Friday, November 14, 2014

Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop

GRATITUDE GIVEAWAY HOP
 

Much appreciation to Kathy at I AM A READER, NOT A WRITER, for sponsoring this annual hop. It's one of my favorites, a chance to thank faithful readers for their support, and to welcome new friends to the blog.

This hop is scheduled to run from November 15th to November 30th.

The hop drawing is easy to enter. Just follow me your favorite way:

By blog,

Facebook,

or Twitter.

Then post your email address and where you followed. That's it.

The prize to the winner of my stop on the hop is an autographed copy of my women's fiction novel, "Awakening Avery," and a s
lightly dinged up purse book I adored, "Conversations with a Moonflower."

I'm gearing up for the February release of "The Dragons of Alsace Farms."  Check out the trailer. We'll be giving some copies away in the spring.

Wishing you all the best, from my house to yours. Now enjoy the other stops on the hop.

Laurie L.C. Lewis

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OLD SOLDIERS

Happy Veterans' Day, and thank you, thank you to all those who served and to their families.  I wanted to share a glimpse of some senior soldiers I've been privileged to meet.

The last few Septembers I've headed down to Quantico Marine Base with Tom for some fund raisers for The Wounded Warrior Foundation, and a massive Marine expo. A friend of Tom's, a great patriot named Pete, organizes a golf tournament/auction to raise scholarship funds for for a foundation called "The Young Marines." I had never heard of this group before, but like the ROTC, it teaches military discipline and service the marine way, preparing future officers and leaders.

The experience was moving. I was surrounded by officers in all their variety, from generals on down, with post commanders and retirees proudly wearing their caps and shouting "Ourah!!!" at any mention of the corps. These men are proud Marines, and proud of their Marine heritage which dates back to 1775, and rightly so. Even in my research on the War of 1812, the toughest fighting squad, next to Joshua Barney's Flotillamen, was a group known simply as "Miller's Marines."

As the golfers moseyed in off the greens, the older soldiers posted their golf scores on the board and then gathered around a table to talk, and there was no shortage of opinions or wisdom reflected there. And the topics on these veterans' minds? It wasn't sports scores or movies or popular media darlings. They were doing what they had done for a lifetime--assessing the news, reading between the lines, gathering intel and discussing strategic political and military options some of them no longer had the power to implement. I was a fly on the wall, and the conversations were fascinating as they discussed places that still seem to strange to most of us but places that had clearly been on their radar for many years--Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel.

Their faces were emotion-filled. They were deeply invested in these corners of the world where their young comrades-in-arms were serving or might serve one day. Some had sons and grandsons deployed here, and clearly, they were on their minds.

They talked about God, and about country as if they were unseverable appendages to one another. They knew the Bible, and saw a clear connection between events written there and our circumstances today. These men of different colors, different nationalities, and likely of many different faiths, see their service as an extension of their personal faith, and they see their defense of America as a defense of Christianity in a world becoming increasingly negative towards Christians.

A highlight of one day ocurred when three sisters of a Marine killed at the 1983 bombing in Beirut came to participate in the launch of a scholarship named for their slain brother. Several were also Marines themselves, and they wept over the ache of their loss as well as the pride that his memory would be honored in such a manner. It was an honor to be there, and to see steeled, battle-scarred brothers and sisters-in-arms from every branch of the service shed a tear or two as well. It reminded me of something Colin Powell once said about how no one works harder for peace than a soldier.

Hug a soldier today. Better yet, thank one.

Book Nook Review: "HOT PURSUIT" by Susan Dayley


HOT PURSUIT
by
Susan Dayley 


Susan Dayley, author of YA suspense novels, heats things up in Hot Pursuit, her sequel to 2013’s Cold Pursuit, which presented a dynamic twist to ebooks by offering dual plot lines and four possible endings.

Hot Pursuit was my first experience with a multiple-ending format in a YA read. It’s a great option for readers who enjoy exploring a great story from other angles. Dayley’s narrative is crisp, her topics are current, and the action is well-paced. The book grabs your attention on the first page where two sinister-sounding conversations are revealed. By page two, the romantic tension between Kennady and Atticus is framed, and by page five you realize that this cast of coeds is about to be assailed from all sides.

Dayley strikes a good balance between the suspense line and the romance, making it a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers, and with four possible endings, you can literally have the ending you want.

From the back cover:

Kennady thought she’d found the perfect summer escape–working at a resort in Jackson Hole. But then Atticus, whom she once loved, comes to town, an international conference threatens world finances, and a Mexican cartel shows up to stop the conspirators. When Kennady’s friend Chelo gets entangled with a handsome and possibly dangerous man, her own life is threatened. From blowing the door off a room with a microwave, to being shot at in the rain, Jackson was not an escape after all.

Dayley weaves her multiple storylines well, keeping close tabs on her diverse characters while converging all the plots. Her main character, Kennady, just wants to put some distance between her broken heart and the professor and son who broke it, so she and a her friend Chelo take jobs at a luxury hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But the professor’s seemingly perfect family is embroiled in their own personal struggles which lead Atticus to Jackson Hole as well. He and Kennady run into one another, and as in Cold Pursuit, they also run across some criminals’ nefarious plans. The attraction is still there, at least they each think so, but it’s hard to untangle a complicated relationship when you and your friends are being chased by international criminals bent on killing you.

Meanwhile, Chelo is pursued by a handsome suitor whose story doesn’t quite add up. Her mother’s concern causes her to tell Chelo how the pair were forced to escape from the cartel in Central America. About the time danger closes in around Kennady, it also comes knocking at Chelo’s door, and the cavalry arrives from unlikely heroes and anti-heroes.

Though Hot Pursuit is a sequel, Dayley handles the backstory deftly, making the book a satisfying standalone read, with many levels of interest. Her diverse cast of characters come with a variety of flaws and strengths. There is someone here for every reader to embrace.  This “choose-your-own-ending” novel also includes links to supplemental info about story locations, songs, music videos, and other fun material accessible easily with a click.

Hot Pursuit would make a great weekend escape. Danger is sometimes averted too conveniently, but the real joy in the book is watching these savvy, highly skilled college kids deal with their own “stuff” while trying to save the world and each other, and the optional endings allow readers to have a satisfying conclusion, no matter what kind of ending they seek.

Hot Pursuit is available in paperback or as an ebook, but choose the ebook version so you can quickly tap into the extras the author has included.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Nook Review: "TROUBLE AT THE RED PUEBLO," by Liz Adair


TROUBLE AT THE RED PUEBLO

By Liz Adair

(A Continuation of her highly acclaimed Spider Latham series.)



Liz Adair is a bankable, award-winning author known for delivering must-turn-the-next-page–novels, and creating endearing, compelling characters. Trouble at the Red Pueblo continues that tradition.

Spider Latham is an old “friend” of Adair’s creation, whose previous adventures are played out in three earlier novels, The Lodger, After Goliath, and Snakewater Affair. After writing several award-winning novels set in other locales, Adair returned to writing books set in her beloved southwest, spinning a new adventure for her desert cowboy, Spider Latham—a Matt Dillon, or a Walter Longmire-type. Spider is honest to a fault, faithful as a Labrador, tough as nails, and ready to put his own neck on the line for what he believes. 

The novel begins with a simple private detective assignment for cowboy/lawman Spider Latham and his sidekick/wife Laurie. But the simple task of unearthing the reason behind lawsuits crippling a small privately-owned Anasazi museum soon escalates into a mystery with a dozen motives and high-powered suspects. When the twists and turns lead to murder, some fingers point too close to home, threatening people the Lathams love, causing a rift between Spider and his only love—Laurie.

In Trouble at the Red Pueblo, Spider believes there is a connection between the arrival of two wealthy, attractive museum visitors and the events threatening to destroy the museum director, his family, and his life’s work. The more Spider digs, the more uncomfortable his findings become, and as sure as his gut instincts are, he is out of his jurisdiction, and somewhat hogtied to help.

But as in every good western, the cavalry is nearby. In this case, that heroic help arrives in the form of some most unlikely international acquaintances—Karam Monsour, a Palestinian professor of American history collecting American idioms, whose auto breakdown lands him in Kanab, Utah during Spider’s investigation. This storyline adds terrific comic relief and makes a great read all by itself, but throw in some cowboy-loving Chinese tourists, a three-legged dog, and some pulse-raising romantic scenes, and it becomes clear that Adair has packed this delicious mystery to appeal to a wide swath of readers.

Trouble at the Red Pueblo is a refreshing pleasure. At 352 pages, it breezes along with clever twists and one-liners that sneak up and grab you in, well, in the the saddle region, while the suspense keeps you flipping pages. Spider Latham and Laurie have chemistry that knots your heart up and gets you invested at page one.  Whether you love modern westerns, stories about loyalty, or a cozy mystery, Trouble at the Red Pueblo delivers a read that satisfies. As soon as you turn the last page, you’ll want to read the others. It’s that good.

Trouble at the Red Pueblo is available in softcover and in a variety of e-reader formats. Visit Liz' Adair's web site to view all her books. You'll find purchase links there for her entire collection of outstanding reads.
 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

HAPPY 200th BIRTHDAY STAR-SPANGLED BANNER!!!

This week marks the 200th anniversary of the events that led to the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the 200th anniversary of America's love affair with our flag.

200 years ago today, September 13th, the British Naval behemoth moved up the Patapsco River mouth to begin the fiery assault on Baltimore. Having already burned Havre de Grace, having torched many of the towns and farms along the Chespeake and Patuxent Rivers, and having laid the torch to Washington and Alexandria, including burning the President's House and the Capitol, Maryland's Baltimore port city and her Clipper ships were the next critical prizes.

A 2-pronged assault had been planned. The attack on Fort McHenry was actually designed to be a feint, intended to draw troops to the penninsula, easing the way for British ground forces to assault the city. The previous day, the British ground commander, General Ross, had been killed by 18-year-old-snipers while placing his troops, prior to beginning their drive towards the city from North Point.

The secret plans for Baltimore's fate now had to be revealed to Ross's out-the-the-loop second in command. In a letter to a nervous, unprepared Major Brooke, Admiral Cochrane revealed that the plan was to sack the city, inflicting "severe retribution" on Baltimore in retalliation for the American sacking of York. His instructions? "You will best be able to judge what can be attempted."

While American land forces repelled Brooke's ground forces, Britain's naval assault would pound Fort McHenry using bombs and rockets that literally rained fire from the skies at distances too far for the fort's guns to mount a defense. For 25 hours the mettle of the fort and her defenders was tested. All the while, attorney Francis Scott Key sat in a packet ship moored near the British armada along with Dr. William Beanes, a friend and British prisoner, and prisoner exchange agent John Skinner. Key and Skinner had come under a flag of truce to request the release of Dr. Beanes. Instead, they were detained and fed fine food along with the horrific plans to sack the city where Key had family.
http://www.laurielclewis.com/books.htm
It was on this day and night that everything hinged. Could America survive any more? The President was struggling to gather his government back together. His grand, white President's House had been burned, as well as all governmental buildings, the Capitol, and the Library of Congress. Had the Constitution itself or the Declaration of Independence survived? Most Americans were unsure. All they knew was that a flag for which they held little care or allegiance days earlier, now flew over an embattled fort called McHenry. In that instant, the red, white, and blue was the last hope of democracy. These are the feelings that stirred in Key's breast for the next 25 hours.

This is the 200th anniversary of that day. God bless America!


(Read more in my "Free Men and Dreamers" series shown above.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

RACHEL ANN NUNES: Taking a Stand Against Plagiarism

Beloved author, Rachel Ann Nunes, is a prolific writer, authoring over 40 books, in a variety of genres. More than that, she has mentored dozens and dozens of other authors, both personally, and through the writers' guild, LDStorymakers, she helped found. LDStorymakers now hosts annual writers' conferences to improve the talents of hundreds of writers each year, and so it can easily be said that Rachel has been paying it forward for years, and that her influence in the writing community can not fully be measured.

Recently, one of her older titles, "A Bid For Love,"  was pirated and eroticized by someone, (I won't honor her with the title of author) using a pen name. Additionally,  this plagiarist's allies have launched an attack against Rachel and her body of work. They are writing abusive reviews of stellar titles, and posting libelous comments on social media.

Rachel is fighting back, for herself, and once again, for the rest of us who could be affected by the malicious piracy of our work. Click this link to read Rachel's story in her own words, and/or visit Rachel's Amazon and Goodreads pages to post a positive comment of her books. In this way you can help counteract the damage, and do something positive. Thanks so much.

http://rachelannnunes.blogspot.com/2014/08/standing-against-plagarism.html

Friday, July 4, 2014

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY

Some days, like today, I hunger to get back to writing historical novels. I love all history, but I expecially love American history. Here's a small segment from a Fourth of July address I gave some years ago. It's based on a magnificent talk by David McCullough. I hope it adds an extra spark to your Independence Day festivities.

Washington's army must have known that just because it was right didn’t mean it would be easy. They had endured devastating losses on the battlefield, smallpox, typhoid, typhus, and epidemic dysentery. Men defected, men deserted. They were starving, and filthy, without any winter clothes and their numbers dwindled as the battles increased. More men died in prisons ands from disease than from war wounds. They crossed rivers during freezing winter storms and marched through a noreaster that caused the temperatures to plummet so badly that “two men froze to death on the march.” Though their numbers and circumstances worsened, Patrick Henry understood what carried them on. He declared:
 "there is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us."

Friends and angels perhaps. They never should never have won the Revolutionary War. Sherrie Dew, a corporate president and member of several international boards, puts it this way: “They were outmanned, outmaneuvered, outsmarted, and outgunned again and again by a superior British army, yet they prevailed. The only explanation is the intervention of God.”
On Dec. 31, 1776, all the enlistments for the entire army had expired leaving every soldier free to go home. Washington called the troops into formation and urged them to reenlist, promising them a large bonus if they did. As the drums rolled, he asked those willing to re-up to step forward, but nobody did. Many of their farms were neglected, their fields had lain barren and their families were starving. Despite their desperate poverty they were ready to reject the money. They just wanted to go home. Washington turned and rode away from them. Then he stopped, turned back and rode up to them again. Listen carefully to what he said:

 “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you can probably never do under any other circumstance.”
“. . .your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. . .”  Consider another general named Moroni who, like Washington, was attempting to rally his own troops by writing the necessity of the cause upon their hearts. The words he used are known as The Title of Liberty and they read:

"In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children,”
Words that touch upon the noblest of men’s sensibilities. Moroni’s words brought loyal men forward to defend their families and homes, and likewise, when Washington’s drummers began to roll the drums, the men began stepping forward. “God Almighty,” wrote Nathanael Greene, “inclined their hearts to listen to the proposal and they engaged anew.”

As beloved as he was, Washington could have set himself up as a king, but understanding that another form of government was desired for this land, he announced that he would not seek another term and that he would instead relinquish the Presidency. Imagine the thoughts of conquered King George III when he heard that Washington might do this . .  that the men who had led a rag tag army against the greatest army in the world and had beaten them . . . the man who was revered enough by his people to be catapulted into the highest office in the land . . . that this man would then turn and walk away from that position of his own accord against the cries for his people to remain there . . . When King George heard this he remarked,
“if he does he will be the greatest man in the world.”

 Character, integrity, honesty and a vision of the greater cause, “the glorious cause of America” is what made these people great. And it is what can and must make our generations great as well.