Send Down The Rain

Send Down the Rain   Send Down The Rain – Charles Martin

Charles Martin’s newest book.

Life for Bobby and Joseph was never the same after their father left with another woman. Damage was so severe that it sent them on downward spirals, lasting decades. Their  single mother did her best to provide for them, but the threat of draft was  something beyond her control. It felt like an automatic death sentence, for both of them. For her, the thought was unbearable. Although he was younger, Joseph was able to cope in ways his brother never was. The day Bobby’s draft notice arrived, Joseph was the  son his mother sought out.

I have to tell you, this tale is as gripping as all his others, and once started it’s impossible to stop – without good reason.

The good reason, this time, was Thanksgiving dinner with the family. I was able to work around my obligations, be fully present for family time, and still steal enough moments to finish this book.

There is so much to see and hear in these stories, making it impossible to take it all in in one reading. I will be reading this one again.

Charles Martin books are raw, real, and yet, tell a story that repels and draws all at the same time. You cannot help but connect with the lives of the characters, laughing and crying right along with them.

PTSD, bullying, human trafficking; friendship, love, fierce loyalty to family – are all part of the basic foundation this time.

The characters are well developed, and it’s interesting to see the way their lives intersect and, in some cases, are woven together.

I love the twists and turns you don’t see coming.

If you like a story that digs deep, making sure you think and feel, this is the book for you.

 

the Book of Negroes

This book is a solid 5 stars, in my estimation.

 

The Book of Negroes

This is a story written to capture your interest. I was surprised at the unexpected way it captured mine, given the difficult subject matter.

To be honest, it took me over two years to find the courage to read this book. I purchased  it only because it kept showing up as a must-read everywhere I turned. I decided to give it a chance but then couldn’t bring myself to read it as quickly as I normally would.

Reluctance to pick it up as the next-read meant it was buried deeper and deeper with each new downloaded book. Out of sight where it couldn’t make me feel guilty for passing it by, again. I did feel guilty, paying for a book and then not reading it, but mostly I felt guilty for not having the courage to read it.

I was avoiding it because, I know by experience, stories like this are hard to read.

Once I decided to take the plunge it didn’t take long to realize, Lawrence Hill has a gift for telling a story of horrific circumstances in a way that compels you to keep reading. There was no melodrama or righteous indignation. Just an honest, engaging, telling of the facts.

This is a fictional depiction of a 50 year slice of history, and the body of research to back it up is impressive. Also impressive is the size of the team working with him to make it happen.

I think there are many reasons why it’s important to read stories such as this. As you read, I know you will discover some of the reasons for yourself. We all come from a perspective and understanding of life, colored by the circumstances in our own little corner of the world. The messages we take away from reading a book like this will be influenced by the lives we each live. I find it’s that way with most books really, they speak to us where we are at any given time.

There are several important lessons I’ve learned while reading books such as this.  The first is this – cruelty has visited all people groups at some point in history and no people group is exempt from giving or receiving cruelty. We all have reason to weep for our ancestors as we discover cruelty endured, we have reason to rejoice with them for kindnesses received. And sometimes we have reason to be ashamed as we discover their treatment of others.

The second thing I’ve learned is that no people group is all good or all bad. For each cruel person, there are many more that are loving and kind. The cruel ones seem to get more notice, probably because they are often able to make life miserable for the masses. It makes me sad to see the way we humans treat each other. It also makes me sad to realize there is “nothing new under the sun”, cruelty and greed is an age old problem.

I can tell a book has been good for me when I am left saying……. I had no idea.

I had no idea that Black Loyalists fled to Nova Scotia Canada in 1783-1784, never mind that they came in such large numbers. It was a surprise to learn they were there because Britain promised rewards for loyalty to their war effort in the US. It was also a surprise to learn that a decade later a large number would accept similar promises of a good life if they would return to West Africa and take up the challenge to establish a colony in Sierra Leone.

I had no idea that thousands of former slaves had the same opportunity, over the years, to return to West Africa to settle, or to help settle, a number of countries like – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea, and Ghana.

The Book of Negroes is the story of a beautiful eleven year old girl captured as a slave, learning to survive in spite of catastrophic circumstances, becoming a strong, intelligent, and productive woman, loved by everyone she encounters.

I liked this book for the historical education it gave me, but mostly…….. I liked it for the honest way it brought to life a heart wrenching story.

 

 

 

 

I want to tell you a story

I want to tell you a story, hopefully, one that will build on my last post, and clear up some misconceptions.

It’s about one of my cats. Kitty (as I called him – mainly because my landlord called him Sylvester, a name I didn’t like and didn’t have the courage to try to change), Kitty had been someone’s pet, an abused pet, one who learned to be terrified of all things human.

We discovered him living in the bushes across the back alley, wild and hungry. He could be coaxed out with food, if it was placed somewhere he considered safe, so we fed him.

I found it hard to see him in such distress and set out to woo him into trusting me. It worked, gradually his trust grew to the point that he was eating inside, then living inside – sleeping on the furniture, and finally, on my lap. His trust grew to extend beyond me to my husband, and to our landlord.

Kitty learned to trust the three of us but that was as far as it ever went. He was gone in a flash if anyone else came around, and he was like that for as long as we had him.

The thing is, he didn’t stop to make a judgement call. He had no idea if encountered humans were good or bad, and he didn’t care, he wasn’t taking any chances.

His fear was the result of what had been done to him in the past and had nothing whatever to do with anyone in the present.

That’s the spot I find myself in today. My trust issues and panic attacks are the result of what’s been done to me in the past. The present can inadvertently act as a trigger but other than that, it has no bearing on anything.

Triggers aren’t restricted to strangers, either, they often happen in the presence of people I know and trust, they can even happen when I am alone, maybe reading, thinking, listening to the news, any other activity, really. On top of all that, most of the time I have no idea why.

So, when my talk of trust issues has you worried you are being labelled as a bad guy, please, let that worry go. I don’t stop to make assessments and then act on my findings. Triggers happen when they happen, for reasons all of their own, and they create awkward moments.

Like the one that happened on a day when I was hurrying across a lobby. I spotted a man standing by the door and stopped dead in my tracks. I have no idea what that was about. I had to do some quick, and tough, self talk….don’t just stand there, keep walking.

I can tell you, there were no assessments made that day. He could have been a very good guy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staci Stallings Part 2

This will be Staci Stallings books in my-Kindle-collection part two, but first……. I have pressure building up from a major frustration and need to vent before I explode.

Please, please, please,  rewrite as many times as it takes before you publish.

Do you know how disappointing it is to read a book that could be great if it wasn’t so full of typos, mistakes, murky paragraphs, and conversations in need of tweaking?

Rewrites would help expose many of these problem areas, even if grammar is not your strong suit.

Read your book out loud, you would be amazed at how many things will pop out at you, begging for a fix.

Ask someone to edit your book. Make sure it’s someone proficient in the craft. A well intentioned friend won’t help you succeed unless they really are good at the job.

In this micro-wave world of instant gratification, don’t be in such a hurry to publish. I’ve heard some of the most widely read authors say they rewrite more than a dozen times. And, when they think they are ready to publish they put it in a drawer for three months to a year (if possible) so they can read it again with fresh eyes, to do a final rewrite.

If you want your books to be widely read, follow their example and do the rewrites.

If you want to publish many books in a year, start filling up the drawers.

OK, I feel better now. I truly hope you will take this to heart and do whatever it takes to be the best you can be.


Now on to Staci Stallings, and some good examples of fine writing.

And the Greatest of These is Love A Novel – And the Greatest of These is Love …….. Gabi had no idea the community centre was in this much financial trouble, and she is determined to find a way to keep things going. These kids have no where else to go.

Andrew has been working on the biggest breaking story of his career, and now that it is published – he is not happy about his editor demanding he take a day away from it, to do a piece on the financially strapped community center located in a slum area. When he walks in and discovers he has found the beautiful girl from the baseball field, the one invading his dreams, everything changes.

 

The Long Way Home A Novel – The Long Way Home …..  Jaxton is more than a little upset his parents have ordered him to abandon his high powered clients and visit the ailing grandfather he hasn’t seen in fifteen years. The whole idea of this visit is distasteful.

Ami is surprised to find a stranger in her yard, especially one who looks as out of place as this lost city boy. She’d handled his condescending tone just fine until it dawned on her, he was Clarence’s absentee grandson. Now, she sees red as she thinks about Clarence and his family’s neglect after his recent heart attack. Jaxton is seeing red himself, at her attitude, who does she think she is, treating him like this?

Coming Undone  A Novel – Coming Undone …… Ben is revelling in the single life; few responsibilities, weekly card games with his buddies, parties on the weekends. He is totally unprepared for the call asking him to step up and be next-of-kin, the one making the  hard decisions.

Kathryn struggles with singleness, hyper aware of the years slipping by, with little hope  of ever meeting Mr. Right. Fortunately for her, she finds fulfillment in her hospice role, helping families navigate the distress of final days. Ben, faced with his father’s imminent death, looks completely undone and desperately in need of help.

Lucky Harmony series The Harmony Series – Lucky book 2 …. One terrible moment and everything Danae believes to be true is exposed as a lie, and she’s left in a puddle of grief, with no way of getting home from the wedding.

Kalin, trying to rebuild his life after the devastation of bad choices, has taken a job with a band playing the wedding. From his place on the stage, he couldn’t help but notice the beautiful bridesmaid as she flitted about taking care of details, or the groomsman she  was obviously with.  The last thing he expected to find, as he left to go home, her, crying  alone, huddled against the side of a car in a muddy parking lot.

Happy reading!

 

In the favorite author category – Charles Martin

I’ve decided to add some of my favorite, previously read books.

Looking through the lists of books read, it seems that many of my favorite authors are missing or under represented. If the pages are to be useful as a resource for reading suggestions there are some authors that need to be included. So I am going to retroactively add at least some of the books I’ve loved.  Here is the first author to pop into my head as I think about this.

I’ve mentioned one or two books written by Charles Martin before. This time I will give you the complete list of books I’ve read in the last couple of years, which is many of them.

Be ready, for an emotionally charged journey.  Researching the book descriptions has been a strong reminder that he will take you to great heights, and equal depths of emotion.  It’s an unforgettable experience. The book descriptions don’t measure up, in letting you know what you are in for.  It would take the first bit of each novel to even give you a little taste of what is in store. His books are poignant and deeply touching. He writes with honesty, facing life in a vey real way that will change you

So…. here are 12 great books for you

Chasing Fireflies  Chasing Fireflies…. Never settle for less than the truth, she told him. But when you don’t even know your real name, the truth gets a little complicated. As Chase Walker found out, finding the truth about yourself can be as elusive, and as magical, as chasing fireflies on a summer night. A haunting story of discovery.

 

the Dead Don't Dance book 1 Awakening – The Dead Don’t Dance book 1….. In a sleepy rural town it’s the end of summer and a baby is about to be born. In the midst of hope and celebration comes unexpected tragedy, and Dylan Sykes must come to terms with how much he’s lost. Will the music of his heart be stilled forever….or will he choose to dance with life once more, in spite of sorrow and heartbreak? A bittersweet but triumphant love story.

 

Maggie book 2  Awakening – Maggie book 2 …. Life began again for Dylan when his wife awoke from a coma brought on by the intense two day labor to deliver their son. In this poignant love story, to embrace their future they must first come to terms with their past.

 

A Life Intercepted  A Life Intercepted… Matthew Rising had it all. He was married to his high school sweetheart, was one of the best quarterbacks in college football and a number one NFL draft pick. On the night of the draft he was accused of a heinous crime with irrefutable evidence and he lost it all including his freedom. Out of prison, he wants to find his wife who has been in hiding since the trial. He finds her living among the nuns of the Catholic school, coaching a teenage boy with exceptional ability. She will speak to him only enough to let him know she wants him to coach the boy. This would violate his parole if discovered but would it be enough to get his wife back.

 

Long Way Gone  Long Way Gone…. Eighteen year old Copper O’Conner leaves home with his dad’s treasures, to find fame and fortune in Nashville, a dream that doesn’t materialize. Just as he is falling in love with Daley, a rising star in the music world, tragedy strikes and with nowhere else to go, he returns home. Daley shows up in his home town, 20 years later, and he wonders if he is being given a second chance to get it right.

 

The Mountain Between Us The Mountain Between Us….. When a blizzard strands them in the Salt Lake City airport, total strangers (a gifted surgeon, and a magazine writer on the way to her wedding) anxious to get home, decide to charter a plane. The unthinkable happens and the plane crashes on a rugged mountain top. Injured, and with no way of calling for help, will they be able to survive long enough to be rescued?

 

Thunder and Rain  Thunder and Rain ….. Tyler Steele is a third generation Texas Ranger, with a strong sense of right and wrong and a tough outer shell that worked well in his job but brought an end to his marriage. Retired and raising his son on his own he is at risk of losing his ranch. He has to find a way to rebuild his life but doesn’t know how. Samantha and her daughter Hope are on the run from danger and are desperate and alone. Ty knows he can help, because that’s what he does.

 

Unwritten   Unwritten…. An actress running from her past finds escape with a man hiding from his future….. Two boats and a good knowledge of fishing, makes it easy for him to live off the grid on Florida’s coast. Until the one person linking him to the real world asks a favor. Helping a self destructive, high profile, actress has complicated his life and made him face things he has been running from. From Florida, they travel to the French countryside, where they will discover the unwritten story of both their pasts and their future.

 

Water From My Heart Water From My Heart…. Charlie Finn had to grow up fast, living on his own by age sixteen. Highly intelligent, he earned a full scholarship to Harvard where he did well and developed friendships that allowed him to move in privileged circles. Social skills learned in college helped him successfully navigate lucrative, cutthroat, and dangerous business ventures. He tried to keep personal and business separated but his poor choices created devastating results and now he has gone to Central American to attempt to make amends with the ones who suffered the most by his bad decisions.

 

When Crickets Cry  When Crickets Cry…. a spirited seven year old with a scar on her chest does a brisk business at her lemonade stand. The bearded stranger understands more about the scar than he wants to admit. A beat up bread truck careens around the corner, about to change their lives, teaching them both about unexpected miracles, and the painful reasons why crickets cry.

Where the river ends  Where the River Ends…. He was a fishing guide and a struggling artist from a George trailer park; and she was the only child of North Carolina’s most  powerful senator. They met by accident, and knew from the start they had found their soul mates. Ten years into their marriage she has developed terminal cancer and has a list of ten things she hopes to accomplish before she loses the fight, and he will do anything to make it all happen. They steal away in the middle of the night to start the 130 mile trek to the mouth of the St Mary’s river, a promise from the early days of their courtship.

 

Wrapped in Rain  Wrapped in Rain…. an internationally famous photographer,  Tucker has travelled the world, capturing things other people don’t see. What he can’t see is how to forgive his father. His brother has escaped from a mental hospital and an old girlfriend has shown up with her son and a black eye, forcing him to go home and face the agony of his own tragic past.

Harassment?

Two weeks ago, I got back from a 5,500 kilometre road trip. It was a lot of fun, at least it was from my point of view.

I live in the middle of Canada, there is a marker on the TransCanada Highway at a point west of me saying Longitudinal Centre of Canada to prove it. I was  planning to take a month and go as far as Vancouver Island on the West Coast.

I’m originally from British Columbia and have family and friends there. It’s a few years since I’ve been back and I had big plans to visit a lot of people, in a lot of places. The places part worked out.

The trip went surprising well, in spite of the fact it is winter in this cold and snowy land. There were a few rough spots along the way but they usually had more to do with wrong turns and trouble finding addresses.

Like in Regina Saskatchewan, the first night. I’d planned to go farther but major highway construction with detours made for confusion and the wasting of some hours. Thank goodness for cell phones and Google maps. My daughter bailed me out and figured out that I’d better go back to Regina for the night. The light of a new day, and a different angle, made all the difference and it was easy to find my way to Calgary Alberta.

I was excited to be stopping in Calgary for a few days, I was going to meet clients in person for the first time. It didn’t turn out quite like I expected but my time there still worked out well and I was looking forward to the return trip when I would spend another work week before heading home.

Armstrong, BC was the first stop on my continued journey. It’s famous for it’s Armstrong cheese, and Highland Grog flavoured coffee – at least in our house.  Roger’s Pass through the Rockies was interesting. I love the mountains in the winter. From there I went south to White Rock, via the Coquahalla Highway. The Coq, as it’s known locally, is a 6 lane highway through high mountains, with a speed limit of 120km. It was an icy trip, but at least it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen.

White Rock is a popular resort town on the ocean, south of Vancouver. It’s small in area but beautiful and fun to visit. Nothing else around it is small though, the growth since I was there last is amazing, the city is closing in.

While there, I also had the opportunity to make an overnight trip to Victoria, BC’s capital, to visit family. And as always, the ferry ride was beautiful, so was the city. If you enjoy travel I hope you will Google these places and see for yourself , you may even be tempted to visit one day.

The highlight of my trip was time spent with family and friends, I loved every moment.

Roger’s Pass is the usual way to get to Alberta so the return trip followed the same route.

While the trip itself was long and challenging, it wasn’t the biggest hurdle I had to face. The bigger hurdle was in the mental/emotional area. And it turned out surprisingly well.

I’ve mentioned before that I have major trust issues when it comes to men.

One of the side effects of my current lifestyle is the near complete lack of interaction with men. There are sightings now and again but not much else. Add to that the magnification of my trust issues caused by truths I’m facing on the journey to wellness and it’s double trouble. So, there were two parts to the angst I was feeling about the nearing end of this wellness journey, and the possible/probable interactions on my trip.

How in the world would I ever become comfortable around men again (since there are none anywhere in my life, except family), and how would it work to be out-and-about if I couldn’t manage it.  Then, the more immediate question – will my triggers make an in-person meeting awkward? We have a comfortable working relationship on the phone but I’m worried about seeing this client of mine in person.

As the days of the trip went on, my confidence grew, and I was ready to be more relaxed about things. I didn’t see Bill (not his real name) until the second week I was there. By now, it seemed like everywhere I went there were male people. It was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool…… and I found I could swim.

Bill was a major player in my second week there, as he arranged the use of one of their empty offices for me. Their office staff was four men and one woman. Out numbered everywhere. It was a comfortable stay and I think we parted with pleasant memories of the week. At least I did anyway. They were very kind.

Back home, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experience and to think about the reasons for the confidence I’ve found.

I think the biggest change in me has been centered around the thought that I had to stop expecting men to change how they treated me. Instead, I needed to decide what I would or wouldn’t allow. The result of this process was a clear set of hard and fast boundaries, in my head, and it has been a freeing experience.

There is so much more that could be said, and maybe should be said, with all the conversation over sexual harassment these days.

For now I will just say this. There are many things we, as women, need to do to keep ourselves safe but the most important thing, I’ve found, is to have set boundaries. It has changed the way I act and react.

Predators are looking for the weak. Boundaries give us confidence, and with confidence we appear strong. When we appear strong, men tend to change direction and back off.

Boundaries have allowed me to lower my protective walls (the ones that keep everyone out) and it feels good.