Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A New Dawn in Deer Isle by Tom Winton #AuthorLove

Tom Winton has a unique and interesting writing style which I enjoy. 
Here is his latest book. Enjoy!

A New Dawn in Deer Isle 
by Tom Winton

Description: 
George McLast is not a happy man. He's been mourning his wife's death for three years, his financial situation is worse than ever, he hates where he lives, and lately he's been getting some very unnerving feelings in his chest. But George isn't quite ready to throw in the towel yet. He still has one burning desire. Despite all his troubles and his son's vehement disapproval,he loads a mattress in the back of his old van and takes a trip--the cross-country trip he and his beloved Lorna had only dreamed of taking when she was still alive.

When George first hits the road his expectations are low, because he has not been happy with the changes he believes America and its people have undergone over the years. But that soon changes. Not long after leaving his Florida home he meets a succession of people who cause him to reevaluate his negative beliefs. He also finds himself agreeing to take a highly unlikely traveling companion along with him on his journey. And that works out well, too. But then something unexpected happens. Something George definitely is not prepared for.

On his first night in Deer Isle, Maine, while eating at a diner, he's deeply attracted to the free-spirited owner of the establishment. But George is getting up in his years, and the last thing he's looking for is romantic relationship. On top of that, he's still in mourning. Nevertheless, drop-dead-gorgeous Sarah Poulin thinks he is a very special man, and she's not a woman who gives up easily.

Blurbs:
Every now and then we read a book that deeply affects the way we perceive our lives - A NEW DAWN IN DEER ISLE is one of those books. 

“The main character reminds me of another I came to treasure...Atticus Finch.” 
“If you only read one book this year make it this one.”
“When it comes to writing about finding the bright side of things when life seems to fall apart, Tom Winton has few equals.”
“Truly inspired by the lure of the winding road to self-discovery, like so many of America’s greatest writers, Tom Winton follows a proud tradition…”
“This is without doubt one of the best books I have read in a very long time."
"This is a vintage Tom Winton tale, a book that returns in memory."



Bio: 
Tom Winton has done everything from working on a railroad gang in the Colorado Rockies to driving a taxicab in some of New York’s most dangerous neighborhoods. He has also been a mailman, a salesman, an entrepreneur and more. Since having his first book published in 2011 he’s written seven more, and they’ve all been bestsellers.  

Said to be a man who writes with his pen dipped in his soul, Tom has been listed as one of Amazon's  Top 100 "Most Popular Authors" in both Literary Fiction and in Mystery, Thriller and Suspense. He has also been named by Wattpad (the world’s largest online reading platform) as one of their most followed authors.

Although Tom Winton was born and raised in New York he lived in Florida for many years. Now he resides in the Great Smoky Mountains with his wife Blanche and their ill-tempered but lovable Jack Russell Terrier, Ginger.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Legendary Beasts: Hodag and Squonk

The Hodag
If you search the internet for information on a ferocious beast known as a hodag, you'll find all sorts of information that links him to the town of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. However, Rhinelander does not own this ugly, surly, elusive fellow! When I was growing up in Elk County, Pennsylvania, all the boys who spent a week or two at a nearby Boy Scout camp, called Camp Mountain Run, had terrible tales to tell of the hodag that lurked in the woods there. Of course, none of the boys ever actually saw him. They heard his screeching, roaring, and the slapping of his tail. And they heard stories.


A logger brutally murdered by a hodag
According to the legends, a hodag is the size of a rhinoceros. It has a face like a frog but with long fangs. It also has tremendous claws, and a long tail with spikes at the end of it. Hodags live very far back in the forest, but the ground trembles when they approach and they apparently consider young Boy Scout flesh to be quite tasty.

One of the stories in my collection The Bucktail Cap in the Trunk is called Father Nick and the Hodag. In the story Father Nick talks two parish boys into helping put a fright into a bunch girls camping out. It does not go as anticipated and both Father Nick and the boys wind up nearly pummeled to death when girls, who were making mountain pies over a camp fire, beat the poor hodag with hot pie irons. A punishment likely worse than getting attacked by an actual hodag.

It is sort of interesting, given the native land of many of the people of Elk County, that the hodag should also surface in a town called Rhinelander. Many of the settlers to our county came from the Rhine Valley in Germany. I have not been able to find a source for such a beast in German legends but it is highly likely one existed. Hodags are mentioned in several Paul Bunyan stories.

The Squonk
Another beast that appears to be native to Pennsylvania is the squonk. In 1969 the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote a book called The Book of Imaginary Beings. In it he mentions the squonk which is alleged to dwell in the dark, dense hemlock forests of north central Pennsylvania. According to Borges's story, the squonk is a very ugly creature with loose fitting skin and covered with warts and blemishes. The poor little squonk is very, very ashamed of his ugliness and spends all his time hiding and crying.

No squonk has ever been captured and for a very interesting reason. The squonk has the mysterious ability, when cornered, to dissolve into a puddle of tears. A certain J.P. Wentling claimed to have captured one and, as he carried the beast home in a burlap sack, the sack got lighter and lighter. When he looked inside there was nothing but a puddle of tears sloshing around.

No one seems to know the origin of the squonk but they are persistent. In the song Any Major Dude Will Tell You by Steely Dan, the lyrics go, “Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? Well, look at mine.” And the rock group Genesis have a song called Squonk on their album A Trick of the Tail. The squonk also appears in a number of plays and stories.

Walking home that night
The sack across my back, the sound of sobbing on my shoulder.
When suddenly it stopped,
I opened up the sack, all that I had
A pool of bubbles and tears - just a pool of tears.

- part of the lyrics of "Squonk" by Anthony Banks, Michael Rutherford

As for the hodag, one would be hard-pressed to go very far in Wisconsin without coming across hodags mounted outside restaurants, as mascots for radio stations and sports teams. There are hodag festivals and a huge hodag sits in front of the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce.

Where hodags and squonks come from one can only imagine, but they are a delightful part of local folklore wherever they appear and just custom made to be used in stories by writers who have a love of such things.


Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I Promise You This by Patricia Sands #AuthorLove

I'm very happy to offer this excerpt from Patrician Sands' third book in her Love in Provence series. Nobody loves Provence more than she and it shows in her writing.

I Promise You This 
Book 3 Love In Provence

by Patricia Sands


Suddenly single after twenty-two years of marriage, the calm of Katherine Price’s midlife was turned upside down. Seeking to find her true self, she took a chance on starting over. A year later, she is certain of this: she is in love with Philippe and adores his idyllic French homeland, where he wants her to live with him.

But now all that feels like a fantasy far removed from Toronto, where she’s helping her friend Molly, hospitalized after a life-threatening accident. Staying in her childhood home full of memories, Katherine wonders if she is actually ready to leave everything behind for a new life abroad. And if all her happiness lies with Philippe, will it last? Can she trust in love again?

Searching her heart, Katherine finds the pull of the familiar is stronger than she thought. An unexpected meeting with her ex, the first time since his cruel departure, and a stunning declaration of love from an old flame, spur her introspection.


With sunlit backdrops on the breathtaking French Riviera, author Patricia Sands brings her trilogy about second chances to a provocative and satisfying close that proves a new life just might be possible—if you’re willing to let your heart lead you home.

Excerpt
As they entered the lobby of their apartment building, Philippe led Katherine to the antiquated elevator that they seldom used anymore. “Let’s do this again, like the day you came back with me from the air port. Now it will be even more official.”

They kissed their way to the next floor, then Philippe scooped Kat up into his arms and through their open apartment door. “Across the threshold, just like last time,” Kat laughed, “but I don’t think we’ll leave a trail of clothes to the bedroom this time.”

“Well, we could . . .” Philippe answered with a sly grin.

“Oh sure, leave it up to me!” Kat laughed as he looked at her with an exaggerated puppy-dog expression. “I know you’re dying to get to the market to meet with Gilles and get caught up. Besides, you have a case of Crottin de Chavignol you need to put in the cooler! Allez, zou!

Philippe carried her to the closet that held their biking helmets. “And I know you don’t want to wait another moment to hop on your bike and go see Simone! Oui?

As Philippe set her down gently, Katherine pinched his cheek lightly. “You’re absolutely right about that. What a difference a few months make in a relationship!”

They looked at each other with comfortable confidence.

“You know how it goes, Chouchou. Now I’ve got the ring—that’s it for sex!”

“Meet me at the market after your visit and we will discuss that further,” Philippe instructed, eyebrows raised. Then, with a quick bise, he was out the door.

Katherine stood still for a moment holding onto that last bise—such a simple thing—and thinking how happy Philippe made her feel.

In the kitchen, she gazed down the lane after she opened the win dow and unclasped the shutters. Leaning out, she breathed in the cool air and then ran her hand up the wooden slats of the shutters as she fastened them back to the wall. A smile played on her lips as she took in the scene.

A dog barked and another replied. Voices of children coming home for lunch would soon bounce off the uneven walls of the timeworn buildings lining the cobblestone alley. Clothes hung on lines across windows.

As the colorful items fluttered in a light breeze, Kat noted the pleasure this scene always gave her. Yes, it’s small things that help make this home to me. I should feel this is home. I want to feel it. I’ve got to let go of my fear once and for all.

About the Author:
Patricia Sands is a Canadian writer whose heart remains in the south of France no matter where else she may be. She has recently been signed to a contract with Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing. Find Patricia at her Amazon or Facebook Author Page or her website.

Her award-winning novels are The Bridge Club (2010, Foreward Reviews Book of The Year finalist), The Promise of Provence (2013, Amazon Hot New Release), Promises To Keep (released in Sept. 2014 as a #1 Bestseller in France Travel category) and I Promise You This (May, 2016, #1 Bestseller in France Travel category).

In June 2017, Patricia will lead a women-only tour to discover the south of France of her novels. Click here for details on her website.

Links:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Memories of They That Go Down To The Sea

Gloucester harbor through one of
the windows in City Hall
Photo by Marian McMahon Stanley
Twenty-five years ago, I was living in Marblehead taking care of a house that was right on the water. From my bedroom windows I could see the Salem lighthouse, the fake lighthouse in Manchester-by-the-Sea, the Baker's Island lighthouse, and Eastern Point Light in Gloucester. It was Halloween and on my way home from work I stopped to see a friend. “You better go home and batten down the hatches,” she said. “There's a monster of a storm headed our way.” I hadn't heard about it. She told me nobody had—three different systems were about to converge and they were headed right at us.

When I got home the phone rang and it was the man whose family owned the house. He asked if I was going to stay there during the storm. There is a local superstition that unoccupied houses fare worse than occupied ones do during storms. I assured him I planned to stay. This wasn't the first storm I'd ridden out. In 1983 I was living in Houston, Texas, when Hurricane Alicia made landfall and traveled through downtown Houston. I remember thinking it sounded like a freight train roaring overhead. The next day glass was knee-deep in Louisiana Street. It sparkled green, gold, and pink from all the shattered glass buildings, and beds hung out of the windows of the Sheraton.
F/V Andrea Gail, lost in the Halloween Storm of 1991

That October night in Marblehead was a wild one. The house shook so hard that water splashed out of the toilets and I had to mop the floor. But that was the worst of it, so I counted myself lucky. The next morning the whole house was dark because all the windows were plastered with wet leaves. When I pulled open a sliding door to the ocean I saw a 35-foot cabin cruiser on its side on the lawn. The seawall was intact, but the pier was smashed to pieces. Everything was a wreck but the house was fine.

Part of the Names Wall in City Hall
Photo by Marian McMahon Stanley
Later that day a friend called and asked if I felt like taking a ride up the coast to Gloucester. It was a pretty sobering experience—lots of damage and some roads were completely washed out. We made it to Folly Cove and decided to stop at a tavern there for lunch. While we were eating, a man came in and I heard him tell the bartender, “I hear the Andrea Gail is missing.”

For awhile they called it the No-Name Storm or the Halloween Storm, but eventually Sebastian Junger wrote a book about it and it became known as The Perfect Storm—”storm” being the operative word.

A few years later I moved to Gloucester—the house in Marblehead was sold and I decided I wanted to live in Gloucester where I spent most of my time anyway. One of the first things I did, once settled, was to volunteer at a sculpture exhibit being held in City Hall.

Gloucester City Hall
Gloucester's City Hall holds many wonders—some of the finest WPA murals in the country are on its walls, and a family of peregrine falcons lives in the bell tower. But in the stairwell to the second and third floors is its most sobering treasure. There are names stenciled in plain lettering, over five thousand of them. They are the names of men lost at sea. The first is Jeremiah Allen who was lost in 1716, though Gloucestermen had been fishing for a hundred years before that.

For months I spent every Sunday at City Hall and when business was slow, I stood in the stairwell and read the names. Under 1991 are listed the names Michael Moran, Dale Murphy, Alfred Pierre, Robert Shatford, David Sullivan, and Frank Billy Tyne, Jr., the men lost in that Halloween Storm. It was a deeply moving experience and when I wrote The Old Mermaid's Tale I relied on those feelings for the scene in which a fishing boat goes missing in that story.
Fisherman's Rest Cemetery

Also in Gloucester is a place called Fisherman's Rest. It is a section in Beechbrook Cemetery where Gloucester fishermen who died on shore are buried, among them Howard Blackburn. Not far from there is a sad group of graves—graves with no names. In them are the remains of bodies washed ashore and never identified.

From where I sit at my desk writing this I can look out the window and see a headstone in the old cemetery out back. It is a headstone only, one without a grave. It reads Erected to the Memory of Moses Morse who was Drowned at Sea in his 42nd Year. 1827. Gloucester is full of reminders of the power of the sea.
Names Wall in City Hall
Photo by Nubar Alexanian
This is a good town in which to be a writer—inspiration is everywhere. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Waitin’ for Her at the Station by Arthur Beane #AuthorLove

A special new release from my friend Arthur Beane!


Outskirts Press, Inc. has published Waitin' For Her At The Station: A Collection of Original Blues, Country Blues, Jazz Blues, Gospel, Funk, and Blues Rock Selections by Arthur Beane, Ed.D., which is the author's most recent book to date. The 8.25 x 11 paperback in the music / genres & styles / blues category is available worldwide on book retailer websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble for a suggested retail price of $16.95. The webpage at www.outskirtspress.com/waitinforheratthestation  was launched simultaneously with the book's publication.


Waitin’ for Her at the Station provides musicians—trained and untrained—with the latitude to choose their own key, tempo, song type, introduction, solo instrumental placement, and outro. The song lyrics remain true, but the formatting can be modified based on the spirit of the musician and their interpretation of each song, and audiences will enjoy the personalized presentations as much as the performer!
Deftly constructed at 239 pages, Waitin' For Her At The Station: A Collection of Original Blues, Country Blues, Jazz Blues, Gospel, Funk, and Blues Rock Selections is being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets with a focus on the music / genres & styles / blues category. With U.S. wholesale distribution through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, and pervasive online availability through AmazonBarnes & Noble and elsewhere, Waitin' For Her At The Station meets consumer demand through both retail and library markets with a suggested retail price of $16.95.

Additionally, Waitin' For Her At The Station can be ordered by retailers or wholesalers for the maximum trade discount price set by the author in quantities of ten or more from the Outskirts Press Direct bookstore at www.outskirtspress.com/bookstore
ISBN: 9780692462126
Format: 8.25 x 11 paperback
SRP: $16.95
For more information or to contact the author, visit www.outskirtspress.com/waitinforheratthestation
About the Author: Art Beane’s singing career began as a child in the Saint James Episcopal Church choir in Houston, TX, and lasted about an hour. With the organ blaring “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” Art fainted dead away from heat and nervousness. It took 13 years before he gave singing another try with the Bradley University Community Chorus in 1967. He later joined The Helmsmen, an all-male singing group led by the late Richard Emery, and then The New Acapellas. Today, Art writes and sings his original blues tunes at open mic night venues. Art holds a doctorate in education from Boston University and in 2008 retired from a 40+ year career in education and administration. He currently lives in a fishing community north of Boston with his wife, Margaret Rose. They have seven grown children and five grandchildren.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Barn Art: Hexe Signs and Barn Quilts

Growing up in Pennsylvania we occasionally made trips down to the Lancaster County area which is well-known as Amish country. There is a difference between Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish which a lot of people apparently don't know. My mother's family are all Pennsylvania Dutch—German Catholics who came from Bavaria in the early twentieth century. Amish people are derived from the Anabaptist sects, mostly out of Switzerland, along with Mennonites and other “plain people.” Though people have long identified hexe signs with the Amish, most Anabaptists disapprove of them and neither create nor display them.

My dad, following a trip to Lancaster, decided our house needed a hexe sign, so he made one. He got a large piece of masonite and designed his own. There is a lot of lore around hexe signs claiming that certain colors and shapes have particular meanings and that farmers chose hexe signs for their barns based on their own needs but this is mostly folklore.

When my dad finished his sign, he mounted it in the gable of our “shanty,” an Alpine-style house a few yards down the hill from our house that was half gardening shed and half playhouse. It caused a lot of commotion in the neighborhood at first—everyone appeared to approve of it. The neighbor across the street said it was the hexe symbol for “fertility” because we were a family of ten.

But hexe signs painted on the sides of barns have been popular in Pennsylvania and across the country in rural areas since the 1830s. The word “hexe” derives from the German word for “witch” thus their association with magic. In my stories I have several barns with hexe signs on them and, in The Legend, when Kit gets his first hopeful lead for Sultan, the horse he's trying to find, it is from a man with hexe sign on his barn. As near as I can tell, the art in hexe signs grew out of the German decorative art called Fraktur which has a long history. It employs symbols, stars, flowers, and curious birds called distelfinks. Fraktur was a hand-made art form similar to illuminated manuscripts and is used for things like birth certificates, marriage licenses, book plates, and special certificates. The art of Fraktur was borrowed for decorations that hung on barns just for the beauty of them.

A more recent form of barn art is what has come to be known as Barn Quilts. The story is that barn quilts began in 2001 when a woman from Ohio wanted to honor her mother's skill as a quilter. She took some of the quilt pattern designs that her mother created and painted signs in brilliant colors to hang on her barn and those of neighbors. She and her neighbors created a Barn Quilt Trail of the signs winding through their county mostly as a tourist attraction.

The idea caught on and before long Barn Quilt Trails sprang up across the country. There are Barn Quilt Trails in Vermont, Maine, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. My sister, who lives in Potter County, PA, was the person who introduced me to barn quilts. She has purchased several of them from a local business there, Potter County Barn Quilts. One hangs beside her front door and another is in the gable of her house.

The patterns for Barn Quilts are taken from traditional quilting patterns and, as far as I know, do not have any “magical” properties attributed to them.

I want to write a story some day about people creating a Barn Quilt Trail—probably Gretchen from my Marienstadt stories. Until then I just plan to enjoy them when I see them.


Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Guest Blog by Tamara Narayan #AuthorLove

During the 2016 A to Z Blog Challenge, I visited Kathleen’s blog almost every day. She introduced one vivid character after the next, and it was so much fun. So I’d like to introduce Chloe Langley, “star” of my short story Detour.

Image Source: Amy Clark


Chloe should be having the time of her life. She’s a lovely 21-year-old about to graduate from The University of Tampa with a degree in advertising and public relations. Plus her boyfriend, a dashing Ukrainian named Kostya, is the hottest bartender in town.

But under the surface, her life is a mess. The job market is terrible. Chloe doesn’t know what’s going to happen after graduation. Low level job? Graduate school? All she knows is that she doesn’t want to move back in with her parents. She does have a third option. Kostya is going to graduate school in the frigid north and has offered to take Chloe along. She doesn’t have an engagement ring, but a promise ring is pretty close, right?

Yet Chloe is reluctant to say yes. This relationship is nothing like the sweet romance she experienced in high school with Mark Stancliff. Verbal abuse from Kostya about her choice of clothes and the amount of time she spends with her friends is hard to stomach. When he becomes physically abusive, Chloe knows she has to make a break for it.

Borrowing a friend’s car, she heads to Tallahassee and home. Unfortunately, a traffic jam will send her on a detour to a small town far off the beaten path. What happens there will change her life forever.

Detour is one of four suspenseful tales in Heart Stopper and Other Stories, available now at Amazon.com.



A couple spars, and fear invades
An abused coed flees on a spring escapade.
Across Florida’s searing and pocked landscape
Sinkholes will assume many a shape.

Author Bio: From doling out movie popcorn to flinging smelt to penguins, Tamara Narayan’s career took the “road less traveled”. It veered off into a land of integrals and other strange things while she taught college level math, but these days she’s cruising the fiction highway. In addition to the Heart Stopper collection, her short story Scrying The Plane is in the IWSG anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here. Find her blog at www.tamaranarayan.com.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Authentic Voices from the Past

When I was a kid my brothers and I read a lot of books about history. I suppose because I grew up with brothers (I have four sisters but they are a good deal younger, when I was a kid it was just me and two brothers) who were interested in things like war and settling the west and cowboys and Indians and all that stuff, I just went along with it. There were a lot of comic books in our house about those subjects. We watched television programs about Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. We went on school trips to Gettysburg which was a few hours away. Consequently, over the course of years, certain names loomed large in my pantheon of heroes.

As an adult I can't say I thought much about them until a little over a year ago when I decided to write The Bucktail Cap in the Trunk: More Secrets of Marienstadt. The title story of that collection is about four orphaned brothers who come to Pennsylvania and wind up fighting in the Union Army as part of the 42nd Pennsylvania, a.k.a. The Bucktails. I started doing a lot of research and many names of those old heroes came up. For awhile I was mostly reading books by various authors with big reputations as Civil War scholars. Then in one book the author included a rather lengthy excerpt from the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

I don't know why I had never thought of it before, but it suddenly struck me that I could read the real, actual, authentic words set down by the people who I had, up to that time, only been reading about. I discovered that Amazon offered both volumes of Grant's memoirs for Kindle for 99¢. I immediately downloaded them and started reading. And I was sucked in. I had to keep reminding myself that these were the words that Grant himself wrote. Some of his stories were so charming—how he almost drowned himself by trying to board a ship without disturbing the crew, and his utter awe at seeing hundreds of acres of Texas landscape covered with wild mustangs. To say I fell in love is an understatement. I couldn't stop reading.

When I finished the book—teary-eyed because I knew those last words were written when he only had a few weeks to live, that he was in unbearable pain and forced himself to stay alive just to finish the book so his wife and children would have an income. His publisher, Mark Twain, writes of what an agony it was to see the old lion, nothing but skin and bones, wrapped in blankets, doggedly writing those last few chapters. The book became the best-selling book America had ever seen, eclipsing sales of all Twain's books, but Grant never lived to see that.

After I finished my book, I kept thinking about the thrill of reading such a great man's last words. So, for pennies, I downloaded George Washington's Journal, which was rather dull but still exciting to read his actual words. I then read The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (he spends more time bitching about shoveling snow than almost anything else and makes the astute observation that he'd better find someone to marry or he is going to wind up in the poorhouse.) I then read Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography and was, once again, thrilled and charmed to see the world through his eyes. It included the information that he was pretty sure his famous charge up San Juan Hill was greatly mythic because he charged the wrong hill.

I really don't know how to explain it but I find such a thrill in reading these memoirs. Maybe because I grew up admiring these men and, in my kid's brain, they were sort of fictional characters on the level of Superman and Batman. Now as an adult, they are not only real, but also writers which is something I can relate to.

Recently I read Gore Vidal's Burr. I'd been meaning to read it for years and when Amazon offered it for Kindle for $1.99 I grabbed it. I had just finished reading a biography of Rachel Jackson, Andrew Jackson's wife, who died before she could become First Lady. Burr is an epic, monolithic book filled with color, drama, gossip, snark, and history, with an ending so touching it took me completely by surprise. And, though it is fiction, it stirred in me the desire to go back to reading more first-hand accounts. I wanted to spend more time listening to distinguished voices from the past.

I have long believed it is always a mistake to confuse the magic with the magician. It is too easy to say this one was a murderer, and that one was a despot, and another one was an utter cad. Those things may be true, but when I listen to their voices, I hear something else—I hear people trying to do the best they can with what they have available to them. And, yes, sometimes that is not good enough.

As I flipped through my Kindle (which has nearly 1500 books on it), I came across The Memoirs of W.T. Sherman, Grant's good friend. Sherman has always seemed an enigmatic figure to me—both a charming, likable man who instituted a practice of storytelling evenings when he was the headmaster at a boys' school, and a dark, tortured, and possibly mad, military leader. I started reading and one of the first boyhood memories I encountered was Sherman's story of how, as a plebe on his way to West Point, he visited Washington for the first time. Out for a stroll to see the sights early one morning, he walked past the White House and there in the driveway saw Andrew Jackson—old, skeletal, still carrying two bullets in his body, wrapped in a blanket—pacing up and down. Sherman says he stood for an hour, his face pressed to the fence, watching the President pace. These are the stories I love.


Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sign of the Green Dragon by C. Lee McKenzie #AuthorLove

Today we have a guest post by C. Lee McKenzie, 
author of Sign of the Green Dragon. Enjoy!


I love Chinese dragons. European, fire-breathing nasties aren't so interesting to me. I mean, who would choose to hang with a subterranean, treasure-nesting, scaly critter like Smaug? Hobbits maybe, but I crave those luck-bringing, joyous ones from the East.

And then, there's the history. 

The Chinese dragon is ancient. The earliest evidence of its existence comes from artifacts found in the remains of the Yangshuo culture. That’s about 5,000 to 2,000 BCE. I don’t know about you, but I can’t count back that far. And the dragon's long history is so closely tied to the Chinese culture that there are endless tales, untold numbers of tapestries, sculptures and other art forms from that Yangshuo period forward. 

All of this art from the long long ago past shows the dragon as a powerful, wise and benevolent creature. However, in 2012, the year of the dragon, the dragon turned up with another image on a new stamp, and it’s not a very popular image among many Chinese. 

The new dragon stamp has been labeled “evil” and called “frighting.” The designer gave the dragon some bared fangs that some critics compare to the Street Inspectors who are accused of beating up vendors while enforcing the law. 

The Western eye may not pick up the difference between the kind dragon of old and the scary one on this stamp, but the Chinese did. Even bloggers took up the topic and articles appeared in China’s equivalent of the Wall Street Journal decrying the inappropriate image.

Here’s the new stamp.



Here's a dragon from old lore.



Are they all the same? Can you see what upset the Chinese with the new stamp or do both images look like scaly, critters with claws?



Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam’s finally fitting in. He’s the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam’s guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure. When some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb. 

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you’ll love this story. As one reader says, this book, “has more twists than a dragon’s tail.”

Buy now to jump into the adventure.

Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited


I Blog at The Write Game


I love to write for young readers, and I write both young adult and middle grade fiction. I fall into the hybrid author category with four traditionally published young adult novels--Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative and Sudden Secrets--and three self-published middle grade adventure/fantasies. Sign of the Green Dragon is my third Indie out August 3. Alligators Overhead and the sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster were my first two. It’s fun to know both sides of this writing business. Italia Gandolfo represents me, and I’m about to send her my latest young adult story. Fingers crossed.

I’m very fortunate to have some great five star reviews from readers and reviewers. And I’m really pleased that I’m learning this business. Promotion has been my biggest challenge. I’ve had to learn how to schedule, so I can still write and do the promo I need to do for my other books. It’s a full-time job. 

When I’m not writing I’m practicing yoga, doing sun salutations in my garden (AKA weeding) or scratching my head over how all of this writing stuff started. I'm still not sure, but the ride has been exhilarating and so much different than I'd expected. 

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Kathleen. I really appreciate your help. I couldn’t do this without the support of writers like you. 



This is where I lurk a lot. Please come say hi!
Website: http://www.cleemckenziebooks.com