New tweener/teens novel from my wife

My lovely wife, Alisa, has just published a tweener/teens novel on Kindle called “Gonalls.” It was based on a story she told her children when they were younger.  She honed the tale by reading it to her 4th grade students when she taught at an inner city school.  They were enthralled, and I think your younger readers will be, also.


While exploring the woods with a friend, 12 year old Ian Roach finds a furry football-sized animal hiding in some underbrush. Neither he, nor his best friend Troy can figure out what type of animal it is – but it’s certainly helpless and seems nice enough. Ian has always wanted a pet, so he brings it home and convinces his mom to let him keep it.

He names his little creature Max, and soon everyone in his small Colorado town gets to meet this unusual and perky animal. It looks like a cross between a rabbit, a dog, and…something else that Ian can’t quite put his finger upon. Max is an easy keeper – he eats weeds and vegetables, and he makes a chirping noise that sounds like he’s saying, “Gonall.”

Max is extremely loyal to his new family. If anyone tries to threaten Ian or his mom, Max puffs up and…roars. Ian had always wanted a dog to protect him from two bullies that tease him mercilessly. Now it appears that Max is willing to be that protector.

Max turns out to be far more than just a sweet, cuddly little animal – and Ian and the people of Quarry, Colorado will have their lives changed in ways they couldn’t imagine.

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Sister Florence Spalding

A number of people have asked me about the image of the woman on the cover for By The Hands of Men.

When I was brainstorming the cover, my friend Kathleen Potter was the one who designed a layout featuring cameo type photos of a man and woman over and above the war imagery below.

As the time came to start working on the cover more intently, I did a Google Image search for women from that time period.  On the second or third search page, I ran across the photo.

I knew nothing about the subject of the photo, but something about the young woman was incredibly striking.  One fellow-writer had a more specific reaction: “Her eyes burned right through me!”

Burning or not, I fell in love with the photo.  I followed it through the web to its home page on the Manly (Australia) Library Local Studies Blog, and they kindly gave me permission to use her image on the cover.

The photograph is of a young woman named Florence Spalding.  She was, in fact, a nurse during World War One.  Among her tours of duty was a hospital ship during the Gallipoli Landings, which film and history buffs both know was a terrible slaughter of the Allied forces.  Sister Spaulding was a remarkable woman, and I encourage you to read more about her at the link above.

I found the synchronicity of locating a photo of an actual nurse a little…eerie is not the right word.  In fact, it was almost a little comforting.  It was one more small event of many that have transpired over the writing of the novel.  Mostly, I’d see those little “coincidences” when it came to research.  I’d happen to be at a used book sale, and there, as if waiting for me among the faded Stephen King and Nora Roberts paperbacks, would be an old hardback that just happened to be about one of the themes or events of the upcoming volumes in By The Hands of Men.  Like as not, the book I’d discovered would also have been written during that time period and from a first-person witness, the kind of voice that lends authenticity to a story.

An old saying goes, “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  I once wrote a story in which a character suggested that God doesn’t give us the big miracles anymore, ever since the manna showed up in the desert, and all we did was grumble that it didn’t come with crème brule.

Miracles are all around us, really, if we only have eyes to see.  Airliners (these huge collections of metal pieces the size of large buildings) that take off and land with great regularity.  The computer I’m writing this is on is such a commonplace miracle of technology that it is invisible to us.  Then there is the casual, off-hand statement a friend that happens to contain a tiny nugget of information that, in turn, will be very helpful to one of my kids.  Or the red-tailed hawk that soars just twenty feet above me when I’m on my mountain bike, giving me a terrific view of its beauty and power.  Small gifts of grace appear in our lives, all the time, every day.

I know that it gives me a quiet kind of peace to see them at work in my own life and the life of those I love.  Looking for them refreshes me, and reminds me Who is in charge.

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Training continues

Quick 27 mile bike ride this morning, with three climbs in between, and sprints on any uphill parts of the return ride.  What, you didn’t know that writing is an endurance event?

Shower taken.  Felix snoring in the next room, coffee made.  Back to Book One.

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Book Two progress

Felix in a fairly common position, guarding my research materials.

Felix in a fairly common position, guarding my research materials.

Wrote five pages on Section Three of Book Two yesterday, in addition to finishing the afterword for Book One and doing some work on the website.  No wonder I was beat by the end of the day.


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Just finished the afterword

Now I can start formatting the book for the Kindle. Given good weather and no power outages, I should have it up on by Labor Day.

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Thanks for stopping by

The Author and Faithful Assistants

The Author and Faithful Assistants

I’m working hard to get the site up and running, as you can see from the attached photo of me and the volunteer help.  In background, on my messy desk, you can see some of the research materials I’ve gathered for Book Two of the series.

Please browse the pages while you’re here.  I should have a lot more information posted soon.

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