http://venturegalleries.com Connecting Readers, Writers, and Books Sun, 04 Sep 2016 20:08:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://venturegalleries.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/cropped-VG-Logo-32x32.jpg http://venturegalleries.com 32 32 The Idle American: Spies in the skies. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/the-idle-american-spies-in-the-skies/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/the-idle-american-spies-in-the-skies/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 06:50:44 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77221     An Amazon drone on the prowl. THERE'S A GOOD CHANCE that ordering goods by mail, phone or email will always have drawbacks that are trumped by “in person” shopping. That’s assuming we can get Mr. Whipple-types away from... Read more

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An Amazon drone on the prowl.

An Amazon drone on the prowl.

THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE that ordering goods by mail, phone or email will always have drawbacks that are trumped by “in person” shopping. That’s assuming we can get Mr. Whipple-types away from spying on “Charmin squeezers” long enough to take our cash or process our card.

My old momma–who rarely uttered epithets unless she banged her head–grimaced with mail orders. Often, something wasn’t right, and the transaction–expected to span a few days– ballooned to a few weeks. (Most orders were placed with Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery Ward; she called them “Sears & Rareback” and “Monkey Ward.”)

I think of her every time I take “one more chance” on placing on-line orders, not so much because of errors in placement or delivery, but because I know I’m being spied on.

*****

   Cited this day are two recent experiences. First was the need to purchase a refrigerator water filter. Though it’s replaced but twice yearly, it seems far more often that the warning light starts blinking.

It grabs our attention each time we access ice or water. While we aren’t really sure if filter life can be stretched by a few months, we want the warning light to be OFF, so we decide to rely on Internet suppliers.

And there are many.

*****

Don Newbury

Don Newbury

On a recent order, I purchased three filters to avoid shipping charges. BUT, the filters I received were big enough for industrial-size refrigerators. Okay, no harm, no foul, and within a couple of weeks of the original order, I was stocked with enough filters to last until 2018–perhaps longer if I want to endure several thousand “change filter” blinks.

Now, I am under assault from the “spies.” I learn that others purchasing filters also bought this and that. My computer lights up with “pop-ups” offering cheaper prices, as well as filters with additional features. Before long, they’ll design filters that trigger alarms, walk the dog and wrestle trash to the curb.

Same with air filters. Maybe a few dollars saved, but rest assured, the spies are at work to provide more information than one cares to know.

*****

   The probability is great that hitting the “more information” button is a grave mistake when visiting a site where goods or services are sold. For two successive months, I have dared to hit the button to learn more about reverse mortgages. I mistakenly thought info would be available, neatly presented on my computer screen.

After all, my interest was casual–perhaps less than that–but I did NOT anticipate a flurry of both emails and phone calls–four in fifteen hours–trumpeting the advantages of reverse mortgages.

If I forget next month and once more seek LIMITED information, my wife may be on the receiving end of responses. And she may even sign up, just to get the mortgage people off our backs.

*****

   Finally, who among us has been spared annoying phone calls from the all-knowing woman at credit card services? She calls regularly, initially to say there is nothing wrong with our account.

However, she continues her spiel that we MIGHT be eligible for lower interest rates, and by pressing a number, we can learn details. (Oh for a button on the phone to request deletion from calling lists, as if it would do any good.)

The temptation is great to make our own recording: “I am now on the phone assisting other sellers. However, your call is very important to me, and your approximate waiting time is 35 minutes.”

*****

   All the while, researchers are hard at work, refining delivery systems. Amazon promises upcoming deliveries utilizing drones. Wonder if the drones will take return items as well, and will the blamed things know whether the items are returned in original packaging?

Ah, it makes one reflect warmly on the “good old days,” when we could see dust stirring a mile or two up the sandy lane leading to our home.

Often, it would mean a salesman was taking the time to get off the highway and come to our house. We were so glad to have company, we were happy to look at his wares, whether or not we bought any.

*****

   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Columns archived at venturegalleries.com, newbury blog.

Don Newbury is the author of the humorous and inspirational When The Porch Light’s On.

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Friday Sampler: Family is Forever by Shirley Skufca Hickman http://venturegalleries.com/blog/friday-sampler-family-is-forever-by-shirley-skufca-hickman/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/friday-sampler-family-is-forever-by-shirley-skufca-hickman/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 06:40:43 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77213 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday's Sampler features an excerpt from Family is Forever, a memoir by Shirley Skufca Hickman. The... Read more

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Family is Forever front cover red

In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Family is Forever, a memoir by Shirley Skufca Hickman.

The Story

The 1950’s come alive in Shirley Skufca Hickman’s memoir FAMILY IS FOREVER. A typical teenager, Shirley loves to dance, attend slumber parties, play in her high school’s award-winning band, and sing in a girls’ triple trio. Dreaming of becoming an actress, she stars in several high school plays.

She enjoys her teenager years until her father’s death shatters her family. Without his love and support, their security is threatened. Shirley and her sisters, Mary and Vera, offer to drop out of school and support the family. Because their mother, a strong and intelligent woman, was forced to leave school after the eighth grade, she insists her daughters continue their education at all costs.

Her parents had cashed in her father’s life insurance policy to make the down payment for their house and now they have nothing. If they cannot pay the mortgage, they might lose their home.

Although relatives and friends offer their support, the family must call upon their courage, resilience and love for one another to cope with this tragic loss.

About Shirley Skufca Hickman:

Shirley Skufca Hickman

Shirley Skufca Hickman

Shirley Skufca Hickman grew up during World War II in Crested Butte, Colorado, a coal mining town and wrote about those early years in “Don’t Be Give Up.”

In 1947 her family moved to Gunnison, Colorado. As the new kid in town, Shirley wondered if she’d ever adapt to this new community. Her memoir, Is Everybody Happy Now? is about that successful transition.

In 1952, her father died, and this tragedy changed her life dramatically.

After graduating from college, she moved to California where she taught over 6,000 students. Besides teaching English, speech and dance, she also choreographed 13 musicals.

As an educator, she saw first-hand the plight of undocumented teenager immigrants from Mexico and wrote about them in Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book.

She founded the Porterville Writer’s Workshop, which has continued for over forty years. Her prize winning books include School Success: 500 Ways Busy Parents Can Help Their Children Succeed in School and Sarah Darlin’ a romance set in San Francisco during the Gold Rush.

Besides teaching and writing, she enjoys traveling and on one occasion visited the small villages in Croatia where her grandparents grew up.

Another activity she enjoys is making Barbie doll clothes and quilting. She and her friends are making quilt blocks to send to the Orlando Quilt Guild where they will be made into quilts and given to families who lost relatives in the recent tragedy.

Currently she writes, tutors, and sews. Married to Joe Hickman for over 50 years, they have a cherished son, a wonderful daughter-in-law and two extraordinary grandsons.

:The Sampler

World War II ended in 1945, and the post-war era began, but peace was short-lived when in 1950 another war, this time against Communism, took men away from their families to fight in Korea.

Society changed for many Americans, including my family. My father spent years working at the Big Mine in Crested Butte, Colorado. Now with less demand for coal, the mine operated only three days a week.

To find steady work, he moved our family from Crested Butte to Gunnison, only 28 miles away, but vastly different in religion and politics.

We were a close-knit family, and as we gathered around the kitchen table, I glanced at my handsome Daddy. He reminded me of Clark Gable, but Mary thought he looked more like John Wayne. I could imagine Daddy gambling on a Mississippi River boat, but not riding a horse.

My beautiful Mama could have been a movie star. When she was a young woman she won tango contests with a partner who looked like Rudolph Valentino. A talent scout offered Mama a trip to Hollywood, but her father wouldn’t allow his favorite daughter to consider such a disreputable occupation.

My sister, Vera, who was sixteen, had Mama’s beautiful dimple and pretty face. Mary, my older sister, was eighteen and looked more like Daddy’s side of the family. At fourteen, I was the youngest and looked like Daddy’s sister, Christine. My sisters and I were tall and thin and had brown hair like our parents.

One evening while we ate, Daddy was unusually quiet, but his smile told us he was up to something. If we asked questions, he would evade them or give us silly answers, but we knew if we waited long enough, he would tell us.

We finished eating and did the dishes, but no one wanted to leave the kitchen until Daddy told us what was on his mind, so we sat at the table again. Finally, he finished his cigarette, smashed it in the ashtray, and announced, “Tomorrow I’m going to college.”

Vera raised her eyebrows. “How can you go to college when you only have a sixth grade education?”

Vera was my sister and I loved her, but sometimes she irritated Daddy without meaning to. She would be a junior in high school this fall and should have known better.

Daddy didn’t appear offended.

“What classes are you going to take?” Mary asked, going along with Daddy’s game. She was four years older than I and always took Daddy’s side in every situation because she was his favorite. I thought her question was stupid because she was a college freshman and worked in the registrar’s office. She knew students had to have a high school diploma before they were admitted to college.

Daddy didn’t answer her question. He only smiled. “We can ride to the college together, Mary.”

“That would be great,” she said.

“Tell us what this is all about, Steve,” Mama insisted. “Don’t keep us in the dark. You aren’t really going to the college tomorrow, are you?”

Daddy leaned back in his chair and lit another cigarette, waiting for the suspense to build.

He liked to tease us, but sometimes I wished he’d just get on with it.

At last he explained. “I’ve been hired as a carpenter with the Ring Construction Company that’s going to build a new gym at Western State College. The job should last a year or maybe more.” He grinned. “Is everybody happy now?”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “Of course we are.”

Mary had a smug look on her face. “I knew all along that Daddy’s secret was something good.”

Mama smiled at Daddy. “Oh, Steve, that’s wonderful!”

I said I was going to college tomorrow and that’s what I’m going to do.”

“Yes, but…”

“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” Vera grumbled.

“Oh, Vera,” I interrupted. “Just let it go. Be happy Daddy has a job that will last for a long time.”

“Don’t argue, girls,” Mama warned.

Now that Daddy’s secret was revealed, our family disbursed into various parts of the house.

I was happy for him and our family. When he had a steady job, there was less stress.

During World War II, when he worked in the coal mine, his job was secure, but when a strike was called, our family and the entire community worried about how long it would last and if the money would run out before the strike was settled.

Since we moved to Gunnison, Daddy worked steadily as a carpenter during the summer and fall, but when winter snows covered our town, no one built houses and remodeling work was sporadic.

Luckily, Mama always had a job working in a restaurant, store or hotel. Mary worked at the college as a secretary during the week and a waitress on weekends. Vera and I babysat for spending money. With all of us working, we still managed financially even when Daddy was out of work.

Last June, when Mama’s youngest brother, Uncle Billy, told Daddy men were being recruited to work on a secret government project, both of them went to Minnesota to be interviewed.

Uncle Billy was accepted and hired as an electrician, but Daddy wasn’t because of his poor health.

When Mama asked Daddy about what he said in his interview, I thought he’d say he wanted the job to pay off our mortgage or buy a new car. Instead, he took Mama’s hand and looked at her in that special way. “I told the man I wanted to give my wife a honeymoon. We never had one.”

Mama had tears in her eyes. “Oh, Steve, I don’t need a honeymoon.”

“I know,” he said, “but I always wanted to give you one.”

When Daddy didn’t get the job after the interview in Minnesota, he had come home a deflated balloon. Now with the prospect of a year-long job, Daddy was happy, the air was back in the balloon and sailing again.

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Imagination is writing for the theater in your reader’s mind. http://venturegalleries.com/book-reviews/imagination-is-writing-for-the-theater-in-your-readers-mind/ http://venturegalleries.com/book-reviews/imagination-is-writing-for-the-theater-in-your-readers-mind/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 07:40:31 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77197 Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, was one of radio's most popular dramas. THE TEACHER was concerned. No. She was a troubled soul. She did as she had done for years. She sat down in the middle of her classroom floor and told her first... Read more

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Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, was one of radio's most popular dramas.

Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, was one of radio’s most popular dramas.

THE TEACHER was concerned.

No.

She was a troubled soul.

She did as she had done for years. She sat down in the middle of her classroom floor and told her first grade students to sit around her.

Now close your eyes, she said.

They did.

Now tell me what you see, she said.

Silence.

“It was terrible,” she told me. “They didn’t see anything.”

She fears that we are losing one of our greatest assets.

Forget about money.

She fears that newer generations are losing their imagination.

The curtains have been lowered.

The footlights are turned out.

The theater of the mind has closed its doors.

Now children see it or they don’t believe it. For them, imagination exists only in a square box: television, movies, and videos, both games and music. They don’t have to think the story anymore, so they don’t.

Don’t despair, however. There is one great hope left: the written word, and it’s found in books, in novels, and in a storyteller’s tale.

When I was young, and it was a long time ago, our minds were captured by radio dramas. We lay there in the darkness – the only glimmer of light came from the radio dial – and we listened to stories that sometimes kept us awake for the rest of the night.

They were vivid.

They were real.

I never saw Mr. Keen, tracer of lost persons, but I knew what he looked like. The funny thing is, he looked different to everyone else. We put flesh and blood on the characters we heard.

We saw Superman leap tall buildings with a single bounce, we saw the Lone Ranger ride in on a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty hi-yo Silver.

Gangbusters and the FBI in Peace and War kept criminals on the run.

b18f-18ab-4f9e-8e65-3459aef01a12Mr. and Mrs. North solved mysteries, usually the spooky kind, spending a lot of time in dark alleys, stepping over dead bodies, and wise-cracking their way from one murder to the next.

Inner Sanctum had the creaking door, the most frightening sound of all, and each story wrapped us in a web of terror and horror that never really ended when the episode passed on into the night.

The Shadow had the power , the announcer said, to cloud men’s minds so they could not see him. And we heard: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. The Shadow knows,” and we knew he knew. There was never any doubt about it. Those final words each week left us with a simple message: The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay.

We closed our eyes and saw it all as it happened, just as it happened maybe even better than it happened. And why not? Those old radio shows were written by the like of Orson Welles, Arthur Miller, Archibald Macleish, and Irwin Shaw.

The old radio dramas have faded with time, and now books and novels form the last frontier where the theater of the mind raises its curtain again and takes you to places where you’ve never been, introduces you to fascinating people you didn’t know existed, makes you laugh and cry, fall in and out of love, and makes it possible to chase a dream, stumble across someone else’s dream, descend into a nightmare, and condemn you to experience conflict that may be well calculated to keep you in suspense.

hqdefaultWith books and novels, you do the same thing.

You don’t just read the words.

You see the story.

You feel it.

You sense it.

The mind takes over.

And the mind is a lovely and a gruesome, a humorous and a frightening thing.

It allows you to cast the book as you would cast the characters in a movie.

You hear the guns.

And smell the smoke.

You choose the wine.

And taste the kiss.

You are lost.

And found.

And when the final chapter rolls around, you feel as though you have a lost a friend, a lover, a hero, a family.

Your imagination hates to turn loose and let go.

The special effects you create in your mind far surpass anything on the little or the big screen.

That’s why you read a book, see the movie version, and then walk away with the same thought.

The movie’s good.

You preferred the book.

The theater in your own mind told a better story than the director’s mind did.

The author just gave you the words.

Your imagination made the story special.

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A Good Scene for a Crime http://venturegalleries.com/blog/a-good-scene-for-a-crime/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/a-good-scene-for-a-crime/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 06:55:17 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77217 Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art inspired the setting for my latest novel. BEFORE I BEGIN WRITING any of my "To Die For" series novels I know two things--major characters, and location. I always need a good scene for a crime, and usually... Read more

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art inspired the setting for my latest novel.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art inspired the setting for my latest novel.

BEFORE I BEGIN WRITING any of my “To Die For” series novels I know two things–major characters, and location. I always need a good scene for a crime, and usually I have a feeling about the crime(s) that will occur.

All my books, short stories, essays and articles feature special locations in Arkansas. So, how do I choose those locations? Would any special place, tourist attraction, National or State Park be eligible?

They are in the running, but not necessarily chosen. If it’s to become a setting for an entire novel, any location must say S T O R Y to me. I have to feel a story on an initial visit to any potential book setting. I need to understand how both history and current times there could foster a crime suitable to the place, and how people, landscape, and architecture will roll along naturally as my characters fit into their adventures in that area. I must also see that I can do complete justice to architecture and landscape realities at the location. Major locations featured in any of my books are exact, usually down to the last wildflower and doorknob.

51iayJ4fOPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_            That said, I had a strong prejudice toward the major location chosen for  Why? Because a connection to art museums and what they display is second only to an interest in literature and writing in my life. My first job as a teen was at Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When traveling, my husband and I visit art museums as primary destinations. I was close to an art history major in college, though my named major was English and Journalism. So, having a new, acclaimed, and thriving art museum in my Arkansas neighborhood (so to speak) begged for a story. Therefore, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art had to be large part of novel number eight in my series.

It took longer than normal to write this book. Of course I spent hours in the museum, even to the point where, I think, some volunteers and maybe staff members became a little antsy about my presence. (Why was I just standing in a location, not really “doing anything” and why was I asking such peculiar questions? ) I did have kind support and help from staff members who knew about and had approved my “project,” however it’s a very large museum and a lot of people work there.

But, of course, as I stood and thought, I was planning Carrie McCrite’s job and her activities as a volunteer at Crystal Bridges, and I wanted that to be as nearly real as possible. Also, I had decided at the beginning that I did not want any crime to involve the museum’s own staff or collections. It had to be an “outside” job, and that’s why I invented the (not real!, not real!) Port View Museum’s portraits on display in a loan exhibition at Crystal Bridges. I could plan any crime I wanted with Port View, its staff, and its paintings.

So–I did!

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Growing old doesn’t mean you can’t speed up your dreams. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/growing-old-doesnt-mean-you-cant-speed-up-your-dreams/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/growing-old-doesnt-mean-you-cant-speed-up-your-dreams/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 06:45:31 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77193 Rachel Gilbert driving the pace car for NASCAR on her hundredth birthday. THOSE OF US who have entered the latter chapters of our life's history might have noticed that through the years there have been a lot of changes in our lives and most of... Read more

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Rachel Gilbert driving the pace car for NASCAR on her hundredth birthday.

Rachel Gilbert driving the pace car for NASCAR on her hundredth birthday.

THOSE OF US who have entered the latter chapters of our life’s history might have noticed that through the years there have been a lot of changes in our lives and most of them downhill. But I’m going to show you how to reverse the trend, touch a rainbow, put the wind in your pocket, and convince you that the best days are yet to come. Old age doesn’t have to be the end of the line. It can be a bright new beginning, and you may even speed up with your dreams.

I’ve learned that dreams and ideas keep hope alive in my life – and it will work for you.

I’m eighty-one years old but when I’m walking in the woods or working out at the health club, I feel like a young voyager on a wonderful adventure on the journey of life.

I’m sure there are a lot of things you and I would like to do before the last door slams. Some folks – particularly our well-meaning children – would like to put us in a rocking chair on the front porch. But please don’t fall for that trap for it is a sure shortcut to eternity. So remind yourself what is really important – it’s not how anyone else feels about you but how you feel about yourself.

Bill Keith

Bill Keith

What’s your dream? Would you like to climb a mountain, perhaps not Mt. Everest but a formidable one? I would. What about taking karate lessons or buying a motorcycle and riding with the wind in your face? I dream about those kinds of things and invite you to dream along with me as we conquer the issues that we who are old must face every day.

A lot of us older folks are doing amazing things. For instance, Rachel Gilbert, one hundred, is still a racy lady. This great grandmother drove eight laps around the New Hampshire Motor Speedway as part of the celebration of her hundredth birthday. Her friends call her “Speedy” for she loves to watch the NASCAR races every Sunday and has done so for some fifty years.

As she approached her birthday, her daughters bought her tickets to the New Hampshire track. But track officials thought it would be special for her – and for the Speedway fans — to let her drive the Toyota Camry pace car around the track before the race.

She jumped into the driver’s seat but had to have a cushion to see the track. Her daughters said she hadn’t driven in years. After it was over, with a gleam in her eye, she told CBS Boston, “I wish I could have (reached a hundred mph), you know, but I went up to 53 or 54.”

You can wimp out and give up on the game of life. But if you’re a fighter – like Rachel Gilbert – then in the weeks ahead let’s talk about a program for a wonderful, healthy life filled with a lot of excitement. Let’s have some fun, dream some dreams, get some joy and excitement out of this life. I’ve found gettin’ old ain’t for sissies.

***

 Note: Author Bill Keith has written two books on issues facing the elderly: The Divine Connection (with Dr. Donald Whitaker) and Gettin’ Old Ain’t for Sissies. Both are available on Amazon.

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Thursday Sampler: The Final Ride by Linda Yezak http://venturegalleries.com/blog/thursday-sampler-the-final-ride-by-linda-yezak/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/thursday-sampler-the-final-ride-by-linda-yezak/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 06:40:09 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77190 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Thursday's Sampler features an excerpt from The Final Ride, a contemporary Christian romance by Linda... Read more

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Thursday’s Sampler features an excerpt from The Final Ride, a contemporary Christian romance by Linda W. Yezak. The Final Ride is I Cor. 13:7 put into action: “Love . . . bears all thing, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

The Story:

Love does bear all things:

Patricia Talbert’s aunt Adele is on a mission to change her mind from marrying a rodeo man and to get her to move back to New York. Patricia, once her senator father’s social coordinator, now owns a ranch in Texas she’d inherited, and is in love not only with the the ranch, but its foreman, a bull rider/cowboy church preacher/poet.

Aunt Adele has some pretty low-handed tricks up her sleeve, not to mention some strong ammunition, but Patricia puts up with it because “love bears all things,” especially when she can’t convince her aunt to get off her goal.

When Aunt Adele starts picking at Talon to enter the upcoming rodeo, Patricia’s ability to bear all things is stretched to the limit.

Love believes all things:

Patricia believes that Talon Carlson will keep his promise never to ride another bull, especially since the last one sent him to the ER with a concussion and a broken arm. But Talon is getting hit from all sides to break that promise. The coin is tossed between the vicious rumors about why he quit and his own desire to end his career on a better note, but either way, he intends to ride again. He just hasn’t gotten around to telling Patricia that–and she’s still believing he’ll keep his promise.

Love hopes all things:

When Patricia catches wind that Talon’s been offered a huge opportunity to go pro on the circuit, she hopes he won’t do it. She hopes he has the integrity to keep his promise, unlike her late, sorry-excuse-for-a husband, who would’ve been heading for the divorce courts had he not died instead.

Talon hopes Patricia won’t kick him off the ranch as soon as she discovers his decision to ride. He was raised on the ranch, felt close to the people there, had run it himself for quite some time before she showed up in her silver Mercedes. It means everything to him. But she means more. Still the urge to ride and squelch the ugly talk about him overcomes him and he gives in. He hopes Patricia is the woman he thinks she is, someone who won’t run off at the first sign of trouble in a relationship.

Love endures all things (spoiler):

Talon finally tells Patricia his plans and endures her cold shoulder for a while. His patience pays off, however. Though she doesn’t understand his need to ride, she doesn’t run away or kick him off the ranch. She decides to trust him. A big step for her.

She sits in the stands with a clenched stomach and wound-up nerves and watches him in the big event. She endures each ride as he climbs higher in the bracket and finally becomes one of the five finalists for the short-go. Each bull is bigger and ranker than the last, but this final bull is a known brute. They’d seen him ridden before–watched him buck the cowboy off and slam a hoof into his leg, shattering the bone. Patricia is terrified of that bull.

But he’s the one Talon chose to ride in the final round. If Patricia can endure watching this, she can endure anything.

Praise for The Final Ride:

“If you like Texas, romance and cowboys — and who doesn’t?! — then you will love The Final Ride. From the first page to the last, Linda Yezak had me wondering what would happen next. With the fabulous interaction between the characters—sparks did fly!—and the make-you-smile ending, I couldn’t get enough!”
Kathleen Y’Barbo, best-selling author of Firefly Summer, from the Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club series, and Sadie’s Secret, from The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series.

“Not only is Linda Yezak a creative and thoughtful writer, she’s also a gem of a person who brings a combination of spunk and savvy to The Final Ride!”
Laura Drake, author of The Sweet Spot 2014 Rita Award winner

“How great is it to be back in the saddle with everyone’s favorite bull rider and ranch owner? Try Texas-sized great! Yezak delivers again, with warmth, humor, and wonderful Texan charm.”
K.M. Weiland, best-selling author of Structuring Your Novel,
Outlining Your Novel, and the exciting DieselPunk adventure, Storming

“Linda Yezak has done it again in providing hunky cowboys and the struggle to love each other in spite of our differences. The Final Ride is a sweet romance filled with tension and best of all—love.”
Susan M. Baganz, author of Pesto & Potholes, Salsa & Speed Bumps, and Fragile Blessings.I

The Sampler:

Linda Yezak
Linda W. Yezak

Ben Kilgore, owner of the Flying K Ranch, glanced up as Talon approached. “Hey, buddy. Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

“Been busy.” Talon shook his hand. “Imagine you have been too.”

“Yep. Calving time keeps everyone busy.” Ben hooked his thumbs around his belt loops. “Rodeo season starts a week from Saturday. Didn’t see your name among the bull riders.”

“No, sir, I’m not riding anymore. Those days are done.”

Ben’s sandy brows arched slightly. “Never thought I’d hear that from you. Burnt Biscuit rattle ya that much last year?”

“You raise them tough, no doubt about that, but that’s not why–”

“Yeah, I heard you ain’t ridin’ no more.” Colton Royder strutted to them, then matched his boss’s stance–thumbs hooked in belt loops, legs spread shoulder-width apart–but instead of Ben’s friendly grin, Colton’s lips held a sneer. He’d never bested Talon in the arena, and apparently held a grudge because of it. “Reckon ol’ Biscuit put the fear of God in ya.”

Talon tipped his hat back. “He was rough, but like I was sayin’–”

“You was gonna tell us how you got a woman now to keep you off the dirt. Mighty convenient. You ain’t ridin’ because yer scared, but you got yourself a woman to blame it on.”

Talon squeezed the push-bar on the basket as if he could snap it off the cart and wrap it around Colton’s pock-marked neck, but he kept his mouth shut. No point answering a fool in his folly.

“Ever’one knows it.” The boy didn’t know when to shut up. “Soon’s we saw your name weren’t on the list, we had you figured.”

“That’s enough,” Ben growled and shot a finger toward the other side of the store. “You go on and get that feeder we came in for. I’ll be with you in a minute.”

Colton eyed Talon head to toe before strutting off. His sneer spoke louder than his words and dug deeper under the skin.

“Don’t mind him. He’s a blow-hard, but he’s a good hand,” Ben said. “Miss Pat is a fine woman. There’s nothing wrong with wantin’ to stay healthy for her. But I sure wish you’d reconsider.”

Talon couldn’t fit a single syllable through his clenched teeth, so he settled for a nod, then wheeled his cart to the checkout. He’d always considered Colton to be nothing more than a gnat buzzing his face. Never fell for his taunts, steered clear of him when he could. He’d never had trouble with his brother, Cody, or anyone else on Ben’s ranch, but something between him and Colton just didn’t mix. And the fact the kid could never outscore Talon in the arena didn’t help.

Professional jealousy may have motivated Colton to be such a jerk, but did the other men really consider Talon a coward? He knew every rider on the local circuit. More importantly, every rider knew him. Surely they knew better.

Didn’t they?

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Want to find the Great American Hero? Look in the mirror. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/want-to-find-the-great-american-hero-look-in-the-mirror/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/want-to-find-the-great-american-hero-look-in-the-mirror/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 07:40:14 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77176 Karen Silkwood led a brave fight and died a suspicious death. YOU PROBABLY NEVER THOUGHT you were a hero. You’re simply an author, you say. That’s all. You’ve just happened to cast your lot in life with eBooks and the digital... Read more

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Karen Silkwood led a brave fight and died a suspicious death.

Karen Silkwood led a brave fight and died a suspicious death.

YOU PROBABLY NEVER THOUGHT you were a hero.

You’re simply an author, you say.

That’s all.

You’ve just happened to cast your lot in life with eBooks and the digital revolution, and you say it’s hard to be a success.

There’s nothing heroic about it.

On some days, it seems that you merely throwing words against the wall to see if any of them stick, and some of them don’t, and the wall throws some of them back in your face.

Frustration sets in.

Don’t fret.

Frustration knocks on all of our doors.

For a writer, it always has.

 

Just remember one important fact.

Since the beginning of time, the world and all of humanity needs storytellers.

You just happen to be a storyteller.

And you have a story to tell.

All you need is the Great American Hero.

You know him.

Or her.

The Great American Hero has long been the foundation of fiction, nonfiction, film, legends, and life.

Gary Cooper in High Noon

Gary Cooper in High Noon

The Great American Hero has always been the one who stood strong when he had no chance of winning, who went to war against overwhelming odds, who defied those odds, who refused to bend, refused to back down, refused to quit.

There was Gary Cooper in High Noon.

He walked out into the street alone.

There was no one to help him.

But he was willing to exchange his life for the sake of law and order.

There was Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird.

He walked into the courtroom alone.

There was no one to help him, but many willing to condemn him.

He was, however, determined to stand tall for a cause he believed in and defend a man who had no chance of ever being judged innocent.

There was The Killing of Karen Silkwood.

Karen led the investigation into her company alone.

There were few who believed her and fewer willing to back her.

But she was willing to risk it all in order to blow the whistle on faulty plutonium fuel rods that her firm was manufacturing and protect other workers from becoming contaminated by deadly radiation.

Her death was suspicious.

It remains a mystery.

She is buried in my hometown of Kilgore.

I don’t know if her body was wracked with radiation or not.

But I do know that no grass grows on her grave.

Audie Murphy, war hero

Audie Murphy, war hero

There was Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back.

He charged enemy lines alone.

There was no one to help him. The other troops were dug in and hanging on for dear life.

But he was willing to defy death itself in order to save his unit on a bloodstained battlefield in a foreign land so far from home.

One alone.

One against all odds.

So who are the Great American Heroes of today?

Look in the mirror sometime.

The Great American Heroes are the independent authors, and there are legions of them.

They battle the fickle and unpredictable publishing business alone.

Only the fortunate few find someone to help them.

But they are willing to forsake any semblance of a normal, sensible life and invest their time and their talent, their hopes and their dreams, their last ounce of sanity in novels they pray someone will buy and someone will want to read.

Frustrations come.

But like a bellyache, it passes.

Indie writers keep getting knocked down.

They keep getting back up.

They don’t give up.

They don’t quit.

They can’t.

There is another story to be told, and the Great American Heroes can’t wait to tell it.

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Isn’t Christmas in July a cool idea? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/isnt-christmas-in-july-a-cool-idea/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/isnt-christmas-in-july-a-cool-idea/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 06:55:37 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77168 CHRISTMAS in July. Cool idea for these sizzling summer days. We started observing Christmas in July many hot summers ago. Started like this: We collect several items and we search for some of them on the Goodwill online auction... Read more

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merry-christmas-greeting-cards

CHRISTMAS in July.

Cool idea for these sizzling summer days.

We started observing Christmas in July many hot summers ago.

Started like this:

We collect several items and we search for some of them on the Goodwill online auction site.

One day we were electronically rambling around on the site and came across an offer for Christmas cards.

Must have been too hot to think of Christmas; no one had bid.

So we did.

Our bid not only was the highest bid but it also was the onliest bid.

Cost of the cards was so low we think maybe they were paying us to take the cards off Goodwill’s hands.

The shipping charge was much higher than the cost of the cards.

Roger Summers

Roger Summers

Next thing you know, the guy in the brown truck unloaded a whole front porch full of Christmas cards at our house.

We have enough Christmas cards for all of the Christmases to come.

So we started sending out Merry Christmas in July cards.

You know, beat the December rush.

Got some quizzical responses.

Like maybe some of the recipients thought the summer heat had cooked our brain.

But, the way we figured it, if businesses can have Christmases in July sales and such, then why can’t we personally observe Christmas in July?

So, to this day, we have the postal worker more or less become our Santa and deliver our Christmas cards in July.

But our Goodwill card delivery is just one of our three-pronged Christmas in July approaches.

The second approach also started years ago when we noticed an abundance of Christmas decorative items offered at estate sales, which we also go to in search of collectibles.

Christmas decorative items for cents on the dollar. One nice estate sale lady even beseeched us to take all of her Christmas items. For free. Take them, please. Get them out of her sight. So we did.

Bargain hunter that we are, we began to collect them.

Until our house runneth over.

At Christmas, we placed some of the more colorful and elaborate items atop a large storage chest.

After each Christmas, we keep saying we will take them down and store them until the next Christmas.

But we don’t.

So, each July, we have our Christmas in July display already in place. As well as all of the other months, of course.

Our third way of observing Christmas in July?

A CD of Christmas music at the ready in the family vehicle.

It contains a baker’s dozen holiday favorites, from Joy to the World to The First Noel.

So while we are driving along on these thermal July days and ol’ sol is doing its best to cook and bake and broil and melt us and our car, we can at least mentally cool off to the accompaniment of relaxing instrumental renditions of our Christmas music favorites.

In the parlance of the younger folk:

Cool, man, cool.

So, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good July.

Put the air conditioner on extremely cold, sit back and warm to the Christmas in July moment.

And have a cool, cool Yule, y’all.

Roger Summers is a journalist, essayist and author of Heart Songs From A Washboard Road, a pretty cool Christmas gift any time of year, especially July..

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A magical time in a magical place http://venturegalleries.com/blog/a-magical-time-in-a-magical-place/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/a-magical-time-in-a-magical-place/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 06:50:24 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77171 The magical charm of Celebration, Florida. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford Tall, slate gray, long-neck, long-legged sandhill cranes stood two feet above our car. They strolled the sidewalk just outside our front door feasting on hundreds of tiny... Read more

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The magical charm of Celebration, Florida. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

The magical charm of Celebration, Florida. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

Tall, slate gray, long-neck, long-legged sandhill cranes stood two feet above our car. They strolled the sidewalk just outside our front door feasting on hundreds of tiny geckos. We watched them throw their crimson crowned heads up and vocalize their mating calls in an extended litany of song. Sometimes, we heard this instant continual defensive mode of a unique haunting bugling alarms when they encountered a dog walking through the canine friendly neighborhood. It was a magical time in a magical place.

The property was originally used as a place to relocate alligators found in Disney World, so seeing one was not unusual for native Floridians. Unaccustomed to living with the animal, I was startled to see what I described as a five foot alligator basking in the sun by a pond at the golf course where my family had invaded the territory the day before. I stood corrected. It was only three feet long. Otherwise, the caretakers would have moved it to another area.

Contrary to what some may believe, snow does fall in the sunshine state. During the nightly December tradition, we watched snow fall every hour on the hour on Market Street. Charles Dickens carolers strolled the white streets. We experienced romantic horse drawn carriage rides. Photos with Santa provided magical memories.

Only Walt Disney could make snow fall in Florida every December. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

Only Walt Disney could make snow fall in Florida every December. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

Designed with a Caribbean flavor and brightly colored stucco buildings, the storybook atmosphere of downtown Celebration was enchanting. While dining on fish tacos outdoors at our favorite restaurant, Market Street Cafe, one of the many big grackles perched in trees provided entertainment for us. He flew down, picked up a packet of sugar with its beak, shook his head, and sugar scattered everywhere. Soon after that, sugar was available in glass containers only.

The most enjoyable part of working for B.A.S.S./ESPN/ABC/ Disney was sharing our good fortune with family and friends. The signature of Mickey Mouse on paychecks was a wonderful benefit of being a cast member. Our silver passes allowed us and three others free daily admission into Disney World for three years.

While approaching retirement, we considered remaining in Florida; however, the final decision included living near our children and grandchildren. Twenty years earlier, I had vowed that I would never return to the land of wide open spaces, cactus, armadillos, scorpions, tarantulas, and rattlesnakes …Texas.

That is another story.

And then we said goodbye to the palm trees and hello to the cactus. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

And then we said goodbye to the palm trees and hello to the cactus. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

 

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Wednesday Sampler: Grumpies on Board by Carol E. Wyer http://venturegalleries.com/blog/wednesday-sampler-grumpies-on-board-by-carol-e-wyer/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/wednesday-sampler-grumpies-on-board-by-carol-e-wyer/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 06:40:20 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=77164 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Wednesday's Sampler features an excerpt from Grumpies on Board, a humorous vacation guide by Carol E.... Read more

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JPEGFINALGOBFRONT COVER

In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Wednesday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Grumpies on Board, a humorous vacation guide by Carol E. Wyer.

The Story

A book like no other, with humorous suggestions for extreme active ageing trips and why grumpies should not go snuffle trunting. Fancy a holiday with a difference? Then pack your bags and get ready for some extreme active ageing.

Us ‘older’ folk are heading away from the traditional hotel holiday and at last, having fun! This humorous guide, compiled by Mr and Mrs Grumpy, offers alternatives to the usual holiday-from sensible to outrageous-to suit every grumpy guts. Learn about Arctic boot camps, ayurvedic retreats, drumming holidays, ice blokarting, motoring experiences, skijorking, tubing, Vespa excursions, voodoo trips and discover why Mr Grumpy will never go truffle hunting again.

With over three hundred suggestions of how to get the best out of your vacation and live life to the maximum, this book aims to inspire and entertain. Read it and put some choices on your list. After all, you only live once! Finalist for People’s Book Prize 2016

From Carol Wyer:

Are you a grumpy guts who hates going on holiday and sharing your space with noisy families? Are you looking for somewhere different where you can try out new activities, or just somewhere away from the madding crowds where you and your other half can relax? Look no further. I have the answers here along with many suggestions—some rather surprising–to ensure you both, however grumpy you may be, cherish your time away.

We “older folk” are becoming more demanding about our holiday destinations. No longer satisfied with the usual haunts, we are roaming further afield. We are following in the footsteps of our children who took off on gap years in their late teens to exotic destinations we had never before considered visiting.

So, what sort of holidays are there out there? Far more than you might have considered. Pack your bags and get ready for some Extreme Active Aging? Then keep reading, after all, YOLO.

Mr Grumpy has decided to rate some of the trips for you. They are only his opinion so do not be completely swayed by them. He is after all, a very grumpy grump.

Rating Scores:

5 grumpy faces – no way would he go on this holiday.

4 grumpy faces – not keen to go on this holiday.

3 grumpy faces – might go at a push.

2 grumpy faces – this is a possible.

1 grumpy face –   he would give it a go.

No grumpy faces – good trip

One smiley face – recommended.

 The Sampler

Carol Wyer

Carol Wyer

 As soon as the stewardess serves the coffee, the airliner encounters turbulence.

Davis’s Explanation of Roger’s Law: Serving coffee on aircraft causes turbulence.

A is for airports, abseiling, adults only, adventure holidays, airplanes, alternative holidays, Arctic boot camp, art, Ayurvedic holidays.

A large number of journeys begin at the airport, but it is a place hated by most grumble-guts. My other half becomes even grumpier than usual the second we enter an airport. I put this down to one of several factors: the long queues at check in; the fact that almost every flight we take departs at some silly hour, requiring us to be there, baggy-eyed, at three o’clock in the morning; the drag through security where one of us will inevitably set off the alarm bells on the metal detector, even when dressed in only pants and socks; or the prospect of being confined in an area where all there is to do is shop, eat, drink, and spend. Whatever the reason, we both sink into a gloom before we even board the aircraft.

To make matters worse, there is the prospect of the flight ahead to add to your woes. Regardless of what time you check in, you will discover that the person checking you and your grumpy other half onto the flight has assigned the seats in front or behind yours to a family with young children. At best, you will get a toddler who kicks your seat all the way to your destination, or at worst, you will get the screaming baby who howls down your ear until the flight begins to descend, when the child will finally fall into a deep sleep.

Whatever happens, do not catch the eye of the child who peers at you from the seat in front. Last month, my husband made that mistake. The child insisted on standing on his seat and staring at us. Children have a sixth sense when it comes to grumpy old people like me and my husband. They are like cats who know you are allergic to them, yet insist on purring around your feet or launching themselves into your lap while you sneeze uncontrollably.

This child was no exception. I tried to warn my husband: You should never engage in face-pulling or chat with them. They will find you even more intriguing. My husband made the mistake of snarling. The child loved that. The toddler then insisted on popping up and pulling faces at us throughout the flight—all four hours and thirty-seven minutes of it.

Do not get me wrong; I like children. I am just less tolerant of them than I used to be, especially when I want some quiet time. My advice is to ignore them and whatever you do, do not smile or growl at them.

Be prepared for the flight. Take earplugs to drown out noise or earbuds so you can listen to music. Buy your other half two miniature bottles of whisky as soon as the trolley appears to ensure they fall into a slumber, or grit your teeth tightly and distract him or her with the following trivia facts:

 You can fit 45 mid-size cars on only one wing of a Boeing 747-400.

  • There are approximately 200,000 flights every day around the world.
  • You can fit six million golf balls inside a Boeing 757 freighter.
  • One windshield or window frame of the Boeing 747-400’s cockpit costs as much as a BMW. (Not sure which model of BMW they mean. I expect they don’t mean the second-hand one for sale near our house. It has done 100,000 miles, is several shades of faded red and is a bargain at £700.)
  • When Concorde used to fly over the Middle East on the early Bahrain routes, there were complaints that the sonic booms upset the camels and ruined their sex lives. (I am curious as to how the locals discovered this fact.)
  • Your tea on an aeroplane will taste funny because proper tea is made with water that has been heated to 100 degrees centigrade — the temperature at which it boils on the ground. Unfortunately, in the reduced-pressure environment of an aircraft cabin, the boiling point of water is lowered to around 90 degrees centigrade, which means that the brewing process is unsatisfactory. Good reason to have a bottle of wine instead.
  • The world’s oldest airline is KLM, established in 1919. Its first flight between Amsterdam and London took place on 17th May, 1920.
  • A man once wore seventy items of clothing in a Chinese airport to avoid the baggage charge. No, it was not a Ryanair flight.
  • British Airways lost the luggage of an average nine passengers on every jumbo jet flight in the first half of 2008, according to a study by the Association of European Airlines.
  • The wingspan of the A380 is longer than the aircraft itself. Wingspan: 79.75 metres. Length: 72.72 metres.
  • British Airways was once the world’s largest purchaser of champagne, with passengers drinking a minimum of 90,000 cases every year. (I wonder if they purchased all this champagne by selling the contents of the suitcases they lost in 2008.)
  • It took him two years, but Michael Lotito, a French entertainer, ate a Cessna 150. Lotito deliberately ate indigestible objects, such as bicycles, beds, shopping carts, chandeliers, a coffin, and the aforementioned Cessna 150, among other things. He said these things were not a problem, but bananas and hard-boiled eggs gave him indigestion.

Have you buckled up? Time to head off to your chosen destination.

“As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”

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