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

 

Welcome #RRBC ‘Spotlight’ author: Michael Lynes. “There Is A Reaper.” Losing a Child to Cancer.

RRBC SPOTLIGHT FEATURE MICHAEL Lynes

Hello, everyone and thanks for joining in this #RRBC ‘Spotlight Author Tour for November’.

Today I’m delighted to present author Michael Lynes.

RRBC SPOTLIGHT GUEST MICHAEL LYNES BIO PIC

Author Bio:

Mr. Lynes is a serial entrepreneur who enjoys dry red wine and single malt scotch. When not occupied with arcane engineering projects he spends his time playing with his two grandchildren, baking bread, feeding seasoned hardwood into his ancient Timberline wood stove, working on his various cars, bird watching and taking amateur photographs. His current menagerie includes one short-haired turtle shell cat and a pair of actual turtles.

His last book, There Is A Reaper: Losing a Child to Cancer, was an Indie B.R.A.G. Gold Medallion Honoree in January 2017, a silver-medal winner of the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Memoir, a medalist in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards for Memoir, a winner of the 2015 TISBA (The Indie Spiritual Bookk Awards), and a finalist in both the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year award and the Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2015.

Mr. Lynes was awarded a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and currently works as an embedded software engineer. He has a consuming interest in the science of emotion as promulgated by Dr. Paul Ekman and has made a comprehensive study of his Face and Emotion courses.

Mr. Lynes has four sons, has been married for over thirty years and currently lives with his wife and youngest son in the beautiful secluded hills of Sussex County, NJ.

***

RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR HOSTING MICHAEL LYNES

There is a Reaper…Creation

 

Almost four years ago now I first sat down in front of my computer in my office, driven to somehow find a way to honor the memory and life of my son Christopher Aaron.

I thought I would write a few words, something to try and capture some of the memories, some of his spirit, before they became too far removed from memory and distorted by time.

I sat there, really just lost, and unable to find a way to begin. Touching back into those memories was like opening a long shut door, reentering a place of fear and failure and pain that I was not sure I would be able to handle.

I typed a few words and discarded them. And then I typed a few more, with the same result.

I realized that, in order to tell this story I would have to face my fear, and my failure. My fear rooted in the pain that this re-exploration would dredge up; my failure in my inability to prevent or find some way to cure him of this deadly affliction.

These two overarching forces combined to hold me impotent.

In all likelihood, left to my own preferences, this project would have been abandoned, stillborn…but…there was a third force.

Chris.

As I sat there, blank page before me, paralyzed by my own doubt, my own fear, my selfish craven indulgence….it was Chris, clear and sharp and bright and powerful, who appeared in my mind’s eye. I realized that he wanted his story told, that it needed to be out there.

The feeling had grown, imperceptibly…first a wish, then a whisper…then a calling and now an unfulfilled duty.

When Chris had become sick, we were consumed in combating his disease. When he lost his battle we were shattered by his death.

He knew that we needed time, to heal, for the wounds to knit and scar, for his memory to become a story rather than a source of heart-bursting agony.

He had given us that time.

Now he was calling me, back to myself and to my task. I owed him this – and my debt was due.

I nodded my head, silently signing my unspoken contract.

There were many false starts, and many, many days when I laid aside my task, exhausted by the anguish and emptied of tears. Despite all, the promise I made to Chris and to myself that day drove me onward.

The story, Chris’s testimony and epitaph, the memorial of his life here and the start of his life-eternal is now complete, and I fervently pray that it satisfies my debt and honors his memory.

Thank you Chris, for pushing me to complete this work…

I hope you like it.

 

Follow Michael online:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/woodheat

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MLynesAuthor/

Website – https://mikelynes.wixsite.com/mlynesauthor

 

*  *  *

 

Michael’s Books:

THE FAT MAN GETS OUT OF BED:  https://www.amazon.com/Fat-Man-Gets-Out-Bed/dp/1938812905

 

THERE IS A REAPER – https://www.amazon.com/There-Reaper-Losing-Child-Cancer-ebook/dp/B00XNZW6C4

RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR HOSTING MICHAEL LYNES

 

Thank you for stopping by. Please leave your comments below.

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?

 

BOOK REVIEW: “One Dyke Cozy” by Rhani D’Chae @rhanidchae #RRBC #RRBC_ORG

BOOK REVIEW PROMO ONE DYKE COZY RHANI D'CHAE

Hello, and welcome to my Book Review of “One Dyke Cozy” By Rhani D’Chae.

First up let’s learn a liitle more about author Rhani D’Chae.

IMAGE RHANI D'CHAE

Rhani D’Chae is a visually disabled writer who was born and raised in Tacoma, WA. Because of her failing eyesight, she no longer reads as much as she used to, but she does enjoy falling into the worlds created by other Indie authors as often as hre vision will allow. Shadow of the Drill is her first published novel, and is the first in a series that revolves around an unrepentant enforcer and the violent life that he leads.

She enjoys chatting with readers and fellow writers via Social Media sites, and loves getting comments and other input from those who have read her work. She is on Facebook, and also on Twitter, @rhanidchae. Also, if you have the time, please stop by her blog: rhanidchae.wordpress.com.

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/

Blog/Website:

Rhani D. Chae

Titles:

“SHADOW OF THE DRILL”

Shadow Of The Drill Book Trailer

“A PERILOUS THIRST”

Book Review: “The Heart’s Lullaby” A volume of Poetry from Natalie Ducey @NatalieDucey #RRBC

 

BOOK REVIEW THE HEART’S LULLABY by NATALIE DUCEY.

Please meet the author.

Natalie Ducey Author Pic

With a BA in Psychology, Natalie has worked in the Counseling field for 15 years. Through her work and personal journey, she has witnessed the remarkable power of the human spirit. Now, as an author and poet, she is passionate about stories that touch the heart and awaken the soul. Through words, she aspires to offer solace and hope, love and understanding.

Natalie is the Co-owner and Writer of Peace by Piece Puzzles. She is the Owner/Writer/Designer of Whispers of the Heart (printable art/poetry/verse).

She was born and raised in beautiful Newfoundland, Canada, with her two brothers and twin sister. She now resides in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, a Soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces, and their little dog, Bella. She loves kayaking and the freedom and serenity of being one with water. She is an avid reader, passionate writer, and seeker of tranquility along life’s mystifying journey.

To contact or to learn more about Natalie, please visit her website: https://natalieducey.com

Natalie Ducey COVER The Hearts Lullaby

BOOK BLURB.

The Heart’s Lullaby is a candid portrayal of love in all its splendor and pain. Love, in its purest form, is tranquil and soothes the soul. But love, as is life, can sometimes be cruel and unjust with its paths of uncertainty and forced goodbyes. In essence, it is a journey of self-discovery. A continuous journey of becoming. Often, it becomes a delicate dance of holding on and letting go.

We linger in memories of ill-fated love; our minds can easily soil them, and our hearts can effortlessly polish them to perfection, altering their resemblance entirely. We can anchor ourselves to yesterday by zealous choice or solemn grief. So easily, we can become obsessed with what “might have been” and miss the beauty that lies before us. Our minds craft spectacular moments that will never be realized. Why? Is it self-indulgence, or are they necessary companions for our soul’s survival?

Love, its force so formidable, transcends time, distance, and even death. Eternal love is the epitome of its grandeur.

To feel the exquisite, majestic splendor of love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. To have another see the unique beauty in our imperfections, that will protect us and elevate us without greed or envy, a soul willing and proud to walk this journey of life with us and share in its joys and sorrows … this is love, a gift unmeasurable and unmatched by earthly possessions.

But two souls must be willing. Therein lies the intricate complexities of the heart. And in the end, we must never forget … love, as is life, is a continuous journey of becoming.

MY REVIEW. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟THE perfect gift to share with someone you can’t imagine living without.

I have read a great deal of poetry in my life, yet this is the first time I have found a volume that touches all the hidden places of my soul. Author Natalie Ducey has that marvelous gift of weaving words that touch those feelings you may have experienced but could never express.

We all see love as such an intensely personal thing, so finding another who has clearly experienced those staggering highs, and shattering lows is a rare and precious thing.

These poems will reach in and touch you, and a heart caught unguarded will be alternatively uplifted and at times moved beyond tears to a place we instinctively recognize as home.

This author has a rare and beautiful spirit that shines through with each graceful and eloquent word that she has penned.

Her words caused me to take a deep breath and pause to reflect on my own journey, I was unprepared for the glimpses into my own behavior, my loves still remaining, and those I have forsaken or lost.

That gift is what this author shares with you in this volume.

If you have ever loved deeply, or are in that first joyous season of new love found, or perhaps reflect back on the ‘if only’ moments life hands us with such abandon, this book will move and touch you.

It would make THE perfect gift to share with someone you can’t imagine living without.

PURCHASE THE HEART’S LULLABY on AMAZON.COM

 

 

 

“Hidden by Shadows” A short-story from my upcoming Anthology ‘Front-Line Heroes.’ #RRBC #PTSD

DEPRESSION

My latest work in progress is an anthology of stories dedicated to the bravery of men and woman worldwide. ALL those that silently and without fanfare hold down the Front Lines. ALL the front lines. On the streets of any town, anywhere, you’ll find them, The Policeman, Paramedics, Firefighters, Nurses and Doctors and all their support personnel. Those on the battle-fronts in foreign lands, and those on the battle-fronts of streets peopled with others that have slipped through the cracks and crevices of the world we now live in. The many brave souls that endure the lasting, life changing flashbacks, and battle each and every day with the nightmare that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These are their stories.

 

 

Hidden by Shadows.

by

Suzanne Burke

 

Davey Minchin rubbed his gritty eyes hard, but nothing erased the things he had seen in his sleep.

He couldn’t stop the images flashing on fast-forward through a brain now too weary to block them.

He reached across for his glass and found it was empty, “Oh, for fucks sake.”

He clambered up from the litter-strewn floor and headed into the kitchen, avoiding the mess on the counter as he reached for the bottle of Jack Daniels, now almost empty. He held it up to the light that shone valiantly through the smudged and dirty window, wanting to confirm the fact that he’d need to head for the bottle shop soon.

He had no idea what time of day it was. He walked to the bedroom, glancing at the alarm clock next to a bed he couldn’t remember having slept in for quite a while.

“God damn it!” he uttered the words, disgusted with himself for having been away from reality for yet another lost day. “It doesn’t matter.” He spoke aloud seeking the reassurance of the sound of his own voice.  Knowing that the other voices clamoring in his head to be heard would lay mercifully dormant once he’d had a few drinks.

He hurried now, filled with the urgency to top up his supply of memory blocking booze.

He glanced down briefly at what he was wearing, content that he wasn’t too dirty to be seen on the street. He pulled on his cleanest pair of gloves.

He ran a brush through his thick, still curly hair; still shocked at the sight of all the white that now grew there.

He turned away, opened the door, and headed outside.

***

He glanced briefly around at his environment, seeking assurance that no one he knew was in view.

He took the longer walk, studiously avoiding the Gas Station on the block that would have had him reach his destination much faster. The smell of fuel was something he refused to deal with yet.

The guy behind the counter looked up as he entered, “Mornin’ Davey! What’ll it be today, buddy?”

“I need to stock up, Bill. I … I’ve got some buddies comin’ over. So, I guess I’ll maybe need a couple of bottles of the JD, and the Bacardi, and a case of beer.”

Bill Eckhart looked at him, trying without success to mask the concern on his face. “Sure thing, buddy.”

Davey turned and gave Bill access to his backpack; the man behind the counter removed it gently and placed it next to the register. “I’ll drop the case of beer around for you a little later, Davey.  You want a mixer for the J.D and the Rum?”

Davey hesitated a little too long before responding, “Mixer?” he laughed. “Yeah, I guess, mixer … sure.”

Bill just nodded, and headed out back to fill the order.

Tara Farrell looked up from the invoice she was checking, “What’s up?”

“Davey Minchin is back in for an order.” He said.

“So soon?” her voice expressed her concern.

“Sometimes I hate workin’ here, Tara. I hate the shit that we sell, and what it does to good people that didn’t earn it, you know?”

She shook her head sadly, “Yeah, I know. Davey’s one of the good ones, ain’t he.” It was a simple statement of fact, not a question that required any answer.

“Yup. He is that. Best fill his order now I guess, and let him get back on home before the snow hits.”

“Uh-huh. Yeah. I guess.” She looked back at her invoice with a shake of her head, trying to dislodge the sadness.

Bill bagged the order and returned to the front counter. “You and your buddies havin’ a poker night, Davey?”

“What? Oh, yeah … yeah we are.”

“I expect your luck is due to change soon, Buddy. You just keep hangin’ in there, okay?”

His customer just nodded and handed over the money. Bill placed the bottles of alcohol carefully in the backpack;  then as always helped his customer struggle into it, stealing himself every time he did it, worried that he’d somehow hurt this man.

Davey gave him a smile, “Thanks, Bill … See ya.”

“You take care now, Davey.”

“Yup … planning on doing just that, buddy.”

Davy headed back home, the long way.

One or two of his neighbors called out a greeting, he raised his left arm as best he could and gave them a wave.

He picked up his pace and only felt safe when he strode into his own driveway.

He didn’t look at the overgrown lawn, or the dead plants that sat accusingly in the untended garden.

He let himself in to the empty house he hadn’t bothered to lock.

He walked past the bedrooms that had once been overflowing with laughter and toys.

He didn’t look at the framed photographs that lined the walls of the hallway.

He opened a refrigerator now empty, except for a few mangled slices of old cold pizza, and a foul-smelling container of what had once been Chinese takeout.

Before he poured his first drink of the morning, he charged his cellphone. He’d call out for a take-out Italian order later.  If, he remembered.

His frustration grew as he struggled to open yet another bottle with fingers that couldn’t respond to his brains orders to do so.

He pulled off the gloves; he didn’t need to cover the ugly burn scars from himself.

He washed out a glass, refilled it, and sat on the sofa seeing nothing as he began to pour the booze down his throat.

He heard the siren in the distance and shuddered, unable to block out the sound. Davey reached across and flicked on the radio, turning the volume way up to drown out the peripheral noise.

***

His cellphone rang and cut through the haze he was encased in, he answered it on reflex, “Yeah?”

“Davey, it’s Doctor Peters. How are you?”

“Hey, Doc. I’m doin’ well. What can I do for you?”

“Well, son … you’ve missed the last two appointments. I was a little concerned.”

“Sorry, Doc. I guess I should have called you. I … I’ve had the flu virus that’s doin’ the rounds. Haven’t felt much like headin’ out in the cold.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, son. I would like to see you though. Can you make it tomorrow? I’ll make it later in the day, when it’s warmed up a little. Would that suit you?”

“Oh, hell, doc. Sorry … I’m headin’ out of town for a few days. Tell you what, I’ll call you as soon as I get back, how would that be?”

“Out of town? Where are you headed?”

“Someplace warm.”

“Davey, you aren’t really going away are you? Son, you’re isolating yourself again. Are you taking your anti-depressant medication?” The doctor’s voice was clearly worried.

Davey looked at the full glass in his hand. “Yeah, doc, I’m taking my meds. Look, I have to go now. Somebodies at the door. I’ll catch up, soon. Okay?”

“But, Son …

Davey disconnected the call.

“Why the fuck can’t you all just leave me the fuck alone!” The words echoed back from the dark empty rooms.

He drank the full glass of straight rum and took a couple of deep breaths. He knew in another glass or two he start feeling almost nothing.

Then came the time he gave up on any pretense at dignity, and drank bottle two straight from the bottle. Until he was feeling nothing.  Nothing at all.

He welcomed oblivion as one does a dear friend that they trust.

***

The car ahead was speeding. Davey Minchin looked at his own speed; he was doing the speed limit and the Corvette screamed past him as if he were stationary.

“Moron!” Davey hissed, automatically reaching for his cellphone. He punched in the number.

“Division 21, Sargent O’Keefe.”

“Hey, Jay. It’s Davey Minchin.”

“Hiya, Cappie how’re you doin?”

“Never better, buddy. We have an idiot out on 75 thinks he’s drivin’ in the Daytona. He’s headed east. It’s a Corvette, so God only knows what it tops out at. The speed he’s doin’ he’ll reach the overpass off ramp really soon.

“Thanks for the heads up, Cappie. I’m on it. We good for poker Friday night?”

“Planning on some winnings, buddy?”

“You know it. Catch ya then, Cappie.”

“Yup.” Davey ended the call.

He peered through the thick fog, dropping his speed on instinct when he recognized the approach to the stop lights he knew were a little way ahead.

He heard the crash before he saw it and picked up speed in that direction. The wreck ahead of him kicked his adrenaline into hyper-drive.

He hit the speed dial on his phone, “Station 23. What is your emergency?”

“Pete, it’s Davey. We need full crew out on 75 … The lights on the overpass exit. Three-car pile-up, get the Paramedics.  The police are on their way, but that’s for the speeder, call O’Keefe, and have him send out more cars.”

“Gotcha, Captain. Are you the only assist on the scene?”

“The only trained one, affirmative, Pete.”

“Good luck. The crew, are on their way.”

***

Davey hit the ground running, and could smell the fuel in the air.

Jesus!  A ruptured tank? Shit!

The corvette was concertinaed from the imploded front windscreen to the trunk. Davey knew even as he felt for a pulse, that he would find none. The driver had a steering column skewering him in place like an awkward bleeding mannequin. It would have been fast, at least.

Davey moved on towards the next vehicle; his trained eyes already accessing the incredible level of damage the out of control Corvette,  had left in its speeding wake.

What had once been a family wagon was now bent like a boomerang; the driver’s side door now met the passenger side with the body of what once had been a young woman crushed in between.

He was on autopilot now, and called out, “Everyone else okay out here?” as he became suddenly aware that the vehicles that had been close behind on the exit ramp had rear-ended, and the stunned, but otherwise undamaged passengers were now exiting their slightly bent cars.

“We need, blankets, canvas, anything we can lay these folks down on, back at least fifty-feet away from the wrecks.” He sniffed at the air again, “No smoking, we may have a ruptured tank here.” He yelled it to the onlookers.

He heard a cry and spun to locate where it was coming from. Sweet Lord, that’s a baby! The plaintive cry was coming from the wagon. Davey covered the few feet in an instant and cringed as he realized the sound was coming from the floor behind the dead passenger.

The door was crushed metal and would need the squad to arrive with the Jaws-of-life to have any hope of getting it open. He ran to the other side of the vehicle, there was a narrow gap between what had once been the bench seat in the rear and the crumpled mess that was once the front of the car

The infant was on the floor, inside the upended baby-capsule, and wrapped in a blanket, and the cry grew weaker with each second. Davey silently thanked God when the sound of the sirens heralded the arrival of the experienced crew.

The overpass was now jammed with people, many had left their cars and now stood at the edge of the railing gazing down with shock and dismay at the scene below them. Many were openly crying. One of the distressed onlookers took a pack of cigarettes from a side pocket and lit it; sucking in the nicotine to quieten his fast beating heart.

All eyes were now riveted on the surreal sight confronting them as the lone man struggled to remove an infant from the wreckage …

The nervous onlooker watched transfixed, unthinking and doing what long habit had trained him to do … he flicked the lit butt of the cigarette over the railing…

Davey’s troubled hands searched the darkness for the infant. The crying had stopped. It seemed to take an eternity before he freed the baby from the restraints of the capsule.  His thankful shout of “Yes! Hold on, little one!” was heard with gratitude by those close by. He felt the baby underneath his fingertips … his hands wrapped around the blanketed infant, and he began extricating the child, very carefully avoiding the jagged metal all around them, that would cut to the bone.

The lit cigarette ignited the small river of fuel seeping from the ruptured tank as Davey had just secured the small helpless bundle in his muscled arms; and he’d turned to hurry away with his charge to relative safety.

The fire-flash caught him and spun his body backwards, with his last lucid memory of searing pain embedded in his consciousness.

The fire fighters from his own station were on the scene moments later, and one of the closer onlookers had covered him with a blanket and tried desperately to extinguish the flames.

The baby was safe, Davey had somehow thrown himself face down and the infant was shielded from the flames, bruised, but otherwise untouched by the explosion. Far too young to understand the loss of its mother.

***

 Davey awakened himself with the sound of his own screams.

Sitting up … still wildly disorientated; he was frantically patting at his now useless right arm, attempting to extinguish the flames that infiltrated his nightmares night after sleepless night.

He looked around to get his bearings … It’s okay … I’m here. Home. Yeah, right, home.

He reached a gloved hand across to the bedside table. Deciding against the anti-depressant medications and narcotic pain-relief that sat there, gathering dust. He’d stopped taking those weeks ago, or was it months? Didn’t matter anyway, the booze worked better. He was pleased to find the glass still half-full of the straight Jack Daniels he’d come to prefer. He wondered idly and not really caring, just how long his liver would hold out under the onslaught of the things he used just to get him through one more day.

He missed his wife, and he ached for his children.

The long months of repetitive surgery, and all the efforts of those at the rehab unit for almost a year, had left him with his right arm still withered and useless. Fit for only filling the fabric of the longed-sleeved-shirts that he now always wore. Not wanting or needing the horrified looks from passersby, or the children who stared at him as if Halloween had just arrived.

He only left the house now to top up his booze supply.

His other hand and wrist had been scarred; but some movement and flexibility remained. He couldn’t make a fist, but he managed to wipe his own ass. I’m grateful. Bonus! The bitterness filled his tone more often of late. He’d never regret what he’d done, it was all he’d ever wanted to do. But sometimes the bitterness in his throat threatened to choke him.

He looked at the cotton gloves he used, more now to stop others from witnessing his anguish at the disfigurement, but even more so for the abiding sense of utter uselessness that he now lived with twenty-four-hours of each long, lonely, deteriorating day, every time he looked at his once athletic body.

His wife Marcie, had tried. Lord knows she’d tried, she’d been with him every-step-of-the way. Until the day came when she had no heart left to give to a man that was already lost to her.

His kids became accustomed to him spending hour after hour locked away in the room he had for his physio sessions.  His friends and colleagues had raised funds to kit it out with everything necessary to work out daily … everything that is, except his will to go on doing so.

He could no longer work in the field he had chosen since he was old enough to understand that his father and his Grandfather had been firefighters, loved ones he’d been proud to call his own.

It was all he had trained for, it was all he knew.

He had tried. Nobody that watched him push through the pain ever doubted his desire to return to what he loved to do.

His body would never completely recover. He was no longer a part of the high functioning team he had once been so proud to Captain.

His friends from the station-house and even some from his college football team had rallied around, the lawns were mowed and the gardens tended, the woodshed was always kept full.

His buddies had all come at first, with their wives there to give Marcie and the children all the support they could offer.

Davey tried hard, but he began to resent their presence, the conversations peppered with stories from the Station or the sports they played regularly had begun to make him feel the anger that frustration only heightens and enriches.

The medications he took vegged him out until the days and nights blended, in a never-ending procession of exhausted snatches of sleep.

The flashbacks came uninvited, his wife and children all caught up in the sounds of despair they could hear coming from the room he now frequented without their presence.

Marcie had stayed longer than most would have, and then she had taken the boys and moved up north to live with her parents. Recognizing before he did, that to stay would destroy the love she and his sons still cherished.

They had gone in the summer, and the year had spun ever onward in and out of the seasons. While Davey Minchin slowly started to drink himself into oblivion … the oblivion he now craved.

Davey stood unsteadily and made his way out to the kitchen, avoiding the walls in the hallway filled with photographs of a life he no longer recognized as part of the fabric of his existence.

He used his left hand to slowly drag out a box from the back of the walk in pantry. He could no longer carry its weight, so he rummaged one handed through it until his hand identified the shape he was after.

He took the paper bag and placed it on the coffee table.

He stood and  returned to the hallway and gave a left-handed salute to the images. “Sorry dad.”

He returned to the kitchen and took the new bottle of Jack Daniels from the shelf.

He sat quietly in front of an electric heater, no longer able to tolerate the burning logs in a fireplace that took him into the flashbacks again.

It had taken him weeks of visits to different Doctors and Drugstores before he was satisfied; he had enough of the mix of medications that he knew would take him forever away from the pain and the memory.

He painstakingly opened the boxes and lined up his solution ready to be taken.

He took them all.

Hours passed by as he sat quietly waiting. Until at last, finally, he felt nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

***

The phone rang in a small house in the suburbs, and the man ceased playing with his son and made a grab for it.

His young face was pale when he turned his attention back to the three-year-old boy playing happily on the sitting room floor with his blocks.

He hugged his son to him and again felt the deep sadness at the loss of his wife.

But he had his boy. He had his boy. The gratitude he felt towards the man who had saved his child at the expense of his own safety was constantly present.

Now Davey Minchin was dead.

The man hugged his child to him and made a silent vow to make his little boy aware that heroes really existed.

There were many others who gathered after the funeral who took a private moment to look at their own families and hold them tighter. In silent thanksgiving that men like Davey Minchin would go on saving other lives at risk of their own.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

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