Tag Archives: Dobyns Chronicles

My Book Review

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This is the last day of the year and I’m doing what I’ve done every day since May. I’m talking to people about my book, Dobyns Chronicles. I never realized how hard it is to get people to read a book you know they will enjoy.

My blog today is a review of my book by Motorwriter.com. I thought it was great and wanted to share it with everyone. It is a wonderful feeling when people like what you have put on paper.  Ok, I’ll have my arm casted tomorrow from patting myself on the back but today, since it’s the last day of the year I’m going to keep patting.

I also want to everyone to know how much I appreciate the support that has been given to me. I’ve made some new friends, and connected again with some old ones. Life is full of struggles and heartbreak but it is also full of love and kindness and I have been blessed with a abundance of the love and kindness.

As this year ends I want everyone to know how much they are appreciated and lets continue to make this world a better place to live for as long as we are here.  Blessings to all and Happy New Year.

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The Finest Generation – A review of the novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’

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“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams” – Don DeLillo

Author Shirley McLain’s latest novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’ is a historical fiction loosely based on the life and times of her grandfather Charles Kenly Dobyns. Charles orCharley to those close to him was the eldest son of Kennerly, an American cowboy and Eliza, a Cherokee Indian and was raised in a farm in Red River in Bonham near Northeast Texas. The book chronicles his life story from the late 1800’s when he was a young boy in a Texan farm to mid 1950’s when he became a great grandfather in McAlester, Oklahoma. The book paints a moving real life story about a young man’s resolve dealing with the various tragedies life threw at him while also caring for his two siblings, younger brother David and sister Viola. This novel presents a fascinating look at vintage Americana and will fill your mind with nostalgia about a simpler life led in much simpler times.

Right off the bat, the first thing that you are going to notice and that too barely a couple of pages into the book is the wonderful use of the English language. It has become almost a rarity in mainstream literature to come across such beautiful phrases and prose that make you stop and read a line twice just for the sheer literary pleasure it gives you. The next best thing about this book is the pitch perfect way in which the author has been able to portray the laid back and lazy times with the back breaking, difficult and adventure filled day in an old western town. It is so descriptive that the character’s spirituality, the numerous odd jobs done around the house, cattle drive and horse breaking somehow become second nature to you by the time you are done with the book. And for people of this century where everything is available to them at the touch of a button, this book will be a throwback to our older and harsher times when day to day living meant a constant battle with the various elements of the nature.

Blending the fiction seamlessly with the many historical and factual events of the late 18th century and early 19th century, Shirley has made good use of various events like the yellow fever epidemic, the great depression and the absurd tax laws to good effect and has used them strategically at various points in the novel to underline the emotions of her characters in that setting beautifully. The changes happening over time and the various developments too have been captured nicely; case in point isCharley staying at a hotel for the very first time. Shirley also seems to have a knack in getting children’s behaviour and their conversations right, the change in tone and content when the conversation moves from a child to an adult is always bang on target.

The entire book will tug at your heart strings and make you think about your own family, it will also make you reminisce about your childhood as you read about the childhood of the Dobyn kids. And even though your childhood may have been vastly different from theirs, you will still feel a connection to the various commonalities that affect us humans across time and different nationalities. The epilogue and the photographs at the end really get to you and even though a life that you have been witness to from a young age has come to an end, you are in a strange way left with so many memories of this man. And this is because of the way the author has captured these scenes and emotions, by taking you right into the lives and homes of these people instead of merely narrating a story.

Great authors have often talked about the secrets that make a book appeal to audiences everywhere. They stress upon having a standout first chapter to make the readers commit to the book, a good first page that will blow them away and a great first line that will stay etched in their memory forever. If they are right then Shirley’s book has scored a definite ace on all three fronts and has emerged a clear winner.

Product Details

Print Length: 260 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1499024096

Publisher: Xlibris US (May 23, 2014)

ASIN: B00KNMM46S

Buy Fromhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNMM46S/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

The Beginning

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Do you have a problem with the beginning of your book?  I know I certainly did. I was very insecure about how Dobyns Chronicles should start, but I finally made a decision. “OLD AGE IS hell, but it’s something all of us have to go through.” Right or wrong you have to make a choice. I wanted the opening to establish the voice of Charley Dobyns and to set the tone.  I don’t skip around when I write. I have to have the beginning before I can go on with my writing.

You must have a strong opening and that’s not easily done. Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool, a New Times Noteworthy book stated his beginnings stay in flux also.  Sometimes the second or third sentence may be the best beginning or even the second or third chapter.  We seem to do a lot of rearing of our words to get the beginning that strikes the right cord with us.

I used a dialogue opening which can pique a readers’ curiosity. I noticed a lot of writers go for the scenic opening. The real question is what type of opening will cause your reader to go on though the story.  I know for myself that I have picked up a book and read the first page and put it back on the self.  If it doesn’t grab my attention, I don’t read it. A good first page captures the reader’s interest and makes them want to read on.

Ellen Sussman, author of A Wedding in Provence, tends to open her novels with a scene. “I want to ground my readers in my fictional world.” She says. “It’s as if I want them to jump right in and join the characters in action.  I try to make sure that the opening scene captures some of the tension of the novel as well as introducing the main character and the setting.  Of course, the tone gets established right away as well.  Tall order for one scene!”

Does your beginning have conflict?  Conflict is what drives all fiction. Readers may tend to have certain expectations about an opening based on what genre it is.  The avid mystery reader is on the outlook for the story’s victim. Readers also keep an eye out for the protagonist. Even in fantasy a reader has to know that they are in another world where there may be wonders or terror. It doesn’t matter the genre, the beginning has to contain the components to catch your reader.

“Crafting the beginning takes careful attention, patience and a flair for the dramatic” said Jack Smith the author of the article Start to Stop which this blog was based on. It is a major investment of time and energy so we have to make the beginning the best we can make it.  Happy writing.

Back Then

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depression2One of the readers of my book Dobyns Chronicles compared my book to “The Walton’s” and I have to say I really like that. I thought The Walton’s was one of the greatest shows that TV has produced for the family. I put it right up there with Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. I can definitely tell that I am ageing because nothing is a good as it was “back then”. That got me to thinking about how things were “Back then.”

depression3My dad came from a family where he had thirteen siblings and they lived in a three room house with a path plus a chicken house. He had to eat water gravy and biscuits many times because they didn’t own a cow. Mom would tell how she never had to go hungry because her grandparents had cows and pigs and everyone hunted and fished. Charley Dobyns took care of his family during those tough times but several members of his family left and headed to California because there was work there. Mom’s parents was part of that group that left Oklahoma. They worked in the fruit orchards or the canneries. Times were still hard but it was easier there than in Oklahoma.
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My mother always told stories of her family and the way it was “back then”. My sister and I were taught how to prepare and survive just in case there was another depression. Living through the depression left a big imprint on both my mother and my father. I truly believe that the underlying fear of having nothing made the need to work and save very strong. I think that’s why “The Walton’s” was such a favorite around our house because my parents could identify with the time. I could identify with it because of all of mom and dads stories.
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Would you have what it takes?

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I ran across this wonderful YouTube video about life as a pioneer,(it’s posted at the bottom) and it added further to the respect I have for the courage of my forefathers in settling this land.

In the book I’m writing, ”The Dobyns Chronicles,” I follow one branch of my family starting in Virginia. They migrate from Virginia in the 1700′s settling in Ohio and Indiana. My Great-Great Grandfather then migrated with his family to Texas, living in the Sherman/Denison area, on the Red River. (The cover picture is of my great grandfather and his family. The little girl is my grandmother).

Everyone has stories of their family. Have you ever stopped and thought about how they managed to accomplish what they did. It is mind-boggling when you consider the obstacles they had to overcome in order to settle a new land. The hardships they must have endured day after day. The things we take for
granted today.

I was very fortunate having a mother who loved family history, and wanted to talk about it. I grew up listening to the stories about how life was lived when her Grandfather was a boy, and living through the depression. She taught my sister and I how to survive. I have her Grandmother’s lye soap recipe. I truly hope it never gets to a point I have to make my own soap, but I know how, if I need it. I can live without electricity and running water if I have to. I know how to plant a garden and preserve food. This is where I am very grateful for the life I have today. I don’t have to do what was common place to the pioneering families of yesteryear.

How many people today could make it across the miles and miles of plains, not seeing a soul, or cross a mountain range? I know I couldn’t do it. I use to live in Wyoming many years ago, and looked at the wagon ruts cutting across the country. The canyons, wagons would have to be lowered into with ropes and then lifted up the other side. The small cemeteries, containing loved one’s that could go no further. Between Rawlins and Casper, Wyoming there is a large granite rock. The pioneers who traveled by this rock on the way to California and Oregon would chisel their name and the year into the rock. They wanted it known, they were there. They wanted to be remembered.