Leslie Bratspis's Blog

February 4, 2016

I wrote two novels about service to others from different perspectives. Service is so meaningful to me it's a theme I incorporate into my novels. My third novel (in editing stage) will continue this principle. I volunteer for two organizations and donate to Disabled American Veterans and Golden Retriever Rescue. To be able to help those in need, humans and animals, is a blessing. By serving others, we are serving ourselves. Whether it be through volunteering, teaching, or donating money to worthy causes we believe in, it's all good.

"GOOD FORTUNE" is a novel about secretly helping others without expecting thanks. Tong, a wise, aged Chinese scholar helps anyone in need when they cross his path, and guides them on a personal journey toward happiness and success. This is a lesson instilled in him by his Grandfather when Tong was a lad.
Page 86 Grandfather instructs young Tong: "At least once in his lifetime, a man of conscience finds himself in the position of being a teacher to one in need of guidance. When faced with this duty, he is obliged to respond. Always remember, you are intimately connected from the moment you realize you have met one who is in need of a teacher and it is you who holds the knowledge they seek."
Tong devotes his life to doing good deeds. As an old man, when Tong overhears a stranger, Michael Hamilton, who has come to Good Fortune restaurant despondent over losing his job. Michael sits at a table outside Tong's office. Hidden from view, Tong listens to Michael's tale of woe and writes a guiding fortune that get switched into a fortune cookie. This is the beginning of the clandestine relationship with Tong as guide, and Michael his unknowing pupil. 


"VANILLA GRASS features John Carrows, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD who becomes a hero to the town's at-risk youth by teaching them perspective, responsibility, and important life lessons. In doing this, John begins the process of emotional healing and is able to rejoin society. He eventually meets a strong, independent woman named Colleen, and falls in love. The catalyst to all these changes in John's life is twofold.
First, John finds an abused one-eyed Golden Retriever puppy abandoned by his cabin, and saves her life. He recognizes Sage is another wounded soul. They each need each other and an immediate bond is formed.

Pgs 92-93, Outside he saw a bundle of red fur curled up beside his house. “What do we have here?” He squatted down and the bundle of fur sprouted four kicking legs. John estimated the female Golden Retriever puppy was nine months old and weighed only twenty-five pounds. She growled when he touched her and he quickly withdrew his hand. Shaking his head with disgust, he got up and walked down the path to the highway where he saw fresh skid marks and tire tracks in the dirt and assumed they were from the vehicle that dumped her. “Damn people,” he muttered, “dumping a puppy like she’s garbage . . . What should I call you? You’re still a pup, but you’ve been through so much already you’re wise beyond your age. Poor baby, abused and starving. Somehow you pulled through and survived despite everything. You kind of remind me of myself." 



Second, when three teenage boys attempt to rob John at gunpoint, he is forced out of hiding. Without planning to rejoin society, the years of self imposed isolation are over.
Pg 46, John took another step closer and Brent panicked. He reached behind, pulled his gun from his waist and pointed it at John. With one swift movement, John knocked the gun from Brent’s hand, got him in a headlock and held the wrist dagger aimed at his throat. Evan was so anxious he tossed his gun on the ground while his bladder released. John took another step closer and Brent panicked. He reached behind, pulled his gun from his waist and pointed it at John. With one swift movement, John knocked the gun from Brent’s hand, got him in a headlock and held the wrist dagger aimed at his throat. Evan was so anxious he tossed his gun on the ground while his bladder released.“Don’t you boys know better than to pull a gun on a psycho like me?” John shouted. He kicked Evan’s gun aside with his boot and gave Brent’s neck a painful squeeze.
Pg 50, John took a breath and steeled himself before he walked into the police station with a small duffel bag. He removed his dark glasses and approached the front desk. “Can I speak to the deputy on duty?”Pg 51“Have a seat.” The sheriff indicated an empty chair and went around his desk. He deposited his hefty frame into his chair and leaned back, placed a boot on top of the desk and crossed his ankles. He folded his hands behind his neck and grinned. “You surprised the hell out of me and not too many people can say that.” “I’ve been surprising myself lately.”“So tell me, John, what brought you into town?” “These.” John lifted the duffel bag and handed it across the desk to the sheriff. “There are two loaded guns inside. I took them away from a couple of punk kids.”

Both E-books are on sale this month for $2.99. Visit Amazon to read free samples and if you like what you read, please purchase and download! Thank you.
Leslie Bratspis, Author
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Fortune-Leslie-Bratspis-ebook/dp/B0055AU4EC/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=41up9F0wLwL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=1EW8C8JZ4VQGAK480REW
http://www.amazon.com/VANILLA-GRASS-redemption-Leslie-Bratspis-ebook/dp/B00PVFS15K/ref=tmm_kin_title_sr?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1454638955&sr=1-1
Visit my website: www.lesliebratspis.comFollow me on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/GoodFortuneFans/https://www.facebook.com/VanillaGrassAuthor/

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Published on February 04, 2016 19:17 • 1 view

November 11, 2015

In honor of Veteran's Day and all who served,Vanilla Grass: A novel of redemption, I've reduced the Kindle of "Vanilla Grass" to $2.99.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1611...
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Published on November 11, 2015 10:07 • 3 views • Tags: kindle-sale

September 26, 2015

Written February 16, 2010
The summer of 1969 is remembered as the summer of love; for me it was the summer of my divorce. On the morning of June 20th I sat slumped in the back of my parents’ car devastated and thinking how I ought to be celebrating my sixth anniversary instead of heading to divorce court.

When I heard my name called my legs shook as I walked to the front of the court room to address the judge. My voice caught as I recounted the dismal story of my failed six year marriage. How my husband’s irresponsible spending kept us in a constant state of financial hardship while he drove a Corvette with expensive chrome wheels and racing tires. His flashy new clothes while our refrigerator was empty and our daughter had nothing to eat. How he stole money from my purse so I couldn’t pay for lunch when I went to the work cafeteria. His running around for days, partying and smoking marijuana. Without asking me questions the judge listened. When I finished my sad tale he banged his gavel and decreed our marriage dissolved.

I was a month shy of twenty-three, single, the mother of a six-year-old daughter. Now what was I supposed to do with the rest of my life? In two months half a million hippies from around the country would be flocking east to Woodstock. Three days of music and love would make history, but I couldn’t go. I had to take care of my daughter and plan our future.

Youth makes one resilient. As far back as I could remember I’d been emotionally and physically abused, first by my father’s outrageous tirades, and then by an overbearing military husband. Once I was set free from my husband, a fierce rebelliousness grew inside me. Like a caterpillar, I too shed my cocoon. The timid creature I’d morphed into for self-preservation transformed into a free-spirited hippie.

No more Lanz dresses, push-up bras, eyeliner, stockings, and white gloves. I stopped teasing and spraying my hair and either braided it or let it hang loosely around my shoulders. I tossed my bra and donned love beads, tie-dyed shirts, hip hugger jeans, moccasins, and a beaded Indian headband. One night after we consumed too much wine, my neighbor pierced my ears. Neither my father nor my ex-husband would allow me to pierce my ears.

With a new sense of freedom, earrings dangling and bra-less, I went out into the world to see who I was and discover what awaited me.

Before long I had a boyfriend named Terry and was in happily in lust. Early one morning Terry came to my apartment and suggested a picnic at the beach. After some preparation we packed sandwiches and drinks, climbed into his car and headed for the beach. We walked barefoot across the sand and shielded our eyes with our hands. Shimmering sunlight danced across the surface of the Pacific Ocean. The beach was nearly empty and, having it mostly to ourselves, we frolicked like a couple of school kids, laughing and chasing each other, falling down, getting up and running again. The roar of the waves and the wind blowing through my hair made me feel free and uninhibited. Without a care in the world I ran into the surf with my arms outstretched, laughing while water splashed my knees.

I wandered the beach alone gathering shells and stones while Terry went jogging. As I gazed at all the beautiful rocks my eyes came to rest on a heart-shaped stone the size of the palm of my hand. I picked it up and brushed away the sand. It was worn thin and smooth on both sides. The color was a dark gray dotted with specks of white; a perfectly shaped symmetrical stone heart.

I dropped the stone valentine inside my pocket and visualized it at home sitting on my bookshelf amidst pieces of coral, shells, feathers and other unusual stones I’d collected from the beaches of northern California. I felt as though I’d been blessed with a rare unique treasure gifted to me from nature.

My musings were interrupted by the wind whipping my hair across my face, obscuring my vision. I brushed my hair aside and watched an approaching stranger who emerged from nowhere. He planted his feet in the sand directly in front of me.

“What would you do if I told you I had a heart of stone?” he said.

Without hesitation I reached inside my pocket and presented my stone heart in the palm of my hand. I looked into his eyes and held them. “I’d tell you I had one, too.”

Shock and fear registered on the stranger’s face. He jumped back as if he’d been struck with a bolt of electricity and ran away as fast as he could. Since I had meant him no harm his extreme reaction caught me off guard and my lips slightly parted with surprise. Bewildered, I watched him flee.

Terry saw the guy tearing down the beach looking back over his shoulder. He jogged over and asked me what happened. When I told him he laughed. “Leslie, you blew that guy’s mind!”

We fell to our knees holding our sides and laughing at how I’d scared the poor guy. Even now, after all these years, I still can’t figure out why he approached me and posed such an odd question.

For twenty-five years I treasured that heart of stone. It moved with me several times and always had a special place on a bookshelf surrounded by crystals and shells. Then one day it just vanished. When I realized it was gone I searched everywhere for it, but never found it. From then on whenever I went on vacation I scanned the beach hoping to find another stone heart. Numerous trips to three Hawaiian Islands, up and down the California coast from Mendocino to Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel, and two visits to Cannon Beach, Oregon didn’t produce another like it. I continued to hope someday I’d find one.♡    ♡    ♡As I sit here writing and remembering, my thoughts go back to the day I knew I was going to send my beloved Golden Retriever, Samba, to the rainbow bridge—doggie heaven. Samba was nearly fifteen and I’d had ample time to prepare myself for the inevitable, but now that I was faced with letting her go, I was heartbroken.

          That morning I spoke to her softly, rubbing her ears, petting her and recalling all our years together from the time she was a small puppy. In the early afternoon we left Hoss inside napping, our male golden and Samba’s companion, and went out to pass our final hours together on the front lawn enjoying the rare Washington sunshine and waiting for my husband to come home to drive us to the vet.

          I spread a blanket on the wet grass for Samba and after she was settled, I got a chair for myself, her water bowl and some biscuits. The air was filled with the songs of birds and a breeze swayed the evergreen branches. I sensed the forces of nature and life surround us, and consciously took in every detail committing the afternoon to memory.

Samba’s nose twitched and she looked happy and relaxed. I watched her with a mother’s love and suddenly felt consumed with guilt for keeping her cooped up inside the last two weeks. She’d recently had difficulty managing the three stairs to get in and out of the house and when she stubbornly attempted to go for a walk her hind legs couldn’t always support her. When she fell it was impossible for me to lift her.

Now, I wished I’d taken her out like today, to lie on the lawn and enjoy the outdoors on the days it didn’t rain. But she was out of time.

Samba rested at my feet and I gazed at her recalling how my white-faced beauty was once the fastest dog in the park. She could out-run and out-maneuver all other dogs regardless of age or breed. For months I had watched it becoming increasingly difficult for her to get around. Once so fiercely independent, she couldn’t run up and downstairs anymore and her strength and balance were off. To make things easier for her I gathered all the throw rugs in the house and covered the tiled kitchen floor and foyer to prevent her from slipping.

When we went outside to do her business I was there to catch her before her legs failed. If she fell, I had to wait with her until my husband, Ned came home to pick her up. Still, her eyes were happy and her appetite good. She stood in the kitchen with the rugs beneath her paws giving her purchase and barked for biscuits, tail wagging at full speed. She barked at Ned when he came home from work telling him off a good five minutes because he’d been gone all day. I checked the expression in her eyes daily and as long as she still looked happy, I vowed I’d take care of her until she told me it was time to let her go. I saw the expression in her eyes change the previous day. Holding her face between my hands, I promised I wouldn’t allow her to suffer and would do the right thing. Her deep brown eyes gazed back at me with love. Then she licked my hand and the promise was sealed.

After we’d been outside on the grass a while I stood up. Holding her leash, I guided Samba on a short stroll down the driveway. It would be our last walk together, the last of thousands we’d taken over the years. As she labored to keep her balance on the slippery gravel, she game to abrupt halt. In front of her paws, amongst the rocks with the sunlight shining on it like a spotlight, was a small white heart of stone. A gift to me from my heart dog. A final gesture of her love.

I loosened the stone from the gravel, dusted the dirt from the rough base beneath it. The heart was smaller than the base which supported it and gave it a three dimensional look. I held the stone heart in the palm of my hand and let Samba sniff it. Then we walked back and she lay down on her blanket and stretched out, fully relaxed.

I sat in my chair clutching the stone heart. Then, as if in a dream, ethereal white shapes like swirling clouds rose from the grass and surrounded Samba. I held my breath watching them and didn’t move, barely breathed. After a few minutes the swirling mists vanished and left me wondering if those clouds were the spirits of Sage and Shadow, our two dearly departed Golden Retrievers who came to visit their older sister and surround her with love for her upcoming journey. I prayed it was so.

The white stone heart sits in front of Samba’s photograph on my dresser. Each morning and night I see them and cherish the special love we shared for fourteen years and seven months. It wasn’t nearly long enough, but I am grateful for having loved and been loved so beautifully by my Samba girl, my bossy redhead, my beloved white-faced beauty. I see her in my dreams running again, swift and free.
Thank you Samba, for blessing my life.

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Published on September 26, 2015 13:23 • 4 views

August 27, 2015

I was somewhat apprehensive about my "VANILLA GRASS" author event at Barnes and Noble in Silverdale, WA. Barnes and Noble! I took a deep breath and walked inside. I was thrilled to see my picture on the poster with my book cover. This was really happening.

For weeks I planned what I was going to say, collected props, and got a mani-pedi the day before. My presentation was scheduled to begin at 1 pm. I arrived around noon to give me time to get my table arranged. Barnes and Noble also ordered copies of "GOOD FORTUNE." I brought a bowl of fortune cookies for everyone to sample.




As people began sitting down I recognized some familiar faces and relaxed. They gave me a microphone and I talked a little about my background and what brought me to the Pacific Northwest. Spoke about what it's like to be a writer. Showed scraps of paper where I scribble notes whenever ideas come to me. Explained I write about subjects that are meaningful to me--overcoming life's challenges, being compassionate, doing work for the greater good, volunteering for Golden Retriever rescue. I explained all the Golden Retrievers in "VANILLA GRASS" are my rescued dogs and I chose Sage to be the star because she was blind in one eye and injured when I got her from the shelter. Said how John Carrows feels damaged inside so when he finds Sage he recognizes another wounded soul and feels an instant bond with her. I read the pages where he first encounters her. Then I compared my two protagonists, Chow Lee Tong in "GOOD FORTUNE" and John Carrows in "VANILLA GRASS" who at first glance seem like complete opposites, yet are similar in many ways.

Then a Vietnam Veteran walked up with his service dog and approached me carrying a copy of "VANILLA GRASS" he'd purchased some weeks before. He walked with a cane and introduced himself and his dog. He wore a Vietnam Veteran's cap, jacket, and shorts that exposed a long scar on his right leg. 

"My name is Richard and I came here to meet you and thank you for writing your book," he said, holding up his copy. "I want you to autograph it. This is my service dog, Chloe. My friend gave her to me. John Carrows is exactly like me. I have PTSD too. Where does he live? How do you know him?"

"John Carrows is a fictitious character I made up. He's not a real person."

Richard's eyes blinked. "He's not? But . . .  how did you know exactly what I've been going through? The way your write about it I was sure you were writing about someone you know."

I told Richard about all the hours of research I did about PTSD. How my former husband served two tours in Nam. That one of my friends shared his war experiences with me before he passed away of Agent Orange complications. 

"I was exposed to Agent Orange, too." Standing up, Richard became excited. "I want to buy another copy of your book for my friend who finds housing for homeless vets like me. Will you autograph it?" He gave me his friend's business card.

"Of course."

Richard turned and began talking to the audience. Tears rolled down his cheeks when he told how he was the sole survivor of his unit, witnessed four of his buddies get killed, and has survivor's guilt. Lost all contact with his family until four years ago and discovered he's a grandfather.

Everyone was so moved listening to him tell his story there wasn't a dry eye in the audience. We all thanked him for his service and Richard became choked up.

When things were starting to wind down I stood in line with Richard while he purchased his second book. There were a lot of people milling around and the noise and movement was distracting. Chloe stood by his side alert, silent, and protective.

It was a good day. People bought copies of both "VANILLA GRASS" and "GOOD FORTUNE." But what was most meaningful to me and has stayed with me was meeting Richard and realizing I touched his life. He hugged me and blessed me, said he was going to pray for me when he went to church Sunday. Repeated how he came just to meet me and thank me for writing this book. It was difficult for me to find the words to thank him for coming because I was so emotional.

Page 66 "GOOD FORTUNE" Grandfather is teaching young Tong life lessons and the difference between wealth and fortune. "Don’t mistake the abundance of costly possessions for a fortune. Money does not give you love. It cannot nurse you back to health. Jewels may be beautiful to gaze upon, but they will never give you sons; only a devoted wife can do those things for you. A simple bowl of rice is as valuable to a starving man as a holiday feast is to a king. Do you understand?”

What I took home from that day was the knowledge I made a difference in a Vietnam Veteran's life and this experience was more valuable to me than anything. I was living what I wrote and believe. It wasn't the book sales or the accolades that I held inside my heart. It was the realization I wrote a book that was as meaningful to a reader as it is to me and it helped him. In this day of selfies, I realized on the drive home I hadn't taken my picture taken with Richard. I was so moved by our meeting and what he said it never occurred to me to snap our photo.

A UK blogger is featuring me and "VANILLA GRASS" for the next month. I hope you'll read the interview.

http://natashaorme.com/2015/08/26/author-interview-leslie-bratspis/.








For more information please visit my website: www.lesliebratspis.com
Follow me on Twitter: @LeslieBratspis
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leslie-Bratspis-Vanilla-Grass/1459047377684683
                 https://www.facebook.com/GoodFortuneFans
Amazon Author page:http://www.amazon.com/Leslie-Bratspis/e/B005EJ438W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1440722923&sr=1-1

Thanks for stopping by. Namaste,
Leslie Bratspis, Author
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Published on August 27, 2015 18:39 • 5 views

August 26, 2015

A UK blogger is featuring me and "VANILLA GRASS" on her blog. It went live this morning, August 26th, 2015.

Here's the link:

http://natashaorme.com/2015/08/26/aut...

The e-book of "VANILLA GRASS" is on sale for 99 cents until the end of this month! You can download it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Happy end of summer readingVanilla Grass: A novel of redemption,
Leslie
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Published on August 26, 2015 08:43 • 7 views • Tags: authorinterview-blog-fiction

August 2, 2015


Have you ever wanted to meet an author and ask questions about a book you've read? Or ask questions about what goes into the writing process? Come to my author event!

"VANILLA GRASS" is the story of a Vietnam Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the Golden Retriever he rescues that changes his life. John Carrows finds Sage abandoned, hurt and afraid. He realizes she needs his help to survive and from that moment their mutual healing begins.



It's recognized that trained service dogs can help veterans and others with special needs, especially trauma survivors with PTSD. Comfort dogs are a different kind of dog. They're pets that provide emotional healing to their owners or give comfort to children and adults in hospitals, and survivors of any major disaster. LCC Canine Comfort Dogs is one organization that has licensed Golden Retriever comfort dogs fly all over the United States to provide comfort wherever needed. There are many other comfort dogs who accompany their handlers either on an individual basis, or with other organizations.






In "VANILLA GRASS" Sage is John's personal comfort dog. She brings him back from the deep depression and emotional isolation he has been living since his return from Vietnam. Sage accepts John as he is. She has no expectations and his flaws don't matter. Her love is unconditional. As their bond deepens, he trains her through the Pet Partners Therapy Program to become a licensed comfort dog. They visit wounded veterans in the hospital and then . . . well there's so much more to the story! You'll have to read the book to find out how they change the lives of many.



"VANILLA GRASS" is available through the usual online retailers and can be ordered through your local bookstore.
http://www.amazon.com/Vanilla-Grass-Leslie-Bratspis/dp/1611701961/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438566245&sr=1-1&keywords=vanilla+grass+by+leslie+bratspis
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vanilla-grass-leslie-bratspis/1120803033?ean=9781611701968

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Published on August 02, 2015 18:59 • 1 view

July 4, 2015

This just in! August 15th from 1-3 p.m. I'll be at the Barnes and Noble book store in Silverdale, WA located at 10315 Silverdale Way NW. If you're in the area please stop by. Free bookmarks for all, and autographed books for sale.

"VANILLA GRASS" is the story of John Carrows, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD who rescues an abused Golden Retriever puppy that changes his life. John names her Sage because she's so young and yet, so wise for her age. Sage is blind in one eye, but that doesn't damper her spirit. She and John need each other and together, they begin the healing process. Finally, after living in isolation for decades, John is no longer alone.

Sage was a dog I rescued some years ago that sadly, passed away in 2006. Resurrecting Sage in this book was comforting because as I wrote about her, I felt as if she were with me again.

You're probably wondering what does vanilla grass have to do with a Vietnam vet and a golden retriever? And what is vanilla grass, anyway? Vanilla grass, commonly called sweet grass, was and still is widely used by north Native Americans. The Indians of the Great Plains believe it was the first plant to cover Mother Earth. Vanilla grass is one of the "four sacred medicines." The other three being cedar, sage, and tobacco. It's sweet smelling and has the lovely aroma of vanilla, chamomile and apples. Leaves are dried and made into braids and burned as vanilla-scented incense. It's used in healing rituals, woven into baskets, and braided into jewelry.

Throughout my novel, it's fragrance and a certain bracelet are used to represent courage, love, healing, and promise. "VANILLA GRASS, a novel of redemption" is available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kindle download. Your local bookstore can also order it for you.

www.lesliebratspis.com
https://www.amazon.com/author/leslieb...
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leslie...
Twitter: @LeslieBratspis
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June 30, 2015

This just in! August 15th from 1-3 p.m. I'll be at the Barnes and Noble book store in Silverdale, WA located at 10315 Silverdale Way NW. If you're in the area please stop by. Free bookmarks for all, and autographed books for sale.

"VANILLA GRASS" is the story of John Carrows, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD who rescues an abused Golden Retriever puppy that changes his life. John names her Sage because she's so young and yet, so wise for her age. Sage is blind in one eye, but that doesn't damper her spirit. She and John need each other and together, they begin the healing process. Finally, after living in isolation, John is no longer alone.

Sage was a dog I rescued some years ago that sadly, passed away in 2006. Resurrecting Sage in this book was comforting because as I wrote about her, I felt as if she were with me again.








You're probably wondering what does vanilla grass have to do with a Vietnam vet and a golden retriever? And what is vanilla grass, anyway? Vanilla grass, commonly called sweet grass, was and is widely used by north Native Americans. The Indians of the Great Plains believe it was the first plant to cover Mother Earth. Vanilla grass is one of the "four sacred medicines." The other three being cedar, sage, and tobacco. It's sweet smelling and has the lovely aroma of vanilla, chamomile and apples. Leaves are dried and made into braids and burned as vanilla-scented incense. It's used in healing rituals, woven into baskets, and braided into jewelry.








Throughout my novel, its fragrance and a certain bracelet are used to represent courage, love, healing, and promise. "VANILLA GRASS, a novel of redemption" is available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kindle download. Your local bookstore can also order it for you.









www.lesliebratspis.com
https://www.amazon.com/author/lesliebratspis  
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leslie-Bratspis-Vanilla-Grass/1459047377684683 Twitter: @LeslieBratspis 
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Published on June 30, 2015 18:40 • 4 views

June 20, 2015

If you're looking for summer reads to download onto your e-readers I'm offering two:

"VANILLA GRASS" Kindle & Nook

SOME 5-STAR REVIEWS OF "VANILLA GRASS"

Every character in Vanilla Grass touched me in some way. The characters are developed through precise dialog and very realistic circumstances, whether an isolated Vietnam veteran or an alienated teenager. This novel brings to life not only the essence of redemption but does so through exploration of some very complicated and humanly challenging circumstances. The effects of war on life and identity are very real . The struggles of disenfranchised young adults and the search for connection that we all struggle to achieve jump,out of every page. The healing power of dogs not only brings together the commonality of the characters but highlights the essence of what really pulls our characters through PTSD and other live traumas. This is a very sensitive and important story. It is about all of us. It is about healing.

This book kept me going from page one to the end. The author has developed the characters so deeply that I felt I knew each one. It taught me about many important aspects of life that I had not given much thought: the horrific physical and mental burdens returning soldiers suffer, the healing power of dogs trained to give solace; the redemption of wayward teens when someone cares enough to teach them their worth, and the importance of speaking up when peers attempt to lead you in a dangerous direction. Congratulations to Bratspis for this thought-provoking book with a plot I could not only immerse myself into, but I could even smell it.

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that causes you not just to read it, but sit in silence afterwards thinking about what you have been reading. Vanilla Grass is such a book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. Everyone thinks they know what veterans face when they have PTSD, and you tend to brush aside "at risk teens" with perhaps a unsympathetic view, and oh yes, of course we've all heard about how meaningful a dog can be to a handicapped individual or even one with PTSD, but when you put all three elements into a single story, blend their interactions, speak in their language, and realize how initially, all three were misfits in a throw-away society that really wants to move on and not ask "why," you have a powerful book. In Vanilla Grass you have a powerful document that forces you to mentally address each element. This book was carefully researched by the author giving it, although a novel, a book based in fact. I highly recommend it - especially to Golden Retriever lovers!

http://www.amazon.com/Vanilla-Grass-Leslie-Bratspis/dp/B00PVFS15K/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434852390&sr=1-1&keywords=vanilla+grass+by+leslie+bratspis







For the first time "GOOD FORTUNE" is on sale for only 99 cents! This offer is available at www.smashwords.com.  Enter coupon YT53J at checkout. Available in all formats for download.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/65462

Also available on Kindle & Nook for the regular price.
SOME 5-STAR REVIEWS:

A wonderfully told story, weaving together in a beautiful way the blending and clash of Chinese and American cultures, personal and career choices, family and economic realities, traditional ways and changing values. All set against the magnificent central California coast with characters struggling and succeeding with many of the same issues we face in our own lives. The author completed extensive research into Chinese tradition and culture, and juxtaposes it excellently with the immigrant experience and transition into a new world. The idea and premise of the book sends an insightful and hopeful message about our past, its impact on our present and how we develop our own "Good Fortune".

Good Fortune is a great read. I was captivated by the writing about 2 cultures that melded into one. I loved learning about the culture of the Chinese and was so impressed with the beautiful writing of the author. I was captivated by the first chapter and could not put the book down until I finished it. The story is very unique and yet very real. I would highly recommend this book. A very fast read!

Good Fortune is a lovely story that grabs you from the start as it is easy to read, well-written and easy to identify with the various characters, their individual struggles and their hopes for a brighter future. While Michael is searching for a renewed life purpose after losing his job, Anna longing for her husband to be present in family life at home, and Jennie hoping Michael will commit after finally finding love, each obstacle is a gentle reminder that everyone faces challenges in life. I especially enjoyed how the author encompassed the wisdom and insight of Tong, the older Chinese-born grandfather, as he seeks to share and preserve his grandfather's knowledge, skills and culture with his younger, American-born family members and a complete stranger. Good Fortune is a great book to read anywhere!

Thank you. Happy reading!








Website:  www.lesliebratspis.com
Email:     lesliebratspis@yahoo.com
Twitter:   @LeslieBratspis
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Published on June 20, 2015 19:41 • 1 view

June 11, 2015

Vanilla Grass: A novel of redemption Vanilla Grass A novel of redemption by Leslie Bratspis Until now I’ve only been promoting “VANILLA GRASS, a novel of redemption” to adults because of the strong language and sex, and drugs. It’s the story of a Vietnam veteran with PTSD who rescues a dog that changes his life. But it’s also about a group of delinquent teenagers who need someone to care enough to stop them from self destructing. These teens lived inside my head for over a year and drove me slightly crazy with their bad behavior and stunts that got them into trouble. At times the things they did shocked me. And I’m their creator!

Recently, a high school teacher who previously read “VANILLA GRASS” attended a book signing and informed me they act and sound just like the kids in her school. She added she hopes teens will read it because of the positive messages the book promotes. I also heard from a mother who hopes parents will read it. She said, “I think all parents of at-risk teenagers should read your book.” Okay, I’m listening, and now I’m reaching out to mature teens and YA readers.

An excerpt from a newly posted 5-star review on Amazon says: “...I found myself really pulling for the kids to turn their lives around AND for John and Colleen’s relationship! Anyone who loves animals, wants to learn about therapy animals or is looking for a positive message will enjoy this book. Teen readers will especially find the journey of their peers to be compelling.”

Are there any teen readers out there? Here's some of what you’ll be reading:


Pages 20-21 – “VANILLA GRASS”
“Got a loosey?” Monica asked.
“Look in my purse; got a new pack from Mom’s stash.”
Bonnie said, “Light me one too.”
The signal turned red and Summer rolled to a stop. “What do you beyatches feel like doing?” She looked at Bonnie in the rear view mirror.
“Shoplifting at Target,” Monica said. “I need some makeup.”
“Absofuckinlutely good idea,” Bonnie agreed leaning forward to talk.
“Hey bitch! Keep that ash offa me.” Summer brushed hot cigarette ash off her shoulder and scowled at Monica.
“Sor-reee.” Monica flicked her ash out the window.
The light changed to green and they took off heading for Target. Summer circled around the parking lot until she found a space close to the entrance in case they had to make a fast getaway. “Don’t get caught—if you do you’re on your own,” she warned as she parked.
“Chill, I know what I’m doing,” Monica assured her.
“She does,” Bonnie said. “We’ve done this before.”
They got out of the car and tossed lit cigarettes on the ground without crushing them out.
“There are hidden cameras taping you,” Summer warned again. “Be careful.”
“I’m all over it.” Monica sounded annoyed.
“Meet at the car in twenty minutes. I won’t wait.” Summer turned and headed for the entrance.
They watched her walk away.
“She’s so uptight,” Monica said with disgust.
“Yeah, lame,” Bonnie agreed.


Pages 69-70
Summer spied Evan strolling across the quad and wished he’d stay away.
“Here comes one of the moronimated brothers,” Monica said, speaking loud enough for him to hear. “’Sup dawg?” She flashed him a superficial smile.
Evan’s mocking laugh ridiculed her. “Someone’s got pretty girl syndrome.”
Monica made an “O” mouth and pressed her hands to her cheeks. “Wow, I’ve got a doctor diagnosing me. I’m so impressed—not.”
Summer couldn’t stand listening to anymore bullshit. “Shut up! I’m sick of all this dumb snarking.” She got up and stalked off.
“What’s got her panties in a knot?” Evan asked innocently.
Monica never passed up an opportunity to be cruel to him. “Lookin’ at your ugly shaqdick face.”
“You bitches think you’re so hot. Do you eat with that nasty mouth?”
“Are you asking me for a blow job?”
“In your dreams, skank. I’m outta here, something stinks.” Evan held his nose and walked away.


Page 125
Bonnie stuck her tongue out and glared at Evan with utter contempt, but in spite of herself, Summer couldn’t stop herself from laughing. “You’re such a dweeb,” she snorted.
“Yeah, a dick with eyebrows is what you are,” Bonnie said cruelly. “Get it moron? D W E E B spells dweeb.”
Evan’s cheeks flushed and he retaliated. “Oh yeah? Well you’re a cunt. C U N T.”
“Dude!” Jason grabbed the front of Evan’s shirt and shoved him on his back. In a flash he straddled him and balled his fist to strike, but instead he lowered it, shoved Evan again and climbed off him.
“I’m givin’ you some slack ‘cuz I know you miss Brent. Now watch your mouth or I’ll knock your teeth out.”
“Okay, chillax.” Evan rearranged his hoodie and smoothed his hair.
“Now, can we talk about what happened at school today?” Summer asked.


Page 179
The weed was strong and Evan felt very stoned already. He took another drag and this time his eyes stayed open. Summer and Zach had moved to the corner and were sharing a joint, talking and laughing.
“You’re kinda cute. Guess I just didn’t notice before.” Bonnie started unbuttoning her blouse and reached for Evan’s hand. “Wanna touch?” She placed his hand over her bare breast and allowed him to fondle it.
“I always thought you were beautiful,” he said in a husky voice, silently thanking God she wasn’t wearing a bra. Evan pulled her down and stretched out on the mattress. When she didn’t resist he finished unbuttoning her blouse and started licking her breasts. His tongue tickled and she laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Summer asked joining them. “Wanna make it a threesome?” She knelt down to French kiss Evan first, then Bonnie.
“Hey! Don’t forget about me,” Zach said pulling off his T-shirt and unzipping his jeans.
“This is awesome!” Evan stripped down to his briefs showing his hard-on. He and Zach finished off a joint and he rubbed himself while watching Bonnie and Summer make-out.
“All right girls, time for some real action,” Zach said, getting on his knees. He was completely naked.
Zach stroked Summer’s back. She rolled over and he started to remove her lace panties. Bonnie pulled off Evan’s briefs and began to lick and suck his swollen dick. Everyone was high and horny.
“Hey Jason! What’s going on up there?” a masculine voice shouted from below.
“What the hell?” Evan jumped up and grabbed his briefs and jeans. Summer, Bonnie, and Zach scrambled for their clothes. Evan hopped on one foot while he struggled to pull up his Jockeys. “Jason’s not here,” he shouted. “Who’s askin?”

“VANILLA GRASS” is available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Download on Kindle to your e-reader, cell phone, computer or tablet. Your local bookstore can order it without charging for shipping.



WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“Every once in awhile, a book comes along that causes you not just to read it, but sit in silence afterwards thinking about what you have been reading. Vanilla Grass is such a book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. Everyone thinks they know what veterans face when they have PTSD, and you tend to brush aside "at risk teens" with perhaps an unsympathetic view, and oh yes, of course we've all heard about how meaningful a dog can be to a handicapped individual or even one with PTSD, but when you put all three elements into a single story, blend their interactions, speak in their language, and realize how initially, all three were misfits in a throw-away society that really wants to move on and not ask "why," you have a powerful book…”

“Vanilla Grass…touched me in so many ways. I loved John, the Vietnam vet, and the teenagers he got involved with. The animals in the story were also so sweet. For me, this was a story about love and the gifts we receive from unconditional love of our fellow humans and animals. I have to say this was an uplifting 'page turner'. I couldn't put the book down.”

“Every character in Vanilla Grass touched me in some way. The characters are developed through precise dialog and very realistic circumstances, whether an isolated Vietnam veteran or an alienated teenager. This novel brings to life not only the essence of redemption but does so through exploration of some very complicated and humanly challenging circumstances…The struggles of disenfranchised young adults and the search for connection that we all struggle to achieve jump, out of every page. The healing power of dogs not only brings together the commonality of the characters but highlights the essence of what really pulls our characters through PTSD and other live traumas. This is a very sensitive and important story. It is about all of us. It is about healing.”

“…The author has developed the characters so deeply that I felt I knew each one. It taught me about many important aspects of life that I had not given much thought: the horrific physical and mental burdens returning soldiers suffer, the healing power of dogs trained to give solace; the redemption of wayward teens when someone cares enough to teach them their worth, and the importance of speaking up when peers attempt to lead you in a dangerous direction. Congratulations to Bratspis for this thought-provoking book with a plot I could not only immerse myself into, but I could even smell it.”


Website: www.lesliebratspis.com
Twitter: @LeslieBratspis’
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Published on June 11, 2015 12:16 • 18 views