29 For 29

Sure, it’s a play on one of my favorite reoccurring sports series by ESPN. Hard hitting, unvarnished truth. It’s a reminder of why sports-related novels are few and far between – sports truths are dramatic enough presented as non-fiction.

Shadow Copy thumbnailIn this case, 29 represents the reviews written about my college football-based sports novel, The Long Shadow of Hope, AND, after a little over two years, the match – 29 reviews reflecting opinions about my second novel, The Lost Lantern, a  Myrtle Beach-Murrells Inlet-based tale of racial harmony and good over evil in the form of racial bigotry.

Hard-hitting, faced-paced plots are the goal for my novels. They haven’t been Michael Johnson out of the blocks, but as I put the finishing touches on my third, I feel The Lost Lantern picked up momentum over the summer in sales and perception, with a  4.9 average out of five stars. Here are some of the opinions rendered:

Lantern ThumbMRE4 – I didn’t want the story to end… August 21, 2019

The setting of this story made it the perfect book to read while vacationing in the Myrtle Beach area. The character development was so good that I found myself feeling angry and deeply rooting for the “underdog.” By the time I got to the last third of the book I couldn’t put it down because I was so engrossed in the storyline that I needed to know what was going to happen with the characters I had grown to love. I finished the final 100 pages on the road trip home. Really great read. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy.

A page turner from beginning to end! August 8, 2019

I loved the characters and the settings. From West Virginia to the low country of South Carolina. My favorite character was William and the story of the Lost Lantern.

Bandit – Fantastic surprises await! July 19, 2019

Spradling’s masterfully crafted characters in the accurately depicted Myrtle Beach of the 1980’s are intricately woven into a web I could not put down. I literally shouted expletives out loud at one point, then was amused at how attached I was to the people and the storyline. It really delivers as a great read of many facets: a love story, crime, murder mystery, and more! This is one you’ll suggest to your friends!

W.McCallister – Very addictive story. July 7, 2019

Very interesting and detailed story. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
I love the way all of the characters are so entwined.
Several unexpected twists were very creative.

A.F. – Great summer read! June 12, 2019

Great summer read. Good story with many sub plots that come together nicely. Really good character building. Enjoyed the twists and turns that kept me engaged in the story. Definitely recommend and looking forward to reading more from this author!

I want to offer a sincere “Thank you” to all who have given me a chance and taken the time to read my novels. I truly appreciate you! Thanks for reading, A.S. 

Threads

It was when I observed my son’s recent high school graduation pictures that I saw it, realized it, and the emotions began to rip through my soul like raging flood waters. The jacket I wore. I hadn’t considered it or given it any thought at the time. Throw it on and go.

We have an emotional ritual that we endure every summer. His birthday celebration on July 26. Her anniversary on August 6. This Tuesday marked the nineteenth year since her passing. The year 2000 was the ultimate “Best of times, Worst of times” in our immediate family history, exceeding the premature passing of our grandfather thirty-three years earlier as his three daughters – one, our mother – were birthing the eight grandchildren he would briefly enjoy, spoil, love, and depart from. He would have been 110 Saturday.

Kelly headshot copyHere’s the tale of two cities. My wife and I were preparing for the arrival of our first child. She, nearly three hundred miles away, was fighting for her life. We’d always come together as frequently as possible. We love and adore their children, and hoped to model our child rearing after hers. While we were choosing colors, painting, attending Lamaze classes and baby showers, she was battling the cancer that had begun in one breast, and had, after removal “success,” come back with the fury of a conquering army.

She told me a couple of months before our due date, at an annual family vacation, her goal was to see our child born. I replied, “Well, you need a new goal. You’re doing great.” I was naïve about death. She, a 39-year-old nurse who had last worked in drug research, was not. She was thin and frail from chemo and the disease eating at her bones and organs, always in hat to cover her scalp. She realized her own mortality as she and her husband held their household together and raised their nine and seven-year-old. It was a confusing time.

Not long after, due to protein levels, it was quickly determined we needed to induce the following morning. She was there – from over four hours away. She had to be wheeled into the waiting room. I was crushed when I saw her physical state. But I was so wound up for the coming of our child – I had to let it go. Again following her lead, we chose not to learn our baby’s gender. “There are so few surprises in life,” she used to say.

Evan's birthShe was to go into delivery with us to witness our miracle, but the epidural my wife was given halted the expansion of her cervix, and at 10 p.m. after a 5:30 a.m. start it was determined a cesarean would be performed. My big sister, due to medical bureaucracy and insurance concerns, would have to miss the birth. But she would not miss the welcoming of our son, named Evan Kelly, Kelly after her. I can still see her long, thin fingers holding him, speaking baby talk to him, and immediately loving him. She had a way with babies and children. She embraced the “precious present” and had an unquantifiable love of life.

Earlier, in the fall of 1999, upon learning that her cancer had returned, she and her husband hosted a party to make the announcement. Her friends formed such a strong support group she never had to cook another dinner. A couple of months later, in December, they held another party for the upcoming holidays. We traveled to attend.  They had been high school sweethearts. He was like a brother to me. That was the night we told them we were pregnant. And though we said let’s keep it between us, she couldn’t hold it in. Their friends were our friends, and good news was welcomed. A quicker eight months you could not imagine. Phone calls to her – with talks of her children’s advances, of hopes, fears, expectations, pains, worries – were frequent, and yet now I wish that I’d spoken with her twice daily.  

Because eleven days after Evan’s arrival, with her children, her husband, our mother and father, her closest friends, and me by her side, she peacefully let go and moved on.

Baby Evan reducedWith the services for both there and here planned, I returned home and realized that, having become a more mature man, I needed a new black suit. The picture with Evan was before her memorial service here, where, due to love, his health, a crutch, a barrier, a conversational buffer, pure selfishness, a bit of contempt – I could not let him go or put him down. I must have held him for three hours straight.

131.JPGThe next picture (above) is nearly nineteen years later – graduation night. Our family. Our growth, our progression, our happiness. Same jacket. She would laugh at that. I think daily about how she would love our children, and how they would be enriched by knowing her – the same as her own kids, who have become successful adults, each with their own niche in other regions of the country.

Baby D with KAfter a tumultuous start due mostly to my immaturity, we became the closest of friends. I wrote a poem in college about a cherished neighbor who had passed away. In it I mention a Cincinnati Reds game we attended in our youth. “I like that image, heavy binoculars,” she told me. Words. I was a sportswriter when she left us, not always fluff, constantly striving to improve. I became a novelist, which I had but an inkling of early on. If she had disapproved of a thought, any notion, in one of my books, she would have called me out on it. But if she believed in it, she’d have been my trumpet section. She always protected me. She literally fought for that which she believed, and she’d pump me with courage to make me stand tall, move forward. That was our history. That was our thread.

 

© 2019

A New Literary Star Is Born

Sam Hindman

 A literary review by Sam Hindman carries with it a great deal of weight. Hindman rose to the highest levels of professional journalism as the Publisher of the Charleston Daily Mail, with Thomson Newspapers, and with Reuters. Sam gave me my first job at the Daily Mail in 1983, and he and his wife, Iris, remain two of my favorite people. Die-hard West Virginia Mountaineer fans, their devotion to family is unmatched as they help nurture and support their teen-aged grandchildren. Thank you Sam, thank you brother Tom Hindman for use of the photo, and thank you for reading. A.S.

 A New Literary Star Is Born February 8, 2019

Lantern ThumbAs I dove deeper into this captivating tale, The Lost Lantern, I found its words, character development and stories within the story so compelling that this novel sent a clear message. A new literary star is born. This tale, positioned in and around Myrtle Beach, is a setting known so well to many and brings similar visions to other beach lovers. With the turning of each page, this author’s words sprang to life. The intrigue woven into a time when the south was less than hospitable to all races causes memories and visions from each reader’s past to play like a movie of the harsher times when racial discrimination plagued Murrells Inlet, yet was rejected by many as this tale so vividly portrayed.

Author Andy Spradling has earned a look by the big publishing houses and those that would need a script for their next movie. It is here in The Lost Lantern. This story rivals those found in many works by John Grisham. Andy’s character development, from the indomitable William McMillian. His ambition, interplay with a racist Danny Rivers, his equally vile brothers and the help of friend John Gates, a family minister and his mother’s church is as satisfying to your literary hunger as would be a good meal served by Mr. Spradling and many of characters who once toiled in those 1980s restaurants, and then danced the night away.

This novel depicts Horry County for what it was and what it wasn’t in those days, while numerous other plots run parallel to the struggles by William McMillian and his friends. Indeed all the twists, evil or otherwise, are well developed while you continue to envision the resourcefulness behind McMillian, Gates , and others. . Without lessening the true joy that comes from embracing this strong read of good over evil, it is time to ask for more…more recognition for Andy Spradling’s literary talents and more from his fertile imagination.

5-stars

Purchase The Lost Lantern on Amazon.com at: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Lantern-Andrew-Spradling/dp/1548476250

© 2019

A Question of Style

SCHS Talk 2.jpgRecently, I was invited to speak at an International Baccalaureate Lyceum Speaker Series at my son’s high school. The proposed topic of his English teacher, Mr. Ed Booten: “How To Craft a Novel.” Both the English and History senior and junior classes were combined for the event.

For those of you haven’t heard of it, the IB Diploma (and I borrow) is an English-medium university preparation course based on an approach to learning involving critical inquiry and is aimed at the education of the whole person. Every year more than 130,000 young people at schools all over the world take the IB Diploma examinations.

In other words, these are sharp kids – on the ball.

Mr. Booten had read my second novel, The Lost Lantern, and enjoyed it enough to request my insights, which I very much appreciated. I will say, as an independent writer with my last book in its second year of release (available on Amazon.com along with my first, The Long Shadow of Hope), speaking opportunities are few and far between.

I prepared my remarks to include my background (and knowing how a high schooler will cringe at a 500-word assignment): as a former sportswriter required a minimum of 500 bylines a year (my totals were more like 700) I was cranking out at least 400,000 words a year. An average novel is 70,000 to 120,000 words. Thus, a work of such length was attainable in my mind. The Lost Lantern has 143,000, or 505 pages.

I hit the usual topics: Write What you know; Point of View/pros and cons of First Person versus Third Person omniscient; Genre; Plot; Character Development; Tone; Choosing a Title.

I did have to contradict myself – and this is the beauty of the imagination and the fun of writing – because my next novel is about a sexual-serial killer within a gated community on a southern coastal island, and the female police detective who goes undercover to try and catch him. I promise, what I know most of these three topics is the island.

And it is from this contradiction that many of their insightful questions emerged. We laughed as I paced back and forth coming up with answers about creating literary monsters, men willing to go a little further in their crimes and deception then they had previously, the aftermath causing mayhem.

I will say now, one young lady got me. These students in addition to spirited novels are assigned interpretive books such as How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Her question was on my style of writing. I had (at least in that moment) completely forgotten about the four types of writing so often brought up in college courses: Expository, Descriptive, Persuasive, and Narrative, and went on to her about how my style was dialogue-driven, conversational, and that I used my dialogue to create tension. That’s all true, but I completely whiffed on her question. While some authors’ novels might be considered Descriptive in style, most novels – my novels – are written in the Narrative style.

But style goes much deeper than the above literary categories. Writing to your audience is always the key. J.K. Rowling doesn’t write like Ernest Hemingway, nor should she. Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory (or theory of omission) strips stories to their bare bones, leaving the reader to interpret his meaning. The voice of Hunter S. Thompson will never be found in a John Grisham tale. Pat Conroy and Cormac McCarthy are in another stratosphere, but hardly similar, nor did they ever mass-produce in a Pattersonesque fury. My goal is for my murder-suspense novels to become page-turners with a surprising twist or two. I don’t use my thesaurus to find big words to enhance my meaning or bog down the reader, nor do I enjoy reading with a dictionary by my side. That’s my style, and for now I’m sticking to it. Thanks for reading, A.S. (Photo courtesy of Ed Booten) 

© – 2019  

 

 

Wilt and the LeBron Drive-by

Wilt blocks Kareem
Always my favorite Wilt photo, blocking Kareem’s sky hook.

I am not a LeBron James basher. He is one of the greatest athletes and basketball players of all time. He has made a bad decision or two, but who hasn’t. And, he is a giver – to the tune of well over $40 million. Probably twice that.

As dawn came in the east, sports fans learned that James last night surpassed Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (31,419). Wilt had been surpassed by four others: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and (No. 1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. LeBron will likely surpass them all.

I watched the first half, in which he was 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point line. And I have seen the highlights – he did it in amazing fashion – needed 39, scored a season-high 44. More importantly the Lakers have won 4-straight.

Comparing Wilt and LeBron is, of course, apples to oranges. I just want to point out a fact or two.

In Wilt’s day, you weren’t allowed to play in the NBA until the college class you entered with had graduated. Wilt, frustrated by being ganged up on by entire teams, played what would have been his senior year at Kansas with the Harlem Globetrotters.

In those first four years of LeBron’s career, in the NBA, straight out of high school, he scored 8,439 points. Surprisingly, in LeBron’s fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth years, at age (approximately) 22-26, he scored 8,923 points. Only 484 more points in what should have been the prime of his life.

Wilt in those years (age 22-26), keeping in mind that one was his rookie season, scored 13,355 points, including, in his third season, his 50 points-per-game.

Is it fair to say that Wilt would have scored 10,000 points from 18 to 22 years of age had he been in the NBA? I think it’s a safe bet.

Hard to believe, but LeBron is already in his 16th NBA season. He is quite durable and has never suffered a major injury. Wilt played only 14 seasons, in my estimation walking away much like Jim Brown did, with a few good years still ahead of him. In one of those seasons (69-70), Wilt played in only 12 games due to a knee injury.

Here’s a few fun facts about Wilt’s career. In 61-62, when he averaged 50.4 points per game, he had 45 games in which he scored over 50 points, including his 100. Never wanting to come out of a game, he actually averaged 48.5 minutes per game (an NBA game is 48 minutes). Wilt averaged in that season over a point a minute (1.037) per game. Never matched. The year after Wilt changed his game to help Philly get past Boston and win the NBA title over San Francisco, he led the league in assists per game, at 8.6, the only time a center has led (he averaged 7.8 assists, 24 points, and 24 rebounds the title year – 67). In his last two years with the Lakers, including his second title in ’72, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich handled much of the scoring. Wilt still scored 19.2 points and 18.6 rebounds per game, starting a wicked fast break, again unheard of numbers today. Wilt’s field goal percentage his final season? .727.

Yes, players over 7-foot were rare in the 60’s. But Wilt was an athlete. Before he gave up track and field, he high jumped 6-foot-6, ran a 49 flat 440, 1:58.3 880, long jumped 22-feet and put the shot 53-4. He played volleyball during and after his pro ball career. Could Wilt have played the “stretch-4” position like today’s big men? I believe he could have if it were asked of him. Despite his free throw woes, he had a soft touch on his turnaround and fade away jumpers. He could have developed a 3-point shot had he wanted to – and had there been one. Of LeBron’s 11,419 field goals, 1,645 have been 3-pointers. Wilt made 12,681 – the hard way.

Lastly, as once the first and now the sixth-leading scorer of all time, Wilt’s 14 seasons were the fewest of the other five. Kobe was the only other straight out of high school and played 20 seasons. Kareem, after four years at UCLA, played 21 seasons. Karl played 19 after three at Louisiana Tech, Jordan 15 after three at North Carolina.

So, yes, I’m a Wilt fan (See Postscript below). I don’t begrudge LaBron or those who will surpass his milestones. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

Wilt n LaBron

Wilt beach trio.JPGP.S. On being a Wilt fan: One beach trip when there was an excessive amount of seaweed washed up on shore, my kids and I didn’t build a sandcastle, we built Wilt. LOL. Thanks for reading.

© 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the genius of Andrew Spradling (a repost of Joseph Bird)

156

Here are some hints and clues as to the nature of my next project. A sincere thanks to Shelton College Review member Joseph Bird, who is completing his FIFTH novel, for these flattering thoughts and comments – please follow link and read HIS post, my reason for writing today. 

Let me add that if you are an independent writer at the beginning stages of this game, find yourself a writers group to bounce ideas off, help edit, support, and encourage. Along with our founder Larry Ellis, Joe and I are in a positive, fun, informative situation that very much helps me in my quest for completing a third novel, following The Long Shadow of Hope, and The Lost Lantern. The photo, for photography buffs, is from a recent Charleston (WV) Live On The Levee, and is a situation in her game of cat and mouse that Harper Stowe might find herself in. Thanks for reading and keep slinging ink! A.S. 

via the genius of Andrew Spradling

One Reader at a Time

979.JPG

Maybe building readership is like laying the foundation of a house, one cinderblock at a time. Can’t do two, it cannot be done.

Last night I gave a copy of The Lost Lantern to one of my best friends. It will be heading to Oak Island, North Carolina. Our waitress inquired.

“It’s a book about racial harmony and overcoming some serious racism.”

She ordered a copy by phone before we left. Tip got bigger.

The night before, the new fiancé of an old teammate of mine told me she was ordering both The Lost Lantern and The Long Shadow of Hope for him. They are moving to Savannah, Ga., in the fall.

“Oh, my next book takes place on Hilton Head Island with Savannah as the secondary city.”

Coincidence or karma?

The night before that, a new Garden City, South Carolina, resident posted pictures of the moon over the Atlantic from her balcony. Another good friend said you should pick up a copy of The Lost Lantern from Bernie Delgado’s Miscellaneous: All Things Murrells Inlet. The book takes place right there at the beach.

A copy is in the hands of a National Guardsman heading northeast to Camp Dawson, on the Cheat River, in Kingwood, West Virginia. It’s also being read by a sought-after medical malpractice attorney who travels extensively. Will either bear additional fruit?

A few weeks ago I told the technician at my Optometrists’ – who I knew to be a reader – about my books. She became the 20th reviewer of The Lost Lantern! Yes, Stephen King is pushing 9,500 for Doctor Sleep: A Novel. But I’ll bet I appreciate – and am humbled by – my 20 more, as I do each and every sale. Vacation-season has increased sales, and if you’re heading to the beach or a national park next month or in August there’s plenty of time to order and receive delivery from Amazon.com as we approach the year anniversary of The Lost Lantern’s release! Thanks to Bruce Moss, Lynn McGraw, Bertha Watson, and Renee Simms for reviews 17 through 20!

1. Renee Simms reviewed The Lost Lantern

Great Read! Couldn’t put it down! June 15, 2018

I definitely recommend this book! The author has a flair for telling a story, and weaving several plot lines through each other without them getting lost and confused, then tying it all back in. His rich use of vocabulary keeps the reader engaged and helps to draw mental images. We will see this author an best-selling lists soon!

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2. BERTHA WATSON reviewed The Lost Lantern

Five Stars May 25, 2018

couldn’t wait to see what happened next, thanks Andy.

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3. Lynn McGraw reviewed The Lost Lantern

Five Stars February 28, 2018

Very good book-page turner. Very Interesting storyline, characters, and setting. Highly recommend.

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4. cheri t. reviewed The Lost Lantern

1 of 1 people found the following helpful

and now as a author of great depth and creativity February 25, 2018

Bruce E. Moss says: February 9, 2018 at 4:04 pm Edit It has been my privilege to watch Andy Spradling grow and mature from grade school to today. I have watched him as an student, an athletic, a sports reporter, a restaurateur, a parent, and now as a author of great depth and creativity. I appreciate his research that gives his story such depth and credence. He truly knows has to cast the spell, draw you in, and keep you on your mental toes as you follow the events of his story line. He is truly a gifted writer. I look forward to many more of his most entertaining works and to him be recognized for his remarkable talent.

 

Fast

 

Near fifteen-thousand yesterdays ago I lower myself into a set of blocks,

kick each leg out behind me once, adjust my thumbs and fingers just so –

against the line I must start behind

Last one in, first one out. That’s my trick

My heart pounding in my chest, but I am not afraid or nervous

I am confident in what is about to happen

There is no pace to be had – only speed

I look down the track at row after row of hurdlers daunting as life itself

I wait for the gun

Each step is planned and I will find that familiar rhythm between each barrier I don’t even want to graze

click, click, click – extend- clup, click, click, click – extend – clup, click, click, click – extend – without slowing

head even with the profiled-horizon like viewing it from the top of a wooden fence – as the late Coach Joe Hartney always said

Strong through the finish – lean in and break that little string

For many, in youth, there is speed, without thought, the ability to accelerate, seemingly without effort

So easy, it is taken for granted, whether chasing down a fly ball, returning a punt, leading a fast break, or sprinting down a track

Unspoken, maybe unrecognized, yet beautiful, gliding, smooth,

I betrayed my high school teammates like my knee betrayed me

Turning my back on the unknown, hoping to preserve what remained

Now I watch my son run the track, just learning but full of potential, with the ability to accelerate, the ability to be…

Fast

© – 2018

 

The Push Towards 20

Baldacci

Still both happy and humbled to be selling some books and receiving reviews, especially when a comparison like the one below comes in from a reader! Sometimes it seems hopeless that an “Independent” can build an audience, but these kind words motivate me to keep writing and get my next title out there. Thank you Mary and Dale, reviews 15 and 16 for The Lost Lantern.

Thanks for reading, A.S.

Andrew Spradling’s The Lost Lantern was A GREAT READ!

By Mary M. Robertson on January 30, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition

 

Andrew Spradling’s The Lost Lantern was A GREAT READ! This book read very similar to the style of David Baldacci’s books— intriguing, a page turner, and kept you interested in what was to come next! Looking forward to reading more from Andrew Spradling!

5-stars

“I don’t usually like prologues but

ByDale Withrowon January 5, 2018

Format: Paperback

This was my first read of Andrew Spradling and I am looking forward to reading his first book “The Long Shadow of Hope.” I don’t usually like prologues but, in the Lost Lantern, the prologue hooked me and fueled my curiosity to the point that I could not turn the pages fast enough to bring the story back to that point and time. I thoroughly enjoyed the story line of the book. Ironically, I read most of the book while in the Murrell’s Inlet area and that added to the already vivid picture that Andrew constructs with his detail and background of the band of characters. I did feel that it was overly detailed in some areas but, as you follow the main characters through the story, you begin to feel that you have known them through most of their lives. You will learn to like this diverse group as they return to Murrell’s Inlet attempting to recapture some of their past lives and find directions for their future. You will feel respect and admiration for the camaraderie and support they demonstrate for the friends they made in the summers spent there. At the same time, you will come to hate and despise the locals involved because of their prejudices, deceit, and greed as they try to take advantage of a young man who has worked loyally and diligently for them in their restaurants as well as for his own family. This is a long read but, it is well worth the time.

4-stars

 

© 2018

 

 

Friends Old and New Give “Hope” a Bump

You just never know where your next bump is coming from. My first novel, The Long Shadow of Hope, experienced a bit of a resurrection when The Lost Lantern was released in July. Let me clarify. I’m talking about going from a drip to a trickle, though it has sold more consistently in the last few weeks. And yet, I hadn’t received any new reviews on Hope in at least six or eight months, maybe more.

Shadow Copy thumbnail I realize that writing a review – going to the Amazon or Goodreads site – is new for some and can be uncomfortable. You’re putting your opinion, your thoughts, out there, sometimes with your name attached. There is also the tightrope of honesty versus appeasing/not upsetting the author. As one of my lifelong friends put it, “I don’t want to be THAT guy,” (accentuating the negative).  I also realize it’s an additional time commitment, after the reader has generously given hours of their lives to the author.

I’ve been blessed to know the sweet and amiable Dawn Snyder for going on 40 years – school buds, mutual work friends, overlapping non-traditional college experiences, and ongoing Lantern Thumbsmall-town life. I’ve known Jeremy Fallecker for less than three, he’s a young man not even close to pushing 40 years old. He carried The Long Shadow of Hope with him to Kuwait, honorably serving our country with the Air National Guard. His codename on top of the list is “Bandit.” ( I hope that’s not a security breach!)

Both friends took time this week to write informative, thoughtful reviews, and that means the world to an “Indie” writer like me. If you care to take a peek, click on this link: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/community  I also want to again thank two former SAHS English teachers, Cathy McClanahan and Carla Williamson, along with our close neighbor at my parents’ home of untold years, Gayle Michael, for their recent reviews of The Lost Lantern.

Thanks, in fact, to everyone who has read or purchased my books. I’m going to try to keep this circus rolling, while writing novel number three. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas, A.S.