Monday, September 30, 2013

The Travis Club by Mark Louis Rybczyk

Radio listeners in Dallas/Fort Worth may know Mark Louis Rybczyk better as 'Hawkeye,' the long time morning host on heritage country station, 96.3 FM KSCS. An award-winning disc jockey, Mark, along with his partner Terry Dorsey, have the longest-running morning show in Dallas. Mark is an avid skier, windsurfer and traveler. He is also the host of 'Travel With Hawkeye' a radio and television adventure feature that airs across the country. The Travis Club is the third book from Mark Louis Rybczyk.

Publisher: Self Published

Genre: Mystery
Release Date: June 17, 2013

In a cathedral in downtown San Antonio, just a few blocks from the Alamo, sits the tomb of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and the other Alamo Defenders. Or so we have been led to believe. What secrets really lie inside the tomb and what has a group of misguided activists known as The Travis Club stumbled upon? How far will the city's power brokers go to protect those secrets?

What would happen if a group of slackers discovered San Antonio's DaVinci Code? Find out in the new book by Mark Louis Rybczyk, The Travis Club.

Excerpt One Short:

Chapter 1

Noel Black sharpened a pencil and placed it neatly back in the top drawer of his glass-topped
desk, right next to the other sharpened pencils. He glanced at the clock then straightened a few
paper clips and a calculator on the stark, polished surface.

11:08 p.m.

He knew he’d be leaving soon. So important to stay on schedule. Especially on a night like
tonight, when a life would come to an end.

Among the abstract paintings of his office was one unframed black and white print. A picture
of her. Not a picture of sentiment, but simply of record. A photo that would soon belong in a file.
Black fingered the yellowed photograph and could not help but think of childhood visits to
his mother’s father, his abuelo. He remembered spending the hot San Antonio summers at a
rickety west-side duplex much different than his parents’ ranch house in Dallas. Abuelo’s home
was filled with people, music, food and love.

As a child, Black would spend summer afternoons within earshot of the front window,
waiting for the rumble of his grandfather’s old diesel engine. Then the home would fill with
other workers, workers who were grateful to the old lady. All immigrants, they had left Mexico
hoping for a better life. The old lady offered them higher wages than the pecan shellers received.

With the promise of steady income came the chance to move into a house with plumbing, to send money home, and to send for other relatives. His grandfather loved the old lady and he did too.

More recently, Noel Black’s feelings about her had changed. She was a relic, an icon of a
past era. Now in her final years of the 20th century, the old lady had outlived her usefulness and
had no place in the modern San Antonio that he envisioned. She was in his way. She needed to be eliminated.

Of course, this kind of work had to be contracted out. He usually relied on a local contact
who understood the procedures. Anytime a life was extinguished, it must be done with precision in Noel Black’s world.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Art of Forgetting by Peter Palmieri

Peter Palmieri was raised in the eclectic port city of Trieste, Italy. He returned to the United States at
the age of 14 with just a suitcase and an acoustic guitar. After attending public high school in San Diego, California, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Animal Physiology from the University of California, San Diego. He received his medical degree from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine and completed his pediatric training at the University of Chicago and Loyola University Medical Center. More recently, he was awarded a Healthcare MBA by The George Washington University. A former student of Robert McKee's Story seminar and the SMU Writer's Path program, and a two-time attendee of the SEAK Medical Fiction seminar taught by Tess Gerritsen and Michael Palmer, Peter is now busy practicing general pediatrics at a large academic medical center while working on his next medical suspense.

Genre: fiction: medical (medical suspense)
Publisher: self
Release date: June 2013
Book Description:
Dr. Lloyd Copeland is a young neurologist who is tormented by the conviction that he has inherited the severe, early-onset dementia that has plagued his family for generations – the very disease which spurred his father to take his own life when Lloyd was just a child. Withdrawn to a life of emotional detachment, he looks for solace in hollow sexual trysts as a way to escape his throbbing loneliness. Still, he clings to the hope that the highly controversial treatment for memory loss he’s been researching will free him from his family’s curse.
But when odd mishaps take place in his laboratory, his research is blocked by a hospital review board headed by Erin Kennedy: a beautiful medical ethicist with a link to his troubled childhood. The fight to salvage his reputation and recover the hope for his own cure brings him face to face with sordid secrets that rock his very self-identity. And to make matters worse, he finds himself falling irretrievably in love with the very woman who seems intent on thwarting his efforts.

Praise for The Art of Forgetting:

"Read this one!" Bobby Garrison, Amazon Reviewer

"Entertaining medical thriller!" Roy Benaroch, MD

"The Art of Forgetting is unforgettable!" Apollonia D., Amazon Reviewer


Prologue Chicago, June 6, 1982 “What is my penance, Father?” For the past five weeks Anne Langdon had come to Wednesday afternoon confession, sometimes waiting for the other penitents to leave before stepping into the box to disclose her petty transgressions: returning a book to the library past its due date, slipping into a movie matinee and then fibbing about it to her husband, pretending not to be home when Mrs. Murphy, that crusty owl of a next door neighbor, rang her door bell to borrow a cup of sugar. It seemed as though Mrs. Langdon were holding something back. Father Roy felt it the day he bumped into her in the canned food aisle of the supermarket. She had startled when he said hello, dropping the can of green beans whose label she’d been inspecting, and blushed when he’d kneeled to pick it up. And he had felt it during mass when his gaze fell upon her eyes as he delivered his sermons. Sad serious eyes. Beseeching eyes, glazed with a somber emptiness. In her mid-twenties, Mrs. Langdon had the mien that Father Roy had only seen in souls burdened by the yoke of a life-long secret too shameful to reveal. Now, he spied her through the grid separating the compartments of the confessional. Motes of dust floated in the hazy light which outlined her profile, the effect making her seem even younger – plain yet exuding that curiously poignant allure borne of vulnerability: the naïve appearance of a peasant saint. She smiled as if they were sharing a moment of innocent intimacy. “What is my penance, Father?” she asked again. He leaned towards the grid. “Is there anything else you wanted to tell me?” She took a deep breath and looked down at her hands which lay folded on her lap. “Yesterday, I was looking out my kitchen window at my neighbor’s back yard. She has a row of tulips; yellow, pink and red, all lined up like perfect soldiers. And suddenly – I really don’t know how the thought got in my head – I imagined what it would feel like to step on them; to crush the flowers under my feet. And I felt such a thrill, as if I were really doing it. I just stomped and stomped and stomped, and I could see, in my mind’s eye, how the stems were left all bent, the petals torn, but what’s more… I could feel them under my feet.” A bang echoed in the church. A worshipper had dropped a kneeler in a nearby pew. “I could feel it, Father,” she whispered. “It was absolutely delicious.” “You didn’t trample Mrs. Murphy’s flower bed now, did you?” “I did in my heart.” “I don’t think that rises to the level of a transgression.” “But Father, isn’t it a sin when we think something... when we think of something so much that we start to feel it with every fiber in our body.” She was breathing heavily now. She looked at him through the grid, her eyes watery, her lips slightly parted. “Isn’t that a sin, Father, when you imagine the impossible and live it in your thoughts?” Father Roy brought his fist up to his mouth, turned his head slightly and coughed. He felt a bead of sweat trickle down his back. Mrs. Langdon’s demeanor, the shape of her mouth, the subtle heaving of her chest thrust forward like an unexpected belch the memory of that summer his family vacationed in Door County before his sophomore year in high school – the last family vacation. He had met a girl – Kathleen was her name – the daughter of a man who sold fresh produce out of an old, converted gas station. Auburn hair, lanky legs bronzed by the sun and lively green eyes that beamed with all the incandescent self-assurance of sixteen-year-old beauties. Roy’s mother referred to her as “that jaunty lass”. “Do you intend to whittle away the afternoon with that jaunty lass again, Roy?” “Her name is Kathleen.” “The way she looks at you…” “We’re just friends, mother.” One afternoon they had gone swimming on a secluded rocky beach; not another soul in sight. When Roy inched his way deeper in the lake, toes curled, arms raised as if he had a gun pointed at him, gasping as the frigid water lapped at his waist, Kathleen chopped the placid surface of the lake with an outstretched palm spraying chilly droplets across his back. Roy arched his spine and jutted out his shoulder blades as if in the throes of a spasm while the jaunty lass snorted and snickered. “It’s not funny!” She splashed again and giggled. “I’m warning you, you little vixen.” Kathleen’s jaw dropped at this last word but then her eyes lit up and again she started splashing with renewed zeal using both hands. Roy chased her in the shallow waters, plodding clumsily on the smooth pebbles that rolled and shifted under his feet. She attempted a half-hearted escape, trudging backwards, but soon Roy was upon her (she, by now, paralyzed by howls of laughter) and he wrapped his arms around her. “So you think that’s funny? You think that’s funny? Now I’m gonna dunk you. Let’s see how funny that is!” He grinned at her with clenched teeth as he gaped in those bottomless emerald eyes. She grabbed his shoulders, pressed them, kneading his taut muscles. “As if you can,” she said in a tantalizing voice. He widened his eyes, then squeezed her more tightly, lifted her off her feet. She palmed the nape of his neck, just pitting his skin with her nails. Roy plopped her back on her feet and they wrestled playfully, reveling in the contact of their bare flesh. At last, he was able to grab both her forearms just above the wrists and immobilize her as she twisted her torso. Then Roy saw her as he had never seen a girl. Her chest was heaving, her skin glistening with tiny droplets, her auburn hair tousled over half her face, her white bikini top pushed below her left breast exposing a bright pink nipple. He let go of her arms, took a step back. She said nothing, just stared at him, her mouth open, breathing more heavily still. Then she lowered the rest of the bikini top letting it flip over her toned midriff. Roy gawked at her smooth, downy skin, at the pale, plump breasts. His Adam’s apple lurched up towards his throat. She gently clasped his wrists, brought his hands to her breasts and pressed her open mouth to his lips. “Isn’t it a sin to have some thoughts, Father Roy?” Mrs. Langdon said in a near whisper. Father Roy was breathless. “About tulips?” he asked, attempting to sound nonchalant, but his voice quivered. “As a man, do you ever feel the urge to –” “I am not the one in confession, sister,” Roy said. It was not the first time someone had tried to ask him that question – a query impertinent souls seemed compelled to ask a young priest with the looks of a Hollywood movie star. “I’m so ashamed, Father. I don’t know what’s happened to me. I just don’t know what to do any more.” Father Roy grasped the silver crucifix hanging over his chest and rubbed it between thumb and forefinger. He considered giving a short discourse on the tenth commandment but decided on a more pragmatic approach. “When our path grows dim and we’re in peril of losing our way, it’s helpful to remind ourselves of our commitments. Our commitments define who we are. When I step in the shadows, I remind myself of the covenant I made with God.” “My husband sickens me.” The suddenness of the statement left Father Roy speechless. “We haven’t had sex in over six months,” she said. “I wanted you to know that.” “The Diocese offers couple’s therapy for marital conflicts. Perhaps –” “Couple’s therapy!” Mrs. Langdon said with a sour chuckle. She shook her head. “I’m such a fool. For some reason I was under the impression that we…” She pulled a crumpled handkerchief out of her handbag, dabbed her nose and sniffled. “Tell me my penance, Father.” Roy hesitated. “Your penance is to reflect on the holy sacraments of our church. And… say a rosary.” “Am I absolved of my sins?” Father Roy made the sign of the cross, trying not to make it appear perfunctory and said, “Go in peace, sister.” He listened to the clicking of her heels resonating off the church’s tiled floor as she walked away, brought a knuckle to his lips and inhaled deeply through his nose. How was it that he had still not learned to recognize when women were attracted to him? Was he doing something to garner this type of attention? Could he whole-heartedly deny that he enjoyed it? A figure entered the confessional and sat heavily on the wooden bench. “Forgive me father, for I’m about to sin.” The musty smell of stale beer and sweat permeated the enclosed space making Father Roy sit back and turn away. “How long has it been since –” “You know damn well the last time I went to church, Roy.” “Andrew?” Father Roy studied the silhouette through the perforated partition. “Is something wrong?” “It started, Roy.” “I’m sorry?” “It has begun. How did Churchill phrase it? Not the end of the beginning but the beginning of the end… or maybe I’m saying it all wrong. I don’t know, you’re the one with the fancy schooling.” “Maybe we should go in the Parish office.” “It’s been going on for months. I know you’ve seen it too. You just didn’t want to say anything and of course I’ve been trying to hide it. That’s the Copeland family way, isn’t it? Ignore things, deny they’re happening, hide all the evidence and go about your business with a stiff upper lip. Isn’t that what Pops did?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But he did know. He couldn’t deny that in the last year he had witnessed his brother’s worsening mood swings and those barely perceptible moments of hesitation that were becoming more frequent. Those same tell-tale signs he had witnessed in his father when the illness had yet to progress to its extreme. Signs that made Roy feel powerless, like a sandcastle on a beach in the face of a slowly rising tide. So he ignored it all, said nothing, and prayed. “At first I thought I was just overworked, you know,” Andrew said. “Pulling overtime, staying out late with the boys, getting burned by the candle at both ends, so to speak. Then this morning, I’m driving to work. I got my thermos and lunch pail on the front seat. I get on the Eisenhower, same damn route I’ve taken for twelve years. But today I get to South Damen and I realize I don’t know where the hell I’m going. I don’t have a fucking clue!” “Andrew, please.” He lowered his voice. “I don’t have a flipping clue, Roy. I pull over in front of Cook County and I start bawling like a kid in a department store who can’t find his mom.” “Have you been drinking?” “It’s not the booze, Roy. It’s not the damn booze.” “Have you seen a doctor?” the priest asked. “What for?” “They might be able to help.” “Like they helped our father... who art in heaven?” Andrew snorted. “You know there’s not a damn thing they can do.” Roy swallowed hard. He wiped beads of sweat from his upper lip as a rhythmic pounding grew in his temples. “You’re frightening me, Andrew.” “I’m frightening you?” Andrew let out a chuckle. “Hell, Roy, you never had nothing to be frightened of your whole life except God above.” Someone knocked on the door of the confession box. “Hold your piss out there! The stall’s taken,” Andrew said in a gruff voice. There was a timid shuffling of feet, then the resonating silence of the church. “Roy, I’ve never been good with words, and I don’t like to wear my feelings on my sleeve like a damn chevron, but I want you to know something. I want you to know that you’re the best damn brother I could have ever asked for.” Roy felt a pall of guilt draping over him. “I’m the one who should say that to you.” “Just hear me out. I know I haven’t always told you, but I’m proud of you. I’ve always been proud of you... even when you made us lose at stick-ball.” “Which was all the time.” The men chuckled. “You made me a better man,” Andrew said. “After all you’ve done for me I can’t bear to hear you say that.” “I thought this was a confessional. Don’t people come here to get things off their chests?” “They come to be absolved of their sins,” Roy said. “And you can do that?” “God can do that. It’s never too late to open your heart.” “It’s too late for me. But I do need to get something off my chest.” “I’m listening.” “It’s time to come clean with you about something, Roy. Something you should have known long ago.” Andrew rubbed his massive hands together, stopped suddenly and cracked his knuckles. “Two things we Copelands have always been able to do: hold our liquor and keep a secret.” “I’m afraid I’m not so good with the liquor part,” said Roy. “No, I suppose not, padre,” Andrew said with a wistful smile. The wooden bench creaked as he shifted his weight and leaned into the partition. “Now listen carefully. I can only stand to say this once.” The two men sat with their heads inches from each other as Andrew spoke in a hushed tone. At one point Roy let out a gasp and recoiled. Andrew paused as his brother gazed at the darkness hanging over the floor – the priest’s eyes darting about – and resumed his soliloquy when Roy leaned heavily towards him again. Andrew murmured for another minute or two. Finally, he straightened and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as if to brush away the bitterness of the words from his lips. “Just promise, if something happens to me, you’ll take care of the bride and child.” “What’s going through your mind?” Roy said between heavy breaths. “Just promise me.” “You know I would never abandon them.” “That’s all I needed to hear.” Andrew cleared his throat and sat silently. Roy felt as though he were inching towards the edge of an abyss. That he would fall into the darkness if left alone to ponder his brother’s revelation. But an even stronger fear was pulsing through his veins. There was something in Andrew’s countenance: an eerie sense of relief, a cool resoluteness that sent a shudder down the base of Roy’s neck. “Maybe I can come by the house tonight,” Roy said. He wanted to punch through the partition, to clench his brother and not let him leave. “You got customers waiting,” Andrew said. “Business is good for you these days.” Andrew got to his feet. “Good-bye, Roy.” “Godspeed, Andrew.” When Andrew opened the oak door of the confession box, a small man wearing a tweed jacket stood outside, a crest of wild gray hair spilling over his wrinkled forehead. The man’s eyes opened wide at the site of the large police officer stepping out of the confessional and he began to finger the well-worn fedora he held by his paunch, turning it in his hands as if it were a steering wheel. Andrew stopped in front of him and said, “Give a man a chance to pull his pants back up, will you?” Roy greeted the next penitent in the confessional but his mind remained on his brother. How was it possible to feel such dread and deliverance, contempt and gratitude, guilt and utter relief all in the same breath? He had witnessed souls under severe strain shift from throes of laughter to sobs of despair in the span of a few seconds and always wondered how this was possible. But now he understood. He rested his head in his hands, elbows digging in his thighs, and tried to catch his breath. A sound like a hollow crack startled him. Not the sound of a kneeler. It must have come from outside. It brought his focus back on the words of the old gentleman who confessed that he lied to his wife about going to Cicero and losing fifty bucks at the Hawthorne race course, and that he harbored less than charitable feelings towards the Negroes who were moving westward into good Irish neighborhoods. The murmur of voices reverberated off the church’s arched ceilings. Then a single plaintive voice: “Someone call an ambulance. A cop’s been shot!”

This is my first experience with Mr. Palmieri's work and I had no idea what to expect. I have to admit that the opening chapter made me think this was going to be a boring book.

Boy was I wrong!

After the first chapter, the book just keeps getting better and better. There were so many twists and unexpected turns that I was literally trying to read faster to see what happened next. 
Dr. Lloyd Copeland's father committed suicide over a family curse. His research is all about finding a cure before this curse ruins his career and life. Testing lab mice with serums that Dr. Copeland has been working on to find the cure for Dimintia, mice are suddenly dying. Was the serum bad?
In the midst of his research, he meets Erin through mutual friends. It turns out that Erin plays a big part in this plot. As Dr. Copeland ascertains to get approval to test his serum on humans, it turns into this big conspiracy to sabotage his research. Will he be able to get his research right before the curse consumes him?
I have to say that I truly enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and had just the right amount of tension to make you not want to put the book down. To me, this book is so much like reality and what can and does happen in the real world. In the beginning Copeland was made out to be this sex addict that feared commitment. As the story continues, we find out why he thinks and acts the way he does and by the end of the book so much is brought to the surface that I was left saying...

"I didn't see that coming!"

Characters were very relatable, the plot was fantastic, and I highly recommend you read this book!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dinner Creations Cookbook Diane Krause

Author Bio:

Diane Krause is a Southern girl who began cooking and baking at a very young age. She’s the former owner-operator of Dinner Creations, and still enjoys sharing Jalapeno-Stuffed Chicken and King Ranch Chicken with those she loves. Diane currently works as a freelance writer and editor. She’s the author of a short inspirational book for writers, 25 Ways to Create Classic Characters Readers Will Love, and is currently at work on her second cookbook.

Author and book links:

Twitter: @DianeKrause2

Genre: Cookbooks
Publisher: Southern Road Press
Release Date: 2nd edition released 7/14/13; Original release September 2009
Purchase link (Amazon):

Book Description:
The Dinner Creations Cookbook is a collection of more than 130 delicious freezer-friendly recipes.

Dinner Creations was a meal assembly business that operated in Friendswood, Texas from 2004 to 2008. With this cookbook, you can enjoy the Dinner Creations favorites in your own home. Among those favorites are:

  • King Ranch Chicken
  • and Dumplings
  • Jalapeno-Stuffed Chicken
  • Baked Salmon in Puff Pastry
  • Herb Crusted Flank Steak
  • Guiltless Brownies
  • ....and many more!

Each recipe includes freezer preparation instructions, and as an added bonus, printable freezer labels – complete with thawing and cooking instructions – are available at


Dinner Creations operated in Friendswood, Texas, from 2004 to 2008 and was one of the first meal assembly businesses in the Houston area.

Through the business of Dinner Creations, we gained a whole new family. We shared life stories, celebrated weddings, and rejoiced over the addition of new little ones to families. We watched people provide care and comfort to others through the gift of food and considered it a blessing to be a part of that caring. We made new friends, and we had a very good time doing the business of Dinner Creations.

This book is a collection of the recipes from Dinner Creations. Perhaps these recipes will enrich your family, and maybe even help you extend a bit of care to those around you.

From all of us who have been a part of Dinner Creations, thank you for letting us have a place around your dinner table.

---Diane Krause
Owner, Dinner Creations



Serves 6-8
1 lb. ground beef
1 1/4 cups prepared marinara sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
9 ounces angel hair pasta (cappellini)
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook ground beef in a large skillet until beef is cooked through and no longer pink, breaking up any large pieces. Drain the meat, then return it to the skillet and stir in the marinara sauce and sugar. Set aside.
Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions; drain pasta and rinse with cool water.
To assemble, spread 2 cups meat sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the cooked pasta, then sprinkle over 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese. Top with 2 cups meat sauce, the remaining pasta, and another 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese. Cover with the remaining 2 cups meat sauce, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes.
FREEZER PREPARATION: Prepare casserole as directed, omitting the cheese topping. Measure last 1/4 cup of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses into a plastic sandwich bag; seal. Lay a sheet of deli paper or waxed paper over casserole, then place bag of cheese on top. Seal entire pan well and label.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blue Moon Chronicles by Bryant Golden

About The Author:

Bryant Golden started writing “Blue Moon Chronicles, Book I” when he was twelve years old and sick at home. The story and the genre changed significantly in the seven years it took to finish, hopefully for the better, but the title and the themes never changed. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, he originally settled his characters into fantasy worlds with magic and creatures to abandon life in the city. When he was rewriting the story for the final time he realized that the story needs to be personal for it to matter, to the writer and to readers, so he created new characters and settled the story into a fictional but realistic world.

Genre: Fiction/Action & Adventure/Young Adult
Publisher: Self-published with CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Released June 4, 2013.

Book Description:

It’s been a century since the Civil War split the continent into two provinces, Sanctum and Alexandria, and now another war is on the horizon: the Continent War. The end of this war means the end of one of the provinces. This is the story of Ian Hirst as he finds himself in the fray and fights to defend his province and loved ones. Isaiah, a young boy from the newest locale in Sanctum, struggles to learn what it means to grow up and become “a proper man” in the middle of it all.

Excerpt #1, “A Night In Sanctum”:

Ian was shown the cheapest inn to spend the night, far out on the outskirts of the city. They get cheaper the farther away from the castle, according to what the man told him. When he got to his room for the night he pulled off his boots and his parka, hung the empty rifle on the bedpost and changed his bandages.
He dozed off for a few hours and woke up to the sound of the doorknob turning. He grabbed the rifle and silently positioned himself behind the door in the blink of an eye. He’s a lot quicker on his feet when he isn’t inches deep in snow.
Hi there,” he said, closing the door with the rifle pointed at the mysterious hooded figure that just walked in. “Don’t do anything stupid or you’ll be dead before you can regret it.”
A deep chuckle, male, Ian thought, then silence. The hooded man turned to face him. He noticed the large beard, definitely a man then.
Who are you?” he asked.
Not your enemy. Well, not yet.”
The man pulled down his hood to reveal an aged face, half of it covered by his large dark beard. “You were given a package by that ridiculous man earlier,” he started. “I’ve been following those fools for days.”
Ian sat down on the floor, still aiming the rifle at the man. “That’s none of my business but I won’t give it to you,” he said. He kept switching his focus between the man and the rucksack to make sure he doesn’t reach for it.
Fool, this is no ordinary delivery. Did you not see the ribbon? It means ‘royalty’. Those ridiculous merchants are only overlooked swindlers, friend.”
I’m not your friend, old-timer. Also, I don’t make a habit of peeking at other people’s mail. Neither should you,” said Ian with a glare. “Wait, so…‘royalty’ then? Did that man expect me to deliver this to the king?” he asked.
No, of course not… You don’t deliver it directly to the king. Why don’t you know that? What kind of courier are you?”
I’m not a courier. I have my own reasons for being in the city. You’d know that if you were better at what you do. I didn’t even see you at the fork in the road.”
You didn’t see me because I’m that good at what I do, you fool.”
Ah, well… I’m not giving it to you,” mumbled Ian, the lack of confidence is embarrassingly obvious.
Well, I’m not really giving you a choice,” said the man with a smile. In one quick motion the man pulled his cloak off, threw it at Ian, disarmed him in the confusion and had it pointed at his forehead.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lowell Young

Lowell Young and his wife Christie have lived in California’s Napa Valley for over 40 years. Mr. Young taught high school biology for nearly 40 years before he retired. The class that evolved into Biodesign was a creative, collaborative project where the roles of teacher and student were often reversed. It was well known by the students that although Mr. Young represented the physical nature of the class, Christie’s silent spiritual guidance was often felt in their classroom circles, as well as along the many miles of trails they walked. The Biodesign class may be the only one of its kind taught in a public high school in the country.

Genre: Nature/Ecology
Publisher: Outskirts Press

Book Description:

Going for a walk should be fun. So should studying biology, after all, without it we wouldn't be alive to experience the rapture, sorrow and mystery of the universe. Biodesign Out For A Walk, is a story of how spirit-sensitive students reprogrammed a left-brained biology teacher and took him on a 24-year odyssey. Following the footsteps of John Muir, they slept on the top of Yosemite's famous Half Dome. They followed Loren Eiseley and John Wesley Powell to the bottom of Grand Canyon. Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck led them into forests and tide pools of California's beautiful Mendocino coast. Abraham Maslow challenged them to redefine science and religion. Ralph Emerson challenged them to write their own Bibles. They traced the origins of human spirituality back 100,000 years. The class was dedicated to studying biology by exercising the illimitable freedom of the human mind. Plato urged them to actively search for truth, beauty and goodness.
They studied the works of scientists, sages, poets and saints to add to their growing concept of Mother Nature. Many synchronicities were discovered that were either playful, mysterious or scary
Socrates', "The unexamined life is not worth living," and Thoreau's, "I went to the woods to live deliberately," became mottos. Although each class lasted one academic year, the teacher was guided by students for 24 years and his adventure ended when a modern-day Moses mysteriously met him on top of Half Dome.

Praise for BioDesign:

"Digging deeper into the book, there are plenty of reminders that these are real experiences with only a few anecdotal ideas relative to genuine observations.”
Steven Burgess, Amazon Reviewer
"As you travel with Lowell, you will meet many amazing teens as they go out for a walk.”
Phroncie, Amazon Reviewer
"I recommend this book for anyone who wants a good read, especially one that is thought-provoking.”
geochrim, Amazon Reviewer

A must read for every high school teacher!”
Mark Salvestrin, Amazon Reviewer

Excerpt 1

Going for a walk should be fun. So should biology. After all, without it, we wouldn’t be able to experience the rapture, sorrow, and mystery of the universe. The “strange and wonderful magic” that created the Velveteen Rabbit is not confined to nurseries; it occurred at St. Helena High School, in the heart of California’s Napa Valley.

A scattered group of rebels magically overthrew my teaching style and curriculum and created an advanced biology course with a spiritual component. Each year, they traveled to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and California’s Mendocino Coast, discovering themselves and their role in the world.
The birth of the class was not unlike the birth of a baby. Therewere moments of elation and sorrow, triumph and frustration, hope and despair. No one, especially me, realized that the students were responding to an ancient call which predated Christianity, perhaps by 100,000 years. Like Henry Thoreau, they were seeking a spiritual rebirth. Bloody palms, horrifying fear, and a battered ego were not included in my job description. They were, however, prerequisites for entering the uncharted wilderness of the teenage soul.

Lettie was dissecting a fetal pig when she suddenly paused, looked up, and asked, “Mr. Young, is this really important?”

I discovered later that her question was a matter of her spiritual life and death. While discussing evolution, and the now discredited story ofthe wolf/dog wandering into the ocean to become a whale, Matthew shouted, “Wait a minute! What the hell do we believe, anyway?

Did they think their way back into the ocean to become whales?” I discovered later that he was asking the most profound question that a person can ask. The collective human response will likely determine the fate of mankind.

These educational rebels elected to sit in a circle and rejected the traditional learning method of massive memorization of minutiae. Instead, they replaced it with an emphasis on critical thinking, communication skills, and problem solving. The focus was always biology, but collateral topics of natural history, evolution, the wilderness ethic, politics, sexuality, and religion were open for discussion. They understood the gravity that many had died so they could study and grow in an environment without fear, bitterness, or humiliation.

Some began to contemplate the immensity, horror, and glory of the human journey. Evolution, they discovered, often involved bloodshed, and they pondered over the hundreds of millions of people who were stoned, clubbed, burned, or nailed on crosses for what they believed.

Their class discussions were often lively but could not compare with the three, sixday field trips that they took. They tested Emerson’s adage, “The whole of Nature is but a metaphor of the human mind,” and often discovered wonders, even miracles, in Nature, themselves and each other. They learned that Albert Einstein and Loren Eiseley agreed that every branch of science was cloaked in mysteryand it would be their challenge and privilege to contemplate those mysteries.

The theme for the class was defined by John Muir; “I only went out for a walk … and found that going out was really going in.” They were invited to read the accounts of scientists, scholars, sages, and saints to see how they viewed Mother Nature. Many learned how to cope with the physical, mental, and spiritual blisters that they encounteredalong the way. Some learned to look for Jungian synchronicities and found them to be amusing, inspirational, or frightening.

Each year, hundreds of ideas were born, some resulting from close encounters with death
I have selected nearly 100 quotations which include scores of ideas from seekers whose thoughts and deeds have improved humanity. I felt that my deepest calling was not to “teach” but to share these designs with young, curious, and flexible minds and let them decide which ones they wanted to incorporate into their personal biblioteca (library).

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