Re-release: BEAUTY RISING

My first novel, published at the tale-end of 2012, has a new polish, a new cover, and a new price for the new year.

I’m very pleased to announce a re-released edition of this story which is near and dear to me.  The re-edits make the story flow in a more natural way, which will, I hope, draw you in even closer to these vivid characters and the beautiful land of Vietnam. This is the only novel I’ve ever written in first personal narration – and it’s from two different points of view.

And one more thing. It’s FREE. Yes, that’s right. Hit the links below for your free copy.  It’s my hope you’ll try my work and like it enough to try my other works as well.

Choose your preferred link below, enjoy, and share with others.

BEAUTY RISING – 2019 edition – available now @

Barnes & Noble – FREE

KOBO – FREE

On SCRIBD

Smashwords – FREE

Amazon – $0.99 (READ 85 reviews)

OVERDRIVE

(Note: for Apple – Please search iBooks.)

And I even wrote a new blurb:

An unlikely request. An unlikely adventure. An unlikely love. On his death bed, a Vietnam vet asked his estranged son a huge request – return his ashes to Vietnam. Martin Kinney Jr. does just that, but when his wallet is stolen at a Vietnamese festival, it sets in motion a series of events which will change his life and family forever. Two perspectives, one incredible and tragic story of love.

beautyrisingnew3

 

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A Boy from Pennsylvania Weighs In

Pennsylvania did it. It ruthlessly defied the odds and pushed Donald Trump into the White House. Everyone is still in shock. Both Republicans and Democrats. Something was afoot, and everyone (or nearly everyone) missed it.

I grew up in Butler County, western Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. It has a series of small towns, rolling lush countryside and a lot of good people. Friendly, helpful, giving. They sit on front porches in the summer. They talk to their neighbors. They invite people in for dinner. They keep their lawns cut beautifully, drive an assortment of pick-up trucks, and have impeccable vegetable gardens out back. They go to church on Sunday, and tend, in many ways, to actually heed the precepts they hear. They are good people. I know. I grew up with them.

These are the people, hard-working folks from Butler County to central Ohio to western Wisconsin who won this election for Trump. The elite media may want to call them backward, uneducated, and dare I say it, slightly bigoted? But they are none of those.  And that’s what the media and Belt-Way pundits don’t get. These are not deplorables. They are hard-working, honest people.

And they have a voice. And they have spoken.

In a dramatic, historic way.

I hate to say it, but Obama was not the president of these people. They have felt marginalized by a series of decisions which eschewed their traditional ways, had eaten away at their way of living, and have watched their voices being drowned out by glib Hollywood actors and stuffy corporate Wall Streeters who have lobbied Washington for all kinds of perks and desires. Using Obama’s  own words, he wanted to “fundamentally change America” but he did so in a way that cast aside a large swath of voters.

But no more. We have an election for the record books, for the history books. We’ll be studying about this election for the next one hundred years and beyond.

What we learn from it remains unclear. But my hope is that President Trump (that still sounds strange saying that) will not cast aside a whole segment of the population as he begins to govern.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Views from Back Home in Pennsylvania

I’ve shared many posts about the beautiful island of Penang where I currently live. And many have been announcing its accolades over the past few years because of its cultural heritage and terrific food.

Well, now I stumbled across a BBC article about an often overlooked million acres of outdoor ideal-ness called the Allegheny forest in north western Pennsylvania. I can attest to how special this area is. The article talks about route 62 from Warren to Franklin, PA, which I have driven dozens of times in my life, as being one of the most scenic routes in the eastern United States. I have to agree. The route hugs the Allegheny river most of the time and weaves through charming towns and beautiful country valleys.

About 15 years ago, I drove two of my Vietnamese friends through the forest, heading to Warren on a summer’s evening. We counted, if I recall correctly, 24 deer and numerous other small animal sightings during the one hour trip through the forest. They were amazed. I was amazed I didn’t have an accident.

I remember the family trips we took to Titusville to see Drake’s well, the first commercial oil well in the world. I remember walking the trails in Cook’s Forest, and standing on the dam at Kinzua.

If you like the outdoors, hiking, camping, exploring land which has changed little since the time of America’s founding, you should really spend some time in the Allegheny Forest.

Here’s the original article. Check out the beautiful BBC: The US One Million Acre Secret

 

Propaganda Borders: N. Korea & S. Korea vs. Ohio & Pennsylvania

Along the 38th parallel on the Korean Peninsula is a well fortified DMZ, which separates the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with the Republic of South Korean. Since the cease fire in 1954, the two brotherly states have been starring down the barrels of each other’s weapons, watching and waiting for the slightest flinch of aggression from the opposite side.

Meanwhile, 12,000 miles away on the 74 degree line of longitude, two rival states, the Quakers from Pennsylvania, and the Buckeyes of Ohio, square off in a ruthless game of who can up who in trying to lure the residents of the other side into their fold.

These two contentious borders of the world stand as reminders of how ideological differences can divide even a homogeneous people group.

Let’s look a little closer at the two battle zones.

On the northern side of the 38th parallel, North Korea has constructed a propaganda town, with large houses and attractive architecture. These small mansions are meant to show the wealth and prosperity of the North Korean way of governance.

On the South Korean side, they constructed a large flag bowl to proudly display the South Korean and American joint colors.

Not to be outdone, the North Korean side constructed the highest flag pole in the world to say, basically, that we can build anything  higher than you.

It seems that North Korea is winning the propaganda war because of their impressive deft displays of construction. But on closer inspection, one will notice that the massive houses and apartment complexes are simply facades. Fake. No one lives there. They are merely propaganda shells of properties merely trying to lure duped South Koreans across the border. As far as I can tell, exactly zero people from South Korea have tried to emigrate northward.

Likewise on the 74 degree line of longitude (that does not have the same ring as 38th parallel, does it?) the sneaky Ohioans have stealthily ripped a page from the North Korean playbook by trying to impress Pennsylvanians through shock and awe driving moments when crossing the border.

The Ohio-PA border class happens along US Route 422 which heads from New Castle, PA towards Youngstown, OH. One can not help but notice the difference when your vehicle crosses the border. The bumpy, bouncy PA side immediately gives way to the most beautiful four lane, newly paved, dark black, yellow-striped asphalt, that makes one feel like they are floating on puffy clouds. Pennsylvanians have been know to want to denounce their state-ship once crossing the border at this particular juncture. Many stop their vehicles within a mile of the border and call home, “Ma, pack up the pick-up. We’re heading to the land of smooth asphalt. Ohio! Don’t worry. We’ll figure out what a buckeye is when we get there.”

It’s easy to be fooled because this is an example of a propaganda border. Because what old Jed-let’s-move-to-Ohio-with-our-guns doesn’t know, that merely one mile further down the road, that Ohio heavenly ride turns into a bucking bronco ride with potholes rivaling the road to hell itself. Hades-holes, I believe they are called. (At least that’s what Pennsylvanians call them.)

It’s a dirty trick that Ohio plays, pulling in the gullible only to laugh as their car bottoms out and disappears into the massive sinkholes.

Ruthless propaganda games are being played around the world. Remember to not let appearances fool you if you intend to emigrate to another state.

 

Hamas, PA could be next pawns in Saudi-Iranian proxy war. Those Pennsylvanians!

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/04/15/hamas-pa-could-be-next-pawns-in-saudi-iranian-proxy-war/

It seems that the Ayatollah of Iran and the King of Saudi Arabia has chosen an obscure town in Western Pennsylvania as the site of a proxy war between the two regimes.

Hamas, PA – south of Tidioutte on the banks of the Allegheny River, might seem like an unlikely location for the two Middle Eastern nations to take out their frustrations on each other.

But what is little known outside the realm of large OPEC nations is that Hamas, PA is the site of Edward Drake’s original oil well back in 1857 – the one that didn’t work. It was two years before he struck black gold near the small town of Titusville, thus making Western PA (at the time) the crude oil producing capital of the world.

Put into this context, it now looks like Hamas, PA would be the perfect historical location in which to continue the conflict between these staunchly opposed groups – the Sunni Arabs and the Iranian Shiite.

It is not clear exactly how Hamas, PA will be used, though it has been rumored that certain nuclear isotopes left over from the Kerry-Iranian talks might have something to do with it.

People around the Western PA town do not seem to be too concerned with the proxy war. Though the three local Harley Hog owners have pledged their support and help for which ever side pays mercenaries better. A local reporter caught up with the three Harley Hoodlums at the local watering hole. All three were mum on the subject, but one did add, “We know yinz are coming, so we been redin’ up the town in preparation. Even Jed’s been practicing lamb chops on the grill.”

Whether the proxy war leads to long and entangled conflict in Hamas, PA remains to be seen, but the local folk haven’t had this much excitement since last year’s Red Neck Winter Follies.

(Writer’s Note: In the event that the Fox News’ headline was referring to Hamas, the radical Palestinian group, and PA (the Palestinian Authority), rather than Hamas, Pennsylvania, then we apologize for the confusion. UPDATE: The residents of Hamas, PA have requested clarification from Fox News about the intent of their article, but they have yet to reply. Everyone remains at the water hole awaiting word.)

My Story on the storyreadingapeblog!

Thanks to Thestoryreadingapeblog for publishing a story I wrote about myself.  Head on over and check out the full article HERE!

And here’s a teaser:

I stand out in a crowd in Asia.

That may seem like a strange place to start in telling my story, but it has been the one constant truth in my life for the better part of 20 years. I’m a strange sight, indeed.

I’ve gotten used to the stares and comments, but at first, it was quite a change for a shy, country boy from Western Pennsylvania.

That’s where I grew up, playing baseball, following my beloved Pirates, and knowing near nothing of Asia. Strangely enough, one of the very few novels I read during my high school years was Pearl S. Buck’s The Good EarthI also remember loving the children’s book we had at our house about a boy in China and the flock of ducks that followed him around. But that was about it, for me. I didn’t even like rice.

I went to college and majored in English, because I didn’t know what else to do. I married my lovely wife a week after college graduation and settled into normal American life. But it was not to be. I spent the summer of 1992 in China teaching English, and that experience changed everything for me. I couldn’t wait to get back to Asia. I didn’t have to wait long.

READ THE REST HERE!