How will I ever get it all done??? So. . .what am I in the mood for right now? A really great book to catch my attention and hold it. Oh yeah, sure. So just kill me now. There are so many, how will I ever choose? I want to read about a love story. Yeah! A wedding with a handsome prince, maybe a medical drama, something that even makes me laugh and cry. So . . . right! All in one book? Like, where am I going to find something like that? Somebody help!!!
Oh, cool! It's even got cats in it! Where can I find it?
It's at Amazon.com! YAY! I can get it on my Kindle. How cool is that?
I'm on my way!
I once had an American History teacher named Mr. Beidler. Honest. His first name is Mr. because I never learned his real name…and I regret it to this day.
Keep in mind that I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is important to my story for a couple of reasons. The first one is that Albuquerque is situated at the edge of the American Southwest desert. Also recall—or not—that I grew up in a day that could best be described as B.C.P. (before cell phones…and their handy little cameras). I know this is a shocking revelation. Yes, there are still those of us who never used the things. (Yup. And if you got sick at school, or they kicked you out—I have no personal knowledge of this, by the way—they had to call your mother and she would come to pick you up…if she had the family car that day. Otherwise, you walked. Those WEREN'T the days, my friend. (Sorry, that's part of the lyrics of a song from way back--well, you get the drift.)
As I recall, Mr. Beidler had what I presumed to be a Texas accent, so I also presumed that’s where he grew up. I could be wrong. There are places in S.E. New Mexico where the residents also sound Texan. There are also places in--oh, let's say, Northeast Tennessee where he could have been from. He sure knew a lot about the place.
Mr. Beidler was middle-aged. That is to say--he could have been anywhere between twenty-five years old to fifty-five. He didn’t look young to me, but I was only thirteen at the time, and everybody older than thirty looked--old. Anyway, he had sort of nondescript light brown hair, and blue-eyes. This describes somewhere around one-half of all the men in Texas who weren’t Black Americans or of Spanish descent. Mr. Beidler’s claim to fame, at least in my book, is that he achieved what I regard as the impossible. He fired my imagination.
I best recall a couple of stories he told us. The first regards Daniel Boone. Daniel hacked his way through otherwise impassable forests using a long knife. Whoa! Can you imagine such a place? A place with trees growing so close together you can’t get through except by hacking a path through with a knife? Think how sharp that knife must have been! For the most part, everything east of the Mississippi River once had such thick forests. Think of it as an ocean of trees. That thought alone fires my imagination. Come to think of it, it already has.
Anyway, I spent my early childhood in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. That’s a city situated on the American Great Plains. Remember I said that Albuquerque borders the Southwest desert? We had a lot of tumbleweeds there, but that’s about it. Trees? Not so much.
Imagine my astonishment to learn that well within twenty miles of our house is a place that Daniel Boone traveled through. It’s now called Boone’s Creek Falls. He was once forced to shelter beneath the falls from Indians trying to capture him. Shades of the movie, “The Last of the Mohicans” comes to mind! Falls on that creek? Yes, they’re still there. Now, in Albuquerque, the Rio Grande River runs through the city. When I was a child, we referred to it the Rio Trickle (okay, so we weren’t all that original), but irrigation along the length of the long river had taken its toll, even then. But a creek? A creek? I can’t imagine such a small waterway with falls large enough to shelter a man.
Nosiree. Keep in mind that I’ve traveled through western Colorado north of Durango on Hwy 550. Picture driving across Red Mountain, which tops out at 11,075 feet. As you near the top, you see a sign that says, “Steep Grade Ahead.” So, then you begin to drop down into Ouray. S-l-o-w-l-y. They meant what they said about “Steep Grade Ahead.” It’s a curving two-lane road that clings to the mountainside and largely contributed to my intense fear of falling. It didn't do much for my love of flying, either.
No joke. My (Navy) husband was offered orders to Guam, among other places. I politely informed him that, if he accepted them, he’d go alone. I can’t imagine flying at 37K feet over the deepest fissure in the Earth’s crust, the Mariana Trench. That sucker is almost seven miles deep! Suffice it to say, my response was, “No Way In You-Know-Where!” (Except, I was a little more explicit than that regarding the place.) Anyway, I had no plans in mind for making such a journey…no such bucket-list items. Not me. Nope. Not happening. My husband was no help. He consoled me with, “You wouldn’t even know you’d hit the water if you fell from 37,000 feet. You’d be dead way-y before then.” Oh, great. Thanks! Very comforting…. Suffice it to say, we didn’t go to Guam.
So, back to the Cumberland Gap and those Conestoga wagons. (Sorry…I have a B-A-D habit of digressing.) At the time, I’m fairly sure I hadn’t even thought of either the place or the journey made by those early pioneers…until the B-I-G engine in my husband’s truck began lugging while towing our 27-foot fifth-wheel RV. At the time, I recall wondering if I needed to get out and push…which, of course, triggered my memory of Mr. Beidler’s description. It was only then that I saw a sign pointing the way toward the Cumberland Gap. Okay, so now I’m impressed.
And I thank you, Mr. Beidler. Taking American History from you was a rare privilege. You were an excellent teacher. By the way, my oldest friend and fellow classmate in your class, Terry Mora Sanchez, thinks so, too!
The three of us comprise three-quarters of the Celtic Writers Group. The fourth member is writing a doctoral thesis--or at least will be doing so soon. None of the rest of us can wait until the bloody, benighted (actually, it is neither bloody nor benighted . . . but the alliteration sounds good) thing is finished. We depend upon that member's knowledge of battles and weaponry. I mean, really!
Okay, okay . . . my purpose wasn't intended as a gripe toward inconvenient furtherance of one's professional pursuits. I wanted to talk about critique partners. I've been a member of several critique groups over the years, and ours is, far and away, the most comfortable. Over the years we've become good friends. I can truly say that they've been lifesavers, too.
In late July, 2016 I had just completed my fourth novel and was about to submit it for beta reads and editing when a catastrophe struck. I managed to infect my computer with malware. If any of you have ever experienced something of that nature, you know that your entire machine is taken over by an entity that you can't control. You have precisely two choices at that point. Actually, you have three choices, but the third one involves applying sledge hammers to computers, which really doesn't help very much. So your remaining two choices involve either following the link provided you on your computer screen to wherever these creatures live and paying them whatever ransom they demand in order to free your computer and every single one of your documents up again, or you completely scrub your computer to get rid of the malware. The mind simply boggles when you begin to consider how you would even pay these individuals whatever they demand. Would you send them a bank draft? Online??? Or how about paying them with your credit card? Yeah, right. Like that's ever going to happen. Quick tip . . . if your computer screen ever lights up with red symbols asking if you are really sure you want to open a document, dump it from your computer as quickly as you can. It isn't just junk mail. Believe me. You do NOT want to find out what's inside. I digress. So my choice was to have my husband scrub my computer clean. (My mind goes blank if asked how you go about doing such a thing. Sledge hammers come to mind.) By evening, he was able to begin rebuilding my computer. BUT . . . it was minus all my documents. Every last one of them. Including all my pictures. Can you believe it? Sorry--I know you can, but I couldn't.
Happily, my previous publisher had copies of all the books I had published with her company as well as all the art work for my covers and all of the documents releasing my book rights back to me. Other documents were fairly easy to re-create, but I had lost all my fourth novel.
That's where my critique partners come in. They sent me all the chapters they had worked on. So I put them side-by-side and used one of them to edit everything into one corrected chapter. Then I put it side-by-side with my blank manuscript and rewrote the entire novel. Afterward, I re-submitted each chapter to my long-suffering friends and, eventually, the book was finished. Alex Campbell has now achieved a life of its own. All I can say is, ETERNAL THANKS, Cathy and Dawn! I have the best critique partners on the planet!
(By the way, if you're looking for this book, here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/Alex-Campbell-Dreams-Oakhurst-Book-ebook/dp/B077H69DD1/)
As an historical fiction author, I often fanaticize about travels through time. Where would I go? Who would I most want to meet? How would I change history, if I possibly could? Believe me...I've given the matter some thought.
Ray Bradbury once wrote a short story called "A Sound of Thunder." (So, who doesn't like Ray Bradbury, right???) Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which you could travel to any year in the past. Ray Bradbury wrote of a safari company that would take visitors to any year in the past. The visitor can shoot any animal, even prehistoric ones, hear the unique sounds of long-dead voices, smell their peculiar odors, feel the individual textures of the hides of living creatures.
With Ray Bradbury, there's always a catch, right? Here it is: The visitor must never veer from a specially designed modern pathway or risk changing the future.
Would I consider changing the future, if I could? But could I change the future if I would? What would be the consequences of such a rash act? Who wouldn't be born? Or who might I harm without any knowledge of the fact? One of my favorite authors wrote a long series of historical novels with just such a premise. If you're a fan of the Outlander series you know the name of the author, Diana Gabaldon. Her heroine traveled into the morass of mid-18th century Scotland. Her heroine encountered consequence after consequence from her endeavor to alter the past.
My current plan is to ensure that King Edward I of England had one more healthy living son who produced many heirs and eventually inherited the throne. (Edward II was a pretty bad king, over all--but, of course, so was Richard II, Edward II's great-grandson. In fact, of all the Plantagenet kings, I might consider calling these two the worst. But of course, there was also King John....) But think of it...no War of the Roses...no Tudor kings...or Stuarts...or Hanoverians. Would Cromwell have entered history had Edward III's healthy, legitimate son ever been born? (See what knowing something about history does for your outlook?)
I digress. Okay, so where...and when...would you go if you could visit the past? Would you step off Bradbury's modern Path of Time?
Welcome to Oak Knoll! This is the edge of the woods where I live. The woods are awash with vibrant colors as you walk through the hay field at the treeline.
This is what the woods looked like early this morning. We were socked in by fog! We couldn't even see the edge of the woods. Really spooky. There is an old tale that the number of fogs during August equates to the number of snows we'll have during winter. Hm-m.... I wonder if this number carries over into November?
This glorious maple stands at the edge of our property to welcome visitors--and us! I love this time of year. If I haven't said it already, I'll say it again.
I LOVE this time of year!!!
Before you head homeward to spend Thanksgiving with dear ones, be they family or old friends, please remember the folks who don't have the luxury of spending Thanksgiving as you do. They're the men and women who spend their holiday afloat--beneath the waves.
These men and women defend our homeland, protect our freedom to travel where we will, express our values, principles and morals as we wish, to worship as we please . . . or not worship at all, if that's our choice. They keep sea lanes open for the free passage of all whether they're friends, or sadly, deadly foes.
Meet the men and women of the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. Remember them in your holiday prayers, if you say them, or just remember their sacrifice on your behalf if you don't. Remember to thank them for their service if you see them at home--though they don't need it. No . . . . They would serve whether anyone thanked them or not. This is simply the nature of these fine men and women.
The Harvest is in and, in much of America, the first frosts have fallen over fields and woodlands and lays glistening in the early morning sun.
Also, while you're contemplating blessings, remember others . . . men and women who built this land we call America. Long years ago, intrepid settlers crossed the Appalachian Mountain chain to find better places to live, one free of interference and taxation by the occupying British. They braved wild animals and even wilder native Americans--men who had no use for the white settlers who cleared trees, built homes and, eventually, settlements, plowed ancestral hunting grounds, fenced the land and invited more of their kind to come inhabit the place. Some befriended the native inhabitants. Some caused terrible harm. But the land was settled by men and women who had more than an oral tradition to rely upon . . . people who knew where they'd come from and where their forefathers had originated.
Deep, deep in my soul, I feel the first settlers who crossed the mountains, those whose gaze first swept this magnificent land. Imagine what they saw! Standing on the summit of a high hill, they would view a sea of trees before them. As far as their vision could sweep. They eked out a living from the rich land, provided for their children's education in hopes that their offspring would build better lives than their parents had known. They defended what they had built--first individually and then in company with others who came after them. I find it no wonder that they fought so hard to protect this magnificent place that came be their home . . . and I give thanks for their incredible bravery, to venture into unknown lands, to make the sacrifice to leave behind all they'd ever known . . . and to establish a safe harbor for me and mine.
So wherever this holiday finds you, whether your plans include welcoming friends and family or traveling afar to visit those loved ones--no matter if you travel from sea to shining sea, I wish you peace, and friendship and a board filled with plenty. And a very Happy Thanksgiving, from my home to yours.
Today's the day! Patriot's Dreams is now available. Richard and Alexandra Berkeley are back, in an all new edition, with the final tale in their saga. Please join the Berkeley's and me as we take you on a perilous journey through the final phase of the Revolutionary War.
Would you enjoy an excerpt? Sure you would! Alexandra is the person viewing this scene. So here you go:
The following afternoon, a troop of British officers rode up the drive. The older man introduced himself as Colonel Nisbit Balfour and his adjutant as Major David Collingwood.
So that is his given name. Wherever have I seen him before?
The certainty of having met him at some other place and some other time nagged her. He was that sort of swaggering, arrogant officer cut from much the same cloth as Colonel Tarleton—only not as young. Nor as vain. Richard was right. His uniform appeared, somehow--dandified—and his boots shone, as if they had just been brushed. How could boots shine after a man had been in the saddle all day? It was almost as if the man had once worn a mask—or perhaps he wore one now. Unlike dear Colonel Tarleton, he was tall, but like the other man, he radiated a cruel sensuality. What does he hide behind his façade? The unshakable sense of familiarity made her skin crawl, though his demeanor remained gentlemanlike and pleasant.
Alexandra Campbell is wealthy, beautiful, and accomplished. The world values such gifts. But her father, Lord Edward Campbell, had always wanted a son to inherit the empire he'd built in the New World. A daughter was of no value. So he groomed his best friend's son to fulfill the role. Best of all, the young man's father was his best friend. But how best could he ensure that Richard Berkeley became the son of his dreams? Of course! A marriage between him and his daughter Alexandra.
Alexandra had chosen the man she wished to marry . . . and love didn't enter into the picture. Nor did she want it. Love led to loss. She had learned that lesson early in life. Over and over again Love had convinced her that pain and loss was the consequence of loving anybody at all. No to love. No to any further losses. She would simply marry the earl and lead her life in the glittering Court of St. James.
But her plans went awry. Her grandfather informed her that she would return to Charlestowne . . . posthaste. She was to marry to the son of her father's friend. An utter stranger. How would any girl feel to be given such news?
Or an opportunity for a happily ever after?
Just click the link to pick up your copy of Richard Berkeley's Bride . . . today!
I love good stories. Don't you? My husband sent me this one. I hope you'll like it, too.
The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the master, Captain John Phillips, the result. The Warrimoo's position was LAT 0º 31' N and LON 179 30' W. The date was 31 December 1899.
"Know what this means?" First Mate Payton broke in, "We're only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line".
Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. He called his navigators to the bridge to check & double check the ships position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather & clear night worked in his favor.
At mid-night the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line! The consequences of this bizarre position were many:
The bow of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere & in the middle of summer.
The stern was in the Northern Hemisphere & in the middle of winter.
The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899.
In the bow (forward) part it was 1 January 1900.
This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different years, and two different seasons, but it was also in two different centuries - all at the same time.
Isn't this an interesting little tale?