spanish in middle school. I can trill Rs in my throat, but that’s not the proper sound needed here. Instead of trying to rely on Youtube how-to videos (normally so useful, but completely maddening and misleading when it comes to trilling Rs), I’ve purchased a video course prepared by a Russian speech pathologist. Tongue exercises are now part of my daily routine. I hope to conquer this stumbling block once and for all!

Don’t Know Any Iranian-Americans? You Do Now!

Handshake Iran US

Salaam (Hi)! I was born and raised in the United States. My mom was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. After earning her Ph.D., she came to the US for post-doctorate work. This is where she met my (American) dad. It’s also where she happened to be when the Islamic Revolution broke out in Iran, so she decided to stay.

Mom converted to Christianity, and I was raised Lutheran; I’m now an atheist. As a family, we celebrate Nowruz, the secular Iranian New Year. I only know a little Farsi, but the sound of it is very soothing to me. Sometimes I just like to listen to random conversation. Like any good Iranian woman, I know how to dance beautifully. If you haven’t been to an Iranian party full of amazing food, music, laughter, and dancing into the wee hours, you haven’t lived.

I’ve never visited Iran. I’ve never met large swaths of my family. It can be rough sometimes, having large parts of your own heritage closed off to you because of political games played by distant, callous people. Plus, people get Iran and Iraq confused all the time. Falling back on Middle Eastern stereotypes, they think Iranians are Arabs (they’re not) who live in tents amid a desert wasteland (they don’t) and hate America (wrong again!).

Pictured: Azadi Square in Tehran

Many Iranians are atheists, like me, in spite of their government. They understand the difference between American people and American politics, and are welcoming and intensely curious of visiting Americans in their midst.

While America is and always will be my homeland, Iran is in my blood. However, I don’t look very Iranian. I’m ashamed to say that, for the time being, this is to my advantage. But in light of recent events, I still feel compelled to “come out” in hopes of striking a note of empathy with someone, anyone, who might not have any idea what the people of Iran are like.

Mostly? They’re sweet, friendly, and want the same opportunities for peace and success that everyone else does.

What’s On The Calendar – Late 2015 to 2016

february-calendarHey all! I wanted to talk about the important stuff on my workdesk and radar for the next few months. Without further ado …

* Working on Harbingers (Sword and Starship Book 2) *
Hey look, it’s my life for the foreseeable future! To make this a standalone, I’ve had to completely change the beginning, so I’ve been drafting more than editing thus far. I’m almost at the point where I get back to editing existing content. I’m hoping I don’t succumb too much to the feeling of “Oh FSM this all sucks I have to tear it up and start over.” :)

* Working on Retiring the Gods short stories *
After the whirlwind of publishing Blood’s Force, I took a month’s break to clear my head. In that time, I worked on 2 more short stories for this collection. They need a little more polish before I’m ready to call them done; I’ll probably release them in another few months. Something to tide everyone over while I’m toiling on the next novel!

By the way, this is a short story collection that’s exclusive to my mailing list. If you want a copy, feel free to sign up! I’ll send you the current version, then the new one whenever it’s updated.

* London trip *
My husband and I are going to London the first week of December! Yaaay! This’ll be our first vacation since escaping the corporate world, and is kind of a celebration of publishing Blood’s Force. It’s our second trip to London, because we loved it so much the first time.

Hilariously, I keep forgetting about it, only to panic a little when I see how much closer it’s getting. I swear, I might actually forget to go to the airport the day of. This is totally opposite from the last trip. Back then, I made plans 6-8 months in advance, and daydreamed and obsessed over the trip practically every day.

I think the difference is that I was still working my corporate job last time we went. Back then, the trip was a welcome and much-needed escape. Now I spend every day doing the work I want to be doing. There’s nothing I’m desperate to get away from.

* Future Goodreads giveaway(s) *
Not 100% sure yet when, but I’ve got December 12-19 penciled in. Stay tuned!

* January blog tour *
I’m also arranging for a 2-week blog tour in January. Every weekday, there’ll be a different post about Blood’s Force at a different blog. It should be a good way to get more word out about the book. More details to follow once they’re solidified!

Take care and have a great Thanksgiving! I’ll be back in December! :)

Ellis’ Writing and Publishing Toolbox

office 2Powered by coffee, Hello Kitty, and Left 4 Dead.

Hey again! I thought I’d give you a behind-the-scenes peek at everything that contributes to my production process, from draft to finished book/story.

A room in my house serves as my dedicated office. Up there you see my desk: MacBook Air, laptop stand, cheap mouse, expensive keyboard that makes neat clicky sounds. And omg COFFEE, two mugs a day. Next to the desk is my laser printer, which comes in handy for printing off drafts and review copies. In the drawers, you’ll find things like staples, envelopes, and oodles of pencils (mostly mechanical) and pens (ballpoint and felt-tip). I also draw with these on occasion.

Most of the magic happens on my computer. Here are the programs I use from start to finish. With the exception of Scrivener, these apps are all free to download and use:

Scrivener – This program has spoiled me to the point that I can’t draft things anywhere else. The way it lets me split up, organize, and notate things is unparalleled. Plus it lets me save snapshots of old drafts, which I fall back on from time to time.

OpenOffice – I use this to take my Scrivener draft and create PDFs for paperback interiors and free ebooks. While Scrivener has its own conversion tools, I trust myself more. This program performs really well, and lets you do just about everything Microsoft Word can do. That’s way more than I can say for Pages, which I find unacceptably slow and hobbled.

MacDown – I’m currently experimenting with Markdown to see how well it streamlines my conversion from draft to HTML, important for making ebook files. MacDown happens to be one of many free apps out there for Markdown editing.

Komodo – If I need to do heavy-duty HTML editing, I do it here. This is also the program I use to maintain my website.

Sigil – Great tool for creating EPUB files, once you get past its learning curve. I make ebook files manually because (a) I have a good understanding of CSS and HTML, and (b) I can ensure they’ll come out exactly the way I want at the smallest file size possible. I don’t like crossing my fingers and hoping a compile or conversion will work out. I also don’t trust the cruft that gets added to files in that process.

Epubcheck – Lets me validate my EPUB files. Was quite a helpful troubleshooting tool in the past when I couldn’t figure out why my conversion from EPUB to MOBI was failing.

KindleGen – Lets me convert my EPUB into a MOBI that Amazon will accept. It also gives you compression options to ensure the file size is as small as possible. This is important because Amazon charges you delivery fees every time someone buys your ebook. These fees are dependent on your ebook file size, and can eat into your royalties if you’re not careful!

GIMP – This is what I use for designing paperback and free ebook covers. I have experience with Photoshop and InDesign, so I don’t have much trouble using GIMP. Plus, there are tons of tutorials and docs online in case you’re ever not sure how to do something.


If anyone has suggestions of things I should be using, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

The Grand Experiment: What I’ve Learned From 1.5 Years Of Writing Full-Time

amesjumpWould you believe I still haven’t tired of this arrangement? The balances in my bank accounts aren’t as high as they once were, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it might. Mental health is way more important. Not once have I ever pined for the corporate world. As long as I have the means to keep freelancing, I will!

What’s New

The past couple of months have brought some of the most extreme highs and lows yet. Our biggest low came in August, when our cats Persephone and Rochester passed away within a week of each other. We knew Sephie was in decline, and we were prepared for that. She died peacefully at home. Rochester’s passing, however, was a total blindside. After Sephie died, he stopped being himself. The vet found a slew of incurable problems, including cancer. Putting him down was arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Both cats are greatly missed.

About a month later, I actually finished Blood’s Force and put it up for sale. I was so hyper-focused on this effort toward the end that I forgot little things like taking my car in for inspection. (Oops!) It was also my first time publishing anything to vendors like Amazon and Nook. The process was nerve-racking at times, especially when Amazon initially rejected my book for having the insidious, horribly misleading keyword “Morning” attached to it (i.e., Amazon rejected me for my last name OMG what do I do?! Thankfully, they approved it the second time I tried publishing it). But now that I know what to expect, I think it’ll be easier from now on.

I was really excited to be done with my book after six years of effort, plus I had no idea how long it would take to put together a paperback, so I “went live” with just the ebook version at first. This wasn’t a horrible approach, but as I found out, putting the paperback together through CreateSpace really wasn’t that bad, even with doing the interior and cover layout myself. It was about two weeks from start to approving the physical proof. In the future, I’ll wait to “go live” when both paperback and ebook are listed on Amazon.

Now comes the transition from pure writing to writing + promotion, and I’m still very much an anxious noob with the latter. I’m trying to educate myself and ease in without worrying about selling a million copies right out of the gate. Money wasn’t my goal anyway. The goal was to finish a book that at least one other person enjoyed.

So far, I seem to sell the most by word of mouth and by placing books in people’s hands myself, one copy at a time. I also gave away copies to people who signed up for my mailing list. Of all the copies that are out in the wild now, I’d say a third were given out. I’m hoping to impress people and get them hooked on the series. :)

What Hasn’t Changed

Scheduling with self-compassion remains a big thing for me. I like having a set time for writing each day, and also having an idea of what I want to accomplish every day and week. But if other things get in the way, I let that happen and adjust accordingly. No big deal. I don’t set hard release dates for books or stories, and I don’t do pre-releases either. Some people can work well with that, but for me, it creates unnecessary pressure and stress.

I’m still learning how to manage my anxiety, mostly through mindfulness meditation. It seems like promotional situations are my largest trigger right now. I’m just not a “Hey, look at me and buy my things!” person. I’ll be delegating as much of that as I can. Where I saved money on Blood’s Force by doing a lot of things myself (ebook and paperback creation, web design/maintenance, mailing list management), I’ll be laying out money so someone else can worry about promotion for me. It’s always good to allocate your funds to best advantage.

Income Breakdown

I’m still editing at The Daily WTF. My income there has increased to about $300-$400 a month.

In another month or so, I’ll also start receiving royalty payments from some of the stores where my book is on sale (I have to exceed a $10 minimum in royalties first, which has only happened at 2 stores thus far). My book is no runaway bestseller, so I don’t expect royalties to add much. Still, I can cover a few bills every month as-is, which isn’t bad!

Just FYI, this income breakdown is here more for illustrative and tracking purposes than to brag or measure myself against. Money is never the goal of this enterprise, but I think it’s helpful to provide an idea of what the finances look like for a full-time writer who’s just slipped her foot into the publishing world.

Again, I’m very grateful to my past corporate self, who socked away most of every paycheck over many years and helped make this possible. My husband also makes this possible with his financial and emotional support. :)

My Uncle’s Painting


Mom was in the midst of a major clear-out of the attic, amassing unwanted items for an upcoming neighborhood yard sale. When she gets it in mind to clean house, nothing is sacred. (Those sentimental heart-strings that spontaneously form around objects I haven’t looked upon in years? I must have gotten those from somewhere else.) Relics of our shared past piled up in her bedroom for the ultimate judgment: stay, or go.

My sister and I had first dibs. Mom walked me through the inventory: a half-strung acoustic guitar, crumpled homework assignments, faded needlepoint, piles of sheet music. I managed to turn all of this down- and then Mom pointed out a framed watercolor of a Boston street.

“Do you want this?” she asked. “Your Uncle Manoo painted it.”

My great uncle Manoocher, to be precise. He was my mom’s uncle, one of my grandmother’s three younger brothers, and had died a few years ago. I only met him once that I can remember, when I was six or seven years old. Considering there’s a large swath of my Persian family I’ve never met, that’s not bad.

During his visit, Uncle Manoo stayed at our house. I remember his bone-crunching hug and kisses- Persians are very affectionate- and the cigarette on his breath, probably the first time in my life I’d been exposed to it that closely. Mom scrambled to find something he could use as an ashtray. As far as I know, he’s the only person she ever allowed to smoke inside her house. Before his visit, I’d been told Uncle Manoo was an architect. For a brief period of time, I had wanted to be an architect too. I drew lots of pictures of houses from the front, using rulers to get the doors, windows, chimneys, and bricks- yes, I drew each individual brick- just right.

Later on, I’d found out Uncle Manoo had also known several languages, written poetry, and produced a few paintings- like the watercolor in my mom’s possession. She was fine with selling it if I didn’t want it, but I couldn’t imagine allowing such an artifact to leave the family. I took the painting home with me, and placed it in my office.

A few weeks later, my mom called excitedly to tell me about a book that had been published in Iran: a book about my great uncle.


As it turns out, Uncle Manoo is considered the father of modern Iranian architecture. He designed several modern buildings, taught at a collegiate level, and translated important architectural books written in other countries into Farsi. He treated his students like they were his own children, so much so that a group of them collaborated to produce a book about his life, work, and mentorship.

The book is only available in Iran. My last surviving great uncle was able to procure two copies, and sent one to my mom. I was able to flip through it the next time I visited her. It’s impressively huge, nearly two feet tall and several inches thick. My Farsi is poor to middling, but I could spot the innumerable mentions of my uncle’s name on the front cover and amid the pages. Given the lack of understanding, I focused more on the pictures: Uncle Manoo’s letters, poems, designs, and paintings, as well as photographs with family members and students.

One of the pictures, in particular, continues to amaze us. It’s a scanned photograph of the very painting I rescued from the neighborhood yard sale.