Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I am Thankful for . . .

Ah, Thanksgiving! For many of us, it means a gigantic meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and whatever other trimmings your family puts on the table. And yes, family and friends. With any luck, we'll get to spend the day with our families, enjoying each other's company, swapping stories, eating too much, and then peacefully kicking back and relaxing.

For me, although this week seems hectic, with shopping and cleaning and preparing for the big day, it also makes me pause and reflect on things for which I'm truly thankful.

Here are a few of them:

I am thankful for a loving and supportive family. Although some of us are far apart, my family members are close in spirit, and we try to stay active in each other's lives. We almost always end each conversation with "I love you."

I am thankful to have enough to eat. I realize how lucky I am to be able to push away from the table, saying "enough" when there are many people in this world not so fortunate.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head, and a warm house to live in.

I am thankful for my animals, which bring joy and laughter into my life.

I am thankful for my health, which I sometimes take for granted.

I am thankful for my smarts and my education, which allows me not only to write, but also to read well.

I am thankful for time to dream, time to write, and time to relax.

I am thankful I don't have any plans to go to Black Friday Sales.

I am thankful to get to know you, my readers, and connect with you through my books.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Stay safe, and I hope that however you celebrate the holiday, it's a good one for you.
Gobble, Gobble!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Darling, Mercy Dog of World War 1

I just finished reading a great book for dog lovers - young and old - Darling, Mercy Dog of World War 1. One of a series of new books from Peachtree Publishers called Dog Chronicles, this one sheds light on service dogs used during the First World War. Written by Alison Hart, author of numerous books for children and teens, it is perfectly suited for upper elementary, as well as older readers.

Told from the dog's point of view, we follow Darling from her family life in England to the trenches of war in France and Belgium. Just as the book (and movie) War Horse informed us of the plight of so many horses during this horrific war, this book shows another group of animals who were also useful. Personally, although I'm a huge dog and animal lover, I was largely unaware of dogs being used for messengers, scouts and mercy dogs during this time period.

Here's a short summary:

At home in England, Darling is a mischievous but much loved pet to Robert and Katherine. But when the British military asks families to volunteer their dogs to help the war effort, they send Darling off to be trained, even though it is very hard to say goodbye. Darling goes through training along with many other dogs and is ultimately used as a mercy dog, seeking out injured soldiers on the battlefield and leading the medics to them. After saving the lives of numerous soldiers, Darling is faced with a major challenge.

What I liked about this book: I learned something new. Mercy dogs were taught to go quietly through the battlefields, amidst the noise and chaos, to search for injured and wounded soldiers. Then they would return to seek help.

It has some great interior illustrations from Michael G. Montgomery, which lend an element of understanding to the text.

I also liked that although the horrors of war are touched upon, they are not dwelt on excessively in this book, making it (in my opinion) suitable for children. The story is mostly about what the dog Darling goes through in her ordeals, the human connections she makes along the way, and *Spoiler Alert* it has a happy (although not perfect) ending, which is one reason I am recommending it. And yes, I did shed a tear or two at the end. It got to me.

For more on Alison Hart and her numerous other books, please visit her website: http://www.alisonhartbooks.com/

Darling, Mercy Dog of World War 1 is available in hardback from your local independent bookstore, or from online retailers. It's definitely one to put on your Christmas list for young dog or animal lovers.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day - and a Free eBook!

On this Veterans Day, we honor all veterans, past and present. I truly appreciate all of the men and women serving in our armed forces, and offer thanks and gratitude for their sacrifices.

For many of us, today marks a holiday from work or school. With cold weather settling in, some of you might enjoy curling up with a good book. Or a short story. So for today only, November 11th, my brand new eBook, called The Winter Kitten is FREE on Amazon.

 Here is the link to download it: http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Kitten-Linda-Benson-ebook/dp/B00GD4TDCI

And if you don't have a Kindle? You can download the Kindle app free from the same page, to read it on your computer or other device.

Hurry! One day only! Download your free eBook.

Then call or hug someone and thank them for their service, and curl up to read a sweet story. It's a short read, and I hope you like it!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Winter Kitten

Introducing The Winter Kitten - a brand new short story available today as an eBook on Amazon.

Brianna doesn't know how she'll make it through her first winter in Portland. It rains too much, she misses her mother and the country life they once shared, and with Christmas coming up she's having a hard time adjusting to life with only her dad. When she finds a kitten trapped in their garage, Brianna is sure things will get better. But nothing goes as planned, and Brianna wonders what she's gotten herself into.
Inspired by a real-life experience with a kitten named Xena, I hope this story will warm your heart in any season.
I originally started this to be part of an anthology. Then it morphed into something a little longer, I added characters and thought, hmm, I wonder if I could publish it myself? Many of my friends have gone this route, but my previous books have all been with publishers.
So I waited, thought about it some more, got some help with the cover and editing and voila! I did it!
It's available at present in the Kindle version. If you don't own a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app from Amazon onto your phone or computer (for free) and read it there.
Hope you enjoy it! (And if you do, a review would be awesome.) It's priced at only 99 cents. You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Kitten-Linda-Benson-ebook/dp/B00GD4TDCI
Thanks - and Happy Holidays!