Tag Archives: ck

Castle Knob, my publishing company

2017-02-02: Gant’s Woman

Besides Harry Gant’s manuscript for I Saw Them Ride Away, he left a rougher set of pages on the subject of women. I haven’t yet read the whole thing, but the bits I have read seem promising. Someone (Susan volunteered) needs to transcribe the text. Then Castle Knob’s crack team of editors needs to assess the viability of the project and create a plan for developing a publishable work.

The manuscript is in one of the large plastic file boxes that also contain photos and other material of Gant’s.

2016-10-03: DreamHost

When I found that I could purchase the blackstone.name domain, I had to find a hosting service to actually run the servers. After looking at several companies, I settled on DreamHost (DH). Their plans seemed inexpensive, and they seemed pretty responsive to issues that came up in their systems. Of course, there were a lot of complaints (on the internet! imagine!) about their reliability, but the statistics didn’t seem too bad. I picked the cheapest plan, and have been pretty well satisfied since May 2007.

At this time, I have the following domains registered:

  • blackstone.name
  • castleknob.com
  • castleknob.org

For a couple of years I also registered castleknob.net, but decided it wasn’t necessary.

Within the domains, the following answer to http:

  • camino.blackstone.name – custom-coded to show Susan’s status updates and pictures from her walk on the Camino Frances to Santiago in 2007; I used a photo album organizer called Gallery (http://gallery.sourceforge.net) to show her pictures.
  • chris.blackstone.name – this is a WordPress blog set up by and for Chris to post descriptions and pictures from her trip to Southeast Asia.
  • mike.blackstone.name – a WordPress “blog”; you’re reading it!
  • castleknob.com – a custom-coded site to show the publicly available works published by Castle Knob. This will eventually be replaced by a more robust WordPress site.

In addition to the web services, DH provides email. The following addresses are active; several others are forward-only to one of these:

  • mike1@blackstone.name (also anything that has “mike” in it)
  • susan@blackstone.name
  • chris@blackstone.name (forwards to her gmail account)
  • mike1@castleknob.com

Other addresses are set for Mom and Dina, and someone named Steven Blackstone. When I set up blackstone.name, I offered email service to anyone named Blackstone; Steven is the only non-relative who took the offer. However, when I had a problem with email, I reset several passwords; shortly after, I heard from Steven that he was relying on the service. I restored his access, and he also requested addresses for other members of his family: Thijs, Hugo and Daphne. They seem to be in the Netherlands.

The administration of these services requires very little effort. The most predictable is annual renewal of the domains. Occasionally there have been glitches with email, which have been handled promptly by DH customer service. Administration is handled through DH’s web-based control panel at dreamhost.com (passwords available on request).


2016-02-19: Places To Go In The West

Once we move to Seattle, we probably won’t have much reason to come east again. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to make a list of places to see and things to do between here and Seattle.

  1. Des Moines, Iowa – If I discover any genealogically interesting facts in Iowa (Harry Gant was born there in 1881), stop to see records, etc.
  2. Hastings, Nebraska – John E Gant was a business man and civic leader in Hastings around 1890. Maybe there is something interesting there. Also, his brother (Harry Gant’s uncle) had a homestead (quarter-section?) near there.
  3. Denver, Colorado – The newspaper archives there aren’t available online. There might be something interesting about the Gant family in that area.
  4. Fort Collins, Colorado – The Gants lived there, in town and on a nearby ranch, for many years. There might be something interesting to see or learn from local records. I would let Ken Armstrong know of my visit there, and maybe he would like to come to his grandfather’s old stomping grounds at the same time.
  5. Cheyenne, Wyoming – Gant spent considerable time in Wyoming, especially in connection with Cheyenne Days. There might be something interesting to see there. Also, that area is the setting for Neal’s Story. I’d like to get a basic idea of the lay of the land, the Oregon Trail, etc.
  6. Maple Creek, Saskatchewan – Ken Armstrong’s home. It might be nice to meet him face to face, if we can’t meet in Colorado or Wyoming.
  7. Los Angeles – This could probably wait until after we move, but I would like to examine LA newspaper archives for references to Gant.
  8. Mariposa, California – It would be nice to see Mike Wenrich again.

2015-12-04: Wish You Were Here

While Chris and Grant were in Kuala Lumpur, Chris kept a blog at chris.blackstone.name, with the title Wish you were here, and the subtitle Chris and Grant’s adventures in Southeast Asia. It was very well written, and had a very nice selection of photos.

A while after they returned, Susan and I decided to try collecting the blog posts into a book, to surprise her.


She was blown away, and agreed to continue catching up on posts for which she had notes, but hadn’t yet written them out in detail. We’re still waiting for some finishing touches to wrap up this project. We also need to revise the cover collage.


  • 2015-12-04: 90% complete, waiting on Chris.
  • 2015-12-09: Added posts from March, for their trip (with Ren) to Japan.



2015-01-23: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here (2013 proof)

by Chris Blackstone

This book has not been published; a proof was developed in 2013. The book is a compilation of the wonderful blog posts that Chris wrote while she lived in Kuala Lumpur. I put them into book form as a surprise present after she returned to this country.

She has said that she would like to complete the blog; there are a few episodes of her stay that haven’t yet been posted. However, she is currently very busy with her daughter, and there is no schedule for finishing the blog or the book.


2015-01-23: Generation Zero: My Best Job Ever

Generation Zero: My Best Job Ever (2013)

by Mike Blackstone

This isn’t actually a book, and it isn’t for sale. I had long wanted to document the most fun project of my so-called career. To fulfill my vision, I had to develop an animated three-dimensional model. There is no way to do justice to such a model on paper, so I put the words into a website (http://www.castleknob.com/generation-zero.html) and made a movie of the animation (http://vimeo.com/78473421).

This is an episode of my life, so gets its own post in this backlog.

2015-01-23: Ren’s First Words

Ren’s First Words (2014)

by Ren Brown (2012-), Grant Brown, and Chris Blackstone

Chris had the idea for this book around Thanksgiving of 2014, while being amazed at the number of words Ren was beginning to say. She asked if it would be possible to prepare a book by Christmas, with the words, sample sentences, and pictures. Somewhat amazingly, we were able to complete the book and have a proof copy ready for Ren’s birthday on December 15.

At the age of two, Ren is Castle Knob’s youngest author.


2015-01-23: A Long Look at Jug Bay

A Long Look at Jug Bay (2012)

by Chris Swarth (19?-)

Chris Swarth retired as director of the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in 2012, having served since 1989. Over those 23 years, he contributed many articles to the Sanctuary’s newsletter. While planning his retirement celebration, Susan suggested that we collect all of his articles and combine them into a book, as a surprise to him and his family.

The production process was more labor-intensive than expected, but the finished book was well received. Chris was completely surprised and moved. The book is available for sale, and the question of royalties was resolved by his donating them to the Friends of Jug Bay. Sales have been modest, but not negligible, both through Amazon.com and through the Sanctuary gift shop.



2015-01-23: Code of the West

Code of the West (2011)

by J. Verl Silvester (19?-)

In 2009, I went to Los Angeles to meet the Chuck Wagon Trailers (CWT), the remnant of the organization founded by Harry Gant. Among the ten members was “J. D.”, who had been the CWT President at one time.  When I went the second time, in 2010, J.D. told me about his book that he wanted to publish. It took several rounds of editing and proof-reading, as well as revisions to the cover design, but we published Code of the West in 2011. By that time, he wished to be known as J. Verl Silvester, or just “J”.

The book is a mix of polemic, script, and memoir, and he wanted to use it when he spoke to groups about the Old West, sometimes portraying Wild Bill Hitchcock. At these occasions, he usually got a meal but no speaking fee, and he hoped to sell a few books to make it worth his while. As of this writing, he is Castle Knob’s best-selling author.

His formulation of the Code of the West is interesting, in the form of ten complementary pairs of rights and responsibilities. I expect to use parts of it in Neal’s Story.


2015-01-23: The Making of “I Saw Them Ride Away”

The Making of “I Saw Them Ride Away” (2010)

by Mike Blackstone

I wrote this book to document some of the information I found while preparing I Saw Them Ride Away for publication. The search for additional material about Harry Gant has continued, and a second edition is in my roadmap.

The two most surprising aspects of the research were the discovery of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company (and the George P. Johnson collection), and the connection to people at Chuck Wagon Trailers and the other Gant family members. Since then, a member of Dolly’s side of the family found the book, purchased a half-dozen copies, and contacted me. I fully expect additional background information to come from this unexpected connection, and to appear in the second edition.


2015-01-19: I Saw Them Ride Away

I Saw Them Ride Away (2009)

by Harry Arthur Gant (1881-1967)

Harry Gant was my Great-Grandfather, and a real character. I was at his house every year or so through the 1950s and 1960s, with his extended family to various extents. My book The Making of “I Saw The Ride Away” tells how his memoir came to be published.

The memoir is in two parts. The first part tells of his first career as a cowboy in Colorado and Wyoming from the 1890s to 1912. The second part tells how he got into the movie business. On my first reading, I greatly enjoyed the cowboy parts, but got bogged down in the silent movie parts. Upon re-reading to prepare for publication, I was amazed that I didn’t find the whole thing fascinating on the first reading. (Of course, that says more about the earlier me than about his book.)

His personality is plain on every page. He was a cowboy his whole life, and proud of it. He survived tough times by his self-reliance, and helped create an organization for other old cowboys to support each other. That organization still survives (barely) after 84 years: The Chuck Wagon Trailers. He makes no claims to fame, or for the glory of the old ways or the code of the west. He would probably think little of such stuff, as the creation of tenderfoot Hollywood writers.

This was the second book published by Castle Knob, and was a labor of love. As we worked on it, we had no idea of the connections that would arise to other family members and other history. See my other book for the story of the untold chapter.



2015-01-19: Marie and Claude

Marie and Claude (2009)

by Lewis Bailhof (?)

According to the publisher’s notes, Lewis Bailhof is an unknown and unknowable person, who just happened to serve as a conduit in the passing down of a story from the late Middle Ages to the present.

The story is a plain one, involving a few people over a few decades. The apparent reason for the preservation of the story over the centuries is that the personality of Claude inspired a few people to preserve it. Claude is an example (a rare example?) of a ‘good man’, who makes those who know him feel better. This seems like as good a reason to preserve a story as any, to me.

This was the first book published by Castle Knob, and I wrote the publisher’s notes. If anyone knows the truth about Lewis Bailhof, it would me.


2007-05-03: Castle Knob

I registered the domain castleknob.com at the same time I registered blackstone.name (did you notice the anagram?), and purchased hosting from DreamHost. I’ve used it to host the results of my publishing enterprise. The titles and their publication dates are:

2009-04-29: Marie and Claude, by “Lewis Bailhof”
2009-09-22: I Saw Them Ride Away, by Harry Arthur Gant
2010-09-13: The Making of ‘I Saw Them Ride Away’, by Mike Blackstone
2012-01-07: Code of the West, by J. Verl Silvester
2012-11-21: A Long Look At Jug Bay, by Chris Swarth

Some projects have been non-commercial.


2014-?: Door Guide, by Mike Blackstone
2013-10-10: Generation Zero, by Mike Blackstone

Some projects under active development:

Some projects under less-active development:


Carved Heads, by C. E. Gant


2013-10-10: Generation Zero

Perhaps the most interesting work experience I’ve had was during my first real job, at JPL: the programming of the first robot proof-of-concept robot planetary rover.

In 2013, I decided to use 3D animation technology to create a reconstruction of the demo that resulted from that work, as well as a document explaining how the work was done. I called the work Generation Zero: My Best Job Ever, since it came before the first real generation of robot projects at JPL. I used Blender to construct and animate the robot and its environment, and iMovie on the Mac to edit the segments into the final movie.

Though published by Castle Knob, this title was not made to be sold. The story is freely available from the Castle Knob site, and the video is freely available on Vimeo.

2012-11-21: A Long Look At Jug Bay

Castle Knob created a tribute volume for Chris Swarth on the occasion of his retirement as Director of the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary (JBWS). This consists of reprints of all the articles he had contributed to the JBWS newsletter over his 23-year tenure as Director. The editing was done by Susan and me. The cover photo was provided by Lindsay Hollister.

At Chris’s retirement party, he was presented the book as a surprise (it was apparently a total surprise to him). We also gave copies to his wife and two children. The Friends of Jug Bay (FOJB) sells copies at the visitor center, and other friends and family of Chris have purchased several copies through Amazon.com. All profits from this book are donated to the FOJB.

2012-01-07: Code of the West

As a result of cross-checking Harry Gant’s statements in his memoir, I discovered the Chuck Wagon Trailers (CWT), and attended their meeting in 2009. While there, I met their past president, J. Verl (J. D.) Silvester. The following year, I attended again, and he told me that he had a manuscript he was interested in publishing, primarily to sell at speaking engagements. The title was Code of the West.

In appreciation for his part in keeping the CWT alive, I edited the manuscript and prepared it for publication without charge (except for the cost of printing and shipping the proof copies). I also developed the cover, based on an image he provided.

Castle Knob published the book, with royalties paid directly to Silvester. As of 2014, it is our best-seller.

2010-09-13: The Making of ‘I Saw Them Ride Away’

I had so much fun preparing I Saw The Ride Away for publication, cross-checking as much as I could and finding way more that I could have expected, that I documented it in a little book I called The Making of ‘I Saw Them Ride Away’, published on September 13, 2010, a year after I Saw The Ride Away.

I have continued to gather new material related to Harry Gant’s life, and hope to deliver a second edition with this additional material, or at least to make it available through the Castle Knob website (castleknob.com).

2009-09-22: I Saw Them Ride Away

After recovering from the exhilaration of publishing Marie and Claude, it occurred to me that, with a publishing organization and process in hand, I was in a position to fulfill a long-time dream of my family: publication of the memoir of my great-grandfather, Harry Arthur Gant. He had written it in the late 1950’s, but was unwilling to allow an editor to alter his somewhat rough style. He seems to have had some contact with at least one publisher, but it didn’t go anywhere.

A pencil manuscript and a typed carbon-copy remained in possession of the family after his death in 1967.

Intending to share it with other members of the Gant family, my mother copied the typescript into her computer, and printed ten copies. She spiral-bound the copies, including several pictures that had been in Harry Gant’s possession, and sent them to his descendants, including me.

Some time later, her computer failed, and the file containing the book was lost. When I decided to pursue publication, I scanned the pages of my copy, used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to reconstruct the text, and corrected the OCR errors. At that point, I enlisted the editing help of my relatives and fairly rapidly had a publishable version. I designed a simple cover incorporating two pictures of Gant, and used his preferred title. I Saw Them Ride Away was published on September 22, 2009, fifty years after he wrote it and five months after Marie and Claude.

The pencil manuscript was lost in a wildfire that consumed the house of my Aunt Peggy (among many others). The carbon-paper typescript is in my possession.

2009-04-29: Marie and Claude

The first title from my publishing company, Castle Knob Publishing, was Marie and Claude, by Lewis Bailhof.

The development of the manuscript began in mid-1990. During our trip to France, the Unisys office that had supported my work at Goddard Space Flight Center closed, and I was transferred to an office in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. While there, I had the idea for the story that makes up the first chapter, and wrote the initial draft of that chapter.

The story lay at the back of my mind for several years, but by 2002 had been expanded into the basic structure as it was published. However, there was another six years of sporadic work to get it into condition for publishing.

By 2007, I had learned of the possibility of self-publishing through print-on-demand services, and of the connection of the CreateSpace service with Amazon, which allows a book to be listed as “in stock” at Amazon. Some of the best information came from April L. Hamilton.

In late 2008, I created a proof copy with a placeholder cover design, and showed it to Susan and Chris. From then on, they helped with the final rounds of editing, culminating in publication on April 29, 2009.