This book is at the printers and I expect to see and approve the copy next week so it should be ready in another week or so. I’ll post when this happens.
To see a bit about the book click here.
This book is at the printers and I expect to see and approve the copy next week so it should be ready in another week or so. I’ll post when this happens.
To see a bit about the book click here.
I’ve seen the revised copy and it is corrected so feel free to purchase one at your friendly local book store (they may have to order it unless you can get them to stock it), any on-line book outlet including Barnes and Nobel and Amazon, or from IUnivers.com. Enjoy.
Now on to the next one.
Don’t order my book just yet!!! Apparently the file for my book got corrupted somehow and the publisher, IUniverse, printed an error filled book. I’ll let you know when the corrected version will be out–once we work out whose fault it is and whose going to pay for the revisions.
In case you’ve ordered on, either see if they will let you return it or contact me and I’ll give you the corrections.
Ok, folks, it is finally done and published–second week of May. Below is the opening of chapter 1. If you want more you have to buy it, just follow the link or contact me at my email address.
It was not a good Monday morning for Moses Barkman. Sunday night’s rain had screwed up the reception on his satellite dish and, when that finally cleared, the pay-per-view, no holds barred, smack down, WWE wrestling match he had ordered was partly over. By the time the rerun started, he was almost through the first six-pack of Premium Genesee Beer and, since he could not remember who won or lost the bout, he had to stay up and watch the whole damn thing again on the rerun. This meant consuming a second, and his final, six-pack. Now, the combination of the late night and cheap beer was not making for an especially pleasant morning. To make matters worse, his welfare check had arrived in last Friday’s mail and, since it was Monday, it meant it was about time he got to town to cash it. While he could have had the check directly deposited, he was not one to trust any damn bank to handle his money; he wanted the cash in his hands. Besides, a trip to town and the cash would at least give him a chance to restock his supply of Camels, Genny and Slim Jims at the Stop ‘N Go.
Moses lived about three miles from the center of Snyder’s Corners at the end of a single-lane, dirt road. The area around him was mostly second growth timber that, after having been logged a number of times, had now reached the point where anything that was worth cutting was long gone. Maybe in another hundred years, if there were no major infestations of gypsy moth larvae or other exotic insects, it might merit harvesting again. Not that Moses minded. Since the land had been logged over and was not near any kind of fishable stream or lake, the land was worthless to outsiders that might buy it up for delinquent back real estate taxes. Moses was a prime candidate for this, since he had not paid his real estate taxes–school or county–for five years.
As long as his rural road was not snow-covered–a common factor in the winter months–it normally took five minutes for Moses to drive his Ford pickup to town, including a stop at the mailbox located where this dirt road met New York State Route 618. Today, however, it was going to take a bit longer since deer season was only a couple of weeks away and Moses wanted to check a piece of cover for deer-sign on the way. This one area in particular had a small run-down apple orchard next to a shallow pond that made it ideal deer habitat. Moses had considered putting up a tree stand in one of the apple trees assuming there was enough encouraging deer-sign around to make it worthwhile–of course, too, that would have meant that he have to find wood, nails and the ambition to build the stand. Of the three, the latter was decidedly lacking.
So he decided he would just check the cover and, if he found anything, file it away for later use. This examination did create one more problem for him, however, because in order to check the cover thoroughly he would have to park his truck on the shoulder of Route 618 and walk down a deer path for about a hundred yards through overgrown brush and blackberry brambles. This was nothing Moses was especially fond of doing on even a good day much less one when he was still feeling the effects of the previous evening. Given his hangover, he was in no condition for bushwhacking and would have been content to stay in the truck and do a visual check from there.
He was considering his options when he arrived at the pull off spot and was leaning toward ignoring it when he noticed that the path leading to the clearing showed signs of recent use. Brush, primarily the golden rod and sumac on either side of the path, was mashed down, a clear indication that something big had used the path sometime over the weekend. Getting out of the truck, Moses closely inspected the ground for deer tracks but could not see any. This was not surprising since, while as Moses, with his scraggy beard, oily baseball cap, flannel shirt and bib overalls looked like a central casting type of mountain man, he was anything but an expert outdoorsman. His appearance had more to do with lack of hygiene and apathy about wardrobe than any attempt to fill any role. Not that his tracking ability or lack thereof would have made any difference since, had there been tracks, they would not have survived the previous night’s rain. However, he did know that if deer had used the path and if one had been a buck, there was a good chance of spotting antler rubs on some of the scrub brush along the way. Therefore, hangover or no, a hike to the pond was unavoidable.
As he went further down the path, checking both sides for rubs, he could not help but notice there was an increasingly larger amount of disturbed brush as he went further from the road. Even with his nominal amount of experience, he could see that something big had taken place within the last day or two. Excited, he figured he had better check closer to the little pond, in case a couple of bucks had fought in the clearing. Someplace in his distant past, Moses had read in an outdoor magazine about these duels and how often the bucks could get their antlers locked together.
Now wouldn’t that be somethin’? Moses thought, ignoring his pounding head and increasing his pace in anticipation.
As he neared the clearing beside the pond, Moses found the shortest route blocked by a mass of brambles. In a hurry and rather than go around he decided to push his way straight through, which is how he put is foot right in the middle of the dead man’s chest.
Minimum Competency is the title and available through the link or from Amazon, Barnes and Nobel or me–unless you can talk your local bookseller into stocking it.
Lords of the North a novel by Bernard Cornwell.
This novel is the third installment of in the series: â€œThe Saxon Talesâ€â€”the previous titles were The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman. Set in the late 800â€™s in Britain the series deals with the life of Uthred, the son of a Northumbian lord who was raised by Danes and is now a warrior for Alfred the Great. In the novels, Uthredâ€™s travels between the Danes(pagans) and the Saxons(Christians) fighting for and against each, all in an effort to reclaim his rightful estate in Northumbra which was usurped by his uncle. In the process he is party to the avenging of several wrongful deaths and, some what reluctantly, helping Alfred unite Britain while sharing his adventures with a variety of characters, real and fictional. There are plenty of battles and sword fights where men meet their demise in very nasty ways.
Cornwell writes an excellent novel and has based this series on what is known about this era of British history using a combination of fictional characters with real ones against historical facts and places. This combination gives the reader some idea of the times but, better still, makes for a page turnerâ€”I completed the 314 page novel in a couple of sittings because I couldnâ€™t put it down. The only problem is that, now with this entry in the series finished, I have to wait another year to see what will happen next. (Cornwell hints that there are other novels to come so the next book–ala Harry Potter–will probably not end it.) At least the novels are being narrated by an eighty-year old Uthred so we know he survives his adventures.
This series, btw, is not Cornwellâ€™s first as he has done four other series plus a few other novels. Perhaps, he is best known for his 20-novel â€œSharpes Seriesâ€ which takes Richard Sharpes through the Napoleonic wars and was made into a ITV/ BBC TV movie last year.
The Man Watching: A Biography of Anson Dorrance the Unlikely Architect of the Greatest College Sports Dynasty Ever by Tim Crothers. This book is about the coach of the University of North Carolina Womenâ€™s soccer team, in case you didnâ€™t know.
With a title like that, especially the latter part, you can expect a book that is biasedâ€”especially since the author is also a UNC grad who not only covered the soccer team as an undergrad newspaper reporter but was given total access to the team while writing. Well, it is. While Dorrance is an excellent motivator and has great success, winning 18 national championships through 2005, he also has had the benefit of having been in college soccer from the beginning and, because of his success, securing some of the best female soccer players in the country. Not to downplay his success, but he takes the most skilled players, runs them through a program that is designed to take them to the highest level of fitness and then incorporates them into a system that is handed down from team to team. There are probably a lot of coaches that would consistently win under like circumstances. (Of note: He also coached the men’s team until 1989 and did not have the same success–never winning the NCAA’s and only getting to the final four once.)
That being said, the book is a good read for anyone interested in how a coach can motivate and grow a successful womenâ€™s program. As a former coach of girls, I see a lot of those things that he uses that I used successfully as well (and some that, given that my personality differs from his, wouldnâ€™t have worked). While the book is not necessarily a blue print for successful coaching, it offers options. Interesting, comparing this book with Geno Auriemmaâ€™s book (see A Good Read under what I’m reading), you will see how there are similarities of style. Basically, the premise of both is that coaching, especially motivation, is different from that of men and a man trying to do this needs to adopt different methods to succeed. Maybe the best thing about both books is that both deal with how the coach’s growing up effected they way they coach. This is probably the best lesson anyone can take away from these biographies: to coach well, you have to do what works best for you. You can adopt but you also have to adapt.
Also, if youâ€™re a big Tar Heel soccer fan, you probably want it in your library.
Nature Girl by Carl Hiassen.
Iâ€™m a big fan of Carl Hiaasen, having read not only all 11 of his novels but his two nonfiction collections of columns and expose of Disney World. (On the other hand, I must admit to not having read either of his kidâ€™s books or having seen the movie, Hoot, which was made from one.) I like the way he takes a subject near and dear to his heartâ€”primarily the rape of South Floridaâ€”and then uses a bizarre plot and wacky characters to get his point across. Maybe the reason I enjoy this kind of writing is because it follows closely the way I like to plot my stories.
In Nature Girl, the main theme is telemarketing harassmentâ€”in this case a mother trying to teach an especially obnoxious telemarketer a lesson in courtesy. In the process he brings in Jesus freaks, ecological tourist tours, marriage infidelity, and sexual stalking with just enough mayhem to make the reader keep turning pagesâ€”and stay up until 2 am to finish the book. Sure his plot may come out of left field and his characters are strange but this doesnâ€™t mean it canâ€™t happen and the people couldnâ€™t exist. The combination, along with his writing style, are what make his novels so enjoyable and plausibleâ€”certainly not great literature, but worth reading. On the other hand, while I donâ€™t think this is his bestâ€”there is no â€œGovernorâ€ and Sammy Tigertail is not a good replacementâ€”but it definitely is in the top 11. Skinny Dip, the novel that preceded this, was much better and if you arenâ€™t familiar with his work, one that Iâ€™d recommend as a good start. This doesnâ€™t mean ignoring Nature Girl, it will keep you going until he writes his next.
A Season in Dornoch, Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands, by Lorne Rubenstein. This book was a birthday gift from my oldest who thinks I should be reading more about golf. However, like it’s subtitle says, it is not strictly a golf book and whether youâ€™re a golfer or not, you will find something to enjoy in it. In fact, if you were to read it just for the golfing information, you might be sorely disappointed. Rubenstein writes about three months in the summer of 2000 that he spent in the Scottish Highlands at Dornoch, ostensibly to play the local golf course, Royal Dornoch Golf Clubâ€”a links course on the edge of the North Sea. There is enough golf information to make this a good read for a golfer but there is more to the book than thatâ€”it includes a history of the area of Scotland as well as a look at the people who live there now. Rubenstein and his wife, Nell (a nongolfer btw) explore the area and Lorne writes fairly extensively about the â€œHighland Clearancesâ€â€”the removal of the local farmers(crofters) by the Duke of Sutherland to make room for sheep in the early 1800â€™s. To someone unfamiliar with Scotland, this is an intriguing and sad piece of its history.
Rubenstein is a good writer whether about golfâ€”he is, after all, a golf writer having written books with many of the top teachers/ players of the game as well as coauthored A Disorderly Compendium of Golf (see “what I’m reading”) and plays to a three handicapâ€”or describing the scene from the top of Ben Bhraggie. In between, you will get into the mind of a golfer as well as meet some of the people that make Scotland an interesting place to visit. I highly recommend this book to anyone whether a golfer or no, it is a good read. I guarantee youâ€™ll find something to make you keep turning pages.
The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World, by Joshua Prager. My youngest daughter gave this book to me for my last birthday since she thought, correctly, that I must have been around for this game on October 3, 1951. Not only was I around for it, I remember watching it in black and white on a TV set in Bobby Lawlerâ€™s living room with a collection of other guys my age. I also remember praying that the Giants would come back against the hated Dodgers to win this last game of the National League playoff.
While I was then and am to this day, a Braves fanâ€”they being in Boston at the timeâ€”growing up only 90 miles from NYC, I had to adopt one of the clubs there when my Braves werenâ€™t doing wellâ€”a common occurrence in the late â€˜40â€™s and early 50â€™s. Since I was also an ABY fan (Anybody But the Yankees) this meant opting for one of the metropolitan National League team. That team was the Giants. And, as any Giant fan worth his salt knows, if you rooted for the Giants, you hated the Dodgersâ€”unless, of course, they played the Yankees in the World Series, in which case you had to root for a NL team. So, it was that I found myself asking God to allow the Giants to, somehow, come back against those Dodgers. It is one of the few times that my faith has been immediately rewarded.
Therefore, I was excited to get a book that looks, in depth, at one of the events I remember so well from my pastâ€”right up there with my marriage, the birth of my kids, the death of my father, and JFKâ€™s assassination. While I am enjoying the storyâ€”at this point Iâ€™m about half way through itâ€”I am finding the authorâ€™s writing a bit hard to follow.
When one is reading for pleasure, it is nice to be ably to read along without having to stop and ponder what in hell that last sentence means. Try this one: â€œThe gods of baseball had what to work with.â€ Iâ€™m still trying to figure out that sentence, which appeared on p15â€”is there a question mark and/or a â€œthatâ€ missing? Mostly, however, Prager often writes as if heâ€™s doing dialogue for Yoda. Take this sentence: â€œâ€It was the maligned Thomson who won for Durocher his debut, a pinch-single with two out in the eight giving New York a 6- 5 win.â€ Then there is this: â€œOtt was out, thrown a sinecure beside farm director Carl Hubbell in the front office.â€ Now Iâ€™ve a pretty good vocabulary but I had to look up the meaning of â€œsinecureâ€ and, when I did, still am not sure how it was â€œthrownâ€ at Mel Ott.
These are only a couple of examples, there are many others. My overall impression is that either English is a second language for Prager (actually not the case as his parents were from NYC, but then again…) or he needed, and didnâ€™t get, a good editor. At any rate, this writing is a good example of what can be done when one has a word processing computer and, I guess, weâ€™re going to have to get used to it.
Which is too bad, because the story is a good one and Prager has done a lot of research on not only the game itself but the principals and the times surrounding them. Take the information that the Giants had a coach in the clubhouse with a spyglass stealing the catcherâ€™s signs and relaying them to the batterâ€”Thomson may well have known what pitch Branca was sending his way. Not only is this written up, but Prager gives personal background information about those who proposed the spying, supplied the glass, and wired the bell. It is all good stuff and interesting, too bad it isnâ€™t easier to read.
From an historical point, the book is interesting. Just donâ€™t expect to sit down a breeze through it. Frankly, Iâ€™ve found mathematics texts that were easier reading.
Yesterday, while waiting for my car to have new brakes put on, I spent some time in the Barnes and Nobel bookstore. This is a bad thing for me as I pick up a book, get interested in it and end up buying itâ€”I guess this is why they allow this kind of thing. At any rate, I started (and purchased) Ken Jenningsâ€™ Brainiac.
In case you have forgotten, Jennings is the guy who won a bazillion dollars on Jeopardy! between 2003 and 2005. His book is about his experience getting on the game show as well as about trivia in general and the gaming that goes on concerning it. It is a good read. Jennings writes well and is so self-effacing that he makes what could be a dull subject interesting and humorous. It is nice to find someone who understands that knowing a bunch of facts, while a great pallor trick, does not necessarily a sign of intelligence. In fact, he admits that while he may know a fact it doesnâ€™t mean he knows anything about it.
It reminded me of, back in my teaching days, taking part in the selection of students to participate in a team contest called â€œAcademic Challengeâ€ where our local high school team would represent us in a statewide competition. The basis for being chosen had to do with the ability of students to recognize and rapidly recall â€œfactsâ€, often before the questioner had finished giving the clue. The unfortunate part of this was that other students seemed to think that this kind of memorization/recall represented learning. I would guess it was sort of like our thinking that someoneâ€™s ability to throw a ball or score points in an athletic contest makes one a superior person worth idolizing. In both cases, this ability to excel in one area is not anything more than that: the ability to excel in one area. Reading Jenningsâ€™ book, as well as the many sport star exposÃ©s, should help make this clear.
On the other hand, if you just want a good book to curl up with, read it any way. He has some real interesting trivia sprinkled throughout the pages.