The Birdhouse Man and a Visit to North Carolina

The Birdhouse Man
Research Trip to Boone, North Carolina

View From The Top, Grandfather Mountain, NC

Over the Labor Day weekend, Janet and I made a 4-day roundtrip drive to Boone in the North Carolina Mountains—home of Appalachian State University—oh yeah, and also at one point home for a guy named Daniel with the same last name. The primary purpose was to do some research for my next book in the Vietnam War Series. So, why “Boone, North Carolina” for a Vietnam War Series book?
Let me begin with this: All my stories contain strong female secondary protagonists. Of the few negative reviews I have received, it seems the major complaint is I don’t stick to the “war” story. To those reviewers, I say “Read Sergeant Rock comic books if you want “war” stories. I write about people, yes in war, but also in love, and the effects of war on their lives afterward. I guarantee to disappoint the “Sergeant Rock” readers with this next novel—tentatively titled The Birdhouse Man. (You will have to read it to understand the title.)
It happens or I should say it begins in Boone because the story is told from the perspective of a seventy-something-year-old Vietnam War veteran as he helps a young history major at Appalachian State write her senior thesis. The novel is actually two parallel stories—the other being the student’s trials and tribulations in a family wrecked by the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The two stories are creating a great deal of “stop and restart” writing in an effort to blend them effectively and keep the narrative flowing. The book should be out sometime next summer.

Cow on a Hill, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Back in ’71, while in the Army 82nd Airborne, I did some training in the Grandfather Mountain area of North Carolina, and we revisited the park there this weekend.

Mountain Lion on Grandfather Mountain

Turns out Grandfather Mountain was a site well worth visiting with a nature museum, a video presentation, guides, and a wildlife display—and oh yeah, the mountain. I highly recommend a week-day or non-holiday visit. Luckily we arrived early, but later in the day, it became very crowded. Also, it is best to know how to read a map. GPS navigation is problematic in the mountains.

I look forward to your comments on this post as well as my Amazon author page. Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00H2YO2SS

The Rawlins Trilogy Book II is NOW AVAILABLE!!

AT LAST!! Book II of THE RAWLINS TRILOGY is NOW Available

Rawlins, Into Montana, the second book of The Rawlins Trilogy, is now available in Kindle Ebook, paperback and hardcover editions. The Kindle version, as well as the hardcover and paperback editions can be ordered through your favorite bookstore or purchased at Amazon.com/books at https://amzn.to/32OpR3s. If you wish to learn more about the story, you can go to the “Books” page on this site and click on the cover. This will take you to the individual book page for Rawlins, Into Montana where you can read more.

Rawlins into Montana book cover

The Second Book of the Rawlins Trilogy, Rawlins, Into Montana

If you haven’t read the first book of The Rawlins Trilogy, Rawlins, No Longer Young, I strongly encourage you to do so. This second book, Rawlins, Into Montana, is a continuation of that story, and you will find it much more rewarding by reading them in order.
And now, to answer the inevitable question: When will Book III of The Rawlins Trilogy be available? It hasn’t yet been written. Currently, I am working on Book V in The Vietnam War Series. I will begin the third and final Rawlins book sometime next spring. As always, I look forward to your questions, comments and reviews.

Rick DeStefanis

Designer Dogs and Such

…Or, a failed July beach landing…

Okay, I am certain there have been numerous articles written in dog-world publications about the fad of creating designer dogs for the bored rich. I finally met both at the beach in Florida last week—the bored rich couple with their boutique dog. Properly trussed in a decorative harness with leash, the mutt was tethered to their Yeti cooler, which of course was well decorated with travel decals from around the US. To say the dog looked strange would be an understatement. On occasion, I’ve watched the grandkids with their little animal puzzles assemble such things: A unicorn head with a giraffe body and such, not that the dog had either, but the breeding process must have been similar. The dog’s head resembled something like a Brittany or a Cocker Spaniel, but its body was strangely tapered to very small hips which were covered with a wiry fur resembling that of a Schnauzer.

After studying the animal for a while, I decided to ask the obvious question: Why bring a dog to bake in the July sun at the beach? Just kidding. No, I didn’t, but I did ask what kind of dog it might be. The woman quickly donned a beach wrap upon my intrusion, which was actually a favor to the eyes of nearby beach-goers—not that I am a showpiece of human manhood myself, but just sayin’. The response from the dog was considerably less frosty as she furiously wagged her stubby little tail. The man answered my question with something that sounded like he was trying to say “Cockroach Cereal” with a mouth full of marbles.

After studying the dog for a moment I proceeded to put my foot in my mouth by saying, “Oh! She’s a mix.” And I suppose I could have offended them worse by kicking sand into their wine glasses, but calling the mutt a “mix” seemed to have done the trick. The woman’s lips parted and Mister Dog Owner’s cheeks grew noticeably flushed as his voice tightened to the tone of a blender trying to grind ice. “No! She’s a very popular breed in Souyuth Jawja (I think he meant to say South Georgia)…” but whatever he was saying was lost to my ears as I realized what an inept social klutz I had become.

The thought occurred to me to make amends and regain some social equilibrium by introducing a little humor. “Oh! I see. Yes, we have quite a few dogs like that where I am from. We call them full-blooded Mississippi Mutts.” Their faces solidified into something resembling crimson granite countertops as I tumbled miserably into the abyss of the totally gooberfied nerd world. “Nothing to see here, folks–move along, now.”  I wished them a good afternoon and continued scavenging for seashells.

Update July 2019: Hopefully, in a week or so, I will be announcing the publication of the second book in the Rawlins Trilogy, Rawlins, Into Montana. Rawlins into Montana book coverIn the meantime, I have begun work on the fifth book in the Vietnam War Series, tentatively titled The Birdhouse Man. There’ll be more to come on that later in the summer. As always, I humbly beseech you to write a review on Amazon for any of my books that you have read. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace. A single line is enough as long as it describes some facet of the story you particularly enjoyed.

 

Rick DeStefanis