Leslie Bratspis's Blog
November 28, 2017
As I did in GOOD FORTUNE, I intertwined the lives of Chinese and Caucasian characters to interconnect like the mirrored reflection of the yin-yang symbol—exact opposites and therefore, complementary. In many instances, life events regardless of ethnic backgrounds parallel.
I hope you enjoy the journey.
July 10, 2017
Over the weekend I emailed the manuscript to my editor. After I clicked "send" I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and relief. While I await my editor's notes, I can finally relax and enjoy the beautiful summer weather we are experiencing in the Puget Sound. Writing and editing kept me indoors a lot. I finally had time to buy some geraniums! It's the simple things that bring joy in life.
If you haven't read GOOD FORTUNE, now is the perfect time. Summer reads are a great way to spend the afternoon. (That's me at the far end of the table.) GOOD FORTUNE is available in paperback and Kindle. Soon, it will be formatted for Smashwords to download onto other e-book readers.
While writing GOLDEN RING OF LIGHT, as before, I conducted extensive research into Chinese culture and customs. This time I added some additional information regarding Hawaiian folklore and beliefs. I majored in cultural anthropology which is why I penned these two multi-cultural novels.
I'll announce when GOLDEN RING OF LIGHT is released. Stay tuned for updates. and follow these links to GOOD FORTUNE. Happy summer reading!
Wishing you good fortune and light,Leslie Bratspis
March 7, 2017
It's known that dogs are able to calm people battling PTSD when other attempts at conventional therapy have failed. Dogs have heightened senses and know when triggers such as loud noises are about to cause panic and upset. They are trained to react by licking and being vocal to distract their human, and restore calm. Service dogs and comfort dogs are both emotional healers. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks. Comfort dogs are pets. To learn more about both, visit http://www.therapydoginfo.net/petpartners.html
Writing "Vanilla Grass" was important to me. There are two military bases nearby, and I often see military personnel walking around town in their fatigues. For decades the trauma of PTSD wasn't talked about. Things have changed and it's no longer a taboo subject. Also, where therapy for battle induced PTSD was only available through the VA and Tricare, new laws now make therapy available to see any licensed therapist in private practice contracted with the military.
To find some organizations devoted to matching veterans with trained service dogs, and resources for PTSD, visit my website and click on the Links tab. www.lesliebratspis.com
"Vanilla Grass is available for Kindle download and is always free on KENP. Also available in paperback.
Leslie Bratspis, Author
March 5, 2017
Page 133 "White Dunes"
Detective Viola Hendricks stood outside with her partner, Manny Santos, and a search team.
“Hello, Mr. Fielder. Good to see you again,” Manny said and the men shook hands. “We’re here to do an evidence search. Here’s your copy of the warrant.” He handed it over.
Josh glanced at the warrant. “Everything looks in order. Come inside, boys.” Josh nodded to Viola. “And you, too, Miss? I didn’t get your name.”
“Hendricks. Detective Viola Hendricks. And for the record it’s Mrs., not Miss.” She walked past him.
Just then Viola came into the room and heard the question. She shook her head making her short curls bounce. “You guys will never make detective if you don’t improve your observation skills.” She walked over to the collection of fossils. “This is what I mean.” She picked up the phony rock and turned it over, removed the plug, and pulled out the contents. “In less than a minute I found the safe combination and I’ll bet one of these keys unlocks that door in the floor. Sharpen your skills, boys.”
I began writing "White Dunes" after I saw a news report about young girls on Seattle's street corners being pandered for decades. Often, it's a trusted relative or other adult responsible for getting underage children of both genders into the sex trade. I think this problem is so important I had to write about it.Yet "White Dunes" is primarily the tale of a kidnapped 12-year-old girl (by her father) and the longing she has for her mother, whom she believes died. The core of the story is about the special mother/daughter relationship that endures over time and distance. No obstacle or lie can destroy their bond. Neither time, corrupt justice, criminals, nor murder will stand between them.
It's a book about never losing hope, and the kindness of people who reach out and lend a helping hand in even the darkest of times. As one reviewer on Amazon wrote: "The author has woven a tapestry of the best in people and the worst in people and show us how strangers can help each other. And, oh, the sweetness of revenge when it is well deserved. The characters will stay with me even though I've finished the last page."
“White Dunes” is available for purchase as an ebook and paperback. Free download on KENP.
Leslie Bratspis, Author
December 1, 2016
Hello, readers! I'm excited to share an update with you. Months ago I entered "Vanilla Grass" into the 2016 Writer's Digest contest for self-published books. Then I was notified I hadn't won a prize, but a review would be forthcoming. Can you imagine how nervous I felt as I opened the email yesterday? (November 30th)
I'm thrilled to share that "Vanilla Grass" received the highest rating in all categories, and a stellar review! Of course I did a happy dance, shouted "Yes!" and posted on Facebook. Now I'm sharing the good news with you.
Please take special note of the judge's comment referring to the teenagers' vernacular. My intention was to show how some teens talk slang, and use acronyms. As part of the extensive research I did for this novel, I rode the bus with teens, took notes, and watched how they interacted on the way to and from school.
All right, here we go! This is what the Writer's Digest judge wrote about my novel.
“Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.”
Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding.”
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5
Vanilla Grass details the redemption of a man, returned from war, and his deliverance from PTSD. I found so much to love about this story! I loved that John scares the teens, I love that not all of them were saved from their downward spiral just as in real life, I loved that dogs were used as therapy, I loved that he gets the girl!
The pacing is just right. At no time does the plot stall. Normally, I don’t care for writing that uses vernacular speech, but you really get the pattern of the teens’ speaking well.
With our veterans returning, this story is perfectly timed. We have a real need for more info on dealing with PTSD. Thank you for the privilege of reading this amazing book, and I hope you land a movie contract with it!
September 13, 2016
If you are interested in synchronicity, symbols, dreams, spiritual growth, life lessons, and even romance, you will enjoy reading this novel. All my books explore current social issues and share common themes of life lessons, compassion, personal growth, and the importance of service to others based on the Buddhist teaching that suffering and compassion are linked.
Chinese wisdom secretly passes through handwritten fortunes from Chow Lee Tong to an unsuspecting customer dining at Good Fortune restaurant. Tong is an aged scholar who, in his youth, was tutored by Grandfather in the small Asian village of Tong’s birth. Grandfather elicits a promise from his young grandson he will help others in need when they cross his path. “Good Fortune” is the tale of this promise kept. It chronicles the struggles Tong and his pupils face in their personal lives. When two men from different cultures unknowingly become connected by Tong’s wisdom, each must learn to overcome adversity through journeys of change. One pupil is an unsuspecting American stranger who never learns Tong is his secret mentor; the other is Tong’s obstinate son. Both men must learn in order to achieve happiness one must look beyond the obvious and have faith in a stronger, unseen source.What readers are saying:
“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.”
“The author intertwines the lives and struggles of people from different cultures and generations in a memorable and heart-warming tale of love and hope. I particularly enjoyed reading about the Chinese culture/traditions and found the characters to be both interesting and authentic.”
“I love this book, bought randomly never expecting to enjoy its simplicity and lessons within. Good Fortune can make imagination soar and yearn for traditions that we often ignore and can be applied to our own life.”
“Ms. Bratspis melds two cultures into a story which reminds us that when times are the toughest, it may be a sign that it is time to change directions and abandon the path most trod.”
“Synchronicity, life lessons, multi-cultural, patience, acceptance and much, much more ... all woven together into a masterfully told story ...”
For more information about my books and to read free samples, visit my website: www.lesliebratspis.com and my Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Leslie-Bratspis/e/B005EJ438W/
May you have a wonderful day and be blessed with good fortune!
July 4, 2016
February 4, 2016
"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
Visit my website: www.lesliebratspis.comFollow me on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/GoodFortuneFans/https://www.facebook.com/VanillaGrassAuthor/
November 11, 2015
September 26, 2015
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.