River City Chronicles – Review

“Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.
A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.
Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.”

  • * * *

I started reading River City when the author was serializing it on his blog, but decided to wait until the book was complete. I’m glad I did.

I was worried that it would be difficult to follow so many main characters and plots without getting confused. I’m happy to say it was easy to follow. The way the lives of the characters and the various plots are woven together is the way life is. Admittedly, some of the plot twists were predictable, but not to the point of causing me to lose interest.

One thing I liked was the ‘cast of characters’ in the beginning. That used to be common practice, but is rare today. When I read the names, the fact that some were listed as ‘deceased’ made me wonder, but it became clear as I read the book.

One of the best scenes, in my opinion, was Carmelina’s disastrous dinner party. It was a ROFL moment.

This book is heartwarming, sad, funny, and happy. An author’s job is to hold the attention of the reader and make them feel. Mr. Coatsworth has done a good job.

 

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“Silver is seventeen and lives with two younger runaways in a house in Key Largo. He has a gift that makes it possible for the three of them to stay afloat in an America where being openly LGBT means death. Evan White, a consultant for the Miami Police Department, also has a special talent, one that threatens Silver’s safety.

An act of bravado and desperation by Silver brings him to Evan’s attention, forcing them both on a path that will send them hurtling across several state lines and ultimately offer them the chance to alter the course of history. Their lives are on the line, but the possibility to at last be who they really are, without fear, is tantalizingly close. Will Silver and Evan have the courage to do what’s necessary? ”

First off, let me say I adore this author. His books are always well-written and hold the reader in thrall from beginning to end. And Queer Justice is no exception. I stayed up way past my normal bedtime to finish it.

The time is in the not so distant future and many of the things being feared today have come to pass. LGBT laws have been overturned, and being LGBT is punishable by death with no trial. Except for the ‘special’ talents of the characters, I can see this becoming reality.

Do I condone the ending? I’m not sure. I can understand it. And, yes, it can be argued it was the only way.

 

The Splinter and the Tilt O Whirl

Now I know you’re going to ask what a splinter has to do with a Tilt O Whirl. As I near the three-quarter of a century mark, things from my younger days often pop into my head from something that happens or something someone says. The pain from the shot I got last week made me think of an incident from the summer I was either twelve or thirteen.

It was either the first or second year I was in the saddle club, and a group rented a school bus and went up to Sidney, Iowa to the annual rodeo. There was a carnival on the rodeo grounds also. Now my favorite carnival rides have always been the Tilt O Whirl and the Scrambler, and I wanted to ride the Tilt O Whirl. My mother wouldn’t let me ride alone, and no one would ride with me. Like a typical twelve or thirteen-year-old, I was pouting.

A group of us went over to the corral where they kept the bucking horses. I immediately climbed on the wood fence and ran a HUGE splinter under the fingernail of my left index finger. By huge, that thing was almost 1/4” long and close to 1/8” wide. AND IT HURT!

Of course, no one had a needle to try to get it out. So Dave Hull – who was in his mid-twenties and on whom I had a gigantic crush – pulled out his pocket knife, ran the blade through the fire of his cigarette lighter and prepared to remove the splinter.

His fiancé, Jean Ann, handed me a coin purse and told me to bite down on it. It was one of those plastic coin purses that was clear on one side and black on the other. I bit.

Dave cautioned me to hold my hand still. I mean, his pocket knife wasn’t sharp enough to cut my finger off, but it could have caused some damage if it slipped.

When the splinter was finally gone, I took the coin purse out of my mouth. I had bitten down on it all right – I hadn’t quite bitten a piece off, but there were holes through both layers of plastic.

But, I DIDN’T CRY!

When it was all over, Dave took me for a ride on the Tilt O Whirl since I had been so brave and not cried.

  • * * *

I only remember one other thing about that trip. Johnny Treadway was sitting in the middle of the back seat of the bus and had those long legs of his stretched up the isle of the bus.

Memories

 Image may contain: snow and outdoor

I know the picture isn’t from 1961 – but we didn’t have cameras like we do now.

CHRISTMAS 1961

Sometimes something someone says will trigger an ancient memory. That is what happened last week and I decided to write it down. Someday my kids may enjoy some of these memories.

  • * * *

I was eighteen and newly married. Got married in June and my parents divorced in early December.

My mother had moved to Kansas City and my husband and I lived in a mobile home court halfway between Riverside and Parkville – just north of Kansas City.

Now my home town was Trenton, Missouri which is approximately on hundred miles northeast of Kansas City, and my husband’s parents lived in Macon, Missouri which is about one hundred, fifty miles northeast of Kansas City, but more east than north. The first leg to get to either one is north on I-35 to Cameron. Then a little farther north to Trenton, but turn east to Macon at Cameron.

Christmas that year was on Monday, and my husband and I were going to Macon to spend it with his parents.

My mother was going to Trenton to be with my grandmother.

Friday morning, they forecast snow, but not much.

When Mother left Kansas City about 2 o’clock Friday afternoon it was snowing lightly.

Saturday morning, my husband and I headed for Macon. We got about twenty-five miles on I-35 to where 69 Highway goes to Excelsior Springs and were met by the Highway Patrol who told us we couldn’t go any farther on I-35 because there were about two hundred cars and trucks (including semis) in drifts between there and Cameron.

I never gave a thought to my mother. After all, she left early Friday afternoon.

We took another route to Macon and spent Saturday night, Sunday, and Christmas morning not even thinking about the snow storm.

Now this was before everyone had a cell phone and could call whenever and wherever they were. You also had to pay to call long distance.

In the middle of the afternoon Monday, I got a call from a strange man. He told me he was an OTR truck driver and my mother knew he was coming through Macon and wanted him to call and tell me she was okay. They had just spent three days with about sixty other people in a small tavern just outside of Cameron.

  • * * *

Mother’s story

Like I said, mother left Kansas City about two o’clock Friday in a light snow. She was driving a 1960 Ford Galaxy. Nice heavy car. She stopped at Liberty for gas and there was a car full of teenaged boys. One was an old boyfriend of mine who told his companions, “I’m going to ride with Mrs. Crawford so she won’t be by herself in the snow.”

They got just past the Excelsior Springs junction, and were stopped. I’m not sure if they got stuck in a drift, or if the car stalled. A couple stopped and picked them up and they continued toward Cameron.

About three miles before Cameron, their car also got stalled. They made it to this little tavern. (I was never sure exactly where the tavern was, but I think there was a junction or intersection or something.)

The tavern owner had gone into Cameron for supplies leaving his pregnant wife and nine-month-old baby when all of these people sought shelter.

The only food in the place was the shrimp the tavern served every Friday night. Of course, they had plenty of alcohol.

One of the semis was carrying oranges from Florida, and the driver broke the seal on the trailer and they had oranges.

In addition to the tavern owners’ baby, there were two more babies in diapers. Twins who were traveling with their father to meet up with their mother for Christmas. Of course, this was before disposable diapers. Mother said they had diapers draped all over the place drying.

  • * * *

The thing that made me most upset:

My mother and I wore the same size clothes. She had borrowed a dress from me. It was a turquoise wool and was one of my favorites. Needless to say, it was completely ruined.

http://www.newspressnow.com/news/reverse-snow-day-students-were-stuck-in-blizzard/article_b7e6e8d7-ee90-597b-b2c9-34fae21ca0b0.html

New Year

Let’s see if I can be more active on here this year.

Cover problem

Had a bit of a problem yesterday. There’s another book on Amazon that uses the same stock photo as my cover. Publisher and I decided to not change our cover. The photo so matches the main character whom I described before I ever saw the picture. My first thought on seeing the photo, “That’s Sean!”

 

Coming next month

Andy got out of his car at the lakefront a few minutes before eight.

A bulldozer, three logging trucks, a crane, and a truck equipped with a giant saw on the back stood between the lake and the woods.

The sky was cloudless, there was not even a hint of a breeze, and the temperature was unseasonably warm, especially for so early in the morning.

James Buckler stood beside the bulldozer. He wiped his face with a handkerchief as a news truck pulled into the clearing next to the logging trucks, and a reporter and photographer got out.

Andy smiled inwardly. Buckner was acting nervous. Maybe the talk of witches was getting to him. Or it could be the mind-talking. Hearing voices and not knowing what it was about would be unnerving. He was glad Sean had explained it to him.

The photographer turned a video camera on the assembled group.

“You people have no business here,” James Buckler said to the gathered crowd. “Go on home and stay home.”

“We’re just watching to see what happens when you try to clear the woods,” Bill Davis said. “We’ll see how the witches handle things.”

James’ face turned red in anger. “I told you there’s no such thing as a witch!”

The reporter approached James. “Mr. Buckler, how do you propose to clear that hedge? The townspeople seem to believe the woods are protected by witches.”

“Really? In this day and age, you believe in witches?”

“Didn’t say I believe, but the townspeople seem to. What’s going to happen to the trees?” He held the microphone toward James.

A fake smile covered James’ face as he handed him a folder. “Here’s the official statement regarding these proceedings from Aronson Resorts. You’ll find architects’ drawings of the planned facility. The wood from the trees has already been negotiated for with a fencing company. The proceeds will be used to offset the cost of construction.”

A black limo pulled up, and the mayor and governor emerged.

Are you ready Andy? Sean’s calm voice sounded in his head. Look to the top of the hill.

He turned his head. Ready as I’ll ever be. “Look!” He pointed to the top of the hill as three hooded figures appeared out of nowhere. Two tall figures flanked a third about a foot shorter. All three held tall staffs. A huge black bird perched on the shoulder of one of the taller figures, and an enormous black dog stood beside the other. “There. See. The witches.”

The photographer turned his video camera toward the three.

The figure with the raven raised his hand and pointed a finger toward the photographer. A red stream, almost like a laser beam, followed the trajectory of the finger.

The camera fell from his hands.

The reporter glared at him. “What happened? Why did you drop the camera? That thing is delicate and expensive. You break it, it’ll come out of your pay.”

“It felt like it’s on fire.” The photographer shook his hands and blew on them.

The reporter turned to James. “Do you foresee trouble?”

James shook his head. “If they think they can scare us into stopping this, they’re very much mistaken. It’s just three people dressed in robes. That one must have a laser gun.”

“We’ll see,” Andy said. “They may do more than try to scare you.”

The governor looked around at the assembled equipment. “Are we ready to break ground?” He was sweating, and his eyes darted around the area nervously.

“Ready when you are.” James handed the governor an axe and pointed toward a small tree. “If you’ll chop that sapling, the photographer will take a picture, and we can get started. The ‘dozer will make quick work of the hedge around the trees, and then we can cut the taller trees down.”

The governor looked at the photographer. “Be sure and film me from the front and from the waist up. I don’t want my paunch to show.”

The photographer nodded, gingerly picked the camera up from the ground, and moved to get a better shot.

The governor took the axe from James and moved toward the sapling.

On the hill, Sean, Kyra, and Kieran raised their joined hands. Their voices carried to the assembled group as if they were speaking through amplifiers. As one, they said:

“We call upon the power of three.

As we will, so mote it be.”

Then the figure with the bird raised his arms, pointed the top of his staff toward the woods, and chanted:

“Let the trees their voices scream,

Let their bright, red blood be seen.

I call on Flidais, ‘Hear my plea.’

As I will, so mote it be.”

He turned his other hand over, and something fluttered to the ground.

The governor raised the axe and struck the sapling, felling it with one blow. An earsplitting scream echoed through the air. It sounded as if it came from the sapling as it fell.

A loud wailing, like the sound of a thousand voices, arose from the woods. Although the people felt not even a small breeze, it looked like a hurricane had hit the woods. Branches waved in the air as if the trees were waving their arms.

A red substance oozed from the stump of the sapling.

Bill Davis pointed at the stump. “Look! The tree’s bleeding!”

A waving branch from one of the younger trees caught James on the shoulder and nearly knocked him down.

“It’s the witches!” a woman called. “The trees are protecting their own.”

The governor cowered behind the mayor and grabbed her arm, his eyes wild with fear.

“You pantywaist, get away from me!” She pulled her arm away.

The shortest figure pointed its staff at the lake and a female voice intoned:

“Mighty Morgan, I call on thee.

Let the waves roll wild and free.

Let the winds stir up the sea.

As I will, so mote it be.”

The woman made a motion of waves with her hand.

James hurriedly stepped away from the lake as waves whipped up by strong, gale-force winds rose to a height tall enough to please the most avid surfer and crashed against the shore of the usually calm water. Each wave brought the waters of the lake closer to the group, the equipment, and the trucks.

The governor ran and stood beside the limo.

Larry Stewart spoke, “It’s just like the story my dad told last night about my grandfather trying to put a boat in the water. The lake wouldn’t allow it.”

The third figure raised its staff:

“Taranis, we call upon your lightning.

Let it strike an it harm none,

Just kill the beast that eats our trees.

As I will, so mote it be.”

He struck the ground with his staff.

Visible rays of light rose from the head of the staff.

Lightning flickered across the clear sky, and thunder immediately exploded in a deafening roar that shook the ground. A bolt of lightning struck the bulldozer. Smoke rose from the engine, and the smell of burning oil filled the air. Rain poured in buckets from the cloudless sky. The tracks of the ‘dozer sank into the fast-developing mud. Most of the crowd raced for the shelter of their cars leaving only a handful of people standing in the rain.

As the crowd stared at the trio on the hill, their bodies shimmered with light, and they disappeared leaving three clouds of energy.

Andy ducked his head to hide his grin.

“Who were those people?” the governor asked. “Where did they go?” He looked around wildly and grabbed James’ arm.

“We warned you,” Andy answered. “The witches of Witches’ Woods don’t want you here.”

James pulled away from the governor. “I told you people, there is no such thing as a witch.” He stomped his foot like a petulant child.