Helen Sedwick – COYOTE WINDS

Coyote-Winds-Cover-12.10.12Title: COYOTE WINDS

Author: Helen Sedwick

ISBN: 9780615692616

Page count: 244

Genre: Historical fiction/Young adult

Price: trade paperback $9.99; e-book $5.99

 

Author Bio:

I grew up in a theater family in New York City. I majored in English at Cornell University and worked as an advertising copywriter before attending the University of Chicago Law School. After graduation, I moved to San Francisco Bay Area where I practice business law. I have been a finalist and received honorable mentions for short stories in the Writer’s Digest Competition for Mainstream/Literary Fiction, the Lorian Hemmingway Short Story Contest, and bosque (the magazine). I recently won second place in the Redwood Writers Flash Fiction Contest for a piece adapted from COYOTE WINDS, and my work appears in bosque (the magazine) and Redwood Writers Vintage Voices 2012 Anthology. I now live in the Sonoma wine country with Howard Klepper, a builder of handcrafted guitars, and an exuberant hound dog named Farlow.

 

Tell us about your book: 

COYOTE WINDS is a coming-of-age story about a teen-age boy Myles and his one-eyed coyote Ro on the prairie in the years leading up to the Dust Bowl. In a parallel story, Myles’s grandson, Andy, comes to realize that his grandfather’s boyhood of hunting rabbits and snaring rattlesnakes sounds better than his safe, suburban routine of algebra and soccer practice. Sedwick-Author-Photo-12.10.12He sets out to have some adventures of his own.

Thematically, COYOTE WINDS explores the American can-do spirit that drew people to the wind-swept prairie and the consequences of that spirit, both good and bad. It opens during the ‘Great Plow-Up’ of the 1920s, a time of optimism and confidence when a man was measured by what he produced, not what he could buy. It ends in the early part of the Dust Bowl when that spirit is challenged by drought and the Great Depression. And it asks whether that spirit survives today.

 

How long did it take to write the book?

I started writing the book in late 2008. I wrote the first draft in two months, but then rewrote and revised the manuscript off and on for four years. Scenes and chapters came and went, darlings were killed, small characters grew into major ones. Writing a novel is a messy process.

 

What inspired you to write the book?

I was inspired to write COYOTE WINDS by my father’s stories of growing up during the Dust Bowl. While there was plenty of blowing dust in his stories, he also talked about freedom and adventure. With the schools closed, he spent his days hunting and exploring. He collected arrowheads and grasshoppers. He listened to radio serials like Little Orphan Annie, Tom Mix, and Jack Armstrong, All American Boy. He camped out on the prairie grass and counted a thousand shooting stars. I wanted to contrast my father’s unfenced boyhood with the over-supervised life of a modern, suburban boy who “couldn’t ride a bike without a helmet, play soccer without pads, or ride in a car with a driver under thirty.”

As I researched the Dust Bowl, I discovered that it is a classic example of American optimism. That can-do attitude which got us to the moon is the source of our greatest achievements, but also our worst follies. It drew families to the dry, wind-swept prairie with dreams of owning their own land and feeding the world. For a few years, many succeeded. But eventually “the wind did what it always did. Blow. And the men and women who tore up the land gave the wind the weapon that ripped their dreams apart.”

COYOTE WINDS is about good families doing what they believed to be the right thing, only to have the results turn out so terribly wrong. I wanted to tell that story.

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I practice law for a living, and I find that I have a hard time making the transition between practicing law and writing fiction. If I jump back and forth, I end up not focusing well on either.  So rather than write every day, I have ‘law days’ and ‘writing days.’

Research—that was the fun part. I researched coyotes, rattlesnakes, rifles, prairie dogs, homesteading, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and the Volga Germans settlers. I looked at old Vogue and Harpers magazines to see what young women like Clare were reading. I watched 1930’s movies, including gangster movies and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, and listened to old radio serials. I watched videos of swing dancing and the lindy hop. Whenever my writing got stuck, I researched and came up with new ideas.

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I hope they come away with a better understanding of the human side of the Dust Bowl. When most people think of the Dust Bowl, they remember grainy black-and-white photos of looming clouds and impoverished families. They might not appreciate that it was a full-color event involving hard-working, well-intentioned people. I hope readers will understand this history on the personal scale.

I also hope readers will have a better appreciation that predators like coyotes play an important role in the balance of nature.

Finally, I want people to wonder if overprotecting our children stifles their dreams and ambitions.

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

My book is scheduled to be released in March 2013 and will be available on Amazon (trade paperback and e-book), Smashwords (e-books in all formats), BarnesandNoble.com and other on-line retailers, and by order through your local bookstore. You can also order copies directly from Ten Gallon Press at orders@tengallonpress.com.

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?

My website: www.helensedwick.com

Blog: www.helensedwick@blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/helensedwickauthor

 

Excerpt from book:

The following except describes a rabbit drive.

 

One evening, driving the eleven miles between Vona and the farm, Myles counted one hundred and ten rabbits in the headlights. Mangy cottontails and skittish jackrabbits stared at the truck with half-starved eyes glowing red in the headlights.

Farmers pulled rabbits out of hog troughs and corncribs. They caught thin babies squeezing through garden fences. One woman found a brood in her cellar, but not before they had eaten a season’s harvest of potatoes. At the hardware store, at the feedlot, after church, all people talked about were rabbits. In his Sunday sermon, the minister ranted against the long-eared devils.

The farmers blamed the ranchers for killing all the coyotes. The ranchers blamed the farmers for planting all the rabbit food. The county called for rabbit drives and offered a bounty of two cents an ear. It would provide the chicken wire if the towns provided the clubs.

One morning, Lionel and Myles helped a group of men set up a fence in a large circle with a funnel leading into it. Then they joined over a hundred people gathered beside the Republican River. Neighbors chatted with one another, catching up on marriages, babies, and deaths. A man from Burlington offered homemade ale in Mason jars. Boys tossed ax handles in the air like batons, and men held barking dogs on tight leashes. As the sun warmed the air, mist rose from the backs of anxious horses.

Myles saw Tommy herding his younger brothers and sisters into the crowd. Each carried a club or a stick. Herbert was showing the little ones how to swing. Myles and Lionel had left Shirley standing at the house, her arms crossed in front of her chest. Between her chickens and hogs, she said she’d seen enough killing. And Clare had waved them off. She had bought an old typewriter from the Burlington newspaper when it closed down, and she was teaching herself to type. She claimed that the typewriter, not the tractor, was the machine that would change the world. Every time she said that, Lionel grew red in the face.

Myles watched the crowd fan out into a circle at least half a mile across. The men with dogs and horses rimmed the outside. Then a shot fired, and the crowd, shouting and whistling, moved inward toward the fenced area. In front of them, panicked rabbits exploded from the grasses. Those that tried to break the line were run down by the dogs or clubbed in flight.

As the crowd moved in, people became giddy. Hundreds of rabbits ran ahead of them into the fenced pen. They looked like a herd of sheep, except for the big ears and loping gate. A loud cheer rose as the men closed the funnel and trapped the rabbits.

Myles’s ears rang with the sounds of the hooting crowd. As he climbed inside the fence, he stumbled over the terrified rabbits. He wondered why they didn’t jump the fence, why they huddled in thigh-high bundles and bit one another. He almost tossed a handful over the fence so he could watch them bolt to freedom and life.

With so many people in close proximity, no guns were allowed. So men and women swung their clubs down onto the heads of the rabbits. Myles had killed rabbits before, but always from the comforting distance of a gun. He hadn’t known they cried when frightened. They squealed like a door hinge in need of oil. No, like a baby pig. No, like a newborn baby. They squealed by the hundreds. Myles could not do it. He could not lift his club. Lionel took him aside. “I know it’s brutal. But the rabbits will starve us out.”

“If people like Moser didn’t kill all the coyotes,” Myles argued.

“Don’t act better than your neighbors,” Lionel barked. “Do your part.”

But Myles couldn’t. He pretended to swing, intentionally missing the rabbits, twice hitting his own shin with a painful smack. His clothes grew soggy with sweat, blood, and brains.

At the end of the day, the crowd had killed over four hundred rabbits. To get the bounty, people chopped off ears and stuffed them into burlap sacks. The earless cottontails were split among the families. Some farmers took jackrabbits for pig feed and pelts. The rest of the carcasses were left for the buzzards, coyotes, and rats.

On the drive home, Lionel hummed a tune. “Bet you some day they’ll put radios in trucks like this. People will drive their Fords and Chevrolets and listen to music at the same time.”

Myles sank low in his seat. Every bump in the road shook his bones and rattled his teeth. He didn’t remember the days being so cold, so gray. He didn’t remember aching like this. He couldn’t understand how land so flat made a ride so rough.

He had to cover his ears to block out his father’s songs.

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Michael Jay – DOG WATER FREE, A Memoir

DogWaterFreecoverFINAL_Amazon960x1280Title: DOG WATER FREE, A Memoir

Author: Michael Jay

ISBN: 9781623094645

Page count: 237

Genre: Coming-of-Age Memoir for Mature New Adults and Moms of all ages

Price: $8.39 at Amazon and wherever great eBooks are sold.

 

Author Bio:

Michael Jay grew up in Detroit. A graduate of Harvard College, he earned his MBA at Northeastern University in 1983. The proud father of two beautiful daughters, Michael lives in Idaho.

 

Tell us about your book:

Meet Joe Black visits The Wonder Years in the true story of DOG WATER FREE. It chronicles the journey of a boy named Mikee, whose coming-of-age search for emotional truth lands an orphan from the unlikely side of Detroit front and center before England’s Queen, America’s Maestro, and the first non-Italian Pontiff in more than 400 years. A family saga at its core, DOG WATER FREE is an uplifting story of discovery that celebrates a remarkable hero in the person of an ordinary mom who is thrust into an extraordinary situation, the likes of which few could imagine.

michael-jay-and-his-girlsMikee is eleven when his world turns upside down. His mom is sharing news from her doctor. She has a year to prepare her family for her death. Her passing will leave the man she loves and the four children she cherishes alone to fend for themselves. “At least you’ll always have your dad,” she comforts. Still on her mission fifteen months later, her focus heightens when her husband drops dead. With that, Mikee’s improbable journey begins.

 

How long did it take to write the book?

DOG WATER FREE has taken 3 years to write, edit, re-write and publish.

 

What inspired you to write the book?

I was encouraged to publish my coming-of-age memoir by my friend of 30-years, Tom Wales, who plays a pivotal role in my story. He is believed to be the only Federal Prosecutor in U.S. history to have been killed in the line of duty. DOG WATER FREE is dedicated to his memory and to his beautiful family who long for closure.

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I begin each day with two black coffees, followed by a morning work-out. I spend the next 7+ hours writing. After purging my thoughts I resist re-visiting what I have written each day for weeks on end. Best to let it settle. As for research, I made sure that everything was 100% true and accurate.

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

My initial hope was that readers would come away knowing that anyone can dream, regardless of where your journey begins.

With 25 Five-Star reviews posted thus far on Amazon, reader comments have been most gratifying:

 

“DOG WATER FREE is engaging, interesting, funny, sad, and uplifting all at once.” 

 

“First Book I’ve read straight through in years. I couldn’t put it down!” 

 

“When I wasn’t laughing out loud or crying I was smiling. This is a must read!” 

 

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

DOG WATER FREE is available at Amazon Kindle, and wherever great eBooks are sold. Also available at www.Lovereading.co.uk.

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?
www.dogwaterfree.com and www.facebook.com/dogwaterfree

 

Excerpt from book:

To read an excerpt please visit Amazon Kindle or www.dogwaterfree.com .

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Lawrence Winkler – Orion’s Cartwheel

coverTitle: Orion’s Cartwheel

Author: Lawrence Winkler

ISBN:    978-0-9916941-1-2

 

Page count: 340

Genre: Travel adventure

Price: 9.99

 

Author Bio: 

Lawrence Winkler is an ancient physician and phenomenologist, traveler, mushroom forager, and amateur naturalist. As a young man, he hitchhiked around the world, for five transformative years.

His middle age is morphing from medicine to manuscript. He has a passion for habitat protection, including the (hopefully) final repairs on a leaky roof. Westwood Lake Chronicles was his first book.

He lives on Vancouver Island with Robyn and Shiva, tending their garden and vineyard, and dreams.

 

 

Tell us about your book:

In the summer of 1980, a maverick young doctor gave it all up, to hitchhike around the world.

The first arc he carved with his thumb stopped a little red pickup that took him over the horizon. Like his mythical hunter companion, Orion, he was on a vision quest, propelled toward the dawn to have his sight restored.

This is the story of that five-year odyssey to discover his Destiny.

 

How long did it take to write the book?

One year

 

What inspired you to write the book?

Five year hitchhiking odyssey around the world

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Whenever I get a spare moment and my writing moccasins are near

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Refuge

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?

http://www.lawrencewinkler.com

 

Excerpt from book:

Orion’s Cartwheel

is an inaccurate name for this story, of course. Orion doesn’t do cartwheels. As you cross the equator from the northern to the southern hemisphere, he does a handstand, but he never turns all the way over in a complete circle. As you travel north again Orion ‘rights himself,’ something my parents were hoping would happen to me, as I followed a sinusoidal summer of the five years I was on the road. The problem is that you can’t call such an epic journey ‘Orion’s Handstand.’ There is no progress and no cachet. With cartwheels you get commitment, completion, and closure. You get the odyssey you signed up for. Push on through to the other side. Orion’s Cartwheel, it is.

 

Prelaunch

“Aim for knowledge. If you become poor it will be wealth for you.

If you become rich it will adorn you.”

El-Zubeir, son of Abu-Bakr

 

“Paging Dr. Winkler. Paging Dr. Winkler”.

They were always paging Dr. Winkler. Like I didn’t have anything else to do.

It was my intern training year in Straight Medicine, and I was experiencing all the joys of the ultimate sensory deprivation trip- no sleep, no natural light, no decent food, no time to eat it in, no regular forms of intercourse (social and otherwise) and, whatever self esteem I might have had going into this tunnel, hell, the Senior Residents would take that as well. I was one of the lucky ones, however. My route had been incubating for over two years. I was going over the top.

It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying my apprenticeship. I adored my patients, especially the old natives and the new immigrants. I loved the thrill of the diagnostic chase, the intellectual chess games at morning rounds, the midnight save (can you dance with the devil in the Pale moonlight), and the Spartan dedication to a Calling, bigger and older than I would ever become. Medicine ran in my veins, and I was good at it. Numerous Department Heads courted me, with promises of Fellowships and my own special clinical unit, ‘when I returned.’ But they had no idea where I would be coming from.

They found out from my Program Director, near the end of my year’s indenturedness. It was customary to meet with him to sign next year’s contract, and so he could refamiliarize himself with your face, in case you did.

“I don’t think I’m going to sign this, Bob.” I said, pushing the forms back in his direction.

“Huh. How come?” This had never happened to him before.

“I’ve been planning a little sabbatical.”

“But you just got here, Wink.” Now intrigued.

“I’ve been planning it for awhile.” I said.

“Where are you going?” We both waited for it.

“I was thinking of hitchhiking around the World”.

He didn’t even blink. “How long do you think you’ll need for that?”

“About five years, give or take”.

Then he paused, and played a bit with his beard.

“Call me from Bangkok. We’ll see what we can do.”

 

*         *        *

 

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

 

Goethe

 

I was doing my internship in Manitoba. For my sins. On one fine day back East, in my old medical school the previous year, just before we were all due to be matched to new geographies for our internships, the Dean of Medicine happened to walk into the pool shower room, on his way to what he thought would be a quiet noon hour swim. My best buddy, Hawkeye, and I were coming out. The Dean was going in. We had our swimsuits on. He didn’t. It would be fair to say that we enjoyed something of a reputation. Hawkeye gave me one of those looks that I knew was trouble.

“No”, I said, already too late. Hawkeye had his arms. I grabbed his feet and, as we heave-hoed him into the coeducational water, I swear I saw the Canadian prairies materialize outside the windows. Hawkeye did just as well. He was exiled to Saskatchewan. Both of us were going to have a very flat, very dark, and very cold year. I kept telling myself that there would be no distractions to learning.

There was one. She was a nurse I had met in Boston, during an elective the previous year. After two months on an Intensive Care Rotation in the middle of winter, I got my one-month holiday and flew down to be with her. Back at her apartment, she broke the news about the new cardiologist boyfriend, and I caught the next flight back to the deep freeze. I borrowed three hundred dollars from my parents and flew to Mexico. Yo quiero sol. Torrid and Stupid both end with the Id.  I was my own damn fault for expecting her to wait until ‘after I got back.’

Every morning I would awake at 4:30, and run to one of the two teaching hospitals, through the snowdrifts and forty below zero darkness. Every night I wasn’t on call, I would run back to my tenement apartment and, with luck, arrive by 8 pm. I would wolf down whatever easy food I could find in my kitchen, and then fall asleep at my desk, while planning. And dreaming. Of Greek temples and Turkish caravanserai and Incan ruins and Indian Ocean beaches. Of Italian cathedrals and African wildlife close encounters. Of mountains conquered and friends made. I studied tents and sleeping bags and portable stoves and immigration formalities. I collected travelogues and, out of the Penguin Guide to the World’s Places, wrote out the hundreds I needed to visit, before returning home. If I even knew where that would be after five years. My brother, Jay, warned me that he didn’t want to have to spend 35 cents on a stamp, just because I might decide to marry a girl from New Zealand. Those few hours every few nights sustained me and, as the year progressed, began to shine light into the dark recesses of my solitary existence.

“How long do you think you’ll need for that?”

“About five years, give or take”.

It was just simple orbital mechanics.

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