#NewContest “What is the Gender of this Author?” Submit a #ShortStory of 500 hundred words or less … in ANY genre.

BLOG POST WHAT IS THE GENDER OF THIS AUTHOR.jpg

You all know by now just how much pleasure I get from supporting my fellow authors.

It’s been quite a while since I came up with a contest here, and I do hope this one proves to be both challenging and entertaining.

I think it will be interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is discovering just how diversely readers interpret what they read.

Just how perceptive are you?

So … what is this contest about?

The contest works in two parts.

 PART 1. I need authors to contribute a previously unpublished short story of 500 words or less in any genre of their choice.  Please include the title … and for my information and judging purposes only your name and indentifying gender.

Your short story will only be identified to the readers by a number allocated by myself. Your gender will not be revealed until after all votes have been counted.

In the subject line please write, “Submission for What is the Gender of this Author?”

SUBMISSIONS To be sent to me at suzieb4burke@hotmail.com

The author who has the least number of people correctly guessing their gender will have a featured article here on my blog, of any work of their choosing, the week immediately after the votes are calculated.

I only need three submissions each week to make the vote viable.

PART 2. Join in the voting process! If you haven’t contributed a story that week, please join in the fun and the challenge of identifying the gender that his author identifies as.

I will conduct a POLL to make voting easily accessible.

Those of you who wish to caste a vote will have a full week to read the entries and vote after the submissions go live.
 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, folks!

#Short Story “Why can’t we be friends?” How do we explain prejudice to young children?” #RRBC @pursoot

BLOG CASPER AND CHARLIE USE THIS IMAGE

How do we explain prejudice to young children? How sad it is that that question even needs to be asked. This is a short story I have written to share with my young grandson.

Meet Casper and His Best Friend Charlie.

BLOG CASPER AND CHARLIE TUMMY.jpg

“Charlie, why are they saying I have to go away? What does away mean, Charlie?”

“Well, Casper, away, um—away, is someplace where I can’t be with you. I’m not too sure about the why—but I think maybe they are a little, afraid.”

“What are they afraid of, Charlie?”

“Well, I think maybe they’re scared because we’re sort of …  different?”

“I don’t understand. What does different, mean?”

“Um, different is … like, you are small … and I am bigger.”

“Oh … I still don’t understand. We’re buddies, aren’t we?”

“Yes … we sure are; we’re the bestest of buddies. But Casper you will get a whole lot bigger.”

“Bigger? Like … um, like my daddy is bigger?”

“Yes—like your daddy is bigger, that is different.”

“But, Charlie, you will just gets bigger—like I do. Won’t you?”

“Well—no … I don’t think so, I think I’m already as big as I can get.”

“Charlie, I don’t understand. Why … why are they afraid of that? Do they think I will squish you—when I sit on your tummy?”

“Weeell—maybe you might squish me just a little bit.”

“So—um, we can fix that, Charlie. You can sit on my tummy—cause you won’t squish me when me I’m big like daddy.”

“I …I … Well I’m not so not sure that would be okay.”

“Why, Charlie? I, don’t get it.”

“Well, maybe … maybe it’s, ’cause … um, we are different in some other ways.”

“Okay … so we make the different stuff go away, and we make everything the same.”

“I don’t think we can do that, Casper!”

“I don’t understand.  You are my friend; you make me laugh, and you let me sleep on your tummy. Why are they afraid of that?”

“Maybe the same stuff is just not as scary as the different stuff is.”

“Charlie, I’m sorry—but I still don’t understand it. What can be so … different?”

“Well—maybe it’s  ’cause I eat green stuff … an you eat, um … meat stuff.”

“Oh, okay—I see. Um … no I don’t. Why is that scary?”

“Well, maybe they think, maybe they think—um—that you might wanna eat me.”

“Oh—you make me laugh, and laugh, Charlie, you’re so funny.”

“I wasn’t doing the funny-funny, thing, small one.”

“You means they really … really think that I would eat you?”

“I think so, Casper”

“Do they eat meat, Charlie?”

“Yep, at least I think some of ‘em do.”

“Do they eat … do they eat their friends, Charlie?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Then I don’t understand it. If they don’t eat their friends, what is different? Why are they silly-scared that I would eat you?”

“I’m just not sure, Casper.”

“So—what else is so different, Charlie?”

“Well, I look different than you do.”

“Do—all their friends look just like they do?”

“No, I don’t think so. But maybe—maybe, they only have friends who are all the same. So no one can be silly-scared of being more different.”

“I still don’t understand it—Can I only have friends that are exactly the same as I am?”

“I think maybe … yes, Casper.”

“I don’t like that … I think that’s so silly-silly. Charlie, how else are we different?”

“Well—mmm—I’m not sure?”

“I can’t think of differents—but I can thinks of sames.

“What sames cans you think of, Casper?”

“Well, Charlie, if you get hurt, you cry, and go tell your momma … just like I do. Don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”

“And if you cut yourself you’ve got that red blood stuff that comes out all icky … just like I do. Don’t you?”

“Well … yes, Casper, yes I do.”

“So, more sames—than differents—hey, Charlie?”

“Differents, are more scary for them, Casper.”

“Why don’t they just close their eyes … ’cause then, well, then they wouldn’t see, the differents?”

“Casper … that’s a good idea … but, I dont think it would work.”

“Why, Charlie?”

“’Cause—um—they would have to keep their eyes shuts all of the time … and that would silly-scary them even more?”

“Cause … they would falls off cliffs or something, Charlie?”

“Uh—huh, that would be bad, Casper.”

“Charlie? Will the sun still wake up over the trees, if we be friends?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Will it still go to sleep, behind the big hills, if we be friends?”

“I think so.”

“Will we still have a mommy and daddy, Charlie?”

“Yes, Casper.”

“Will we still have other friends, Charlie?”

“Charlie …  Will … we still have other friends?”

“I … just don’t know about that for sure, Casper.”

“Oh—that is too, too sad, Charlie. It be water in my eyes sad. ‘Cause I like my other friends too.”

“I know, little buddy.  It makes me crying sad too.”

“Charlie, I’m silly-scared now—what do we do?”

“I don’t know exactly, Casper. I am thinkin’ about it very hard.”

“Charlie, I don’t want to be your unfriend. Maybe we can run away, someplace where they do not care about those differents things … where they just care about the sameness. Do you think we can, Charlie? Where is a place we can go?”

“I have never, ever heard of a place likes that, Casper.”

“Never … ever?”

“Not ever, Casper.”

“Charlie? Charlie … you think maybe we can find one, if we look, and look … and look some more?”

“We can try. Are you sure you want to go looking and looking?”

“I am surely-sure, Charlie. I thinks if we look long and look real hard … we’ll maybe find us a place, a place where the sames are more special than than differents.”

“Casper, my little buddy, when did you get to be so smart?”

“When I decided to be your friend, Charlie.”

“Charlie?”

“Uh—huh, Casper?’

“Charlie, why is the sky up?”

“That’s a whole other conversation, Casper.”

 

***

I plan on continuing using Charlie and Casper in future stories I write for my dear little Jacob. They will hopefully mature as he does. I do hope you enjoyed this one. Thanks so much for stopping by.

 

 

My TOP 5 Fiction Reads of 2017. #RRBC #AuthorShout #IARTG #IndBk

Hello and welcome to My TOP 5 Fiction Reads of 2017.

 

TRUMPET FOR BEST READS LOUIS ARMSTRONG
When Only The BEST will do.

 

It was a difficult task selecting My Favorite Reads of 2017. I have read and reviewed many books in this rapidly disappearing year. I select my reads from diverse places. Yet it doesn’t surprise me at all that those I rank in my top ten Indie-books of the year are all to be found at Rave Reviews Book Club. Why? Because the standard of excellence of each book is outstanding.  That is what I’ve come to expect with each book I purchase. The reviews are always honest and constructive.

What is the X Factor for me? Ah! For me it’s that shining place outside of myself, a wonderous reality that some authors take you to as willing captives. A place where the story has me so utterly committed to it that putting it down would be followed by a rebellion against my need for sleep.

It’s when an authors words linger in your memory in a voice you could clearly hear as their characters voices.

It’s those pristine moments when you find yourself invested in the outcome of the journey.

It’s when ALL of your senses become heightened, it’s when the pleasure of reading it comes to an end … and you feel richer for having read it … yet bereaved by its absence.

That’s MY X-Factor.

I will be listing my TOP-FIVE-READS separated into Fiction and Non-Fiction.  (Non Fiction FAVORITES Will be listed here TOMORROW.)

TODAY I SHARE MY TOP FIVE SELECTION FOR WORKS OF FICTION

Counting down from

NUMBER 5. 

 “OUR JUSTICE” Book 3 of the JOHN CANNON TRILOGY. BY JOHN W.HOWELL @howellwave.

COVER OUR JUSTICE BY JOHN W HOWELL

BLURB …The terrorist leader and financier Matt Jacobs figured out a plan to eliminate the President. He is relying on John Cannon’s stature as a hero to help him carry it off. John finds himself walking the fine line of pretending to help Matt while trying to figure out a countermeasure to the plan.
The third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy brings together two strong wills for a showdown. The question to be answered is who will feel the satisfaction that the achievement of justice delivers? John, Matt or neither?

MY REVIEW HEADLINE  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Riveting Action-Packed Thriller.

A Brief excerpt from my review  …

“Author John W. Howell doesn’t disappoint on any level.

His characterizations are cleverly subtle, allowing the reader to visualize the potent scenes without overwhelming them with too much description. This author commands the attention with a clear gift at plot structure, and superb pacing that will leave you immensely satisfied as Our Justice reaches its unpredictable and shattering climax.

I believe this talented author has another book in a totally different genre coming out soon.

I will be waiting eagerly to read it.

THAT BOOK is ‘Circumstances of Childhood” available now.

PURCHASE ANY OF JOHN HOWELL’S Books here on AMAZON.com

All works by JOHN W. HOWELL on AMAZON.COM

NUMBER 4.

“FINDING BILLY BATTLES”

An Account of Peril, Transgression, and Redemption (Volume 1)

  by RONALD E YATES. @jhawker69

Cover Billy Battles by Ron Yates

BLURB:

Western Kansas 1860 Billy Battles is born on a remote homestead just off the storied Santa Fe Trail More than one hundred years later a great grandson inherits two trunks filled with Billy s personal effects Also in those trunks are several startling journals that chronicle an astonishing life that until now was obscured by the murky haze of time and Billy s deep rooted desire for secrecy The journals tell of a man both haunted and hunted who in a desperate search for peace and redemption journeys far from the untamed American West to the Far East South America and Europe They meticulously describe Billy s interaction with a wide assortment of men and women some legendary a few iniquitous and many lost to history They also recount his participation in such cataclysmic events as the Spanish American War turmoil in French Indochina and violent revolutions in Mexico and South America Complying with Billy s last request the great grandson assembles the journals into a compelling trilogy that reveals a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control but who nevertheless manages to persevere for ten decades When a great grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great grandfather he sets out to fulfill his great grandfather s last request to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure violence and tragedy The great grandfather s name is Billy Battles a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control For much of his 100 year long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants His great grandson is about to change that As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great grandfather a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable East.

MY HEADLINE FOR REVIEW… 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A marvelous book to be treasured and read over-and-over again.  

An EXCERPT FROM MY REVIEW;

“This talented author has crafted characters that engage the reader immediately, we are willingly taken into each scene, we see the characters there, all breathing, moving … and sounding a particular way, the visualizations in this book are superb.

Character depth connects us immediately to the roguish and beautifully layered persona of Billy Battles. The man is revealed with great skill throughout the book. Peel back those layers and recognize the man that dwelt beneath that skin.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey into the old west and those well-known characters that greeted me there.

This marvelous blend of fact and fiction is a book to be treasured and read, over-and-over again.

NUMBER 3. “JAZZ BABY” by BEEM WEEKS. @beemweeks

JAZZ BABY BOOK COVER

BLURB:

While all of Mississippi bakes in the scorching summer of 1925, sudden orphanhood wraps its icy embrace around Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten, a pretty young teen.

Taken in by an aunt bent on ridding herself of this unexpected burden, Baby Teegarten plots her escape using the only means at her disposal: a voice that brings church ladies to righteous tears, and makes both angels and devils take notice. “I’m going to New York City to sing jazz,” she brags to anybody who’ll listen. But the Big Apple–well, it’s an awful long way from that dry patch of earth she’d always called home.

So when the smoky stages of New Orleans speakeasies give a whistle, offering all sorts of shortcuts, Emily Ann soon learns it’s the whorehouses and opium dens that can sidetrack a girl and dim a spotlight…and knowing the wrong people can snuff it out.

Jazz Baby just wants to sing–not fight to stay alive.

MY BOOK REVIEW HEADLINE 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A beautifully written and perfectly captured slice of time.

An EXCERPT from my REVIEW.

What happens when an author weaves a timeline with such devotion to detail that the reader can smell, hear, taste and feel the ambience? Jazz Baby is what happens. Author Beem Weeks seduces the reader with the perfection of both the dialogue and the dawning of an age that will live on as long as memory exists.

His characterization of Baby Teegarten is utterly perfect, her determination to succeed in a sleaze filled world is based on her absolute certainty that she has a voice that will move people, a voice that will transform the darkest of nights into glistening, gleaming candles of perfection.

PURCHASE JAZZ BABY ON AMAZON.COM

 

NUMBER 2. “THE GLADE” By HARMONY KENT.@harmony_kent

BOOK COVER THE GLADE BY HARMONY KENT

BLURB:

“Readers who like to curl up during the long winter evenings and feel the delicious chill of fear running up and down their spines need only turn to The Glade to have all their expectations fulfilled.

The Glade is a horror story in the mould of Stephen King, and rendered the more so by its faint echoes of Pet Cemetery and the even stronger resonance of the pervasive malignancy of It.”—Review by Brian O’Hare

This gripping, edge-of-your-seat mystery/thriller will have you thinking twice about booking that idyllic cottage in the country. Nothing in this woodland paradise within the Forest of Dean is what it seems.

The Wenstrops have it all: health, wealth, and happiness. Until everything falls apart. Helen gets arrested for murder, and yet is either unable or unwilling to give a defence. During her detention, vital evidence goes missing and tensions run high.

Meanwhile, in the woods, malignant forces gather power.

This sensational second novel by acclaimed author Harmony Kent will have you alternately laughing, crying, and gripping the edge of your seat as this roller-coaster ride of a plot unfolds. It will keep you guessing through its many twists and turns, and hijack your attention right up until you turn the final page. This book has it all: murder, intrigue, the supernatural, a broken marriage, a love affair, courage against impossible odds, suspense, and high drama.

“Expertly written, the book keeps you guessing at every turn. What can I say? You really have to read this book … if you’re brave enough!”—Review by Fantasy Queen

The Glade is an IndieB.R.A.G.Medallion honoree, and an Official Selection for the New Apple Book Awards 2015.

Praise for Harmony Kent:

“Kent gives the reader mystery, intrigue, sex, action and characters risking their lives for a greater good. Kent’s writing is an immersive experience.” T. Dewhirst (Rabid Reviews)

“With a very contemporary voice, Ms. Kent has found a place in this genre as she easily entertains and captures the reader…” J. Malinoski

“Kent…is a master of her craft. There is magic in her writing.” J. Brooke

MY REVIEW HEADLINE

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Don’t miss this unforgettably terrifying walk on the edge of sanity.

An EXCERPT FROM MY REVIEW

I find that reviewing the Paranormal genre presents the reader with a challenge. To negotiate a pathway that navigates between what the human brain can perceive as possible, and what that same brain will render improbable.

I look for that ‘improbability’ factor to be challenged when I read Paranormal.

Author Harmony Kent has nailed that challenge, and she has done it beautifully with a style and pacing that caught me up instantly. Her intensely visual descriptive ability caused me to shiver, as ‘The Glade’ became palpably, demonstrably alive.

The author takes you to the shadowy places that permeate nightmares. This author has an empathy with, and an understanding of, the human psyche, and more specifically those unspoken things we as a species all fear.

PURCHASE BOOK BY HARMONY KENT ON AMAZON.COM

NUMBER 1

“One Dyke Cozy” By Rhani D’Chae @rhanidchae

BOOK REVIEW COVER RHANI D'CHAE ONE DYKE COZY

BLURB

People come into our lives for a day, a season, or a reason…
“Shy taught me to fight like a champion, love like a poet, & live like it was my last day on earth.”

One Dyke Cozy touches on the lives of two girls, Gabby and Shy, from their first meeting as children to Shy’s untimely death.

This novel contains profanity and adult situations.

MY REVIEW

 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  One Dyke Cozy has to be in my top 5 of books read in 2017.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this author with her works ‘Shadow of The Drill” and “A Perilous Thirst” … in consequence I was excited to find this gem waiting to be read.

Have you ever read a book that touches every exposed nerve of raw emotion? That’s precisely how ‘One Dyke Cozy’ affected me.

The wonderful and at times harsh moments of honesty shine between these beautifully written pages. Author Rhani D’Chae has a rare gift of perception, a gift that enables her to dig deeply into her characters subconscious and elevate that character to a place where they become as real to the reader as their own reflection in a mirror.

Shy is a gay female, learning to survive in a world that still whispered the word gay behind closed doors, and then only in selected company. The existence of gays was barely acknowledged by people afraid that to allow these human beings their right to be different would somehow contaminate their closeted perceptions of a ‘pristine’ world.

Gabby is a child of that pristine existence, and her friendship with Shy will take her to places where her loyalty to her friend will be tested again and again. The author holds your heart in her hands with every word that she pens.

If you seek a book that will reach deep inside you, that will both touch and confound you, then you will find that right here.

One Dyke Cozy has to be in my top 5 of books read in 2017.

Do yourself a favor … read it, it will stay in your memory for a long time to come.

***

Contact Via:

PURCHASE “ONE DYKE COZY” on AMAZON.COM

Email:  RhaniDChae@gmail.com

Twitter:  @RhaniDChae & @RhaniDChaeBooks

Facebook:  https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

Tomorrow December 30th I will feature My TOP 5 NON-FICTION reads of 2017.

I do hope you’ll join me.

 

 

Make 2018 YOUR year to DREAM. Are your dreams EMOTIONALLY MALNOURISHED? Then FEED them!

 

BLOG 2018 ENABLE THE DREAM.jpg

Make 2018 YOUR year to DREAM! Are your dreams emotionally malnourished?

How did 2017 treat you? Are you pumping your fist in the air with Jubilation and excitedly waiting for 2018 to begin? I hope so.

Or are you weary, depleted and ready to capitulate? Exhausted by the battle to simply survive?

We all dream. Not all of us live to see our dreams come to fruition. Those of us that do don’t cease our dreaming because we have succeeded in having one dream being activated and lived.

Dreaming is as necessary to our well being as breathing. Many things live outside our control, that’s a given. We accept that the circumstances of simply living each day in our turbulent world will confront us. It’s what to DO with those circumstances that is important.

We can choose to become angry, venting our frustration and rage on anyone in our immediate vicinity … We can choose to close our emotional doors and enforce an impenetrable barrier, so that life and it’s living doesn’t harm us again.

We can allow our dreams to die of EMOTIONAL MALNUTRITION. Unnourished, unsheltered and weak, until eventually they die.

Or …

We can examine what we did to bring our dreams to realization.  Was it enough? Did we open doors to our hopes and desires and permit them to have a delineated shape and presence?

OR ... Did we shrug in denial. Feeling the emptiness of recognizing that another 365 days had passed … and we had achieved little or perhaps, sadly, nothing at all.

Let me share an expression I heard a lifetime ago, I don’t know where I first read it or heard it … but I repeat it to myself again … and again.

“If You Always Do … What You Have Always Done …

You Will Always Get What You’ve Always Got”

That expression has caused me to honestly and at times brutally question my actions. I have made the time that it takes in my life to comprehend where those reactions sprung from.

I have then made a conscious decision to CHANGE the way I react.

If I failed to accomplish what I set out to do, I look at the WHY of it. I accept the conditions I had no control over, and then focus exclusively on those things that I dd … that failed to take me on the road I wished to travel.

Then I learned how to change. I learned how to explore alternative possibilties. Some through research, and others by gut instincts that I may have ignored. I reached out for something different to the previous journey. I have learned by constant trial and error newer and hopefully better ways of feeding my dreams, keeping them well nourished and always accessible.

We can shake the debris off those remnants of dreams that can and should be resurrected.

We can with hard work and courage breathe life back into them once more.

We can acknowledge our fear … and move through and beyond it.

Will it be simple? Not one chance in hell! For we cannot control exterior forces …

All of us fail at times. The simple failures that can mount up to make dreaming again a less desirable option. Or those monumental failures that we allow to define who we are and what we’ll become.

Don’t fear your dreams.

Fear is the deadliest weapon life has to throw at your dreams.

With our increasingly violent, nerve-stretched, and at times desperate world, it’s all too easy to cave in, to give up, to hide away … all too easy and completely understandable.

I readily acknowledge my own fears. They are many. Do I fear what the future has in store for me? NO. Do I fear what the future may hold for my child and her child? Hell yes!

Will I allow those dark fears to dominate my sunrises and sunsets?

No … I refuse to do that.

Stand up tall, focus on your inner strength, seek comfort in the presence of loved ones, or seek it from your system of belief.

Dare to DREAM … then strut proudly towards it, discover what you need to do to make it come to fruition … You have another chance with each sunrise, so take it.

This my friends is my Wish for you all in 2018. Take hold of your dreams,  … shake them, and shape them …  and MAKE IT YOUR YEAR TO ENABLE YOUR DREAMS!

MAKE 2018 YOUR YEAR TO ACTIVATE YOUR DREAM.

 

 

Book Review: “Finding Billy Battles” by Ron Yates. #RRBC #IARTG @jhawker69 The final review for 2017.

Please join me as I share my final review of 2017. “Finding Billy Battles” by Ron Yates.

RON YATES AUTHOR PIC

About the Author

Ronald E. Yates is an author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans from around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of theCollege of Media.
His book, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles,” is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014. He is currently working on Book #3 of the trilogy with an intended publication date in spring or early summer 2017.

Ron has been a presenting author at the Kansas Book Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, among other venues. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: AGlobal Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill.

Before leaving the world of professional journalism where he toiled 25 years, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and bothCentral and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre inBeijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua,El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places.

His work as a war correspondent resulted in several awards, including the Inter-American Press Association’s Tom Wallace Award for coverage ofCentral and South America; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society ofProfessional Journalists; three Edward Scott Beck Awards for InternationalReporting, and three Pulitzer nominations.

Ron is a proud graduate of the William Allen White School ofJournalism at the University of Kansas and a veteran of the U.S. Army where he served in the Army Security Agency.

BOOK COVER

Cover Billy Battles by Ron Yates

 

BLURB

When a great-grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great-grandfather, he sets out to fulfill his great-grandfather’s last request: to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure, violence, and tragedy. The great-grandfather’s name is Billy Battles–a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control.
For much of his 100-year-long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants. His great-grandson is about to change that. As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great-grandfather–a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable Far East, Latin America and Europe.
As he flips through the pages of the handwritten journals he learns of Billy’s surprising connections to the Spanish-American War, French Indochina, and revolutions in Mexico and other Latin American countries. But most of all he learns that in finding Billy Battles he has also found a long lost and astonishing link to the past.

My REVIEW of “Finding Billy Battles.”

on December 5, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A book to be treasured and read over-and-over again.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book has earned some outstanding reviews and is deserving of every one of them. Finding Billy Battles is an engaging and believable journey through time as told by an aged Billy Battles in the pages of journals that span his existence from 1860 to 1960.

This talented author has crafted characters that engage the reader immediately, we are willingly taken into each scene, we see the characters there, all breathing, moving … and sounding a particular way, the visualizations in this book are superb.

Character depth connects us immediately to the roguish and beautifully layered persona of Billy Battles. The man is revealed with great skill throughout the book. Peel back those layers and recognize the man that dwelt beneath that skin.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey into the old west and those well-known characters that greeted me there.

This marvelous blend of fact and fiction is a book to be treasured and read, over-and-over again.

What a stunning read to end 2017 with. Top notch.

I will be reading the other books in this trilogy.

 

Find Books by Ron Yates here.

Finding Billy Battles on AMAZON.COM

Ron Yates on TWITTER

Christmas on the streets. The truest meaning of Christmas. Christmas morning 1966: 2:00 A.M. #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1

BEAUTIFUL BABY DOLL FOR BLOG CHRISTMAS 2017

Thank you for joining me. Whenever the darkness of our crazy old world threatens to overwhelm me I remember the times when the wonderful spirits of good people who saught only to give joy with no expectation of return enriched my life. I share this precious miracle with you each year that I am able. My Christmas gift to all those that may despair or have lost faith in the belief that most human beings are intrinsically good.

CHRISTMAS MORNING 1966: 2:00 AM.

The Christmas season is the harshest of all when you live on the streets.

On ANY streets … In ANY town.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago.

It was not a ‘miracle’ of biblical proportions, yet for us, it was a miracle that we would hold in our memories forever, to be taken out and looked at whenever life grew harsher.

I have taken the chapter from my memoir, and I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding.

I am smiling through my tears as I remember…..

 “Faint Echoes of Laughter” Book 2 of the “Standing Tall & Fighting Back.” Series. Non-Fiction. Memoir.

Chapter 7

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood wasn’t good.

Christmas out here meant different things to each of us I guess.

My memories of Christmas’s past were all bad. Even last year when I’d been on the streets alone for barely a month had bad stuff attached to it, yet it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the ones I had lived with back in the home I called ‘hell central’.

I asked Baby Jenny to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some leftover decorations to put up in the ‘palace’ to lighten the mood up a little.

He gave me a thoughtful nod, and said he’d “see what he could do.”

He spoke to Jenny…”I swear you get prettier every day, Jenny. Don’t let Sassy here teach you any bad habits.”

Jenny grinned at him too shy to respond.

I kept my mouth shut except for a “Gee thanks … Big Mike”

He smiled and wandered off, and we headed back up to the palace. We spent a lot of time outdoors during the heat of the summer. The cooler breezes from the water were good. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful.

When a week had passed and we hadn’t seen Big Mike we figured that he had forgotten. It was disappointing, but he didn’t owe us anything; and after all, he had helped us out with Momma and other stuff like wood for the fire in winter, so we didn’t really expect the decorations, we just hoped for them.

Jenny was extra quiet. I wondered if she would ever be able to talk about why she was here. I didn’t ask her. I hadn’t discussed my background with any of them, even Jamie. So I understood that it was not open for general discussion.

Christmas Eve dawned fiery red. It was going to be a very, very, hot day according to the radio forecasts, with a cool southerly change expected later in the evening.

We all headed up to Hyde Park very early and took a Christmas bath in our favorite fountain. At least the palace wouldn’t stink quite so badly for Christmas day.

It was tempting to just jump in the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.

Sydney Harbor wasn’t the safest place to swim. We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a swim in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around because it was Christmas Eve.

The sky began to look dark and threatening early in the afternoon. The southerly buster was heading up the coast rapidly. We were all unusually quiet and sitting around outside in the shade of the container when we heard the sound of vehicles heading toward the Palace.

We headed around the front to see who had arrived and watched in stunned amazement as Big Mike and two of the other guys whose names I can’t recall, began unloading boxes of stuff from their cars and placing it in the shaded opening of our tin home.

Big Mike looked uncomfortable; if possible, he was even gruffer than usual. “You lot need feeding up, so we brought you some stuff.”

We were all too stunned to say much at all, these hard men were all smiling and a little red-faced. I swear if they could have, that they would have scuffed their shoes in the dirt like little kids with embarrassment.

Big Mike shook Jamie’s hand and accepted the ‘thank you’ from him.

I was speechless which wasn’t a common occurrence, I just grinned like mad and gave the guys a hurried “Thanks.”

They were the unlikeliest Angels you would ever see, sweaty and dirty after a long hot day’s work, the sight of them unloading the Christmas goodies and punching one another in the arm in a gesture common amongst males remains etched starkly in my memory.

Big Mike reached into the front seat of his car and pulled out a parcel that was wrapped up in Christmas paper, with bright ribbons attached. He walked over and handed it to Baby Jenny.

She looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“The women picked this out for ya, little one.” Big Mike said.

Jenny still wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead and open it, Jenny,” Jamie said.

“Um, later. Later. Okay?” she replied looking very unsure of herself.

She looked at the men, and gave them one of her sweet smiles, “Don’t matter what it is. I never had a present before, so…Um…Yeah, thanks, thanks a lot.”

The men seemed to understand that she needed to be alone when she opened it.

As for the rest of us, we tore into those presents and boxes like there was no tomorrow…squealing in delighted surprise with everything we found.

There was more food than any of us had ever seen.

Tinned Hams, fresh pineapples, cherries, and plums. Cooked Turkey and Cranberry sauce …with all the trimmings. Fifteen red t-shirts all large sizes. Paper plates, and plastic knives and forks, a can-opener. A Cooler packed with ice, a radio, and spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of Coke.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio; it was bigger and put out a better sound than the small transistor we had been using, we sat drinking the beer and singing our version of Christmas carols, none of them repeatable. Trust me.

Jenny sat on her sleeping place; she was a little tipsy as well having been allowed one-half of a small bottle of beer. We glanced at her as she picked up her present and watched the look on her face as she unwrapped it.

It was a baby doll, all soft and dressed in bonnet and booties with a pretty pink knitted dress. “Just what we needed, another fuckin’ mouth to feed,” she said…but the smile on her face could have lit up the entire city.

We were fed, content, and a little overwhelmed and unsure at the kindness of these people.

Typically, we questioned the motive behind it. We all wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, they had done it for no motive other than the wish to make this Christmas a good place for us to be. It was an alien experience but a welcome one.

We had only sampled a little of the huge amount of food, deciding to save the rest for Christmas Day

That night we were all tipsy. Strangely quiet as we bedded down for the night. I think we were all a little overwhelmed by the generosity of these men.

It was around 2.00 am Christmas morning I guess when I felt something was wrong. Whatever the something was, it wouldn’t let me sleep. I couldn’t place it immediately. It was a strange sense of something missing, and it troubled me.

Jamie was on watch; I climbed over the others and hunkered down next to him. Jamie smiled at me and said, “You too hey, Sassy?”

“Yeah, I guess–what is it? Something’s different.”

We sat a while just listening. Then Jamie said, “Oh shit! It’s Jenny, she’s not crying!”

My heart was in my mouth. Jamie grabbed the torch and we played it across the others, several of them were already awake, and wondering what the hell was happening. Jenny had cried herself to sleep every night since she’d come to this place. It was a sound we all tried not to hear. She couldn’t be comforted, we weren’t permitted that close. She’d been here for two years now. Jenny was around eight-years-old.

Jenny lay on her side, sound asleep with both arms wrapped around that doll so tight there was no space between them.

That was the first time I had cried in a very, very, long time. I glanced at the others, without exception we were all affected the same way. No one wanted to look at anyone else, shit we were supposed to be the toughest kids on the block! Hell, we were the only kids on the block. That Christmas was the first real day of Jenny’s childhood. From then on, Christmas became Jenny’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you that a miraculous change came over her. That she was instantly transformed. In a make-believe world, she’d be outside singing all the hits from ‘The Sound of Music’ and wearing a pretty new dress and shoes.  But this is the real world, and the changes took place over time.

Jenny named her doll, Francine.

The greatest change of all; was that, from that night, for all the years that Baby Jenny remained in our world, she never cried herself to sleep again.

***

Many years have passed since that long ago Christmas Eve. My darling Jenny has gone.

So many of my Christmas Eves’ over time have been special ones. But the one I recall with tears of happiness on my face, and a smile in my heart … is this one.

Jenny lost her battle with life in September of 2008.

The doll Francine was buried with her.

Thank you for being here. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, serene and joyous Christmas, no matter where on this planet you’re from.

Faint Echoes of Laughter here on Amazon.com

KOALA CHRISTMAS

 

When Anxiety Whispers. Have we forgotten how to be human? #Living with stress. #RRBC #PTSD #STRESS

ANXIETY WHISPERS

When Anxiety Whispers.

We all hear those dark whispers, those paralyzing moments of anxiety. It comes with the territory of living in a society set on fast forward when the pace of everyday life becomes so frantic, so overwhelming, that we begin of necessity to sacrifice something intrinsic and necessary within us.
The days we live now are filled with the marvelous inventions of the internet, but has the pace of our knowledge grown beyond our capacity to understand its repercussions?

I make full use of everything available to me and, yes, I am grateful for the brilliant minds that opened my small world up to so much more than I’ve ever dreamed of. I acknowledge that connectivity, I understand that we are living in an age where no one need be isolated, those folks too shy or encumbered by ill health either physical or mental to be able to connect with others of our species by interacting on a personal level now have an outlet, a way of joining in on life’s conversations.

I get that we are privileged; I understand and accept that this is indeed an amazing transition from an age where television was a new invention, and not every home had the telephone available.
But … my concern is this … we are human, we are warm-blooded creatures, we need contact with others of our species the way a seedling needs rain. We are becoming isolated but not insulated from the world we now live in.

Has our humanity diminished as we shut ourselves inside our gated communities, or triple lock the doors of our homes? Where bars on the windows are commonplace, and we alarm our houses and insert surveillance cameras’ just so we can grab a few hours sleep at night. We live in fear of those that would take our cars, our electrical equipment, our goods and chattels, fear of the dark figures possibly armed that may invade our only safe haven.

But what of the fear of stolen identity?

My anxiety stems from my growing awareness, an awareness of a disconnection, a step back from human to human interaction. I witness every day the people around me, with earplugs firmly in place and concentration and awareness of their immediate environment depleted, where they check an app on their iPhone to discover if the weather will be sunny or if rain is on its way. They can no longer remember if indeed they ever knew what it is to look simply look at the sky and have long forgotten the smell of rain pending on the wind.
They scurry by with heads down and absolute focus on their cellphone, they walk out into oncoming traffic, surprised and annoyed when someone in a car suddenly blares the horn.
The price we pay for our new world is enormous. Those anxious whispers catch the unprepared and inexperienced traveler and hurtle them full throttle into sleepless nights and stress-filled days.
Those of us that delude ourselves that our world is malleable to our wishes, those that struggle on despite the imprisoning chains of our existence, these are the people that at times pay the highest penalty of all.
For we begin to lose sight of the precious moments as we battle each day. We forget what the dream was to begin with, as we attempt to manipulate life to fit our own agendas.
Where did the days disappear to, when did the nights become just another stretch of time to endure?

When was the last time you laughed with the simple delight of living? Did those you love hear you tell them that you loved them today?

Are you so busy working, traveling each day to a place that you’ve grown to detest, to find that one precious moment in time to just take a deep breath and be quiet within yourself?

Did you notice the seasons changing? How did the summer end and the leaves begin to turn golden, without you witnessing and rejoicing in that precious life-cycle?

When did your child grow to be so tall? When did your friends stop calling? When was the last time you all got together and caught up on sweet memories for just a brief while? Don’t you miss that shared laughter? Don’t you miss those hugs of acknowledgement or concern?

The dark whispers grow darker with no light to stop them.

The feelings of being unable to deal with the task of just surviving each day grow large and ever darker as those anxious whispers spiral out of control.

When did you begin to need a drink each night in order to relax in your own home?

When did just one or two drinks cease to create the resultant deep breaths that you crave?

When did your iPhone replace a face-to-face conversation? How is it that your partner has now gray in their hair? How did that happen without you witnessing the transition?

We stand to lose far more of our dreams as our world grows more frantic.

When does it stop? Do we have the capacity to alter that state of being?

I embrace the technology but my concern grows for the generation now coming.
Will all the Science Fiction writer’s be proven right? Will our growing super-technology deplete what we have always valued in each other, to a point where the word human is only recognized as a label to pinpoint what planet we came from?

If we can but step back one pace, make a time and a space and a place to recall how it once was, and value that memory. If we can scent the wind and feel the rain on our faces again. If we can stop by at a friend’s home simply to say “Hi, I’ve missed you, how are you today?”

If we can turn off the television, the laptop, the Ipad and the iPhone for just an hour each day, and sit together again at the dining table and make eye contact and heart contact once more.

If we can treasure those brief moments together of fellowship and connection, then perhaps those anxiety whispers will still.

We’ll render them useless as we reclaim the dreams … and our lives.

Make the time, take the time, make those anxiety whispers lessen as we recreate briefly a world where human touch, and the simple joy of companionship is again treasured.

It would only take a brief moment of your time. Surely, that’s not too much to ask.

Is it?