Native Lands Released Today!

It’s an exciting day for me–one eight years in the making. Native Lands is now a reality. It went from Connecting the Dots in its original form in 2006 when I participated in a Novel in a Month group. My month stretched out into 100 months, but I did take a break from it in 2007 and didn’t return to it until earlier this year when I retitled it Safe Harbors, but there are many books with that phrase in the title. Since the book is about Native Americans–the Timucuans of north Florida–I decided to go with Native Lands because it encompasses the themes of the novel. I hope you’ll read about the book and perhaps even decide to read it! Enter the Giveaway below for the first two books in the Florida Fiction Series. Native Lands is the third and final(?) book.

Native Lands by P.C. Zick
Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted
parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Christoph Fischer, Author
Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to
be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing
to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St.
Augustine.
Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy
nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.
Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans
away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in
the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the
Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.
By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live
among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear
of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth
in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight
a conglomerate of international interests.
It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts
to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries
established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost
during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.
P.C. Zick is the
author of several contemporary novels. Native
Lands
is the third book in her Florida Fiction Series, which also includes Tortoise Stew and Trails in the Sand. She may be contacted through her website at
http://www.pczick.com.

Barbara Evans sat in the living room of her house on the western edge of Chokoloskee Island, leafing through past issues of Sierra magazine, searching for an idea for her next column. She listened to the news from the television, only looking up when the local weather presented NOAA’s prediction for an active hurricane season. Then the newscaster began a report that caused Barbara to put down the magazine and devote her full attention to the screen.

“Yesterday, wood storks in Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area attacked a young boy as his mother shot this video of the assault,” the announcer said.

Barbara watched as a boy, approximately ten years old, was crying as a wood stork’s beak poked at the Mickey Mouse portrait stamped on the front of his T-shirt. Another stork approached and began nudging the foam snout of the alligator hat on the boy’s head. A man ran into the frame of the video, yelling and scaring off the wood storks as the boy howled.

“Officers from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission are handling the situation. Here to talk with us is the agency’s spokesperson, Larry Castle. Larry, what’s your agency doing to make sure the tourists are safe in the Everglades?”

“Along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re asking residents and visitors to our great state to keep their distance from wildlife,” Larry said, wearing a green shirt and hat with the logo from the state’s fish and wildlife agency. “They shouldn’t feed wildlife or make any attempts to capture or touch them.”

“The parents say the wood storks just came up and attacked their child,” the newscaster said.

“Wildlife usually keeps to itself unless tempted by food. We’re investigating, but the safest thing anyone can do is to enjoy wildlife from a distance with a zoom lens on the camera.

“Thank you, Larry. The family told us they are cutting short their vacation because of this unwarranted aviary violence. Governor Rick Scott offered the family a week’s stay in Miami to make up for the attack, but the family declined the offer.”

“My son may never get over this attack.” The mother, wearing a white visor with a Minnie Mouse label on the front, appeared on the screen. “His favorite hat is now in shreds in the swamp. It has been one horrible experience.”

The newscaster came back on the screen. “The video of the attack was recorded by the mother on her cell phone.”

Barbara ran her fingers through her short curly red hair, and with the other hand reached for her phone to call Stan Hogan, her editor at The Miami Herald.

“Stan, I’ve got to write the story about the wood stork attacking the family at Big Cypress,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to let me do it.”

“If I let you write the article, it’s off limits for your column,” Stan said. “You write an objective piece, but no editorializing. Agreed?”

“Then I can write a column about it in a few weeks.”

“No. You’ve been hired as a columnist. If you want to go back to reporting, then we’ll start you on covering the commission meetings in the communities around Lake Okeechobee.”

“Come on, Stan. You know I can write a good piece. I don’t know why you won’t let me.”

“That’s my final say on the subject. You write your column or you start working the Glades County beat.”

“All right, all right.” Barbara knew being assigned the rural beat near the shores of Lake Okeechobee amounted to a death sentence for a writer. “The column is better because I can ask, ‘why the hell was the mother recording the attack instead of protecting her child?’ The kid deserved getting attacked just for wearing that stupid alligator hat. Tell them to pull the column I wrote for this week. I’ll have the new one to you later this afternoon.”

“No ‘those tourists deserved it’ crap. You got me into a load of trouble with that last piece about the pigeons and doves at that wedding in Disney World. One of the copy editors should have caught the line ‘anyone who chooses to get married in the land of Mickey Mouse deserves dead doves floating down during the vows.’”

“I can’t help it if nature keeps biting back,” Barbara said. “Just be sure they pull my old column.”

 

P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She’s won
various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She
describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.
She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. Even though she now
resides in western Pennsylvania with her husband Robert, she finds the stories
of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling
platform. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply
her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.
She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick
and Living Lightly. She has published
three nonfiction books and six novels.
Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love
to the environment. In her novels, she advances the cause for wildlife
conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this
earth with love, laughter, and passion.

Works by P.C. Zick

Florida
Fiction Series
Tortoise Stew (Florida Fiction Series, Book 1) –
Politics, murder, and chaos in rural Florida reign supreme in a story where
love triumphs over it all.
Trails in the Sand (Florida Fiction Series, Book 2) –
Family secrets, an oil spill, and redemption create a roller coaster ride for
journalist Caroline Carlisle.
Native Lands
(Florida Fiction Series,
Book 3)
– A novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native
Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage.
Other Fiction:

A Lethal Legacy (Psychological
Suspense) – A fascinating study of
human expectations, failings, and redemption filled with lust and forbidden
lovers.

Live from the Road (Fiction takes the reader on an often humorous, yet
harrowing, journey as Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane
routine of their lives. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of
salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road.
Behind the Altar (Romance – Behind the Love Trilogy,
Book 1) – All seems perfect in Leah’s life until tattoo artist Dean rides his
Harley into her heart in this story of forbidden love.
Nonfiction
From Seed to Table (Blog posts) Gardening techniques, organic gardening, canning vegetables, and
recipes galore
Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier (Memoir nonfiction) – My great
grandfather’s journal from his days as a soldier. It’s a personal account of
war and all its sundry causes and effects from the eyes of a man who fought it.
Odyssey to Myself (Essays nonfiction): The people of
Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile come to life through the experiences of the
author as she absorbs the cultures so different from her own.

 

 

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Real Life Seeps into #Fiction

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

I’m often asked if real life seeps into my novels. As we head into the anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, I’ve thought about how much of my life seeped into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

During April 2010, two significant manmade disasters occurred in the United States. Both of the tragedies became a part of my life for the remainder of the year and led me to question how we live our lives. It took me some months to make the connection between the two events, but when I did, they both found a home in Trails in the Sand, the novel I began writing in late 2010.

The first tragedy occurred on April 5, when a coal mine exploded in West Virginia, several hours away from my new home in western Pennsylvania. Twenty-nine miners, trapped inside the mine, died that day. The local Pittsburgh news carried very little else as hope ebbed and flowed on the first days after the explosion. But finally, on April 9, the governor of West Virginia made a tragic announcement. All twenty-nine miners were dead and had not made it to the safety room as hoped. My husband works with the mining industry in his job as an engineer with a water solutions company. He knows the coal mining industry very well so we kept our eyes and ears tuned to the news, first hopeful as everyone else, and then, more than curious about how and why the explosion occurred in the first place. The answers became clear in the months following the deaths. The company, Massey Energy, had cut corners in safety procedures. The resulting reports are gruesome and indictments are still coming down for the highest echelon in a company that for a long time flagrantly disregarded the safety standards for coal mining.

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Two weeks later, all eyes turned to the southeast of West Virginia when another explosion caused an oil rig to catch on fire and fall to the ground, exposing a deep well in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill explosion killed eleven workers. For months, oil gushed out of the well unabated. Petroleum headed for the Gulf beaches. Within a few weeks, wildlife began appearing on the barrier islands covered and smothered in oil. The photos of birds immersed in a wet suit of petroleum played continuously on the news and horrified the world.

Even though I’d moved in Pittsburgh in April 2010, I was still working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a public/media relations director until they found my replacement. The oil spill and the threat to Florida’s wildlife put my departure on hold for months. As I watched the news unfold about what caused the mine explosion from my home in Pittsburgh, I was fielding media calls, writing news releases, and pulling together facts sheets on oiled wildlife. By June, I was appointed to handle all the media during the sea turtle nest relocation project where 250 nests were dug up on the Panhandle beaches of Florida and eggs were transported to the Atlantic side of Florida for hatching and release. The project was unprecedented and received the attention of national and international media.

It didn’t take long for a culprit in the oil spill to have a name: BP. Once again, a large corporation sacrificed human and environmental safety in the pursuit of profit. My mind was churning and mulling over the connection between the two events.

In my spare time, I began writing a love story called In the Garden about two people reunited after a long separation. The subject began to have a life of its own. I wanted to write about my mother who died in 1998. Through various tidbits I’d gleaned over the years, I suspected that my mother gave birth when she was a teenager back in 1933 or ’34. I researched as best I could. I interviewed her only living sibling in 2011 and went through writings left by my mother and her father, my grandfather. My grandfather had been a miner in Cornwall until he came to the United States in 1900. When he arrived, he went to work in the copper mines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before giving his life to God and entering the ministry of the Methodist Church. Yes, my mother most likely became pregnant in a small Michigan town at the age of fifteen or sixteen, and she was the daughter of the Methodist minister. It scarred my mother for life, and in turn, it left its mark on her five children. I’ve spent my life recovering as I attempted to piece together my mother’s story.

female loggerhead

female loggerhead

With all of these events and life histories swirling in my head, I changed the course of my novel and renamed it Trails in the Sand. I wanted to write a book about how we destroy things and then attempt to recover and restore, if possible. It begins with a teenager on a beach watching a sea turtle lay a nest on St. George Island, Florida.

The chapters on the BP oil spill and the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster are from actual news clips and press releases. I used a description from my grandfather’s journal to describe the early years of the patriarch in the story. My mother’s story is weaved into the story as well. The main character, Caroline Carlisle is an environmental writer who sets out to write about the sea turtle project.

That’s how my novel came to life. I wrote Trails in the Sand to show it’s never too late to restore and recover from tragedy, and it’s never too late to find love.

How about you? Does real life seep into your fiction?

 

Writing from the Heart – For #.99 Cents

cropped-dsc024241.jpgSomeone once said, “Write what you know.” That doesn’t mean that an author has to experience everything that appears in a work of fiction.

To me it means to write what is in my heart.

I lived in Florida for thirty years, and it’s in my heart. Most of my novels are set in the Sunshine State because I love it and because I hope that in some way my books make others to stop and consider what can be done to end its headlong dive into the ocean of the developers’ pockets. Perhaps government officials will look at the cost of not enforcing regulations and start making the big boys pay by following safety rules put in place to avoid what happened in BP’s oil spill and the Massey mine explosion. Both events occurred in 2010 approximately three weeks apart. And both could have been prevented if the corporations involved had followed the regulations in place. And the forty men killed in those disasters would be alive today if the environmental agencies in charge of enforcing regulations had done their jobs. Forty men died in April 2010. That’s a loss we can calculate, and it’s horrible. However, we have no idea of the toll taken on our wildlife and their offspring.

And so I write what I know in my heart, and Trails in the Sand and Tortoise Stew show that love for the environment in ways I only know how to express through my words. My next novel, Native Lands, will even go further into an examination of what we do when we destroy even one part of nature.

To celebrate and remember Earth Day 2014, I’m offering both books for .99 cents on Kindle during the month of April. Click on the cover of each to be taken to the Amazon page. Both books are also available in paperback.

Click on photo

Click on cover

Trails in the Sand – .99 cents for the month of April on Kindle

***Love Triangles, Endangered Sea Turtles, and BP’s Oil Spill

***A Florida Novel by award-winning Florida author, P.C. Zick

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the BP’s oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets – secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline’s love for her late sister’s husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.

From Caroline’s sister: “My sister is nothing more than a common whore,” Amy said when Simon told her he was leaving her. “You just have to face it and get over some childhood notion about her being your soul mate.”

On BP’s oil spill: “Two weeks after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, dead sea turtles began washing up on the beaches near Pass Christian, Mississippi. Beach walkers discovered the stranded animals on sand darkened by the blood seeping from the turtles’ nostrils and underbelly.”

Using BP oil spill timeline and facts as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster.

FinalCoverPalmTrees

Click on cover

Tortoise Stew – .99 cents for the month of April on Kindle

Florida Fiction filled with intrigue, corruption, twisted love, and outrageous Florida  characters

A Florida Environmental Novel from Award-winning author, P.C. Zick

Small town politics at its best, worst, and wildest in this novel about the development of Florida at any cost.

“The bomb sat in a bag on Kelly Sands’ desk for an hour before she noticed it.” And so begins the raucous journey through small town Florida politics in Tortoise Stew.

Kelly Sands, a reporter, covers some of the more controversial and contentious issues in a small Florida town. Dead armadillos and gopher tortoise carcasses left as calling cards to those opposing the development of rural Florida show small town politics at its worst.

Commission meetings erupt into all-out warfare. With the murder of one commissioner and the suicide of his wife, Kelly begins an investigation that threatens to topple the carefully laid plans of the developers and politicians to bring a movie studio and landing strip within the city limits of the small town. When a semi-truck from Monster Mart runs over and kills a young girl, the environmentalists become even more vocal against the developers’ plans. All the while, Kelly struggles to overcome and escape her past, which catches up to her as she follows the antics of the politicians, developers, and environmentalists. With the help of her boss, Bart, and her best friend, Molly, she uncovers more than corruption in small town politics.

Author Wednesday – Christina Carson

typewriterWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Christina Carson, author of Suffer the Little Children and Dying to Know. I featured Christina in 2013 and reviewed Suffer the Little Children. I love reading her blog, and recently I had the pleasure of reading Dying to Know.

Click on cover for Amazon link

Click here

My review will be published later this week. I’ll only say that the book resonated with me, and I’m walking around the house spouting some of her wonderful insights.

Welcome, Christina!

The Backdoor Writer by Christina Carson

I’m what I call a backdoor writer. I didn’t write from the get go, using my first crayon to craft a story. I didn’t study literature but trained instead as a scientist. I didn’t think of myself as a writer until I was almost 50. And I didn’t start writing to become a writer, but rather to record a period of my life that had meant everything to me, but was over and would never replay. I wrote to document the stories of that time, the people who filled them and capture the love, hilarity, and true friendship I knew there.

I was a product of the civilized establishment of east coast United States before I left home and ended up in a “frontiersy,” wild, northern Alberta settlement to raise sheep. I stumbled into a life I never knew existed, hard but poignant, rough but tender, comical and real. The life exposed me to the good and the ugly of who I was. When I put the stories of that time on paper, I realized not only could I write, but I also loved doing it, and it was then my life as a writer began.

Long before my farming years, I had become disgruntled with day-to-day living. Too much of how I’d been taught to live didn’t make sense. I began looking for something I couldn’t even name that might bring meaning and purpose to a life that felt increasingly empty. My fifteen years of farming intensified that drive, for its demand for honesty and resiliency gave me a different taste of life. What haunted me most, however, were the big questions: who are we; what are we; why are we here? I called my endeavors human cosmology, for rather than religion, truth was what I sought to know.

Today I write books that reflect my continuing desire to explore life. I write fiction because I’d like the reader to live the story as if it were true life for them too, give them an opportunity to journey along with the characters and garner their own insights. Characters fascinate me. When readers include my characters in a conversation and talk about them the way they would an old friend, I feel I’ve succeeded.

Take Dying to Know, for example. Callie Morrow is a 36-year-old professional photographer who, having never challenged herself in any area of her life, suddenly sees it could now be over before it even began. Having watched her mother die of cancer using the traditional route of treatment, when Callie is diagnosed with the disease, she uncharacteristically takes a stand against that route, tentatively offering, “There’s got to be another way.” She shocks her childhood group of friends and disturbs all around her with her seeming irrationality, except for her Chinese friend Mary Chang and her Inuit artist friend Joe Kuptana. With the help of the worldviews these two people bring to her life, she starts a journey for which she had no map or sense of direction.

It took me three years to write this book so that it would offer a realistic portrayal of someone coming to understand health and well-being from a completely different paradigm yet continue to make sense to a reader who might not have entertained such concepts prior. My characters had to be thinkers in their own right, but unexposed to alternative views of the nature and laws of life. They also had to represent the reactions my readers might have toward Calli and her quest:  amazement, disgust, curiosity, resistance, intense fear and abandonment. I wanted to make a place where each reader could fit in, move along with the group and perhaps make discoveries for themselves.

I am a writer. I don’t write to entertain; I write to inspire. I don’t encourage spectators. I want the reader to root for themselves as much as for the protagonist and experience new ideas, uncommon relationships and a deep sense of possibility before one of my novels comes to a close. For 40 years, I’ve been exploring life. My novels give a reader the opportunity to do the same in the company of friends.

IMG_0140 resized-framedAbout Christina Carson: I am 68 years old and  have worn many caps and walked many roads. I started in research as a scientist even before graduation, then taught in nursing for a number of years, owned a masonry contracting business with a mate and worked at that and building houses. I went on to farm. I am a creature of the land and love animals. That life was a dream until it ended. I then went on to become a stock broker, which I hated, and then the aimless period began with intense doubt and chaos. I was there for years making it up as I went along and spending a great deal of time afraid and despairing.

I will forever consider Canada my home, but I returned to the states in 1996 after 30 years in Canada to marry a man I met in Vancouver where I lived for five years.  He and I are perfectly suited to one another in intent, direction and integrity and as for the rest, we play that by ear.

Book Info: I end up in the genre of literary fiction by default. I don’t come close to fitting into any of the other proffered boxes. Adventure and philosophy – when are they going to stitch that together in a genre?

Christina, I so agree with you about the genre types offered. I made up my own–environmental fiction–but usually end up in literary or contemporary fiction. Thank you so much for offering us an insight into how and why you became a writer. Your passion for the craft is evident as well as your intent of showing your readers there are other paths.

Links:

Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/Christina-Carson/e/B006PM2QMM

Twitter: @CarsonCanada

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/

Venture Galleries: I write for them and am a member of their Authors Collection

http://venturegalleries.com/

Blog Sites:

            Books that Entertain and Inspire: http://christinacarsonauthor.com/

Asked and Answered: http://christinacarson-blogging.blogspot.com/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaCarsonAuthor

FREE on Kindle June 19-20

 

FREE June 19-20

FREE June 19-20

Tortoise Stew is my first novel set in Florida. On June 19 and 20, it’s available for free downloads on Amazon.

Synopsis:

Small town politics take center stage in this novel about the development of Florida at any cost. Kelly Sands is a reporter covering some of the more controversial and contentious issues in the fictional north Florida town of Calloway. Dead armadillos and gopher tortoise carcasses are left as calling cards to those opposing the development as commission meetings erupt into all-out warfare. With the murder of one commissioner and the suicide of his wife, Kelly begins an investigation that threatens to topple the carefully laid plans of the developers and politicians to bring a movie studio and landing strip within the city limits of the small town. When a young girl is killed by a semi-truck from Monster Mart, the environmentalists become even more vocal against the developers’ plans. Chaos reigns as both sides raise voices and fists in one cacophonous uproar until saner heads bring justice to all.

Excerpt:

The bomb sat in a bag on Kelly Sands’ desk for an hour before she noticed it.

She didn’t see the white shopping bag because she had a deadline to meet, and tunnel vision ruled when the clock ticked toward the newspaper’s witching hour.

The rest of the debris on her desk also prevented her from noticing anything new. Two stained cups still holding cold coffee from the morning sat next to a pile of files on long-term stories she kept meaning to investigate. A box that once contained donuts lay on top of the papers.

Even if she had noticed the shopping bag, it wouldn’t have registered as anything unusual. Her colleagues were always depositing things on each other’s desks, either from absentmindedness or from the numbing blindness of a daily paper’s deadline focus.

The Braidwood Tribune went to press at eleven most nights. Kelly glanced at the clock on the wall ticking away the minutes as she put the finishing touches on the story she had begun on her laptop at the meeting.

She sped from the Commission meeting before it was even over. More than one hundred residents from around Zion County came to Calloway, a town ten miles from Braidwood. Braidwood was the largest city in north central Florida, standing in the middle of some of Florida’s last remaining natural landscapes.

Five commissioners representing 6,000 residents had decided to annex 2,000 acres of land into Calloway. The land represented one of only few tracts of farmland left in the county. The annexation bothered some of the residents who believed the increased acreage into Calloway would stress already limited city services such as sewer and water.

Buddy Tills owned most of the 2,000 acres for several decades, but he’d been selling off small parcels over the past several months. The names on the annexation requests were not local. The rumor mill kept mentioning Industrial Pines as the developer of the property.

Just the name Industrial Pines evoked fear in some residents because they were a company that developed in Florida with little regard to anything but its own profits. B.J. Winters, president of the giant company, attended all the public hearings, but Kelly’s calls to him remained unreturned. She planned to corner him after the annexation meeting, but when it ran over her deadline, she was forced to leave without accosting him in the parking lot.

Now Kelly had to write a fair, impartial article on a controversial annexation in Calloway in less than an hour. She knew if she didn’t get it down to bare bones reporting, the night editor would hack away at the piece until it fit into a twelve-inch space on the first page of the local section.

Another Florida Novel by P.C. Zick:

Florida's sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Florida’s sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Book Review Friday – Suffer the Little Children

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Suffer the Little Children-resized

Don’t let the title Suffer the Little Children steer you away from this novel by Christina Carson. A friend of mine saw on Goodreads that I was reading this book. She usually likes the same type of fiction I do, but she was a bit frightened about the title. I assured her she had nothing to fear from this beautifully crafted novel set in Alberta, Canada.

One thing is certain. Ms. Carson loves the setting and creates a painting with her descriptions of an isolated, yet wholly stimulating life in the bush. Unconditional love exists in this world – between the animal kingdom and humans. It’s the humans who have a bit of trouble when it comes to practicing unconditional love with those closest to them. Ms. Carson makes Timber, her dog, and Spook, her horse, characters in this book. They become the symbol of what we strive for, but somehow when pride and emotions play chess with the people on the board, unconditional love seems to be impossible to achieve.

The author displays a healthy respect for and acceptance of wildlife, despite dangerous encounters with the most beastly of bears, the grizzly.

The “little children” who suffer in this novel do so because of the judgments and conditions adults put on “love.” Through a native family, lessons on love and acceptance of the past help the other characters move forward in their lives.

The main character, Anne, learns her lesson well, which allows the suffering to end.

Anne states, “I believe that every child, whether fifteen or fifty, longs to hear from his or her parents those words that say ‘I am sorry for all I did that hurt you.’” Anne realizes this as she helps her neighbor’s daughter, Little Bit, deal with the betrayal of her parents, and as Anne herself works to restore her relationship with her daughter.

Suffer the Little Children teaches life lessons, such as this one:  “If you’re willing to have something new come about, you must be equally willing to let go of how it’s been.”

It also shows that the natural world provides a map for leading fulfilling lives.

Ms. Carson’s descriptions are vivid enough for me to imagine Anne’s home and the massive bush of Alberta. The lure of nature leads the characters to the answers for all the questions lying within their hearts.

If you love multi-faceted plots with a majestic landscape providing a backdrop for the characters, then you will love Suffer the Little Children. You might even learn a little bit about living a sustainable and simple life filled with the only thing that matters:  love.”

Suffer the Little Children is available on Amazon in both eBook and paperback editions.

Book Review Friday – Vapor Trails

VaporTrailsBy Patricia Zick @PCZick

The subject of Vapor Trails by R.P. Siegel and Roger Saillant intrigued me from the start. I’ve been looking for other contemporary fiction novels with environmental themes, so when this one came across my twitter feed, I immediately researched it and then bought a copy. I wasn’t disappointed with the read, although there is no middle ground with this book, which might have drawn in a wider audience. The book preaches to the choir rather than pulling converts to the green movement.

Vapor Trails enters into the bowels of corporate greed to the highest level of power. And power or energy at any cost to the environment and its people, is the heart of this story. The story is told from the viewpoint of three main characters: a corporate stooge, an environmentalist attempting to work within the corporate system, and a free spirit who rides his bike 2,500 miles just to attend a sustainability conference in New Orleans. Through the eyes of these three, the reader receives an education on oil and its damaging effects.

An unnamed hurricane in New Orleans causes water to surge and break through the levee system. This storm brings the odd trio of characters together when they are stranded at the sustainability conference. The storm is used to bring the key players together, but it isn’t used in any useful way to make a comment about man’s folly with playing with nature. Also, it left me slightly annoyed that the three characters don’t have to put up with the unpleasantness of the aftermath because helicopters and corporate jets zoomed down to rescue them out of the hellhole of southern Louisiana.

Mason Burnside, the corporate stooge, brought a lethal oil disaster to the rain forest in Ecuador though his cold-hearted decisions encouraged by his CEO at Splendid Oil. Ellen Greenbaum is an idealistic college grads ready to make a difference by working for the evil behemoth Splendid Oil in their sustainability department. Jacob Walker yearns to make the world a better place. Add together a man missing in Indonesia, and the novel has intrigue and mystery enough to hold the reader captivated.

Through the conversations, much information is imparted on the state of energy companies, the environment, and the impact on human lives.

While the novel can come across as pedantic and biased toward the green side, the ideas presented are considerably well-researched.

It is Mason who changes the most, as the other main characters remain static. Mason goes from stooge to hero through a series of life-changing events. Perhaps if the other two characters, who experienced the same events, had also undergone some type of transformation, the novel would be a more even representation of real life.

“. . . his arrogance finally caught up with him when he thought he could control nature,” says one of the characters near the end of the novel, and that is the crux of the whole novel making it an epic undertaking by the authors.

I highly recommend the book. If you’re on the fence about how you feel on this topic, this book will give you a good background for one side of the argument. For those folks who turn red at the mention of green, this book will do nothing but turn them further away.

I applaud the authors for a well-written and well-researched book on the treachery of pushing through projects in unsafe and deadly ways. I just wish they’d left a little room for the shades of gray in this discussion.

My Interview with Jennifer Donohoe

Goodreads GiveawayNow - Feb. 28

Goodreads Giveaway
Now – Feb. 28

Jennifer Donohoe is a fellow author and blogger (A World of Writing). She does a wonderful job of also promoting her colleagues. Yesterday, she posted a summary of my new novel, Trails in the Sand, along with the first chapter. Originally, she intended to post an interview with me for her Wednesday evening author interview post, but she misplaced the interview. When I located the questions and answers, I decided not to let them go to waste.

Interview with Jennifer Donohoe

P. C. Zick – Trails in the Sand

 What has been your greatest moment as a writer?

The greatest moment came when I held my first published book in my hands. That happened in 2000 when a small publisher picked up my first novel, A Victorian Justice. In the aftermath of that moment, I could finally say without hesitation or embarrassment, “I’m a writer.” Now I go further and say, “I’m an author.”

 What has been your worst moment as a writer?

The day I received my first one-star review on Amazon for my novel, Live from the Road, was probably my worst day as a writer. I’d been writing and publishing novels for twelve years and had received my share of reviews. Not everyone liked what I wrote, but the majority who took the time to review did. This reviewer hadn’t even finished the book and made comments that weren’t true. For a couple of days, I hung my head and questioned my life as an author. Then I realized this was just one person who decided to write a mean review, and it should not overshadow the good comments I’ve received. But most of all, I do believe in what I write whether anyone else does or not. That is the most important thing to remember as a writer. Believe in yourself, and the rest will fall into place.

 Do you write your stories from personal experiences or another source and why?

I write from both perspectives. All of my novels have some seed from my real life, but then I expand and pull in other sources, such as characters and settings. I don’t write autobiographical novels, which is an oxymoron. But I do use my real-life situations because I usually want to take what I’ve learned and share it with my readers. Also, just listening to the news and reading the newspaper gives me fodder for scenes. When I was a journalist, I kept track of a host of situations and people which occasionally made their way into my novels. There’s a wealth of stories wherever I turn.

What do you want readers to know about your book?

Trails in the Sand is about redemption and restoration. I use the environment as the backdrop to help stress the theme. As the main character, Caroline, explores the mysteries, secrets, and lies of several generations in her family, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill gushes toward the beaches of Florida, threatening the sea turtle nests. Caroline’s husband, Simon, is mourning the death of his best friend and cousin in the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster in West Virginia that killed twenty-nine miners weeks before the oil spill. Caroline is fighting to restore her family and find redemption in the process as she writes about the environmental stories in which folks are fighting to restore the environment and save the sea turtles from extinction. I want readers to walk away after reading Trails in the Sand knowing it’s never too late to restore peace and find love.

What do you believe will appeal to readers about your book?

The environmental themes will appeal to readers. I use real news releases and news stories in between the love story of Caroline and Simon. In addition, the unraveling of the family’s secrets and deceptions from generations past will keep the reader turning the page. The story involves a race to save the sea turtles and to rescue a family from destruction.

 

 

Juxtaposition – A wonderful word

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I love language. Certain words intrigue me. One of my favorites has always been “juxtaposition.” I love saying the word, but try working it into conversation on a regular basis.

My dictionary from college sits on my desk with its torn binding and yellowing pages, but I still use Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary from 1973. I know I can go to my online dictionaries, but I love my old “real” reference book.

Here’s what it tells me about my favorite word.

Juxtaposition comes from the Latin word juxta which translates as near. Definition: the act of or an instance of placing two or more things side by side; also, the state of being so placed.

The juxtaposition of the danger sign and the bucolic setting shows that nature demands respect.

Hey, bucolic is a pretty good word, too.

What’s your favorite word?

 

 

 

 

 

Revising – Dread then Joy

writer’s hotel on the coast of Oregon

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I finished the second draft of my new novel Trails in the Sand before leaving on a trip to Denver two weeks ago. I like to have deadlines like that because once you leave a novel for a few days, it’s almost like starting over again. Since the incubation period is a necessary part of writing for me, I like to have something finished when I leave it. I timed it perfectly.

However, when I returned from my trip, I spent three days moping. I couldn’t bring myself to open the three-ringer binder where the draft rested.

second draft – all 538 pages

I walked by it, looked at it, and continued on my way – usually to lie down or to clean a toilet, hoping for the divine intervention of my muse. By day three, I was tired of my pitiful self and decided to do what I hate most. I went shopping. That’s desperation. But it worked.

I came home that afternoon and removed the notebook from its spot on an unused desk in the living room. I opened it up, and I began to read. And suddenly, I wanted to do nothing more than sit with my creation and revise it. I wrote a new four page opening to chapter one. Since I’m writing an environmental story, I needed to open in nature not with the protagonist lying in bed savoring the first cup of coffee of the day.

It’s true that the worst thing is probably the anticipation of starting a task. Once I got over myself and began the work, I discovered once again that for me, telling a story is the second biggest passion of my life. Thankfully, my first passion – my husband Robert – accepts his close second and knows it enhances me when it’s going well.

Because when the writer in me isn’t writing, ain’t nobody gonna have a good day.

How do you get inspired to get down to the task needed to be done?