Saturday, September 26, 2015



I don’t know why we’re always surprised at negative emotions. The worse of them are hard-wired in our brain from a primitive time when we had to fight tooth and nail for our very existence.

No one is born civilized. Babies are not born good; they are born innocent. Civilized behavior is a trait learned from those who nurture us during our formative years. There is always enough anger, rage, and hate to go around. At some time in our early years, most of us learn how to handle negative emotions, or at least avoid the worse of them. The emotion that few of us learn to master is rejection. We meet someone, and we admire them. We want to be their friend. There might be a time when we love them, only to be faced with rejection. There is no plan or blueprint to guide us around the worse of it, and it hurts so much that sometimes it is hard to even breathe. In BLINDSIDED, Rodney is the starting quarterback on the football team and the most popular student in school. He has a bright future ahead of him when everything suddenly goes wrong. His story is no different from the things that have happened to many others as they struggle through their high school years. It might have happened to you. I hope you will take a moment to follow the link below to Amazon Scout’s promotional site and click the ‘Nominate Me’ button. It will give me a chance to win a contract for my YA novel. Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day.   

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The making of a Novel

I have written 16 books that vary from Civil War stories to Suspense, Crime fiction, and Westerns. Even though they vary widely in subject matter, they have one characteristic in common. All of them contain romance as a subplot because love is a part of life as I know it. Until I started writing Blindsided, I had never written a story that could be classified as Romance. I saw the opportunity as a challenge. I wanted to write a realistic young adult romance, so the reader would say; “I’ve been there and done that.” Here is how I went about preparing myself to write Blindsided.

High school is an emotional, often traumatic time in the life of most young people. There can be many negative experiences such as bullying, fierce competition, anger, and other raw feelings that leave us emotionally crushed. Important decisions that shape the rest of our lives have to be made, and many of them aren’t made easily. To write this type of story effectively, you have to get in the mood emotionally. The best way is for the author to reacquaint himself with the sights, sounds and the smells of a typical high school. I read sections of high school textbooks to bring back the feeling of what it is like to cram for a test. I did a lot of research on the things taught, not because I wanted to include all of those details in my novel, but because I wanted to return to the years when I was a teenager. I dug a football out of our utility room and bounced it in my hand. And then I thought of music. No one knows when music was invented, but it is thought to be a representation of our body’s natural rhythms. Play a rock song that has 150 beats per minute and you will feel your heart speed up. As I wrote and rewrote sections of Blindsided, I found music that represented the things that were happening in the story. I found a couple of love songs, the kind they played at the senior prom and listened to them over and over again. Another important scene in the story happened during football practice. I found several fight songs and played them over and again. I watched videos made at football games where the excitement was building, and coaches and players had furious expressions as they glanced at the clock on the scoreboard. In the videos, cheerleaders danced along the sidelines with emotions that varied from ecstasy to agony, and I remembered what it was like. You experience a lot of emotions during your high school years, some of them so raw that your mind veers quickly away to something more pleasant. Occasionally, an event can slip up on you, and you find yourself, well . . . blindsided. It is what this novel is all about. I hope you will get a copy when it becomes available and read it. I also hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Please follow the link below to KindleScout’s site and hit the Nominate Me button to vote for me. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



I have spent the last few months writing a book about intolerance and bullying. I have seen a lot of both during my lifetime, and most of it is from people who don’t know what they believe. Even the most intelligent among us change their core beliefs during their lifetime. Democrats become Republicans or the other way around. Marriages might not last a lifetime, and a career change is not beyond the realm of possibility.
 I was halfway through this article when I realized I was going to have to go all the way back to the title and start again. Originally, the title was ‘What I Believe,’ but as I continued to work on it, I realized I was working on the problem from the wrong direction. It is very difficult to explain what you believe because many readers will decide what you meant rather than what you said. The Beatles complained once because there were too many of their fans who tried to find deep meaning in their songs. Their response to this was an explanation that the songs didn’t mean anything important. The words were mostly chosen because they could be rhymed and set to music. 

There are a surprising number of people in the world who are negative, and most of them are on Facebook, or it least it seems that way. In the early 1700s a writer named Voltaire made the statement, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This statement sums up my attitude toward those who sow hate, intolerance, and discord. I don’t like statements that are overly negative to appear on my Facebook news feed, but I grant you the right to say them. I seldom remove a post of this nature unless it is particularly loathsome. Voltaire was one of the first to campaign for freedom of religion and freedom of expression. My strongest beliefs are bound up in Voltaire’s two statements.

I am not gay, transgender, or bisexual, but I want everyone to have the freedom to define their sexuality. What they believe or the way they live isn’t any of my business. I might not agree with you on politics, but I want you to have the right to vote for the candidate of your choice without undue pressure by those who disagree. As long as your behavior doesn’t interfere with the freedom of another, I want you to decide what beliefs will guide you through life even if it is unpopular.

I am opposed to bullying, oppression, and the quick putdown that seems to be so popular today. A man accused of a double murder made the statement, “I am so very sorry.” Sorry doesn’t cut it when irrevocable damage has already been done. Are your preferences really so important that you need to make others uncomfortable in order to express them? I received an email from a friend on the far side of the world after he read the first three chapters of Blindsided. “You’ve really put your foot in it this time,” he observed thinking of the controversy that might ensue from what is a nothing more than a Young Adult novel. Well, maybe not. I am not the guy you would select to sing lullabies to your babies or to read them a bedtime story. The world is full of harsh realities and I’m a big boy. Bullying, harassment, or the latest version of cruelty isn’t the answer to the ills of society. There is a better way, and it leads upward. Thank you for reading and God bless.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


If you look at the statistics, you might think that bullying is the number one sport in America rather than football. There are far too many incidents, and a surprising number of them lead to suicide. Each year, 750,000 people attempt suicide in the U.S. and 30,000 of them succeed. No one knows how many of the suicides among adolescents are caused by bullying, but the numbers would be astronomical.

Not all bullying leads to something so shocking, but bullying is never a positive thing. Much of it is subtle, but it still hurts those who are victimized. Most of us have experienced it at one time or the other. It might happen to the only girl who wears glasses in her class, and her classmates call her Old Foureyes. No one remembers that she won the spelling bee two years in a row, or that she has the best voice in the chorus. They sometimes forget her real name. Or you might be the kid who had to move to a new school because your father got a better job. Your grandparents came from Asia, and the kids call you Hung Chow and pull their eyes up at the corners and make funny faces behind your back. Or maybe you are standing in front of your hotel waiting to go to a speaking engagement at the civic center, and an overzealous cop body slams you, or maybe you are the cop and you stop a motorist on a lonely stretch of highway. As you approach the window, you see a large pistol aimed at your face, and you think about your wife and your two children . . .

I could go on forever, and I do to some extent in my newest novel, Blindsided. It is about bullying, the unfair judgment of others just because they perceive us as being different. Some of you will read Blindsided, and you will say that’s not so bad. It just happens. Suck it up. Others of you will see it differently as you remember your pain so vividly that it will jar your back teeth loose. Go to AmazonScout’s website and read the excerpt, and then click the ‘Nominate Me’ button which will give me a chance to win a publishing contract. Thank you for listening and God bless.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Young Adult Novel BLINDSIDED now on Kindle Scout's promotional platform 

On September 12th, I will launch my Young Adult Romance novel Blindsided on Amazon’s new publishing program called Kindle Scout. I hope that many of you will support me in this effort by going to their site and read the excerpt and book description. Here are some of the things you might be interested in and my motivation for writing the book.

A book like Blindsided requires an inordinate amount of research because of the nature of the subject. I wanted to be as accurate as I could from a medical standpoint without weighing the reader down with too many statistical facts. I also wanted to know why there were some who felt they were born in the wrong body, and how this conclusion came into being. Was it peer pressure, a desire to be different, or were the beliefs about their own body and orientation valid. It was interesting to explore the reason so many feel threatened by those who are different from the rest of us. This also gave me an opportunity to ponder the fact that there are vast numbers of people who have objections to those who are ‘different’ based on religion, ethnicity, or gender, yet are tolerant concerning some other kinds of behavior that should be an issue to all of us. Bullying is never acceptable for any reason, although there is far too much of it occurring at schools, on social media and wherever people come in contact with others. I think it is fair to tell you that my research caused me to examine my own values on a variety of subjects.

Please take the time to read the excerpt and click the ‘Nominate Me’ button. It will make it possible for me to win a publishing contract with Kindle Scout. Those who participate will receive a free copy of the book at a later date.

Friday, June 26, 2015


If you were to search for the reason so many people left their homeland in Europe and came to America, the word ‘freedom’ would rank high on the list. Freedom is embodied in our Bill of Rights and it is the foundation of our society. We are said to believe that the pursuit of happiness‒ as long as it doesn’t impact the rights of others‒ is what America is all about. Why is it then that we have given most of our rights away in the last two decades in pursuit of being safer and more secure when we really aren’t? The War of Drugs gave law enforcement the right to break down your door at 3 a.m. to search for drugs that are alleged to be on your premises. They really don’t need any proof beyond a ‘tip’ from someone who is said to have reliable information.

Regulations that allow banks and other financial institutions to turn over your financial records to others‒ who really don’t have any right to know you private business‒ has created the opportunity for crooks and con artist to have access to your bank and saving accounts. The government can spy on you while you are on the Internet, despite the assurances that you cannot be unreasonably searched. Most of our personal freedoms are embodied in the Fourth Amendment which says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In may cases, probable cause has been cast aside in the name of expedience.

In the past two weeks, there has been an almost hysterical reaction to the shooting in a South Carolina church that has nothing to do with the crime or what it might take to prevent racial hate crimes in the future. The governor ordered the Confederate flag taken down from the state capitol building, which is probably a good thing, but mass hysteria has caused other zealots to take a giant leap forward with an agenda they can’t explain and probably don’t understand. Knee jerk reactions seldom solve anything. There are petitions demanding all materials referring to the Confederacy be removed from store shelves. Some of our largest chain stores have complied. This involves commemorative license plates, materials and objects used by Civil War Reenactors, T-shirts, and many other things. Few people in the South view them as racial symbols. They are simply a part of our history in the minds of most of our citizens. Rewriting history is a dangerous endeavor that solves no useful purpose. There is even a call from a New York literary critic to stop the showing of ‘Gone with the Wind.’ How long will it be until Amazon and other booksellers ban all books having a Civil War theme. Most of this hysteria is driven by politicians who hope to gain an advantage by whipping the citizenry into a feeding frenzy. While many of us were shouting and gibbering in the streets, congress sneaked the trade bill past us. Maybe it would be a good idea to read again the statement made by a writer named Voltaire about freedom of speech.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.”

I do not believe in censorship in any form except where underage, impressionable children are involved. Do you want anyone telling you what you must think, say, or do? If our freedom of expression is eroded away, then what is left? Think about it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lynn Vincent

I followed the voyage of Zac Sunderland in National Geographic magazine when he, at 17, became the youngest person to sail solo around the world. When Zac’s sister, Abby, decided to beat her brother’s record, I was astounded. Why on earth would a 16-year-old girl try to accomplish something so difficult? Was this a death wish, was she overreaching, or was someone or something pushing her beyond her abilities?
At the time of Abby’s voyage, I was battling cancer and was only vaguely aware of the news coverage, except that she only made it half way around the world before she had to be rescued. Recently, someone gave me a copy of her book, Unsinkable, which detailed the events leading up to her voyage, and what was involved in her attempt to break her brother’s record. Much has been written about the voyage, with so many becoming vocal critics of her abilities, even going so far as to criticize her and her family as nothing more than thrill seekers. Having pursued several difficult and sometimes dangerous sports, I started reading the book with an open mind. Was her attempt foolhardy, or was there something larger than life that drove her on?
In view of the criticism Abby and her family received, she and her co-author spent a lot of time in explaining the type of family she came from and the kind of things each of them expected of themselves. Her father was a sailor and somewhat of an expert on all things nautical, after having spent the last 30 years on boats. Abby loved the sea and at 13 started helping her father deliver boats along the coast of California and down the length of Mexico. Often, there were two boats to deliver to some marina, and she sailed one while her father handled the other. Her father, Lawrence, taught Abby about the sea, the equipment, and the dangers to avoid. I wasn’t far into the book when I decided that the way Abby was raised wasn’t very different from the way in which my generation grew up. There are few of us who can remember when we started driving or when we were turned loose with large pieces of farm equipment. We worked hard, shared responsibilities, and were mentored by every adult we were around. Most kids today are sheltered by their parents and don’t know how to handle any of life’s experiences. Upon graduating from high school, they have mastered their cell phones, the Internet, and little else. They have no job skills, yet they are sent off to college or to the workplace, after having absorbed unrealistic expectations from thousands of movies and televisions programs. No wonder so many of them grab the first job that comes along and spend the rest of their lives making a living and never really learning to live. There is something exhilarating about pushing yourself to the limit and beyond that few people who haven’t experienced it understand. Mountains are climbed because they are there, and oceans are crossed because there are adventuresome people who cannot resist. As Lawrence said in the book, “No one comes away from the sea unchanged.” The same is true for any other endeavor that pushes us to the limit in order to grow and to become. What Abby did was dangerous, but think of the many thousands of teens who die each year because they can’t handle a car safely, or they don’t seem to be able to drive without sending a text message to their friends while they are behind the wheel. Parents need to learn to encourage their children to pursue their dreams, and then be willing to turn them loose to find their place in the world. If you are a parent, you need to read this book. It is a story of faith, determination, and courage. You will come away from it energized and perhaps strangely changed.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins

BOOK REVIEW ~~ Five Stars

My favorite type of book is a Thriller, and especially a well-researched thriller. So many books today deal mostly with rapidly escalating disasters that leave the reader’s head spinning. Cars, guts, and buildings are blown higher and higher with sound and fury that signifies nothing. It is a relief to read an author who can handle these elements and make them logical -- one of the prerequisites of a good action novel.

In Altar of Eden, Rollins weaves a tale that is not predictable. As a veterinarian, he has researched his subject matter well, especially DNA and what research and development might do in the future. Place this ability in the hands of an unscrupulous group and you have the substance of which nightmares are made. Rollins’ descriptions of locals and events are visual in nature. You can see his characters vividly. He grips the throat of the reader from the very first page and doesn’t let go until the end. If you are looking for adventure, suspense, terror, the clash of human relationships, passion and rapid moving action, you might want to consider reading this book. Move over Michael Crichton and make room for James Rollins! I highly recommend this book. Five stars for this one.

I reviewed this book after having received it as a gift from a friend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review of The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks


When someone on Facebook asked, “are there any men who write romance?” I immediately thought of Nicholas Sparks and his seventeen romance novels. I went to my bookshelves and prowled through the section where I had his books filled neatly away. It had been a number of years since I had read The Guardian, so I brought it back to my easy chair and decided to read it again. In the few minutes I had been gone from my computer, several comments had been posted, and a few of them said that Sparks didn’t really write Romance. One woman, with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek said, “there isn’t a single chiseled chin or a drop-dead gorgeous he-man in any of his books. The characters are just ordinary people.” The Guardian was published in 2003, but I couldn’t wait to read it again.

The guardian is the story of Julie Barenson, a young woman who had struggled through her teen years, then found the man of her dreams; someone who loved and valued her. His sudden death left her devastated, alone, and unable to pick up her life again. Then she received a letter her husband had written before he died promising that he would look after her, and asking her to find someone else to love her. The note was attached to a box containing a small ugly puppy. Four years passed and she began to date again, but what kind of man did she really want to spend the rest of her life with? Did she want to get romantically involved with Mike, her best friend, or did she want it to be Richard who was trying to sweep her off her feet? The book is filled with suspense. You might say that is a romantic thriller, but however you label this book, it is exciting and unforgettable. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Dark Fantasy novels are growing steadily in popularity, and fans of the genre are sure to find this first book in Darcia Helle’s series, ELI’S COMING, an enjoyable read. This is a fantasy story concerning Eli’s ‘gift’ which he has inherited from his American Indian ancestors. At first he has considered it a curse, but has come to realize that his super-human abilities can also be used for good. Eli has a dark past, and this serves as the force driving the plot of this supernatural thriller. In addition to the dangers he faces, there are also some inner demons that he has to conquer. He meets and falls in love with Amanda, and he is forced to carefully weigh the choices that might cause her harm. Amanda must also weigh the choices she is forced to make. This is a real page-turner as the reader is pulled along by the unfolding plot. If you are a fan of dark fantasy, you won’t be able to lay this book down. Thanks for letting me introduce you to this book, and I hope you will have a happy reading experience.

Joe Prentis
[I received this book as a gift in exchange for an unbiased review.]

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review of Wolf Spencer on Julies Book Review
Wolf Spencer
Joe Prentis

The opening of this book reads like a Clint Eastwood / Sergio Leone spaghetti western. Credit goes to Joe Prentis for a cinematic vision and being able to write in a style that captures the details of the Old West. If you like reading Westerns this first book of Prentis’ Renegade series will keep your interest. It has the makings of establishing a new genre. Call it the Western as Mystery. Wolf Spencer is a man with a past. Who he is and why are part of the mystery. Why did he leave the town that opens memorably with, ”If Wolf Spencer saw the gallows as he rode into town, there was no indication...under the shade of his flat ­brimmed hat”? Why did he come back? Does he love Shannon? Does Shannon love him? What happened between them? Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys? It’s the kids’ game of
Cowboys and Indians all over again with a twist ­ not all the Indians are bad guys. Many questions arise and many answers are given. But many answers are not given.
You have to read the whole Renegade series to get all the answers.
4 Stars

Posted by Julie Ramsey on:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015



This winter has been the worse in the memory of most of us. Areas of the northern United States have seen as much as one-hundred inches of snow, ice and freezing rain. Harbors along the Atlantic that are normally open all winter have been frozen thick enough to require icebreakers to open a passageway. Even the southern part of the United States has been hit hard because winters are normally mild and there isn’t a lot of equipment to clear away snow or ice. Winter lingering so late in the season makes you wonder if there might be something ominous in store for us in the near future.
I had never heard of the ‘Year Without a Summer’ until I was reading a local history written during the early part of the 20th century. According to the author’s account, an abnormally cold summer occurred in 1816 when the average temperature of the earth dropped by 0.7 to 1.3 Fahrenheit. There were major food shortages across North America and Europe, and even in the southern United States, a snow or two occurred in June. There was frost and freezing temperatures each morning during July.
It is believed that this anomaly was caused by the explosion the previous year of a volcano in what is now Indonesia, spewing large amounts of dust and chemicals into the atmosphere. This is thought to be the largest volcanic eruption in the last 1700 years. This ‘aerosol veil,’ as it has been called, was in the upper atmosphere where it was not dispersed by rain as is often the case after a volcanic eruption.
In Europe there was a famine that resulted in riots. Widespread starvation occurred when the price of food and firewood rose to astronomical levels. These conditions were further aggravated by poor transportation and a lack of management on the part of the governments involved.
Can this happen again, or I guess I should ask, is it happening now. There are too many people who dismiss the idea of manmade climate change because it runs contrary to the agenda they are pushing. Part of the problem has been caused by the name ‘global warming’ that was initially used, and when scientist changed the concept to ‘climate change’ it caused guffaws from world capitols as well as from the ordinary citizen on the streets. If you are a doubter concerning climate change, go and stand outside and face into the wind. I live in the sunny south and this time last year I mowed my lawn for the first time to get rid of some rapid growing weeds, and to give the grass a chance to grow. Today, they are predicting one to three inches of snow, and the possibility of another round of abnormal weather. I don’t know if climate change is real or the figment of someone’s imagination, but there are people who do know. We ought to hold their feet to the fire until they produce the facts and figures and insist that our leaders do something about it. If you want to read more on this subject, Google it on the Internet.