Greetings! I am Black Shell, of the Chief Clan, of the Hickory Moiety of the Chicaza Nation. I am also akeohoosa, or outcast–a man dead to his relatives. Now, if any of you out there are Chickasaw–as you call yourselves these days–don’t hold that against me. The time I was declared outcast, it wasn’t my fault. Rather it seems that Horned Serpent started meddling with my life many years ago. So now, instead of being a High Minko–which is kind of like a king–I’m just a footloose trader with a pack of dogs and a wealth of copper, shell, medicine plants, buffalo wool, and lesser trinkets that have value when carried to foreign peoples. I shouldn’t be here, but Mike and Kathy are busy doing revisions to PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE, a story about the early Iroquois way up north. Me, I’m a southern trader. I’m not wild about snow. So much so that I make sure that when winter rolls around, I’m down trading among the Pensacola on the Gulf, or even with the Calusa way down south at the tip of the peninsula you now call Florida. By the way, that’s a really rotten name for the place. It was given by Kristianos, whom you call Spaniards. Nasty people, those, as you’ll find out when you pick up a copy of COMING OF THE STORM. See how easily I get distracted? That’s because traders live by means of their glib tongues. Fact is: I escaped! At least for the moment. Mike and Kathy–being preoccupied with the Iroquois–don’t know that I’m loose in the computer. Neither does my wife, Pearl Hand. She’s back at camp taking care of the dogs. We have five of them to carry our trade from Nation to Nation. So, being out on my own, exploring the web site, I found all the email blog comments. Fascinating reading! Yeah, and a lot of junk, too. What’s with the Russians still sending stuff that looks like turkey tracks? Okay, I’ve deleted the junk. Deleted. What a great word. During my day we just threw anything we didn’t like into the firepit and let it burn up. In the background I can hear Kathy arguing with Mike about some witch called Gannajero. Sounds like she’s a real nasty piece of two-legged trouble. Stealing children? Vile. Kathy and Mike are always so busy these days they’ll never get around to dealing with the blog comments. And, well, after all, what good is it to be escaped if you can’t have a little fun? I can’t wait to see how they react when they discover I took care of it on my own. See? That’s what you get when you leave a character untended! And it’s not the first time I escaped into the blog. Many of you wanted to know about the availability of Kindle and ebook editions of various Gear books. As a Chicaza trader, I’m still befuddled by printing, let alone paper books. But here’s what I know given the things I overhear the Gears talking about: Currently there is a mad scramble in the ebook business. Somebody called Amazon wants to get all the ebooks for their special reader. Other folks, like Sony and Barnes & Noble want the same titles for their readers. But what works for one reader doesn’t work for another. The ebook industry is new, working out the bugs, and eventually, when the dust settles over the next couple of years, the Gears’ work will all be available for e-readers. Please be patient. Marlene wanted to know if the Gears had ever done anything with Newfoundland and Vikings. Actually, they have in PEOPLE OF THE MASKS. They also intend to do a novel on what archaeologists call the “Maritime Archaic” or commonly known as the Red Paint people. This is a 4,000 to 7,000 year old blue-water fishing culture. Someday. When they get the time and complete the research. They keep muttering about so little time, so much archaeology. Hey! I had to wait nearly 500 years to have my story told. And Wolf Dreamer? It took him almost 15,000 years! Heather noticed similarities between PEOPLE OF THE RIVER and CHILDREN OF THE DAWNLAND and wanted to know if that was done on purpose. If I ask the Gears, they’ll know I’m loose, so I sneaked into the DAWNLAND file and checked with the characters to find out. According to Twig and Screech Owl the similarities are in fulfillment to a promise to an old and cherished friend. She wanted the symbolic and spiritual teachings in RIVER placed in a format that children and young adults in her class could understand. Howard sent a fascinating note about Champlain and the Oneida in upstate New York. Yep, they’re the same PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE as are being published next summer in July. The actual origins of the word Oneida comes from the “Standing Stone” people. I would have learned more, but Koracoo, Odion, and Gonda are currenty undergoing “revisions.” It’s happened to me and Pearl Hand. We hate going through it, but come out better in the end. I found lots of requests for a photo of Jake, the new sheltie, to be placed on the website. If you think a Chicaza trader like me has trouble with printed books, cameras are something else. I still draw on hide with a piece of charcoal and call it good! I think, however, that they’ll get around to it. Maybe when the revisions for PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE are finished. That is, assuming they can figure out how to get the picture from the camera to the computer to the website. Sometimes they can be as slow as moss in a backswamp. Rocio, in Spain, and Tirso in Holland were both interested in Spanish and Dutch translations. Gotta tell ya, I was pretty worried about Rocio, being Spanish and all. At least until I talked to Dusty and Maureen in the ANASAZI MYSTERIES and found out that Spain today is nothing like the 1500s when Hernando de Soto was alive. Maureen reminded me that people do change over time, and modern Spanish folks are really wonderful. When I started to bring up de Soto, she reminded me that modern Chickasaw don’t hang people in wooden squares these days. I’m sensative to wooden squares; my uncle wanted to hang me in one while I was slowly burned and cut to pieces. It makes being declared akeohoosa look pretty good in comparison. But getting back to Rocio: The Gears’ Spanish publishers didn’t buy the entire PEOPLE series, just the titles listed in the “books” section of the website. The same applies to you, Tirso. All the Dutch editions published by Meulenhoff and De Boekerij are listed. As much as the Gears would like all of their titles translated, different editors and changing markets have their influence. It’s sort of like stingray spines. Sometimes the Cherokee will trade for them, and sometimes they won’t. Pearl Hand just poked her head in and told me that Squirm–one of my pack dogs–had a tangle with a porcupine. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go. Squirm is always trouble. Try keeping a pack on his back from dawn to dusk, and you’ll see what I mean. Oh, and if you think porcupines and dogs are trouble in your day and age? In my time we don’t have scissors and pliers! A’ ho!