February 10

Meet Author Carolyn Ferrell Watts

I occasionally highlight the work of other writers on my blog and writing this week’s story was a special treat for me. My wife, Carolyn, has completed her first book, Magical Years to Learn with Liam. You might assume from the title that it is a children’s book and you would be right. Only 40 pages long and filled with eye-catching photos, children will love it! But it’s also a book for parents! Carolyn is a professional counselor with specialties in school psychology and family relationship therapy.


When kids become problem teens, some become just another statistic in our criminal justice system. With many of these young criminals a look back at their childhood reveals poor parenting from an early age. This is the case not only with the poor, minority kids raised in the slums and barrios, but for kids from middle-class and wealthy families also. And it’s not always about BAD parents, sometimes it’s simply a lack of parenting information!

Just as there is a critical lack of training in schools and at home for young people to learn the basics of simple money management, there is also a void in training teens and young adults how to excel at parenting. They leave college or high school without a clue of how to manage their checkbook. They also marry and begin making a family without serious thought about the “how to” of raising children. Both are important and Carolyn’s book focuses on the second. Soon-to-be and current parents of a child seven years or younger can get a great start on parenting with this book.

Most of the joy of success or heartbreak of failure that people experience throughout life is tied to their ability to make good choices or decisions. This book teaches parents and children together how to make those choices during the child’s first seven years. It’s a simple book, intended to be read and shared with a child. The first seven years is the period of time that parents can have the most influence on the future behavior and skills for handling life.

The first steps in “taking the terrible out of the twos” and minimizing “teenage drama” are taught in this book. If you are a parent, grandparent or just have a young friend who is embarking on the task of parenting a child, this book could be the perfect gift.

In the words of Peggy Halyard, a Licensed Professional Counselor, “It is a gentle guide through areas that need attention when caring for a child. The captivating pictures and thoughtful wording help children and adults understand how to make good choices!”

Carolyn’s book can be purchased from her website at www.CarolynWatts.net or from the CreateSpace and Amazon websites. I also invite you to share this blog with others who might benefit from better parenting skills.
October 17

ART ANTHONY

Sulphur River, Art Anthony’s first novel, is a historical story about the Civil War. If you are a civil war buff, or just enjoy a good story, this is one worth checking out. It’s the fictional account of two young men who serve in the Confederate Army during the “Red River Campaign”. Anthony’s research, detailed account of battles, and the daily life of a soldier during this period, make the story even more interesting.

The author is a native Texan, having been born in Goose Creek (now known as Baytown). He currently lives in Tuttle, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Anthony has a diverse background, having worked in agriculture, manufacturing and marketing before spending 23 years as an educator, retiring as superintendent of a school district in Illinois.

Sulphur River is written in narrative journalism style. For those not familiar with this style of writing, sometimes referred to as literary journalism, it is story-telling without or with very little dialogue. Although not utilized to a great extent today, some famous authors have used the characteristics of this style of writing.

Truman Capote claimed to be the inventor of this form of journalism with his novel, In Cold Blood, however, many observers trace its origin to well before Capote’s work.  Some of the characteristics of this style are evident as early as the 18thcentury in Daniel Defoe’s writing and during the 19th century by Mark Twain. More recently, both Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck employed it in some of their writing.
I asked Art a few questions about his experience writing.
Why did you decide to write your first novel in narrative style?

Anthony: “I wanted to try narrative, because it’s a style you don’t see anymore. The sequel, Return to Sulphur River, is written in a more traditional, dialogue style. ”

How extensive was the research involved in writing Sulphur River?

Anthony: “A lot! I made a ten day trip down the Red River in Louisiana. I then spent time at the Norman (Oklahoma) Public Library where I found three very old, dusty books that hadn’t been opened in many years. The books even contained some of the officers’ notes and dispatches. I spent three months pouring over this treasure. Finally, I had worked on a ranch in the area, that I then recreated in the novel a hundred years earlier.”

What are you working on now?

Anthony: “The sequel, Return to Sulphur River, which should be out in December. I am also working on a pioneer western set in Anahuac, Texas from 1828 to 1837.”

What was your greatest discovery from writing and publishing your first novel?

Anthony: “You must have a strong conviction and be prepared to work hard selling your work to the public.”

Finally, what advice would you give to a novice writer?

Anthony: “If you want to write, do it! If you don’t, you will never forgive yourself.”

 
September 25

MAJEL STITES REDICK – Author of Whimsy

Now here’s a profile in courage! Majel Redick had a pretty routine life going until 2008; college, business woman, happy marriage, and then the unthinkable happened. She underwent brain surgery which left her hearing impaired and legally blind. What’s a girl to do?

Of course, there were several options. But not for Majel; she was a Ripley Warrior! Now being a Ripley Warrior won’t mean much to most people who read this; but Majel grew up in the small town of Ripley, Oklahoma and the high school sports teams were called the “Warriors”. She must have read the quote that was framed and hung in the gymnasium there for all the years she was a student. It read,

For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks-not that you won or lost-
But how you played the game.

Well, Majel didn’t win the game against blindness, but she did what any great warrior would do when faced with adversity. She continued to play the game and make new rules. Now that she was legally blind, she would take up writing! And write she does!

Her first book, From the Porch, published in 2011, is currently available at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I’ve read it and it meets my simple standard. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. It’s actually three short-stories with a common thread, and one of the three, Squirt’s Kite, won an award from the North Texas Professional Writers Association. Majel has also published other short-stories and poems. This year she published her first novel.

As Majel describes Whimsy in her always humorous manner,

 It has intrigue, humor, hookers, blacks, gays, Indians, gorgeous blonds, handsome older men, babies and dogs. Well, I may have exaggerated about the hookers. And maybe fantasized about the handsome men. But almost all the rest is— well, part of it – Oh, meanwhile grab a rockin’ chair and rock on in and read some good stuff that follows”.

I haven’t read Whimsy yet, but my wife has. Here’s what she says. Ms. Redick’s book, Whimsy, transported me to one of those quaint rural communities that urbanites often long for as an escape….She continues to tell her stories in the witty, wise style of Garrison Keillor. There’s a theme and lesson throughout the book of acceptance and love for one another, as well as finding joy in life.” Carolyn Watts

 

Order Whimsy on Majel’s website where you can read more at http://majredick.tateauthor.com/2013/07/08/post/#more-19and pick up her other book at Amazon.com.  
September 19

Murder With A Touch Of Spice by Gloria Hander Lyons

I previously introduced readers to Gloria Hander Lyons, a prolific author of a variety of books. At the time that story was published, her latest writing and first attempt at publishing a novel was weeks away from release. I noted that this blog would feature Gloria and her latest work once it was available. I am happy to say that Murder With A Touch Of Spice is now for sale at her website, www.gloriahanderlyons.com.

The work of fiction, of the “cozy mystery” genre, is an entertaining story of the McCormick family, whose daughters have “spicey” names. Of course, there is a murder and the McCormick sisters divert their attention from their regular pursuits to solve the crime. The story is well worth the investment of time and low price ($7.99 for paperback or $2.99 on Kindle) to get acquainted with this accomplished writer.

The novel has been received quite well as a Kindle book, having been the subject of nearly 1600 downloads on Kindle during one week of a promotion by the author. It’s great entertainment!

I also encourage you to check out Gloria’s blog Gloria’s Joyful Life, My Cancer Journey http://gloriasjoyfullife.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-cancer-journey.html for inspirational reading when facing tough times.

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September 12

A. Hardy Roper – Stories from Galveston

If there is any merit to the advice often given to aspiring authors, “Write about what you know,” then A. Hardy Roper would be the person you’d choose to write novels set in Galveston, Texas. His great-grandparents emigrated from Germany in the 1840’s entering the U.S. at the Port of Galveston. He is a fourth generation Galvestonian. 

With two novels, Assassination in Galveston and The Garhole Bar, to his credits, Roper has displayed his skill at telling a story that keeps the reader entertained. My personal favorite is The Garhole Bar, admittedly because I love the title. Every time I am in the Galveston area, I expect to turn onto a street, close to the waters of the Gulf, and see a run-down, but inviting building. The book’s title scrawled above the door, it invites adventurous customers to enter and explore the mysteries.

Parker McLeod is the protagonist for both Roper’s novels. A well-trained, former military man, McLeod runs his bar as he and his friends are pulled into mysterious and puzzling plots of criminals and their misdeeds. The author does a great job of making McLeod a believable and interesting character; revealing his flaws as well as his strengths. For readers who enjoy following a main character through more than a single, well-written novel, these books will be just what you are looking for.
Roper recently dropped by the Galveston Bookshop, where the staff donned his Garhole Bar t-shirts for the photo on the left.
http://galvestonbookshop.com

It’s time for a third in the Parker McLeod series and we hope the author obliges soon. Roper has written a screenplay for his second work, Assassination in Galveston. He publishes his work through WESTBAY Publishing. Purchase his books, review the screenplay and learn more at http://www.assassinationingalveston.com
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September 5

Christopher Cook – Writer

Christopher Cook writes just about everything. He’s written short stories, novels and novellas in fiction, he has been a newspaper journalist and crime reporter, and written scripts for plays and movies. He’s written for trade publications, and spent time in Washington, D.C. honing his skills as a speechwriter. Christopher calls Texas his birthplace, but has long since moved on. He is now a welcome visitor, usually when shuttling between residences in Prague, Czech Republic and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

His work has been widely recognized in various forums. Just a few include Barnes & Noble which named him in its Discover Great New Writers program. Cook’s second book; Screen Door Jesus & Other Stories, was a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Jesse H. Jones Fiction Award, and his memoir essay Full Moon Over Bohemia was selected for the Travelers’ Tales anthology, the Best Travel Writing, 2006.

Screen Door Jesus, a story set in a community where residents see an image of Jesus on a screen door, has been made into a feature film. His first book of fiction, Robbers, is set in Texas, and is a dark crime novel. The story begins in Austin and stretches east to the Gulf Coast. Readers familiar with the area will recognize certain landmarks and old businesses from Cook’s detailed descriptive writing. This novel has also been under film option several times in the past ten years, though hasn’t made the big screen yet.

In 2011, he decided that his fiction writing would be published exclusively in digital format. He promptly published a novella titled Storm and has since placed his previous books online as e-books.

Too many to list on this blog, my favorites not already mentioned, include Cloven Tongues of Fire and the short story, The Pickpocket. I encourage you to check out his writing and learn more at his website, http://www.christopher-cook.com/

August 29

Jack Jenkins – Story Teller

WRITER

Some writers must learn to tell a story, but not my friend, Jack Jenkins. He was entertaining people spinning tales long before he wrote a novel. A deep voice and a knack for weaving an interesting yarn when relating something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store, made him a natural to write novels.



COP

Jenkins describes himself as a retired police sergeant who spent most of his career dealing with pimps, whores, bookmakers, bootleggers, and the like…and he is. But he’s more than that. He’s a talented story-teller and singer of good songs. In the mid-70s, I sat with him and the police chief of New Braunfels, Texas, beside a hotel swimming pool, drinking beer, as the chief strummed his guitar and Jack sang Cocaine Blues, a song first recorded by Woody Guthrie in the early 40’s. When the “picking and singing” ended, he entertained us with tales of his work in the underbelly of Houston; where heroin addicts, whores and pimps own the night.

His two novels, A season of Reckoning and May God have Mercy on Your Soul are available on his website, http://www.highdesertpublishing.com/Jack_Jenkins_Novels.html. Both books are entertaining stories of crime, cops, justice and revenge. The first is set along Texas’ border with Mexico, the second in Houston and East Texas. He tells me he has several other manuscripts and short stories yet to be published.

As one reviewer said about A Season of Reckoning, “…a vivid narrative of families trying to survive on both sides of the Rio Grande… paints a portrait of simple people coping with drug traffickers… the tale is also one of falling in love, with a land, a woman, her family and her culture. “

 Jack Jenkins lives with his wife Mary, in a small mountain town in the Chihuahuan Desert, Fort Davis, Texas. When he and Mary are not writing or editing, they practice “porch therapy” by watching the rising and setting of the sun, moon and stars from their deck. Their dog, Kitty and cat, Chigger, share the clean air and rustic living with them.


He invites his readers, if they are ever in the area, to look him up, and come sit a spell.

 
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August 22

Troy Mason – an emerging author worth keeping an eye on!

I became acquainted with Troy Mason through a mutual friend, Pam Mitchell, whom he describes as his Chief Marketing Officer. Troy’s writing career began when he wrote articles and was published in the 1990’s on the subject of bow hunting. But before I tell you about his most recent writing, let me introduce him.

Troy is a U.S. Marine. He retired as a Master Sergeant after 21 years, primarily spent as an air traffic controller. He says he was 33 years old before ever setting foot in a college classroom. Troy now has an undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University and a Masters in Management of Information Technologies from the University of Virginia. I don’t often tout the educational achievements of the authors I write about; but I like the idea of a retired marine going back to school, writing books and reinventing himself.

I asked Troy to tell me what prompted him to take on the challenge of writing a novel. Here’s what he said, “I decided to write a book when the story came to me like a gift from God in a flash in a hotel room in Rochester, NY in March 2012. I had just finished the first outlaw biker fiction book I had ever seen; The Libertines, by Max Billington. I credit him with inspiring me to write, and we stay in touch even now…”

Outlaw is Troy’s first novel and it’s a good one! He does an excellent job of developing the featured character, Jason Broaduc. He takes us through Jason’s high school sports experience, relationship with parents, the Marine Corp, returning to civilian life as a state trooper, and finally Jason’s life in the saddle of a Harley and his experiences with the IRON KINGZ motorcycle club.

It’s an entertaining read and meets my simple standard! I didn’t want to put it down once I began reading. I always pay attention to a new author’s editing when first reading his or her work. I was particularly impressed with the absence of simple editing mistakes in Outlaw. Often, independent authors miss this important step before publishing.  

Troy is writing the sequel to his first novel and hopes to have it published and available to readers by December. The working title is IRON KINGZ, but he says that’s not set in stone. I encourage any reader who likes fast action and realistic fiction to check out Troy Mason’s work. You will see another nice touch when visiting his website to buy Outlaw at http://outlawauthor.com/; 10% of al proceeds are donated to ‘Wounded Warriors’     

August 15

Ron Delord – Writing from a different law enforcement perspective

Most of the authors I feature on this blog write fiction. I highlight the writing of those whose work might be of interest to my readers. Today’s author is one of those, whose efforts fit nicely with my blog posts on Crimes, Criminals and the Cops who chase them. His work, howeverdoesn’t include fiction.

Ron DeLord has written a number of books, including two, both very controversial, about how police unions should engage in political action to get the pay and benefits their members want. The second edition, Police Union Power, Politics, and Confrontation in the 21st Century credits three other contributing authors.  For those interested in a behind the scenes look at methods of exerting political influence  as it relates to law enforcement, or how interest groups generally influence elected leaders decision-making,  these books will be well received.

Ron has a passion for making sure that the lives of all officers killed in the line of duty are properly memorialized . To that end, he has dedicated countless volunteer hours of research to document the deaths of officers across the nation. He is the leader in finding information on officers who were killed in the line of duty, but forgotten with time. He documents the record and makes sure they are recognized by having their names placed on both the National and State Law Enforcement Memorials. Ron’s two books, Texas Lawmen, The Good and the Bad, detailing the deaths of Texas lawmen from 1835 through 1940, were published in collaboration with another writer. Ron was the Editor-in-Chief of a book titled The Ultimate Sacrifice, the Trials and Triumphs of Texas Police, an addtional book dedicated to those officers who gave their lives. His commitment to this mission defines DeLord as a person and as a writer.

For interesting historical facts about Texas officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, or for a behind the curtain look at how police unions work to influence government, check out his writing.  Simply visit his website, http://www.rondelord.com/html/books.html, where you’ll also find interesting information about the world of politics as it relates to the law enforcement community.

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August 7

Andy Upchurch and The Oleanders of San Leon

I’m not sure if Andy Upchurch is an author, a sailor, a musician, a carpenter or a pirate. I know he built a house, played music with at least one rock n’ roll legend, Chuck Berry, sailed in the open sea, performs with a band, Andy and the Dreamsicles and fantisized of finding buried treasure as he cleared the jungle that would one day be his home. I learned all this by reading his first book, The Oleanders of San Leon, a book purportedly written about building a house.

One thing that will become absolute truth to the reader is that he is a magnificent story-teller. When I heard that the book is about building a house, my eyes glazed over and I thought; how can I tell him I’m not interested in reading a “how to” book. Instead, I listened to his presentation at a local library and gambled on buying a copy.

It met my simple standard! I read a few pages and couldn’t put it down. The Oleanders of San Leon is a story about a man and his adventures, told as entertainingly as Mark Twain told us about Tom and Huck.

So why do I say I’m not sure if he’s an author? It’s not because he’s not talented! It’s because I’ve visited with him since reading his book, and to date, he’s evasive about whether another one is in his future. So, if you decide to read The Oleanders of San Leon and you like it, which I’m sure of, may I suggest that you encourage him to get busy! We need to hear more from a guy with such story-telling talent.

Check him out at http://theoleandersofsanleon.com/#  where you can see photos of his home, known as, you guessed it, The Oleanders of San Leon. 
 

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