Laughter’s gift

Every week author Ronovan Hester invites readers to participate in a Haiku challenge. This week he provided these two words as prompts: easy and ride. Not so surprisingly, my first thought was the movie, Easy Rider. As images of the film floated past, I found myself thinking about my youth on the farm. 

I thought of my mom and how she managed to create a home for her brood of seven. We had none of the luxuries of the “city” folk, but we had something only mom could provide. She is the focus of today’s Haiku. 

Welcome to the “FINDING BILLY BATTLES TRILOGY” Blog Tour! @JHawker69 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA

Today I am honored to participate in the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy Blog Tour. The author, Ronald E. Yates, is an award winning writer of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media. His award-winning book, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. The first book in the trilogy, Finding Billy Battles, was published in 2014. Book #3 of the trilogy, The Lost Years of Billy Battles, was published in June 2018.

As a professional journalist, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places. His work resulted in multiple journalism awards, including three Pulitzer nominations and awards
from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Inter-American Press Association, to name a few.

Please take a moment to read an excerpt from his first book, Finding Billy Battles

Excerpt from Chapter Eight

Denver was the most modern city I had ever seen. Not only were most of its
buildings made of brick, as opposed to the false-front wooden structures in Dodge City, it had a population of thirty-five thousand in 1879 and was the first city in the west to have telephone service. I remember this fact very well because one of my first assignments was to write an article about the Denver Telephone Dispatch Company, which had opened for business just a few months before. The one fact I recall about that story was that the Denver telephone exchange was the seventeenth in the nation, opening just nine days after the Minneapolis exchange.

I was sure I was living in the most progressive city in the United States, and I
remember writing my mother a letter to that effect. She answered with a letter pointing out that Kansas City also had telephone service and wondered if I had thought about moving there so I would be closer to her. Lawrence, she said, was only about forty miles from Kansas City—not the five hundred that Denver was. I had no intention of going to Kansas City, nor could I return to Lawrence to resume my education on Hogback Ridge—not without risking arrest and probably imprisonment.

I was sure I had found my niche in the world. The Denver Sun was doing well, the
city was growing, and life was grand. It got even grander a few months later when I met and began courting a girl. Her name was Malvina Sophronia McNab, and I met her at a church social one Sunday evening.

Her father was a banker who played at real estate. In five years or so, he had bought up a half-dozen town lots and was putting up commercial buildings.

“What brought you all the way here to Denver?” Malvina’s father asked me one
evening when I had been invited to dinner in the McNab home.

I knew at the time he was not overly enthralled with my prospects as a newspaper
scribbler, and of course, I had not acknowledged the corn about my own shady past as a killer of men and their mothers.  

“Well, sir, after spending two years at the university—”

“What?” Mr. McNab interrupted. “You were at university? I was not aware you
come from the land of steady habits.” 

“I have my mother to thank for that,” I said, looking over at Mrs. McNab, a
handsome woman named Marguerita, who was about the same age as my mother. Mrs. McNab, it turned out, was of noble Spanish ancestry. Her family, which once had enjoyed substantial land holdings and political power in Mexico, had fled to the United States in the early part of the nineteenth century when Mexico, after some three hundred years of Spanish domination, declared its independence from Spain.

“Is that right?” she said. “Where might she be from?”

“Illinois country… but the family moved to Lawrence when she was very young.
They were strong abolitionists.”

“Well, doesn’t that beat the Dutch?” Mr. McNab said. “My people come from
Illinois too.”

That short exchange broke a lot of ice at the table, and from that moment on, I was accepted in the family almost as an equal. At least I was not viewed as someone from the mudsill of society.

When I said as much to Mallie, the nickname she preferred, she told me not to
worry, that in her parents’ eyes I was a “huckleberry above that persimmon.” Mallie had a way of expressing herself I had never heard before. When we met, she was a striking girl of eighteen. She had long amber hair that framed a delicate oval face of high cheekbones, luminous large green eyes, and a small straight nose. She was, in a word, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.

I wrote my mother about Mallie and her family. She responded by hinting that she
might travel to Denver to meet this girl I was so enthralled with. I quickly wrote back that the relationship was not that serious. Nevertheless, I spent every free day and evening with Mallie, and I knew things were getting serious when I celebrated the New Year with the McNab family.

“Now that we are in a new decade, my boy, I think it is only appropriate that I
inquire as to your intentions regarding my daughter,” Mr. McNab said as we watched a fireworks display usher in the 1880s. “I have discussed your prospects with Mr. Harris, and he says you have a bright future at his newspaper.” 

“Did he?”

“Indeed, he did. And furthermore, I believe he is ready to give you more
responsibility by sending you off on a grand assignment.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of that last comment. What grand assignment? Why
hadn’t I been told of such plans? And why was Mr. McNab poking his nose into my
affairs? Then it occurred to me that Mr. McNab and Mr. Harris were both leading
members of the Denver Businessmen’s Association and had many opportunities to discuss business and other less significant topics, such as me.

Still, I wasn’t exactly exultant at the idea of being checked up on by the father of the girl I was besotted with.

“Don’t be silly,” Mallie said one Sunday evening. “Papa is just looking out for me.”

As it turned out, it was a bit more than that. Nevertheless, for the first time in
months, things were looking up. The 1880s were going to be a great decade for me. I could just feel it.

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Lastly, Ron is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d love to have you!
Thanks for supporting this author and his work!  


This week author Ronovan Hester challenges writers to use FEATHER and SCREAM in a Haiku poem.  These two words brought me back to youth, my own and that of my kids. We knew how to play when we were young. Maybe we need more pillow fights.  

If you’d like to try your hand at this art form, just click on Ronovan’s name, and you’ll be taken to his site, where there is helpful information on writing Haiku.

Welcome to “THE BUTTON” Blog Tour! @DLFinnAuthor #4WillsPub #RWISA #RRBC

I am excited to welcome author D.L. Finn. I met D.L. through the Rave Reviews Book Club, and we also share membership in RWISA

D.L. is an independent California local, who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA.  She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks and cedars, her creativity was cradled until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to her readers to join her. Today she shares a bit about her most recent book, THE BUTTON

The Button Research
My research is usually limited for fiction, especially when I create my villain. “The Button” required some necessary fact-checking with the story taking place in 1983. Although I lived through this period, I couldn’t remember an exact timeline of when things came out or happened. So, luckily the internet was there to help me out.

First thing I checked was the music. I wanted to make sure that songs I talked about were timely and had been released by September of ‘83—even earlier if club bands were playing the music.

Fashion was another area I researched. Stacy wanted to make a fashion statement by imitating Madonna. Was the timing right for that? I found that Madonna’s popularity started that year, so I limited her influence to lace gloves.

In 1983, you wouldn’t have used a cell phone to contact someone; instead, there were only landline phones and pay phones. What I couldn’t remember was did it still cost a dime to use payphones back then – my research revealed that it did. Was 9-1-1 around at that time? Yes, it was.  TVs were different and much more substantial than they are now, but you could connect it to a format that was making its way into households: a VHS player.) Watching a movie any time
you wanted or recording a show to watch later? Amazing in 83. There were no satellite radio options in a car, so you had to listen to all the commercials unless you had a cassette player (or, as in my case) an 8-track player.

Yes, there are some apparent differences between life now and life thirty-five years ago in music, fashion, and technology, but, you might be wondering why I choose 1983. Although it holds special significance for me because it was the year I got married, I initially planned on using the year 1981.  But, because I wanted to use the quote, “Can I see your papers, please?” from a Clint
Eastwood movie, I pushed the story-line up to 1983 to accommodate that. This quote was something my husband used to say quite often so you can understand why I wanted to use it. He’s almost as big of a fan of quoting movies as Kent is in “The Button.”

I based the opening bar scene off of a few of my youthful observations at a trendy dance club, a biker bar, a rocker bar, and a bar that showcased male strippers. These were the places that would take my “fake’ ID before I was “of age” to drink. I clumped them all together into this fictional bar.

Fact checking was also different in the 80s. If we were sitting around wondering about something, we’d have to look it up in an encyclopedia. There was a hotline, I remember, that offered information– or Ask Your Librarian. It came in handy when we played some of our board games or on those rare occasions that we encountered the know-it-all who was always right about everything.

There was no research required when it came to things that happened to me personally. The eight-hour coma was real and came from my memories, but then it was twisted into the story. I didn’t have a conversation with angels like Lynn did. I did grow up in an alcoholic household where there were parenting issues and a blended family. Lynn Hill’s family bears no resemblance to my real family, including the stepbrother Warren. I added a couple of things, scattered throughout the book that maybe a person or two will recognize. That was for the love and friendships that endured over the years.)

So, know that I always try to get my facts straight now just as I did in the past.

D.L. Finn Links:     
TwitterFacebookInstagramPinterestD.L. Finn blog

Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  D.L. is offering  several giveaways during the tour: 2- “The Button” Kindle Format books, a $5 Amazon Gift Card, and one “The Button” Signed Paperback and Book Marker. If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  


This week author Ronovan Hester challenges writers to use QUESTION and ANSWER in a Haiku poem.  My thoughts focused on communication and our collective failure. It is as though we have lost the ability to simply be honest with one another. What is it that we fear? 

If you’d like to try your hand at this art form, just click on Ronovan’s name, and you’ll be taken to his site, where there is helpful information on writing Haiku.

Thank you

Last year was one of great turmoil for me. Because of a CSF Leak, I gradually slipped into an expanse of unknowing. Much of my day was spent lying flat on my back, drifting between this world and the next. As the months passed, I worked hard to manage basic tasks. Once my brain settled into the cervical area of my skull, though, I lost balance and some movement in my arms; I could not think clearly and could not remember from one moment to the next. It was then that fear became part of my life.

I’m relieved to explain that I had neurosurgery mid-December, and I’m steadily recovering. Physical therapy is helping me regain movement, and slowly I’m thinking more clearly, which brings me to the purpose of this post.

Throughout this entire experience, there was one recurrent feeling.  Gratitude. I was often brought to tears because a friend or stranger simply offered kindness. A smile perhaps, an embrace, maybe just a hello, a thread of thoughtfulness and I would be overwhelmed. That is when I discovered that when all is taken, there are only miracles that remain, miracles that might not be visible if it weren’t for our suffering.

The CSF leak brought me to a place of profound vulnerability. There was little I could give to another because there was so little that I could call my own. And yet, through it all, I found deep compassion – for the infirmed, for the disabled, for the sorrowful, for all who are suffering. This compassion dominates my life now.

I am so grateful to be alive. Many of you accompanied me with your kind words. I’m ever so grateful to Mary Adler, for her encouragement and genuine care. I’m indebted to Jan Sikes for her understanding and support. I’m brought to tears with Suzanne Burke’s kind words and D.L. Finn’s loving support and prayers. Apart from my family and wonderful husband, though, there is no one who helped more during this lengthy ordeal than John W. Howell. He knows only too well my limitations and dwindling abilities. I tried his patience and our pen-pal friendship many times over. 

To each of you within the Rave Reviews Book Club and to so many others, all that I can say is Thank You. Thank you, from my heart, from a place that knows only love, THANK YOU. Thank you for accompanying me. You have become family and from you, I have learned so much. 

Fierce Storm

This week author Ronovan Hester challenges writers to use FIERCE  and STORM in a Haiku poem. I chose to use the words to describe a common interpersonal situation. Unfortunately, the political climate is such that the divides are deep and the anger overwhelming. I’m not sure what can bridge those differences. 

If you’d like to try your hand at this art form, just click on Ronovan’s name, and you’ll be taken to his site, where there is helpful information on writing Haiku. 

Do and Say

This week author Ronovan Hester challenges writers to use DO  and SAY in a Haiku poem. I chose an embattled topic for my haiku. Though I pose a problem with no easy answers, my hope is that someday we won’t have a need for secrets. 

If you’d like to try your hand at this art form, just click on Ronovan’s name, and you’ll be taken to his site, where there is helpful information on writing Haiku. 

Saying goodbye

Two friends passed away over the last couple of weeks. Both were sudden, and both shook friends and family to the core. How does one adequately offer consolation at times like this, when the heart is broken? Struggling for answers, I wrote the following Tanka poem:

Perhaps you have lost someone recently, a friend, a loved one, a family member. If so, you know the abyss that opens and as well, the questions that arise with no answers. We hold to faith at times like this and simply walk forward as best we can. Time can heal the broken heart, but patience is elusive.

The final paragraph of my book, Letting Go, reads:

Deep within each of us, there is a well of love—a place of wholeness, a place of completeness. This sacred well is alive with wisdom and tenderness. It is our true self; it is where Perfect Love resides. This all-encompassing and unconditional love draws each of us home. And ever so slowly, as we grow more confident in our journey, letting go into Perfect Love becomes a way of being.

When tragedy strikes, it is easy to forget that we are on a journey.

Man and Magic

This week author Ronovan Hester challenges writers to use MAN  and MAGIC in a Haiku poem. My thoughts of recent have focused on the weather. Its unpredictability and ferocity can change lives. And yet, often hidden in its fury is extraordinary beauty. My Haiku is about that reality.

If you’d like to try your hand at this art form, just click on Ronovan’s name, and you’ll be taken to his site, where there is helpful information on writing Haiku.