Tag: Serpents Underfoot

The Response to Montagnard

I continue to be blown away by the response to my newest release, Montagnard. It is mindblowing, motivating, and humbling, all at the same time. I just received another review from an award-winning author I respect and whose work I enjoy reading.

While the response to my first book, Serpents Underfoot, was mostly positive, and it has gotten some excellent reviews, it was also my first book. So I know there were some rough spots and a lot of room for improvement. It did receive some “mediocre” reviews, and a couple of reviews really blasted it.

The truth is that it was Lee Boyland’s review of Serpents Underfoot that help motivate me to continue writing and begin this second book, Montagnard. Especially after a couple of those harsh reviews. While Lee stated that there was certainly room for improvement, all the elements of a great story were there, and that he felt I would improve with time. For that reason, this review has a great deal of meaning to me.

Below are a few of Lee’s comments on Montagnard. You can read the entire review by clicking here. I hope you will read it, and then check out my book. The reason I write is that I love to tell stories, and I would really like to hear what you think about it.

A great story continues

The author has written a great sequel to his first novel, Serpents Underfoot. Two generations of warriors, the father, a special forces officer fighting in Vietnam, and his son, a SEAL master chief, bring to life a story that began in the highlands of Vietnam, circled through Africa, the Middle East, Thailand, and then returns to Vietnam. Bravery, valor, honor, comradeship, revenge, and love with realistic combat and martial arts scenes kept this reader enthralled and turning the pages.

….. The story has believable characters (including strong women and a dog that I loved). ….. The Bangkok bar, Obsession, is a hoot.

The author does an excellent job of describing battles in Vietnam, Africa, and the Middle East. Readers with no military background will gain a feel for what modern limited combat is like. I found the plot, geography, weapons, and people believable. And I can’t wait to read the next book.

Lee Boyland, Award Winning Author

Thank you, Lee. I really appreciate your support!

And be sure to check out Lee Boyland’s book on Amazon as well. I reviewed one of them here.

Montagnard Receives a 5-Star Editorial Review

The Prairies Book Review just gave Montagnard a pretty awesome review.

In this swiftly paced, thrilling second installment in Gilbert’s The JD Cordell Action series, the situation, the enemies are new, but the heroes aren’t: JD Cordell and his four-legged companion Ajax return to take readers on an exhilarating journey to Vietnam for a rescue mission.

After completing his last mission in Niger, JD is ready to retire with his K9 partner Ajax. But after his father’s unexpected death, Mai, JD’s mother, travels to Vietnam to see her adopted brother Dish, a Montagnard rebel who is on the Vietnamese government’s most wanted list, and accidentally steps into a blood feud between her brother and a powerful Vietnamese drug lord. JD must come to Vietnam and face the vicious enemy.

Despite the book’s high action theme, JD’s relationship with his four-legged companion remains heartbreakingly personal throughout. Gilbert weaves the multiple plot threads with skill and effortlessly moves his protagonists through a series of explosive combat zones. The characterization is first-rate: Ajax is real enough to touch, and JD with his passion, intelligence, caliber, and sensitivity make for a worthy hero. The action is first-rate and the plotting intricate and clever. A horde of twists and nerve-wracking action scenes mark the final battle between the vicious enemy and JD’s team.

You can read the rest of the review here! Still waiting to see what Titan Literary and Kirkus have to say!

I may have to get a bigger hat!

No Ordinary Dog: My Partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid

No Ordinary Dog is the powerful true story of a SEAL Team Operator and military dog handler, and the dog that saved his life.

Two dozen Navy SEALs descended on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. After the mission, only one name was made public: Cairo, a Belgian Malinois and military working dog. This is Cairo’s story, and that of his handler, Will Chesney, a SEAL Team Operator whose life would be irrevocably tied to Cairo’s.

Starting in 2008, when Will was introduced to the SEAL canine program, he and Cairo worked side by side, depending on each other for survival on hundreds of critical operations in the war on terrorism. But their bond transcended their service. Then, in 2011, the call came: Pick up your dog and get back to Virginia. Now.

What followed were several weeks of training for a secret mission. It soon became clear that this was no ordinary operation. Cairo was among the first members of the U.S. military on the ground in Pakistan as part of Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in the successful elimination of bin Laden.

As Cairo settled into a role as a reliable “spare dog,” Will went back to his job as a DEVGRU operator until a grenade blast in 2013 left him with a brain injury and PTSD. Unable to participate in further missions, he suffered from crippling migraines, chronic pain, memory issues, and depression. Modern medicine provided only modest relief. Instead, it was up to Cairo to save Will’s life once more―and then up to Will to be there when Cairo needed him the most.

My thoughts …

This book is absolutely outstanding!

No Ordinary Dog by Will Chesney and Joe Layden is a fantastic story told (and read … I listened to the Audible book) by Will himself. The book is written as a tribute to his K9 partner, Cairo. It details the story of Chesney’s service with the US Navy SEALs, his decision to become a K9 handler, and the incredible bond and partnership that developed between these two SEAL warriors.

I am a dog lover, are you?

If you are a dog lover, this book is a MUST READ! It is simply an incredible story of loyalty, courage, sacrifice, commitment, and love. It is a moving tribute to a fantastic dog, a loyal partner, and a best friend. We are truly blessed that Will Chesney chose to share his story with us! It is a book I guarantee you will not want to put down!

The introduction is one of the best I have ever read and brought a tear to my eye. The book just gets better from there. The descriptions of training, missions, and the time Chesney and Cairo spent together have you right there living in the moment. At the same time, the stories of missions are well-done and informative, but not graphic or in danger of giving away any military secrets.

No spoilers, but the part of the story where the author is recovering from a severe injury, and Cairo comes to his rescue, was incredibly moving. Later, when Cairo is in real need, Chesney returns the favor. If you are not at least brought to the verge of tears, you are not human.

I absolutely recommend this book and give it 5 stars, only because that’s where the scale stops. This incredible story is off the scale. You can check the book out on Amazon by clicking here!

I hope you will take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here! And check out my new novel, Montagnard, on Amazon.com!

Montagnard receives a second 5-Star review!

I was very humbled and honored to receive another 5-star review for my new release, Montagnard. This review is especially meaningful to me because it is from a fellow author who is also a Vietnam War veteran.

And Glyn Haynie is not just any veteran. During his 20-year career, he was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, two Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, French Commando Badge, Drill Instructor Badge, and Army Recruiting Badge.

I would bet that he probably has seen or had dealings with the Montagnard people while serving in Vietnam.

In full disclosure, I have read most of his books, and if you are even remotely interested in the Vietnam War and its veterans, I highly recommend them. His works include both memoirs and works of fiction.

Here is an excerpt from his review …

A must-read for anyone that read Gilbert’s first book, “Serpents Underfoot.”

I was happy that the author decided to write a second book about JD Cordell. The trip back to Vietnam was surreal. The characters were well developed and believable. The story centers on JD’s mother, Mai, returning to Vietnam to find her adopted brother, Dish, and she is kidnapped. JD and Ajax, with members of his SEAL team, head to Vietnam to find them.

Glyn Haynie

If interested, you can read this and other reviews here!

I hope you will check Montagnard out! The Kindle version is now available, the paperback will be in stock any day now, and the hardcover will be available July 1st! Click here to visit Montagnard on Amazon.com

Another Bear Tale!

Yesterday, while mowing the lawn …

I was mowing the strip of “weeds” that is part of the property along the creek on the Pine Croft Road. I had my earbuds in and was listening to music to drown out the noise of the lawnmower.

Suddenly a plumber’s van pulled up and stopped. The drive unrolled the window and yelled at me to get my attention. He was clearly quite excited.

I killed the mower and pulled out an earbud so I could hear what he was shouting at me.

“Did you see that bear?” he asked excitedly.

“Which bear?” I inquired.

“That bear that just crossed the road. You nearly bumped into him when you backed up with the mower! He was huge.”

I just shook my head. “Nope, didn’t see him. I was watching where I was mowing.” Then I asked, “Did the bear have a collar on?”

“I think so,” the plumber replied. “It looked like he might have.”

“Oh! That old guy is around here all the time. He’s pretty old and harmless … never bothers anyone. Just passes through.”

The plumber just shook his head in disbelief and rolling up the van window, continued up the road.

Must have been this guy!

He’s a pretty easy going old guy …

Montagnard Release Update

I just got an amazing update from my editor!

And it made my entire year! I should have the edited copy back by the end of the week and will soon be able to schedule the release date. It is a struggle to be patient with this process. While I seem to have endless patience with other people, I have never been very patient with myself. I am learning, however.

My editor is Beth Kallman Werner, the Founder and President of Author Connections, and author of Real Women’s Stories 2018. Real Women’s Stories is a collection of stories written by strong, independent women. It tells the tales of mothers, daughters, women who survived violence and abuse, built empires, traded routine for adventures, honored their families, and share thought-provoking stories that give new meaning to the term “going home.”

About Montagnard …

It seems the whole world is on hold for a bit. Thankfully, books carry on! I’m finishing up the first round. The book is fantastic.

… I’m thankful that even in quarantine, I can be outdoors in a private space … Thank you for the distraction of MONTAGNARD. I’ll always remember what I worked on this year.

Beth Kallman Werner

So, thank you, Beth, for the great comment and encouragement. I can’t wait to get the book back and continue on with the publishing process. And for those who are willing to give Montagnard a read, I really think you will enjoy it.

I believe Montagnard will read well as a stand-alone novel; however, a few sections might make a bit more sense to the reader if they have first read the book, Serpents Underfoot. Granted, it was my first, and there are a few uneven spots early on, but it smooths out nicely and is still a great read.

Check it out here!

Not So Photogenic?

You still need good author photographs for marketing your books!

Sometimes you just get in a rut. I have been using the same author’s photo for all my marketing efforts. It is the picture I had taken in 2017 for the back cover of Serpents Underfoot. As the sequel, Montagnard comes together, I decided I needed to get a new back cover author’s picture and perhaps a few for other marketing purposes.

Enter Thumbtack

Wrapping up the photo shoot

This is my second time using Thumbtack. It allows searching for and receiving quotes from professionals in different areas including photography. While I have been happy each time, it is fair to say that Thumbtack has had mixed reviews.

The majority of positive Thumbtack reviews come from customers who have used Thumbtack to find service providers to fit their needs.

Many of them, including me, seem extremely happy with the service they have been provided. I gave my contractor, Ian Courtright, a five-star review and would definitely hire him again.

About Ian Courtright

Ian is from Charlotte, NC. He took the time to ask me a lot of questions to get a feel for what I was doing, why I was doing it, and what kind of a person/author I am. I was pleased with several of his observations and suggestions based on his questioning.

I also learn a bit about Ian. What began as a hobby for him in his early years slowly but surely evolved into a career. Traveled abroad, he worked for a veritable who’s who of internationally known clients including VANS, NEFF, NAUTICA, ESPN, PBR, and others. He has traveled across the U.S. as well, shooting photos at events such as the X Games.

Ian also has a great personality and a charming demeanor, making the photoshoot easy and fun. Having somewhat of a severe nature myself, I have always had difficulty “forcing” a smile on my face for pictures. It usually comes out sort of like a “painful grimace.” Ian actually got me to smile a few times.

To visit Ian’s website, click here!

The end result …

Anyway, I ended up with several great shots, one to use on the back cover of Montagnard and several for other marketing and promotional purposes. And I will definitely contact Ian for any additional photograph needs in the future.

Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking right here! You can also sign up to receive my monthly newsletter by clicking here!

The Belgium Connection!

Adirondack Bear Tales has gone international!

Adirondack Bear Tales has gotten some great reviews from several folks I respect, including Joy Neal Kidney, the author of Leora’s Letters. However, it seems that Adirondack Bear Tales has also now gone international, getting a great review from Denzil Walton, a full-time freelance writer living in Belgium.

Discovering Belgium is Denzil’s personal blog, which focuses on exploring the many wonders of Belgium, offering suggestions for days out, hikes, cycle rides, nature reserves, castles, museums, city trips, and much more.

A few excerpts from the review …

The stories are all short, and there are only eleven, so the entire book can be read in 30 minutes or so. But they are all delightful, easy to read and captivating. Quality rather than quantity!

A 12-year girl comes face to face with a bear during a night-time bathroom break! … The hilarious account of Grandma locking Grandpa out of the car while Grandpa tussles with a bear for ownership of a bag of garbage. The stubbornness of an Uncle who refuses to let the local bear destroy the bird feeder and steal the seeds … a handful of other stories illustrating the close relationship between the people and the bears of the Adirondacks.

The book is well-written … frequently involve the author’s grandparents … ideal for grandparents to read as bedtime stories to their young grandchildren … in my case, as someone living in a country where wild bears disappeared centuries ago, as an insight into a completely different world where a black bear might appear in your garden or even your kitchen!

You can read the entire review by clicking here!

And thank you, Denzil, for the amazing review. It is much appreciated.

Click here to check out some of my book reviews. You might find a few you want to read to help pass the time during the Covid-19 stay-at-home period.

Vietnam Veterans Day

March 29th

I have counted several Vietnam Veterans among my closest friends. Sadly, several are no longer with us. Please remember our Vietnam Veterans today as you go about living your daily lives.

They sent me

and my friends

and my generation

To Vietnam to die

and some of us did.

The rest of us have been dying

in bits and pieces

since the first day they sent us

home.

Unknown

Profile of an Adirondack Woman

Sometimes when I share some of my life stories with friends and acquaintances, I get looks and comments like “No way” or “You’re full of it.” I think far too many people spend their lives in tiny bubbles and never get to experience the fantastic world that is out there.

You’ve heard the saying, “We tend to write what we know …”

One of the many things that have amazed me in my short career as an author is the number of women who have given my first book, Serpents Underfoot, great reviews. It was my first book, and because of this, I know it is a little rough around the edges; maybe a bit too much language and a bit “too much information” in the bedroom scenes. But hey, you learn!

I had imagined my audience to be veterans and action/thriller fans. So I was shocked when I began receiving great reviews from female readers. After talking to a few readers, I understood that Serpents Underfoot had several strong female characters, and they really appreciated that.

While I pretty much self-edited Serpents Underfoot, I am working with a real editor for its sequel, Montagnard.

Beth Werner, of Author Connections, has been a professional editor and marketer for over 20 years. She served as the former Director of Marketing and Sales at Kirkus and has worked with Random House, Penguin, MacMillan, Disney Hyperion, Chronicle, Scholastic, FSG, Wiley, and others. Having read Serpents Underfoot, she commented she was also struck by the strength of the female characters in the story and how much she appreciated and enjoyed that. I believe I have carried this through into the sequel, Montagnard.

So, why the strong female characters?

In my life, I have had the privilege of knowing several strong women. Both of my grandmothers were strong women. One was the daughter of a well-known Herkimer, NY lawyer, drove a roadster, wore patent leather boots, and met the world on her terms. She was part Cherokee Indian and related to Robert E. Lee. I think my mother was a lot like her.

My other grandmother was a quiet, caring, and supportive woman. When my grandfather was drafted by the Army and stationed in Japan with General MacArthur after the war, she raised her children, worked in her garden, and was a source of strength for her husband, who was thousands of miles away in a strange land.

I was privileged to date another strong woman for several years, and while things did not work out quite like I hoped they might, I have nothing but respect for her. A medical professional, this lady took on the State Government, unethical “pain pill” clinics, and other issues in a continuous effort to improve the quality of professional medical care for her patients. She is now knee-deep in this battle against the coronavirus.

But, the strongest woman I have ever known was my mother!

Let me introduce you to her …

Ardis Gilbert was born in Ilion, NY, the daughter of Erwin and Eileen Klippel. She began nursing school at the age of 16 and graduated as an RN from Albany Medical Center in 1959. After moving to North Adams, MA, with her husband, Curt, Ardis graduated Magna Cum Laude in Mathematics and Summa Cum Laude in Administration from North Adams State Community College. She went on to teach mathematics for many years.

My mother enjoyed hiking, camping, backpacking, and canoe trips with family and friends, and jokingly founded the Adirondack Women’s Club for female family and friends who met the criteria.

A few family tales …

Albany, NY Granary Fire

When my mom was still a freshmen nursing student at the Albany Medical Center, a disastrous granary fire occurred in Albany. Many were severely burned in the fire, and the medical center was overrun. During the emergency, she stayed in an elevator with a doctor and performed emergency tracheotomies on burn victims as they were being taken up to the burn center for care.

One Crazy Old Lady

Serving a tour as a nurse in a ward that housed the criminally insane, she prepared to check in on an old woman who needed her medication. Nurses were not supposed to enter this woman’s room without an orderly present. However, there were no orderlies available. So, mom looked in the room and saw that the woman was resting peacefully and seemed quite calm. Being rather fearless, she decided not to wait for an orderly. My mother leaned close to the patient, the old woman sprang on her and began strangling her. She was amazingly strong, and my mother couldn’t pry her fingers loose. Fortunately, some orderlies arrived just in time and pried the crazy old woman’s fingers from around her neck. A few more moments and I would not even be here. It was a lesson my mother took to heart.

Hand washer escapee

In the same ward, there was a young man who continually washed his hands to the point that he would scrub the skin off them. I never knew what he did, but it was like he was trying desperately to get the blood off his hands. The doctors had to keep special gloves covering his hands and sometimes had to restrain him. During one of his more lucid moments, he was calmly walking the halls when someone accidentally let the locked door to the ward stay open a few seconds. In a flash, the man was out the door and making a dash for freedom. Seeing him go, my mother took right off after him and chased him through the medical center. She was a small younger woman but tackled him around the legs in a manner that would make any football player proud. He was, at this point, in the main entrance lobby to the medical center.

My strong female characters

While not intentional, I guess the strong female characters in Serpents Underfoot are composites of the courage and strength I saw in the many strong women I have had the privilege to know during my life. And after the reaction from my readers, I felt it essential to continue that.

My mother lost a fight with cancer almost two years ago now. But she met that implacable enemy with her head held high, and she fought the good fight. She was 78 years old. I guess these characters in my books are my way of remembering and celebrating the strong women I have known, including my mother.

The world can certainly use a lot more of them.