Great Review of Southern Man

I'm absolutely blown away by Hope Denney's review of Southern Man, published at her review site, Orchard Rest Writer's Loft.

Ms. Denney is a Southern writer as well as a great reviewer of Southern fiction, having published her first novel, Surrender at Orchard Rest, in February. Her affinity, both writing and reviewing, is for 19th century Southern Gothic novels, so I am especially pleased that she chose to review my late 20th Century historical.

The entire review made my day, but here are a few snippets that I especially appreciate.
Ms. Chastain excels at penning a smoothly flowing, polished prose that is years ahead of first novel status.

 Despite this novel having a large cast of characters once you add in the cast of Troy’s workplace, I got to know each character well. They were powerfully and beautifully sketched.

Ms. Chastain sketches a Christian but passionate marriage with all the prowess of an armchair psychologist

Working Cover
Troy Stevenson is a well-crafted Southern hero that I believe encompasses the contemporary Southern man ... much better than any that I have read of late.
In addition to giving my novel a fantastic review, Ms.  Denney has inspired me to take the closest WIP I have to Southern Gothic -- Walraven Manor -- off the back burner, and get cracking on it again. To help reacquaint me with the genre, I have her debut novel in my Kindle for PC and some other titles she has reviewed.

You can read her reviews here: Orchard Rest Writer's Loft. Her novel is available at Amazon.com, here: Surrender at Orchard Rest.

Many thanks, Ms. Denney.

Online Romance Festival

Looks like fun!

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

I had a very enjoyable time yesterday at Joe Scarborough's 20-Year Reunion for his campaign volunteers. Although after the campaign, several of us maintained contact the years he was in Congress -- especially we who worked in his district office -- there were folks there I had not seen since his first campaign, when he was a 30-year-old unknown with no political experience taking on Earl Hutto, a 16-year incumbent.

Had to look at name tags to recognize a few people...heck, ain't none of  us getting any younger. Had some laughs. Chatted with Joe's mom, shared  memories of her husband, George, who passed away several years ago. There were others no longer with us that brought home the passage of time. 

I got a big hug, three pecks on the cheeks and some nice words of welcome and remembrance from the former member of Congress and talk-TV host. I gave him an autographed copy of Southern Man. Noted the slight graying  at Joe's temples. Very distinguished looking, though in many ways, he still looks so much like that thirty-year-old who was inspired -- goaded? -- to run for Congress by the election of Bill Clinton, and the leftward lurch of the country afterward.

I left the Congressional office in 1998; worked for Joe at The Florida Sun for a while after that, and helped prepare the Congressional office for the incoming member, Jeff Miller, after Joe resigned. But basically, my interest in national politics ended with the Clinton impeachment hearings. If memory serves, I didn't vote in any presidential elections after that, until my vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, which wasn't so much a vote for the Republican candidate as it was a vote against the Democrat incumbent. My main reason for voting for Romney was my belief that he would be immensely better for the economy than Barack Obama.

Me and Joe, Back in the Day
Joe reminisced about the accomplishments of the 104th Gingrich-led Republicans in DC, and how the GOP has changed since then, giving rise to the Tea Party. But he says the country is strong and it will survive eight years of Barack Obama. I'm not so sure.  It would be interesting to know  his perspective, and why he thinks that. From where I sit, the USA is not only weak and growing weaker all the time -- it's culture, politics, religion and nearly every other aspect of its existence are practically unrecognizable.

Still, it was nice to see folks, and remember when we were younger, had boundless energy and  genuine hope for the country.

And  now, back to defending Dixie and writing books.

Trailer Mockup Revisions

It's getting there.  I've added some slow, Ken Burns-style pans and zooms. The models for Leslie, the PI, and the older brother have changed. They were chosen long ago, but the PI was depicted with papers but no computer, and as he relies heavily on the computer, I wanted one in the trailer.

Thanks to Tin Eye, I found him on a microstock site in a number of poses, including the one in this mockup. I found the older brother on my hard drive -- I had purchased the pic some time ago, never used it, and forgot about it. And Leslie -- this is the original Leslie model I chose when I started writing the story.



I originally found her on iStockphoto and downloaded a comp with the idea of using her in a video trailer if I ever finished the book (which was in doubt when I started writing, as the story was basically a lark, and I wasn't real serious about writing it).

When I recently went to iStockphoto to see how much the price had increased (they've priced themselves out of my price range, mostly), the photo ID on my original comp download turned up a "not found". So, I did a Tin Eye reverse image search, which not only found her at iStock, but also at several other microstock sites -- including 123RF, where I have a bunch of credits. She was not only there -- she was there in several poses -- and affordable!

The inspiration for Chris Dupree's appearance
When I started the story, the male lead was named Julian Walraven (a surname in my genealogy) but I wanted to save that for another story, so I renamed him Chris Dupree (he has some Cajun forebears, and is named after a South Louisiana Cajun I used to work with). His appearance was inspired by the actor Ryan Carnes, as he appeared in SyFy's The Phantom.

I haven't watched TV much since The X Files went off the air, but I saw a promo for The Phantom, and decided to watch it. During the mini-series, hubs filled me in on the Phantom backstory and said SyFy had really buggered it up (apparently fans of The Phantom were really pissed at the liberties taken in this production), but I enjoyed it and I thought Carnes was a cutie -- and a not-bad actor. I had never heard of him, so I Googled him and discovered he was a teen soap star; he's straight but portrays homosexuals in some of his movies. How unfortunate that he didn't choose to promote virtue and decency in his corner of the popular culture...

In any case, as cute as he is, I of course would not be able to use his likeness in a video trailer, so I was delighted to find this model. With a little help from my photo-editor, he makes a very credible Chris.

Left, stock photo model; right, Ryan Carnes in The Phantom.

Here are some of the video mockup frames, and images used to composite them:

 The storm clouds --

From Dreamstime Free

 The cryptids --

Images from Morguefile, Pixabay and/or the public domain

The crash --

Images from Morguefile, Pixabay and/or freebies

The Rescuer




These pics are all stock images except the duster and the truck. There are pics of men in dusters on the stock sites I use, but none are posed like I need them to be. If I can't find one by the time I'm ready to do the actual video, I'll contact the manufacturer of this duster and see if can use it (ditto the truck). I have emailed the company that makes the duster I used on the Catamount cover mockup, but have not heard back from them. Hope I have better luck with this one. With some commercial interests, you just never know. (I contacted Rawlings to seek permission to use an image of one of their catcher's helmets on the cover of Alex Austin, and they not only permitted it, but sent me a beautiful, print-resolution image to use.)

Creating Chris

I shortened and widened his face and mouth and added fullness to his hair above his ears. Also saturated his hair to be more yellow-blond rather than platinum blond, but it looks almost red, and needs to be desaturated a little. Chris is twenty-seven. (I've had critics tell me that he looks twelve....)

Chris, as Leslie sees him:
He entered the main room, opened up the armoire, which was filled with an impressive array of electronics, and trundled out a computer workstation. In silence, he pulled up a chair and sat down but as he powered up the computer he suggested, somewhat offhand, that she sit nearby.

She lowered herself onto straightback chair he  pulled up next to his and took the opportunity to study him.

He was not overly tall, probably an inch or two under six feet, but he was rangy, his muscles strong and hard but graceful and elongated. His neck, adorned with a gold chain that disappeared beneath his shirt, rose from wide, square shoulders.

His slender face was remarkably handsome. A bow-shaped upper lip was complemented by a barely prominent lower one, and he worked them slightly as he set about his task. Beneath thick, gullwing eyebrows, his gray-blue eyes took on a darker blue, depending on the lighting around him. A beautiful frame for his face, his his hair spiked outward from a symmetrical hairline with exquisite temporal points.

What happened to 'possible serial killer,' girl?

It was all she could do to pull her eyes away from him and focus on the computer screen.

Leslie

These are a few of several shos of thsi model at 123RF
Unfortunately, there are none of this woman in profile, so I had to use a similar looking model, but I think she'll do:
A frame in  the video --
Let's wrap up with a couple of promos from The Phantom miniseries. My favorite part --  "I'm not wearing that." Dorkiest part (did Carnes feel like an idiot saying this line?) -- "They call me the Phantom."



Trailer Mockup for Love in Smallfoot Alley

This is a mockup using low-rez comp images, which explains the watermark you see on some of them. I'm so happy I found a model who looks much more like Chris than the one I was using. I'm still looking for a model for Leslie.



Verona Vignettes -- An Online Snippet Collection

This is a collection of scenes and snippets from my Georgia Series that didn't make it into the novels for one reason or another. Some of them are actually new scenarios that are written specifically for this collection. I have no plans to make this collection into a book or e-book. I'm posting them online, mostly at Facebook, simply for my friends to enjoy.

This is the first one I posted at Facebook. Despite its being a rough draft, I got some very nice comments on it.







Child of God

Clad in a white baptismal robe, twelve-year-old Shelby Kincaid stood at the top of the steps leading down into the water and listened to the soft singing of the choir and congregation coming through the arched opening of the baptistry.
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.

I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.

I am resolved to enter the kingdom
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.

I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.

I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.
When the singing ended, Shelby carefully took the steps down into the baptistry, holding onto a slanted rail along the back wall. He felt the warm water slowly envelop him. It was supposed to represent the grave -- death and burial -- subjects that were normally macabre, occasions that were usually the cause of sorrow and mourning. Today, though, the symbolism of the ritual he was about to undergo took the morbidity out of such terms. Baptism represented the death and burial not of a person, but of a life of sin, and resurrection to a new life in Christ.

When he reached the bottom step, he put his hand in the outstretched hand of Pastor Jordan, who was standing in the water waiting for him. Together they walked to the middle of the baptistry and the pastor turned to stand perpendicular to Shelby, whose eyes were fastened solemnly on the pastor's face.

"Shelby, you have been raised by Christian parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Now, at twelve years of age -- the same age as Our Lord when He reasoned with the elders in the Temple -- you have reached the age of accountability. You have acknowledged the need of salvation from the consequences of sin in your earthly life, and the Lord has worked repentance in your heart. Shelby, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He came to earth as a human being, died for our sins on the cross of Calvary, and was raised so that we might have eternal life?"

Shelby was still gazing intently and solemnly at the pastor, and concentrating on every word. "Yes, sir, I believe."

"Then upon the spoken confession of the faith in your heart, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

The pastor put his left hand on Shelby's upper back, between his shoulders. In his other, he held a folded handkerchief, and he poised his hand several inches from Shelby's face. He said softly, "Do you remember what to do?"

Shelby nodded. He took the pastor's forearm in both his hands and inhaled deeply. The pastor pressed the handkerchief against Shelby's nose and mouth and tilted him back into the water until he was completely submerged. Immediately, he lifted Shelby upright, and removed the handkerchief from Shelby's face.

The new babe in Christ blinked rapidly and wiped the water dripping into his eyes. He looked up at the pastor again and smiled broadly, the solemnity giving way to gladness. The pastor smiled back and then bowed his head. Shelby and the congregation followed suit.

"Our Father in Heaven," Pastor Jordan began, "we come to Thy throne now to thank Thee for the power of the gospel of Christ to save. We know there is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents, and we believe there is rejoicing in Heaven at this moment over this, Thy child, Shelby Kincaid, who has come to Thee today. Keep him always in Thy care, Father, and may his life be joyously spent in Thy service. In the name of Thy Son and Our Savior, Jesus...Amen."

The singing began again as Shelby and Pastor Jordan made their way up the steps and into the changing rooms adjacent to the baptistry. Even back here, Shelby could faintly hear the music.
Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His bless├Ęd example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.

Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day.

Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,
Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,
Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,
Happy, how happy, our journey above.

Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;
When we shall see Him, the King in His beauty,
Happy, how happy, our place at His side.

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Led in paths of light.
He had chosen the hymns for his baptism, which was both a joyful and solemn occasion. The hymns he chose weren't usually used for baptisms. He had selected them partly because he had always liked them, even when he was so small the words had no meaning for him, and partly because they captured the power, the joy and the comfort that characterized his personal religious beliefs. Shelby had never been a gloom-and-doom believer.

There was a knock on the door of the changing room, and he heard his father's voice. "Shelby?"

"Be out in a second."

He hurriedly peeled off the wet baptismal robe, dried off, dressed quickly and spent a few moments toweling his hair. He left the robe and towels hanging on wall pegs as he'd been instructed and then stepped to the door. Except for his wet hair, he looked exactly as he did when he went in to change no more than fifteen minutes before. In fact, he was quite changed, although all the ways he was changed would take years to gradually manifest themselves as both he and his faith matured.

In a larger room that opened both to the sanctuary and to the outdoors, Kurt was waiting. He went to Shelby and gave him an emotional embrace. "You've made your mother and I very happy today, son."

There were many other hugs, handshakes and backslaps when services were over and Kurt Kincaid and his son stepped back into the sanctuary. The family gradually made their way to the exit where they would go to their car and drive to a restaurant for a special meal with Shelby. Just before exiting, Shelby caught the eye of his two best friends across the auditorium and they both gave him a discreet thumbs-up. They would get together to talk about Shelby's experience later.

==========
I Am Resolved – Palmer Hartsough – Copyright: Public Domain
Stepping in the Light – Eliza E. Hewitt – Copyright: Public Domain

Want to Read Sweet Southern Boys -- for Free?

 
For your code to download the e-book for free, in whatever format you wish, message me via Facebook messenger, or email me between now and Saturday, 5/18 at c_l_chastain@yahoo.com

Sweet Southern Boys page at Smashwords:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/209754