Steely Eyed Missile Man – Gene Kranz

There is a man who was extraordinarily important to the development of NASA and the logistical construction of mission control. He is probably the coolest man ever. Eugene F. “Gene” Kranz.

If there was ever a living person I would want to meet and converse with it is Gene. I’m pretty sure I have a space geek crush on him. If you haven’t read his book Failure Is Not An Option you are missing a immensely great work. The experience of following his path with the space program is interesting, exciting, in some places hilarious, and profound.

The personal insights into astronauts, engineers, directors and most importantly the families hit all the human buttons.

Gene and his early group of engineers and technicians wrote the book, literally, on missions: his perspectives on the division of duties are applicable today, his commitment and loyalty is one to admire and aim for, and the play it by the book and by the seat of your pants gives the reader a vision of what excellence looks like.

He is truly a national treasure we need to hear more about before he is gone.

Gene Kranz, you truly are a “steely eyed missile man”.

You are welcome space geeks.

Cheers!

-N

You’ve Got To Be Taught

Any city USA:

The call comes in, suspect in a robbery. The witness describes a white male, approximately 5’10” tall with dark, shoulder length brown hair, sunglasses, jean and a navy hoodie. As the police are patrolling they see six different white men in a group on the street as they drive, but don’t stop to question them because obviously they don’t resemble the description of their suspect provided by the middle aged white woman.

The call comes in, suspect in a robbery. The witness describes a black man in jeans and hoodie. Police patrolling see a black man walking his dog wearing sweatpants and a grey t-shirt. They pull up beside him, telling him to stop, call for backup and ask him who he his, where is he going, where does he live, what is he doing. The man is shocked, scared, nervous, and reluctant to say anything. The cop reads his behavior as suspicious and as two patrol cars pull up the cop yanks the dog’s leash from the man’s hands, and push him against the car to handcuff him. His dog is barking, the man begins to ask why he is in custody, the other officers have guns drawn and in a matter of moments this man has lost the right of innocent until proven guilty; the benefit of doubt. The witness was a middle aged white woman.

You wonder why people of color distrust police?

My sweet German Shepherd was traumatized last Friday after being trapped under our back porch while escaping the loud thunder and winds of a storm that blew through. She was trapped for several hours and has since become very reluctant to go outside to do her business for fear of being trapped.  We have to go outside with her because of her learned fear.

People of color, because of past experience have developed a learned response. They have experienced bias, neglect, distrust, and fear based solely on their race. Expectations passed down from generations of family, friends, and cultures which they have had no reason to discard based on their everyday experiences.

A line from Casablanca in response to a murder, “Round up the usual suspects,” is the reaction of rogue bigots in law enforcement and those usual suspects are often not white.

I am not saying that white people are not judged solely on appearance, have you ever seen a nasty white dude hooked on meth? I was profiled by a cop because the peeling paint on my car made him think I didn’t have insurance – big $$ ticket for him. He came up with an extremely lame excuse for why he pulled me over. It felt awful.

What I’m saying is there are years-decades-centuries of people of color given no quarter, always under suspicion, the first to be accused, the person who is treated aggressively, the one who expects to be the focus of distrust, and without merit they are categorized as unintelligent, immoral, underhanded, brutal and lazy. This has to stop with us, now, all of us. All humans.

When a child is told every day to steer clear of cops because they will not keep you safe and they don’t like you because you are black. When they see a brother or uncle aggressively searched and handcuffed because they were in a group on the street in front of their house and must be up to no good so the cops decided to stop anything before it starts. When they are in a not too busy restaurant waiting to be served and watch as a family of white people get seated, drink orders taken and given menus from wait staff who haven’t even looked at them. What is that child supposed to think?

I’ve seen behavior by white humans who get obnoxious and yell at a server for messing something up or taking too long, demanding the manager who came and did their best to assuage the customer, that a person of color would never attempt because they know it will go very bad for them. I hear “what about black on black crime?” “what about all the whites killed by cops?” Listen to what you are saying! You can’t justify, gloss over, and dismiss any thing with these statements. It’s all bad.

My young cousin was incensed that cops were wearing black ribbons across their badges “hiding their numbers” while working the riots. I told him it is common protocol to do this for a fallen officer. His statement was why do this now when it inflames the situation? My thought was why did the rioters wear full-face covered masks? Humans are hiding behind masks, rhetoric, and bias which keeps the others from hearing. Who will be the voice that both sides will listen to, the one voice that can radiate calm and focus on the fact that this situation has been brewing for centuries not just in the last ten years of people shaking the bottle ready to let it explode.

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught-Oscar Hammerstein II “South Pacific”

You've got to be taught to hate and fear

You've got to be taught from year to year

Its got to be drummed in your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid

Of people who's eyes are oddly made

And people who's skin is a different shade

You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late

Before you are six or seven or eight

To hate all the people your relatives hate

You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be carefully taught

-N

Meet Mitch and Amanda at a special price

Greetings all!

Tomorrow my very first ebook entitled Blame It On Whiskey will be discounted for seven days! Everyone come meet these two interesting people and read their story.

The tale is set in the late 1800’s, and begins with a twist.

There is lots of history, a fair dose of romance, plenty of action, and you might learn a bit of Spanish in the process of reading this story. So a question…what would you do if you came face to face with a band of Apache warriors who have escaped from captivity?

Synopsis:

It is June 1886.

A handsome, rugged man and a beautiful, self-assured woman try to resist the temptation of vague and erotic memories from a night of whiskey fueled passion, while they deal with beginning a life with a complete stranger.

These two proud, confident individuals are thrust into a set of bizarre circumstances including a face-saving wedding farce, a kidnapping, epic storms and Apaches.

 

For a short time only at $ 0.99 on Amazon. Click the link below.

Looking for Cochise

I love historical research. I love history – that’s probably why I enjoy writing historical fiction. This past weekend hubby and I spent two days scouring the southern Chiricahua mountains for the site of a firefight between the US Army and Cochise’s Chiricahua Apaches in 1869.

My fictional Army officer will be engaged in this event. I had questions about the location, and after searching through books and historical papers I managed to pinpoint the place I needed to see. To put myself in my character’s mind, explore his emotions, and find out who he would be after this was over, seeing the location was important for the story.

Much to her great pleasure Millie came along on the road trip, riding comfortably on her bed in the back seat. 

There was so much for her to see and smell, so much to experience. She was so good, and when we stopped for pictures or to explore she was happy to do her own research of the area. 🙂 

Rucker Canyon was where we were heading. It runs between the Chiricahua Mountains to the north and the Pedregosa Mountains to the south west. The creeks were running thanks to snow melt, and the dirt roads were well maintained, with a few places I wouldn’t want to drive on if they were wet.

  My driver did a good job getting me where I wanted to go, and he loved exploring those crude trails disguised as roads. I’m not so fond of the bouncing around on these, but he was having a great time.

Considering we were very close to the international border we saw this sign going either direction. Gave me pause. 

Using our topo map and the references, we were able to pin point the bluff where the Apache warriors held off the US Army. This series of fights lasted for a month beginning in October, and resulted in both sides suffering injuries and loss of life. It also prompted Cochise to examine the cost to his people of the continued fight against the whites.  He was dead five years later.

Walking the area where these two groups struggled to control the land was profound for me. The area is a pristine, rugged, and beautiful wilderness area of oaks and junipers. The bluff was found by us, and we spent time examining it and imagining the humans surrounding it, climbing, it, hiding behind its peaks, and moving in a strategic dance of combat. I was thrilled.

Left – from the south, right – from the north.

The south view was a steeper approach the Army attempted but were pushed back by the well entrenched Apaches.

The Army circled around to the north side which was a gentler slope, but still unapproachable. It was this activity that leads to my character’s encounter with a warrior and a crisis moment for him and his life going forward. After a bit more driving and a bit of hiking hubby suddenly stopped and said, “Here, it happens here.” He found a perfect place for the confrontation. In this area there were signs of human presence at least 100 years old. Nancy was in her happy place!!

Down this slope my character will struggle and his life will change. At the bottom is a creek, and beyond that a meadow lined with trees that are good cover for the warrior.

Boy did Millie like this place. She could wander and discover, glancing back at us to make sure we were near.

It was getting late, so we headed out for Douglas, Arizona and to the ranch home of old family friends of hubby. When I say old friends, I’m talking before marriages and kids, my father-in-law and Mr. Christiansen were BFF’s.

This ranch house was built in early 1960, and is one of the most comfortable, and welcoming homes I’ve visited. We chatted, laughed, looked at books and photos, walked around the land, and hubby’s memories were tickled. Millie loved this as well. She had plenty of room to run, sniff, and do her business. Our beautiful hostess, Mrs. Ursula Christiansen, made us comfy, fed us, and loved Millie. Ursula, born in Germany, married an American military man, and moved to this country. I asked her what she thought of southern Arizona when she arrived and she said she wanted to see Indians, she didn’t realize they were on reservations.

The two German girls got on pretty well. They’d had German Shepherds on the ranch, and she missed them. I think Millie sensed that. After a good nights sleep, Ursula wanted to take us to her favorite Mexican restaurant – El Pato (The Duck.) Chuck and I loved it, fresh and delicious Sonoran food.

Ursula was greeted warmly by the lovely owner Alba, she introduced us, and we ordered. If you ever get to Douglas, AZ go see Alba at El Pato.

 After our wonderful meal, and full bellies we headed back to the mountain for a few hours, then home.

My mind was racing with ideas, scenes, and plots. I can give the writing an authentic feel, and take the reader into the action with authority.

The best part was the chance to be there, on the spot, in the location, walking the same paths, seeing the same landscape, being in history, and becoming my character.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

 

Where I Come From

A long time ago, there was this couple who came together in a small town in north Texas, just miles from the Red River on the border with Oklahoma.

She was a petite beauty with a glorious soprano voice, a strong faith in God and His son Jesus. She carried herself with humility, gentleness, humor, and hard work. He was handsome, and strong, with a determined spirit and not too little pride.

He saw in her the perfect woman who would blend easily with him to create a home. She saw a man who might need some taming with love and understanding, but would become the head of the household she desired. They both came from large families. They learned the importance of holding family close, and the value a making the time and effort to gather together.

They shared a life of hard work, the loss of their first child that was followed by six who ultimately survived them. They were church going, tax paying, Great Depression surviving good people. They had a love song they sang together that all of the family have learned. She told stories we all loved, taught Sunday school and always had something cooking on the stove. He could do amazing things with wood. Beautiful custom desks, that he made for executives to use in their offices. The faults they had were culturally typical of the time and place of their lives, and as they lived they learned that their perspectives were not acceptable.

The picture of the beautiful hands I posted at the top of my blog page are the hands of these two humans, my mother’s parents.

They now are survived by only two children, my uncle Foy and my aunt Faith. Yet…the next generation-the grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on are perpetuating the love, closeness and attachment that Nannie and Papaw taught us. I am proud to be named after her, and have been told I resemble her. He and I had a few heated go-arounds in the past about his racial attitude and he did open his mind as he grew older, but I knew, no matter what, he loved me his first grandchild.

C.D. and Nancy Reba Forehand. My grandparents. I hope we will continue to make them proud.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

A Season of Learning

I am in a season of learning.

My desire right now is to discover learning opportunities. Webinars, podcasts, you tube videos, ebooks, wherever I spot something I want to know more about I am jumping on it. As I was starting this blog I had at least six tabs open on my laptop with various searches, emails, and a PowerPoint presentation on script reading ready for my perusal. I had my cell phone next to me and a notepad with a mechanical pencil at the ready.

In my home growing up there wasn’t any emphasis on learning. School wasn’t made any kind of priority. I can’t even remember my parents asking if I had homework or making me sit down and do my homework. It seemed if I liked what I was doing that was good enough for them. There were no parent/teacher meetings about my progress, no issue made of my grades, and if my folks wanted to take off for a trip to Texas they thought nothing of taking us out of school to go, and no worry about textbooks or concern about missed assignments while we was gone.

My middle sister had what we know now as a learning disability-ADHD and probably dyslexia. School was a nightmare for her, she was held back in first grade as much for her behavior as her lack of understanding. She had no idea how to be a student. My youngest sister and I were pretty good in school from nothing more than being natural learners. I do wish my parents had put greater emphasis on our school work. It might have been because we were military brats who moved every three years including overseas until my father retired, but I knew of other kids like me who achieved success in school.

Why didn’t they notice I loved writing stories and plays and encourage my talent? Why didn’t they find someone to help me with math when they saw I struggled?

My husband’s experiences were the opposite of mine and fortunately this motivated us to promote the importance of learning and school to our kids. They both went on to college and university.

So now, after years of wishing I had attended college, I am drawn to all sorts of learning. My love for history has directed much of my writing-it’s a joy to do historical research for my stories. I adore books. Geology and meteorology fascinate me and I can have meaningful discussions on these topics. My curiosity is strong and my desire to know more has given me the drive to seek out opportunities. I love challenging my brain, and hope this season is a long one.

Cheers!

-N

 

Is it a romance novel?

Well…I guess it has romance.

It’s a question I get when I’m asked about two of my books. How do I explain it is a genre mix? My books have good, well researched history of dress, speech, locale, conveyance, and real historical figures merged appropriately into the setting of my books. That is of huge importance to me as a HistNerd.

Yep, made that one up!

That being said, I do incorporate the human side. Family, love, struggle, conflict, all the parts of who humans become as we live. Yeah, there is sex. However it is not erotica by any stretch. I don’t do gratuitous in any media I access. But my stories are sexy. I love sexy people; what they think, how they move, how they speak, the way they touch. Sexy is fun. However these two stories are set in a time when there was no deodorant, shampoo, washing machines, toothpaste, and tampons. Women had body hair, men had even more. You get me right?

I don’t avoid these things in my historical writing. It’s how it was.

The settings are fleshed out to give the reader easy access to the time period. With language it is important to be precise in order to drive the reader into the feel of a relationship. I do describe dress both male and female, as well as room decor to pull out who the people in the story are and what their lives are like. Are they rich? Do they have servants and how many servants would this person have in their lifestyle of the time period? Do they struggle to feed their children? Do they have to work and what would that work look like. It is a disservice to readers to give 2018 attitudes to women and men of the 1880’s.

Likewise forcing the language of the 21st century on 19th century characters diminishes the powerful effect of the communication of people of that time. They wrote letters, they kept journals, and they read newspapers, all part of human interaction and understanding. I love it!

So when you read about two proud individuals who are forced into a farce of a marriage, they still adhere to the standards of the day. When you read of a woman who is used by a man to gain favors and blackmail, she is a victim, but in the time there would be no rescue for her.

I am a mixed genre author and reader.

Cheers!

-N

Boosting that post!

Book lovers are so cool!

On my Facebook author page I posted a piece, with photo, about my huge bookshelf hubby built for me, and mentioned I am soon needing another one for a different wall. Then I boosted it to my standard audience.

Well…the response has been amazing to say the least.

As of now over 4500 people have seen it, over 400 reacted, with dozens of comments and shares. I feel like I got a big ole hug from an international audience. Fantastic feeling!

There are plenty of book lovers out there who appreciate my collection and the room my hubby has set up for me. It has comfy seating, plants in front of the window, a shelf of memorabilia of my beloved late father, and displayed photos of my precious children, my grandson, and other family members. Its a cool space.

It was a thrill to hear from others about collections of books and how they love their books. One fun thing were the readers who noticed Cleo sitting on the love seat in the photo. I even had a women in the UK who offered me some books from 3000 her parents left her! How cool is that?!

With the increase in digital book purchases (I admit I am one of those, too) I feel the real thing is getting left behind unless true book lovers and collectors like myself make sure to keep a library. The joy I feel when I look at my books, re-read a favorite author, share a special part from one of them with someone, or open my glass cabinet with my very old tomes and sniff the air inside, is immeasurable and gives me comfort. Those books have inspired me, they’ve provided character names and locales for a story. They have provided necessary historical data so my stories are accurate no matter who would peruse them.

I love to share the special finds I’ve made at used book sales or used book stores (I love how those places smell!) because you never know what might have been left inside a favored copy of essays or poems. I once found a clipping of review of the book I bought written in the 1930’s, and I found a photo from the end of war in the Pacific in a used World War II historical atlas.

Take a moment and look at the post. I would love to know your impressions my fine followers!

Cheers!

-N

https://www.facebook.com/NancyTurnerVaughn

Do Not Disturb

Some people don’t seem to understand what it takes to focus on writing. Just because the music is playing and I am walking around talking to myself doesn’t mean I am not in a writing zone and it’s okay to barge in and start chatting. I am seriously thinking I need a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door.

Some people need silence, solitude – space to make the words flow and the jumble of thoughts to become a cohesive body of narrative. Me, not so much. That works at times I’ve found, especially when I am editing. In most cases I have music – all kinds of music – filling my work room. I dance, pace, wander, talk to no one, and fiddle with my muse.

Right now the playlist is soul/pop from the last forty years. Prince, Jimmy Luxury, Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations. Whoa baby, digging it.

Then the interruptions….

Thus the blog refuge to focus my mind on creating and my fingers a needed a warm up – you get me?

 

Had a fun thing happen yesterday while hubby and I were gardening. Lots of soil was moved, reseeding the back yard and planting flower seeds by the pond. I asked if the spa was hot and he said yes, and I replied after this day we need a soak and alcohol, and who knew what next. He agreed and by 8:30 pm we were in the hot water, staring at the stars, planning our next adventures. It was splendid. In my mind I thought “I’m going to use this in a story!”

Isn’t that great when that happens?

We have introduced Cleo to the outdoors and she is digging it. She has gotten big enough and savvy enough to know to stay near the house while she explores. One interesting aspect is Millie, as the big sister German Shepherd, pays attention to her and when she gets out of Millie’s sight the search is on. Millie kind of whines as she tries to find the wee cat, only calming when she is back. So adorable.

They are so cute and are pretty good buddies. Cleo loves Millie’s big swishey GSD tail, and Millie will nudge and lick Cleo when she is laying on the floor. Their food bowls are in the same place separated by a water bowl they share. 

We had Jake for a while but he went back to his family once they were again able to house him, much to Jake’s happiness.

I have always liked having a dog and a cat. I love the difference in the two animals, and they both nourish the variety of pet lover needs I have. Chuck and I are both this way.

So now the words are flowing. Time to ease back into the past as Jude Tremaine arrives at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. It could very well be a bloody night in the mountains around him. Ready for a rowdy ride, a betrayal, and a heartbreaking loss? Volume II of The Tremaines is in progress. Pray for no more interruptions unless the house is burning down or the wine is running out.

Cheers!

-N

 

Stalemate

Ok, this is driving me nuts! I am stalled on research for my historical fiction. I have looked everywhere online and in my vast collection of reference material in my personal library, but I cannot find any data that gives updated stage stop locations for the Butterfield Overland Mail for 1869. Everything I have or can locate is 1858 to 1861.

I discovered this issue when I started writing a travel scene I had beautifully sculpted, and fleshed out in perfect detail. However, after doing a last minute fact check on location details for one of the stops, Ft. Belknap, TX, I found the fort was abandoned by 1862. It could not have been part of my character’s destination.

Or could it?

Even if the fort was abandoned did they still use the area for stage stop, or did they transfer the stop the the nearest town, Graham, TX? I can’t find out.

So, now the research will become wider, and will probably require phone calls or emails to people who might know. But this is the fun stuff. I need an expert on the Overland Stage in 1869 in Texas.

My husband defines expert as “X is an unknown and a spurt is a drip under pressure” anyone know one of those?

Cheers!

-N