Friday, November 21, 2014

A SPECIAL OFFER FOR THE HISTORY-LOVER ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST

I may be responsible for the polar blast that slammed the nation. I tried to follow my early-bird neighbor's lead and outsmart Mother Nature by hanging my outdoor Christmas lights on the last balmy day in early November. Sometime between finding the fourteenth dead strand of tangled lights, and pulling off a WWF-worthy wrestling match against a multi-colored shrub net (of which only one side agreed to illuminate), the polar blast arrived. Bad decorating Karma. . .

So I'm plowing ahead, and joining in the throng of early Christmas mentions, to announce my FREE MEN and DREAMERS Christmas giveaway.

I hope you engaged in some way, in the celebration of the bicentennial of pivotal historical moments from the War of 1812--the burning of Washington; the wonderful, patriotic re-enactments of the Battle of Baltimore; the tributes to Francis Scott Key; and of course, the honors paid to the Star-Spangled Banner, and the anthem it inspired.

Tom and I were in Baltimore for the finale events, and the mood was thrilling. It was the cherry on top of my decade-long research into the War of 1812 for my Free Men and Dreamers historical fiction series.

As a farewell to this bicentennial year, I'm offering a special on the books to get them into homes where the stories of how this critical period shaped America can be read and enjoyed again and again.

Here's the special:

Scan and email proof of purchase of volume 1, Dark Sky at Dawn, and volume 2, Twilight's Last Gleaming, to me at lclewis2007@gmail.com, and I'll mail you autographed bookplates for those volumes, and an autographed copy of volume 3 for free.  
If you want the entire set: email proof of purchase of those two volumes, plus the purchase of volume 4, Oh, Say Can You See? and volume 5, In God is Our Trust, and I'll send an entire set of autographed bookplates, plus a free, autographed copy of my women's fiction novel, Awakening Avery.
 
So buy four volumes from my award-winning historical fiction series, and receive autographed bookplates plus two free novels, a $38.00 savings.
 
Orders and proofs of purchase must be received by December 10th to qualify for the free books in order to guarantee receipt by Christmas.
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPC6XY
 
Thank you so much for welcoming my books into your home. Here are some links to reviews and sample chapters: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPC6XY
 
Have a perfect Thanksgiving, and may your Christmas preparations be joyful.
 
Laurie L.C. Lewis
 
 




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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Surviving the Synopsis

More and more writer friends are reporting that a synopsis or outline is now required by their agents and/or publishers. It sounds easy enough, right? You wrote the book, so how hard can it be to distill 1-2 pages of the manuscript's most critical plot points, characterizations, and its unique essence, and do it in a style that models your writing voice?

It can be harder than you think.

After asking agented friends for their best synopsis-writing advice, I jumped in and suffered through the paring-down process much the same way I did when abridging a book for audio production. The key is "selectively neglect."

First, prepare your query letter. Read, reread, cut, change, and tweak until you're sure it illustrates the uniqueness of your book. Now use those query points as the scaffolding for your synopsis.

Outline or list the MC goal, primary opposition, and the resolution.

Now insert key plot points that support the story, and the twists and obstacles upon which the action turns.

Pare the list down to the absolute most critical points, and expect to suffer a little as you selectively neglect some seemingly delicious moments in favor of more critical ones.

Write what you've selected in a story format that reflects your writer's voice, and walk away.

Return, reread, edit, and walk away again. If you're within the agent's length parameters, (usually 1-2 pages,) repeat the edit, read, walk away advice a few more times asking yourself if what you've written succinctly summarizes what's special about your book. If it does, great! If not, cut some more and then reread, edit . . . You get the picture.

Get some fresh eyes on this baby. Beta readers are a writer's heroes!

Good luck.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Available Now: "SLEEPING BEAUTY and the BEAST," by Melissa Lemon

http://www.lulu.com/shop/melissa-lemon/sleeping-beauty-and-the-beast/hardcover/product-21681887.html;jsessionid=0F926E53FCBDB12E799A06404B20C936
Sleeping Beauty and the Beast

I'm blessed to be in a critique group with an incredibly talented group of women authors, several of whom are releasing books over the next few months.

I've watched these books grow and evolve over the past months, and I am nearly as excited for their release as the actual authors are. So it is with great excitement that I announce that Melissa Lemon's newest fairytale fantasy, "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast," is now available in hardback, with paperback and ebooks version coming soon.

I haven't gotten my hands on a finished copy yet, but I can tell you that Melissa Lemon is a Frankensteining genius at dismembering beloved stories and putting them together in unique new ways that create fantastical adventures with the power to lull us away anew.

Get this book for your family bookshelf!

Trapped in a cursed sleep, the only experiences Princess Eglantine has are the ones in her dreams. There she meets Prince Henry of Fallund, a neighboring kingdom on the brink of war. Meanwhile, Prince Henry's brother Duncan discovers a vicious beast imprisoned for murder.

Captivated by her, he works to free her from both the prison bars she's locked behind and the ones surrounding her heart and mind. Sleeping Beauty and the Beast reinvents and seamlessly intertwines the classic fairy tales Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast.

I'll be reviewing it in full in a few weeks, but trust me. You'll want this one.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Flag Day is here, June 14, and in a day when some people treat saying the Pledge of the Allegiance  as a grave controversy, I’d like to raise a voice of celebration for the red, white and blue, and for the day set aside to honor it.

America will mark the bicentennial of our National Anthem and the flag that inspired it in September. Sadly, unless you live in a War of 1812 historic zone, you may have heard little hoopla over this anniversary, a sobering thing considering that most historians agree that this was the moment America became united—the United States of America.

 Upon visiting the birthplace of the flag, Fort McHenry, a British man commented that no other country reveres her flag quiet the way America does.
I live in Maryland, surrounded by War of 1812 history—-the Chesapeake Campaign and Commodore Joshua Barney’s audacious Chesapeake Flotilla; the dark days surrounding burning of Washington; the destruction of the President's House, the Capitol and much of historic D.C.; the critical Battle of Baltimore; its star-shaped guardian--Fort McHenry; and the most famous and beloved of all flags, the Star-Spangled Banner. The Smithsonian has gone to extensive efforts to preserve and study this American icon. The exhibit is beautiful and a must-see for anyone coming to Washington D.C.

There are fables and myths that abound over America’s banner. Though Flag Day celebrants visiting Philadelphia will still see Betsy Ross’s house front bearing a plaque commemorating her as the creator of the first flag, historians no longer ascribe that honor to her.  That news breaks the hearts of a generation raised on that sweet tale, but while researching material for FREE MEN and DREAMERS, highly respected historians explained that though Betsy Ross was a flag maker, and was acquainted with Robert Morris, and possibly George Washington, no document, no writing of Ross's, and no entry of any of the principles, confirms any part of the tale. In truth, Ross's grandson was in danger of losing the family home around the time of the centennial, and he began spinning that tale just in time to bring guests to his home to see where the flag was made. It saved the home, and tainted history.

Other historical truths may upset history lovers who were taught the same beloved, but inaccurate stories I heard growing up, but we needn't fear true accounts, no matter that they are different. I attest that the real story surrounding the events and patriots who made this history are even more compelling.

The Star-Spangled Banner did not fly continuously during the Battle of Baltimore.
A terrible storm began the night the British bombarded Fort McHenry, and Major George Armistead feared the combination of wind, and the rain which had soaked the large, woolen banner, would over tax the pole, possibly causing it to snap. Since the fall of the flag would signal the defeat of the fort, the Major ordered the large garrison flag lowered during the height of the storm. It was the smaller storm flag which flew through the night. The large garrison flag was raised before dawn so the British and the Americans would see that the fort had withstood the 23-hour bombardment. This change was hidden to Francis Scott Key during the night's fog, but it was the large banner that greeted him the next morning, inspiring him to take up pencil and the back of a letter to write the famed poem that became our anthem.
The flag in 1914

Bombs bursting in air did not tatter the flag.
I too was told those tears were sacred battle scars. As a child I had been taken to the Smithsonian to reverently stand and gaze upon the scarred fabric, and I was awed, but historical accounts from the Armistead family, and scientific analysis prove, that the tattered edges of the flag were made by the fort's commander, Major Armistead, who cut pieces off the end of the adored flag later that year, which he mailed to friends and patriots requesting a memento from the valiant banner.  The true story is less dramatic, but carries its own patriotic charm, about a beleaguered people who rallied around this rectangle of fabric until it became precious--a thing to be treasured. That's no small matter, is it?

There are so many wonderful stories, many of which have already slipped from textbooks, and will be lost to the next generation. Stories about the Chesapeake Flotilla, and the real truth about the saving of the Constitution from the fires of Washington.
Restored at the Smithsonian in 2014

History evolves as documents are uncovered, archaeologists make new finds, and scientific testing improves. Truth should be what we seek. In the end, the real story will be as compelling as a fable, because it tells the true response of a people in their own day. Holding the line on truth in recording history will become more critical. Parents need to take the lead on this and expose their children to America's past. Don't count on flawed textbooks and teachers to do it all.

That's why I gathered some friends to help me sponsor "The Star-Spangled Summer Adventure," to encourage families to hit the road and explore America and her history this summer. And to sweeten the deal, we've assembled a treasure chest of family prizes to be awarded to one family at the end of the celenration, on September 13th, 2014.

Click the badge to the right to learn how to get involved and be entered in the drawing. But whether or not you participate officially, I hope you will take advantage of the amazing history and compelling stories about America and her people in your own backyard.

I'm honored the reviewers of my Free Men and Dreamers books attest to how much they have learned about America from reading my carefully researched books. Yes, they are historical fiction, so they read like sweeping novels, but the history was meticulously researched. I'm very proud of that.

So whether you read my books, visit the Smithsonian, stop by Baltimore's plethora of flag sites, join us on the Star-Spangled Celebration, or seek out other sites in your own community, there are lots of patriotic things for families to enjoy while teaching critical American history and instilling the crucial values of honor, gratitude, and patriotism.
http://www.laurielclewis.com/summer-adventure.htm

Enjoy!

Laurie L. C. Lewis

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Nook Review: "Quantum Breach" by Denver Acey



QUANTUM BREACH
by
Denver Acey


Debuting author, Denver Acey, drew upon a lifetime of professional experience in cyber-security when crafting his first novel, Quantum Breach. Hollywood’s inaccurate portrayal of this growing global threat, and the criminals behind it, were his motivation.

Acey’s bio reveals his frustration. “Hackers are more intelligent and more sophisticated than simple teenagers who guzzle down Mountain Dew while playing video games. Cyber crime is a billion-dollar business that encompasses organized crime and foreign governments. For these elite hackers, the fruits of success are iconic trademarks, innovative patents, and government secrets.”

Quantum Breach brings all these elements together in a story that immerses the reader in cyber trade secrets and intriguing plot twists, while highlighting the tenacity, and sometimes brutality, of this new breed of criminal.

Tanner Zane understands this mindset. It was once his own, that is until hackers targeted his grandmother, wiping out the resources built over a lifetime of hard work. Her suffering was an epiphany for Tanner, who cleaned up his act, took on a legitimate job, gave his own ill-got fortune away to charity, and opened his heart to the religion that gave purpose to his former girlfriend, Megan Holland.

Tanner feared his past locked some doors forever, like the one that led back to Megan, but others had opened wide to him, and after seven successful years at his new firm, Tanner earned a corporate-sponsored two-month sabbatical, which he planned to spend on an extended road trip  enjoying his parents’ company. But when Tanner enters their home to pick them up, he finds them bound and gagged, and he too is attacked, bound, and driven to an unknown location in the desert.

He and his parents are held in separate, unfamiliar places, and soon the plan is revealed. Tanner must use his hacking skills to hijack plans for a world-changing device from one of the most secure facilities imaginable. If he fails, he and his parents will be killed.

But as Tanner methodically progresses on his hacking scheme, he must also create an escape plan subtle enough to go undetected by the dangerous men monitoring him, while communicating his need to some savvy techie before time runs out for him and his parents.

Acey delivers on the creative and technical sides of Quantum Breach, imbuing this novel with a crisp tension spurred on by fascinating technical clues and reveals in almost every chapter.  Acey illuminates the psychology and intimidation that goes into a master hack, which I found particularly delicious.

Quantum Breach does occasionally lag between these intriguing cyber revelations, when dialogue and literary technique alone must carry the read. Acey’s vocabulary choices and phrasing lapse into a YA feel at times, such as his repeated reference to the kidnappers simply as “bad guys,” which lessens their fearsomeness and dilutes the tension.

Even so, the overall appeal of the book makes it a worthy, enjoyable read with enough mystery and suspense to keep die-hards well-engaged, signaling that as good as Quantum Breach is, Acey’s best work is likely yet to come.

Quantum Breach is published by Cedar Fort, and is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/The-Quantum-Breach-Denver-Acey/dp/1462114342

Monday, June 2, 2014

Book Nook Review: "MEN OF DESTINY," by Lu Ann Bropst Staheli

MEN OF DESTINY,
by
Lu Ann Bropst Staheli

 

The premise behind LuAnn Bropst Staheli’s comparative of Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith intrigued me, and "Men of Destiny" proved to be a rewarding read.

Staheli is an accomplished, heralded author known for the depth of her research and her gift for writing biographical stories that breathe life into her subjects. In Men of Destiny, she highlights the undeniable parallels between men most people would consider two very different nineteenth-century visionaries, laying out her case through a series of fascinating biographical sketches that will open readers’ eyes to these historical peers’ similarities.

While Lincoln’s road was political, and Smith’s was spiritual, both envisioned a better world, and each knew that the path to that world would not be easy or peaceful. Indeed, they were martyred for their respective causes. Each of Staheli’s eleven thematic comparisons of Lincoln and Smith showcase general commonalities between the men and their families, which she then expands on using incidents and experiences from each man’s personal history.
Even those who already feel they know Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith well will find that this focused study of themes present in their individual lives, and the tender comparisons drawn between these two men, further our understanding of them and the era in which they lived.  Our appreciation for the obstacles they overcame, and our recognition of a divine guiding hand in their lives is heightened, challenging any notion that chance alone brought two such men, who defied the notions of their day, eventually changing the lives and destinies of millions, upon the world stage “at such a time as this.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith and President Abraham Lincoln came from humble beginnings. Both knew a life of frontier hardship and physical toil. Both were seekers of truth. Both were leaders who saved lives, either by keeping people from physical slavery, or by freeing their eternal souls. And both men died as martyrs to their cause, leaving behind wives and children to cope with the devastating loss.
Contemporaries by birth, Joseph Smith and Abraham Lincoln were men born of destiny to a nation ready for growth and change during a time of spiritual and political reawakening. The similarities in their lives are uncanny.
Born into poor farming families whose ancestors had arrived in America during the 1600s, both boys knew the difficult life of living on the frontier with land to clear, homesteads to build, and crops to cultivate and harvest. Both Joseph and Abraham experienced the loss of an older sibling, affecting them deeply.
Both Joseph and Abraham married women against the preferences of their new wife’s family, both had children who died, and both ran for the office of president of the United States. Neither man was well educated as a youth, yet each grew up to be a great leader who would change the lives of millions—one as the head of a church, and the other a nation. And in the end, both men died as the result of assassin’s bullets, a martyr for their cause.
“It is no coincidence that the world of Abraham Lincoln was also the world of Joseph Smith,” said Bryon C. Andreasen, a Lincoln expert. “The same historical conditions that had prevented past generations of common folks like Abraham Lincoln from becoming the leaders of their people . . . had also made it difficult, if not impossible, to restore the full gospel to the earth” (Church News, May 26, 2009). Those were the very leadership positions that Joseph and Abraham were born to fill.
Men of Destiny’s well-researched information on Joseph Smith and Abraham Lincoln is laid out clearly and concisely in an easy-to-read format that will fascinate adults without overwhelming youth. Men of Destiny would be a wonderful book for family study, not only of these two contemporaries, but it also offers great potential for launching discussions on themes Staheli has defined, such as “Humble Beginnings,” “Finding Religion,” “Leadership Through Moral Principles,” and others. What better teaching tool could there be than anecdotes and examples from the lives of great men like Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith, which Staheli provides in abundance.
Families would do well to add this book to their family library. I believe it will be a book they will return to time and again.
Men of Destiny is published by Walnut Springs, and is available in paperback or ebook format on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Men-Destiny-Abraham-Lincoln-Prophet/dp/1599929082/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1401631188&sr=1-1.
 

 


Saturday, May 24, 2014

MEMORIAL DAY IS BECOMING MORE PERSONAL THIS YEAR

Like many of you, I've been listening to the news about the increasingly tragic and widening VA scandal. It made me angry. It made me sad. And then it became personal.

My nephew is twenty-four, maybe 160 pounds sopping wet. He has a ready smile and an "it is what it is" mentality about life. He joined the Marines as much on a dare as out of personal desire. His sister made a wonderful career for herself in the Navy as a chef, and when he threw out the idea that he might join the Marines, someone laughed at him, telling him he'd never survive Basic Training, and that was that.

He did survive Basic. His sister trained with him all summer to prepare him for the Marines' grueling demands. He was a mechanic by trade and served one tour in Afghanistan working on helicopters.

Having a trade didn't absolve him from the regular Marine Corps work like guard duty, honor tours, and time at the battle front. I knew he came home with PTSD, but it was only a few days ago that he opened up about what he had seen and done that left him unable to sleep or enjoy "down time."

I knew he had applied for his VA benefits over a year ago. His young back is in frequent pain from a fall off a helicopter, and he needs therapy to help him deal with the trauma of war, but months, and then more than a year have passed with no word from the VA that promised to be there for him when he got home.

He works a inadequate full-time job plus as many side jobs as he can find. He needs the income to pay his rent and other expenses, but mostly, he says he wants to be busy. He doesn't like to be idle. He doesn't want to give his mind a chance to think or remember.

So my nephew, like many vets in your circle, is in the VA nexus of neglect. They suffer silently for the most part, trying to appear as if they're doing fine, when in fact, they are hurting, aching, suffering over split-second decisions they or others made in a crazy place where the enemy doesn't play by the rules of morality to which our men and women are held to account.

So look around you today. If you know a vet, you probably know someone whose mind still returns to a place we do not want to fully understand. If they have been turned down or delayed by the VA, get out your pen and paper and join in their fight.

That's how we can best honor these men and women. Our brave ones.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

MY STAR-SPANGLED SUMMER ADVENTURE


Embark on a Star-Spangled Summer Adventure!

This summer marks the 200th anniversary of some profound American history, such as the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, and the burning of Washington, including the torching of the White House, the Capitol, and the loss of thousands of irreplaceable volumes from the original Library of Congress.

I wrote my Free Men and Dreamers series to commemorate this great history, but sadly, budget cuts have forced the cancellation of many events planned to mark these poignant events.

So families, it will soon be time to hit the road and create your own Star-Spangled Summer Adventure! You visit local, state, or federal landmarks with your family, and we’ll provide some added incentive.

Here’s how you can enter:

1.       Visit five American historical landmarks, (even local landmarks count), between Flag Day, June 14th, and Defender’s Day, September 12th.

2.       Email photos of your family standing in front of a sign or building indicating where you went. Use this email address: starspangledsummeradventure@gmail.com

 That’s it!

Additional entries will be awarded for those who promote the SSSA by posting the official badge and link on your blog, Facebook page, or on Twitter. Additional entries can also be earned by submitting a brief, (250 words or less), testimonial recounting your experience on a leg of your “Star-Spangled Adventure.” These will be posted on my blog over the summer.

One family will be selected to win the prize package on September 13th. Prizes are still coming in, but the package now includes a Vivitar Digital Video Recorder; a $50 gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond; a commemorative set of the Charters of Freedom, suitable for framing; an autographed 5-volume set of Free Men and Dreamers, and other autographed books from authors in a variety of genres to keep your family reading all fall.
The promotion will launch on June 14th with Rafflecopter links where you can check off your participation.  Check back as we near that date.
So make plans to hit the road this summer, and let us see what great American history you find!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A PLAYLIST FOR MOM--MUSIC THERAPY FOR DEMENTIA SUFFERERS

While doing research for The Dragons of Alsace Farm, I ran across several articles describing the positive impact music had in bringing dementia patients out of their fog. My mother is now in a shared home with other people who, like her, suffer with dementia. I decided to put the theory to practice, so I'm assembling a selection of hits from their "happy years," the forties, fifties, and sixties, the years when these octogenarians were filled with the excitement of life and love.

I'm going to play these selections for them tomorrow, and ask them to share whatever memories they conjure. Cross your fingers for us. We'll see how it goes. I'll report back.


































Thursday, May 15, 2014

COVER REVEAL: "SLEEPING BEAUTY and the BEAST"




Melissa Lemon is one of the very talented authors in my writers' group. Because of that, I've had the privilege of pre-release glimpses of this fantasy treasure.
It's great.
She's bankable.
Get this one for your family.






Here is the synopsis: 




Trapped in a cursed sleep, the only experiences Princess Eglantine has are the ones in her dreams. There she meets Prince Henry of Fallund, a neighboring kingdom on the brink of war.





Meanwhile, Prince Henry's brother Duncan discovers a vicious beast imprisoned for murder. Captivated by her, he works to free her from both the prison bars she's locked behind and the ones surrounding her heart and mind. Sleeping Beauty and the Beast seamlessly retells and intertwines the classic stories of Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast.


http://lemoninkwell.blogspot.com/2014/05/cover-reveal.html