Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ghosts of Christmases Past - Sharon Ledwith


Ghosts of Christmases Past…

“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

Love that last line in the first paragraph of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. “Dead as a doornail” really sticks out in my mind. Boy, Dickens sure had a way with words! And believe it or not, Charles Dickens wrote the classic Christmas tale as a novella—something I never knew. In fact, I decided to read A Christmas Carol for the first time a few years ago. I knew the story like the back of my hand, and most movies based on the book were true to form. But there’s nothing like reading the actual script written by an author’s hand. Though the language was a little archaic, it still didn’t take away from the magic of the story.

Through Scrooge’s ghostly visitations, we got a glimpse of the man behind the mask. Who he was, and what circumstances and choices created his reality. We often don’t see what we’ve created until, like Scrooge, we’re faced with a crisis or fear. When I sat down to write Legend of the Timekeepers, the prequel to my middle grade/YA time travel series, I wanted to create a back story for the series that would help readers understand who my characters were, where they came from culturally, mentally, and spiritually, and how they decide to move forward with their lives. Tricky to say the least—especially when you’re dealing with a mythical land that may or may not have existed.


It took confronting my own fears to write the prequel. For one, I had never written a pure fantasy before, and had no ‘historical’ parameters to go by like I had when I wrote The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. That scared the ‘Ebenezer’ out of me! The only research I used were the readings by Edgar Cayce and other authors claiming to be a psychic or channel. Mumbo jumbo for some, but for me it was a treasure trove, and a chance to take the hand of the Ghosts of Atlantis’s past and be led on a fantastical adventure. I find that time travel stories have a way of making us reassess our own lives, of reliving the joyful and the challenging times, so that we hopefully wake up and make better choices like Scrooge did.

This is what I’ve learned from my Ghosts of Christmases past. And this is why I write time travel books. God bless us, every one!

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.

Tagline & blurb for Legend of the Timekeepers:

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

BONUS: My middle grade/young adult short fantasy story, The Terrible, Mighty Crystal, is free and available until the end of December only through Musa Publishing. This tale is a spin-off from Legend of the Timekeepers as it features the Atlantean cross-eyed seer Shu-Tu, and reveals a little background on how and why she became a seer.

Tagline & blurb and tagline for The Terrible, Mighty Crystal:

There is the known and the unknown. And then there is the unknowable.

A rumor around Atlantis whispers that the mighty crystal has the power of resurrection. Fourteen-year-old Shu-Tu believes this to be true and will do whatever it takes to bring her father back from the dead. Recruiting two trustworthy classmates, and with the help of her beloved teacher Thoth, Shu-Tu sets out to change her father’s fate, and right a wrong.

Instructed to meet Thoth at his grotto, Shu-Tu and her friends are forced to flee underground, and must follow the maze of passages to find another way out. There, they come across a baboon-headed human hybrid possessing a rare firestone—one of six harvested from the mighty crystal—which has the power to restore life. Shu-Tu agrees to play the hybrid’s bizarre game to win the firestone, knowing that if she loses, she loses her father forever.

The Terrible, Mighty Crystal Link (only until the end of December):


The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis Buy Links:


Legend of the Timekeepers Buy Links:


Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Eleven great reasons to give a book for Christmas

 

 
Yes, it's time for I Love Middle Grade Books' Holiday Blog Hop. And I have some great ideas for Christmas gifts for the young people on your list.

Rather than the latest toy or gadget, have you ever thought what the gift of a book has to offer, especially to a child, a tween, or a young adult?  This is the age when young folks are dealing with so many issues. A book can become a comfort in a time of transition. It can become an escape into another world. It can become a learning tool, while getting to know interesting characters. Or it can be just darned good entertainment. Here are eleven great reasons to give your middle grader or young adult a book for Christmas.

 

1.      Are fairytales your interest? Ann T. Bugg’s Before Happily Ever After series re-visits your child’s favorite stories with a brand new twist.

2.      Time Travel anyone??? Sharon Ledwith’s Legend of the Timekeepers lets the reader travel back in time to Atlantis with some quirky characters that might remind you of someone you already know.

3.      If Greek Mythology is your bag, Kaitlin Bevis offers up the Zeus’ Daughters series for young adults.

4.      Love the arts? Mindy Harwick’s Stained Glass Summer introduces an artform, while exploring the emotions of children of divorce, or feelings of inadequacy.

5.      Everyone loves animals, right? Join George the Basset hound starring in his wonderful book called George Knows. Mindy Mymudes writes down his story (It's hard to write with paws).

6.      Christina Weigand has written some great Christian young adult fantasy books  with her Palace of the Twelve Pillars series.

7.      Does a century-old man with a magical bag catch your interest? Sara Stinson’s Finger Bones is filled with friendship and magic.

8.      Mystery anyone? Lisa Orchard’s Super Spy series is for you.

9.      Like creepy graveyards? Jennifer L. Hotes takes you there with Four Rubbings.

10.  Middle graders who love tiny things might love K.L. Pickett’s Seventh Grade (Alien!) Hero, who finds a tiny spaceship, or Maybe it’s Magic! with a tiny magical glass horse.

11.  Interested in Louisiana Bayou legends?  The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, explores the swamps of Louisiana, while dealing with loss, bullying, and friendship…and solving the mystery of a ghostly legend.

 
 
Follow the links below to visit these authors’ blogs, and see what else they have to offer during this blog hop!

 

Prizes!!!


Leave a comment here for a chance to win a signed copy of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island. But that's not all. Mention the object that Nikki finds in the blue bottle, and win that item, along with a chance to win a stuffed Snooper!

 


Happy Holidays!!!!



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Segolia: Daughter of Prophecy, A YA Novel, by Brittany Oldroyd

 
Today on the Bayou, I'd like to welcome Brittany Oldroyd with her exciting new young adult read. It's a story of dragons and legends. Yes, you know I like legends!
 
 
Segolia: Daughter of Prophecy

When seventeen-year-old Nissa leaves at her father's insistence, she believes the trip to Idari will be a short one. But when she meets a young dragon exile, Edgeshifter, her life is thrown into chaos. Along with danger and mystery, Edgeshifter brings word of a legend as old as time itself. Nissa is forced into an adventure she isn't sure she wants. With only Edgeshifter and her heart to guide her, Nissa must embark on a journey full of destiny, danger, and legend. Her quest will require her to prevail over the shadows covering the land and save both the elves and dragons from ultimate destruction.

Segolia: Daughter of Prophecy is the story of a young princess's journey to become a true hero and follow her heart.

Buy now at Tate Publishing.

Like Brittany's Facebook page.


About the Author

Brittany Oldroyd has had a passion for writing since middle school, where she began to write Segolia: Daughter of Prophecy. Since then, she's experienced many trials that have tested her determination, including a truck fire that destroyed all of her work. Like her characters, she believes in dreaming big and never giving up. She recently graduated high school and plans to go to BYU-Idaho in the fall. She wants to major in English Literature with an emphasis on Creative Writing. Along with her passion for reading and writing, Brittany has a love for night skies, music, and thunderstorms.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Writer's Block


Recently, I’ve been stuck in a writing rut. I Can’t seem to get past the middle of any of the novels I’m working on. So I did a Google search to see if there were some remedies out there. I stumbled upon this bit of advice, from  i09.com (see link below) and narrowed my problem down to number four of their list of ten possible problems.

4. You're stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next.
Either you don't have an outline, or you ditched it a while back. Actually, here's what seems to

happen a lot - you were on a roll the day before, and you wrote a whole lot of promising developments and clever bits of business. And then you open your Word document today, and... you have no idea where this is going. You thought you left things in a great place to pick up the ball and keep running, and now you can't even see the next step.

If it's true that you were on a roll, and now you're stuck, then chances are you just need to pause and rethink, and maybe go back over what you already wrote. You may just need a couple days to recharge. Or you may need to rethink what you already wrote.

If you've been stuck in the middle for a while, though, then you probably need to do something to get the story moving again. Introduce a new complication, throw the dice, or twist the knife. Mark Twain spent months stuck in the middle of Huckleberry Finn before he came up with the notion of having Huck and Jim take the wrong turn on the river and get lost. If you're stuck for a while, it may be time to drop a safe on someone.

The other ideas are worth taking a look at, but I think I’ve found my problem. I need to take Mark Twain’s advice and go wreck someone’s day…in my story that is.

See the entire list at: http://io9.com/5844988/the-10-types-of-writers-block-and-how-to-overcome-them  


Have you ever had writer's block? How did you overcome it? Share your ideas!
 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day, July 4, 1776

Once Upon a Time, a very intelligent group of patriots decided they were tired of the tyranny of the English king, and fought a great war for the independence of a new nation where government would NOT control the people, but the people would control the government. For well over 200 years, the United States of America has functioned under those principles. Please don't ever forget what they fought for. Please don't ever stop fighting for the freedoms our founders set down for us. Read the Declaration of Independence. Read the Constitution. And if you're short on time, you must read our Bill of Rights!  Remember these great patriots worked long and hard on these documents and these principles so that we might enjoy freedom.

 
 
 
 
For lots more information on The Declaration of Independence: http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Truth Behind the Legend

I read somewhere that almost every author’s first attempt at writing is personal. Perhaps it is a story from their past that has haunted them and needs to be released. But it also said that most of those stories don’t make it into the world. Once written, they sit on a shelf, while their creator moves on to more adventurous and exciting projects. I read this after completing my middle grade novel, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, and thought perhaps this was my cathartic tale that would go unpublished.

 The Legend of Ghost Dog Island is indeed a personal story. I wanted to tell the story of the Louisiana Cajuns. Ask a child today about Cajuns and they may tell you that it is about hot food, or about shooting alligators (Incidentally, I started my book long before Swamp People over took the History Channel.) I figured there was no better way to tell the story than to start with my own childhood.

 I was raised in the Louisiana bayous. My father trapped and fished crabs for a living, and moved our family three times a year in search of better fishing spots. Being new in school was common place for me. My father was also fond of telling legends about what might be living in nearby swamps. Perfect for a children’s story, right? My historical fiction novel, set in the 1950s, is told through the eyes of my ten-year-old protagonist, Nikki Landry. But it would be rather boring if she’d stuck strictly to my routine, so Nikki (braver than me) sets out to discover the truth behind one of the legends she feels poses a threat to her dog, Snooper. She gets herself into trouble more than once, and has many spooky mishaps and adventures, but in the end, Nikki discovers the truth and solves the mystery behind the decade old legend.

 However, being true to my mission, I made sure to inject some of my father’s stories about the lifestyle and treatment of the Cajun (Acadian) people of his day, and about learning a new language… something today’s immigrant children might relate to. Heads up librarians! I’ve included an author’s page, which encourages more reading about the history of the Acadian people and their exile from their homeland in Canada.

 I wish to thank Musa Publishing for believing in me and my debut novel The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, and the staff of wonderful editors and artists that helped put it all together.

Behind every legend lies the truth…but what is the truth behind the legend of Ghost Dog Island?
 
Book Trailer on You Tube; http://youtu.be/iB51g_CnuNE
 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kelly Lynne and Celestina Silvenfare


 
Welcome to Sunday on the Bayou, folks. We'll have some cake later, but first of all, I'd like to introduce Kelly Lynne.
 
Her book, Celestina Silvenfare: The Legend Begins, is...as the name indicates...the first in a young adult series, "Silvenfare." Published by Ink Smith Publishing.
 
Here's a blurb:

​Celestna Silvenfare is an elemental sorceress and the prophesied savior of her world, but not until her14th birthday does she truly understand the danger she must face in order to fulfill her destiny and save the lives of those she loves.  Join her as she embarks on a journey to discover what it takes for one young girl to rise above her own dreams, desires, flaws, and personal tragedies, to restore balance to the land and save all the races of Merellier.

This book sounds great. You know I love legends!
 
Here's a excerpt:

"Now then, Celestina Silvenfare, how would you like to meet a Goddess?" Before Cele could reply, the air around them began to vibrate, rocking the table and rattling the dishes. When it was over, a stunning woman appeared before Cele and the faerie queen, who immediately kneeled before the Goddess. Cele did likewise, not having any idea what the protocol was for meeting a Goddess. The tall, brown-haired woman walked over to Cele and placed her hand upon her head. When she did this, Cele's mind began reeling with several vibrant images. She saw Meréllier as it might be in several years ...the land was pillaged, women and children suffered cruel fates, and widespread wars and plagues ravaged the realm. The sights and sounds were very vivid and seemed too real for Cele. She swooned, but still the Goddess held her in place, forcing her to see more...

 Here are the links to buy this book!




About The Author:

Kelly Lynne lives with her husband and three rescue dogs-two of them Great Danes-in Franklin, TN, just 15 minutes south of Nashville. In addition to writing, Lynne works as a marketing coordinator and a technical writer. She graduated with honors from the University of Georgia where she earned a Bachelors degree in Marketing Education. Lynne is also currently working on an online degree in Metaphysical Science from The University of Metaphysical Sciences in Arcata, California.









 Now that we have our books, let's have some cake fit for a goddess:

Honey: The bee was an emblem of Potnia, the most important Goddess in Greece in the late Bronze Age. The Minoan-Mycenaean "Mistress", was also referred to as "The Pure Mother Bee" and Her priestesses received the name of "Melissa" ("bee"). Priestesses worshipping Artemis and Demeter were also called "Bees".
Honey was considered the food of the gods and a honeyed tongue means the gift of eloquence. In the Homeric Hymn, Apollo acknowledges that the gift of prophecy came to him from three bee maidens. Other cultures also have Bee Goddesses such as the Hindu Bhramari Devi, the Sumerian Bee Goddess.
 
HONEY CAKE

 1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup creamed honey
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8 6-ounce custard cups.
In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar and honey until well blended, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and egg. Scrape sides of bowl and beat until well combined.
In another bowl, stir together baking powder, salt and flour. Alternate adding the flour mixture and heavy cream to batter, beginning and ending with flour.
Fill each custard cup about 2/3 full of batter. Bake 20-25 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE.   Let cool about 5 minutes then remove from pan and place each cake on a small lipped serving plate. Prepare glaze by melting butter in saucepan.  Add honey and brown sugar.  Bring to boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.   Poke honey cakes with a toothpick all over.  Brush or spoon glaze all over each honey cake until glaze is gone.  Allow cakes to cool completely.
- See more at: http://www.gaiasgarden.com.au/index.php/aboutus/articles-by-gaias-garden/131-goddess-of-food-food-for-goddess#sthash.PO1D0xp3.dpuf
 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bottle Tree Legend

Louisiana Tidbit
Have you ever been driving through Louisiana, or some other southern state,  and noticed a tree with colored bottles either hanging from it or stuck onto their branches? More than likely they were blue bottles. No, they are not a poor man’s stained glass display.

It is said that this traditional practice was brought here by the Africans during the slave trade. In the Congo, Natives have hung hand-blown glass on huts and trees to ward off evil spirits since the ninth century, and perhaps earlier.

The Legend is told that the spirits are attracted to the sparkling color of the bottles, blue ones seemingly more enticing. The moaning sound made by the wind as it passes over the bottle openings are said to be proof that a spirit is trapped within.



Whether you believe the legend or not, the trees are a sight to behold, displayed in various shapes, sizes, and forms, as beautiful yard and garden decorations.










An excerpt from Eudora Welty’s short story Livvie, describes one such tree:

“…Then coming around up the path from the deep cut of the Natchez Trace below was a line of bare crape-myrtle trees with every branch of them ending in a colored bottle of green or blue.

There was no word that fell from Solomon’s lips to say what they were for, but Livvie knew that there could be a spell put in the trees, and she was familiar from the time she was born with the way bottle trees kept evil spirits from coming into the house – by luring them inside the colored bottles, where they cannot get out again.”

A bottle tree is featured in the movie, Ray, a Ray Charles biopic. And again in the Princess and the Frog, a cartoon movie set in New Orleans, where bottle trees hang in the bayou.

Blue Bottles in my Dogwood Tree
In my children’s Novel, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, a bottle tree adorns the front entrance of a voodoo woman’s shack. Excerpt below:
“What y’all want?” The yellow glow from a kerosene lamp cast the shadowy outline of scraggly hair and humped shoulders.
I took my braid and twisted it between my fingers. “I’m looking for my dog, ma’am.”

“What kinda dog?” The face pushed closer to the small window and into view.

Red paint decorated the porch and railing—or was it blood? Some sort of animal skin hung from nails.

She was a witch all right. My hands felt sweaty. “A beagle, ma’am.” My voice cracked. “Do you have a beagle?” I remembered the three quarters, two dimes, and six pennies Patti and I got from her piggy bank in case we needed it to buy Snooper back. “I have money.”

The door creaked open. “Come on in.” A wrinkled eye peered through the crack.

Spikes took a step forward.

I followed close behind him. I didn’t want to go in that creepy shack, but I sure didn’t want to go back through the swamp alone. A slight breeze blew up, triggering a tinkling sound behind me. I turned to see colored bottles hanging from a nearby tree. The moonlight bounced off the deep-blue glass like fireflies dancing in the warm night air.

“Look at that.” I pointed to the display.

“Yeah, it’s a bottle tree. Some folks ’round here make those to trap evil spirits, to keep them away,” Spikes whispered.

“She wants to keep evil away?”
Book now available at Mirror World Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

~~~~~~~



If you choose to read further, see Felder Rushing, of www.felderrushing.net, who has done extensive research on the topic of bottle trees . More information, along with more photos of bottle trees,can also be found at cafemom.com. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Meet Kai Strand

Today on the Bayou, we welcome Kai Strand. Tell us a little about yourself, Kai...

I’ve always been a storyteller and writer.  But I didn’t consider becoming a professional writer until my oldest daughter and I became hooked on the Harry Potter series and we were between book releases (the fourth and fifth book, I believe.)  I decided while I waited for the release of the next HP, I’d create my own characters and my very own world.  In fewer than four months, I had completed my very first middle grade novel. Read more on my website.

Books by Kai Strand:

 


Molly Minstrel is treated worse than Cinderella by her mom and sisters. When Molly meets the magical creature, Unwanted, she wishes her problems away. However, you must first understand what you need before knowing what to ask for. Molly will have to look within for the solution to her troubles.
Suggested age for readers: 7-12

 
Review: This character 
(Unwanted) brings humor to the story, yet at the same time also brings in that hint of truth. Before someone can make a wish they should know what they truly want. Children’s Book Reviewer

 
As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.
The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.
With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?
King of Bad, coming July 2013
 

Review: This book was sooooooooooo good it was mind blowing. The details that were in every sentence made me jump into the book and I felt like I was in the book and living terra's life!” –A Kid’s Review

 

Coming July 2013 - King of Bad

Jeff Mean wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie, until he's recruited by Super Villain Academy - where you learn to be good at being bad. Jeff wonders is he bad enough for SVA?

Visit Kai at http://kaistrand.blogspot.com/

 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Louisiana Bayous

Photo by George Monette

Today, I was going to write a post about Louisiana bayous, since it is the main theme for my blog and for my book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island. I found instead this wonderful article in USA Today and decided to share it.

Facts about Louisiana Bayous
By Lee Morgan, Demand Media (from USA Today Travel Tips http://traveltips.usatoday.com/louisiana-bayous-59733.html)

Located primarily in the southern reaches of Louisiana, the bayou is a defining feature of this unique part of America. The bayou is home to many people living in the Pelican State as well as to an abundance of wildlife. Unlike the rest of Louisiana, bayou life has its own pace and culture. The swamps and the gators might not be for everyone, but the people of the bayou feel right at home. This often-misunderstood area remains a mystery to many Americans.

Photo by George Monette
The Bayou Name

The name "bayou" is even native to Louisiana. According to the Famous Wonders website, the term "bayou" is believed to have originated from "bayuk," a word meaning "small stream" in a local Native American tongue. The word was first used in Louisiana and has come to mean the braided streams that are fed by the Mississippi River in the low-lying areas of Southern Louisiana. These marshes or wetland areas move very slowly and make ideal homes for creatures like alligators, crawfish and catfish -- all of which are popular bayou foods.

Bayou Culture

The bayou culture is actually more diverse than many may think. There is no doubt that the most closely associated culture to the bayou is the Cajun culture. The Cajuns were French-speaking settlers relocated from Nova Scotia. They were actually known as "Acadians," but the local dialect eventually led to the word becoming "Cajun." In South Louisiana's bayous the culture is as diverse as the ingredients found in the local gumbo. In addition to the French Canadians that were the foundation of much of the bayou culture, there are also significant influences from Spanish, German, African and Irish settlers as well as Native Americans. In modern Cajun culture on the bayou, the people are a blend of all these cultures. In the Southern Louisiana bayous today, you can often find people who consider themselves "Cajuns" who primarily speak French, but have last names like Smith, McGee or Manuel as well as the French surnames common in the region.


Photo by George Monette
Disappearing Bayous

The bayous are disappearing. Since the 1930s, the coast of Louisiana has lost 1,900 square miles of marshes and coastal wetlands. This is an area the size of Delaware that has been swallowed up by the Gulf of Mexico. Despite recent efforts to reduce the erosion of the bayou, Louisiana still loses about an acre of land every 33 minutes. That results in a loss of 25 square miles per year. Levees have funneled marsh-building sediment into the ocean; engineers have cut 8,000 miles of canals through the bayous to help the petroleum industry, all of which contribute to the faster erosion of the bayous.

Bayou As Protector

Many people do not understand the importance of the bayou, not only as a natural habitat for many species of animals, but also as a protector of inland areas. Cities like New Orleans are under an increasing threat from hurricanes as a result of coastal erosion. When the bayous shrink, it means the storm surge from tropical storms and hurricanes can reach further inland. These storm surges can result in greater flooding. An example of this effect was apparent when the levees were overrun by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge in 2005.

About the Author


Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.

 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dinner on the Bayou with guest, Linda Benson

Today, I'm cooking up some Cajun chicken and sausage gumbo with my guest author, Linda Benson.
 
Welcome to the Bayou, Linda.  We'll be serving up dinner in a little while, but first, tell us a little about how important setting is in your writing.

Just as setting plays a big part in your book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, many of my books have been inspired by setting, also. I am a country girl, surrounded by forest and farm land, and because this is such a large part of who I am, elements of nature and the land sneak into to everything that I write.
Your wonderful book, Six Degrees of Lost, is on sale right now for an amazing price.  Tell us something about it.
A Lost Dog,  A First Love, A Journey
Six Degrees of Lost, set in the Pacific Northwest where I live, tells the story of two teenagers who are both looking for their place in life. If you love animals, plots with twists and turns, and stories told in two voices, you’ll enjoy this richly-layered novel, available as an E-Book. Get it now until May 15...for only 99 cents at AMAZON.


Thirteen-year-old Olive, with nowhere else to go, is uprooted from sunny California and dumped in rainy Washington State like a stray. That's exactly what she feels like surrounded by her aunt’s collection of homeless dogs, cats, and horses.

Fourteen-year-old David’s future is already carved in stone. From a military family with two brothers serving overseas, he’s been pointed towards the Air Force Academy his entire life - but a rafting trip gone awry might ruin his chances.
When a runaway dog is almost hit by a car, the search for its owner leads Olive and David, two teens from entirely different backgrounds, to an unlikely bond. Will their growing attraction to each other be enough to keep Olive from a foolhardy journey to find her mother? Will David risk his family’s plans to save her?

Here’s a short excerpt:
“So what’s with all those dogs barking in the back yard?”

“They’re foster dogs. My aunt takes them in when they get too crowded at the animal shelter. Some of them aren’t adoptable, and would be put to sleep otherwise.”

“Really?” I gulp.

“We’ve also got six cats in the house, plus the horses out back. Come on, I’ll show you.” The yellow dog jumps up and down, begging for the stick. Olive flings it down the driveway. I see a small shelter out back, with sagging fences. Olive is already headed that way, taking short barefoot steps on the gravel, so I follow.

A sway-backed pinto horse, with a mouth full of hay, sticks his head out from the shelter and then turns and goes back to his breakfast. It looks kind of bony. “Wow,” I say. “Skinny.”

“Yeah, that’s Paintball.” She grins. “Well, that’s what I call him. He was found wandering loose up in the National Forest. Aunt Trudy says somebody just dumped him there.”

“Why would anybody do that?”

Olive shrugs. “I know. Hard to believe, huh? I guess they couldn’t afford to feed him, but still, that’s just mean.”

A huge brown horse wanders over to the fence. “Who’s this one?” I reach between the strands of wire and pat his head. He’s just as skinny as the first one.

“My aunt says he’s ancient, and we’ll probably never get his weight back on. They found him tied to a tree in front of the animal shelter, but they don’t really have any facilities for horses there, so he came here instead. He’s sweet, huh?”

“Yeah, he seems nice.” The old horse pushes his head underneath my hand, clearly enjoying the attention.

“I call him Shakespeare. ‘Cause he looks so noble and elegant.”

Elegant? I think. That’s a stretch. “Can you ride them?”

“I don’t know. Aunt Trudy says we don’t really know that much about them. Anyway, it’s been too hot, and she’s always busy. She’s a clerk at the animal shelter thrift shop, and she takes turns working down at the shelter, besides feeding all these animals here at home.”

Olive talks so fast she makes my head swim. She barely takes a breath, and rattles on. “So besides the ones she takes in from the shelter, my aunt is always finding animals, too. She says there must be an invisible sign at the bottom of the driveway that says: Lost Animals Stop Here.”

“Is that how you found this dog?” I stroke the big lab’s ears, and he presses against me.

“He was standing in the middle of the road,” she says, “and almost got hit by a car.” She smiles. “Maybe he was reading the sign.”

About the author:

Linda Benson is the author of several middle grade and young adult books, including Walking the Dog, Six Degrees of Lost, The Girl Who Remembered Horses, Finding Chance, and The Horse Jar (which has been translated into Spanish.)

Her passion for nature and animals often finds its way into her writing. She has been a veterinary assistant, zoo keeper, race track groom, realtor, children’s librarian, and owned both a native plant nursery and a saddle shop.

Ms. Benson lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a variety of animals, all of them adopted. When she's not petting a dog, cat, horse, or donkey, traipsing through the woods, or gardening with native plants, she's most likely working on her next book.


Linda, I've read and really enjoyed Six Degrees of Lost, and can't wait to read the others. How can our visitors find more about you?

You can reach me at:  http://www.lindabenson.net

Now for dinner!!!
Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
    Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs (I much prefer dark meat in a gumbo)
1 1/2 lbs richard's smoked sausage, sliced (or your favorite smoked sausage)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
salt and cayenne pepper
green onion, chopped
parsley, chopped

Directions:

1. Brown chicken thighs and sausage in a cast iron dutch oven. Remove from pot and let cool.
2. Add oil to the pot. With wire whisk, blend in flour. Continue stirring constantly, until flour is the color of chocolate syrup. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO CONSTANTLY STIR THIS! Once the flour has browned to this point, quickly add onions, bell pepper and celery. Cook until onions are transparent. Add enough water to fill the pot about half way. Simmer.
3. Meanwhile, debone chicken. Add chicken and sausage. If needed, add more water to cover the chicken.
4. Add minced garlic, salt, and cayenne.
5. Let simmer for about an hour.
6. With a large spoon, skim as much fat as possible from the top.
7. Serve in a soup plate, over hot cooked rice.
8. Sprinkle green onions, parsley, and file in the bowls.