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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Review: The Yoga of Max's Discontent

I must admit, I haven't been a faithful blogger, but it is ASH Wednesday, 2016, and being more faithful to my loyal fans is part of my "repenting" this year.

I'm starting with a review of a wonderful book by Karen Bajaj called


     When I finished reading this excellent book,
I wanted to start reading it all over again.

Max's story,
Karen's writing,
my being caught up in the path that leads to fulfilment--
   all of these are reasons I both wanted and did not want the book to end.

Each setback,
   and each determined effort to continue seeking
added to my involvement.

   "How will this all end?" I asked myself as I read on and on.
   "Would I consider undertaking such a journey for myself?"

And as a writer, I tried to analyze how Ms. Bajaj wove such an engaging and realistic story.

Max, born and raised in the projects in the Bronx by a dedicated single mother, works his way out of the ghetto by studying hard and dedicating himself to success. At age 29, his mother dies of cancer and he is drawn to give up a promising career and seek the way of the yogi in India. Karen tells this story so  well, I felt present in the cold and the heat, the fatigue and hunger, that Max endures.

I will reread this story and I anticipate I will learn more about Max, Karen, and myself as I do so.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How to help your friends' books succeed

I have been thinking about reaching more people with my novel.  Then it dawned on me that my question is more universal than I had thought. The information below is from Richard Ridley, an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor who gave permission for authors to share this with our personal networks.

Call this an open letter to friends and family members of indie authors (authors, you can share this with your personal networks if you agree).

"This is an answer to the question I hear most often from the people in my life who want to support my career as an indie author: "What can I do to help you sell more books?" The answer is simple, and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with you buying a book from the indie author in your life. All that is required is that you help spread the word. I don't mean in an organized manner or by using some grand gesture full of fanfare and hype. I simply mean that you mention the book in conversation or include a link to the book in a status update on Facebook and/or Twitter. That's it. If you've read the book, you could go that extra mile and share your review online, but that is your call. Your real value is as a personal advocate, an active supporter of the indie author in your life.

"Your word carries a lot of weight. Statistics show that the number-one reason people choose to read a book is because of recommendations from a friend or family member. Do you see the power you have? Now, it isn't your responsibility to support an indie author's dream, and I don't want you to feel like it is an obligation. I just want you to be aware of how easily your support can be expressed.

"Thanks for reading, and may you all find your way to achieving your own hopes and dreams with a little help from family and friends.

-Richard" Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg
Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.
I certainly endorse what Richard has to say here. Some of you have told me that you read and enjoyed my book. Have you told your other friends?

Peace,  Lee
Hello, again.
It has been quite a while since I posted on my blog, but I am here again.
For about six months this past year I had a "job" writing history for the century blog that Jennifer Rosenberg publishes.
When Jennifer asked if anyone wanted to write pieces for her, I applied and she accepted my application. From April through August, I researched famous men of the century and wrote up their lives for her to put on her blog.

Now I am working on my second novel. It is tentatively called NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG, GO WRONG.

I hope to visit you more often from now on.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Visiting a Book Club Long Distance

Had a lovely adventure on Thursday morning, March 20, 2014 with the Daytime Book Group of the Faculty and Spouse Club of Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia.

Lee in Iowa and Becky in Georgia
And I didn't even have to leave home to do it.

My daughter, Becky Delecuona has been active in the group for many years and when my novel Too Much Left Unsaid  came out last summer she suggested that it would be fun to have me come down and meet with her book club. When the group scheduled my book for March (and especially this March when winter has just gone crazy all over the country) we considered whether a drive from Pella, Iowa, to August, Georgia would be a good idea. NOT.

So we began making alternative plans. Jacqui Allison was scheduled to host the group and she was a most gracious hostess. I missed the treats, but enjoyed the company via Skype.

  •  Jacqui set up a Skype connection and AppleTV so that pictures from her Mac computer could be shown on her TV screen. 
  •  Barb Ashton, my housemate and technology guru, got me set up on Skype in our dining room.
  • Jacqui and I checked out the connections a week in advance.
  • Tuesday morning, we had a lovely chat about writing, history, my book, and life in the mid-twentieth century.
Book Clubbers of the world. This is your opportunity to invite a not-quite-world-famous author (ME) to come to your meeting and chat about books. I even have a set of questions about my book that I would gladly send to you. You might even see me post a few questions on this blog. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Another History Lesson (Part 2)

                 A few days ago I blogged about "Bloody Sunday," when civil rights advocates began an aborted march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to petition for voting rights that were being denied to African American citizens.  On that day, April 7, 1965, police and state troopers attacked the marchers, and three days later three white ministers were beaten by mobs and one, James Reeb of Boston died of his injuries.
            I used the events in my novel Too Much Left Unsaid when I told of fictional minister Aaron Connors' decision to be part of the third attempt to make the march on March 21.
            Aaron told his congregation that he would go down to Alabama to take part in the march and invited anyone interested to accompany him. He went alone, but met there his nephew Eddie's best friend, Dar Jones, a black law student from Howard Law School.

        Below is another section from my book:

        "On Thursday, March 25, 25,000 people reached the State Capitol Building where Dr. King delivered an address. He spoke of "a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience...."He concluded by promising, "I know you are asking today, How long will it take? I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long."
        Twenty-five thousand people do not disperse in a hurry. Some marched back along the way they had come or away in various directions satisfied with the outcome. Others hitched rides or rode in cars provided by volunteers like Viola Liuzzo back to Selma. Dar and Aaron returned to the campus at the St. Jude Educational Institute, a private Roman Catholic high school on the outskirts of Montgomery where they had camped on the final evening of the march. Aaron found a pay phone to call Joan [his wife] reporting their elation, but also their bone-tired fatigue. He told her he would start back in the morning.   
        Later on, while Aaron sat listening to his portable radio, Dar called Parkersville to talk to his sister, Sophie. "You should've been there, Soph! People were screaming and laughing and dancing in the street. Dr. King speaks the hopes of our generation. Last night Eddie's Uncle Aaron and I camped at this Catholic church and school and Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis Jr. sang for us. Peter, Paul and Mary, and Frankie Laine, and Tony Bennett. Today we finished the march and listened to Dr. King speak. After the beatings and arrests and strain, this actually did feel like we shall overcome at last."
        Sophie was watching on television some of the footage of the day's events as she talked to her brother. "Dar! Wait! there's a news flash coming on now. Oh, my God! Listen! Here's what they are saying: Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit mother of five who was assisting with the march, was murdered by four members of the Ku Klux Klan. More news to come..."
        "Viola? Murdered? No-oo! That's awful! I met her, Soph! She was at the hospitality desk in Brown Chapel. We talked together. She was at the first aid station yesterday and today. She drove back and forth taking people where they needed to be. Eddie's Uncle Aaron knew her. Are you sure what you heard?"
        "More news to come is all they are saying now. Mama's frantic that you're down there. Do you think it was worth the struggle?"
        Dar left the question unanswered as he turned around and looked at Aaron. Aaron sat with his head in his hand, having just heard the same news from the radio.
        "Got to go, Soph. Tell Mama I'm safe. I'll get back to school as soon as I can. I'll call from DC."
        Aaron looked up when Dar tapped his shoulder. Tears streamed down his face. Dar scowled, too angry to be sad yet.
        "Is it worth it, Rev. Connors? No one seemed to care when only black people died. Now we have people's attention, what's next?"
        Aaron drew a deep breath. "I can't answer your question, Dar. I wish I could. What I would want is for the nation to be upset when anybody is killed. If God is carrying his purpose out, it seems too many lives are being wasted in the process."

There is more to Dar and Aaron's story. I wrote in my novel. But the historical background includes these facts:

·         Viola Liuzzo was a real person, a mother from Detroit, who helped with the march and was murdered on that night.
·         Martin Luther King's words are quoted from the speech he gave on March 25 at Montgomery.
·         Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter, Paul and Mary, Frankie Laine, and Tony Bennett actually did perform at the campground of the St. Jude Catholic High School outside Montgomery on Wednesday night.

The events of that month in Alabama did catch the attention of people around the nation and a voting rights bill was passed by Congress in the summer of 1965.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Another history lesson: Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965 (Part 1)

On March 7, 1965, forty-nine years ago yesterday, events came together in Selma, Alabama, which passed into history as "Bloody Sunday." I wrote about this event and the weeks that followed in my novel Too Much Left Unsaid. Here is the beginning of my chapter, featuring the son of my protagonist, Mattie Connors.
            Aaron Connors, pastor of White Grove Presbyterian Church, believed in God and country, in equal rights for all citizens, regardless of skin color, to vote and live and work where they pleased. Aaron's congregation, on the other hand, didn't always appreciate his challenging words from the pulpit. From time to time the Board of Elders, ordained to oversee the spiritual life of the congregation, listened to complaints about Aaron's activities in promoting Negro rights.
                Aaron was aware of the unrest in his congregation, but he still felt it was his responsibility to preach and act as he believed God wanted. He paid special attention to what was happening in Selma, Alabama. On Sunday, March 7, 1965, John Lewis, chairman of SNCC, and Hosea Williams from the Southern Christian Leadership Council scheduled a peaceful march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery to petition for protection of blacks who were being attacked when they tried to register to vote. Governor George Wallace vowed to halt the marchers. He called out the state troopers to stop them.
                The evening of the march, Aaron and his wife Joan sat in their manse watching network television. What was shown on television shocked them. The marchers moved peacefully until Alabama state troopers assaulted them with flailing billy clubs, stampeding horses, tear gas, and bull whips. People fell and were dragged along, turning the peaceful protest bloody. By the end of the night sixteen marchers were hospitalized.
                 Immediately after "Bloody Sunday," as it became known, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., along with SNCC and the SCLC, issued a call to action. They asked clergy and laypeople from across the country to come to Selma for a second attempt to march to Montgomery on Tuesday, March 9. Many hundreds of people accepted the call.

 Aaron did not answer that call, though he participated in a supporting rally in Detroit. The 2,500 marchers who did assemble were prevented by a court order from marching out of town, but Dr. King and Rev. Lewis held a short prayer session and led the group as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge, They then turned the marchers back in obedience to the restraining order.

            Many of the younger marchers felt cheated at not being able to complete the march. White racists, disturbed seeing the northerners butting into their way of life, felt just as frustrated. Many fights broke out. Later that evening three white ministers were beaten, and one, James Reeb from Boston, died from his injuries two days later.
                When Aaron heard the news of a fellow minister's death he wept. "It's unacceptable for me to watch from this far away," he muttered. With repeated coverage of the violence on his television screen, Aaron paced the floor, alternately angry and sorrowful. "Next time," he vowed when the news reported Rev. Reeb's murder, "I will be there."

In a follow-up blog this month I will continue both the historical report and my imaginary take on how this particular civil rights struggle affected my fictional characters. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Love Letter from Dec. 6, 1942

With Valentines Day so close, I want to share a short bit from my novel Too Much Left Unsaid. 

Kathy Hummel had met sailor Josh Connors only ten days before but at the end of their first date Josh sat down to write her a letter. Their second date, Sunday, Dacember 7, 1941, was interrupted by news of a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into WWII.

This is the letter and Kathy's reaction to it when she received it the next day:

Monday, December 8, Kathy received Josh’s letter in the afternoon mail. She laughed at his review of every part of their Saturday date.
 Dear Kathy, my dear Katherina,
I love you. Marry me. Think about the fun we had today and multiply that by a lifetime of joy we can have together. I love you. Marry me.
You are my angel and when we settle down to our lives together it will be heaven. I know you think I have said “You’re my angel” to other girls before you but you really are sent from Heaven and I know it! I love you. Marry me.

What a foolish man. Proposing marriage after our first date, Kathy thought.
I’ve never been so happy as I am at this moment. I loved the cold beach walk when we could see clear across Lake Michigan. I could see into our future life together—life in Parkersville. I love you. Marry me.
I'm on leave starting December 28 and plan a trip home. You must come with me and meet Ron and Mattie and the boys and my folks. We’ll tell them we are engaged and making plans for our wedding. I love you. Marry me.
The world is dark now. Hitler’s Germany is itching for a fight, but I don’t think we’ll be in it. I love you. Marry me. I’ll take you to see the world when that conflict is over. We will have a wonderful life together. I love you. Marry me.
Remember the "Our Town." Parkersville will be our town if you only say yes and come there with me. I love you. Marry me.
I know we are older. That just means we are wiser and we have to make up for the years we wasted not knowing each other. I love you. Marry me.

She began to cry as she read over and over, "I love you. Marry me." How could he even think such a wild impossible thing. I know what my life will be and it doesn't include marrying a sailor.
I'll be seeing you in church tomorrow, though you won't have this letter yet. We’ll go to church and then ride out to Oak Park. I’ve heard that the Frank Lloyd Wright houses are everywhere there. We can dream of our house—plan the family we will raise. I love you. Marry me.
How about two boys and two girls? We can start as soon as we tie the knot. I love you. Marry me.
And by the way, I love you. Marry me.
                                                All, all, all my love, Josh.
            P. S. I love you. Marry me.
            As she finished Josh's letter, her reserve faltered. Marrying Josh would never work for me; it is too crazy--yet, he was so considerate, and he so wunderbar is.
            Josh's words stirred the feelings she had long kept under tight control. Could he be a Prince Charming coming into her life--one she never expected to meet? To her great surprise, unexpectedly, amazingly, Josh's letter sealed her fate. There was no way to even respond to him until Mrs. Alcott called her to the phone. “It’s that sailor again,” she said. “Should I be worried?”       

            “Not at all,” Kathy told her. “I’m going to marry him.”

Romance is in the air in February. Hope your day is filled with love and joy

Too Much Left Unsaid can be purchased in eBook or paperback format from
 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or through independent bookstores.