Extraordinary Biography: Ray Carpenter’s ‘Scribbles’

Author Ray Carpenter shares his life’s story in ‘Scribbles,’ a tale that takes readers on a journey from Graham County, around the world, and back again. Based on the author’s journal entries, Carpenter weaves the memorable, and at times humorous, tale of his life.

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Scribbles
ISBN: 9780989216975
eBook Price: 3.99

After honorably serving in the U.S. Navy, Ray Carpenter graduated from Western Carolina University with degrees in science, English, and philosophy, and received certificates in CPCU designation and Insurance and Risk Management from Georgia State. Now retired from the Hartford Insurance Company, Ray has one son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. Ray is currently working on his second book while residing in his mountain cabin near Robbinsville, North Carolina.

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 Available at the following eBook distributors:

Amazon
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Google Play
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iTunes

 

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Appalachian Author Janie Mae McKinley’s “The Legacy of Bear Mountain”

    

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     In ‘The Legacy of Bear Mountain: Stories of Old Mountain Values That Enrich Our Lives Today,’ Janie Mae recalls mountain life with her grandparents during the time her mother and father were involved in the war efforts of World War II. During those formative years, she absorbed her grandparents’ old-fashioned values and lifestyle. Although their secluded 1895 farmhouse lacked modern conveniences until 1975, they enjoyed a rich life of hard work, honesty, humor, gratitude, and faith. With amazing detail, Janie Mae, whose ancestors came to Bear Mountain in the 1700s, vividly recalls both humorous and scary stories, along with grandfather’s hard work on the railroad and her grandmother’s devout faith in God.

      In honor of the reader’s own memories, a page at the end of each chapter is designed for individuals, families, small groups, or church classes to record and share their own family’s legacy.

     A first-generation college graduate, Janie Mae Jones McKinley holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, NC, and a M.A.Ed. in Community Agency Counseling from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC. Having returned to her childhood roots, she lives on Bear Mountain with her husband, Larry. Because of having no heirs, she donated many of her grandparents’ antiques to the Mountain Heritage Center Museum on the Western Carolina University campus. These treasured artifacts will be used to teach future generations about mountain farm life before modern conveniences. 

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REVIEWS of THE LEGACY OF BEAR MOUNTAIN:

McKinley does a wonderful job of drawing her reader in and immersing them in mountain life…An excellent book, and an absolute read for fans of creative non-fiction. McKinley should be very proud of her work and her heritage, I hope to see more work from her in the future. 
             – J. P. Dash

This is an incredibly detailed book; the author does an amazing job of showing us what her experiences on Bear Mountain were like…a very sentimental book, and the reader’s are allowed to go on that journey of remembering with the author. I believe that anyone who grew up in an area like that, or with family like that, would appreciate this book…I was touched by some of the stories in this book, and am glad to have had the chance to read it.
            –
Cianna Reider

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AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING eBOOK RETAILERS:

Amazon
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Barnes & Noble
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Tesco eBooks

 

FOR PRINT EDITIONS:

CSA Books

Book Review: MEMOIR – Frederick J. George’s “Switched at Birth: My Life in Someone Else’s World”

After inexplicably being placed in the wrong bassinet at the city hospital where I was born, I grew up with a nagging feeling of somehow not belonging, and a father who always suspected I was not his. I lived another’s life and he mine, our paths amazingly crossing throughout the years, until 57 years later I discovered the truth. This is the story of my life in someone else’s world, my quest for answers, and how I’ve come to terms with the hand which fate has dealt me.

– Fred George, Author

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This is a story about two boys who, at birth, were inexplicably switched, a switch that would dramatically change the author’s life in every aspect—religion, ethnicity, economics, and culture. Time and time again, the two boys’ paths cross with one another’s before ultimately discovering, decades later, that they aren’t who they spent their whole lives believing they were. At 57, Fred George sees his birth family for the first time, recognizing in them his own mannerisms and traits. George’s retelling of his switch at birth is not so much an account of the switch itself, but rather the story of his life from birth to present with the George family. The story is interesting and insightful, complete with family photos that provide readers with an inside view of the culture and of the times of George’s life.

VIEW THE BOOK TRAILER HERE!

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See what readers are saying:

A compelling biography, interlaced with humor, of a man switched at birth who does not learn his true identity until 57 years after the midwife placed him in the wrong bassinet. Switched At Birth is an easy read that is hard to forget.
          – Emory Daniels, Book Review Editor

This book is a diamond in the rough… the stories are often comical, sometimes heartbreaking, and always enjoyable.
-Shaley Melchoir, For Immediate Release Reviews

Full of doubts, ironic coincidences, experiences, growth, the feeling of not belonging and being different, but most importantly [the author]shows us the essence of life itself…The idea of this book is fantastic and so is the approach…The author has impressive insights and thoughts as well as a definite writing voice…I highly recommend [it].
– Elisa Hidalgo

It is unimaginable to think that the life you have lived was not the one you were meant to have. Despite this tragic event, the author has a very uplifting spirit and positive outlook on life. This book is a great read for anyone.
– Lonna H., Amazon Consumer Reviews

Captivating memoir…definitely one of the best I have ever read…I recommend anyone to read this book. I absolutely loved it.
– J. Yoon, Amazon Consumer Reviews

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AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING eBOOK RETAILERS:
(Also Available in Print from Select Retailers!)

Amazon
– iTunes
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Sony – 20% OFF!
OmniLit
e-Sentral
Kalahari
Asia Books
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Foyles
Hive
BIGhay
The Indie eBook Shop
Tesco eBooks

MEMOIR: ‘I, Laura: The Story of a Kansas Family’

“The story of the successes and struggles of this Kansas family is
a fascinating insight into turn-of-the-century heartland America and all that its inhabitants handled…”

 

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Schmid Hogan’s memoir is hard to put down; the chapters seem to race through increasingly harrowing tales of survival and sweeping range in which the family plants itself firmly in Kansas. The beautifully described farmland and solid structure of the home in which Laura grew up in evokes a nostalgic ache for four scores past in which there was little modern technology, little medicine, and little legroom – a memoir in which the Schmid family survived the trials of the elements and of each other in the delightfully scenic backdrop of Kansas.

                     – Elizabeth Vosk, Bibliophile Betty Book Reviews

 

“I, Laura” is the autobiography of Laura Schmid Hogan, detailing her life in a family of 17 and the hardships of growing up in Western Kansas in the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s. In a time before modern conveniences amidst the backdrop of American farm life, Laura survived , and thrived, through a lifetime of heartbreak and tragedy with the help of her faith and her mother’s words of wisdom: “The Lord never promised life would be easy!”

 

eBook available at:
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BOOK REVIEW: “Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey” by David Joy

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Published by: Bright Mountain Books

Available at: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iTunes, and Omni Lit

Coming Soon to Sony, Google Books, and Gardners!

Review by Ken Ford-Powell

“Fishing is not a hobby; it is who we are.”

I’m not a fisherman; chances are I won’t ever be. But, last year, I wrote my soon-to-be-published novel The Pukur and I needed advice on the subject. One of the major character’s hobby is fly fishing. I knew nothing about the subject at the time but spent a very pleasant afternoon with a friend, who was a fanatical fly fishing hobbyist, learning all about this strange and obsessive world.

I jumped at the chance then to review David Joy’s book, Growing Gills. I figured it would give me insight into the fisherman’s mind which wouldn’t hurt while my novel is in the last stages of editing. There’s always room for a little more research.

I wasn’t disappointed.

David Joy, a self-confessed ichthyologist, was obsessed with fish from a very early age. By the age of five he knew how to hold a rod, set the hook, prepare the reel and so on. By eleven he was raiding his teenage sister’s ten-gallon aquarium to use for his own fish. Though this first and last foray into keeping live fish proved disastrous (for his traumatised sister at least) it reinforced Joy’s desire to be in the fish world rather than the human one.

This is not to imply that Joy didn’t enjoy eating fish too. “I was born into a school of cannibalistic fish,” he tells us – with characteristic bluntness – when describing the cartoonesque image of mealtimes with his family.

We spent so many hours casting to bream and eating their fried bodies that we all started resembling the fish we caught.”

It’s a vivid picture.

Although Joy writes obsessively about fish, in many ways his book is more about the people connected to his life on the rivers making his book accessible even for non-enthusiasts like me. His descriptions of those close to him are a pleasure to read and often most tender. His affection for his granny is obvious:

“…all I could focus on as a twelve-year-old were her hands. Hands that had picked cotton, cleaned fish, mixed cobblers, and held young’uns now exposed brittle bones and fragile skin as delicate as tissue paper. The story of her life was spelled out across her palms, each line a narrative of her eighty years.”

He never strays far from a reference to aquatic life, however, describing her with “blue veins peeping through the skin of her hands like the forks of an azure river, even her blood mimicking water.”

Occasionally, Joy’s language is a little clumsy and there are some minor, mildly irritating punctuation errors which spoil the flow. But then is he’s describing the world of a fisherman and not the finer points of Plato – though, with a degree in Literature, I am sure he could do that just as well and he certainly quotes from many a fine writer along the way.

Nevertheless, the minor flaws are quite forgivable and part of the charm of the author’s storytelling technique. Reading Growing Gills is like chatting with the fly fisherman himself – rambling, a little ad hoc and, occasionally, a little lacking in direction, but eminently enjoyable. Don’t wait for a punchline or a climax to the book – just enjoy it for what it is: A fisherman’s tales of love and devotion to the waters.

On the whole, he actually writes with artistic skill and certainly sucks the reader into his world of  ‘stocked brookies’, ‘bows’ and the importance of cork grips; and especially what those corks really mean for this fisherman.

In his vivid and generous descriptions of other fishermen, like his hash-stoned but expert fly-making friend Zac, you can’t help but admire these artists, or as Joy puts it “Piscatorial Picassos”. Even a non-fisherman such as I am can appreciate – and even be mildly jealous of – the great care and skill with which these unusual folk chase their fish.

Joy gives a great deal of detail about the technique of fishing – this is a world of ‘Woolly Worms’, ‘Parachutes Adams’ and ‘Pheasant Tails’ – yet he never bores, never gets lost in the details. Like a skilful story-teller who knows when to give the reader setting and when to get on with driving the story onwards, so Joy keeps the momentum going by mixing up moments of  technical knowledge with the tales themselves.

Sometimes, he even offers philosophical moments contemplating the nature of life as taught to him by the rivers in his life:

“I’ve spent years reading the words of the great philosophers, from Plato to Nietzsche. Though their prose left me awed, their thoughts never taught me as much about life as time spent knee-deep in the water with a fly hung in the hemlocks. Just as soon as my ego grows and head swells, there always seems to be a tree limb to knock me down a peg.”

Elsewhere, he says:

The wild was nothing more than exactly what it was. Everything was true. Really, there is no greater truth on earth than the reality of the natural world. Humans should dare to be so honest.”

My favourite section of the book describes this adoration for nature best. Joy’s description of night-fishing is captivating. I could imagine being there under a full moon, on the river bank with beer in hand and fish that I’d caught stacked up ready to prepare for a rich and tasty breakfast perhaps. I wanted to be where he was and I felt jealous of the author as he described the coolness of the night; the beauty, mystery and serenity of nature in the dark. I could almost smell the water and taste the fish as I read his words.

Joy has interesting quirks. He won’t kill a trout, for instance. All other fish he will happily catch, kill and cook but not the trout. For Joy, trout are “higher on the totem than others”. Furthermore, Joy describes how he kisses the ‘slimy flesh’ of many of the fish he catches – right on the nose. That’s not for me, no matter how beautiful they look, but still, I admire his devotion.

It is much later – in fact, near the end of the book – when we find out it is a tradition of Joy’s harking back to his childhood, watching Jimmy Houston kiss every bass he hooked on TV. For the author, this is not just about catching fish; his whole life is wrapped up in even the simplest activities. I believe that if you permanently removed the author from his beloved rivers he would gasp for breath as if he was a fish himself.

Of course, no fisherman’s tales could be complete without the ‘one that got away’ and David Joy certainly has more than one. He warms us up early on with the tale of ‘the ugliest fish in the sea’ (named Spike, naturally) but later tells of the one that didn’t so much ‘get away’ as ‘never came near’!  After hours of trying to catch the attention of a ‘monster brown’ to no avail, the author had to concede defeat. In Joy’ words: “Anthropomorphizing or not, that fish was smart”. Another tale is about what he calls the ‘grass eater’ a fish that caused Joy to resort to “monosyllabic cursing…more crushing than finding out that Santa Claus isn’t real…”. Even as a non-fisherman, I feel his pain.

Still, Joy is philosophical about these defeats – even welcoming them:

 “In many ways the fish that get away are more satisfying than the twenty-inch trout that occasionally take the fly…These are the fish that grow twelve inches by the time the story is told, the fish that lead to tales of Volkswagen-size catfish swimming below a dam, the fish that rip drag, break rods, shatter egos, and never look back. These fish are the reason that I trim my line, tie on a new hook, and cast again.”

I feel certain that any fly fisherman will empathise with this kind of thinking – more than I can. In fact, even though this book is the fishing memoirs of an American fly fisherman, I would recommend it for any man or woman who enjoys the world of chasing, catching and eating fish. Growing Gills is an ideal bedtime companion for any obsessive ichthyologist or for someone who just enjoys getting the rod out from time to time.

For me, I enjoy fish best when they are on the plate and ready to eat. That’s as near as I want to get to these aquatic delights. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed David Joy’s stories in Growing Gills and I envied him for the harmony he has known with nature.

If you are looking for a gift for that fish fanatic in your family – for the times when they’re in the house and not out on the river – Growing Gills is the perfect choice.

 

Ken Ford-Powell is a British freelance writer living with his family in Bangladesh. His novel ‘The Pukur’ has just been accepted for publication and he has celebrated by drinking vast quantities of tea. You can follow him at his blog: https://kenthinksaloud.wordpress.com/ 

A True Story of Life, Death, and Trust…

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The Gift
A True Story of Life Death and Trust
Allyn House Publishing, 2013

Once in a great while, a story touches you so deeply that it changes you forever,
a timeless story that will never grow old.

– Brian Carter, SunRise Publishing

Charles Allen, loving husband and father in a family of eight, shares his personal experience of conquering the heartache and tragedy of losing two children to cystic fibrosis, and both his oldest daughter and wife to cancer.
Through the details of Allen’s experiences of coping with the loss of four family members, it becomes clear how tragedy can become a powerful source of personal growth and how faith plays an important role in the trials and tribulations of life. Allen’s mourning culminates with the selfless gift given to him by his wife, Sue, as she struggles with her last breath.
Through touching personal journal entries and revealing narrative, ‘The Gift’ chronicles one man’s struggles with, and triumph over, loss and grief.

AVAILABLE AT AMAZON, NOOK, KOBO, OmniLit, SONY, iTUNES,
and GARDNERS BOOKS

 
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NOW AVAILABLE IN SPANISH!

El Don Divino
Una Historia Verdadera de Vida, Muerte, y Confianza

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Available at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, OmniLit, Sony, iTunes, and Gardners Books!