Thursday, December 14, 2017


Billy Ray Chitwood is an accomplished author, actor, teacher, and formerly served in the Navy. He is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rising Writers International Society of Authors. He state writing is therapy for my soul. 

Billy Ray Chitwood writes of himself: ​I'm a young man in an old man's body, trying to catch up to myself, trying to find pieces of me I left back in a disconnected youth and the early years of manhood. I'm a stereotype of many in my generation who can play the 'blame game', yell 'foul', and 'let's start over'. But, we are what we are, the sum of all the scary kid-emotions we experienced, the gin mills and piano bars that became our sandboxes of pleasure - lotus eaters of the best (or, worst) kind, the love affairs that did not quite settle us down, the sad poetry and songs written in bars and motels along the way... A Dreamer! A Wanderlust! The world needs such fools as we to write our books, our poetry, our songs, to offset the madness that plagues the soul.

Stranger Abduction is just one of several books Mr. Chitwood has written. It is very well written and based on a true event. Here are just two reviews taken from Amazon.


Gwendolyn Plano writes: The story is a frightening one - the abduction of a mother and her daughter, but it becomes a haunting masterpiece through the writing skill of the author. I was entranced by Billy Ray Chitwood's ability to create a scene through description and dialogue...This is a gripping story based on actual events, but it is also a beautifully structured novel.

My review: A chilling and frightening account of a mother and daughter's abduction. 
I appreciated that the author spared the reader of any details as to how they were treated 
sexually and physically...I never lost interest in the book, which was a page turner.
The role of the sheriff and his own personal struggles and successes are nicely woven in 
without distracting from the abduction. Well edited.

Twitter: @brchitwood

Wednesday, December 13, 2017







We agreed to visit Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s studio the following week.
The Sherwood Studio Building was located at Sixth Avenue and
Fifty-Seventh Street. Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s studio space inside the
building was small but filled with various pieces of plaster, mounds of
scattered sheets of paper with drawings, and a few men who were
working on smaller pieces. I gasped in awe and squeezed Mother’s hand
as I tried to take in all that was before me.

In the center of the room was a massive piece of white marble with
ladders and scaffolding around it. Two men hammered against chisels,
breaking off various sizes and shapes of the marble. Their work appeared
haphazard to my uneducated eyes, but the man directing them appeared
to have confidence in what they were doing. This man had the same
stature of Mr. Saint-Gaudens, except his hair was a dark brown and he
had no beard. There was a similar look and a nervous energy to his

Suddenly, we heard Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s voice saying, “You are
watching my brother Louis, who is my right-hand man and an artist in
his own right. Come—let me introduce you.” He extended his left arm,
inviting us to follow him.

As we neared, I could hear the brother’s baritone voice shouting
instructions: “Take a little more there” and “No, Samuel—strike the
chisel firmly but gently” and “That is good, very good.” He waved his
arms over and around as if he were conducting an orchestra. I found it

“Louis, my dear brother, stop your work for just a moment, please.”
Mr. Saint-Gaudens said these words with such love in his voice.
After introductions and some small talk, Mr. Saint-Gaudens went
on, “This is the young lady I was telling you about, the one I would like
to sketch. Do you agree she is perfect for the Vanderbilt project?”
The two brothers walked around me while never taking their eyes
off me. They exchanged their impressions and thoughts sometimes in
English, but mainly in French. I heard phrases such as “angular head,”
“high cheekbones,” and “vibrant eyes.”

I felt a mix of embarrassment and pride. My cheeks were warm, my
heart beat fast, and my knees began to shake. I had never experienced
such attention. Once again, I asked myself the same question: “Am I
really pretty?”

I glanced over at Mother, who was watching and listening to the
brothers, trying to understand their words and gestures.
Then I was suddenly brought out of my dreamlike state when I
heard Mother say, “Come Albertina. It is time to go to work.” She
turned to the two artists and said, “Perhaps you will come to our home
on Sunday at four o’clock in the afternoon to discuss your ideas for
Albertina. I want my sister, Ingrid, and her husband to be a part of
whatever decision we make. They have lived in this country long enough
to have a good command of the English language. Besides, they are my
only family, and I trust their judgment in all things.”

Mr. Saint-Gaudens bowed and replied, “Of course, madam, I will
be there. But before you leave, I would like you both to meet my wife
and have some tea. Our home is just a short carriage ride from here.”
Mother responded, “We met Mrs. Saint-Gaudens at the Christmas
party, but the meeting was brief. We will be honored to meet her again.
However, we will not be able to stay long. We have been away long
enough, and we need to return to the inn. Time has by gone so rapidly.”
Mrs. Saint-Gaudens was an austere woman whose features showed
a permanent crease between her eyebrows even when she smiled. She
was tall and large boned, with penetrating brown eyes and a deep
dimple in her chin.

The year before, Mrs. Saint-Gaudens had given birth to a son. She
proudly held him in her arms upon greeting us.

“This is my son, Homer.”

She then quickly turned and handed the handsome little boy over
to his nanny.

From her thin lips, she expressed her pleasure in meeting us, albeit
stiffly. Perhaps that was her natural demeanor. But then again, perhaps
she was not pleased at all. Her rather plain dark-gray dress was unadorned
with any lace or jewelry, as would be expected of a woman of her
economic status. I wondered if she were in mourning, though Ingrid
had not shared about any death in the family.

Mrs. Saint-Gaudens and Mother exchanged pleasantries for a few
minutes. During this time, I was well aware of how often Mrs. Saint-Gaudens looked at me. My impression was that she did not like me. Her eyes were cold and her words were harsh when she spoke.

Monday, December 11, 2017


It is with my great pleasure that I introduce Jan Sikes to my blog this week. She is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writers International Society of Writers. For the month of December she is RWISA's Rising Writer,  a title she richly deserves. 

She is not only a talented writer, but also a poet, songwriter, and songstress. As a young girl she wrote her first gospel song. Her husband was a talented musician and after his death she took some writing classes and went on to publish several books about him, their marriage, and his music. Her books are about true love, wisdom, and life's lessons. 


I invite you to watch this video and see why Ms. Sikes is December's Rising Writer.

“Come sit with me.” He patted the leather bench beside him.
In silence, I sat while others at the table shifted to make room. Why was I so nervous? It wasn’t like I didn’t know these people. Although I have to admit, I didn’t know them well.
I tried hard to remember names that went with the faces.
But, in all honesty, it wasn’t the people who made me nervous. It was him.
Twenty years my junior, tall, slender and handsome with brown eyes that sparkled, I saw no reason for him to have any interest in me.
Oh, I was a looker in my day. I had a slender figure, pert breasts, and round ass, but time has taken its toll. At sixty-five, gravity has sagged my breasts, and my once flat stomach has a slight pooch.
He draped a casual arm around my shoulders.
I tried to engage in conversation, but the tingles his touch left on my shoulders, distracted me to the point of madness.
When he dropped his arm behind me and circled my waist, I panicked. I wriggled and sucked in my stomach.
“Let’s go out on the veranda,” he suggested.
Clumsy and flushed, I managed a reply. “Okay.”
I slid off the seat then waited for him. I followed with my heart pounding in my ears. I scolded myself. You’re carrying on like a schoolgirl with her first crush. For God’s sake get a grip.
We strolled out into the cool night air. The moon and stars hung carefree in the black velvet sky, and a slight breeze blew the hair back from my face.
Silence wrapped around us like a velvet cloak.
I faced him. “What are you doing?”
“I like you.” He touched my cheek. “You’re not like the others.” He pulled me into the circle of his arms and kissed me.
It wasn’t a tongue-tangling kiss, but a warm and sincere kiss.
“I don’t even know what that means.” I took a step back and drew in a deep breath.
After a long eight years of solitude, I found it hard to believe this handsome forty-something man found me attractive.
“It means that you’re honest. You’re not trying to get anything from me.”
I grinned. “Don’t be too sure about that.”
He pulled me against him and kissed me again.
“Come with me to my place,” I said as I pulled away.
“No.” He caressed my shoulders. “I’ve done that way too many times. I want it to be different with you.”
I spun and walked to the edge of the veranda.
He followed, slipped his arms around me from behind and nibbled on my neck. “You turn me on,” he whispered in my ear as he tightened his hold on me.
I turned around for another kiss only this time; he slipped in his tongue.
My eyes flew open, and I lay still barely breathing soaking up the glorious feeling of being wanted, of being desirable.
Then ever so slowly, a tear escaped and dripped onto my pillow. Then another and another followed.
“Foolish old woman,” I muttered to myself.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


I am pleased to introduce, Bette A. Stevens to this blog. She is an accomplished and award winning author; member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writers International Society of Authors. She writes children's books, about social issues, and a novel about coming of age. She is a writer inspired by nature and human nature, and an illustrator.

           1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing most of my life—initially it was in the form of photo blurbs and poems to celebrate family outings and events over the years. During the 1980s I worked in the business world as an editor/writer/photographer, honing my skills in business writing. By the early 1990s, after taking courses in journalism, creative writing and poetry at University of Maine Orono while pursuing a degree in education, I discovered that writing was a strong point in my repertoire of skills and one that I pursued with passion. Teaching became a career and sharing my passions with upper elementary and middle school students for over a decade before retirement was a pure delight.

2.  How long does it typically take you to write a book? What does your writing area look like? Do you like music or quiet?

Typically, it takes about six months to complete the first draft of a book and usually a year before I’m ready to hit the PUBLISH button. My writing room is located at the west end of an open floor plan entry in our circa late-1800s renovated farmhouse. Furniture includes large computer desk (reorganized weekly), computer chair, book shelves, reading chair, lamp, three windows, door to front entry and wood stove. I love the openness of the location, since I’m able to glance through the windows as well and enjoy a lovely view in any direction, while keeping an eye on hubby when he’s working in the yard or barn and catch sight of Kitty Middie when she’s ready to take a break from the great outdoors.
As for music, a CD/Cassette player sits within reach on top of the bookshelf. Classical and Contemporary CDs are my favorites, which is often, but not when I’m doing serious writing or under time constraints for a project. However, during Christmas holiday season (Thanksgiving Day through Mid-January) magical melodies linger as the beat goes …

3.   What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Being a nature lover, I carry my faithful "Canon SureShot" with me wherever I go. Snapping pictures, I download the best ones to my computer and give them inspirational labels—they make great writings prompts. And, of course, I file everything in folders on my desktop so I can recapture "the muse" in a moment with the click of a mouse. 

4.   What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Spending time with family is top on my list. Then there is reading, gardening and preserving our abundant produce from the farmstead (and watching for those amazing monarch butterflies searching for the milkweed interspersed in our flower and vegetable gardens), bird watching, playing with Kitty Middie, walking trails on the farmstead and taking photographs, reading to children at our local library and schools, visiting with family and friends, Bible study on Tuesday mornings, day trips to the coast with hubby Dan, supporting friends who are involved in local theatre productions, book club at our local library and the list goes on…

5.   What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

First surprise was the amount of time and toil that goes into the creation of a children’s book. Since I wrote and illustrated both THE TANGRAM ZOO AND WORD PUZZLES TOO! and AMAZING MATILDA, it meant coordinating illustrations with text and even learning how to draw the figures from THE ZOO… online. Needless to say, getting these books to the published stage was challenging and rewarding. As for PURE TRASH and DOG BONE SOUP, major challenges were in formatting for kindle and print.

6.   What do you hate most about the writing process?

I wouldn’t say that I hate anything about the writing process, but getting to the stage where I’m ready to publish can be exhausting.

7.   What do you think makes a good story?

For me, a good story is one that I enjoy because I can relate to it and learn something new from it as well. A book that captures my interest and draws me into the plot in a personal way is what I call a great read.

8.   Where do you get your ideas for your books?

I consider myself a writer inspired by nature and human nature. My ideas come from my surrounding, whether it’s people, places or things—the wonders abound. 

9.   Tell us something about yourself that we might not read in your bio.

Kitty Midnight is my side-kick. She follows me everywhere and has the ability to make me smile even on the gloomiest of days. She has her own grooming table suited with a kitty toy basket, a tree cookie (slice from an oak tree) for her manicures and pedicures; she even has her own brush and comb. Needless to say, I’m her stylist and often misquote Shakespeare to her—“Vanity, vanity, they name is Midnight.” Midnight rules!

10. Please give us an excerpt from one of your books?

Excerpt from DOG BONE SOUP (Literary/Historical Fiction) by Bette A. Stevens

ANOTHER SUMMER HAD ENDED. Molly was up at the crack of dawn and ready to embark on a kindergarten adventure—she’d been practicing her ABCs, colors and numbers all summer. Annie was excited about heading off to fifth grade. Willie was on his way to seventh and thought he was super cool. Well, I wasn’t about to disappoint him about the benefits of higher education. Somehow Willie always managed to fit in.
The high school was right next to the junior high. When we got off the bus Willie sprinted off his way and I went mine. I was high school bound on the college prep track. That’s what Mr. Edwards, Mrs. Gardner and Mum had agreed to in June.
“Shawn has a fine mind,” Mrs. Gardner told Mum.
“We don’t have money for college.”
“Don’t worry about that, Mrs. Daniels, as long as he keeps up his grades, colleges will be competing for your son.”
So, I marched straight into Lebanon High and headed down the college track.
I wouldn’t see Timmy that year. His folks were sending him off to a private school, some academy in New York. He’d have to live at school and come home on holidays and vacations. It would be hard on Timmy, and probably not much easier on me being left here without him.
By a stroke of luck, Diana Dearborn was still in my classes. We studied together last year. She was smart and between us we would drill some of the other kids for tests and quizzes. She was the history and English whiz; I led the math and science.
Turned out that Buddy wasn’t in any of my classes, except gym and shop, and even that was two too many. Sure wished that kid would get sent off to an academy. But not the one Timmy was at.
Mrs. Fletcher, our Algebra teacher, was a real hoot. She was as short as a fresh-mowed lawn and wore high heels as tall as a northern pine. She didn’t take a bit of guff from the wise guys. More than once, I’d seen her grab one of them by the collar, throw him up against a locker and send him to the office. Algebra was cool.
Science was boring since I had most of that stuff figured out already. Wood shop was the best. You got to get your hands on things and solve real problems—unless old Buddy got too close. He wasn’t sing-songing anymore, but he sure had other ways to hit a guy where it hurt.
“Quite a festival this year,” he hollered out the first day of class. “Didn’t see much of you, momma's boy. But your pop sure made some spectacle of himself.”
I tried to ignore him, but he’d jump me or slap my arm just when I was measuring a line or working with a tool. He got a few of his buddies to do the same. The shop teacher thought I was messing up real bad. He never did catch Buddy do anything wrong—that jerk sure knew how to butter up the teachers.
I dreaded gym. We had to buy tennis shoes and special gym shorts and I didn’t have mine for the first few weeks—a complete waste of money as far as I was concerned. After gym we had to go back into the locker room to shower and change up for the next class.
“Pop spending too much on his beer to get you a pair of gym shorts? Or, did the sheriff nab him again for disturbin' the peace?” Buddy’d ask.
When I tried to ignore him, he’d get his friends to box me in. One of them was on the football team. They’d poke fun at me, saying nasty things about Dad, even about Mum. None of those jerks even knew my folks.
Once I got my gym shorts it was even worse. Changing and getting in and out of that shower room was worse than facing eternal damnation in Hell’s fire.
“Shawn finally gets to find out what runnin’ water feels like. He needs a good long shower, boys,” I could hear Buddy holler while the water beat down on my body parts until most of the guys were finished.
I tried to stay away from the jerks out on the gym floor, but that wasn’t easy. Getting off by myself in grammar school had been a cinch, but this wasn’t grammar school. Even middle-school was something I could manage. This wasn’t middle school either. I wanted out and I wanted out bad.
On shop and gym days, stepping off the school bus at three o’clock felt soothing as sippin’ an Orange Crush at Starks General on a steamin’ summer day.
Home was my ‘fishing rock’ on weekday afternoons. At least it was until I got my report card. Kept it hid in my math book as long as I could.
“Shawn, where’s yours?” Mum asked after she signed Willie’s, Annie’s and Molly’s.
“You’re not gonna like it, Mum.”
“You kids run along. And you, young man, bring me that report card and sit down right now.”
Soon as Mum looked at it, her hands flew in the air and she lit into me like a matchstick on a striker.
“Shawn Daniels, these grades are a disgrace. You’re not going to get into college like this. You tell me right now what’s going on.  C – in History, D in Wood Shop and an F in Physical Education? What on earth is wrong with you?”
I told her about Buddy Wentworth and his gang.
“It’s about time you started standing up for yourself. You’ve got to think up something to say that will stop those boys in their tracks. I don’t want to see any more grades like these. Do you hear me?”
I lifted my gaze from the table and nodded.
“Your brother wouldn’t put up with those kids.”
“OK, OK.” I stared at her and shook my head before I got up and shot out the door.
I knew Willie’d sooner land a good punch than run off or ignore those guys. Willie didn’t talk things over with anyone—not even with me.
That was Willie. Well, I wasn’t Willie.
I couldn’t think of anything to say to Buddy to get back at him. What he said about me was true. It was downright mean, but it was all true. Even what he said about Dad. I’d already tried to keep as far away from him and his buddies as I could. Figured I could get my schedule changed. Knew of a couple kids in homeroom who did.
“Come on in and sit down. Mrs. Gardner told me that you wanted to talk about changing your schedule.”
The wooden sign on the desk read: Mr. Neil, Guidance Counselor.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place, young man. But changing schedules isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve pulled out a copy of your report card and it looks like you’re having some trouble. Tell me about it.”
“Buddy Wentworth and his friends have it in for me, and there’s nothing I can do about it, Mr. Neil. All the things they’re saying are true. I need to get away from them. There’s no way I can do that if I’m in the same class. I know—I’ve tried.”
“First, tell me, is there something you need to change, so they won’t have an issue with you?”
“A kid can’t change his folks or the way he’s living. And it’s not just teasing. It’s poking, spitting and doing everything they can to make me mess up in class.”
“What do your teachers say about it? I haven’t had any reports from them.”
“No, sir. They’re sneaky—you know—they do stuff when the teacher’s not looking. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, I’m not a snitch. I just figured if I can stay away from them, that’ll solve my problem, because they’re not about to stay away from me.”
Mr. Neil took out a pad and scribbled down a few notes before he tore off the page and paper clipped it to my folder.
“Looks like you’re having trouble with your grades in Wood Shop, Gym and History. Is that right?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Are the kids you’re having problems with in all of those classes?”
“Not in History. History’s right before gym. No problems with anyone in that class.”
“Hmm. I’ll see what I can come up with and I’ll get back to you by the end of the week. Changing schedules needs everyone’s approval.”
“Thank you, Mr. Neil.”
By the end of the week Wood Shop and Gym classes were switched around. That problem was solved.
I made it through my freshman year with mostly As and Bs, though I always got a C in gym.

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