Sunday, July 31, 2016

August 1, 2016

August here in our town marks the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new school year. It is also when our county fair happens each year! The FFA students get their livestock ready for showing, the future bakers of our community showcase their pies, and we all get to ride the rides. I hope you have had a great summer vacation this year!

In this Issue:
Quote of the Month 
Check This Out
Featured Author  
August Traditions
Recipe of the Month
Upcoming Book Signings/Appearances
Coming Next Month

Quote of the Month: Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” ~~ John F. Kennedy, President United States of America (1917-1963)

Check This Out:  In 33 days I have written over 20,000 words on my first western historical set in Dodge City, Kansas, The Reluctant Bride, which is a major accomplishment for me in so many ways. I’ve never written this fast before, but thanks to Callie Hutton, my writing conscience J, I’ve gotten into a grove. While we are waiting for cover, here’s a glance at The Reluctant Bride, available late September 2016, in the boxset Wanted: One Bride:

Southcentral Wisconsin
Late April, 1877

“Have you lost your senses?” Miss Roseanne Duncan looked over the advertisement for a mail order bride, the paper rattling in her hand. “I can’t become a mail order bride. Besides, he’s expecting you.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Abigail Johnson replied, continuing to sort through the tub of fresh vegetables. “This is your best chance to survive and you know it.”
A sick feeling went through her at Abby’s blunt words, memories of the mistress falling to her death, the master at the top of the stairs. She shuddered. The memorial was set for today. It was only a matter of time until… No, she couldn’t think it. A chance to get away…could she really take it? Rose read over the advertisement flier again. “Abby, this looks more like a wanted poster than a man in search of a wife.”

Featured Author:  S.S. Hampton, Sr.

First of all, my thanks to Maxine for this opportunity of appearing in her newsletter.
Regarding the inspiration for Better Than A Rabbit’s Foot, and the characters—all of this originates in my deployment to Iraq, July 2006-July 2007 (my battalion was actually a mile south of the Iraqi border inside northern Kuwait, but most Soldiers spent so much time inside Iraq we used the phrase “deployed to Iraq”).
Whether people are generally superstitious or not, when in a combat zone practically everyone looks to anything that might help protect them or bring good luck, such as a good luck charm. This is important because so much is out of our hands no matter how much we look forward to the end of a deployment.
What is also important is knowing that someone special is waiting for the Soldier to return home. In that regard, mail is always important. Granted, it is wonderful that grandparents, parents, and children are waiting for a Soldier to return home, but a wife or girlfriend is someone special above all others, as are their cards, letters, and care boxes.
Operating from a Convoy Support Center, providing security for logistics convoys going into and coming out of Iraq on Main Supply Route Tampa, injury or death was always close by. Most of the time nothing happened, but other times. In my company, there were several Wounded In Action and one Killed In Action, all by IEDs.
Anyway, as for the characters, they are not based on or inspired by anyone in particular. A bit of physical appearance or habit from one or more real people, but the vast majority of the character was imagination.
Better Than A Rabbit’s Foot was a story I wanted to tell, in part because I believe the civilian world does not truly understand what it is like to be in a war zone, counting the days until the end of a year-long deployment. Or how important it is to know that someone special is waiting for the Soldier to return home.
In case anyone wonders, I was 52-years old when I deployed. My mother and stepfather, my children and grandchildren, were waiting for me to return. But, there was no one else.

Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country. In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission. Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over/ponder the merit/virtue of a good luck charm—only, what would work for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.

Unusual August Traditions: 

Lammas - 1st August: There was a Celtic feast of "Lugnasaid" and this may have been the origins of this festival. Others believe it was a corruption of "Loafmas" when a loaf was baked with the first grain from the harvest. It is now a Scottish legal "Quarter Day" when rents and contracts fall due.
Scarecrow Festival, Kettlewell, Yorks: Life-size scarecrows are made and displayed around the village by local people in early to mid-August. A hugely popular event.
Bog Snorkelling Championships: Waen Rhydd peat bog, near Llanwrtyd Wells in mid-Wales. The aim is to swim two lengths of the 60-yard Waen Rhydd peat bog with flippers and snorkel in the fastest time. There are different categories including juniors, fancy dress, women's and men's.
Assumption Day Traditions, August 15: The Feast of the Assumption, known in the Eastern church as the "Falling Asleep of the All Holy Mother of God" (or Dormition), marks one of the defined dogmas of the church.

Recipe of the Month: 
Spicy Flank Steak Tacos with Watermelon Salsa

5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed and halved lengthwise
Cooking spray
8 green onions, roots trimmed
2 cups finely chopped fresh watermelon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

Ø Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Ø Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, white pepper, and red pepper in a small bowl. Score steak with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern on both sides (1/4 inch deep). Lightly coat steak with cooking spray; sprinkle steak evenly with pepper mixture. Arrange steak on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; cut steak across the grain into thin slices.
Ø Arrange green onions on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes or until slightly charred and tender.
Ø Combine watermelon, mint, juice, oil, chile, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
Ø Place tortillas on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 1 minute on each side or until lightly charred. Arrange onions down the center of each tortilla; divide steak, salsa, and cheese evenly among tortillas.

Upcoming Book Signings / Appearances:
©     3rd Saturday of Month:  OKRWA Monthly Meeting, OKC Museum of Art
©     September 30-October 2, 2016:  Rock Island Arts Festival, Chickasha, OK
©     July 14-17,2017:  A Weekend With The Authors, Nashville, TN

Coming Next Month:  September Traditions, and featured author David O’Brien.

With much gratitude, until next time…keep reading.

Spark your imagination and entice your mind
Be adventurous in your own mind
Take a journey into a new world and be inspired
Enjoy the pleasures of reading ~~
It does the mind and body good.

  Above photo found on Pinterest
Ferris Wheel Night Stock Photo by BJWOK (


  1. NEAT way to do your newsletter!

    Good luck and God's blessings

  2. Thank you .. I hope you take a moment to check out the other issues of Maxine's Musings.

  3. Enjoyed this issue! Thank you for your service, S.S. wishes on your book!

  4. Alicia,

    Serving has been my honor and privilege. And thank you for your best wishes. I appreciate it. Have a great weekend!


  5. Love the quote by JFK. So true, today more than ever. Thanks for all the great news! I also thank S.S. Hampton for his service. The book looks really compelling. Best of luck with it!

    1. Leah,

      Serving has been my honor and privilege. Thank for your well wishes regarding the story. Have a great week!


  6. Wonderful newsletter. I really must try that recipe! And those scarecrows are hilarious! Thanks for sharing.

  7. And I just wanted to say again, thank you for hosting in your wonderful newsletter as the Featured Author. I appreciated the visit. Have a great week!