Thursday, November 26, 2015

Season's Blessings

May this season of the year, filled with thanksgiving, joyous celebrations, and hope for continued blessings fill your heart with love and appreciation.


-------------------------------------- See you in 2016 -----------------------------------------------------------

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Books to Read

The Weston Lakes Book Club of over 30 members, of whom I am the only male, has voted on books to read and discuss over the next year. Two meetings are behind us: Lee's Go Set a Watchman and Hawkins' Girl on the Train. Discussions remain lively and in-depth. We are joined this year by several retired English teachers who taught high school literature -- they bring much insight and background to the club which is much appreciated. Up next: Following Atticus, Ryan. We look forward to this read!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Supper Time!

It's going on 60 years since I first heard my mother calling "supper time, come and eat" while standing on the back steps of our modest home in the fading twilight. About half the boys I play Army with in the vacant lot dotted with truckloads of topsoil we used as fortresses and as a supply of mud balls for grenades, had already departed for their homes. I was among the reluctant to quit play, but the tantalizing aroma from Mother's kitchen never failed to override any consideration of ignoring her call. We usually ate similar fare to what my Depression-era parents were raised on: juicy pinto beans fortified with bacon, ham or salt pork and plenty of onions used to bathe our corn bread or home-made white bread, with salad or greens and plenty of sweet tea. On weekends there would be meat of some sort, but not during the week unless tuna fish or baloney sandwiches were on the menu. There were no ready-to-eat bread mixes in those days. My mother made fresh corn bread or loves of white bread several times a week to feed her family of six.

I don't know when I began to understand some families called their evening meal dinner, the name reserved for our noon meal that these same classmates termed lunch. I was one of those kids who thought his family was in the right, and didn't realize supper was a term used mainly in the rural south. College and the Army taught me to drop that old term, but I still use it when talking with relatives.

For my last birthday friends Irene and Joe Beach gave me a book by Leon Hale entitled "Supper Time". He was a longtime award-winning columnist for the Houston Chronicle, noted for his homespun humor, wit, colloquial voice, and observations of all things Texan. This particular book is a superb collection of tales and memories about the evening meal during the author's boyhood, when in the Army Air Corps, in college, as a bachelor, and around the campfire. I laughed long and loud at an unexpected remark about fruit cake which my mother loved. I understood better why she cherished this concoction of fruit and cake after reading Leon Hale's remembrances. An entertaining, enjoyable and educational read that I highly recommend to all.

Friday, August 14, 2015

We're Czechs

I just read We're Czechs by Robert Skrabanek. It is a well-written historical narrative based on his memories; not text-book situations, but real-life ways farm families dealt with sickness, food preservation, work, religion, community, education and life in the early 20th century. I thought of my parents when reading this book. Although we are not Czechs, their lives on the farm during the 1920's and 30's were very similar. It gives me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the generation that came before mine. It also reflects how much the South and West have changed with the invention of air conditioning. We are setting record-breaking temperatures here along the Texas coast. I grew-up without air conditioning, and know that is not something I would want to experience again :-)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summertimet

As you can probably tell by the length of time beween my posts, summer has got me squarely in its sights -- garden and yard work, genealogy research, travel, laziness, reading, grandchildren -- and I am wallowing in delight. I don't expect to post many more updates this summer.

Best wishes to all as we celebrate the Fourth of July today and reflect on the unique perspective of government as so eloquently expressed by our Founders -- all men are created equal; no one is entitled to rule another nor does birthright give one special privileges to govern another. Stay safe!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Texas Treasure in Writing.

I just completed reading Leon Hale's book, "Turn South at the Second Bridge". This well-written prose captures the essence of mid-20th century rural life along the Texas coast and inland to the Hill Country, north and east. This is the route Leon covered as part of his duties as a columnist for the Houston Chronicle newspaper. First published in 1965, Leon writes about a simpler time before the Korean War but stretching back to some born two years after slavery was abolished. The language of the old-timers is captivating, and rings true...this is a time capsule well-worth reading. Thank you, Patsy, for such a wonderful and thoughtful birthday gift.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Author Inspiration

What inspires an author to write? The answer lies within each individual writer -- perhaps there is a story to tell, the need for self-expression, exploration of one's soul -- and the answers are as varied as the human spirit. Publishers and agents look for unique stories, something different in the market, a new "voice", in addition to well-written prose and dialog. I am often amazed at the story-telling ability or story angle from many authors, and wonder where they got such talent. Fellow author and Weston Lakes book club member, Gay Lewis, is one such writer.

Gay is a pastor's wife and mother of three daughters. She has written a series of novels published by Prism Book Group, involving Sarah Wingspan, a bumbling angel sent by the Almighty to help humans better understand his will. Gay's imagination allows Sarah to hover invisible near her charges, materialize in various human forms, communicate with other heavenly beings, and possess human traits such as having a poor sense of direction and fashion. In addition, Sarah loves to eat and is continually sneaking food away from unsuspecting humans.

I just completed reading Sarah and the Internet Dating Service, a first-rate young adult novel that many adults will also enjoy. Gay uses the story to insert pearls of wisdom regarding God's will and love of his creation without being overly "preachy" or disrupting the story line. I look forward to reading more books in this series.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Earth Day Looms

Earth Day observances are less than 3 weeks away. Our book club got off to a quick start when we discussed my novel, Ransomed Earth, at our early March meeting, hosted by Cheryl Engel. So many shared experiences of how we moved as a nation to demand government action to stop business and citizens from polluting our rivers and air, moving to recycling, banning leaded gasoline, and many more. Tremendous strides but always a challenge to retain gains and move forward. Happy Earth Day, everyone!

 
With Weston Lakes Book Club president, Jo Gilbert, and hostess Cheryl Engel.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Environmental Classics -- Literature that Endures


The 45th Anniversary of Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22 this year. Readers who have yet to delve into the works of Thoreau, Leopold and Carson may find an opportunity to absorb these important works of non-fiction as we reflect upon our human relationship with Mother Earth.

Henry David Thoreau's Walden was published in 1854. It is more-or-less a diary of the two years he spent on 62-acres near Walden's Pond, Massachusetts. It is reflective (man's place in the world; solitude) and observational. Many credit his book with launching the modern conservation movement.

Aldo Leopold was a forester, ecologist and author. His book, A Sand County Almanac, was published in 1949. It is a accumulation of his notes and observations about the seasonal changes on the Wisconsin farm where he lived. His writings helped spread the idea of a "land ethic" and spurred the study of ecology.

Rachael Carson's more recent book, Silent Spring, was published in 1962 and is credited with helping reverse the use of dangerous chemicals in our environment, plus the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of these writings served me well in developing plot and setting in my own novels, particularly Ransomed Earth: An Eco-Thriller. Good reading to all .... Happy Earth Day!!!

 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ghosts, Muses, or Angels


"Do you have a Muse?" I am often asked by inquiring minds. By that, people want to know whether a spiritual being visits to inspire my writing. I have to admit there are times when I have no idea from whence comes a thought or passage...it is as if my fingers fly over the keyboard, placed there by some unseen force. This is not rare among many poets, artists or writers.

Therese Anne Fowler, author of "Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald", wrote an essay on this subject titled Provenance and Products. "Do you believe in ghosts?" she wrote. "While I've learned to allow for the possibility of them and have experienced things that assure me some kind of spiritual realm co-exists with ordinary life, I've never been directly influenced by anything that could qualify as otherworldly until I was struck by the idea to write Zelda Fitzgerald's story."

Therese was literally stopped mid-stride by a new thought of writing about Zelda in 2011. The idea materialized from nowhere. She is a Midwesterner, not raised with ghosts and tales of the supernatural as we Southerners are. She obviously didn't grow up around civil war battlefields or experience the voodoo tales of the coastal South. Nonetheless, Therese acted on the message expressed by the ghost -- or muse -- or angel...your preference...and began some basic research. She found that her mother and Zelda died during the overnight hours on the same date although years apart. Coincidence? It was enough to propel her on. She discovered much about Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald; enough to see much of herself in both of them, and certainly enough to believe she could interpret their lives. After publication there were several other remarkable coincidences:
            - her novel sold on April 10, the same date the "The Great Gatsby" was published.
            - the U.S. edition of "Z" was published March 26, the same date as Scott's first novel, "This Side of Paradise" was released.
            - she was visiting Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York on April 3 when she was notified that "Z" was designated a New York Times Best Seller after only one week of sales.....Scott and Zelda were married on April 3rd in St. Patrick's.  

In writing my previous novels I have attracted information like a magnet. Plot and setting have matured with new, unsought, information that seemed to some to me out of the blue. I often felt like I was being helped along by a supernatural force. This feeling accelerated while writing my latest novel which I've titled Sinner/Saint. But my experiences pale in comparison to Therese Anne Fowler who visited the cemetery where Scott, Zelda, and their daughter are buried. When leaving the foggy setting she felt an unseen hand on her shoulder and a voice in her ear. She was alone. Zelda? "I like to think so," Therese wrote. So do I.