FICTION IN A FLASH CHALLENGE – @pursoot #RRBC #WritingCommunity

In response to Suzanne Burke’s “Fiction In a Flash Challenge,” I present the following based on this photo prompt.

“I’VE GOT YOU”

I’ve got you, little one

Safe and secure

In this world filled with troubles

Heartaches and fear

Your tiny heart beats in rhythm with mine

My blood flows through your veins

Our lives forever intertwined

I’ll protect you until my very last breath

And warm you when icy winds

Threaten with the kiss of death

Yes, I’ve got you, little one

Today, tomorrow and all your days here

I’ve got you, little one

My love unshakable and sincere.

            Your Father

If you’d like to join in, visit Suzanne’s blog here and jump on in! The rules are simple and it is a creative challenge!

Find Suzanne Burke …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

By Email.

#TarotTuesday – Six of Cups

Welcome to another Tarot Tuesday!

If you are just joining me, let me explain the inspiration to begin these posts. In Texas, and all across the country, Taco Tuesday is a popular day when Tacos are usually 99 cents. So, I had the inspiration, or Angel nudge as I like to think of it, to create a Tarot Tuesday. Each Tuesday I will post a different Tarot card and give its meaning. I pray and ask for the right card that will bring a universal message.

I created a short video to demonstrate how I pull the card for the posts. If you’re interested, here’s a LINK.

Today’s card is the SIX OF CUPS

Keywords: Revisiting the past, childhood memories, innocence, and joy.

The Six of Cups is a card that takes you back to the happy memories from your past, whether as a child, teenager or young adult. You may simply be revisiting those memories in your mind, or you may travel back to your childhood home or reconnect with your childhood friends. A teenage sweetheart or past lover may turn up again. These connections bring you a sense of joy and happiness as you reminisce over all the fun times you had together. Take this occasion to explore whether you still have a lot in common and if you wish to continue the relationship now.

The Six of Cups often shows an increased level of harmony and cooperation in your relationships. You are ready to give and receive, without expectation.

The Six of Cups invites you to get in touch with your inner child and experience the fun, freedom and innocence that comes with being a young child again. You might like to sit down with an adult coloring book, dance like no-one is watching you, play your favorite childhood games or spend more time around children. When you give yourself permission to be playful, spontaneous, and creative, you connect more with your authentic self and your intuition.

The Six of Cups can also refer to children in your life. It can suggest a pregnancy (perhaps twins), a birth and siblings who play nicely together. It may also be a sign that you are about to spend more time with young children, playing, laughing and learning together. Children are often here to teach you something about yourself and can serve as great advisors. Kids also set good examples for how to stay present, open-minded and curious. They see the world as a magical place and their hearts are open to the myriad of pleasures available to them.

On this card, we see a little girl sharing her many vases of flowers with another little girl who has none. So, the first thought that hit me was the phrase, “neighbor helping neighbor.” In these troublesome times, that is a good practice, and to do it with the highest vibration of harmony. I spend almost every day of my life around children, and they indeed still see this crazy world as a magical place, even when they are forced to wear a mask. 🙂 What say you?

As always, thank you for joining me! See you next Tuesday for another inspiring message from the Universe via the Tarot Cards!

As always, I use the Rider-Waite Radiance deck and BiddyTarot.com for interpretations.

New Short Story Releases! #RRBC

Once again, it’s that time of the year when the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB sponsors the 90-Day Alpha/Omega Beginning To End Short Story Contest!

I have discovered that I truly love writing short stories. So, I look forward to this contest every year as it gives me the push I need to keep creating. This time I wrote a Western and that is a first for me. I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely.

BLURB:

War-torn drifter, Jack McClean is left with nothing but bad memories, scars, and a restless soul. When he stumbles upon a burning homestead, and an unconscious woman, beside the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, he stops to render aid. Grieving widow, Savannah Logan, sees no reason to live, and only wants to join her husband and children in their graves. But, Jack refuses to let her die. In saving her, he might somehow find redemption for himself and hope for a new tomorrow. Is it possible that both Jack and Savannah can find a new destiny in the changeable flow of the Brazos wind?

PURCHASE LINK – AMAZON

The second story I wrote for this contest came from a conversation with a family member that left me scratching my head. Two brothers – one responsible, the other not so much and family dynamics that twisted my heart as I wrote it.

BLURB:

Quentin Marks’ mother can only love one son, and from the day Rowdy was born, she makes Quentin, his little brother’s keeper. She demands that Quentin fix every problem for Rowdy and that he also protect him. The truth is, after a deadly snakebite, Quentin owes his very life to his little brother, a debt that will never be paid in full. Only now a man is dead, and once again, their mother calls on Quentin to make the problem go away and save Rowdy from prison. When is enough enough, and how much of his own life will Quentin Marks have to sacrifice?

PURCHASE LINK – AMAZON

I hope that these stories grab your attention! They are both only 99 cents on Amazon. Keep your fingers crossed that maybe one of these stories will win the contest! 🙂

If you’re not following me on social media, please take a minute to connect! Thank you for your awesome support!

WEBSITE

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Amazon Author Central

#Indie Author William H. Venema @WHVenema Releases new Thriller!

I first met William Venema through my daughter, who is an attorney. It just so happened that she and Bill worked for the same company. He purchased copies of my books and we talked some about writing. That was many years ago.

Now he has two books under his belt and I’m happy to showcase them here today!

Death In Panama

BLURB:

Captain Robert E. Clark arrives in Panama on his first tour of duty as a lawyer. He struggles to reconcile his Southern upbringing and West Point training with a strange new environment. Panama is a muddled mix of conflict and corruption, where, among other things, marriage vows don’t mean what they did at the First United Methodist Church of Pemberton, Georgia. When Clark is assigned to prosecute a murder case involving the death of a thirteen-month old little girl, his ambition causes him to neglect his wife and daughter more than usual and—even worse—bend the rules in ways that call into question what kind of man he is and what he truly values.

In this riveting novel, William Venema tells an intriguing, thought-provoking tale of unrestrained ambition and its consequences. Death comes in many forms, each lethal in its own way.

Reviewers say, ““Allows us to see life in all its strange, rich complexity through the eyes of a very human and believable protagonist. . .” “Swept me back to another time and place. . .” “As good a legal thriller as those of Scott Turow and John Grisham. . .”

Pick up a copy today on Amazon! PURCHASE LINK

William Venema’s latest release is:

Dawn In Dallas

BLURB:

Set in the late 1980s, Dawn in Dallas follows the journey of Robert E. Clark, the protagonist from Death in Panama, as he leaves the Army JAG Corps and embarks on a career in private law practice.  He secures a position at Underwood & Crockett, a prestigious law firm in Dallas, Texas, even though his young daughter and ex-wife reside in Pemberton, Georgia, the small town where he grew up. 

Things get complicated when Robert receives disturbing news from home at the same time he is confronted with unethical behavior by one of the senior partners in the firm.  The challenges of his new career and his responsibilities as a father pull him in opposite directions, and he doesn’t always make the right decision. 

Dawn in Dallas has its share of plot twists and interesting characters and along the way reveals some of the darker secrets of life inside a large law firm and the serious deficiencies of the court system.

Dr. Ryan S. Davidson, Professor of English had this to say about Dawn In Dallas, “William H. Venema is able to cross genres to create a novel that is at times a legal thriller, a love story, a tale of morality, a historical look at race relations in America, and a criticism of the legal system that is both poignant and delicate. A perfect story for our times. Venema has done it again.”

PURCHASE LINK:

About William H. Venema

William H. Venema’s legal career spans almost forty years and includes time in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, in law firms, and as general counsel of major corporations.

Death in Panama, published in 2017, was Bill’s debut novel.  The story is loosely based on his experiences in Panama when he was assigned there in the early 1980s as an Army lawyer, including his prosecution of a murder case.  

Dawn in Dallas, published in 2020,follows the journey of Robert Clark, the protagonist from Death in Panama, as he leaves the Army and embarks on a civilian legal career.

In 2006, Bill published a non-fiction book, titled The Strategic Guide to Selling Your Software Company.  In addition, he was a contributing author for two other legal texts and has published over twenty articles on various legal topics in journals such as The Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance, The National Law Journal, The Corporate Board, and Bloomberg Law Reports.  

Bill is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was awarded the Thomas J. Thompson Memorial Award for writing and the Freedom Award, Order of Lafayette, for proficiency in French.  He was also inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.  Several years after graduating from West Point, he earned an MBA from Georgia State University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law.    

Prior to entering private practice, Bill served in the U.S. Army in Germany, Panama, and several stateside assignments.  He is a graduate of the Army’s Airborne and Ranger schools, as well as the Command and General Staff College.  

He and his wife reside in Georgetown, Texas.  

Connect with William H. Venema!

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

Thank you for stopping by and I hope these two books intrigued you enough to grab your copies today!

#TarotTuesday – The World

Welcome to another Tarot Tuesday!

If you are just joining me, let me explain the inspiration to begin these posts. In Texas, and all across the country, Taco Tuesday is a popular day when Tacos are usually 99 cents. So, I had the inspiration, or Angel nudge as I like to think of it, to create a Tarot Tuesday. Each Tuesday I will post a different Tarot card and give its meaning. I pray and ask for the right card that will bring a universal message.

I created a short video to demonstrate how I pull the card for the posts. If you’re interested, here’s a LINK.

Today’s card is from the Major Arcana – The World

There are twenty-one cards in the Major Arcana and The World is the twenty first and last card.

The keywords are: Completion, integration, accomplishment, and travel.

The World card shows a naked woman wrapped in a purple cloth, dancing inside a large laurel wreath. She looks behind her to the past, while her body moves forward to the future. In her hands are two wands or batons, like the one the Magician holds. It is a symbol that what was manifested with the Magician has now come to completion with the World. The wreath is circular, symbolizing a continual cycle of successful completion and new beginnings because, as the woman steps through the wreath, she is completing one phase but beginning another one almost straight away.

Around the wreath are four figures (a lion, bull, cherub and eagle), similar to those in the Wheel of Fortune. Both the World and the Wheel of Fortune speak to the cyclical nature of your life and your progression through its cycles. The four figures represent the four fixed signs of the Zodiac—Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, and Scorpio. They are symbolic of the four elements, the four suits of the Tarot, four compass points, four seasons, and the four corners of the Universe. They are here to guide you from one phase to the next, bringing balance and harmony to your journey.

When the World card appears in a Tarot reading, you are glowing with a sense of wholeness, achievement, fulfillment and completion. This card could represent graduation, a marriage, the birth of a child or achieving a long-held dream or aspiration. You have finally accomplished your goal or purpose. Everything has come together, and you are in the right place, doing the right thing, achieving what you have envisioned. You feel whole and complete.

Now, the World card invites you to reflect on your journey, honor your achievements and tune into your spiritual lessons. Celebrate your successes and bask in the joy of having brought your goals to fruition. All the triumphs and tribulations along your path have made you into the strong, wise, more experienced person you are now. Express gratitude for what you have created and harvested. Finally, make sure you don’t rush into the next big project; celebrating your journey will set you up for success when you are ready for your next challenge.

If you have not quite reached this point of completion, then you are very close! You may still need an added level of understanding to graduate to a higher level and enjoy real success. Look back at your past experiences and acknowledge how far you have come and what you learned along the way. It may surprise you to look back at your progress and see how much you achieved. This reflection may also be what you need to bring your project to its final stages.

If loose ends still remain, the World card asks you to bring them to completion. In doing so, you will clear the space for new beginnings and opportunities to emerge.

More literally, the World can mean world travel, particularly on a large scale. This card reinforces Universal understanding and global awareness, and you will find a new appreciation for people and cultures from across the world.

This is a very powerful card and I want to share an experience I had over the weekend. The weekend brought about the Summer Solstice and myself along with over 100,000 more people watched a live stream on Facebook of the sunset behind the iconic stones of Stonehenge. That in itself was spectacular, but more than that were the comments running in a constant stream as people from around the world, posted messages of hope and love and unity. I was moved to tears more than once. The truth is that we are all connected. We all share the incredible power of the life force that keeps these bodies alive. We all are returning to the same source at some point. We are on this journey together. So, that is what this card indicates to me – One World – One Unity. Your turn.

As always, thank you for joining me! See you next Tuesday for another inspiring message from the Universe via the Tarot Cards!

As always, I use the Rider-Waite Radiance deck and BiddyTarot.com for interpretations.

#TarotTuesday – 4 of Wands

Welcome to another Tarot Tuesday!

If you are just joining me, let me explain the inspiration to begin these posts. In Texas, and all across the country, Taco Tuesday is a popular day when Tacos are usually 99 cents. So, I had the inspiration, or Angel nudge as I like to think of it, to create a Tarot Tuesday. Each Tuesday I will post a different Tarot card and give its meaning. I pray and ask for the right card that will bring a universal message.

I created a short video to demonstrate how I pull the card for the posts. If you’re interested, here’s a LINK.

Today’s card is the Four of Wands from the Minor Arcana.

You may remember that Wands deal with primal energy, spirituality, inspiration, determination, strength, intuition, creativity, ambition and expansion, and original thought.

In this card, we see happiness and a celebration. I do hope that everyone reading this today will have something to share!

The keywords for the Four of Wands are: Celebration, joy, harmony, relaxation, and homecoming.

This is a card of joyful celebration, blissful happiness and appreciation for the good things in life. When this card appears in a Tarot reading, it is the perfect time to celebrate with those you love most. You may commemorate a significant event or milestone such as a wedding, birthday, homecoming or reunion. Or, you may invite a few of your favorite friends over for an intimate dinner for no particular reason except to revel in each other’s company. Relax and let your hair down – enjoy this special time together!

The Four of Wands can show that you are returning home or to the people and places familiar to you. You feel supported and secure, knowing you are with those who love you and care about you.

Because the Four of Wands associates so closely with the home environment, you may work on improving or renovating your house or are close to finding a new one. Perhaps you recently purchased a home and are getting ready to settle down in your new habitat.

The Four of Wands tells you that after a period of rapid growth and expansion, it’s now time to pause and celebrate what you have achieved so far. Step back for a moment and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Acknowledge your hard work and give yourself permission to take a small break before embarking on the next phase of your journey. It’s essential you observe these smaller milestones.

In numerology, four symbolizes stability and firm foundations, and with the Four of Wands, you are now enjoying a period of happiness and security. This card indicates a sense of harmony and balance as well as completion and thus denotes a time of peace and contentment in life that comes as the result of hard-fought efforts.

If you have been working on a project, you will reach an important milestone and have reason to celebrate. If you just wrapped up your project, the Four of Wands represents the personal gratification of a job well done, a goal attained, and a vision beginning to be realized. You should be proud!

For those of you who follow my blog, you know I recently attended an outdoor music festival, so that was an awesome celebration. Then this past weekend, we had a wonderful family celebration for my granddaughter’s ninth birthday. Those are both positive happy events for me. Looking ahead, we are planning a family reunion in September and there has been some doubts about moving forward with it due to COVID-19. But this card tells me to move ahead with the plans. How about you? What do you have to celebrate? Let’s talk!

As always, thank you for joining me! See you next Tuesday for another inspiring message from the Universe via the Tarot Cards!

As always, I use the Rider-Waite Radiance deck and BiddyTarot.com for interpretations.

Welcome to Day 8 of “THE LOST AND FOUND BILLY BATTLES” Blog Tour! @JHawker69 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA.

GIVEAWAY:  (2) Complete sets of the Billy Battles trilogy.  For your chance to win one, please leave a comment below!

I am thrilled to welcome talented author and journalist, Ron Yates, to my blog today where he’ll share some hard-earned wisdom with you.

The Lost and Found Billy Battles Tour

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing: Annotated

At least once every year I find it useful to take a look at the late Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. It is sage advice from a master. Every writer should read these rules and remember them. I’m doing my part by posting them here at the beginning of 2019 for your edification and enjoyment. 

I began reading Elmore Leonard’s books before I knew anything about writing or even that I wanted to be a writer. Back then, a lot of his books were westerns filled with gritty characters, compelling stories, and robust, convincing dialogue.

I remember reading Last Stand at Sabre River and Hombre, both of which became successful movies. Later, after Leonard had moved from westerns to crime and suspense stories, I read Mr. Majestyk, The Big Bounce, and the Moonshine War.

From 2010 to 2015 I watched with great pleasure the TV series “Justified,” based on Leonard’s book “Raylan” and partly written by Leonard. It has run its course, but I encourage you to take a look at the series. I am sure it is available on Netflix. Timothy Oliphant plays Raylan to a “T.”

Elmore Leonard was a writer’s writer. Not only could he spin a great story, but he could also create characters you loved to hate or hated to love and some you simply learned to tolerate because they made the other characters interesting.

If you like reading William Faulkner or Thomas Wolfe, you probably will not like reading Elmore Leonard. As brilliant as those two writers were, their stream-of-conscious narration probably drove Leonard nuts.

Leonard believed the writer should never get in the way of the story. (NOTE: See “Hooptedoodle″ at the end of Leonard’s rules)

I am not sure when Leonard wrote his 10 Rules of Writing, but I found them a few years ago and filed them away.

Some of you may already know those ten rules, but I am betting a lot of you don’t. So let me share them with you today. Read them, consider them and most of all, and try to follow them when you write your books. I think you will be glad you did.

Here they are in Elmore Leonard’s own words:

These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

    1. Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

   2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks . . . Figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside, so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.” (NOTE: I already violated that rule in my Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Sorry, Elmore. I won’t do it again.)

    3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary. (NOTE: I learned this important rule in journalism school at the University of Kansas. It has served me well.)

     4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” …

…he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost anyway) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs.”

     5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

     6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

    7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.

     8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

In Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants, what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

     9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison, but even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:

     10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. I attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)

If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character — the one whose view best brings the scene to life — I’m able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what’s going on, and I’m nowhere in sight.

What Steinbeck did in Sweet Thursday was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. “Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts” is one, “Lousy Wednesday” another.

The third chapter is titled “Hooptedoodle 1″ and the 38th chapter “Hooptedoodle 2″ as warnings to the reader as if Steinbeck is saying: “Here’s where you’ll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won’t get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want.”

Sweet Thursday came out in 1954 when I was just beginning to be published, and I’ve never forgotten that prologue.

Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.

And there you have it: Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. They are well worth remembering and following. Of course, there are some who believe there are no rules when it comes to writing. I don’t believe Leonard himself felt his ten rules were inviolable. To me, they seem like common sense–especially when it comes to avoiding the dissemination of hooptedoodle.

BOOK BLURB:

The Finding Billy Battles trilogy tells the story of a remarkable man who is born in 1860 and who dies in 1960. For decades Billy lives an improbable and staggering life of adventure, peril, transgression and redemption. Then Billy mysteriously disappears. For several decades his family has no idea where he is or what he is doing.

Finally, with his life coming to an end, Billy resurfaces in an old soldiers’ home in Leavenworth, Kansas. It is there, when he is 98 that he meets his 12-year-old great-grandson and bequeaths his journals and his other property to him — though he is not to receive them until he is much older.

Years later, the great-grandson finally reads the journals and fashions a three volume trilogy that tells of his great-grandfather’s audacious life in the old west, as well as his journeys to the Far East of the 1890s—including French Indochina and The Philippines—and finally, in the early 20th century, to Europe and Latin America where his adventures and predicaments continue. One thing readers can be sure of, wherever Billy Battles goes trouble is not far behind.

AUTHOR BIO:

Ronald E. Yates is a multi-award winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.

The Lost Years of Billy Battles is the final book in the trilogy and recently won the Independent Press Award’s 2020 Distinguished Favorites Award. In 2019 it also won Best Overall Book of the year and the Grand Prize in the Goethe Historical Fiction Category from Chanticleer International Book Awards as well as a Book Excellence Award and a New Apple Award. The second book in the trilogy, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, was published in June 2016. It won the 2017 KCT International Literary Award and the New Apple Award in the Action/Adventure category. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014 and won a Book Excellence Award and Laramie Award from Chanticleer International Book Awards.

As a professional journalist, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places. His work as a foreign correspondent earned him several awards including three Pulitzer Prize nominations.

Ron is a frequent speaker about the media, international affairs, and writing. He is a Vietnam era veteran of the U.S. Army Security Agency and lives just north of San Diego in Southern California’s wine country.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

-Twitter   https://twitter.com/jhawker69

-Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ronaldyatesbooks/

-Website   https://ronaldyatesbooks.com/

AMAZON OR OTHER PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/finding%20billy%20battles/_/N-8q8

I hope you enjoyed Ron’s post today. Please remember to leave a comment to be entered in the GIVEAWAY!

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to schedule your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

Worth the Risk?

Last weekend, I took a trip down into the beautiful Texas Hill Country to attend an outdoor music festival. I’m sure you’ve heard of Luckenbach, Texas (if nothing else in the song from Willie and Waylon.) But, if not, I’ll give you a very brief background.

The town was founded and named in the late 1800s by German farmers. It consisted of a general store, post office and saloon. In 1971, a visionary named Hondo Crouch, purchased the town. From all accounts, Hondo was quite a character. He was a poet, musician, artist, and as his business cards read, an imagineer. In 1973, Jerry Jeff Walker (Texas singer/songwriter) recorded a live progressive album, “Viva Terlingua,” in Luckenbach and from there, the tiny town began to attract artists and musicians from all over Texas and beyond.

So, it was at the tiny eclectic town of Luckenbach that Texas music fans gathered under the shade trees to hear live music that we’d been missing since COVID-19 shut down the music world.

Photo courtesy of Christie Kelley

It was hot. No, it was sweltering Texas hot, but no one cared.

Hondo Crouch wearing a mask.
The entrance to the famed Luckenbach Dancehall
Trying to stay cool in a shade
One of the many free-roaming fowl

The music started at noon on Friday and ended around midnight. Then, there was the traditional picker’s circle where songwriters kept the music going until around 4 am. I’ll admit I didn’t make it past 1 am. 🙂

Just a few of the music artists. The little girl, June, was sitting on stage watching her mom and dad, The Hamiltons, perform.

And there was even a wedding on Saturday morning.

Radio Disc Jockey, Jim Nash, ties the knot.

Jamie Richards closed out the show on Saturday night and other music artists joined him on stage for some fun!

And the big man himself, Thomas Michael Riley, who is the organizer of the festival, has a heart as big as he is! He has some awesome music and one of my favorites is “Get Back Up and Ride.” It’s a life lesson!

Me and Thomas Michael Riley

So, back to my original question, “Was it worth the risk?” I can easily answer that in one word! YES!

My heart was so full when I left there. Music sustains me and there is nothing that replaces the interaction between an music artist and an audience. It’s a special exchange of energies and for me is essential to living.

I hope you enjoyed this pictorial account!

Photos courtesy of Tara Bone Photography!

#TarotTuesday – Six of Swords

Welcome to another Tarot Tuesday!

If you are just joining me, let me explain the inspiration to begin these posts. In Texas, and all across the country, Taco Tuesday is a popular day when Tacos are usually 99 cents. So, I had the inspiration, or Angel nudge as I like to think of it, to create a Tarot Tuesday. Each Tuesday I will post a different Tarot card and give its meaning. I pray and ask for the right card that will bring a universal message.

I created a short video to demonstrate how I pull the card for the posts. If you’re interested, here’s a LINK.

Today’s card is the Six of Swords.

Keywords for The Six of Swords are: Transition, change, rite of passage, and releasing baggage.

The first thought that struck me about this card is that we are never alone. The woman and child in the boat are being protected and transported by the strong man standing behind them. That is very significant to me!

The Six of Swords shows a woman and a young child being rowed across a body of water towards a nearby land. Her head is covered, suggesting possible sadness or loss as she moves away from something in her past. Her child nestles in close to her body, looking for safety and comfort as they make this journey together. In the boat stand six swords, suggesting that the woman and child are still carrying memories or baggage from their past into their future.

While the water on the right of the boat is turbulent, the sea ahead is tranquil. This imagery suggests that they are leaving behind a tumultuous situation, bound for a more peaceful and supportive environment.

The Six of Swords shows that you are in a state of transition, leaving behind what was familiar and moving towards the unknown. You might be moving to a different house, leaving a relationship, changing jobs, going through a rite of passage or a mental shift. This change may be your own doing or forced upon you, and you may feel sad to leave behind what is so familiar to you. However, you know this move is essential for your growth and personal development. The sadness over what you have lost (or released) will soon be replaced by greater mental clarity and a renewed acceptance of change. You will become a better person as a result.

The Six of Swords invites you to let go of whatever is holding you back, be it from your past or your present circumstances. Instead gaze ahead to your future and choose the way most in alignment with your Highest Good and long-term potential. You are headed towards a much better position in life, so long as you are willing to evolve and shed whatever you no longer need. Do not dwell on what is left behind. Instead, use this as an opportunity for changing your beliefs about yourself, moving away from whom you used to be and towards whom you want to be.

Similarly, the Six of Swords asks you to reflect on any emotional or mental baggage you may carry as you move from one phase to the next. In the boat stand six upstanding swords – a sign you are still carrying a heavy weight from your past as you move forward, which might slow your personal growth. These ‘swords’ may be memories, relationships, habits, behaviors, thought patterns and beliefs that are no longer serving you. Decide what you need to take with you and what you can leave behind.

Again, the Angels have hit the nail on the head as we move forward into a new life that is not familiar to us. And it applies to everyone around the globe. I love the advice and the comfort this card brings. It’s not easy letting go of old ideas and beliefs, but the rewards are great. Your thoughts?

As always, thank you for joining me! See you next Tuesday for another inspiring message from the Universe via the Tarot Cards!

As always, I use the Rider-Waite Radiance deck and BiddyTarot.com for interpretations.

Flash-fiction Challenge – A Foreign World #FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

In response to the Flash-Fiction photo prompt from Suzanne Burke this week, here is my contribution.

A FOREIGN WORLD

“Oh, the memories.” I sigh, and squeeze his hand a little tighter. The dried orange, brown and yellow leaves crunch beneath our feet as we shuffle along the sidewalk.

He smiles down at me. “Yes, my love. I remember when we sat on this very bench and I asked you to be my bride.”

Tears came unbidden and trickled down my wrinkled cheeks. “We had a pretty darn good life, didn’t we, Harold?”

“Yes. Yes, we did, in spite of the hardships.”

“But, I no longer recognize the world we live in. Where is everyone? Why are the streets empty? There was a day when this park would have held the laughter of children and young lovers strolling hand-in-hand.”

“Let’s sit, Margaret. My old legs are giving out.”

We shuffled over to the bench and Harold brushed away the leaves that covered it.

He blew out a long sigh and leaning on his cane, dropped onto the very bench where we started life together fifty-two years ago.

“I’m troubled, Harold. No, I’m more than troubled. I’m scared. Not for me and you. We’re pretty much out of here, but for the ones coming behind us.”

Draping an arm around my shoulders, he pulled me closer. “It’s not the same America that you and I grew up in. Soldiers on the streets, looting, killings and so much hatred exists. You know it’s not even safe for us to venture out.”

“I know, but I really needed some fresh air. Thank you for appeasing me.”

“Oh, my love, that is what I have lived for these past fifty-two years. My greatest joy is to make you smile.”

“What is that noise? Sounds like firecrackers.”

“I think we better mosey on back home, honey. It’s getting closer.”

He struggled to his feet, then leaning heavily on his cane, reached for my hand.

As we shuffled back toward safety, I turned to look back at the bench that meant so much, only to see a group of hoodlums spraying graffiti on it.

“Harold, we need to move faster. Trouble’s coming.”

“I’m going as fast as I can go. Don’t worry, dear. I won’t let anyone hurt you. It’s just a few more blocks home.”

That’s when it happened. A blow to the back of his head, took Harold to his knees. I screamed and turned to face our attackers only to see sneers and glowing hatred in the eyes of what should have been intelligent young men.

“You old people don’t need to be alive,” one of them growled. “You’re just taking up space and eating food that belongs to us. This is our country now. Old people like you are a nuisance.”

I kneeled down beside Harold and cradled his head in my lap. “You’ve hurt my husband.” Tears flowed uncontrollably.

One of them laughed. “So what? What are you going to do about it old woman?”

The first blow knocked me backward onto the hard concrete, and I frantically reached for Harold’s hand. The second blow brought oblivion.

Then, I was flying and when I looked down, I saw the shell of our bodies lying on the concrete, our blood mixing together and staining the sidewalk.

Harold floated up beside me.  “We’re free now, sweet love. No more aches, pains or persecution. We’re free.”

He was right. I no longer had the familiar pain in my joints and his cane no longer had any use.

“What will happen to our once beautiful world?” I took one more glance downward to see the men who’d taken our lives strolling away casually as if nothing had happened. They laughed and joked and slapped each other on the back.

“I don’t know the answer to that. We may have to come back to find out.”

“I’m not sure I want to come back again. Maybe we’ll stay with the Angels for a while.”

“Whatever you say, dear.”

With his hand nestled softly in mine, we drifted slowly and peacefully toward the brightest light that you can imagine. Then we disappeared into it.

We were home.

I hope you enjoyed my contribution. If you’d like to participate or just know more about Suzanne Burke (by the way a fabulous writer), visit her website or better yet, pick up one of her books!

Contact Suzanne at …

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