Sunday, June 21, 2015

Memories of Pop on Father's Day


My Dad, James William McNeal

My memories are filled with Pop and his sometimes eccentric ways. He taught me to respect nature and all God's creatures. He kept a bird feeder just outside the kitchen window so we could watch the birds while we ate.
The shelves behind his seat at the kitchen table were filled with slides, his microscope, jars of nails, screws and little instruments he used to make slides, and stacks of books. In fact, there were stacks of books everywhere. Homemade bookcases filled with all kinds of books lined the walls and all the nooks and crannies of the house.
No lampshade was safe from his newspaper clippings that he pinned to them like little bulletin boards everywhere. If someone walked by them or opened a door the clippings would rustle and flap around on the shades.
He liked to fish, shoot pellet guns and even arrows at targets on the potting shed door. I managed to shoot well enough to at least hit the potting house with those arrows, but many times the arrows just flew off into no man's land.  I got good at shooting my B.B. gun (a replica of a Western Peacemaker). We even hung tin cans from strings and swung them to make them harder to hit.
Pop loved the ocean even though we seldom went to the beach when my sister and I were growing up. He was a meteorologist. His favorite job was when he worked for Ocean Weather on a coastguard cutter that went as far north as Greenland. Unfortunately, it seemed every time he left port, some catastrophe would take place. Mom finally had enough of Pop's long absences out at sea and he gave up Ocean Weather to work for the United States Weather Bureau.
After he retired from the US Weather Bureau, Pop accepted an offer to be the weatherman for the local news on TV. What he really loved about this job was making films teaching kids about wildlife. He was pretty good at it. Pop was a conservationist before it was cool. Jacques Cousteau was among his favorite wildlife conservationists.
We played our harmonicas together. He liked to play what he called "Dixie", but it wasn't Dixie at all. It was a tune he made up, but we played it just the same. We also played in our grand repertoire, my favorite, Shenandoah.  
He and I sat on the screened in porch during the hot weather to watch the political conventions while we ate caviar with crackers and drank cold beer. That was my first taste of caviar. It's an acquired taste, but I came to like it. 
He taught me to play chess. I only ever won one game. Pop wasn't the type to let a kid win on purpose. If you won, you really won, so that one game was quite a victory for me.
We traded stuff a lot. Once we traded my Thesaurus for his brass ashtray. I liked it because it had a deer in the bottom of it. Pop sometimes forgot what he traded and tried to reclaim his stuff. Because of his forgetfulness, I made him write and sign a release of that ashtray in trade for the Thesaurus. I still have that note and the ashtray.
I still miss him. I miss fighting with him. I miss laughing with him, I miss bargaining for goods with him, and mostly, I just miss him because I loved him.
To all of you who are fathers, have fathers, have kids that are fathers, or miss your fathers, I wish you a Happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

THE VIOLIN released today!


Revised Edition Released Today!

THE VIOLIN by Sarah J. McNeal
STAR FIRE PRESS
Released today: April 21

Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time?

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man she is helpless to save. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner and how he died from downing, she knows he must be the man in her dreams.

She travels to the little town where he died 90 years before to investigate who he was and how he died. Little does she know how her own life is tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927. 
Available in paperback and all e-book formats including Kindle at Amazon, Smashwords, KOBO, and Barns & Noble.

Buy Links:

Excerpt:
John took her hands in his and just stared at her for the longest time before he spoke. When he did speak, his voice sounded raw, almost sad. "Remember me," he said softly. He took a little shaky breath and hesitated. "I mean remember that day after tomorrow you're coming to the house to help Mama bake. I'll meet you here about noon and walk with you to the house. Maybe I could take you for a ride on my motorcycle after all that baking." He grinned, and it warmed her.
He has a beautiful smile, Genevieve thought. "Unless something prevents me, I'll be here." She didn't want to leave him here. God knew what was around the other side of the curve. She might never be able to get back, might never see John again. Her heart sank like a stone in her chest. She wanted to say something, but words wouldn't come to her.
As if he sensed her dilemma, John pulled her to him and laid his cheek on the crown of her head. "Don't worry so much, Genevieve. Everything's going to be all right." He said it with quiet reassurance, like an unspoken promise.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

THE VIOLIN for Preorder

 THE VIOLIN revised edition from Fire Star Press now for PreOrder on AMAZON

 
Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time? 

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner and how he died from downing, she knows he must be the man in her dreams and is compelled to investigate his death. Little does she know how her own life is tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927. 


PREORDER: 


 


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Easter Y'all



When I think of Easter, it takes me back to the years growing up with Mom, Pop, and my older sister. Often times, when the weather was good, we would move the Easter dinner to the orchard. Does food taste better when it's eaten in the out of doors? It seems that way to me. It felt lazy and festive at the same time. Mom made my sister and I Easter baskets long after we were grown. She loved holidays and made certain we celebrated with her. I didn't realize until after she died how much she contributed to our happiness on holidays. But I sure do appreciate all the memories she gave us in the time we had with her.

Mom made chocolate covered Easter eggs, some coconut, some peanut butter, and cherry. I can still remember how good they tasted. Of course, we made dyed Easter eggs. What's Easter without those? And it doesn't take much skill to make them, so I was all into that.

I still have my old Easter basket and some of the fuzzy chicks with hats she included in it over the years. It's kind of worn and the chicks have tattered, but it brings back those wonderful memories of home.

Parents may have no idea how important the memories they help create are to their children. All grown up and looking back, I still hold dear those cherished memories of Easter in the orchard and baskets full of delight my parents gave to us.

I hope all of you have a wonderful day today celebrating with your loved ones, both family and friends creating memories that could last a lifetime.

Monday, March 30, 2015

THE VIOLIN New Cover


THE VIOLIN is undergoing revision and will be released on April 21, 2015 by Fire Star Press.  Livia Washburn Reasoner has created a new cover for it. What makes this cover so very special to me is that Livia used a picture of my Uncle John Douglas McNeal on it. I wrote this story about John who died long before I was born. He was only twenty-one when he drown while fly fishing with his friends. My father was devastated by John's death. I wanted to give John the life he never got to live so I wrote THE VIOLIN in his honor and in memory of my father's love for his older brother.


THE VIOLIN

Blurb:
Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time?

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner and how he died from downing, she knows he must be the man in her dreams and is compelled to investigate his death. Little does she know how her own life is tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In Remembrance

James William McNeal

Pop and I shared a birthday. In the years since his death, my birthdays have never been quite the same. Someone is always missing.
In my early years I didn't like having to share my special day with my dad. I wanted it all for myself. But as the years went by, I began to enjoy sharing that cake and birthday greetings with pop.
Even now I have my personal tribute to my dad on our birthday. I write a note for him, light a candle, and play his favorite bagpipe tune. It's my way of celebrating his spirit and all the things he ever taught me like the reverence of nature and conservation of Mother Earth.
 He wasn't a saint. Just like every other parent, he made his fair share of mistakes and missteps. But he was my touchstone. If I had a problem I couldn't solve, Pop was my go-to guru. He was all common sense and rational thought. And he made me laugh.
So, today on my birthday, I just want to take a moment to pay tribute my dad. He always had my back. I love you, Pop.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

 
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY

Whether you are Irish or have the heart of the Irish, I wish you a happy and very lucky Saint Patrick's Day!!

STAY GREEN!