Monday, November 16, 2015

5-star review

I certainly did not regret my decision to purchase Antaeus Factor.
It is a skillfully constructed thriller, and at the same time it is a murder mystery, with an intricate plot and well-developed characters. The action takes the reader on a whirlwind ride across the globe.
The scene is set in the first chapter with the unexplained murder of reporter Thomas Allard in
Memphis. A mysterious set of events seems​ to be conspiring to hinder the police investigations. Ron Cable, working in Rome, Italy is approached out of the blue to replace his step father as CEO of the hugely influential company Cable Incorporated. A mysterious series of events sees Ron deported from Italy. This is just one of numerous damaging and unexplained events that seem to be plaguing Cable Incorporated and anyone with any connection to the company.
Lies, deceit, murders, computer hacking and manipulated events designed to shame and embarrass conspire to destroy Cable Corporation. Everyone appears to be working to different agendas.
Antaeus Factor is a thoroughly enjoyable read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The plot is first rate, scene settings and characters are cleverly constructed with a professional panache. The author has done a skilful job in creating an easy reading novel that ticks all the boxes.

Friday, November 6, 2015


I think it is wonderful that some experienced writers spend so much time answering research questions for the rest of us. Three generous experts come immediately to mind; Neil Low, Dr. Doug Lyle, and Lee Lofland. Many novels have passed the giggle test because these experts went to the trouble of giving an accurate answer to some obscure research problem. Regardless of how well educated you are, you can’t know everything about any given subject, and that is when you go to someone who knows more about it than you do.

Those of us with less experience can also lend a hand by writing reviews of books we like. After all, writers spend long hours pulling all of the threads together to create an enjoyable book. They need (and deserve) your feedback. Enough reviews and enough sales will encourage the writer to write another book in a series, and that is what most of us want.

A young woman I met on a forum was very talented, but she decided to write a book set in the 1950s in the rural South. She was in her mid-forties, grew up in a city in the Pacific Northwest, and had no experience on a farm. She asked me if I minded answering a few questions. I agreed with the understanding that I might pass some of them along to the ‘real’ experts. Fortunately, all of them were about things I experienced when I was growing up. There were many questions over the year and a half she was writing and editing her book. She told me that she was going to thank me again on her acknowledgment page in the front of the book. I got a copy as soon as it was in print and read carefully through her glowing comments that covered three pages. When I got to the end of the account, she mentioned the name of her ‘expert’ which wasn’t me. She also posted her acknowledgements on a forum for everyone to read, and the name she gave was the screen name of another person on the forum. Almost immediately, I received an email from the other ‘Joe’ who was embarrassed to have received credit for something he didn’t do. “How do we straighten this out?” he asked. “This book is already in print.” I had been laughing since I read her account of how her book came together, and was still laughing when he sent his email to me.

“No harm done,” I told him. “And don’t try to straighten it out. It would embarrass her too much.”

I missed my 15 minutes of fame, but I still help less experienced writers, and I do write reviews when I read a book I especially like. When you write a review, you are helping yourself in the long run. A writer you like won’t starve, and he or she might write you another gripping novel. After all, that is what this writing game is all about.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The launching of Blindsided, a Young Adult novel.

If your heart isn’t in the right place, you’re going to be offended by some of the passages in Blindsided. One of my favorite pictures is a poster that shows an adult down of one knee trying a little boy’s shoelace. The caption says, “You will never stand as tall as when you bend to help a child.” There are a lot of things in the world that the haters hate. The rest of us have to endure more than we should or become like them. The LGBT movement is not something I completely understand, but I know there are many who believe they were born in the wrong body. I don’t understand people who shoot up churches, or the ones who bring about a massacre in a school filled with teachers and students. I don’t understand road rage, or racial intolerance, or the people who hate the members of another religion. There are other things I understand and wish they could be different. Why someone would want to bully another person because they are different leaves me sad and somewhat puzzled. It also seems that the people who know better are the worse offenders. Here is something to seriously consider. God did not burden you with the task of changing the world. Your assignment is to help those that need a helping hand, and you can find some of them around your doorstep. If you want to change the world, it can only be done by performing one small act of kindness after another.

I received a notice from the moderator of one forum informing me that Blindsided was too controversial to post my promotional notice on her forum. She also sent me a copy of Yahoo’s TOS as if she was brandishing a weapon. Blindsided deals with bullying, and the problems that occur when someone is perceived as being different from the norm. Some of our young people are going to read Blindsided and say, “This is what I put up with every day. What’s the fuss all about?” Others might see themselves in the pages of the book and consider the ways they can be better than they already are. Everyone is different, and all of the characters in my novels are flawed in one way or another, just as real people are. No two of us are alike. There is a song, ‘What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.’ Tolerance should be incorporated somewhere in the lyrics. Most of the things that bother us so much aren’t any of our business. Meeting hate, ignorance, or anger in the wrong manner is like holding a railroad spike against a rapidly spinning grind wheel. You are going to generate a lot of sparks, but very little light. There are things worth dying for, but our private dislikes aren’t a part of it. Most of the world is caught up in a tsunami of hate. We must do better or perish in the process. Blindsided is about anger, rage, and revenge, but also about forgiveness and the pain of lost love. Grab a copy of Blindsided when it becomes available in a few days. If you enjoy it, write a review and let me know what you think . . . or better still, let me know how you feel. There is nothing better than being at peace with the challenges of the world. God bless each of you and happy reading.

Saturday, September 26, 2015



I don’t know why we’re always surprised at negative emotions. The worse of them are hard-wired in our brain from a primitive time when we had to fight tooth and nail for our very existence.

No one is born civilized. Babies are not born good; they are born innocent. Civilized behavior is a trait learned from those who nurture us during our formative years. There is always enough anger, rage, and hate to go around. At some time in our early years, most of us learn how to handle negative emotions, or at least avoid the worse of them. The emotion that few of us learn to master is rejection. We meet someone, and we admire them. We want to be their friend. There might be a time when we love them, only to be faced with rejection. There is no plan or blueprint to guide us around the worse of it, and it hurts so much that sometimes it is hard to even breathe. In BLINDSIDED, Rodney is the starting quarterback on the football team and the most popular student in school. He has a bright future ahead of him when everything suddenly goes wrong. His story is no different from the things that have happened to many others as they struggle through their high school years. It might have happened to you. I hope you will take a moment to follow the link below to Amazon Scout’s promotional site and click the ‘Nominate Me’ button. It will give me a chance to win a contract for my YA novel. Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day.   

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The making of a Novel

I have written 16 books that vary from Civil War stories to Suspense, Crime fiction, and Westerns. Even though they vary widely in subject matter, they have one characteristic in common. All of them contain romance as a subplot because love is a part of life as I know it. Until I started writing Blindsided, I had never written a story that could be classified as Romance. I saw the opportunity as a challenge. I wanted to write a realistic young adult romance, so the reader would say; “I’ve been there and done that.” Here is how I went about preparing myself to write Blindsided.

High school is an emotional, often traumatic time in the life of most young people. There can be many negative experiences such as bullying, fierce competition, anger, and other raw feelings that leave us emotionally crushed. Important decisions that shape the rest of our lives have to be made, and many of them aren’t made easily. To write this type of story effectively, you have to get in the mood emotionally. The best way is for the author to reacquaint himself with the sights, sounds and the smells of a typical high school. I read sections of high school textbooks to bring back the feeling of what it is like to cram for a test. I did a lot of research on the things taught, not because I wanted to include all of those details in my novel, but because I wanted to return to the years when I was a teenager. I dug a football out of our utility room and bounced it in my hand. And then I thought of music. No one knows when music was invented, but it is thought to be a representation of our body’s natural rhythms. Play a rock song that has 150 beats per minute and you will feel your heart speed up. As I wrote and rewrote sections of Blindsided, I found music that represented the things that were happening in the story. I found a couple of love songs, the kind they played at the senior prom and listened to them over and over again. Another important scene in the story happened during football practice. I found several fight songs and played them over and again. I watched videos made at football games where the excitement was building, and coaches and players had furious expressions as they glanced at the clock on the scoreboard. In the videos, cheerleaders danced along the sidelines with emotions that varied from ecstasy to agony, and I remembered what it was like. You experience a lot of emotions during your high school years, some of them so raw that your mind veers quickly away to something more pleasant. Occasionally, an event can slip up on you, and you find yourself, well . . . blindsided. It is what this novel is all about. I hope you will get a copy when it becomes available and read it. I also hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Please follow the link below to KindleScout’s site and hit the Nominate Me button to vote for me. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



I have spent the last few months writing a book about intolerance and bullying. I have seen a lot of both during my lifetime, and most of it is from people who don’t know what they believe. Even the most intelligent among us change their core beliefs during their lifetime. Democrats become Republicans or the other way around. Marriages might not last a lifetime, and a career change is not beyond the realm of possibility.
 I was halfway through this article when I realized I was going to have to go all the way back to the title and start again. Originally, the title was ‘What I Believe,’ but as I continued to work on it, I realized I was working on the problem from the wrong direction. It is very difficult to explain what you believe because many readers will decide what you meant rather than what you said. The Beatles complained once because there were too many of their fans who tried to find deep meaning in their songs. Their response to this was an explanation that the songs didn’t mean anything important. The words were mostly chosen because they could be rhymed and set to music. 

There are a surprising number of people in the world who are negative, and most of them are on Facebook, or it least it seems that way. In the early 1700s a writer named Voltaire made the statement, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This statement sums up my attitude toward those who sow hate, intolerance, and discord. I don’t like statements that are overly negative to appear on my Facebook news feed, but I grant you the right to say them. I seldom remove a post of this nature unless it is particularly loathsome. Voltaire was one of the first to campaign for freedom of religion and freedom of expression. My strongest beliefs are bound up in Voltaire’s two statements.

I am not gay, transgender, or bisexual, but I want everyone to have the freedom to define their sexuality. What they believe or the way they live isn’t any of my business. I might not agree with you on politics, but I want you to have the right to vote for the candidate of your choice without undue pressure by those who disagree. As long as your behavior doesn’t interfere with the freedom of another, I want you to decide what beliefs will guide you through life even if it is unpopular.

I am opposed to bullying, oppression, and the quick putdown that seems to be so popular today. A man accused of a double murder made the statement, “I am so very sorry.” Sorry doesn’t cut it when irrevocable damage has already been done. Are your preferences really so important that you need to make others uncomfortable in order to express them? I received an email from a friend on the far side of the world after he read the first three chapters of Blindsided. “You’ve really put your foot in it this time,” he observed thinking of the controversy that might ensue from what is a nothing more than a Young Adult novel. Well, maybe not. I am not the guy you would select to sing lullabies to your babies or to read them a bedtime story. The world is full of harsh realities and I’m a big boy. Bullying, harassment, or the latest version of cruelty isn’t the answer to the ills of society. There is a better way, and it leads upward. Thank you for reading and God bless.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


If you look at the statistics, you might think that bullying is the number one sport in America rather than football. There are far too many incidents, and a surprising number of them lead to suicide. Each year, 750,000 people attempt suicide in the U.S. and 30,000 of them succeed. No one knows how many of the suicides among adolescents are caused by bullying, but the numbers would be astronomical.

Not all bullying leads to something so shocking, but bullying is never a positive thing. Much of it is subtle, but it still hurts those who are victimized. Most of us have experienced it at one time or the other. It might happen to the only girl who wears glasses in her class, and her classmates call her Old Foureyes. No one remembers that she won the spelling bee two years in a row, or that she has the best voice in the chorus. They sometimes forget her real name. Or you might be the kid who had to move to a new school because your father got a better job. Your grandparents came from Asia, and the kids call you Hung Chow and pull their eyes up at the corners and make funny faces behind your back. Or maybe you are standing in front of your hotel waiting to go to a speaking engagement at the civic center, and an overzealous cop body slams you, or maybe you are the cop and you stop a motorist on a lonely stretch of highway. As you approach the window, you see a large pistol aimed at your face, and you think about your wife and your two children . . .

I could go on forever, and I do to some extent in my newest novel, Blindsided. It is about bullying, the unfair judgment of others just because they perceive us as being different. Some of you will read Blindsided, and you will say that’s not so bad. It just happens. Suck it up. Others of you will see it differently as you remember your pain so vividly that it will jar your back teeth loose. Go to AmazonScout’s website and read the excerpt, and then click the ‘Nominate Me’ button which will give me a chance to win a publishing contract. Thank you for listening and God bless.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Young Adult Novel BLINDSIDED now on Kindle Scout's promotional platform 

On September 12th, I will launch my Young Adult Romance novel Blindsided on Amazon’s new publishing program called Kindle Scout. I hope that many of you will support me in this effort by going to their site and read the excerpt and book description. Here are some of the things you might be interested in and my motivation for writing the book.

A book like Blindsided requires an inordinate amount of research because of the nature of the subject. I wanted to be as accurate as I could from a medical standpoint without weighing the reader down with too many statistical facts. I also wanted to know why there were some who felt they were born in the wrong body, and how this conclusion came into being. Was it peer pressure, a desire to be different, or were the beliefs about their own body and orientation valid. It was interesting to explore the reason so many feel threatened by those who are different from the rest of us. This also gave me an opportunity to ponder the fact that there are vast numbers of people who have objections to those who are ‘different’ based on religion, ethnicity, or gender, yet are tolerant concerning some other kinds of behavior that should be an issue to all of us. Bullying is never acceptable for any reason, although there is far too much of it occurring at schools, on social media and wherever people come in contact with others. I think it is fair to tell you that my research caused me to examine my own values on a variety of subjects.

Please take the time to read the excerpt and click the ‘Nominate Me’ button. It will make it possible for me to win a publishing contract with Kindle Scout. Those who participate will receive a free copy of the book at a later date.

Friday, June 26, 2015


If you were to search for the reason so many people left their homeland in Europe and came to America, the word ‘freedom’ would rank high on the list. Freedom is embodied in our Bill of Rights and it is the foundation of our society. We are said to believe that the pursuit of happiness‒ as long as it doesn’t impact the rights of others‒ is what America is all about. Why is it then that we have given most of our rights away in the last two decades in pursuit of being safer and more secure when we really aren’t? The War of Drugs gave law enforcement the right to break down your door at 3 a.m. to search for drugs that are alleged to be on your premises. They really don’t need any proof beyond a ‘tip’ from someone who is said to have reliable information.

Regulations that allow banks and other financial institutions to turn over your financial records to others‒ who really don’t have any right to know you private business‒ has created the opportunity for crooks and con artist to have access to your bank and saving accounts. The government can spy on you while you are on the Internet, despite the assurances that you cannot be unreasonably searched. Most of our personal freedoms are embodied in the Fourth Amendment which says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In may cases, probable cause has been cast aside in the name of expedience.

In the past two weeks, there has been an almost hysterical reaction to the shooting in a South Carolina church that has nothing to do with the crime or what it might take to prevent racial hate crimes in the future. The governor ordered the Confederate flag taken down from the state capitol building, which is probably a good thing, but mass hysteria has caused other zealots to take a giant leap forward with an agenda they can’t explain and probably don’t understand. Knee jerk reactions seldom solve anything. There are petitions demanding all materials referring to the Confederacy be removed from store shelves. Some of our largest chain stores have complied. This involves commemorative license plates, materials and objects used by Civil War Reenactors, T-shirts, and many other things. Few people in the South view them as racial symbols. They are simply a part of our history in the minds of most of our citizens. Rewriting history is a dangerous endeavor that solves no useful purpose. There is even a call from a New York literary critic to stop the showing of ‘Gone with the Wind.’ How long will it be until Amazon and other booksellers ban all books having a Civil War theme. Most of this hysteria is driven by politicians who hope to gain an advantage by whipping the citizenry into a feeding frenzy. While many of us were shouting and gibbering in the streets, congress sneaked the trade bill past us. Maybe it would be a good idea to read again the statement made by a writer named Voltaire about freedom of speech.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.”

I do not believe in censorship in any form except where underage, impressionable children are involved. Do you want anyone telling you what you must think, say, or do? If our freedom of expression is eroded away, then what is left? Think about it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lynn Vincent

I followed the voyage of Zac Sunderland in National Geographic magazine when he, at 17, became the youngest person to sail solo around the world. When Zac’s sister, Abby, decided to beat her brother’s record, I was astounded. Why on earth would a 16-year-old girl try to accomplish something so difficult? Was this a death wish, was she overreaching, or was someone or something pushing her beyond her abilities?
At the time of Abby’s voyage, I was battling cancer and was only vaguely aware of the news coverage, except that she only made it half way around the world before she had to be rescued. Recently, someone gave me a copy of her book, Unsinkable, which detailed the events leading up to her voyage, and what was involved in her attempt to break her brother’s record. Much has been written about the voyage, with so many becoming vocal critics of her abilities, even going so far as to criticize her and her family as nothing more than thrill seekers. Having pursued several difficult and sometimes dangerous sports, I started reading the book with an open mind. Was her attempt foolhardy, or was there something larger than life that drove her on?
In view of the criticism Abby and her family received, she and her co-author spent a lot of time in explaining the type of family she came from and the kind of things each of them expected of themselves. Her father was a sailor and somewhat of an expert on all things nautical, after having spent the last 30 years on boats. Abby loved the sea and at 13 started helping her father deliver boats along the coast of California and down the length of Mexico. Often, there were two boats to deliver to some marina, and she sailed one while her father handled the other. Her father, Lawrence, taught Abby about the sea, the equipment, and the dangers to avoid. I wasn’t far into the book when I decided that the way Abby was raised wasn’t very different from the way in which my generation grew up. There are few of us who can remember when we started driving or when we were turned loose with large pieces of farm equipment. We worked hard, shared responsibilities, and were mentored by every adult we were around. Most kids today are sheltered by their parents and don’t know how to handle any of life’s experiences. Upon graduating from high school, they have mastered their cell phones, the Internet, and little else. They have no job skills, yet they are sent off to college or to the workplace, after having absorbed unrealistic expectations from thousands of movies and televisions programs. No wonder so many of them grab the first job that comes along and spend the rest of their lives making a living and never really learning to live. There is something exhilarating about pushing yourself to the limit and beyond that few people who haven’t experienced it understand. Mountains are climbed because they are there, and oceans are crossed because there are adventuresome people who cannot resist. As Lawrence said in the book, “No one comes away from the sea unchanged.” The same is true for any other endeavor that pushes us to the limit in order to grow and to become. What Abby did was dangerous, but think of the many thousands of teens who die each year because they can’t handle a car safely, or they don’t seem to be able to drive without sending a text message to their friends while they are behind the wheel. Parents need to learn to encourage their children to pursue their dreams, and then be willing to turn them loose to find their place in the world. If you are a parent, you need to read this book. It is a story of faith, determination, and courage. You will come away from it energized and perhaps strangely changed.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins

BOOK REVIEW ~~ Five Stars

My favorite type of book is a Thriller, and especially a well-researched thriller. So many books today deal mostly with rapidly escalating disasters that leave the reader’s head spinning. Cars, guts, and buildings are blown higher and higher with sound and fury that signifies nothing. It is a relief to read an author who can handle these elements and make them logical -- one of the prerequisites of a good action novel.

In Altar of Eden, Rollins weaves a tale that is not predictable. As a veterinarian, he has researched his subject matter well, especially DNA and what research and development might do in the future. Place this ability in the hands of an unscrupulous group and you have the substance of which nightmares are made. Rollins’ descriptions of locals and events are visual in nature. You can see his characters vividly. He grips the throat of the reader from the very first page and doesn’t let go until the end. If you are looking for adventure, suspense, terror, the clash of human relationships, passion and rapid moving action, you might want to consider reading this book. Move over Michael Crichton and make room for James Rollins! I highly recommend this book. Five stars for this one.

I reviewed this book after having received it as a gift from a friend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review of The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks


When someone on Facebook asked, “are there any men who write romance?” I immediately thought of Nicholas Sparks and his seventeen romance novels. I went to my bookshelves and prowled through the section where I had his books filled neatly away. It had been a number of years since I had read The Guardian, so I brought it back to my easy chair and decided to read it again. In the few minutes I had been gone from my computer, several comments had been posted, and a few of them said that Sparks didn’t really write Romance. One woman, with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek said, “there isn’t a single chiseled chin or a drop-dead gorgeous he-man in any of his books. The characters are just ordinary people.” The Guardian was published in 2003, but I couldn’t wait to read it again.

The guardian is the story of Julie Barenson, a young woman who had struggled through her teen years, then found the man of her dreams; someone who loved and valued her. His sudden death left her devastated, alone, and unable to pick up her life again. Then she received a letter her husband had written before he died promising that he would look after her, and asking her to find someone else to love her. The note was attached to a box containing a small ugly puppy. Four years passed and she began to date again, but what kind of man did she really want to spend the rest of her life with? Did she want to get romantically involved with Mike, her best friend, or did she want it to be Richard who was trying to sweep her off her feet? The book is filled with suspense. You might say that is a romantic thriller, but however you label this book, it is exciting and unforgettable.