Monday, November 10, 2014

One of the Best Scfi Books of the Times

Inspector of the Cross

By

John B. Rosenman

Inspector Turtan is in fine shape for someone 3,573 years old. He owes this to suspended animation on so many freeze spaceships. Traveling solo is a lonely job . . . Not to mention the loves, family and friends that he's outlived. Yet as Inspector of the Cross, it's his mission to find the ultimate weapon to save humanity from the enemy -- the Cenknife aliens bent on controlling the known universe . . . In in spite of compensations, it's a terribly lonely job.

Will this trip to the desolate planet, Sircon IV, harbor what Turtan needs, "The Godstone?" His aged monkey-like host hopes to reassure Turtan that it is a myth, a useless relic of no merit, revered by religious barbarians from a past long since gone. Turtan, superb at his long-held job, senses the Overlord is lying. Lucan insists a visit to the pillar would not be worthwhile for reasons he refuses to expound upon. The two banter back and forth as Lucan holds his position in the most polite way, while pointing out that the living alien chair wrapped around Turtan contains deadly needles controlled by the simple thought waves of the Overlord. And he'd seemed like such a sweet old man. They finally come to an agreement and journey to the pillar across desert sands and into a dark cool cave. The Monolith, 6 meters high, stands before Turtan. His first thought is . . . The Godstone is alive.

After playing some dangerous mind games, including one where there is suddenly three of him, each a part of his psyche, Turtan writes his report to his superiors, stating that the Godstone is not the weapon he's been searching for -- Lucan had warned him of the Monolith's tendency to trickery. Now he believes him .

50 years later he awakens from his freeze sleep just above Planet Zontena, his next assignment. In cosmic time, only 20 light-years from Ohio, where he'd grown up -- but a far cry from the "tall cuddly birdlike" race who delight in games and cosmetic surgery, armed with no spaceships at all. Still a weapon has been reported here -- could this be the "one" which will save the human race? Computer statistics state there is a strong possibility. And why is a beautiful young inspector named Yori already here before him? Like an interstellar Sherlock Holmes, Turtan ruminates over this puzzle -- on a planet that loves games.

Tension grows as Turtan's ultimate enemy, a Cen named Turois, shows up as well. Unlike the rest of his race, this alien has feelings. How did that happen? What game is the seemingly placid Eden-like planet up to, and who will be the winner in a deadly race to control humanity?

This is an engaging sci-fi story on so many levels. Things are never what they seem and alien differences, often startling, make the reader rethink "humanity." Amidst a war thousands of years long, stretched across endless galaxies, and through black holes, surprises abound from the strangest of places, while complexity often shows a simple face. Author John B. Rosenman has again composed a story both exciting and engrossing, as his plotting unpeels like a ripened onion giving off a plethora of probable conclusions which can suddenly veer off in different directions. Rife with subtle subterfuges, he brings both humor and cleverness to this novel which builds to an unforeseen brilliant climax. This is a book that lovers of this genre and those new to it will not want to miss. It's just that good.

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dragonbride ( The Dragon Chronicles, Book 1) By Raani York

Dragonbride ( The Dragon Chronicles, Book 1)
By
Raani York
It's Imra’s destiny to “fulfill one of the oldest scriptures known to the world,” but at great cost to herself. And so begins a magical tale of love, impending evil and dragons. Author Raani York’s debut fantasy is a breathtaking, delightful and at times terrifying story of an era when dragons watched over humankind, who attempted to both appease and worship them. The beautiful Imra is a witch with powers of her own which will bring about the foretold burden as this amazing story unfolds . . . And perhaps upon the babe she births, and then hands over to others as the prophecy demands.
Shalima is raised by two aunts and trained in magic arts by a sorcerer, whose later identity comes as a shock. An ardent student, she senses she is destined for something special. But even she is overcome by the discovery that this specialty — one that is hers alone — one she's only heard of in legends-- will forever change the world.
The young magician becomes of age, passes through three tests at a tribunal of witches; even the oldest and strongest is no match for this chosen girl. Her fate is sealed. She will become wife to the Golden Dragon for eternity. The love between Shalima and her shape shifter husband, Dragan, is boundless — no love could be greater than theirs — in both human and Dragon form. Yet a cloud dims their bliss. They are destined to enforce a prophecy that only they can, and nothing can prevent the prophecy from coming true. Time is limited, chances slim, and odds against them. The world turns on its daily spin, unaware of its impending doom.
It is so tempting to tell you more . . . Of this quest full of adventure, romance, trust; a bond for the ages beset with trials that threaten the love and future of the Golden Dragon and his lovely magician bride. This book brings out the magic that lives within all fantasy lovers; its humor crops up unexpectedly and causes laughter.
Author Raani York has written a memorable first novel that will charm and entrance YA and all readers who love to curl up with a book that takes one off into the blissful, if often treacherous magical days of yore where one can revel in its truth, beauty and tragic losses. Waiting for the author’s forthcoming sequel will be torture . . . But not for long.
Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Witching Hours


Strange shadows dart stealthily across sparely lit streets, as dusk settles heavily on quiet neighborhoods of tree-lined sidewalks and cheerful well-kept homes. The eerie scream of a screechowl,more likely the brakes of a passing car, echoes deep into the night. Looming ominously from nearly every window is the menacing glare of smirking Jack-o-lanterns, while the often nervous refrain of "Trick or Treat" rings out in repetitious peals. Halloween is here, and with it the shivery remembrance of things that go bump in the night.

Halloween, a holiday once favored second to Christmas, is not as much fun as it used to be. The last few Halloweens have brought tampering scares, such as finding razors in apples and poisoned candy. A sick segment of society has forced many parents to hold neighborhood parties, instead of allowing their children to trick or treat. The tricks have been turned on the children, ruining an a once magical evening.

Gone are the days when children, dressed up hideously, or gaudily beautiful, could enter the home of a stranger, and be offered chilled apple cider with cinnamon stick straws, and homemade gingerbread, or cupcakes with orange icing and candy corn faces. No longer can mischievous children creep up on neighborhood porches to toss corn kernels against the front door, or generously soap window panes, without triggering house alarms and angering guard dogs kept behind locked fences. The mystical lure of Halloween is becoming a commercial interprise for the sale of candy, costumes and decorations.

Halloween is a Christian name meaning All Hallows, or All Saint's Day, but the custom of Halloween dates back to the Celtic cult in Northern Europe. As the Roman conquest pushed north, the Latin festival of the harvest god, Pomona, mingled with the Druid god, Samhain. Eventually, the Christians adopted the Celtic rites into their own observances.

Halloween signified the return of the herds from the pasture, renewal of laws and land tenures, and the practice of divinations with the dead, presumed to visit their homes on this day. For both the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, Halloween marked the eve of a new year. The Britains were convinced that divinations concerning health, death and luck, were most auspicious on Halloween. The devil, himself, was evoked for such purposes.

The Druid year began on November first, and on the eve of that day, the lord of death gathered the souls of the dead who had been condemned to enter the body of animals to decide what form they should take for the upcoming year; the souls of the good entered the body of another human at death. The Druids considered cats to be sacred, believing these animals had once been human, changed into cats as punishment for evil deeds.

The Druid cults were outlawed by the Romans during their reign in Great Britain, but the Celtic rites have survived, in part, to the present day. By the time these ancient rites migrated to America, the mystic significance was lost, and all that has remained is an evening when children can dress in outrageous costumes, and collect candy from obliging neighbors; yet a tiny part of every child still believes in witches, ghosts, and the nameless entities that creep about on Halloween, relatives, to their young minds, of the monster that lives under every child's bed.

In the ancient days, it was believed that Halloween was the night chosen by witches and ghosts to freely roam, causing mischief and harm. Witchcraft existed before biblical times, believed in by ancient Egyptians, Romans and American Indians. The Christian Church held varying opinions on witchcraft, at one time accrediting it to be an illusion, later accepting it as a form of alliance with the devil. As late as 1768, disbelief in witchcraft was regarded as proof of atheism.

Halloween customs varied from country to country, but all were related to the Celtic rites. Immigrants to this country, particularly the Scotch and Irish, introduced some of the customs remaining today, but there were many more that are unfamiliar. On Halloween in Scotland, women sowed hemp seed into plowed land at midnight, repeating the formula: "Hemp seed I sow, who will my husband be, let him come and mow." Looking over her left shoulder, a woman might see her future mate.

Apples and a six-pence were put into a tub of water, and whoever succeeded in extracting either of them with his mouth, but without using his teeth, was guaranteed a lucky year. In the highlands of Scotland in the 18th century, families would march about their fields on Halloweem, walking from right to left, with lighted torches, believing this would assure good crops. In other parts of Scotland, witches were accused of stealing milk and harming cattle. Boys took peat torches and carried them across the fields, from left to right(widdershins), in an effort to scare the witches away.

The Scots strongly believed in fairies. If a man took a three-legged stool to an intersection of three roads, and sat on it at midnight, he might hear the names of the people destined to die in the coming year. However, if he tossed a garment to the fairies, they would happily revoke the death sentence.

Scotland's witches held a party on Halloween. Seemingly ordinary women, who had sold their souls to the devil, put sticks, supposedly smeared with the fat of murdered babies, into their beds. These sticks were said to change into the likenesses of the women, and fly up the chimney on broomsticks, attended by black cats, the witchs' familiars.

In Ireland, a meal of callcannon, consisting of mashed potatoes, onions and parsnips, was solemnly served on Halloween. Stirred into this concoction, was a ring, a thimble, a coin, and a doll. The finder of the ring would marry soon, the finder of the doll would have many children, the thimble finder would never marry, and the one fortunate enough to find the coin would be rich. Jack-o-lanterns originated from Ireland, where according to newspaper editor and writer, George William Douglas, " a stingy man named Jack was barred from Heaven because of his penuriousness, and forbidden to enter Hell because of his practical jokes on the devil, thus condemned to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgement Day."

A more serious custom was the holding of the General Assembly(Freig) at Tara, in Celtic Ireland, celebrated every three years and lasting two weeks. Human sacrifices to the gods opened the ceremonies, the victims going up in flames.

England borrowed many of the Scotch and Irish customs, adding them to their own. Young people bobbed for apples, and tied a lighted candle to one end of a stick, and an apple to the other. The stick was suspended and set spinning, the object of the game being to bite the apple without getting burned by the candle. This custom was a relic of the fires lighted on the eve of Samhain in the ancient days of the Celts.

The only customs bearing no relation to the ancient rites is the masquerade costumes of today, and Halloween parades. But the custom of masked children asking for treats comes from the seventeenth century, when Irish peasants begged for money to buy luxuries for the feast of St. Columba,a sixth century priest, who founded a monastery off the coast of Scotland.

From the north of England comes the activity known as "mischief night", marked by shenanigans with no particular purpose, or background. Boys and young men overturned sheds, broke windows, and damaged property. Mischief night prevails today, but is mostly limited to throwing eggs, smashing pumpkins, and lathering carswith shaving cream. The custom of trick or treat is observed mainly by small children, going from house to house. The treat is almost always given, and the trick rarely played, except by teenagers, who view Halloween as an excuse to deviate from acceptable behavior.

Children today, knowing little or nothing of the history and myths behind Halloween, still get exited over the prospect of acting out their fantasies of becoming a witch, ghost, devil, or pirate. It is still pleasurable for an adult, remembering Halloweens past, to see the glow on a child's face as he removes his mask and assures you that he's not really a skeleton. Watching the wide-eyed stares of young children warily observing flickering candle-lit pumpkins, is an assurance that even today, thousands of years beyond the witch and ghost-ridden days of the Druids, a little of the magic of Halloween remains. Children need a little magic to become creative adults; adults need a little magic to keep the child in them alive. So if, on this Halloween, you notice a black cat slink past your door, trailing behind a horde of make-believe goblins, it probably belongs to a neighbor. And the dark shadow whisking across the face of a nearly full moon is only the wisp of a cloud, not a witch riding a broom... probably.


By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.

Open, locks,

Whoever knocks!

-Shakespeare

Sunday, September 21, 2014

War Babies

The Generation that changed America

By Richard Pells

Author Richard Pell’s fascinating historical account explores the years of Americans born from 1939 through 1945. He states throughout the course of the book that War Babies “initiated most of the social and cultural motivations that Boomers have taken credit for over the years," often rewriting history to fit their own philosophy. He covers all sectors of this generation, including musicians, film directors, composers, actors, athletes, journalists, politicians and more. War Babies’ contribution, according to the author, has and continues “to shape our lives and culture in the 21st century. “ Pells notes that on May 30, 2012, a picture of Bob Dylan receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and on the same day the editorial-page of the New York Times celebrated Paul Simon’s contribution to music — confirming this writer’s statements.

The Boomers were too young to have experienced the new exciting revolutions; folk music, movies like “The Graduate,” the Kennedy assassinations, McCarthyism, the Korean War, and Vietnam, just to name a few of the events that changed the course of the country. Author Pells, a war baby himself, born in 1941, takes his readers on a journey of factual memories of a special time in America's history, which has not been given the recognition it deserves. He writes of his personal life, growing up in a Jewish family — his grandmother fleeing the pogroms in Poland, just missing the coming Holocaust — only to endure ethnic discrimination in America.

This is an exceptional book in that it not only presents a cultural historical viewpoint but peppers it with background information such as Robert Zimmerman who later became Bob Dylan, as well as the troubled childhood of Faye Dunaway. This riveting, fast-paced enjoyable account of the connections and similarities of this country's most famous icons make it a hard book to put down. The author shows how War Babies from entertainers to politicians and journalists, through their own deprivations, paved the way for a new and better society in all walks of life. Their stories come from poverty, wars, struggles, and determination, laying the groundwork for a better life; the likes of which this present generation will never again experience. Nor will today's technological society fully know, understand or have the moral internal strengths, endurance and perseverance of the War Babies . . . A sad thing, a great loss.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this book is the author's ability to link and interweave the diverse personalities and achievements of both the cultural and political men and women, as he demonstrates how this generation molded the future. Known as ‘the Quiet Generation,' it made the transition from ‘the Greatest Generation’ to the ‘Lost Generation,' carried on through the legacy of parents who bestowed its benefits upon their children. Pells contends that while War Babies have managed to reshape the culture and politics of America from the 1960s until now," the author leaves us with a prognosis that “is both frightening and liberating.”

This work by Richard Pells, who is, among other things, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, should be used by educators as a textbook and required reading for students — as both an excellent lesson and research resource. War Babies is so saturated with cultural memories of an often forgotten past that it overwhelms the reader’s senses, but in a most positive and pleasurable way.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE UNEATEN MEAL

The Uneaten Meal            

            The watch hanging from Ian’s belt loop under his white chef jacket read 8:15. The morning rush was in full swing. Patrons sat in the sunlit posh restaurant—some drummed their fingers with impatience, others read the Wall Street Journal. Many seemed barely awake, sipping coffee for a caffeine jolt. 
            Ian had worked the kitchen all morning, his third day on the job as a Sous Chef to the Head Chef. He had survived the breakfast rush; bagels with cream cheese and lox for the rushed, Quiche Lorraine for the ones too important to punch a time card. Still, most would be heading to their various jobs, many on the 104th floor below the restaurant. The conference room, a floor below the restaurant, on the 106th floor was catering a breakfast to the Waters Financial Technology Congress, serving seventy-one guests.
            Ian was preparing for the lunch entrée special; a new recipe Chef would be offering to the lunch crowd--numbering hundreds. Ian worked quickly, with dozens of cooks helping to prep the ingredients. It was a gourmet delight – an aromatic concoction of bowtie pasta swimming in a rich white cream sauce, consisting of sweet herbed butter, heavy cream, white wine and an imported parmesan cheese. Large shrimp lightly sautéed in the sauce were placed on top, sprinkled with crumbled Greek feta cheese, sweet basil and freshly ground black pepper. Parsley sprigs added décor to the plate along with a few strips of fresh grilled red pepper. Chef Mike was confident of his creative cuisine. He was not of his new Sous Chef and often hovered over him, making Ian nervous. He was glad Chef Mike would not be coming in to work until the noon rush. This entrée could not be made completely in advance and the chef wanted a few made up to insure the recipe was followed to the letter. He had a fine reputation to maintain.
            As customers rose to go to their perspective jobs; many glancing out of the rows of large windows overlooking the panoramic business district of Manhattan and the East River, the dining room was set up for the lunch rush.
            Ian had Chef Mike’s creation ready to be sampled as soon as he arrived for his shift. He was afraid his job depended on how well he had prepared the dish. Still, he had done his best and felt confident it would suit the perfectionist chef.
Blinding light and roaring noise shut out his world. Fire and smoke filled the entire 107th floor, screams of panicked customers and workers alike died out quickly as they were overcome by suffocation and burns. The delectible shrimp and bowtie pasta entrée was destroyed along with most of the kitchen. Neither Ian nor Chef Mike would ever know if it met the chef’s high standards. His new recipe would go uneaten, along with all the meals scheduled for that luncheon meal. Windows on the World, Manhattan’s noted and loved restaurant was destroyed. It was 8:55 and the 104th floor was incinerated. 
People on other floors were spared the direct impact of the first passenger jet, Flight 11 that slammed into the first tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The ones on the top floor, along with the people in the restaurant were trapped. There was no way down.  Many ran up the staircases to the top 111th floor and climbed onto the rooftop hoping to be rescued. Ian ran with them. He helped the few people alive make it to the roof.   Helicopters tried in vain to reach them but black billowing smoke prevented this, as well as bursts of flame. People succumbed to the heat and smoke and died. Others chose to jump off the top of the building, rather than burn to death. Ian was one of them. 
            As he jumped, his thoughts were of his wife and their new born baby girl. It was such a beautiful day that they had planned a picnic in Central Park when his shift ended. Before Ian reached the ground, his spirit left his body. He saw his body splatter on the street below. He watched as financial wizards, secretaries, businessmen, maintenance workers, became one in the futile effort to escape the building. He saw a second plane hit the second tower, taking more lives in an instant. This plane hit closer to the top of the second tower giving more time for people below those floors to get out. Many made it, many more did not. Ian’s spirit drifted through the first tower, watching frantic people calling on their cell phones for help—some realizing their plight cried and said goodbye to their loved ones.
            911 operators, unaware of the gravity of the situation, gave wrong advice to many who called--advising them to remain inside until help came. Help, that was unable to reach most of them. Most of the ones who survived had ignored that advice and hurried to escape the building.
            New York City responded at once. Ian watched as police, search and rescue squads, and fire trucks rushed to the scene. Ambulances raced to help those who survived. People began the long trek down dark stairways, coughing and choking on thick black smoke; often meeting police and firemen on their way up the building. The heat was unbearable. Ian felt anquished, knowing that so many would never make it back down. He saw many like him who could walk through the ruins, already dead.
            The second tower imploded almost without warning at 10:05 A.M., through time held no meaning for Ian. Thousands of lives were crushed into rubble. The ambulances and hospitals set up triages for the injured. Most beds lay empty, as few made it out of the towers alive. Except for the ones lucky enough to have escaped before the first tower imploded at 10:30, there were few patients to help. Ian observed the nearly 3000 souls wandering lost throughout the ruins. Many did not yet realize that they were dead.        
           The shock waves of horror extended past Manhattan, its neighboring boroughs, rippled across the country, impacted the world.  America had been attacked by cowardly terrorists on her own soil. New York City wept, Mayor Guiliani wept, the free world wept. And Ian wept.
            The Chef’s new entrée in the Windows on the World would go uneaten, never sampled for its flavor.   There would be many uneaten meals that day and for many days to follow. Terror, death and inconceivable destruction had taken away the appetite of the City, the nation—most of the world. It left a bitter taste in the mouths of all those who lost loved ones and those who grieved with them.
            Ian glanced through the rubble and saw his chef uniform buried beneath the debris. It held a quickly scribbled note of love to his wife and newly born baby. He hoped it would be found and given to her. He also hoped that she would tell his baby girl about her father—so that his memory would live on, even if he could not. Ian sensed that this most infamous day would never be forgotten. He wished for new twin towers to be erected for all the lost lives destroyed this day, taken so brutally. And maybe a new restaurant and new offices restored—not to replace those lost but to honor them. Perhaps there would be a new chef with an untried recipe that would be eaten and enjoyed.   If that day arrived, it would signify healing in a shocked and saddened nation—a new beginning.
            Ian turned to see a horde of people of all ages and occupations gathering together. He looked up and a bright, warm light spread across the sky. He saw arms outstretched to embrace those who walked toward the brightness. He joined them.
Seventy-three employees in the restaurant died that day, all seventy-one in the conference room and an unknown number of patrons. Remnants from the Windows on the World restaurant rubble included: a dinner spoon, soup bowl, salad plate, dessert plate and coffee cup. Also found was a table lamp, champagne flute, bottle of champagne, grill scraper—and a chef’s uniform. 

Author’s note: The terrorists had counted on taking out from 30,000 to 50,000 lives that earth shattering morning. Their timing was a little off and many people had not yet entered the building. However, due to the toxins in the debris, such as mercury and asbestos, many of those who spent days, weeks and even years searching Ground Zero for body parts are now dying a slow and agonizing death due to cancers of the throat, lung and esophagus. Many more will die in the ensuing years—among them, families and small children whose homes were filled with this debris; which they were told to clean up themselves. The repercussions of disease from toxins spread to Staten Island, when they helicoptered the remains to the Staten Island dump. The dump blew the toxins across the seventeen-mile- long Island and many are dying of quickly striking and fatal cancers. It is conceivable that the total count of those lost on 911 will reach 30,000 to 50,000 after all. Damn the terrorists


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dad's Delight: Another Father's Day, Another Tie


Fathers always seem to get second billing. Father's Day follows Mother's Day, and even Children's Day, although no one takes Children's Day seriously except the children. Mother's Day usually means breakfast in bed (a dubious honor), flowers cards and gifts.

Fathers, on their designated day, get ties; hideous dated ties that store owners save up all year and then offer on sale to unsuspecting children. Wives are apt to acknowledge their husbands fulfillment of fatherhood by buying them tools to fix things around the house, then letting them foot the bill. 21th century fathers would much prefer a variety of I-gadgets.

If it weren't for Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane, Washington fathers might still be a forgotten entity. Dodd suggested venerating fathers to Rev. Conrad Bluhm, president of the Spokane Ministerial Association as a suitable tribute to her own father, who, upon the death of his wife, successfully raised his children.

Her proposal was approved by the Association; the first celebration took place on June 19, 1910 in Spokane. Although the rose is recognized today as the official flower for Father's Day it was originally a lowly dandelion because “the more it is trampled on, the more it grows.” This tongue-in-cheek suggestion reflected the inequality of parenting. Motherhood was revered next to godhood; fatherhood, in this respect, was compared to a common weed.

In 1911, the observance of Father's Day in Chicago came as a novel idea. Jane Addams, the famous social worker, approved the concept, saying “Poor father has been left out in the cold . . . But regardless of his breadwinning proclivities it would be a good thing if he had a day that would mean recognition of him.” Pres. Calvin Coolidge, in 1924, expressed his approval of the idea as he wrote, “As I have indicated heretofore, the widespread observance of this occasion is calculated to establish more intimate relationships between fathers and their children, and also to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

Fathers of the 21st century participate more in the daily care of their children. In some instances it is voluntary, in others it is necessitated by both parents working, causing the workload and pleasure of childrearing to be shared. Feminist pressure has helped to release the male from stereotyped thought and behavior, making nuclear families more a cooperative than a monarchy.

Before there was widespread observation of this holiday, different sectors of the country celebrated independently in different ways, even different years. The tradition eventually spread throughout most of the Americas and parts of Europe and Asia. A general agreement was settled upon on June 16, 1946, more than 30 years after Mrs. Dodds suggestion. Fathers finally got their day

Both Mother's Day and Father's Day have become “Hallmark Holidays’’ and while florists and confectioners flourish on the second Sunday in May, haberdasher's profit on the third Sunday in June. Commercialism aside, it seems right and fitting that on at least one day of the year fathers receive recognition and tribute from the children who bear their names, their legacies and their love. And what father can’t use another tie?

“Father! To God himself we could not give a holier name”— William Wordsworth
 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Blog Tour

I'd like to thank Marta Merajver-Kurlat, author of Just Toss the Ashes, asked me to participate in this blog tour. To read her post, click on http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/index.php/blogroll
 
I've been asked to respond to the following questions about My Main Character in a  work in progress.
1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person.
My main character in this mostly non-fictional slice of life collection of short stories is myself, around the ages of 30 to 50, showing the humorous escapades in my life as well as the devastating ones.
 
2.When and where are the stories set?
The stories take place mainly in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and later in Staten Island, New York over a span of 25 years. This covers the pre-teen and teenage years of my six children, into the years of my 10 grandchildren.
 
3. What should we know about him/her?
After a turbulent childhood, and the divorce of my parents, I elope at the age of 17 with my high school sweetheart. We have many great years which I journal, until the great sadness in our lives. My accounts in these slice of life pieces reflect the strength and humor of my entire family during the times when most of my kids are teenagers, which gives me much material for my stories. As a young mother, I find endurance and patience in dealing with this, along with a few ghosts as house guests.
 
4.What is the main conflict? what messes up his/her life.
The main conflict is losing one of the children to a vehicular homicide DWI death. At that time in our lives the music died. My husband is away a lot, working long hours so it is left to me to help my family and myself travel through grief to the other side of sorrow. When my oldest daughter marries and bears a son on the very same date as her sister's death, this sets the catalyst for healing, bringing laughter and joy back into our lives. Nine more grandchildren over the next ten years from my children collectively, once again become fodder for my slice of life stories.
 
5. What is the personal goal of the character?
 These stories and my award winning memoir, . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang is the legacy I leave my family, friends and the one we loved and lost. Through the slice of life stories in my present work, myself, my husband, my children and grandchildren, relatives and friends will be able to look back in time to grand times, sad times and a future full of promise. This book also has some short multi-genre fiction, essays and poems, but the theme running through the entire book is love, laughter and survival.
 
6. Is there a working title for this collection, and can we read more about it?
The working title for this collection of stories is, "Heartbeats . . . Slices of Life." Some of these stories are published in award winning anthologies and on my blog. The following excerpt  is from one of the funnier pieces:
 
Tomatoes and Teenagers 
        Raising children is a lot like growing tomatoes.  Good food, fresh air and sunshine, enough liquids, and what do you get?  With tomatoes, a crop envied by neighbors, with children you get teenagers. Now a tomato is a tomato, but no one raising a baby ever expects a teenager.
      I had six children, five of them teenagers at the same time. During their pre-teen years my children were too embarrassed by puberty and braces to be much of a problem; except for the boys, but that’s another story. Erupting pimples, chronic clumsiness and oily, lifeless hair kept them in line. I was surprised they ever left the house.
            Most parents are in their late forties when their children become teenagers, putting them at a distinctive disadvantage. Teenagers are in their prime-- fit, tightly muscled, and sharp-minded, untainted by the debilitating shades of middle age.  And who gets to control these powerhouses of raging hormones?  Tired, worn-out parents whose once starry eyes have faded, or at least been fitted for glasses.   
        I often considered the pros and cons of moving away without leaving them a forwarding address. The day my children graduated from bicycles to automobiles I joined a meditation class.  One of them misjudged the garage door by two feet and bent the chassis on the car I had hopes of owning until retirement.  Grounding this child was a punishment I hardly deserved.  He sulked in his room, un bathed and sullen, blasting me into early deafness with his stereo. I heard enough Elvis to be an impersonator myself.
            My teenagers always sensed when they had pushed me to my limit.  The house would be mysteriously cleaned. Hand-picked wild flowers would be placed on the table and the dishes done without argument, which meant someone had done something very wrong or very expensive. They were lovable, beautiful, and exasperating, the definition of a teenager. They could be perfect angels or something out of the “Exorcist,” and make the change with lightning swiftness.
            High school graduation was my favorite event. Another teenager was on the road to maturity.  Of course a rose never comes without a thorn. The thorn in my side was the senior prom, every parent’s nightmare. I stared wide-eyed at my female child, standing before me in a fitted, low-cut gown that made me wince.  “I won't be too late, Mom,” she said and smiled a woman’s smile. I recognized that smile. I had used it successfully most of my life.  My sons’ proms were no less nerve-wracking.  I sat poised on the couch half the night, expecting momentarily to hear that they had been arrested. 
            It must be true that God never puts more on parents than they can bear.  Just about the time I was at the end of my rope, raising what appeared to be young  people, but I was never sure, one by one my teenagers approached adulthood. They were almost human now, almost responsible adults. The tomatoes mellowed into a sauce fit for kings. 
      My teenagers, reared with love, stamped with morality, were ready in the years ahead, to become the parents of children. Children who would one day (and this is how I know there is a God) become TEENAGERS!
 7. When can we expect the book collection to be published.
Since the stories have all been published in magazines and newspapers, I'm expecting a publication date within a few months. 

I've invited the two people below to my blog, along with the hopes that you will visit their blogs after reading their wonderful bios. Their links are below and they will be posting next Monday on their blogs.
 
Lori Foroozandeh
BIO:
I wrote my book, "Lori's Song' due to personal tragedies that have pretty much followed me throughout life.  At 6months old I was adopted after being severely abused
by my birth parents, I had cigarette burns all over my body.  Then at 11 I was molested by my adoptive brother.  At 15 I emancipated myself from my family to get away from my brother...I got married.  That marriage lasted until my sister slept with my husband.  Then I joined the army, had a baby and married my recruiter, that marriage ended when once more my sister slept with my husband.  
Finally I met Mohammad who was my third husband and the love of my life or so I thought.  He turned out to be a terrorist and I didn't know it until we went to Iran.
Once in Iran you need your husbands written permission to leave the country.  That was when my life fell apart and became meaningful all at the same time.  Finally after four years in Iran, the day after 911 we tried to leave the country and was imprisoned by soldiers who kept us in a POW type camp for six weeks.  We were raped, beaten and starved due to either being American or having ties to America.  I finally escaped with a girl from Bahrain.  I don't want to spoil the story so you will have to read it to find out more.  I thank you for taking your time to read this.  
LINKS:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se-NTRWCJIU (DISCOVERY CHANNEL/ go to 28 minute mark)
Cherreye  S. Jasquez PHD
 
Bio:

Author Cherrye S. Vasquez is a public school administrator and an adjunct professor. She is a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction; a Master of Education in Special Education; and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology/Audiology. Vasquez specializes in Multi-cultural education and holds certifications in Early Childhood Handicapped, Mid-Management and Educational Diagnostician.
Vasquez' platform topics center on diversity and bullying issues.  It is her desire for children to realize that they are very important and unique.  Vasquez believes that all children should learn about each other's similarities as well as differences.  She maintains that when children learn from one another they also learn that others are just as unique, beautiful, and important as they are. Children will become more diversified in their communities, and in our schools while learning and engaging in activities that can be useful in their own lives.

Links: