The undertow of the Great Depression becomes poignantly personal as we experience the travails of Leora and Clabe Wilson, a displaced Iowa farm family. Gritty determination fuels this family’s journey of loss and hope, a reflection of what many American families endured during those challenging times.
In this true story the Wilsons slowly slide into unemployment and poverty. Leora must find ways to keep her dreams alive while making a haven for her flock of seven children in one run-down house after another.
My Thoughts …
Author Joy Neal Kidney has done it again.
After enjoying her first book, Leora’s Letters, I ordered a signed copy from the author when Leora’s Dexter Stories was released. I was not disappointed.
In this amazing second book, Author Joy Neal Kidney shares the struggles, trials, and heartbreaks her family experienced during the Great Depression while living in rural small-town Iowa. Leora’s Dexter Stories is a touching and enlightening story of family, struggle, pain, perseverance, and success.
Joy is the oldest granddaughter of Leora Wilson, who in this true story, faces the daily challenges of keeping a roof over her family’s head, putting food on the table, dealing with tragic losses, and ensuring her seven children’s dreams of success remain in focus. Along with her husband, Clabe, Leora Wilson exemplify what so many American families endured during this difficult period in American history.
However, it was not all gloom and despair. There were also times of fellowship, caring friends and family; and yes, moments of joy. Family trips to the fair, children’s school sports activities and other accomplishments are recounted, as well as moments of humor and laughter (I loved Rusty the Squirrel). Leora’s Dexter Stories is a book that will touch your heart.
While not a collection of short stories, each chapter is short enough and so well crafted, the reader can easily read a them one at a time, and return later to continue with no trouble picking up where they left off. Because of vacation and a crisis at work, this is exactly how I read this book. However, at the same time, it is a book you will not want to put down.
I highly recommend this wonderful book. It is my opinion that this book should be required reading in America’s school systems. I can’t help but think that learning and remembering a bit of what the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of this current generation endured and sacrificed to provide them with the freedoms they take for granted, and a country they often misunderstand, would be a good thing.
About the Author
Joy Neal Kidney, is the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, and is the author of Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss For an Iowa Family During World War II. She is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa and married to a Vietnam War Air Force veteran. Joy lives in central Iowa and is a regular storyteller for “Our American Stories.”
This journey began some time ago, when a reader of Montagnard who absolutely loved the story, had one criticism to make.
If I had one criticism (and I hate to criticize) it would be the cover. And please don’t take this the wrong way but I wouldn’t buy this book at the bookstore because of the cover. Which is a shame because I would have bypassed a great read!
The reason I bought your book is because I follow your blog and I like to support bloggers.
Honestly, based on the cover I expected to tolerate the book, but… I LOVED it (I have already recommended it to two of my friends).
While I can see how there is a hint of what the book is about by the cover it just doesn’t quite convey properly. To me the cover says ‘political non-fiction’ — it doesn’t say ‘intriguing, captivating, intense action, feel good awesomeness’ which is exactly what your book is.
This reader’s comment led to a discussion with my editor and a plan to redo the covers of both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard before the release of the third book, Reciprocity.
The new cover for Serpents Underfoot was completed and I was very pleased with its new cover. You can click here to view that cover on Amazon.com.
Then it became time to work on the new cover for Montagnard. My editor said the covers should identify the books as being written by me and also that they are part of a series. This is part of establishing your “brand.”
When I got the proof for the new cover of Montagnard, I was a bit nervous. It seemed like a tall order, and I had selected the images to use to create the cover. What if I had chosen bad images, or a bad color scheme? Finally, I opened the file.
All I could say was, “Wow!” I could not believe it. My cover designer, Angie, had done an absolutely brilliant job. She was waiting for my “suggested edits.” My response was … don’t change a thing!
I shared the cover proof with several readers I know, family members, friends, etc. The reaction was the same everywhere! I heard two things repeatedly.
I absolutely love it!
That cover is “BAD ASS!”
One reader commented, “Finally, a cover that does justice to the story inside.”
So, without further ado … here is the new cover for Montagnard!
The new cover is up for the Kindle version, and will soon be ready for the paperback and hardcover versions. Check out the kindle version here!
Check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page …
As my old pal, Yosemite Sam, would say, “Great Horny Toads!”
Not only did Serpents Underfoot get a great review from Literary Titan, it also earned the Gold Book Award for May 2021! How about that! I was not expecting that and I am honored by the award.
And also, a bit humbled. It sets the bar even higher for the third book in this series, titled Reciprocity. But, I am hard at work, making sure that each book I publish is just a little bit better than the previous book. I am not sure I will always achieve that goal, but I can promise my readers that I will always try.
History is often where you find it, sometimes even in old rocking chairs!
The story of this rocking chair essentially begins with the Barringer family for whom Barringer Road in Ilion, NY is named. The Barringers were one of Ilion’s wealthier families and lived in a mansion in the village of Ilion. They also owned a dairy farm out on Barringer Road. I assume the road was named Barringer Road because of the farm. However, the Barringers were not farmers, so they hired a family to live on the farm and work it. My great grandparents, Irving and Kathryn Klippel, worked that farm for years.
In fact, during the depression, my great-grandfather, Irving Klippel, would save the butter milk left over from the process of making butter, and try to deliver it for free to poorer families in Ilion with young children. While some would thankfully accept it, others would not. Since it was essentially a by-product and was often fed to pigs, many were scared to give it to their children, which was too bad.
My grandfather, Erwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner, helped work the farm for many years. After my grandfather married Eileen Gardinier, they moved into a tiny house farther down Barringer Rd, and he eventually went to work for Remington Arms because he wanted a more steady paycheck to support his family than working the farm provided.
My great grandmother, Kathryn Klippel, received several pieces of furniture from the Barringers including a very nice hand-carved oak bed and dresser which my brother, Dan, has in a guest bedroom to this day (The few times I have slept in it over the years, I had to sleep diagonally across it, because, back in the day, people were a lot shorter. Another piece of furniture given to Kathryn Klippel by the Barringers was this old Queen Anne rocking chair.
A historic home
The house my Grandparents moved into on Barringer Rd was built in the 1700s, and survived the Revolutionary War. It was tiny but we still had many great family gatherings there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all got quite adept at maneuvering through tight, crowded areas. I remember fighting for a spot on the couch to watch football games with my grandfather. This was when I became a Vikings fan … it was the Fran Tarkington era!
This is a relatively current picture of the house, but it hasn’t changed much. My Grandfather and his brother, Great Uncle Wagner, rebuilt the stone fireplace with stones they hauled back from the Ilion Gorge. And back then, most of the houses currently found on Barringer Rd were not there. When my mother was a little girl and growing up there, it was surrounded by woods, fields, and a pond they would skate on on the winter when it froze over. When I came along and got old enough, we used to ride snowmobiles in the fields behind the house.
You can’t tell because of the tree, but the only real difference in the house today, is that there was once an old wooden “fan” pattern decoration over the front door that also dated back to the American Revolution. It was taken down by the family who purchased this house from my grandparents. I am sure by then it was pretty-well rotted and needed to come down. It is still a bit sad.
The Old Rocker
My mother always told me that my Aunt Carol once rocked me to sleep in this rocker when I was a baby. I guess Aunt Carol would have been in her teens at the time.
Years later, I held my very first baby in my arms, sitting in that very same rocking chair. I was maybe 10-or-12-years old at the time, and the baby was Aunt Carol’s daughter; my cousin Kristine.
This picture was taken in my grandparents house on Barringer Rd. I still remember the old rocking chair with this fabric. Over the years, it has been reupholstered a few times. I seem to remember a blue and gold pattern, maybe a red velvet, and the floral print it currently has.
The foot stool doesn’t match the rocking chair. I vaguely remember a foot stool that did go with the rocking chair, but I have no idea what became of it. The foot stool that is currently used with the rocking chair was made by my great Grandfather Gilbert, my father’s grandfather. But, that is a story for another day.
So, here you go, Joy. Just for you. One more picture of the rocking chair. And this time, I am smiling!
I read once that a karate kata could be called a dance of death
Now, I am not talking about some of the highly sensational “stuff” that has come out over the years. There are many books out there by such prolific “martial arts” writers as Ashida Kim talking about Count Dante and others, claiming that The Dance of Death is the most deadly collection of “poison hand” techniques known to man. There are also several “martial arts” genre movies that have been released using versions of the phrase “Dance of Death” in their titles. All I am going to say about that martial arts “pulp fiction” is, buyer beware.
But in general, I think you could consider a kata to be a form of dance. It is a series of movements combining concepts such footwork and stances, proper posture, presence, balance, flow, relaxation, dynamic tension, etc. They have a certain rhythm which can vary as skill grows or even depending on what the practitioner is thinking technique-wise. And, you could easily receive a description such as this from a karate instructor – or a ballroom dance instructor.
Ballroom Dancing and Karate-do
Ballroom dance and karate both require years of practice to achieve real skill. Both require the study of and understanding of body mechanics, timing, breathing, distance, technique, and posture.
Both require a great deal of time spent practicing basic techniques, simple patterns, and advanced choreographed movements, the mastery of which later allows the skilled practitioner to forget the patterns and to allow his own expression of technique or dance to flow.
The similarities do not end there!
For both karate and ballroom dancing, a good instructor can make all the difference in the world. I first started out learning basic steps from instructors that were essentially a few lessons ahead of me. Having studied karate with a few excellent instructors, I soon became bored with this level of teaching. I wanted more.
Then I met Mark and Rhonda Becker at Champion Ballroom in Knoxville. This husband and wife team are both great instructors. They did not teach steps – they taught you the art of ballroom dancing.
That was when the similarities between karate-do and ballroom dancing began to really show.
So, are karate kata really a dance of death?
Well, if you consider that a traditional karate kata has so much in common with a dance, and then take into consideration what a kata contains, I would say the answer is – yes.
What is a kata? It essentially is a collection of effective and proven combat techniques distilled down to their purest form. Like a dance, they require balance, breath control, timing, focus, proper body mechanics, and flow.
They also require understanding. Many of the techniques, while they certainly can be modified, if executed to their fullest potential, have disastrous effects on the human body. Many can, indeed, be fatal.
So, from that perspective, I guess they could be called, “The Dance of Death.” But they are so much more than that.
Preforming kata is a great form of exercise. And depending on how you work them, you can achieve a great variety of results. You can blast through them as a good cardio workout, or you can perform them slowly to work on balance and strength. You can work on timing your breathing to techniques or utilize dynamic tension. Then kata can become moving meditation and help you improve your focus, or relax and reduce stress.
Working on kata will improve your ballroom dancing – and working on ballroom dancing will improve your kata.
It’s almost like a Yin Yang relationship, isn’t it?
Check out my books on my Amazon Author’s Page …
There are several to choose from, all with great reviews.
Below are the three new covers under consideration for my novel, Serpents Underfoot. I am always interested in what readers, supporters, and fans have to say about my work. It helps me improve as an author and keeps me motivated to work hard and keep my readers happy!
The question I am asking is not so much … which one do you like. It is more … which one piques your interest more or which one are you more inclined to buy?
Cover Design 1: This layout features a Navy SEAL at the top, balanced by the Vietnamese woman and Ajax below. The cover is filled with a subtle snakeskin texture.
Cover Design 2: This layout is a more traditional novel approach, with a large condensed title. The background is a subtle American flag.
Cover Design 3: This layout features JD Cordell and Ajax standing in front of the White House. There is a subtle snakeskin texture over the whole cover.
Okay, you’ve seen the covers! So, what do you think?
I am hard at work on the third installment in the JD Cordell Action series, called Reciprocity, which will take on human trafficking. And in this story, some of the action occurs in the Philippine Islands. While still in the development stages, JD Cordell will travel to the Philippines, where he and a few associates will mete out some well-deserved justice to a gangland cartel trafficking girls between Asia, Mexico, and the US. But enough of that, I don’t want to give too much away.
My new Filipino fan base …
The interesting thing is that I just received a 5-Star review for Montagnard from a writer, blogger, and editor, based, you guessed it … in the Philippines. I think that is pretty cool!
Herzie Santos, a.k.a. SheySaints, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has worked for Coca Cola Bottlers, Goldprint Publishing House, AXA Financial, and Sutherland Global Services. Her professional experiences in several different work industries have provided her with a great deal of expertise, including professional writing skills. She has written and published poems, short stories, book and movie reviews, essays, and several articles. She’s also a content writer, book reviewer, proofreader, and fiction writer.
Here are a few comments from her review …
I miss stories like this. It gives me this unexplainable nostalgic feeling. I rarely read anything like this anymore and I’m glad I stumbled upon this great book.
It was a well-written action-packed thriller … I highly recommend this book to readers who love heroic military and dog stories.
It makes me smile! I may not yet be a renowned author, but I am definitely international. Montagnard has been read and/or reviewed in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and now … the Philippines!
Click the button below to order your copy of this award-wing action-thriller.
According to Ret. U.S.M.C. MSgt. Arcenio J Advincula, the Flesheater is the ultimate combat fighting knife, a masterful blend of design and craftsmanship that is a cut above, straight, and to the point. Jim Hammond, a world-class custom knifemaker, worked with AJ Advincula to develop this unique bladed weapon.
I first encountered the Flesheater after attending an Isshin-ryu Karate Seminar given by Sensei Advincula in Raleigh, NC, a few years ago. I have attended several seminars given by Sensei Advincula over the years, and like Sensei Sherman Harrill, he is the real deal.
At the seminar, I met Richard Rosenthal. an Isshin-ryu Karate practitioner like myself, who also trained in Sensei Advincula’s Mano Y Lago Escrima. I began attending Sensei Rosenthal’s escrima classes and thoroughly enjoyed its practicality and compatibility with Isshin-ryu Karate.
The origins of the Flesheater
The Flesheater originated when Master Chief Petty Officer Don Griffiths, who spearheaded the design development research for the SEALTAC™ Series with USN Special Warfare (SEAL) personnel in 1981, asked his martial arts instructor, “What would you look for in a fighting knife, not a combat knife, but a pure fighting knife?”
During a later visit to the shop where the first two prototypes were being developed, Don accidentally experiencing the edge of the first prototype. Griffiths proclaimed, “That knife’s a real flesh-eater!” The name stuck.
The Flesheater design is based primarily upon Largo-Mano Escrima and Isshin-Ryu Karate. Advincula is a first-generation student of the founder of Isshin-Ryu Karate, Tatsuo Shimabuku. He began studying escrima and knife fighting in 1946 at age 8 with two Filipino Scouts and close combat instructors, Pete Rado and Tony Navarro.
The Flesheater’s role in Montagnard.
In Montagnard, Carlos Vivas, a US Navy SEAL and teammate of the main character, JD Cordell, is a skilled practitioner of escrima. In the fictional story, Vivas’ father served with AJ Advincula in the US Marines as a drill instructor and trained in Mano Y Lago Escrima. Carlos, who left Puerto Rico to enlist in the US Navy, carries on the tradition.
As the friendship between Carlos and JD grows, Carlos presents JD with a Jim Hammond-made Flesheater at JD’s retirement party. The knife appears throughout the story and plays a key role in the climatic ending.
For more information about the Flesheater’s design, characteristics, and versatility, click the link or image above to visit Jim Hammond’s website.
My Flesheater – a reliable and valuable companion!
I have to admit, I did have a new custom leather sheath made. I ordered my Flesheater from Columbia River Knife and Tool and found the thermoplastic sheath they included quite impractical for my purposes.
Also, CRKT no longer carries these knives. You have to order them directly from Jim Hammond now. I suspect it is because there are designed specifically for combat and are probably not something the typical outdoor person might carry. It is also not very practical for cleaning your fingernails.
Be sure to check out my books by clicking here! They do get great reviews!
A gripping alternative history by Lee and Vista Boyland
Alternative history is fiction based on the assumption one or more historical events happened differently. For example, what if President Lincoln had not been assassinated, how would Lincoln’s survival have affected America?
Behold, an Ashen Horse is the second novel of a five book (so far) series based upon three alternate historical events: (1) the Soviet Union attempted to copy both of the Atomic Bombs developed by the Manhattan Project; (2) al-Qaeda obtained several atomic devices; and (3) President Bush was not reelected in 2004.
Islamists believe they have to convert the world to Islam ruled by Shariah Law and they will use any weapon available to kill infidels. Now they have used nuclear devices to destroy five U.S. cities. George Alexander, the secretary of Homeland Security is the only surviving senior government official and it is up to him to save the nation. Once again America is blessed by having right man for the job. Alexander forms a working government, pulls the nation together, deals with hostile nations, domestic jihads, unhappy progressive-liberals, and the new Caliphate before seeking retribution from those responsible.
Alexander is statesman president who puts America’s need first. Much of this story is found in today’s news.
After this novel was released in 2007, the authors received several emails in 2008 asking if Donald Trump was President Alexander? We answered maybe. Now readers can answer the question for themselves.
Behold, an Ashen Horse is a frighteningly realistic story of events after a nuclear 9/11.
My thoughts …
This is the second book in a series by this author. I have actually not read the first book, titled Rings of Allah, but I still enjoyed this one immensely. I did read Revolution 2016 by this author and really liked it as well.
In this story, President George Alexander, the Secretary of Homeland Security in the previous installment, must decide how to defend the United States and get the government operational again after a nuclear attack takes out 5 major U.S. cities, the President, his cabinet, and the Congress.
The new president stops apologizing for America and throws political correctness right out the window as he fights to hold the nation together and identify those responsible for the horrific attack. And when he lets loose the dogs of war, the new president puts the entire world on notice.
I was struck by how well the authors blend this narrative into current events and the internal strife currently dividing our nation, making the possibilities this alternative history present hit just a little to close for comfort.
Lee Boyland is a veteran and an accomplished writer with extensive knowledge of military weapons, the armed forces, the structure of the American government. He is quite knowledgeable about Islam. I have read several books on Islam as well as the Koran. While this is clearly an alternative history, you only need to read an honest English language version of the Koran to confirm the plausible reality of Boyland’s narrative.
I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy this kind of fiction.
Last night was another Veteran Referring Veterans Happy Hour hosted by Justin, our peerless leader! I really have been getting a lot from these happy hour discussions. But to be honest, last night, I nearly skipped the session because of the topic. The presentation would be from a veteran-owned CBD company, and I simply was not a fan of what I considered the whole CBD fad.
But finally deciding not to skip the happy hour, I grabbed a cold one and joined the Zoom session. And now, I have to man-up and admit I was wrong in my initial judgment. This became a prime example of why “keeping an open mind” can be such a great concept.
About CBD Path
CBD Path is a company founded by Mike and Claudia Donnelly. Mike served his country as a Navy SEAL for nearly a decade. As you can imagine, Mike understands full well what it means to put a lot of extremely rigorous mileage on your body, as well as the benefit of maintaining your health, strength, and wellbeing.
Both Mike and Claudia are amazing people, and I was immediately struck by the sincerity and honesty of their presentation. Mike joked that Claudia was the brains of the outfit, and he was the brawn. Mike had already started several businesses, being a self-described serial entrepreneur. He is also very active, giving back to the veteran community by serving as a board member for the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum and the Trident House. Mike also volunteers throughout the year in fundraising events across the country to raise money for the families of fallen SEALs. When he isn’t working or volunteering, Mike works out, extremely committed to a lifestyle of health, fitness, and training.
Mike and Claudia had seen first-hand the effects of prolonged combat duty on their friends, fellow SEALs, and other veterans. These effects included PTSD, anxiety, depression, amputated limbs, burns, insomnia, among others. Over time they began to also hear about some of their friends and other veterans having some success alleviating their symptoms with CBD products.
Claudia began to do some serious research.
Mike described a fellow SEAL who’d lost limbs and suffered from PTSD and chronic pain, and who experienced real relief from using CBD oil.
Another friend (also a SEAL) has a son who had lost a limb in a bad motorcycle accident, had undergone several surgeries, and suffered a great deal of pain from the damage, and who experienced real relief from CBD.
Friends called in tears, when their son, who hadn’t slept a wink in many weeks, got several hours of real sleep after trying a CBD product.
While CBD is certainly not a miracle drug and is not for everyone and everything, it does have a real history of success if you know where to look.
And even aspirin does not work for everyone.
Here are some things I did not know.
Most of the research available on CBD products and health is found in Israel and Australia. Both of these countries have done a great deal of research on this topic … including using CBD products to treat children with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or PTSD associated with abuse. The US is woefully behind in this area.
CBD was a commonly used treatment for ailments until about 100 years ago, just about the time “big pharma” began to emerge. I guess it could be coincidental, but if you can grow it in your back yard, they can’t control it or make a profit from it.
There are several types of CBD products available.
Full Spectrum vs Isolate
Not all CBD is the same. Mike and Claudia offer both full-spectrum CBD products and CBD isolate products. Full-spectrum CBD is CBD also containing trace amounts of other naturally occurring cannabinoids (CBG, CBC, CBN, THC < 0.3%), terpenes, and flavonoids found in the hemp plant. These individual components are believed to work together in a phenomenon called the entourage effect, potentially boosting CBD’s natural therapeutic effects.
Some people find that full-spectrum works best for them, while others prefer isolate. If one isn’t quite getting the job done, you may have better results with the other.
CBD is referred to as a “promiscuous” molecule because it acts upon several different non-psychoactive pathways in the body: the TRPV channels, GABA receptors, 5HT1A (serotonin) receptors. It is also called “biphasic” because in different dosages it can have different effects.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production, sale, and consumption of hemp and hemp-derived compounds like CBD. In order to be classified as hemp and not as cannabis (they are genetically the same species), a plant has to be tested by a third-party lab and proven to contain les than 0.3% THC content.
So, in other words, CBD is not pot!
More about CBD Path
CBD Path is a company that manufactures and distributes only the best quality CBD (this is not 7-eleven CBD) to its customers. Their products are all produced in certified hemp manufacturing facilities. They offer advice, support, and education. Each product they sell has a QR code on the label you can scan to verify the source of the hemp and the certificates of analysis.
They did not just jump on the bandwagon, they are doing it for the right reason and in the right way.
Visit their great website to learn more and check out all the information available.
After this presentation, I had a very different view of CBD and its uses as a health and wellness supplement. But it is very much a “buyer beware” market with many unscrupulous distributors jumping on the CBD wagon with inferior products. If you find CBD is something you are considering trying, these are definitely the folks you will want to talk to right here!
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