Tuesday, December 13, 2016


I said "our" because it's from three people: Christie Marie Underwood, who illustrated the little Kindle books; Victoria Phelps, who recorded the stories; and myself, Mary Cooke, who wrote the stories using the name Mary Lou Cheatham because I was publishing under that name before I married John. Two short books with pictures that will brighten your day and lovely recordings available as Audible books are a gift to you. They are Brother Star, Sister Moon and Seth, the Shepherd Boy. Right now, I'm giving you Seth, the Shepherd Boy. These books are for children to be shared with any children you know. More importantly they are for the child in you. We want you to smile this Christmas season.Seth, the Shepherd Boy #freebie

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's Monday evening, and I just now discovered tomorrow is Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday..................

The Giving Tuesday website is full of examples of how people might consider giving their time and talents.

My co-author, Sarah Walker Gorrell, and I have given our efforts to write a novel about the way Mississippi dwellers related approximately 100 years ago to wandering Travelers or Romanies (often called Gypsies).

Today on Cyber Monday, we planned to give away our novel. I made a mistake though. I failed to sign up for Cyber Monday. The only way I know how to fix the mistake is to offer it as a gift on Tuesday.

Hmm...Giving Tuesday. And we are giving it to you. We hope to give you a few hours of entertainment. In addition, we hope to give you insights into the lives of the characters we present.

Happy Giving Tuesday!

Cat Lovers' Poem Free on Cyber Monday

Cat Lovers' Poem

Mr. Bobby's Cats is a #freebie today. It's suitable for anyone who loves cats, older children, and children at heart.

Cyber Tuesday or Look What-I-Got-After-the-Sales-Ended Tuesday

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday...

What can I call Tuesday when I've left something off the list on Cyber Monday and I really meant to include this important item?

For Cyber Monday, I'm giving away a basket load of Kindle books  Go to
Mary Lou Cheatham's author page and you will see all the books that have the price of $0.00 in Kindle form today.

Sarah Walker Gorrell (my co-author) and I were planning to give away Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek, but I failed to click the right button. I didn't catch this mistake until it was too late.

The only thing I can do is offer it tomorrow. Here's the proof it will be available:

Maybe it's Better-Late-Than-Never Tuesday or Cyber Tuesday or Look What-I-Got-After-the-Sales- Ended Tuesday,

Tomorrow go to Amazon and type in Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek or  go to this link to get your #freebie of Travelers: https://www.amazon.com/Travelers-Painted-Wagons-Covington-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01MF51PHK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1480345720&sr=8-5

Sunday, November 27, 2016

On Cyber Monday--a Christmas Gift to You

Cyber Monday, 2016, I’m giving away all the Kindle books I can. Abi of Cyrene is a story of life in the first century A.D. It’s a good one to read at Christmas because Abi faces the ultimate question: how will she relate to the Messiah?

Here are some comments readers have made about Abi of Cyrene:
“I caught onto the writing style. It was a great read—even through the tears shed at the more than real description of Passover events.”
“Informative, entertaining, and inspiring...”
“A beautiful story about a young woman forced to leave her native country...”
“Excellent book—shows a lot of research into the world of that time...”
“Wonderful book...”
“A faithful and complex woman with who modern Christian women can identify...”
“It would make a great movie.” 

Please take a minute to download Abi of Cyrene, which is a Christmas gift to you. 

Cyber Monday: Gifts to You for Celebrating Christmas

A gift for you to share:
Brother Star, Sister Moon is a little fantasy for children. The star guiding the wise men asks his sister
the moon to help him brighten the path. The little book, which fascinated the youngest viewers, has innocent, happy pictures, drawn by Christie.

I’m giving you a copy on Cyber Monday so you can share it with your youngest friends and family members. In fact, I’m giving away several books on Cyber Monday. You can find the #freebies at Amazon by typing my author name, Mary Lou Cheatham, on the Amazon website.

Victoria Phelps has recorded a dramatic reading of Brother Star, Sister Moon. I have codes, which will allow you to download the book for free. I’ll give these away on a first-come, first-serve basis. Drop me a note in Facebook Messenger if you’d like one.
Christie and I have published another little Christmas book for young children On Cyber Monday, you can obtain it for free also. It is about a young boy, who helped his father take care of the sheep. I hope you enjoy Seth, the Shepherd Boy.

All I’m asking of you is that you share these with your children. If you find them a blessing, drop a few words in a review box on Amazon. Brother Star, Sister Moon is a little fantasy for children. The star guiding the wise men asks his sister the moon to help him brighten the path. The little book, which fascinated the youngest viewers, has innocent, happy pictures, drawn by Christie.

I’m giving you a copy on Cyber Monday so you can share it with your youngest friends and family members. In fact, I’m giving away several books on Cyber Monday. You can find the #freebies at Amazon by typing my author name, Mary Lou Cheatham, on the Amazon website. 

Victoria Phelps has recorded a dramatic reading of Brother Star, Sister Moon. I have codes, which will allow you to download the book for free. I’ll give these away on a first-come, first-serve basis. Drop me a note in Facebook Messenger if you’d like one.

Christie and I have published another little Christmas book for young children On Cyber Monday,
you can obtain it for free also. It is about a young boy, who helped his father take care of the sheep. I hope you enjoy Seth, the Shepherd Boy.

All I’m asking of you is that you share these with the children in your life. If you find them a blessing, drop a few words in a review box on Amazon.

Even if you don't know any kids to read these to, be a kid at heart and read them.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cyber Monday, I'm giving you some of the books in The Covington Chronicles.

2016 has been a very good year for books. On Cyber Monday I want to say a big thank you by giving away all the Kindle books I can.

First there's Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek. My co-author Sarah Walker Gorrell and I are  making this book available as a #freebie for the first time. Moday, November 28, go to Amazon and get your copy.

It is the latest in the Covington Chronicles series. Jeremy Smitherlin, the boy Trudy Cameron called slimy, has grown into a young teenager, whom she finds irresistibly attractive. These two are experiencing puppy love.

Jeremy tries to live a good, pure life, but the adults around him set horrible examples with adultery, alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse--bad behavior in general. He needs help and he gets it from some Travelers (Gypsies).

Sarah and I hope you will download this book and enjoy it. I wish I could give you all the books in the series. By the way, you don't have to read them in order. Because of a contract arrangement, Secret Promise is not available for free.

The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson is the second book in The Covington Chronicles. It is a historical romance between a thirty-something single school teacher and the man she selects. She has choices.  After several years of mourning the loss of her childhood sweetheart, she can now choose between a banker and a lawyer.

Many readers have told me they have enjoyed this book most of all, and it has been the second best seller in the series. I hope you'll download  and read it. All we ask of you is to tell your friends. Reviews on Amazon are a great blessing.

The third book in the series...the most popular one...is The Dream Bucket. It is the story of a young girl who comes of age and also of her mother who becomes a widow. It has
romance, humor, hardship, and living in a frontier environment. Several times this year it has been number one in its category.

Monday, you can get your copy free.

The fourth book, Manuela Blayne, is a poignant novella, which will pique your concern over social conditions in Mississippi in the early 1900's. It is told by Trudy, the young girl who made The Dream Bucket popular.

At the moment, I don't have any days to give you a free copy; however, I combined The Dream Bucket and Manuela Blayne in one book It will also be available Monday for a download.

Other books will also be given away Monday. Please check for these also.

Happy Cyber Monday!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Cyber Monday, Giving Back to You

Gift 1
In the year of 2016, I’ve enjoyed my friends. You have been good to me. I’ve run into some old friends and made many new friends. I want to give something back to you—books. I know I’m always giving you books, but this will be a very special day. I’m planning to give all the electronic books that I will be allowed to give.
A very delightful friend, Sarah Walker Gorrell, co-authored a novel with me. We’ve decided to show our appreciation to you by giving it free for one day, Cyber Monday. We’ve never offered this Kindle book free before. It’s the story of Jeremy, a young boy who had troubles. A family of Gypsies parked a few months on Jeremy’s father’s farm. This story entertains while it shows the joy of giving and forgiving. Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek will be free on Amazon Monday in the Kindle version.
Gift 2
Christie Marie Underwood, my daughter, has joined me in a new writing adventure. We are working together on children’s books. So far we have completed two. She is illustrating what I write. Sometimes though she changes the writing and I change the illustrations. On Monday, November 28, 2016, we are offering the Kindle version of our first book. It is called Brother Star, Sister Moon. Christie has six nieces and nephews, three are step and three are by marriage, all her beloved. We dedicated this story to them.
Victoria Phelps, an amazing dramatic reader, has recorded Brother Star, Sister Moon. I have some codes to give you a free copy of this. Contact me here on messenger or if you can, text me. I’ll send you a free code of the recorded version to go with this short Christmas book. I love Christie’s drawings, and so do the children who have seen the book.
Gift 3
A little niece and a little nephew loved Brother Star, Sister Moon, so much that my daughter Christie and I decided they needed their own Christmas story. For the first time, we’re giving it away.  Seth, the Shepherd Boy, will be available as a free Kindle book on November 28, 2016.
More Gifts
All year long, so many readers have blessed me by purchasing and downloading The Dream Bucket that I’ve lost count. I never dreamed I’d receive such blessed reviews. Monday it will be free in Kindle form. So will The Dream Bucket and Manuela Blayne combined in one offering. The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson, a romance novel several of you have told me you enjoyed, will be free in the Kindle version too.
Abi of Cyrene is a novel about the wife of Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross for Jesus. The Kindle version will be free.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Rare Stone on a Chain, Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek

The stone swinging back and forth on its chain sent beams of rainbow prisms
across the walls on the opposite side of the shop
On the back cover of Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek, a tiny picture gives a view of an intriguing piece of jewelry. What is the mystery of the necklace with its enormous stone hanging from a burnished gold chain? 

The necklace, appearing throughout the novel, has a personality of its own, as it passes from one generation to another. Something profound resides in the history of the exquisite crystalline stone cut by ancient artisans. It is one of the links between the present and ancient times of a non-nation of clever people, discriminated against...treated as trash despite their brilliance...throughout the centuries. 

How does it pass from one to another? Will a Romany always possess it? Can a Gorgio become a Romany?

Here's how the first Gypsy in Travelers acquired the necklace with the magnificent stone:  

(Quote from Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek by Sarah Walker Gorrell and Mary Lou Cheatham)
The boy and his father, none other than Lochan and Vail, performed for the Prince. Instantly the old man’s spirits surfaced from the mire of despair. He placed his hands on a burnished gold chain with an enormous cut stone mounted in a pendant. The stone chiseled in many facets emitted brilliant white light. On the Prince’s chest, it appeared to be a diamond.

He removed it and commanded a servant, “Place this around the child’s neck.” The Prince hesitated. “No, I’ll do it myself.”

“But his Excellence must not touch a Pariah.”

“I will do as I wish.” The Prince dangled the necklace. “Come closer, lad.”

Guileless, Lochan stepped forward and bowed. 

“Bless you, my child.” The old man placed the chain around the boy’s neck and pulled the youthful black hair over it in the back. 

“Thank you.” On Lochan’s chest, the stone no longer looked white. Instead, the facets emitted bold colors into the room, constantly changing. Sometimes reds, sometimes blues. Brilliance emanated from the jewel. 

“Ahh.” A sound of admiration softly spoken filled the room.

“Now, you may make one request, young man.” 

Friday, November 18, 2016

It's now.

Whatever movie comes out about something in the past at a different place is really about here and now. Whatever novel is written in a historical period is about today.  A reader of Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek commented that the book deals with the way underprivileged people were treated a little over a century ago, but it’s actually about the way we treat one another in the current time.

And there are issues discussed that involve true-to-life human conditions. Poverty, domestic abuse, child abuse, drunkenness, prejudice, deceit, adultery, care-taker’s syndrome, neglect, forgiveness—the list goes on and on. The characters in Travelers in  Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek encounter the
challenges of life, unchanged by time and place.
Sarah Walker Gorrell

Although the characters are not anybody that Sarah Walker Gorrell and I know, they are more real than people who lived during the time depicted in the novel. We hope you can find a part of something within yourself as you read our story, and we hope you lay your issues on the table so you can see how other people faced similar problems.

Mary Lou Cheatham
(Mary Cooke)
In addition to helping you see humanity in an objective way, we set out to entertain you by including quirky characters, fun-filled social occasions, and most of all the tension of wondering what will happen next.

Marguerite Gray is writing a great book she hasn't published yet!

Did you ever read half way through a book that you loved and you didn’t get to finish it? I did and I think about the book often.  Through the most unusual circumstances, I haven’t been able to finish the book. Let me tell you what happened.

Sometimes I participate in a group of online writers who critique one another’s work. It is sponsored by ACFW. A few years ago, I got to know Marguerite Martin Gray, an outstanding writer in the group. In the group, writers submit chapters of their work to be criticized by other authors in exchange for the same service. I digress. It turned out that she grew up in the town, Ruston, Louisiana, where I was living at the time, but I never knew her then. It was a coincidence.
Marguerite made some great suggestions on two books I was working on at the same time, The Dream Bucket and The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson. In the meantime, I started reading her book, Promises of Purity. It’s the one I have not yet had the privilege of finishing. This book haunts me, and I cannot wait to finish it, even though it’s been two years since I read the first half of it.

Marguerite, a brilliant historian, can take her readers back three or four hundred years. Since she knows the events and customs of England in the 1600’s and the American colonies during the 1700’s, she is comfortable telling her stories without giving the reader the feeling she’s groping for details. She can depict convincing stories on either side of the Atlantic.

Promises of Purity took place mostly in 1681 in Sinclair Bakery, with deep insight into the struggle of the Roundheads with King Charles. One of my favorite scenes involved the King’s pet dogs. The romance in this novel is outstanding.

In the meantime, Marguerite has published two books about life in South Carolina during the 1700’s. They are good, but I still await Promise of Purity. Her first book, Hold Me Close, is a tender love story about a young woman, who (I suspect) is Marguerite’s ancestor. The second one, Surround Me,is new. I’ve just finished it,  and I highly recommend it.

(Jonquils at the Blacksmith Shop, Jonquil Jubilee in Gibsland)

Did you ever hope to meet a writer whose work you enjoyed? My husband and I met her, along with her family at a book signing at Jonquil Jubilee in March 2016.  

I wanted Marguerite to read Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek, but I wasn’t sure what she’d think. Marguerite writes of lace gloves, fancy cups of tea, and characters who play Bach on the pianoforte. I was afraid of what she would think of the new book by Sarah Walker Gorrell and me about clans of Travelers living close to the earth and playing their music on fiddles and accordions. 

Despite my shyness, I asked Marguerite to read it, and here is what she said: 
This review is from: Travelers in Painted Wagons: On Cohay Creek (Covington Chronicles) (Volume 5) (Paperback) 
Travelers in Painted Wagons gives a realistic, earthy view of life in the early 1900's in Mississippi. The story follows a time when gypsies roamed from place to place in the States cultivating friendships and spurring enemies to action. I enjoyed learning a bit of history through the lives of the gypsies and the common citizens. (5 stars)

My Redneckness

Having grown up in south Smith County, Mississippi, north of Cohay Creek where it flows through Hot Coffee, down in north Covington County...in the land between Sullivan’s Holler and Soso, Mississippi... in what my sister always called the sticks, I have redneckness that cannot be denied.

Certain gestures I’d like to remove from my existence, but in all the decades of my life, I’ve failed. One of them gets on my own nerves big time.  It’s sheer indelicate behavior. When I sip a mouth full of delightful Community Coffee, I have to (must or should) let out a big sigh. The same sigh emits from my lungs and mouth when I drink cool water or diet Coke. I think about it one second after I do it, and I say out loud, “This has to stop.”

The other night, I mean evening, my sweet husband took me out to eat supper, I mean dinner, to a place where the food was delicious, even though the fish was broiled instead of fried.  All dressed up, I wore my newest shoes. I’m so proud of these shoes, Isotoner Women’s Cable Knit Bridget Clog Slippers. I’ve always wanted some Isotoners, but he said they looked good except for the faux fur trim. That gave it away that they were house shoes. I disagree, but I see his point. He loves me with all his heart, but he doesn’t like to have me looking like a redneck. On a more sophisticated woman, they would have looked elegant.

He has a little redneck in him too, and we’re working on it. Today he decided we should eat our sardines and saltines on plates in front of the television. I brought a tiny piece of cheese from the grocery store (supermarket). The cheese cost $2.50, and it was very tiny.  So we drained the oil off our sardines, and he placed his can on his plate. Then he looked over at me and saw I’d poured mine onto the plate. He said, “What an interesting innovation!”

One of the advantages about being a Scots-Irish south Mississippi redneck woman is that I speak the language. So does my friend, Sarah Walker Gorrell, who lives on the edge of the Cohay swamp. Not that I’d ever say she’s a redneck...she’s a proper woman...but she understands redneck ways and redneck jargon. She and I had so much fun writing Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek that it should have been against the law.  

Oops, I just had a sip of coffee and I did it again.  

Here’s our Travelers. In addition to the Romany Travelers, we have depicted Rednecks in their more primitive state, as they lived about a century ago. Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Vanner Horse in Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek

Vanner horses are specially bred to pull the wagons of the Romani people, mostly in the British Isles.
Milosh is Walthere Amaya’s horse in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek. Walthere passionately loves his horse. Milosh looks like the picture on the book cover. (Photograph © March 15, 2014,binkski, I-Stock)

To learn more about vanner horses, follow these links below. The horses at Stillwater Farm at Cashiers, North Carolina, are beautiful beyond imagination. You can read about the owners and their horses on Facebook and at their website. On you tube there are videos that will take your breath and warm your heart.

One of many videos on youtube

Vardo Resurgence: Painted Wagons Come Back

Do you ever watch the television shows about tiny houses? Living in a tiny house is a special art in that a tiny house dweller needs to make the surroundings aesthetically pleasing so the surroundings don’t look crowded and messy. It is a science in that the dweller must provide the essentials in an efficient way in a very small space.

The Romani people (Gypsies, Travelers) mastered this skill long ago. They knew how to make their traveling wagons all that. These homes are called vardos or vardoes. Although few people live in them throughout the year, these magnificent little dwellings are making a come back.

A vardo is a wagon that people live in. Sometimes it’s called a van or a caravan. The word caravan is confusing because it can mean a group of travelers or a single wagon.. 

Here are some interesting links with some amazing pictures of vardoes.

Our new novel,  Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek depicts Romani people living in these little portable homes in the early twentieth century.

It's here!

Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek, the latest novel in the Covington Chronicles, is now available in Kindle form. Paper copies are coming soon.

Please go here and check it out. We'd love to know what you think. In fact we're requesting reviews.

Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Sarah's Front Porch

Sarah Walker Gorrell, my talented co-author, has featured the Covington Chronicles in her blog, The Front Porch, which she calls ramblings of a southern Mississippi woman from her front porch. It's a privilege to work with Sarah, and it's an honor to be featured in her blog.

From her porch she sees nature in its beauty as the seasons change She will make you hear the birds and the panther. Sarah has a fresh attitude about life, and she makes the mornings start better for her readers.

This blog is a great one to follow.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek, the Latest Covington Chronicle

A family in distress receives help from a surprising source. Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek uncovers the heart and soul of the Romani people, who have suffered injustices throughout time.
Travelers is a continuation of the story of Trudy’s friend Jeremy Smitherlin as he finds himself functioning as the adult in his home because his parents have emotional and physical illnesses. Jeremy first appeared in The Dream Bucket as the slimy boy who dipped Trudy Cameron’s braids into his ink well.
He struggles to be perfect so he can win approval. The more he tries to do the right things, the more he irritates Caleb, his papa. Jeremy wants his mother to live, but she moves closer to death. Travelers (Gypsies) settle on Cohay Creek, which runs through Caleb’s farm. Walthere, the captain of the Travelers, and his wife Rosalie become friends of the family. Some of the residents of the little town of Taylorsburg don’t trust the Travelers and aren’t happy that the Smitherlins have allowed Gypsies to live so close to town. This unrest causes additional problems for Caleb, Jeremy and the Travelers.
The beautiful and sexy Ruby Felty adds intrigue to the story with her love of good-looking men. Although Jeremy would like to live an innocent, carefree life, evil adults slam him into a grown-up world. He learns about gunfights, adultery, drunkenness, physical abuse, and sarcasm.
Sometimes, despite all his problems, Jeremy has adventures that are fun, such as ice cream at the Covington dining room and soda at a store in Soso or wading in the ice-cold water near the Spillway at Gitano, Mississippi.
The old Slave Cemetery and the Mayhew house, based on an actual home near the creek, both still exist.
Sarah Walker Gorrell and I hope to have our book available before this month is over.  We're all ready to go, and we're very excited. Right now we're waiting for Hurricane Matthew to move away from our publishing house so we can send it. 
When I look at the horrendous suffering and loss of the people in the path of this giant storm, I am sorry even to mention this little delay we are going through. We grieve for those going through this loss. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Travelers In Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek. Guest Blogger: Sarah Walker Gorrell, From the Front Porch

Sarah Walker Gorrell and I have co-authored a new novel in The Covington Chronicles series. She wrote about it in her beautiful blog, From the Front Porch.

Sharing what Sarah wrote:

Travelers In Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek

It's ironic how families can become involved in one's life in one way or another. Back in 1941, when I was born - Myrtle Gregg was the midwife who assisted with my birth. She was probably the first to hold me when I saw the "light of day" in Smith County - all those years ago. She helped to give me my beginning.

And now her daughter, Mary Lou Gregg Cheatham Cooke, is helping to give me another beginning.

Mary Lou is a published author with Abi of Cyrene, Secret Promise , The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson, The Dream Bucket, and Manuela Blayne which are all available on Amazon. (She writes as Mary Lou Cheatham.)

Mary Lou and I met on Facebook - even though we were both Smith County natives.  I'm not sure how our friendship began or who requested whom as a friend.

I grew up in the MS Delta but visited Taylorsville in the summers, while Mary Lou was growing up in Taylorsville and visiting - in the Delta.

On one of my many Taylorsville to Dallas trips, I contacted Mary Lou and we met for lunch - in Shreveport. Of course, we discussed writing. Mary Lou was a published author. I was a "wannabe"......someone who writes freelance articles. I had begun a book, and I discussed it with Mary Lou.

I'm not even sure how the "let's write one together" came about - but our connection to Smith County, Taylorsville (which is Taylorsburg, in our book), Cohay Creek and life in a small southern Mississippi community all seemed to make sense.

"Travelers in a Painted Wagon on Cohay Creek" was actually born in Mary Lou's head - but there is so much of this book that is a part of me and my life. Mary Lou had the ideas and would make suggestions, and I realized what she was thinking and dreaming about was also in my head! We knew we could do this together - it was as if our minds were one - in this venture.

We are thrilled to have completed the first segment of this journey. The manuscript is now in the hands of Beta Readers (or as one friend's son said...."Criticizers"). The cover has been designed, Bio's are being crafted, endorsements are being written, and soon - Travelers will head to the printer.

We have been absolutely amazed at the response from the Beta readers. One wrote: “....ought to be on television...loving this book...cried when I finished it...a great story line...”
#Gypsies #Romanies #CohayCreek

Monday, September 26, 2016

In Appreciation of the Women of Ransom Canyon Fellowship Church and Their Friends

Ransom Canyon Fellowship Church, Ransom Canyon, Texas, hosted a Woman's Conference last Saturday, September 24, 2016. It was a big success with a huge turnout.

To show my appreciation to my daughter, Christie Marie Underwood, who helped organize the conference and to all the others who worked hard and participated, I'm giving away some books tomorrow.

For one day, Tuesday, September 27, 2016,  only on Amazon dot com, these books will be available as free Kindle downloads.

The Dream Bucket, Manuela Blayne: Covington Chronicles III and IV

The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson

Abi of Cyrene

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Dream Bucket cover is competing in a contest.

Cover the Words Contest

Please go to the link of the Yellow Rose RWA contest and vote for the cover of The Dream Bucket.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Massive Flood in South Louisiana 2016. Do not self deploy.

The temptation is to load up the truck and head south, but this disaster is so massive it's better to work through some organization, such as your church. Here's the link to the national United Methodist relief organization:


UMCOR is collaborating with FEMA and other national disaster response organizations, including the American Red Cross, Lutheran Disaster Response, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, and the umbrella group, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD).

Rolling Hills Ministries
And here's a Baptist link. Rolling Hills Ministries, based in Ruston, Louisiana, is an efficient and compassionate source of help. It sends teams to help with disasters.

Race Relations

Today is the last day to download Manuela Blayne for free. It is a shocking little book about race relations.

Bruce Siegmund is the realtor who helped me sell my house in Ruston, LA, so I could move to Shreveport and marry my new love, John Cooke. Bruce  published the following on his Facebook page. With his blessing I'm sharing it with you.

The national racial discussions are unsettling to me. I don't hear anyone talking about what I've experienced. I've been thinking a lot lately about what God has done in my life over the years. I originally posted this 2 years ago, but God continues to show just how much more He can do. I am the offspring of His goodness.
I was born a white baby in the heart of Mississippi. God must have a sense of humor. When I was in the 6th grade they integrated the schools where I was living in Lafayette, La. I clearly remember my classmates, including Clara Green Gibbs. The kids from my part of town and the black kids that were brought in on buses didn't mix very well at first. We had very different backgrounds. That year I got in a fight with a black girl name Eunice. I had caught her with my stolen notebook and confronted her. She responded by chasing me down and taking a few swings at me even though I had run from her into the boys bathroom! I know, I was quite a wimp, but I was raised NOT to fight, especially girls. Why would someone hit me after they stole me notebook? I still don't understand.
There is one thing that I remember from that whole episode. I distinctly remember feeling sorry for black men. I reasoned that because they would have to marry black women. Look at my limited experience at the time. Nobody I knew was marrying outside of their race in the 1960's. It's funny the small things we remember.
Fast forward to 1980. I'm a student at La Tech and am leasing a large 7 bedroom, 3 bath house in downtown Ruston that summer. I plan on renting rooms to friends to make money while I live there. The landlord tells me that I can't rent to Blacks. I don't think much about it because we didn't mix that much anyway. Not too long after that, without thinking, I invite my friend Robert Egbi, a student from Nigeria to live with me. Oops, I did the right thing without thinking about it. The landlord later said it was ok, since he was African . Not too much later I met another student, Larry Langlois, who happened to be black and was from New Orleans. He was active in the La Tech Chi Alpha Campus Ministry with me. He moved in as well. Oops again. I forgot what my landlord told me to do.
Larry was a Med Tech major and he invited one of his classmates to come to one of our Chi Alpha ministry meetings. Her name was Bren Jelks. She was also Black (There weren't any African-Americans at that time as they are now referred to). Bren didn't really want to come, but Larry was persistent and I guess God had plans. Reluctantly she came and God miraculously met her that day. She became a lover of Jesus.
I was a young campus ministry leader of that Chi Alpha group and I had a self imposed "no date" policy with the young women in the group. I just didn't think it was right for a guy to date someone he was trying to lead. I kept my distance, especially if she was cute! I sure enjoyed hanging out though with the new girl Bren. I wasn't worried about dating her since she was black. Nobody was doing that in the early 1980's in Ruston, especially if they were a Christian! We did however do a lot of group activities together which made for a great time for us to get to know each other.
Something happened though along the way. She became a best friend and then I kissed her! I fell in love with her and I really didn't know what to do. I was in the ministry, I shouldn't be doing that! We broke up and got back together 2 or 3 times in one week as we were both trying to be realistic. We really couldn't be separated though, we really loved each other. The leadership though of the campus ministry and the local Pastor had other ideas. They felt like it would harm the ministry of Jesus. Look people, we are still making dumb decisions today that we justify. We peacefully disagreed and parted ways, even though it hurt, I knew I had made the better choice. My identity was challenged, my dreams were shattered, but I had the one I loved and I had the support of friends and family. Many of you are reading this now. Thank you!
Fast forward to 1986 and I'm marrying Bren in Ruston at the same church that the pastor had opposed our relationship. A new Pastor had come and had embraced us and welcomed us. God loves reconciliation! Fast forward to the present and I now sit on the advisory board for La Tech's Chi Alpha Campus Ministry. Wow! God is NOT a God of judgment but of reconciliation. Mercy triumphs over judgement!
I could tell story after story of my marriage to Bren. Many of you already know the stories and have your own. Although I was worried about having kids with her at first, because of how hard "mixed kids" would have it in the world. Unless you were an adult in the 80's or before in the South, you don't know what I'm talking about. We decided to trust God anyway. Ooops! Six kids later in 10 years, God had blessed us abundantly. Bren even had a child while battling cancer. People thought we were crazy, but we had Hannah, our sixth child during that time.
In 1990 I was hired to teach Marketing at Grambling State University. I end up spending 19 years teaching and helping students there. I felt uniquely prepared by God to be there during that season of life. I could tell many stories. Many of you reading this met me during that time.
Bren's battle with cancer ended in March of 1999. The kids were ages 1 to 11 and were being home schooled at the time. So here I am, a white guy in Ruston, now a single parent with six mixed race kids. The ladies in Ruston never spoiled a man and his kids as much as they did me in 1999. They cooked for us, cleaned our house, kept the kids, loved on them, etc. I had to stop it before I got too fat and used to it!
Later that summer I traveled with Mark Boersma and a group from what was then known as Christ Community Church to Malawi, Africa with my oldest two daughters. Bren had insisted we go even if she died. During the two week mission trip, I did something that I didn't believe in, I fell in love with a young lady named Pamela that I was assigned to work with in the clinic that we were opening. I kept it to myself, but wrote her a letter upon leaving, letting her know that I would like to get to know her. Ooops! Seems like every time I did the right thing accidentally it brought about a great result!
The following summer I'm traveling to Malawi for a different kind of mission trip. I'm going to visit her and meet her family all over the country. That trip I end up getting engaged. So in the summer of 2000, Pamela and I get married in Ruston, La. So now I have an African (now African American) wife. Pamela is 22 years old at the time and I am, well, a few years older .
We've made 16 years of marriage now. We've added 2 more children through extraordinary circumstances. I've been elected to the Ruston City Council by the good people of Ruston, La. I've seen many of my kids leave home for college and graduate. Two of them have married and another is engaged and they are blazing their own trails for God. I've seen them travel the world themselves and struggle to make the right choices in a world that is often time backwards and upside down in its thinking. We have all struggled! I am more in love with my wife than ever before and I am so proud of my children and the choices they have made to become the young women and men that they are today. All along though I have found the best way to understand a situation and learn about someone is to LISTEN. Give them a chance and give them space. Love them as they are and listen. After you listen to them, listen to God.
What does the future hold? I don't know. I really never expected to be where I am now. I do know that when I choose to follow however God leads, no matter how strange it feels, or how uncomfortable it is, He is always faithful. You may call me crazy but I see God revealing Himself to people these days. I see our community and cities turning things around and falling in love with the God that loves them! I've seen God do more miracles in my circle of friends in this last year than I had seen my entire life. If you are looking for a better way, He is the way.
Back to the race stuff. Have I earned the right to speak and give my opinion? First of all, I don't have all the answers and I don't feel like an expert, but I know a little bit. I used to ask my students at Grambling, "If a race war broke out, which side would you be on?" They usually got confused by the question, and maybe you are too. Everyone wants to defend their "family". But what if you're wrong? In the end, I am not participating or taking sides in this division. There are forces at work right now that want you to join "their" side. If you choose a side, you are wrong. We cannot fight a race war and be right. Right now there is too much hate being spewed out on both sides. It needs to stop, but it won't stop unless you stop it in your heart and in your mind. If you have hate in your heart, you are not going to receive what I am saying. We ALL have experienced bad stuff in our life where people have wronged us. I have experienced that too, but we have to forgive or we become captives to our own hatred!
Here is where I am going to upset many of you. It doesn't matter who is elected President, they are not going to solve our real problems. Our real problems are heart problems that cannot be solved by a political system or a religious system. Both those systems will try and promise solutions that they will use to try and control your actions. God wants your heart and He has a different kingdom that is greater than those other systems. I'm not telling you to not vote, but I want to remind you that there is One who is greater than the President. He wants to rule your heart so you can fulfill the destiny he created you for.
Do yourself a favor today, and the world a favor too. Go out of your way to show an act of love to someone of another race, political party or whatever difference there is, just because it's the right thing to do. In fact, I believe God is putting someone different in your mind right now that He wants you to reach out to. Stamp out some of the division that creeps into ALL of our hearts by loving someone different intentionally! If you can't do it or you don't feel like it, ask God to help you. It isn't always easy! But just maybe you will discover something that God does within you that changes your heart a little at a time. You just might like the change. We could all use a change.
Feel free to share my story, it's God's story. God bless you all!

We are Louisiana!

Melissa Dillon Seal has given me permission to share a post from her Facebook page in the Collard Patch. It's full of useful contact information. Melissa wrote:

We are Louisiana! Here's a glimpse of what is happening here. You may not have seen these images on your 6:00 news, but this is the nightmare we are dealing with. Humans & pets are displaced & lives and property have been lost. I have compiled a few links for anyone wanting to help. Many shelters & rescues are in need, so I also threw together an Amazon wish list in case you'd like to donate supplies and I will get them to those who are doing everything they can to save lives. 
(Alligator on Highland Road near LSU)
You can donate $10 to the Red Cross by texting "LAFLOODS" to 90999
Humane Society of Louisiana has rescued & transported many animals to safety, even by boating in to shelters who had no choice but to open kennels and let the animals loose to have a chance at survival www.Humanela.org
St Tammany Humane Society took in 20+ displaced shelter dogs https://bit.ly/2bqxHJ5
LSART has done many deep water rescues of animals, including livestock & gotten them to safety. http://lvma.org/lsartdonations
Tangi Humane Society received devastating damage to their shelter & must completely rebuild https://www.gofundme.com/2j453p7w
A general wish list of supplies that I threw together for people wanting to send supplies. Of course, any & every type
of cleaning supply, and pet items are appreciated. In case Amazon asks for my phone # 985-335-2780 and shipping address is 75181 Hwy 1083, Covington LA 70435
There are also many churches & organizations collecting toiletries, bottled water, food, clothing, hygiene items & putting together cleaning supply for people. I can get those links as well. If you'd like to donate in anyway, please message me & I can get you the needed info.
Melissa Dillon Seal can be reached through Facebook. Photos are from her Facebook Timeline. On her page she has many more photos that will tear at your heart,

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Great Flood of Louisiana 2016 is your flood, and it is my flood.

South Louisiana’s flood is our tragedy. We are hurt by it. The disaster in south Louisiana is our hardship to claim. We cannot look away. In the ways we are able, we must help.

Almost four hundred years ago, John Donne, an English poet, priest, and lawyer spoke these words:

For Whom the Bell Tolls

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

In the year 1624, John Donne wrote, “No man is an island.”

In our time, as the Great Flood of 2016 sinks the fortunes of our fellow residents in what we call “down south” here in Louisiana, we are saddened. Whatever the floodwaters wash away is a part of our state, our nation, and our humanity. We, too, are diminished by the flood waters.

We are called by that which makes us human to extend help. “No man is an island.”


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Helping the flood victims

The Little Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, Louisiana-- 


STEP 1: Donating money.

Summer Grove United Methodist Church will be taking a special offering this Sunday, August 21st to support the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and their efforts to help with much needed supplies for flood relief.

STEP 2: Joining with a larger church.

In addition, Summer Grove UMC will be teaming up with Broadmoor UMC in Shreveport to collect much needed items to send to South LA.

STEP 3: Donating personal items.

THIS WEEK AND NEXT, the church will be collecting the following:

travel size shampoo and conditioner
travel size body soap
travel size hand sanitizer
travel size deodorant
travel size toothpaste and toothbrushes
feminine hygiene products
baby formula
baby wipes

"Please bring your items to the church this Sunday or next Sunday, OR to the church office during office hours (M-Th 8 AM-1 PM)."


I received this message as a text and in my e-mail. 


This project has a motto: Together we can make a difference.