My Blog

Meet Your Neighbors

From the July 2019 issue of the Harbour Towne Condo Association (HTCA) Newsletter.

Steve and Marge LeBel

How/Why we moved to Harbor Towne.

On July 4, 2006, we were in Muskegon having dinner with a friend at Docker’s. We remarked how much we loved the beauty and peacefulness of Muskegon. Our friend asked if we ever thought about moving back. Next thing we knew, we were viewing the model condo in Harbor Towne. We took copies of the floor plans back to Flint where we’d lived since getting married in 1970. We both liked the Town House model and decided to contact a realtor. We drove back the following weekend. The decision to leave our friends and family – we have one married daughter and several furry grandkitties – was difficult. We eventually settled on the first condo we’d seen, the one with the great western view of the pond. We signed a contract in August and closed in January of 2007. At that time, we still had an Internet business and a house to sell in a bad housing market. But, it all worked out. We sold the house and the business within a week of each other and drove straight to our new condo, the summer of 2007. We love it here.

About Steve

Steve grew up in Muskegon, graduated from Mona Shores HS, and received degrees in psychology and counseling from both MSU and U-M. He began a career in counseling and eventually spent 17 years as president of a mental health and substance abuse hospital before retiring in 1997. The retirement didn’t take, and he started an Internet company (website design and hosting), running it for 10 years before selling the company and moving back to Muskegon where he became interested in the stock market and spent 6 years writing computer programs to do his trading. Not content with retirement, five years ago, he started writing young adult fantasy novels (like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson); his books have won 16 national and international awards.

About Marge

Marge is a retired math teacher. She taught both Junior High and Adult Education in the Flint Community School system. Retiring in 2000, she was then drafted into Steve’s Internet company as the bookkeeper and still does the books for Steve’s publishing company, Argon Press. Growing up in Dearborn, where there is mostly cement, she loves the wildlife here, especially the waterfowl. She loves to read and paint. Her painting hobby lead to a surprising second career as a commissioned portrait painter specializing people and animals. Marge has won local and international awards for her work.

HTCA Involvement (Steve & Marge)

Steve helps out on Harbour Towne (HTCA) projects from time to time, including playing a principle role in the creation of HTCA’s CCIS (online request system), early work on the HTCA website and hosting, helping launch the HTCA newsletter, as well as several other projects over the years.

Marge is the chairperson for the Welcoming/Social Committee. She feels strongly about welcoming every new owner, introducing them to our community, and giving them the chance to ask questions of current residents. She also enjoys helping plan the Summer and Holiday parties.

More Stuff

Steve and Marge love to travel. In the last two years, they’ve been to Egypt, Italy, Spain, Algeria, Washington DC, and Florida. In the next year, they have trips planned to Japan, Scandinavia, Finland, Estonia, and Russia. They love hearing people’s travel stories.

Naturally, they both have websites: and

We love it here. We enjoy our condo friends, the Big Lake, and the wildlife

Book Talk / The Book Nook & Java Shop

I had fun last night.

I was invited to do a talk about my books at the Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague, Michigan.  If you aren’t familiar with the Book Nook, it’s a great bookstore with lots of books, a coffee station, a bar, comfortable seating, and even a stage for authors, folk singers, and other performers.

I was very pleased to have been invited.  I’ve heard wonderful things about the Book Nook, and it gave me a chance to meet Bryan, the store owner.

Last night I had a chance to talk about my writing and my books.  It was a fun reminder of how I got started on this path of writing.  But you know what really thrilled me?  It was seeing how many people actually stopped by to see me.  I even met people I’d never met before except through email.  That has to be one of the most interesting things about writing: you get to meet people you’d never have met otherwise.  And I love it.

One of my good friends took pictures of me when it was my turn to talk.  (Thanks, Liz & Wes.)  You made me look good!


Book Signing Event – August 7th

3D - The Universe Builders 03 for emailMuskegon Center for the Arts / Red Lotus Gallery will be hosting a Book Signing Event for Steve LeBel and his new book.

The Universe Builders is a humorous fantasy about Bernie, a young god who has just graduated from God School.  Join him as he sets out to build his first universe.  Is he up to the task?  Perhaps.  But what if another god is deliberately trying to sabotage his efforts?

  • When:  Thursday, August 7th, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Where:  356 W. Western Ave, Muskegon, MI   (formerly the Century Club)
  • Who:  Everyone is invited.  Don’t miss it because all your friends will be there.  🙂
  • Food:  Wine, cheese, and other good food will be available.
  • Parking:  Additional parking in the back of the building has elevator access.

Additional copies of the book will be available at discount prices.

Join us in celebrating Steve’s newest book.

  • Bonus:  The gallery will have a number of Marge LeBel’s paintings on display.  So you get a two-for-one.  Come and have some fun.

For more information about the book and the author:

Buy on Amazon:
Fresh with his diploma from God School, a young god tries to build his first universe.
Plagued by a deadly enemy and aided by his friends, he struggles to make a world to be proud of.

That’s a big relief!

For those of you following the saga of my broken leg, I have an update for you.

medical-errors-cartoonIt has been 15 months since I broke my leg.

It happened on the first day of our vacation in Rome.  I have tried not to be critical of the healthcare I received in Italy, but, honestly, there were a few problems.  And, contrary to what some of you have suggested, my biggest problem was NOT a lack of internet access.  However, I won’t bore you with that.

The break was fixed with a rod inserted inside my tibia and held in place with two sets of screws.  Unfortunately, the screws were not positioned properly and for six months, the edges of the broken bone were held too far apart by the rod to heal.

The solution?  Remove one set of screws, so the bone edges could come closer together.  We did that in April 2013.  In the recovery room, I asked my doc if I needed to take any special precautions.  “No.  Use it.  Abuse it.  No problems,” he said.

It didn’t work out that way.

The rod was too long and the gap between my broken bone was still too great to allow the bone edges to come together.  Further, with the screws gone, the bone was no longer held in place.  I could no longer walk without crutches.

second-opinion-cartoonThis produced an interesting problem.  With every step, my weight went into the rod, which was bolted to the upper part of my leg.  Since the bone edges still weren’t touching, the rod ground it’s way down through the inside of my tibia.  In June, when looking at the x-rays, I noticed the rod was about to break through into my ankle joint.

The solution?  I changed doctors.

I spoke with several physicans about what to do when we have a non-union after so much time.  Most of them suggested the entire operation be redone.  This time, they would take out the rod, use a ‘scratcher’ inside my leg bone to make it bleed, and then put in a bigger rod.  I really didn’t want to do that again.

ist2_4605577-cartoon-doctorMy new doctor suggested that instead of redoing everything, we might try removing the last set of screws (the one that holds the rod tight to leg bone above the break.  He said the tibia in that region is softer than the ankle, and the rod will be able to move up toward the knee instead of down into the ankle.  I agreed and in July, we removed the last of the screws.

In October we did more x-rays.  To my relief, the rod was no longer moving downward.  To my disappointment, the bone edges, although now in good proximity to each other, were not showing signs of bone growth.  Admittedly, until July, the bones were never close enough to have done much.  However, in three months, we should have seen something.  To make things worse, I actually have a ‘butterfly fracture’ which involves more separation of the bones and is much harder to heal.

1787890-71808-set-of-different-radiation-signs-over-whiteWe agreed to give it another three months.  During that time, I asked for a ‘bone stimulator’.  This device uses electrical pulses and magnetic fields to wake up your body and get it to start generating bone matter.  (I’m glad I don’t plan on fathering any more children.)  My doc wrote the prescription and my insurance paid for it.

In the last three months, I used it every day.  I have also been walking on Marge’s new treadmill to further stimulate the bone growth.

Today was the big day.  Would the x-rays show that my bones were finally healing?  Or was it time to admit failure and schedule the surgery?

The answer is:  bone growth demonstrated.  No surgery needed.  Keep doing what you’re doing, he said.  Come back in 4 months.  Stay away from doctors in the meanwhile.

Mission AccomplishedOkay, okay.  Don’t give me a hard time for saying, “Mission Accomplished.”  I know it ain’t.  But it feels like I just passed a big hurdle and from now on, it’s much smaller steps.

Big Day.

Big Relief.

For those of you who have put up with me (and still have a few more months of having to do so), I thank you…


Churchill on Writing

Writing Bernie and the Putty has been an amazing experience.  I found a quote that really resonates with me:

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”                                                                   – Winston Churchill

I can’t wait to push Bernie out of the nest.  Sure hope he can fly.

Status of My Book

I’ve used my website for many purposes over the years – at first just a place to hang my resume – but lately it has become a place to post some of my writing.  In the last year, I’ve written humorous stories about my youthful adventures in Rocket Building and more recently, the thrill of launching Sky Lanterns.  As many of you know, in the last few months, I decided to take on an even more ambitious project:  a full-length novel.

The novel is now largely complete.  It’s 110,000 words long (whew!).  More amazing still is that over 30 of my friends have offered to read it and give me feedback, for which I will always be very grateful.  🙂

Right now, I am compiling the feedback from my reviewers and incorporating their suggestions as best I can.  One thing I have learned about the editing process is that it’s never really done.  There will always be things to change and improve.

The Self-Publishing Option

self-publish-cartoonThe natural thing to consider at this point is submitting my book to literary agents or publishers to get it published.  The more I read, the more I question this assumption.  The process of finding a literary agent, who then will try to find a publisher, who will then eventually publish can take a very long time.  It is common for this to take two years or longer.

What is the alternative?  Interestingly, 2/3’s of all the books published in USA are self-published.  This is actually a relatively simple process, and it can be done in a matter of hours.  The real challenge is how do you effectively promote your book?  How do you tell people about your book when there are 700,000 other books (this year alone!) trying to do the same thing?  A very tough question.

So I am taking a ‘time out’ while I research the road ahead.

If I had to guess, I would say I will end up self-publishing.  But more on that later…


Valentine’s Day Operation

Well, on Valentine’s Day, I went back under the knife.

screwsMy surgeon decided to remove two of the three screws that are holding my leg together.  Apparently, they were not holding it quite right, so the edges of the broken tibia were too far apart to heal properly.

Apparently, the operation didn’t go as smoothly as they would have liked because my doctor didn’t have the right attachment for them.  If you look closely, you will see they require an allen wrench to remove, but I guess American surgeons don’t buy their surgery components at Ace Hardware.  It’s a good thing I was unconscious at the time.  I don’t think anyone wants to hear their doctor saying *&%#@#$% in the middle of your operation.

They gave me the two screws as a souvenir (or consolation prize?).

My son-in-law, Ryan, pointed out these are self-tapping screws, typically used on sheet metal.  But apparently, in Italy, they use them on bones too.

I made a mistake posting news of my operation on Facebook.  So, almost any joke you want to make around me on the subject of loose screws is going to have to be a repeat.  I even got into the action by saying:

  • Steve:  They took out 2/3 of them.  That means I only have one screw left in me.  Marge says it better be a really good one.
  • Marge:  I don’t know why he is saving that last screw….not getting any younger here!


I Finished the First Draft of my Book

Most of you know I have been writing a book for the last few months.  I have you folks to thank for it, because you gave me great encouragement with your responses to the posts I have written about the Sky Lanterns, Rocket Building, and other things.

The book came in a 109,214 words, which is about typical for a humorous fantasy book like this one.  The working title is Bernie and the Putty, but I hope some of you will suggest a better title for it.

bernieBasically, it is a fantasy about life on a world with gods and goddesses.  The hero of the story is a young god named Bernie who just graduated from God School.  He has been hired to build universes, and he is very excited about it.  Unfortunately, he didn’t figure on a nasty co-worker who sabotages Bernie’s world every chance he gets, which is part of the fun.  My daughter, Wendy, drew a picture of Bernie for me.  You can see that godly powers aren’t always readily apparent.   😉

I am looking for volunteers to help me with some final edits for my book.  I know not everyone likes the same kind of books, so I put the prologue from the book online so you can see what it is about.  If you like the prologue, you will probably like the book.

If you’re interested in reading my book and giving me some feedback on it (so I can make it better and eventually get it published), please let me know.

I will appreciate it very much!