Spotlight: The Very Least by Ken Kuhlken

ISBN-10: 1725909782

ISBN-13: 978-1725909786

Publisher: CreateSpace

September 13, 2018, 330 pages

Genre: Suspense thriller

Series: Hickey Family Crime Novel

 

 

Also available for Kindle

 

 

A dear friend of Clifford Hickey’s cousin Bo crosses the border on the run from a charge of molesting children in a church nursery school. Because Bo believes him innocent, journalist Clifford agrees to investigate. Soon he has made enemies of gangsters, politicians, and tycoons on both sides of the border. That’s the bad news. The good news: he meets Jodi McGee who helps him discover his purpose and write this story.

 

The Very Least is both a standalone novel of crime and suspense and a volume in the much-praised and awarded Hickey Family Crime series.

Anne Tyler, as Chair of the Ernest Hemingway Award selection committee, wrote, “The pace, clarity, and assurance of Midheaven made it a pleasure to read.”

From Kirkus Reviews: “Kuhlken has, with Jodi, created a character new to us–the born again adolescent who’s in-the-know–and he provides her with grit and honesty.”

Novelist Andy Straka commented, “Midheaven is one of those rare gems of a novel that sneaks up on you and nestles in your soul. I especially enjoyed the setting and character development. The sun-dappled mountains and cold water beauty of Lake Tahoe hold too many secrets for a teenage girl to bear. Jodi is a character you won’t soon forget.”

 

Some of Ken’s favorites are early mornings, the desert in spring, kind and honest people, baseball and other sports played by those who don’t take themselves too seriously, most kids, and films he and his Zoe can enjoy together.

He reads classic novels, philosophy, theology, and all sorts of mysteries. On his blog, he offers some hard truths and encouragement about living as a writer.

He has long been the author of novels, stories, articles, poems, and essays. Lots of honors have come his way, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Poets, Essayists and Novelist’s Ernest Hemingway Award; Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel and Shamus Best Novel; and several San Diego and Los Angeles Book Awards.

https://www.kenkuhlken.net/

https://www.amazon.com/Ken-Kuhlken/e/B001JPBYLY/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

The Very Least

Amazon: https://amzn.to/30FEa91

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-very-least-ken-kuhlken/1129158286?ean=9781725909786

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Tracy Richardson interview

Tracy Richardson agreed to answer a few questions for us so we can get to know her a little better:

  1. Do you have a fear, phobia, or habit you’d rather no one knew about?

I’m afraid of rodents. Spiders and insects are fine, but mice and rats – eeeekkk!! I once beat a small gray mouse that had found its way into my pantry to death with a broom. I’m not proud of it, but it could have attacked me! Just saying…

2. Tell us about your book. (Title and story blurb.)

The Field

Eric Horton sees fire.

 

When he sleeps, he dreams of a world screaming in the midst of devastating explosions. These dreams terrify him, and as more strange happenings unfold around him, he’s unable to shake the feeling that what he’s seeing isn’t just a dream.

 

When a new student, Renee, appears in his science class, he could swear he’s known her forever. But how could that be? As they get to know each other, he meets her father, who explains the experiments he’s been conducting involving “the Universal Energy Field” and “Collective Consciousness”—two things Eric has never heard of before. They seem to be tied to the idea that we are all connected by the same energy and are all more powerful than we realize. Eric begins to learn more about these groundbreaking concepts—but can they be real?

 

As his life continues to shift and his knowledge of the Field increases, Eric will be tested beyond anything he’s experienced before. He must decide whether he believes in that part of himself which ties him to the world around him, and he must access it—or lose everything he’s been working to keep.

 

3.  Is it part of a series? If so, include other titles. What do you enjoy most about writing a series? What part do you loathe?

The book is part of a series, but they are companion books, not sequels. The first book chronologically is Indian Summer featuring Eric’s younger sister, Marcie, and takes place three years prior to the events in The Field. The next book after The Field is Catalyst, again featuring Marcie. Catalyst takes place a year and a half after The Field. The fourth book in the series will be more of a sequel to Catalyst. It’s as yet untitled and I’ve just started writing it.

 

The best part of writing a series is connecting with the characters who I love and learning more about them as their stories develop. There isn’t anything that I loathe about it! As long as there is still a story to tell I’m happy to do it!

 

4.  Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

That’s really hard to answer. It’s like saying which one of your children is your favorite!! I love them all equally but for different reasons. In some ways, they all have aspects of myself in them. I love Eric’s athleticism and good heart. Marcie’s developing sense of self and self-confidence is something I think we can all identify with. Cole is so brash and unapologetically unique. Mrs. Horton is such a 20th-century working woman trying to balance the career she loves with taking care of her family.

 

5.  What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from writing?

Sometimes when I go back and read what I’ve written I’m surprised at what I’ve created. While I do use actual people, places and events as inspiration, the stories themselves come completely from my imagination. I’ll think ‘dang, I did this’. Of course, it took a lot of hard work and ‘BIC” or Butt In Chair time to do it.

6. Tell us about the defining moment when you felt as if you’d finally made it as an author.

I was giving a presentation to 200 librarians at the Indiana Public Library conference. John Green (author of A Fault in Our Stars) also gave a presentation – his was to 1000 librarians, though. But still – we were at the same conference!! Of course, I was terrified at the time!

 

And here is a brief excerpt from The Field:

I position myself in the goal. I touch the left side of the goal, then walk to the right side, touch it, and then move to the center and touch the crossbar to orient myself. It’s my ritual. I crouch in the center with my knees bent and arms in position to catch a ball.

I feel confident, strong—ready.

The coach starts the play. The other team immediately takes control of the ball and the play moves onto my side of the field. Good. More action for me. The opposing team’s striker sends the ball out to his right and his midfielder runs onto it. I move to that side of the goal and my left back covers the front. Our defender is all over the midfielder. I see that the opposing striker has moved into position in front of the goal to take a pass from the midfielder.

“Watch for the cross!” I yell.

I’ve got the near post of the goal covered, coiled and ready to spring and I want my center back to cover the forward. The midfielder beats my defender and sends a pass through to his forward in front of the goal. I see it coming and leap out to punch the ball clear of the goal before the forward can head it in. My fist connects with the ball with a satisfying thwack! My center back takes the ball and sends it in a long arc to the other end of the field.

Yes! Adrenaline is surging through me and I’m pumped from stopping the cross. Now the play is on the other end of the field. I watch, staying focused on the action. The other keeper makes a save and quickly punts the ball down the field before my defenders have moved back. The opposing forward runs onto the ball. He takes off, sprinting toward the goal, and beats my defender.

It’s a breakaway!

My heart is pounding. It’s just me and him. The forward is approaching fast. Should I come out to meet him and dive at his feet or stay big and block the shot? It’s a split-second decision. Make the wrong choice and it’s a goal.

Wait! A thought flashes into my consciousness. I know where the shot will be. Left side— DIVE! I’m off my feet almost before the forward’s foot connects for the shot. I feel myself flying through the air, arms reaching. The ball is rocketing toward me. The ball strikes my palms and I push it wide, deflecting it outside of the goal and then I crash to the ground.

I jump up quickly in case the ball is still in play. My team has control of the ball and is moving it down the field. Squinting into the sun, I watch the play. Adrenalin is coursing through my veins. Total rush!

When I get subbed out I scan the sidelines for Will and jog over to him so we can rehash the play.

Will smacks me on the back. “You stuffed him!”

Will’s hair is dark with sweat, his face glistening and gritty. “How do you do that? I swear you were off the ground before he took the shot.”

I wipe my face on my shirt and take a long drink from my water bottle before answering. “I don’t know. Just reflexes I guess.” I don’t want to make too big a deal about it with Will, but sometimes I just get a feeling of knowing. It just flashes into my head. Maybe it’s from years of playing, but when it happens it feels different than reacting on instinct without thinking. It’s like knowing without thinking.

 

If you’d like to know what happens next, pick up a copy!

Buy link for The Field:

https://www.amazon.com/Field-Tracy-Richardson/dp/1612543014/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=231PU5EUEKGQQ&keywords=the+field+tracy+richardson&qid=1558027149&s=gateway&sprefix=The+Field+Tracy%2Caps%2C211&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Summer Getaways for Writers by Amy M. Reade

               The unofficial summer is coming to an end, with Labor Day approaching and kids getting ready to go back to school (if they aren’t back already).

But there’s still over a month left of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere! What are you going to do with yourself until fall arrives in late September?

Fear not. I’ve compiled a list of ten great places for writers (and readers, too) to visit. I’ve tried to include places in the general geographic area of each segment of the country, but I know some of these places will be far away from some of you.

There’s an easy solution to that: make it a two-day trip!

I’m going to stick with places in the United States for now, but maybe someday I’ll do another list for people in other parts of the world. For now, I’ll start in the Northeast and make my way around the US in a clockwise manner.

  1. New England. The Mark Twain House and Museum is located in Hartford, Connecticut, and is the place where Mark Twain said he spent the happiest and most productive years of his life. The three-story, twenty-five room mansion is open to the public and visitors can also see a Ken Burns film about Mark Twain, browse in the museum shop, and have a bite to eat.
  2. Mid-Atlantic. The Poe Museum. Located in Richmond, Virginia, Edgar Allan Poe’s hometown, The Poe Museum contains the world’s largest collection of Poe memorabilia, a wonderful gift shop, and an Enchanted Garden. There are always exhibits to see, as well as a Sunday Reading Series and a monthly Unhappy Hour.
  3. The Gone with the Wind Trail has stops in several places in Georgia. Here are just three of them: Atlanta’s Margaret Mitchell house (which houses a museum including the apartment where she wrote most of Gone with the Wind); the Gone with the Wind Museum in Marietta, Georgia, where visitors can see tons of memorabilia from the movie; and Shady Oaks (located in Jonesboro, Georgia), a Tara-esque mansion complete with outbuildings and guides in period costume.
  4. Middle South. I am one of the world’s biggest fans of Ernest Hemingway’s writing, which is one of the reasons I’m including this site on my list (another reason being that I’ve already included a trip in the Southeast, and EH’s home in Key West, FL, didn’t fit). It’s the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, located in Piggot, Arkansas. Hemingway and his wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, spent time in Piggot with her family; in fact, the Pfeiffers had a barn on the property converted for Hemingway’s use as a writing studio. He wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms while in Piggot, as well as a number of short stories. Check out this website, too.
  5. The Southwestern Writers Collection, located in San Marcos, Texas, and part of the Texas State Library System, is home to countless archives of works by writers (filmmakers, too) of the American Southwest. Included in the collections are works by Cormac McCarthy, Sam Shepard, and Rick Riordan.
  6. The Merwin Conservancy on the island of Maui is a home and 19-acre garden that belonged to the United States Poet Laureate William S. Merwin. It is only open for garden tours one morning a month, so if you want to go, check the website’s calendar. The garden, which contains one of the world’s largest collection of palms, would be a wonderful place to rest, rejuvenate, and drink in inspiration.
  7. Located in Salinas, California, The National Steinbeck Center is a tribute to all things John Steinbeck, one of the most influential American authors of all time. The permanent exhibition in the center is set up to explore the locations where Steinbeck lived, wrote about, and traveled.
  8. Hugo House is a writer-centric haven for people who love the written word. Richard Hugo was born in Seattle and overcame poverty and grief to become a nationally-renowned poet. The Hugo House is a place where writers can take classes, attend workshops, readings, author interviews, and more. Most of the events are free.
  9. Spend some time taking in the scenery and wildlife in the Arctic National Refuge, but to really get an appreciation for this upper bend in the Yukon River, read Two Old Women by Velma Wallis. The story is based on an Athabascan Indian legend and tells the story of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a devastating winter famine. Once you’ve read the book, go to Fort Yukon and begin to get a glimpse of the scenery and culture that gave birth to the legend.
  10. In Mansfield, Missouri, in the land of the Ozarks, you’ll find Rocky Ridge Farm, home to The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum. This tribute to one of America’s most beloved writers features the farm and home where Laura lived with Almanzo and Rose and where The Little House books were written.

Do you have more suggestions for places for writers to visit this summer? Please share your ideas in the comments so we can all learn about them!

 

Amy M. Reade is a recovering attorney who discovered, quite by accident, a passion for fiction writing. She has penned nine mysteries and is working on two more, plus a Cape May County historical mystery series. She writes in the Gothic, traditional, contemporary, and cozy mystery subgenres and looks forward to continuing the two series she has begun since December 2018. She also loves to read, cook, and travel.

She is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, House of the Hanging Jade, the Malice series, the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series, and the Libraries of the World Mystery series.

Her most recent work is Dead, White, and Blue, Book Two in the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series.