Saturday, May 23, 2015

I am happy to have Marc Estes, author of the exciting Vendicatori series, on my blog today. I hope you will check out his lastest in the series, 'Four Pieces For Power

About the Author

Award winning writer, Marc Estes, is proud to present his debut novel, Four Pieces For Power, Book One of the Vendicatori. This marks the first in a series of Vendicatori novels developed by Mr. Estes. He is a two-time winner of the Vermont Playwright's Award for his plays, What Would Dickens Do? and Glass Closets. What Would Dickens Do? also won the 2012 Robert J. Pickering Award for Playwriting Excellence. His play, Gumbo (adapted from the short story by Charles Huckelbury) was a finalist in the 2011 Safe Streets Arts Foundation Short Play Competition and was presented at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His play The Practice of Killing (co-written with Robert Johnson, and adapted from the short story by Mr. Johnson) has been published in the Spring 2013 edition of Tacenda Literary Magazine. Estes is a native of New England and graduate of the University of New Hampshire.

Amazon Review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By harry whitewolf on August 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
There's much to like about this story of an average guy, Andrew, who suddenly becomes involved in a clue solving contest to win an inheritance and take his seat at the head of the shadowy organization of the Vendicatori, but at the same time, I was constantly wanting more of some bits and less of others.
I wanted to know more about the organization, more about Andrew's 'nemesis' Robert, and more about the rules of the game they found themselves in. There was a slight lack of depth to the characters' actions because of this, but if you take it all at face value and just go along for the ride, then the book is very enjoyable.
The author is an extremely capable writer, whose style fits the genre perfectly, and the reader is swept along and constantly wanting to know what happens next. The sub-story of Andrew's family back home and his sister preparing for her wedding is a great device to give balance to the story; and to highlight the underlying general theme of family, but I felt there was far too much of the sub-story, and therefore too little of 'the action' and the competition at hand.
As this is the first book in a series, presumably some of the questions I was left with will come to be answered.
All in all, if you're a fan of conspiratorial adventure books, in the vain of Dan Brown and Clive Cussler, then I'm sure you won't be disappointed. It's an easily read, mostly fast paced book which I could easily see being turned into a movie. And maybe the author's much more clever than I think- seeing as I'm left wanting to know more, and will therefore be wanting to read the next in the series!
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Marc Estes

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


This Sunday mother's throughout the country will be honored in many and various ways. Toddlers and preschool children will cheerfully drag their mothers to their favorite fast food places and older children will escort them, with great decorum, to restaurants with actual dinnerware. The majority of children will serve their mothers breakfast in bed, a calamitous tradition that refuses to die. Adult children with children of their own will have greater reverence for their mothers, graced with understanding and empathy. Mothers will righteously accept the presents, cards, flowers and candy, and promises of exemplary behavior in the future. She has always and will continue to deserve the esteem bestowed upon her by her family on this one honored day of each year.

Motherhood, while fulfilling in ways too numerous to mention, has never been easy. Today it is even more difficult due to the diverse roles played by the 21th century mother. Some mothers are the sole support of the family; others work to supplement insufficient incomes, while many choose to balance a career with caretaking — all monumental achievements. Some households with dual incomes have learned to share the ongoing chores of home maintenance and child care, but it usually falls to the mother to be the primary nurturer, manager, coordinator and ‘gopher’. In spite of reports on ‘burnout’ among working mothers, and ‘latchkey’ kids left alone too much, many American women are proving themselves capable of being both mother and working woman, placing the emphasis on quality versus quantity time with their children.

However, a small percentage of women have elected to forgo their careers, reasoning that careers can be resumed, but child-rearing is a onetime occupation. Due to the trend toward women bearing children later in life, some women have worked and established careers for 10 or 15 years before having children. The skills they've attained are often utilized in creating home enterprises and small businesses, allowing them time with their children.

Unlike Father's Day, which was erratic in its installment, Mother’s Day was accepted with enthusiasm. In May of 1907, Anna M. Jarvis of Philadelphia was inspired by the idea that at least once a year children should pay tribute to their mothers. She organized a special Mothers church service and the concept quickly spread to other churches. By 1911, the observance was widespread, including every state in the union, plus Canada, Mexico, South America, Africa, China, Japan and several islands. Leaflets proposing certain exercises were printed In 10 different languages and distributed to various countries. What the leaflets said in part was: “A day that has shown that it has heart and living interest for all classes, races, creeds, native and foreign-born, high and low, rich and poor, scoffer and churchmen, man, women and child, is Mother’s Day, observed on the second Sunday of May. The common possession of the living world is a mother . . . .”

A Mother's Day International Association was incorporated in December of 1912 to promote a greater observance of the day. The following May, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon all government officials to wear a white carnation in celebration of Mother's Day. In 1914, Congress designated Mother's Day as an official holiday and asked Pres. Woodrow Wilson to display the national flag on all public buildings. On May 9, the president issued a proclamation asking the people to follow suit and display flags on their homes as ‘a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of the country’. The wearing of white carnations on Mother's Day was modified to distinguish living mothers from those deceased. White flowers were worn by the motherless and red flowers by children with living mothers. Gift-giving by children became popular, especially homemade gifts and cards. One gift in great demand for Mother's Day was the reproduction of Whistler’s portrait of his mother, the most famous mother portrait of the times.

Ever since Eve rocked the cradle that begat civilization, mothers held an almost mystical place in society. Research shows that even the caveman, while chauvinistic to the nth degree, cherished and protected his mate, knowing instinctively that without her the clan would become extinct. The cave woman was healer, food gatherer, herbalist and fur-skinner, as well as mother. The custom of holding festivals to honor motherhood dates back to the ancient Greeks who worshiped Cybele, mother of the gods. Rome adopted the tradition around 250 BC and celebrated the festival of Hilaria on the Ides of March. The festivities lasted three days and included rites in woods and caves, significantly different from modern celebrations.

Today's mother has exhibited proficiency in job skills, self-reliance, and creativity while continuing to supply the cohesive element that binds the family unit. Possibly the only thing that a mother cannot be is a father. On this Mother's Day, as children and fathers lavishly pile gifts and admiration upon her, the mother is reminded of the importance of her role. When beset with trials and stress that would devastate the average person, the mother does her job and does it well; because it is a most rewarding occupation with no mandatory retirement. The benefits of loving and molding young minds far outweigh the tribulations of guiding children from infancy to adulthood. Abraham Lincoln said it best: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother."

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Out From the Underworld

By Heather Siegel

“How did I get so lucky?" Heather Siegel asks her sweet baby daughter. As a survivor of child neglect, abandonment and abuse, she is lucky. Yet she paid full price for it as she flashes back to a childhood brimming over with memories — mostly bad. Somehow the good early years with her parents, especially her mother, offer strength on her journey toward survival.

Heather is abandoned by her mother at six-years-old, along with her eight-year-old sister, Jaz, and her baby brother, Greg. She relates her memories of those times with candor, resentment and a bit of mostly dark humor usually spewing from her sardonic sister, Jaz.

Her blond Nordic mother, so beautiful, albeit a bit of a hippie, yet light hearted and hopeful, disappears, leaving her father unable to cope with his own loss. He puts the girls into foster homes, separated from Greg, who is placed separately. Only till he gets his head together, he tells them; but that never happens. The children spend the next six years in foster homes sharing every other weekend with their father. Greg is lucky to be placed in a fairly good home, the girls not so much. Heather bonds to her one foster mother more out of need than love.
Jaz hides her hurt with sarcasm and a smart mouth, not allowing the blisters on her soul to show. Unlike her sister, Heather cannot hide mourning her beautiful mother, wondering why she left; wondering if she’ll ever come home — home to her father’s basement apartment, dark and dank — the underworld.

Author Heather Siegel writes a debut memoir that is 
often painful to read. Yet she never loses her innate hope that things will change for the better. The author bares her soul in this story so that those also abandoned and neglected and abused, can relate, while other readers may cringe at the heartache laced through this coming-of-age story. Due to graphic sex and language this book is recommended for adults only.

The story told through the point of view of Heather, Jaz and Greg, comes to a riveting end, shocking and painful yet offering a closure of sorts. This is a haunting memoir, disturbing at times yet grasps onto readers taking them along for an emotional ride of ups and downs into an unforeseen yet somewhat satisfying ending.

Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meet the Author

Meet the Author-- hosted by nature and chidren's books, Author Bette A Stevens as she interviews  Micki Peluso. Drop by and learn about this unique and wacky family as related by the author in her three time award winning book . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang. The interview will be up  for this entire week or more. Meet some of Micki's delightful now grown kids who are the primary characters in this book which has the humor of "Cheaper By the Dozen' with the heart of ' To Kill a Mockingbird. Get involved with some of the incidents in this book and ask questions which Micki will honestly answer in spite of some of her kids insisting 'it isn't true.'  Who would you believe? Micki, of course, inspite the protests made jokingly by some of her more precocious children.
You will also be moved by the impact that losing one of the children in the family had upon all members of the family which is clearly shown by the childen, now adults with children of their own. Surely the one lost, the comical, beautiful Noelle, is smiling down upon her family during the interview about this book dedicated to the celebration of her life.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


This particular Earth Day is important because we can no longer Ignore the obvious – the Earth is in the midst of a severe environmental crisis and the time for correcting the nearly insurmountable problems is long past. The first Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 1970, initiated the Environmental Protection Agency and was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Yet in spite of this, worldwide pollution is overtaking the globe faster than we can find the means to stop it. Apathy, disbelief, and big business, intent upon getting bigger, are some of the many reasons for this. But the main culprits are overpopulation especially in industrialized nations along with modern technology. And from the same technology which created most of the problems must come most of the solutions.

We have become a throwaway society, thoughtlessly piling up mounds of garbage, some which will take hundreds of years to decompose; some which will never decompose. Even as technology continues in its efforts to halt the ongoing destruction of the planet, Earth citizens must undergo radical changes in both their thinking and their living habits.

In rural areas waste control is much easier. Newspapers are rolled into fireplace logs, food waste, such as egg shells, vegetable and fruit peels and even coffee grounds are composted for summer gardens. Cut grass is used for mulch and while in some areas garbage can still legally be burned, it's no longer a viable option. One of the ways we can cut down on waste is to buy fresh foods whenever possible and avoid products with excess packaging. Removing purchases from their boxes and leaving the packaging in the store might convince manufacturers that over packaging is not only unnecessary but can no longer be tolerated. Refusing to buy aerosol cans cuts down on damage to the ozone layer, and if done consistently can be a deciding factor in having them removed from store shelves. Industry produces what the consumer purchases. Boycotting is one power that consumers can use effectively. Carpooling has become popular reducing automobile emissions and savings on gas. Eating less red meat is healthy and would save some of the tropical rainforests in Brazil, where the forests are being converted to pasture land for that country's beef production. Within the United States, less beef consumption would free land for agriculture, instead of growing grain for cattle feed. Planting shrubs, bushes and trees creates oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide from the air.

In Nebraska, Arbor Day, the forerunner of Earth Day, was a day set aside for the planting of trees. One million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day which fell upon April 10. Planting trees and replenishing the earth was well-established in Europe long before this continent was settled. In colonial times, trees were cut down to clear the land for agriculture and homes, and housing itself consisted mainly of lumber. Native Americans respected the Earth, taking only what they needed to live on and replenishing  the lands, as opposed to the settlers who killed massive herds of buffalo for sport, and until more recent years, never replenished the soil by crop rotation. Before the Industrial Revolution and the onset of mass production, people recycled out of need because there were no other options.

In order to live on a healthy planet we need to reestablish the law of supply and demand, only this time in relation to the Earth's priorities not our own. The Earth does not need us to do these things, as it is capable of adjusting to all manner of change and adapting to it. The Artic seas freeze in some periods and melt in others; the Earth cares not if the oceans rise up and flood coastal areas.  People, animas and vegetation can be destroyed but the Earth will persevere. “Saving” the Earth perpetuates our own existence upon this planet.  

Not all Earth changes are caused by civilization or industry. Many are natural cycles within the planet’s routine which changes according to its own inner and outer workings; sometimes over thousands of years and other times seemingly without warning. As Earth citizens it is imperative to live within our planet’s needs sometimes putting them before our own. We cannot stop all catastrophic Earth events, but we can do our part to undo the extensive damage that we have inflicted upon our earthly home. Our lives and the lives of future generations are riding on the hope that it will not prove to be too little, too late.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

DOG BONE SOUP, A Boomer's Journey

Dog Bone Soup A Boomer’s Journey

By Bette A. Stevens

Author Bette A. Stevens writes a debut novel taking place in the 1950s and 60s, filled with Americana and historical fiction. Referred to as ‘Boomers,’ the people of these decades set the pace and tenor of future generations.

Shawn Daniels might have been a typical boy in the ‘good old days’ had his father not been an abusive, wife beating drunk, spending his money on liquor, while allowing his family to live in poverty, lacking indoor plumbing and electricity. Still Shawn has dreams and fortitude enough to withstand the bullying by his peers, being called ‘white trash’ by his community, and is able to withstand all the obstacles thrown in his path. His brother, Willie, tends to be lazy and a dreamer, but still helps out when the family is starving, by chopping wood, and helping his mother manage the house and care for his younger sisters, Annie and Molly.

The author deftly flashes forward as the story opens. Shawn is preparing to head off to Army boot camp during the Vietnam War. Enlisting might keep him from being sent overseas and give him some job training. After a life of struggling, Shawn sees the light at the end of his personal tunnel. As he stays up with his Mum through the middle of the night, looking through old family pictures, his story unfolds.

This is a realistic charming, yet heartrending story reminiscent of  ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ by Mark Twain. Author Stevens manages to portray this period of history with clarity and truth. Most amazingly her characters, while suffering more than today's civilization, enduring a myriad of harsh circumstances, there is little self-pity among them. If ever a people made lemonade from lemons, it was the boomers.

Amidst the hardship, including the nightly Dog Bone Soup, there are also times of adventure, playfulness and fun — as if Shawn and his generation are blessed with an innate ability to cope with daily setbacks; never losing hope and continually forging ahead aiming for better days.

Author Bette A. Stevens writes a book full of heart and wisdom, a book that YA/adult readers will treasure and cherish. This generation in particular needs to read the book to learn what hard life was like, giving them the skills to adapt to the problems of their own generation. Dog Bone Soup, A Boomer’s Journey is a journey that the reader wishes would never end.

Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang