Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Childhood memories are sometimes the most vivid, and I distinctly remember being with my father one Saturday morning when I was a child. We had stopped in front of the courthouse and I heard this loud whipcrack high overhead as I stepped from the car. I looked up and saw a large flag snapping in the breeze. I knew what a flag was, for these were the years immediately after WWII and there were flags everywhere, but for some reason that I did not understand at the time, people were starting to ignore them again as they often do following a time of national emergency. As my father and I stepped onto the sidewalk, an elderly man stopped and placed his hand over his heart and stood looking up at the flag. I wondered what was happening and looked at Dad as he pulled impatiently on my arm. "What is wrong with him?" I whispered when we were a short distance away. "He was a soldier in the First World War," my father answered. Like a lot of things our parents tell us, this didn't make any sense. Adults were always doing incomprehensible things and I went on, anxious to get to the store where I was going to get a new pair of shoes that morning. I was all wrapped up in my own cares, and dismissed the incident from my mind. As I think about my question on that long ago morning, I am not sure I would be able to give any better answer than my father did. What was wrong with this elderly gentleman that made him stop on a busy sidewalk and place his hand over his heart? Why was he looking up with such intensity at a flag that was no more than a pretty object to me? Several years later during the American Bicentennial, a newspaper reporter decided he would place a flagpole on his front lawn and teach his children about the history of the flag and what it was supposed to mean to each of us. He was surprised when he went all over the city and could not find a flag in any of the stores. He wrote an article and it was printed in newspapers all across the country. Paul Harvey took up the cry and people demanded answers. Why weren't there any flags for sale, and why did people not fly them as they should. The American flag means something slightly different to each of us, but we all share common values about the country we love and what it means to be an American. All of our feelings -- the most intimate and precious of them -- are represented in our flag. I am proud that an organization called Raise the Flag has sought to do something to preserve our traditions about this important national emblem, and in doing so, to remind each of us that freedom isn't free. Each freedom we enjoy was purchased with the life blood of the millions that have gone on before us. We should never forget.

What is your community doing to draw attention to our flag?

Joe Prentis

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hardback Books

I couldn't believe it, but there it was in a magazine, a whole article delivering the awful news. Publishers in London were considering publishing fiction only in paperback. There would be no more of those attractive books with the stiff backs and the attractive covers with their artwork and information about the book and author. No more beloved novels that you could pass along to your children or grandchildren so another generation could enjoy them. As I read further, the news became increasingly worse. Publishers in the U.S. were also considering this option. It would make books easier to produce and the cost would be considerably less. Will this dreaded trend catch on in America? What do you think?

Joe Prentis

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who are the Best Authors?

I was in a bookstore browsing through the new arrivals. A serious, and rather intense woman, approached me with a book clutched against her coat. "I'm doing some Christmas shopping and I am looking for something for my nephew," she said. I was standing only a few feet from a display listing the current Bestseller list. "Oh, I have already seen that," she said, "but I heard you talking to the sales lady, and I thought a writer might have an idea or two of his own about some of the really good books."

Ah! I thought. An opportunity like this doesn't come along very often in one lifetime. I wished I could have carried her down the long row of bookshelves in my office where I have collected some of the best books written over the last 40 years or so. I don't have an argument with the New York Times bestseller list, for they are right on target most of the time. There are a lot of other books and authors who may or may not have been on a bestseller list. Who are some of my favorites? The next time you are in a bookstore consider the following authors:

Lisa Scottoline, Steve Martini, Morris West, Janet Daily, Nora Roberts, Lawrence Sanders, Jeffery Deaver, Nicholas Sparks, Belva Plain, Robert Crais, Fanny Flag, Dick Francis, LaVyrle Spencer, Richard North Patterson, Jack Higgins, Stuart Woods, Richard Paul Evans, John Jakes, Robin Cook, Sidney Sheldon, Barbara Nickolae, Barbara Delinsky and Ken Follett.

Don't, however, limit your search to the above list. I am actively searching for new writers. Many of them have an astonishing amount of talent but have not reached the bestseller status. Here are some writers I have recently added to my reading list:

Terry Odel author of Finding Sarah, Starting Over, and What's in a name. These books are available from Cerridan Press.

Felicia Donovan author of The Black Widow Agency series available at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Upcoming Novels

A writer is always excited about his next book. I am currently working on a novel about a lawyer who finds himself in a desperate predicament when he attempts to help a client. Bending the rules is not what lawyers are supposed to do, but Colin Tate knew he could not turn down this desperate plea for help. Now he finds himself with a suspended license and an angry judge with an offer that might solve his problems --- or seal his fate. He had intended to retreat to the quiet, gated community overlooking one of the most peaceful coves in Pickwick while he slowly unwinds, but those of you who have read my novels, know that isn't likely to happen. You don't want to miss Blindsided, due out in August of 2008.

The Relic is the second book in my series about the Middle East, and continues the story of archaeologist John Christopher and his desperate search for world peace. This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride and will not turn you loose until you reach the bone-jarring conclusion. Due out at the end of 2008

Community News of Importance

A beautiful and exciting addition to our neighborhood came about when the steamboat Pickwick Belle arrived at her new homeport at Pickwick. It is fitting that she should find a home here, for the earliest settlers to Hardin County arrived by floating down the river on crudely constructed rafts and flatboats. It was not until shortly before the Civil War that steamboat traffic became a regular event on the river. Villages grew up around river landings, with much of the commerce depending on steamboats. During the Civil War, many of the troops that fought at Shiloh were transported along the river. In recent times, most of the river freight has been shipped on barges, with an occasional visit by the Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen. The Pickwick Belle will be available for dinner cruises on a regular basis. You can check her schedule for the latest updates.
You might be pleased to know that the Pickwick Belle has shown a remarkable success since her arrival at Pickwick. Marketing Director Tanya Irwin has reported 1,532 visitors between October 27 and December 31, of 2007. These passengers have visited our area from 9 different states. They are offering 30 different types of cruses in 2008!