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.
The Finest Generation – A review of the novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’
“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.
Print Length: 260 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1499024096
Publisher: Xlibris US (May 23, 2014)
One 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.”
My 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.
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.
I’m excited so I have to share it. My book, Dobyns Chroncles is now for sale on Amazon. Have you ever had something that nagged at you until it was finished? This book was that way for me. From the start it nagged and kept it up until I finished it.
This was a labor of love. It brought me much closer to my Great Grandfather, Charley Dobyns. This book is loosely based on his life. My mother told me stories over the years about her Grandfather. He was a man of pioneering stock. He was a horseman and enjoyed the country life.
I met him only once. I must have been about five years old. I can see him and my Great Grandmother telling us goodbye as we headed back to our home in California. It’s funny how one memory can result in a creation of a celebration of life.
I am giving away five Kindle ebooks today for the first five people who sends me their email address. Even if you don’t own a Kindle you may still read the book on line by downloading Amazon’s Kindle reader.
I now have a store at my site shirley-mclain.com that sells my books. I’m enjoying this process. Have a blessed day.
My mother and father lived about four miles north of highway 270 west of McAlester, Oklahoma on land where my great grandparents lived. There is a quarter mile drive off the main road to their house. When mama was a little girl her and her grandfather planted a pine tree at the corner of the main road and the drive. That pine tree remains alive and well to this day.
Back in the 1980’s my dad worked at the Navy Ammunition Plant at Haywood as a truck driver and forklift operator. He drove on and off the mountain at least five days a week. Mom would pack a lunch for him every day, which he would put in the refrigerator at the work office.
Everyday someone would get into the lunches in the refrigerator and eat things out of people’s lunch sacks. They thought they knew who the fellow was, but they couldn’t prove it. Everyone was frustrated with this guy.
One evening when dad was coming home, he got to the pine tree and thought there was a big limb in the road. He opened the truck door and that big limb coiled. Having a pistol under the seat he proceeded to shoot and kill a seven and a half foot diamond back rattler. He brought it to the house and skinned it out. Mom took the back bone meat and cut it into chunks and fried it. That’s what they ate for dinner that night. My sister said it was good eating and tasted a lot like chicken.
My dad decided he would take some to work the next day for his lunch. He never told a soul about killing the snake or what he had for lunch. He put it in the refrigerator as he always did and went out to the docks to unload a truck. Noon rolled around and all the guys were sitting at the table eating. Daddy’s lunch had been gotten into and about half of the meat had been eaten.
Dad began talking and telling the guys about the big rattlesnake he had killed the night before and how mom had cooked it up for him. He even brought some for his lunch. Dad said the man accross from him, who happened to be the man who they thought was getting into the lunches, choked on his food. His color turned pasty white and then he turned green and had to leave the room. They could hear him retching outside and all knew he was throwing his toenails up.
Everyone had a great laugh and guess what else. No one’s lunch was ever robbed again. The man got cured.
Daddy had that snake skin mounted and it hung over their television set for over twenty years. He would still laugh when he told that story about his big snake.
Even as slow as I can be at times, it’s the other times that totally blows me away. I ask myself “how is this possible, because I know me very well and this is not my norm.” I’m not the brightest bulb in this vast closet we all live in, but I’m not the dimmest either. Why my brain can do what it does I will never figure out. Some people may think they know, but there is always an area of doubt when it comes to our minds. Science is making headway into figuring it out, but still has a long way to go.
I have struggled with my mind since I was a child. Over my life time, the majority of the disease processes which has affected me, involved my brain. Two of the main areas were Clinical Depression and Encephalitis. According to the Mayo Clinic
Clinical depression symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep nearly every day
- Slowed thinking or movement that others can see
- Fatigue or low energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- Loss of concentration or indecisiveness
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
The only symptom I don’t have is the recurring thoughts of suicide. I think of death, but not suicide. I deal with it every day. Please don’t think I’m whining because I’m not. It”s just a part of being me.
Encephalitis (en-sef-uh-LI-tis) is inflammation of the brain. Viral infections are the most common cause of the condition.
Encephalitis can cause flu-like symptoms, such as a fever or severe headache, as well as confused thinking, seizures, or problems with senses or movement. Many cases of encephalitis may go unnoticed because they result in only mild flu-like symptoms or even no symptoms. Severe cases of encephalitis, while relatively rare, can be life-threatening.
Because the course of any single case of encephalitis is relatively unpredictable, it’s important to get a timely diagnosis and treatment.
Of course, I had to be one of the rare exceptions. I acquired equine encephalitis from mosquitoes at the same time my Uncle had two horses die from the disease and also a boy in Atoka, Oklahoma did. He died, but God decided it wasn’t my time to join him yet and kept me in this world. I think I was around 12 or 13 when it happened. I’m still dealing with the side effects from the disease. That’s another one of the “it’s just me” area’s of my life.
This reflection of my life is all due to finding a movie on YouTube this morning called “The Mole People.” I saw that movie in 1956 in Marysville California at a movie theater with my cousins. I was six years old. That is the first time I can remember being in a movie theater. I never forgot that movie. I told many people about the scenes from that movie over the years. I ‘m almost 65 years old and I can barely remember my name at times, but I never forgot an old campy horror film. That takes me full circle back to how amazing the brain is. Of all of the life events I could remember, why is it “The Mole People?” I guess only God knows that answer and I’ll have to wait to get my answer. Mind boggling, isn’t it?
Here is that wonderful old horror film. See if you can forget it easier than I could.
Right now in the USA a large portion of the country s experiencing extreme cold. I’m in Oklahoma and at the present time we are having the longest cold stretch (freezing) with wind chills in the single digits that we’ve experienced in many years. I am lucky that I can stay inside and keep warm by my wood stove and watch the beautiful snow falling outside. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. Many, many people have to work in this weather.
Here are some tips to help you avoid hypothermia. I don’t want anyone to experience the problems and possible death that can occur.
The simple way to avoid hypothermia is to dress warmly and stay out of the cold. But things don’t always work out and there may come a time when you don’t dress warmly enough and you’re so cold you can’t remember your name.
No, really. When your body temperature drops below 95 degrees F, you’re hypothermic and one of the symptoms is that you’re dazed and confused, not to mention shivering violently. You also get pale, and your lips, ears, fingers and toes turn blue.
Then things could get really serious. If your temperature should drop as low as 90 degrees F, your organs begin to fail and without immediate medical attention, you’ll likely die.
Forget the Whiskey
Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce your chance of freezing to death. If you think you could be caught outside in very cold temperatures, dress in layers, preferably wool or other fabrics that can dry quickly. Keep your head covered. Drink plenty of warm fluids, but not alcohol or any caffeinated liquid, both of which hinder the body’s heat-producing mechanisms. So forget about that shot of whiskey getting you through the cold night.
Also, do whatever you can to stay dry. Obviously, you’re not going to go around flopping into streams when it’s freezing outside. But if you should get wet, keep in mind that wet clothing can lose up to 90 percent of its insulating effect, so your risk of hypothermia could rise dramatically.
No Massages, Please
If you’re lucky enough to be with someone when your body starts shutting down, what should they do to save you? First, they should call 911. You’re going to need medical help. They also should get you into shelter, if possible. If they can’t get you indoors, they at least should move you out of the wind. Wherever you are, they should wrap you, including your head, in blankets, towels or even newspapers. Ideally, they should put hot water bottles under your armpits and between your legs, making sure that they don’t put anything on bare skin. Finally, they should keep you flat and move you as little as possible. Movement could cause a severely hypothermic person to have a heart attack.
A few things they shouldn’t do. They shouldn’t rub or massage you. That could cause more damage if you also have frostbite. They shouldn’t get you anything to eat. And they shouldn’t give you anything to drink, especially alcohol, no matter how much you think that’s just what you need.
I love writing flash fiction. It lets me stretch my writing muscles a bit, but not feel overwhelmed. Today I wrote a flash fiction called Football Fantasy. I was required to use six words: alarm, agent, football, song, explosion, and fantasy. I’m posting it for you to read. Please give me some feedback. I love hearing from everyone. Shirley
Can it be true? Has my life long fantasy happened? When the alarm went off this morning, I knew in my heart that it would be a great day. I jumped out of bed with a song on my lips. I’m happy. I’m blessed. When the agent called yesterday about being the place kicker for the Hurricanes, I had a difficult time talking because of my excitement. Me, Amy Jackson, playing football for a professional team.
What is that smell? I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned it to the maintenance man. He tells me the same thing every time. “I’ll get to it when I can, Ma’am”. I have to take a shower before the agent and coach arrives. That bathroom heater needs lighting. I hate that pilot light. It only works when it wants to.
Where did I put those matches? Here they are.
On page four of the Tulsa World, Sunday edition, there is a small article, which reads: Amy Jackson, the rising star of the Hurricanes, the first duel-sexed team in Oklahoma, is mourning the loss of their new place kicker. She died in her home yesterday from a gas explosion. No further details are available at this time.
I like flash fiction. I didn’t know how much I would enjoy it when I started writing two years ago. I’ve had people tell me how much they enjoy reading flash fiction and then I’ve had a few that couldn’t get past the shortness and crispness of the story. I believe they are the one’s who are the flowery writers. They use lots of adjectives or whatever it takes to add description. I figured out many years ago, I’m not a flowery writer. Maybe that’s why I like Flash Fiction, because it is very straight forward.
An example would be, “Walking down the stone strewn path, I can smell the wonderful aroma of the large honeysuckle vine. It’s vines turning and wrapping themselves though the spaces in the fence.” For flash fiction you could write something such as “Walking down the path, the odor of honeysuckle filled the air. The vines wrapped themselves around the fence.”
The first example had twenty-nine words in the two sentences. The second example had eighteen words. They are very concise, and crisp. Flash Fiction uses limited words. I’ve written from 100 word stories to a 1000 words and it still be termed Flash Fiction. Any number you use requires a complete story. Sometimes it’s difficult to do.
Three days ago I wrote a Flash Fiction piece and entered it into a contest on FanStory. It’s called “The Letter”. I won the contest and I want to share it with you. This is the instuctions I was given.
Write a scene in which your main character receives a strange looking letter beat up with stains on its cover. The letter has no return address. What’s in it? How does your character react to the contents once it is opened and why? This story should not be any longer than 1000 words but no shorter then 800 words.
France, June 16, 1944
Rifle shots are randomly going off around Dan as he sits in the bombed out building. He’s writing a letter that he’s put off writing, because he knows it will break a girl’s heart back in Oklahoma. If you were to see his face, you’d think he’s about to cry tears. His heart is heavy.
Dear Janell, I really don’t know how to start this letter, but it is something I have to do. Sitting in the middle of this rubble, which was once a small town, probably a lot like our home town of Stuart. I’ve spent many months here, crawling through the mud and blood, and thinking of you and getting back home.
Two months ago, the French underground put me into hiding. There was a girl there by the name of Angelique. I called her Angel for short. I have to tell you, we have fallen in love, and I’m going to marry her. You know I never intended to hurt you, but I have to follow my heart. I only wish you the best with your life.
“Mama, would you like a cup of hot tea and a muffin? You haven’t eaten a thing since we got back from the cemetery this morning.”
“Sally, I’m not hungry. Just leave me alone.”
“You have to have something. How about that cup of tea? I’ll get you the tea, then walk down to the mailbox and get the mail. Maybe there’s a letter from Aunt Hattie. She always cheered you up when you read one of her letters.
“Mama, here is some Earl Grey. It’s hot, so let it sit a couple of minutes. I’ll be right back.”
The mailbox was sitting at the intersection of the two dirt roads that ran by the house. How many times had she walked to this mailbox over the years? Today was different because she helped bury her father this morning.
When she opened the mailbox it contained one letter.
The envelope was yellow with age, and had a couple of dark brown spots on the front. The strange thing was the name on the envelope. It’s addressed to mama using her maiden name, Janell Griffin. You couldn’t tell who sent it, because there wasn’t a return address. This is a mystery, Sally thought. I wonder who sent this.
Janell, sitting in her rocking chair, with her eyes closed and a slight smile on her face. She’s remembering the first time she saw her Daniel. We were at a church picnic and began talking. It was if we’d always been together. We spent all the time together we could. In 1943, Dan joined the Army and was shipped overseas. He was there over a year. The letters came regularly at first and I answered each one promptly. I tried to write about everything going on and the people he knew. I knew his loneliness would be terrible. Then the letters stopped coming. I thought he’d been killed. Several months passed with me mourning the loss of my love, Daniel. I went to the drug store for Mother one Saturday morning. When I came out of the drug store, the Grey Hound bus was unloading passengers at the depot next door. When I looked at the unloading passengers, I saw a solider with a cane step off the bus. I screamed and began running and yelling Daniel at the top of my lungs. Daniel was alive and home. I was hugging him and kissing him with tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t believe my love was alive and home. He acted very strange at first. It was as if he wasn’t expecting me to hug and kiss him. He felt stiff when I touched him. He must have been through hell.
“Mama,” Sally called out as she came through the door. “Wait till you see what we got in the mail.”
Janell opened her eyes, stopping the thoughts about her beloved Daniel. “What do you have?”
“It looks like a very old letter. It’s addressed to you but using your maiden name.”
“My maiden name! I haven’t used that name in almost sixty years. Let me see it.” Janell straightened her glasses as well as herself in the rocker.
“It’s post marked from France and I can see the number forty-four.”
“Well, let me see it.”
Sally handed the old letter to Janell. When Janell looked at the envelope, she began to cry.
“Mama, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
Janell sat very quiet holding the letter in her hands for a few minutes. When she was able to speak, she put the letter up to her heart and looked up at her daughter. “Sally, this letter was written by your father. I would know his hand writing anywhere. He was in France during the war. I actually thought he’d died, but God sent him back home to me. I can’t believe I got this letter on the day we buried him.
“Open it up and see what it says.”
Janell slowly opened the envelope with her arthritic fingers. She unfolded the paper and read the letter. She folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope.
“What did it say, Mama? Was it from Daddy?”
“No dear, it wasn’t meant for me. I think I want another cup of tea and I’m going to fix it. Would you like one?
“Yes, I would.”
“Sit down and I’ll call you when it’s ready”. Janell walked slowly to the kitchen and directly to the stove. She turned on the front burner for the tea pot and the flame started. She stuck the corner of the letter into the fire watching it burn and dropped it into the cast iron skillet sitting on the stove. While it burned to ashes she spoke softly aloud, “It wasn’t for me.”
Here is another one of my short stories that will be in my book called Shirley’s Short’s and Flashes. Getting this new house done with the remodling is taking a big chunk of my time, so I hope you don’t mind my short stories. Have a great evening. Until next time. Shirley
Mrs. Tipton didn’t lock her door, but it wasn’t a problem. No one in the area locked their doors in 1985. Scipio, Oklahoma wasn’t on a main road; the community sat fifteen miles north of highway 270 on a black top road. You had to be heading there know about the place.
The one-room store was the front room of an old house. The other five rooms are where Mrs. Tipton lives. The house had two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and bathroom. The old outhouse still stood out by the barn. It was still used occasionally, if the electricity went out, since it shut off the pump for the water supply. There was a beautiful red crepe myrtle bush in full bloom at this time of year. Mrs. Tipton had planted the bush when she and her husband moved into their store/home, in 1930.
Built in 1929 the one-room store and home was clapboard with wood floors, and one room. The outside front had two rock pillars holding up the covering for the two gas pumps. The pumps were old enough you still went inside to pay for your gas.
Mrs. Tipton was not much on decorating, but she did believe in living clean and being comfortable. Handmade quilts were on the chairs and couch. The quilts had similar colors, but they didn’t match. They suited her taste and lifestyle well.
The quilting frame hung on the living room ceiling until last year. Over the years, Mrs. Tipton brought the frame down three times a week, to work on her projects. She made many a bed covering over the years, using that frame. Sometimes her daughter would visit and help her quilt, but most of the time it would be just her.
She used to make butter, and sell it in the store, but she had to get rid of her Jersey cow, because she couldn’t milk her. Selling the cow and removing her quilting frame was emotionally difficult for Mrs. Tipton, but her arthritis was so bad; she couldn’t do the handwork she once did.
Tom, who was Mrs. Tipton’s husband of fifty-two years, died two months ago from a heart attack. Mrs. Tipton’s world crashed around her after her husband died. Being a strong countrywoman, with an even stronger faith, she buried her husband, and went back to running the store. Her son and daughter tried to convince her to close the store and move in with one of them. She refused, and nothing said or done could change her mind.
She’s lived in the clapboard house, and ran the store for over fifty years. She told her children she wouldn’t leave her house until they carried her out feet first. Besides, everyone in town knew her. If she needed anything, someone would help her. The place wasn’t even locked up at night, because she felt so secure no one would bother her. In the fifty years of running the store, not a thing had left the store without permission. She was proud of her little community, and the people who lived there.
When she and her husband first opened the store, they had a booming business. It took to long to get to McAlester by horseback or wagon, so almost all the store purchases made by the people of Scipio was at Tipton’s Grocery. Over the years, business decreased due to better transportation. It didn’t make the Tipton’s any difference. Scipio was their home, and they weren’t going anywhere. They just made the best of their situation.
Four months went by, with life as usual. Mrs. Tipton got up at 6:00 AM every day and turned on the front lights, so everyone knew the store was open. Every once in a while, someone would come in, and buy a coke and peanuts for the drive into work, or buy gas to get to work. Now bread and milk are sold most of the time. Kids bought lots of candy, and she always gave the “bad for your teeth” lecture, every time they bought it. The kids thought she was a funny old woman, but everyone loved her. On a late fall night, two boys drove past the store. The lights were off, so the boys knew the store was closed for the night. These boys weren’t from Scipio. They’d been driving around, and accidentally found the community. They turned around and drove back by the store a couple of times, trying to decide if they were going to stop, and what they were going to do. The two boys were high on cocaine, and they didn’t care about anything, except getting money to buy more dope.
They pulled up to the side of the grocery store slowly, with their lights off. They didn’t want the gravel parking area to alert anyone they were around the house. The lights being off gave the boys an easy opportunity to walk around and not be seen. The road didn’t have any traffic on it, so interruptions by traffic wasn’t a problem. Brain could jimmy a lock, so he went to the front door. He removed the bell from the screen door, so it wouldn’t make any noise. He tried the doorknob, and to his surprise, the door opened. He motioned to his friend to follow him, “come on Sam hurry up, and be quiet. We need to find the cash register.”
“Brian, I don’t think this is a real good idea. What if we get caught?”
“Shut up, we’re not going to get caught. Besides I have my insurance with me”
They looked around in the dark for the cash register. When they found it, and got the drawer opened, it made a loud digging noise. They hurriedly started stuffing the small amount they found into their pockets. They had to get out of the store, before they were caught.
A light came on, and Mrs. Tipton stepped out into the hall, and called out, “Who’s there?”
Brain pulled a gun from his pocket and shot her. He had no intention of going to jail. Mrs. Tipton immediately fell to the floor, with her life’s blood running out around her.
The boys, ran from the store, and drove away in their car. No one knew about the robbery, or the shooting. At 6:00 AM, the store lights didn’t come on. People drove by, curious about why the lights weren’t on. It was unusual, because they were on every morning, for as long as anyone in the community could remember.
One of the community women entered the store to get milk at 10:00 AM, and noticed the cash register open. She walked around the counter, and spotted Mrs. Tipton on the floor in a pool of blood. She called 911 from her cell phone.
Tipton’s Grocery closed, and Mrs. Tipton left her home, feet first, just as she wished.