Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Road to Delano by John DeSimone

The Road to Delano
by John DeSimone


GENRE: Historical Fiction



It’s 1968, and a strike by field workers in the grape fields has ripped an otherwise quiet central California town down the middle. Jack Duncan is a Delano high school senior who is on his way to earning a baseball scholarship, hoping to escape the turmoil infesting his town. His mother has kept from him the real cause of his father’s death, who was a prominent grower. But when an old friend hands Jack evidence indicating his father was murdered, he is compelled to dig deeper. This throws him and his best friend and teammate, Adrian Sanchez, whose father is a striking field worker, into the labor conflict led by Cesar Chavez. Road to Delano is the path Jack and Adrian must take to find their strength, their duty, and their destiny.




Sugar Duncan was known around Lamoille County as a gambler who could farm, but Sugar called himself a farmer who understood a sure bet. He grew up a plowboy on a hardscrabble patch of Vermont hill country and had calluses before he knew he had brains. It was in the seventh grade, in Pete Colburn’s barn, waiting out a driving rain that he found his power. While playing seven-card stud he could see the patterns, he understood the odds. He lived by the bluff, and he lived well as far as a child of the Depression could. Before he reached high school, they were calling him Sugar because he was sweet about taking their money.

While his college buddies baled hay and slopped pigs to pay their way through Ag school at Vermont U, Sugar found it more profitable to relieve the hooligans and rumrunners of their easy fortunes at the card table above Markham’s Grill over in Providence. After four years of playing cards and a new degree, he left town to farm where the land hadn’t been wiped clean of its strength.

Sugar rode west to California’s Central Valley in a Pullman with a new pair of tan and white brogues stuffed with cash packed in the bottom of his steamer. FDR had just signed the Cullen-Harrison Act ending Prohibition, and a fifth of whiskey was now as cheap as an acre of California farmland. He hadn’t any choice. Returning to Vermont would mean he’d starve. With gasoline a luxury, his father had resorted to using mules to plow his hundred acres. Milk and corn prices had fallen so sharply, a farmer could live better by killing his cows than by selling their milk. California was the place he could make a living. And he intended to make that living as a farmer— eventually.

A couple of weeks after arriving in Frisco, Sugar stood on the running board of a dusty Model T on the road leading into Delano and surveyed the flatlands of the valley planted in golden September wheat. He removed his hat, wiped his brow with the sleeve of his seersucker suit, and his instinct told him there was a sure bet.

He ensconced himself in the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. Each night around six, he made his way downstairs to a back room where he took up residence with a fresh deck of cards and a new bottle of Jim Beam, thankfully back in production, and waited. It didn’t take long for his table to fill. About a year later, he bought his first section of land.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

John DeSimone is a novelist, memoirist, and editor. He’s co-authored bestselling The Broken Circle: A memoir of escaping Afghanistan, and others. He taught writing as an adjunct professor at Biola University and has worked as a freelance editor and writer for nearly twenty years. His current release, a historical novel, The Road to Delano, is a coming of age novel set during the Delano grape strike led by Cesar Chavez. BookSirens said, “It’s more than a little Steinbeck, in a good way….” He lives in Claremont, Ca, and can be found on Goodreads and at



John DeSimone will be awarding a signed copy of The Road to Delano (USA ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Merlin Raj and the Love Me Not Race
by D. G. Priya


GENRE: Illustrated early reader chapter book

Blurb: Do kids want to read a coding book? Not as much as dog stories.

Read the series called "...emotionally resonant...enjoyable STEM-centered novelfor young readers..." -- Kirkus Reviews

My name is Merlin Raj. I have a teeny tiny weakness for socks which makes life as a service dog difficult. Usually, I only have to worry about helping my boy, Matthew, walk at school. But when my family signs up for their first 5k race, this super-smart golden retriever who wears glasses will also have to become a racing trainer.


Will Boolean math help me uncover the heart of a champion?

Appealing to readers of all ages, Merlin Raj and the Love Me Not Race is the continuing installment in this ILLUSTRATED chapter-book series. From artists to astronauts, the jobs of the future will deal with computers.

With a Computer Science degree and a passion for preparing kids for the future, author D. G. Priya blends technology with animal stories to stimulate a desire to read. Each book in the series introduces a new programming skill. If you or your child like delightful dog tales that explores universally positive themes, including empathy, kindness, dedication, and the importance of being true to one's self, then you'll love D. G. Priya's tail-wagging adventure.



Yes meant go. Yes meant on.

I turned on, bounding through the park to the tree. Not too fast because Matthew still wore the loop of the leash around his wrist. I galloped as Matthew grabbed the length of the leash and ran behind me.

The Zombie-bunny ducked into the hedges in a desperate attempt to escape, but I wasn’t having it. I thrust my face, nose first, into a hedge.

“No, Merlin,” Matthew yelled.

No meant stop. No meant off.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Priya Ardis also writes as D. G. Priya for her new early reader chapter book series, Merlin Raj and the Santa Algorithm, a computer science fundamentals book for kids. She has a Bacherlor’s degree in Computer Science from University of Texas at Austin, #8 ranked in computer science. Her passion for early education in computer science comes from her experience as a senior engineer, parent, and volunteer. Her love for service dog stories is inspired her own golden retriever.



Buy Link:
Barnes & Noble:
Apple Books:
Google Play:



D. G. Priya will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

My review:

What is there not to love about a book about a dog and his boy?

Merlin is a service dog, helping his boy, Matthew, keep his balance. Matthew has a disability that affects his balance. But he'd really like to participate in a 5K race with his school chum. The practice is a disaster, but after a trip to the doctor, and some special soles in his shoes, he and Merlin get the green light to go!

This book features a delightful family, seen through the eyes of a service dog. Merlin tells the story of the race, and its consequences, and it's profound effect on the whole family.

There is also an introduction to the binary system, with riddles and a glossery at the end. Very informative and a highly enjoyable read!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Guest Author Tom Williams - Musings on Blog posts and writing

When Jennifer invited me on to her blog, I had no idea what I should write about. I wasn't even sure if I should take up her invitation. I'd just been reading that blogs don't help authors sell books and we should all be careful about spending much time on them. As I blog on my own blog 

( more than once a week on average, this was alarming advice.
The thing is that all writers nowadays spend an enormous amount of their time blogging or on Facebook or Twitter or (for reasons I've never understood given that they are selling books and not photographs) Instagram. And we all agonise about the hours that we are wasting.
But what's the alternative? At the moment I am republishing the first three of my books in my series about James Burke, a spy in the Napoleonic era. I'm doing this because I have two new books in the series coming out and I want people to remember who James Burke is and to remind them that they want to read the next books. There's been a long gap because of worries about rights issues (and if you want to hear something that authors worry about even more than their social media presence, it's how they deal with the awfulness of a situation where they lose the rights of their own books). Republishing, for me, has meant having very pretty new covers and trying to raise the profile of the books on social media. So it's not terribly good time to tell me that I shouldn't even be writing this.