Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Writing Affair


MY WRITING AFFAIR

By

Judy Howard

When asked to write a motivational blog, I thought the task to be easy after all, I work every day from sunup until after sundown.

Writing is like a jealous lover, always angry when I tend to another’s needs. It poses as a man on the make, waking me in the middle of the night, “Have you thought of this scene? What is our character going to do next?” Writing is like a demanding lover, happiest when I am stroking the computer keys and thinking of nothing else.

And when I try to beg off and enjoy a movie, my seducer recommends I restrict my viewing to the genre or theme of our book. Sometimes I long for this insistent suitor to fall asleep so my mind can wander and frolic in a field of fresh ideas unrelated to the task at hand. But when I wasn’t looking writing became, a demanding stalker,  discovering my digressions and taking them as his own,  twisting and turning them into another potential story for me to pen and publish. I cannot hide, I cannot escape.

Motivation is only an issue in the beginning, before your relationship with writing gets mean and impossible. In the beginning, writing is like a boy-toy. You play with it. It appears to be a release, just a night out on the town. But soon those nights on the town fill you with a thrill, a satisfaction. And before you know it, you are like the druggie on the corner wondering how you can compromise your existence to keep up the habit …of writing.

 You set the alarm for daybreak to see your tantalizing lover before work. Because just like a boy toy, writing provides no sustenance. You cannot divorce the practical relationship of your daytime employment. At work, you can only think of what you will do with your new lover when you get home. Sleep will elude you as intricate scenarios for your wooer fill your head. You wish for more quality time with your new suitor.

Motivation is not a choice. My advice is to sit down at your computer and tell your mind all it has to do is write one paragraph. Writing will come alive as you write that paragraph, seize you like a rapist and take you. And like a dirty novel. You’ll love it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, JUDY HOWARD

My mailing address is Sun City, California, but you will rarely find me there. Instead, check out the Auto Club Motor Speedway in Fontana, California and lift   the helmet visor worn by one of the Mario Andretti racecar drivers. You might find me, one of the top ranking Amazon authors, strapped in and ready to race.

Or cruise down Route  66  and keep your eyes open for my Winnebago motorhome I call “The Big Story,”  followed closely behind by my  Smart Car I’ve named “The Short Story.” 
 
 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Moving to Segliman,Az.


Pulling out early from Kingman, Arizona, once again the thrill of being on the road rushed through me like adrenaline.  As my music blasted ,  my mind  reviewed  the   past  events which brought me to this mile marker in my life. My heart thumped so happily I feared it might explode as I cruised down the interstate.

Though I had visited before I exited at Seligman, Arizona. The ninety-degree temperature enveloped me as I climbed out of my rig. I shot a couple of photos and I decided The Black Cat Bar across the street would offer a cold Coke and maybe interesting conversation.

Pool tables occupied much of the dimly lit space. A   young man at the bar carried on a conversation with the barmaid. I took a barstool leaving one empty between the man and me.

“She only six weeks old, but she is big,”   The man pulled a photo from his pocket and handed it to the barmaid.

“Aaah. She’s so cute.”  She handed picture back. “Yes, she’s going to be big.”   She looked up at me, “What’ll it be?”

“Just a diet Coke, please.”

The man paused and reached over and handed it to me.

A blonde lab puppy with shiny black eyes and nose gazed at me. Her head rested on her huge paws. “Oh my. It’s a puppy.  I thought you were talking about a baby.”

 “That’s Zena. That’s his baby,” The bar maid chuckled as she set my   Coke on a Route 66 napkin. Melting crushed ice dripped down the glass and soaked into the paper coaster.

 I handed the photo back and he gently slid it back in his pocket.

 I figured I had been introduced to his dog, I could ask questions.  “Do you live here in Seligman?”

“I do, just go past the general store about a quarter of a mile.”

“This is a great small town. What brought you out here?”

 He told me how he worked for his folks who had a flooring business for many years in Lake Havausu, Arizona.  Mom and Dad were getting on in age and they began talking retirement. 

“Dad invested over a three hundred thousand in ten acres and the materials to build a retirement home.

“That’s great. I would pick a town like this to retire to, also,” I said.






Dad was diagnosed with cancer shortly after he started building. In the hospital, he came down with MRSA, too. After several months, he quit going out to work on the house.  After dinner one night   he said, “I’ll never finish the house in Seligman.” A heavy silence settled in the room and I shivered.  Dad pushed himself slowly from the table and went out to the barn with the horses. The peal  of the gunshot burst into the dining room, followed by the  old mare's whinny. We found his body draped over a bale of hay, a bullet to his head.”
   “I am so sorry. That’s so sad. My husband suffered from lung cancer, and I expected him to do the same. He even said he would, if the pain was too much to bear. Luckily he didn’t.  But at the end of his illness, every day, when I came home from work, I took a deep breath, steeled myself for what I might find, before I came through the back door.

“From that point on, I drank all the time and if anyone mentioned my dad, I burst into a rage. I spent more time in jail than out from drinking and fighting”

The boy stared into his beer, remembering. His wife left him and went to California to go to law school in San Diego.   

One day his mother called him over to her writing desk.  “Son, the family   decided if you want to you can have the house in Seligman. She leaned aside and slid a check to the edge of the desk. “Here’s $30,000.00. The house and land is yours. Go out there and finish it.”

“I stared at her.  My life was going nowhere and worst of all I didn’t care.”  He twisted on the barstool and took a long drink from his beer. “The idea of going out there pulled at me. I seized it, loaded up my clothes and tools and was gone the next day.  I worked from daylight to dusk. It was just what I needed. The ache in me eased as the house took form.” He smiled at me. His presence radiated a simple pride and confidence.

 “I work at the Grand Canyon Caverns. My wife came back to live with me. She couldn’t stand the hustle and bustle of the big city. She works at the general store.”

“Wow. What an amazing story,” I hesitated hoping he would understand my next question.  “Did you thank your father?”

 He nodded with a smile more to himself. “I did.”

 “And now you have a new baby.” I grinned at him. “And a wonderful life. I am so happy for you.”

I drained the last of my Coke, shook hands with him and the barmaid. “It has been so nice getting to know you. Thank you so much for sharing your story.”

I pushed the door open to the harsh sunshine. The contrast struck me. In the coolness of the shadowy bar, I had just traveled along a crooked footpath with this young man. I followed him as he stumbled along, finding his way to Route 66 with all of its untold stories of challenges, and then emerging into a promising new world.

 Stepping out into the sunshine, I too, confronted historic Route 66, which would lead me, one mile at a time, to a destination that made no promises.

 
 
         
GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST
        
In this mystery-romance, widow Judy Howard drives her RV along Route 66, encountering the ghosts of her teenage past when she was drugged, raped, and forced to undergo an illegal abortion.
         Tragedy strikes when Judy is drugged and date raped on a Saturday night in the parking lot of the town’s roller rink. But her high school crush Brad comes to her rescue, helping her deal with the crime perpetrated against her, even going as far as to arrange an abortion for her, though the practice is illegal. Judy must live in fear as the drug prevented her from knowing the identity of her attacker. Racked by guilt over the abortion and panic over the sexual assault, she accepts a college offer in California and flees to West Coast.
         After four decades of marriage, her husband dies and a high school reunion invitation from Brad threatens to shatter her illusory peace. Nonetheless, she summons up the courage to go, loading up her motor home and heading out on Route 66 with her cat named Sportster.
            Judy Howard is a writer whose debut novel is fictional, even if she happens to share the same name as her protagonist. She has traveled alone in her motor home with her cat, Sportster, throughout the country.
 
 


Sportster the cat had always envied the huge cats who lived the big life in the jungle until opportunity sends the motorhome in which he travels veering into a roadside ditch. When strangers whisk away not only his Winnebago, but also his chauffer, Judy, he is alarmed. However, once the dust settles, he purrs a happy tune as he discovers he is free! I He is in the wild! And he is in the Olympic Forest!

ACTIVATE LION MODE is just what Sportster does as he spins this yarn in his own words. Living wild and free brings on encounters he never have imagined. The life he dreamed becomes an adventure full of bears, pit bulls, drugs and more. Sportster weaves this story of his incredible journey as only a coddled cat of leisure can do.

 

COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST
When her husband of twenty-five years, Jack, passes away, Howard is faced with an overwhelming sense of loss. She takes to the road in her Winnebago on a journey of self-discovery accompanied by her cat, Sportster, and Jack Incarnate, a life-size stuffed doll she creates with an eerie resemblance to her late husband. During their travels she and Sportster experience the beauty of the land as she resolves her troubled memories through conversations with the doll. She comes to terms with her deep love for her husband despite the abuse that was part of their relationship and discovers how she became a stronger woman for it.

“The book is a narrative, both of physical travel and of emotional and spiritual evolvement,” says Howard. “It leads the reader through the hills and valleys and provides insights to fear and bravery.”

Howard aims to weave an emotionally-charged narrative with humorous anecdotes and a unique perspective on life, engaging and inspiring the reader. She looks to take the readers on a ride into her new stage of life, through the joys of travel, over unexpected bumps in the road with glimpses of the world through her eyes and even the eyes of her cat to a final destination that is hope.


MASADA'S MISSION
Masada, a bumbling golden retriever puppy, struggles through eighteen months of training to become a lifeline for a veteran with PTSD.
As part of her training, the puppy is assigned to prison life, where she matures and adapts to the cold concrete life of confinement and experiences hair-raising risks, tension, and the ache of loneliness.
She forms unusual bonds, first with Roy, her inmate trainer, and in the end, the total prison population as well.  

When she walks point for her veteran down the graduation aisle, an awe of respect silences the crowd.

Will the readers also be led down the wedding aisle?  Brad and Judy, founders of the K9s for Warriors training facility,  who have reunited after a forty-year separation, face monumental responsibilities that test their relationship as they try to build the dog-training program for veterans.

A touching yet educational story, about the world of service dogs who save veteran lives.

 

MASADA'S MARINE
When the subject of our military arose, I proudly stated my patriotic views and gave a blanket, but silent ‘thank you’ to all who lost their lives to keep me safe. My heart twisted in sadness every Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I consider myself an average American.

              When I decided to write MASADA’S MARINE, I imagined it as a nice story about a puppy named Masada who grows up to become a service dog and changes the lives of two men.

              One man, who began his life as a patriotic boy, graduates high school, starts his own family and becomes a gung-ho Marine. The young man has everything to live for until he comes home from his first tour in Iraq with PTSD and loses it all, even his will to live.

              Another man, who began life as the son of a drug addicted mother, learns how to fight a war of survival on the streets and exists inside a life of crime. The pressures of the young man’s illicit career takes its toll, and he ends up in prison, defeated. He, too, has nothing to live for.

              As I penned my story, the characters took on lives of their own and demanded that this not be a nice story about a man and his dog. During hours of research and interviews the characters became people, electric with emotions, and sometimes terrifying, like the firefight that promises only one victor. As I learned more about the invisible disease, PTSD, the story’s heartbeat pulsed out of my control, like the disease itself.

              Masada and her littermates, the real heroes in this drama, matured into valuable service dogs. They changed not only the characters’ lives, but my life as well. I am no longer the silent American. I hope Masada will change your life, too.

Every hour a veteran takes his own life.



 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author, Judy Howard’s mailing address is Sun City, California, but you will rarely find her there. Instead, you might find the top ranking Amazon author strapped in at the race track ready to check out the Mario Andretti Racing Experience or cruising  down Route  66. 



Of one thing, you can be sure she is living up to a quote by Henry Thoreau, Howard questions, “How vain is it to sit down and write, when you have not stood up to live?”
 

 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This Is Not The End


This Is Not The End. – by Samuel Bingham Endicott

Tell me….

Tell me what does it mean to exist

I am not a scientist I must believe there’s more

To this

And  I can not accept

That everything that is real

Is only what our eyes can see

And our hands can feel

Not even earth can hold us

Not even life controls us

Not even the ground can keep us down

 The memories in my head

Are just as real as the time we spent

You will always be close to me

My friend

This is not the end.

I see

I can see you’re so afraid…..

I wish, I wish I had some words to give

But all I can think to say

Is I will be with you everyday

I don’t care

I don’t care what you believe

As long as you are in my heart

You’re just as real as me

Maybe  even more….

You will always be close to me

My friend

This is not the end.
 

As I drive away from my home town of Springfield, Illinois I leave  the vast waving   fields, emerald green  with corn and beans. They    stretch so very far ,until  they collide against the bluest blue horizon  and  then appear to fall from  the earth .  Pristine  farmhouses  dot   the  landscape   framed by woods of maples, elms and cottonwood trees.  


 I imagine in the fall, leaves flutter down  like huge,  multicolored snowflakes and then the  winter arrives and  hides the naked, fallow land with snow until spring.

As I drive, I think about my life and  wonder. This homeland  created me and the people whom I grew up with, just  as it did the surrounding  vista .  Inhaling  the sights and scents, I try  to capture the  glory that I feel from this land. Will  it be just as real in my memories  tomorrow as the song suggests?

I am leaving behind my roots, saying goodbye to those  who loved  me all my life.  But they  are in my heart, they will be with me every day, as they always have been. 

This is not the end.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Getting my kicks on Route 66


2016 Route 66 Trip

July 26, 2016

My neighbor, up early, startled me as I sat in my drivers door  studying  my phone and googling  last minute info. I climbed from the cab and he sent me off with a big hug, saying  he loved me and would miss me. Something had changed for me. For the first time  I  would really miss my friends on this trip.  Facebook would keep us connected, and I  knew they would all cheer me along on my route like a marathon runner making her laps. I pulled away from the house at 6:15.

I squeezed through the inland empire commuter traffic and the road opened up as my motorhome climbed up the Cajon pass.

The vista spread before me, and I inhaled with a pleasant surprise.  I missed the traveling during the last four months at home. The joy of being on the road again swelled inside my chest like a lover’s first kiss after a long absence.  I was glad to be alone because as I considered the enormity of the past events in my life, which led up to this precise moment, my eyes teared up.  I was going home to the flatlands of the Midwest, cornfields and soybeans.. No words could express the   deep level of feelings I felt for all the events  I  had been through this past year. And soon I would be facing the events of my entire life. As the motorhome's engine hummed  like a quiet creek cutting through the land before me, It carried me  along  with  my  new intense emotions  while I anticipated  the road ahead.

My motorhome labored up each steep grade, and rushed down into every valley like the roller coaster in Happy Hollow at the Ilinois State Fair.As the distance increased behind me,  the miles ahead decreased bringing me closer to whatever the future held.

 After  an hour on the road, I exited at Barstow, California, where I choose a TA Truck Stop, Travel Centers of America, to get a cup of coffee.
My goal this trip, to meet and interview truckers. As I climbed out of my rig,   a bulky, black man with a round face, kind smile, and a soft voice for such a big man admired the “Short Story” lettering on my Smart Car.

 “Are you a trucker?’ I asked and told him that the hero in my next book was going to be a trucker.

“Yes I am,” he said.  

We shook hands and he invited me to join his girlfriend, Tina, his team driver, and her nephew, a sixteen-year-old boy for breakfast.

 

I slid into the booth as the trucker introduced me to Tina’s nephew.  The boy looked me straight in the eye and shook my hand. “Nice to meet you ma’am," the boy said. Even though I found his southern twang endearing the boy succeeded in  pulling  off a masculine presence of someone much older. 

 His respectful, grown up attitude, a  rare aspect for a teenager  these days,  delighted me.  “How do you like riding on the truck?”  I asked.

 The boy’s face lit up and I saw the road’s romantic pull in his eyes.” I love it.”

Their broker called, twice while they ate, assigning them two loads, one in Los Angeles, which they would deliver to Rapid City, South Dakota. There they would pick up another and transport to another destination.  Tina shared stories of trucking life while Rayman finished off his breakfast.

 
In Newberry Spring, I gassed up across from the Bagdad Café. The rising  heat and my  waning energy made me choose to ignore the lure of the  historic café. After checking my phone, I pushed on.

The afternoon temperatures climbed higher and higher as did my stress level.   What happens when you break down out here in nowhere land? You deal with it, I told myself. Drained from the miles, the events of the day and the anticipation of what lies ahead, I passed Kingman.  Unable to sing out with enthusiasm in accompaniment to my favorite country singers, I fought sleep.

Seventeen miles past Kingman I pulled off I-40, topped off my gas tank and checked
into Blake Ranch RV Resort.  Parked and with the air-conditioning blasting, I stretched out on the couch and waited for the interior to cool down.

The TV scanned for stations on the cable provided by the park while I heated up a serving of my baby back ribs and green beans, and straightened up. I ate dinner, watched Judge Judy,  and unwound.  After my first meal on the road, I carried Sportster outside. Like the King of his castle that he believed he was, he lounged under a tree  while I cleaned road dirt off the car and rig.

Chores finished, I returned Sportster to the motorhome and walked over to the campsite across from me and introduced myself   to a man and a younger woman sitting at their picnic table. The temperature had dropped to a bearable range.

The man smiled. “When I registered they told me there was another Howard in the park. Is that you?  My name is Howard, too. This is my daughter, Debbie.”

With last names in common, the conversation took off. Of course, I went into my book spiel as the man cooked hamburger patties on a small grill. I wished I had not left mine at home. When the burgers were cooked, we rose and I said   goodbye. The man reached out his hand and said, “My name is Jack.” 

“What?”  A light hum from the interstate in the distance as we shook.

“My name is Jack Howard.”

“That was my husband’s name,” I said.

The woman Debbie said, “That’s weird.”

“Yes it is,” I said. “Yes it is.”

 
 
         
GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST
        
In this mystery-romance, widow Judy Howard drives her RV along Route 66, encountering the ghosts of her teenage past when she was drugged, raped, and forced to undergo an illegal abortion.
         Tragedy strikes when Judy is drugged and date raped on a Saturday night in the parking lot of the town’s roller rink. But her high school crush Brad comes to her rescue, helping her deal with the crime perpetrated against her, even going as far as to arrange an abortion for her, though the practice is illegal. Judy must live in fear as the drug prevented her from knowing the identity of her attacker. Racked by guilt over the abortion and panic over the sexual assault, she accepts a college offer in California and flees to West Coast.
         After four decades of marriage, her husband dies and a high school reunion invitation from Brad threatens to shatter her illusory peace. Nonetheless, she summons up the courage to go, loading up her motor home and heading out on Route 66 with her cat named Sportster.
            Judy Howard is a writer whose debut novel is fictional, even if she happens to share the same name as her protagonist. She has traveled alone in her motor home with her cat, Sportster, throughout the country.
 
 
Sportster the cat had always envied the huge cats who lived the big life in the jungle until opportunity sends the motorhome in which he travels veering into a roadside ditch. When strangers whisk away not only his Winnebago, but also his chauffer, Judy, he is alarmed. However, once the dust settles, he purrs a happy tune as he discovers he is free! I He is in the wild! And he is in the Olympic Forest!

ACTIVATE LION MODE is just what Sportster does as he spins this yarn in his own words. Living wild and free brings on encounters he never have imagined. The life he dreamed becomes an adventure full of bears, pit bulls, drugs and more. Sportster weaves this story of his incredible journey as only a coddled cat of leisure can do.

 

COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST
When her husband of twenty-five years, Jack, passes away, Howard is faced with an overwhelming sense of loss. She takes to the road in her Winnebago on a journey of self-discovery accompanied by her cat, Sportster, and Jack Incarnate, a life-size stuffed doll she creates with an eerie resemblance to her late husband. During their travels she and Sportster experience the beauty of the land as she resolves her troubled memories through conversations with the doll. She comes to terms with her deep love for her husband despite the abuse that was part of their relationship and discovers how she became a stronger woman for it.

“The book is a narrative, both of physical travel and of emotional and spiritual evolvement,” says Howard. “It leads the reader through the hills and valleys and provides insights to fear and bravery.”

Howard aims to weave an emotionally-charged narrative with humorous anecdotes and a unique perspective on life, engaging and inspiring the reader. She looks to take the readers on a ride into her new stage of life, through the joys of travel, over unexpected bumps in the road with glimpses of the world through her eyes and even the eyes of her cat to a final destination that is hope.


MASADA'S MISSION
Masada, a bumbling golden retriever puppy, struggles through eighteen months of training to become a lifeline for a veteran with PTSD.
As part of her training, the puppy is assigned to prison life, where she matures and adapts to the cold concrete life of confinement and experiences hair-raising risks, tension, and the ache of loneliness.
She forms unusual bonds, first with Roy, her inmate trainer, and in the end, the total prison population as well.  

When she walks point for her veteran down the graduation aisle, an awe of respect silences the crowd.

Will the readers also be led down the wedding aisle?  Brad and Judy, founders of the K9s for Warriors training facility,  who have reunited after a forty-year separation, face monumental responsibilities that test their relationship as they try to build the dog-training program for veterans.

A touching yet educational story, about the world of service dogs who save veteran lives.

 

MASADA'S MARINE
When the subject of our military arose, I proudly stated my patriotic views and gave a blanket, but silent ‘thank you’ to all who lost their lives to keep me safe. My heart twisted in sadness every Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I consider myself an average American.

              When I decided to write MASADA’S MARINE, I imagined it as a nice story about a puppy named Masada who grows up to become a service dog and changes the lives of two men.

              One man, who began his life as a patriotic boy, graduates high school, starts his own family and becomes a gung-ho Marine. The young man has everything to live for until he comes home from his first tour in Iraq with PTSD and loses it all, even his will to live.

              Another man, who began life as the son of a drug addicted mother, learns how to fight a war of survival on the streets and exists inside a life of crime. The pressures of the young man’s illicit career takes its toll, and he ends up in prison, defeated. He, too, has nothing to live for.

              As I penned my story, the characters took on lives of their own and demanded that this not be a nice story about a man and his dog. During hours of research and interviews the characters became people, electric with emotions, and sometimes terrifying, like the firefight that promises only one victor. As I learned more about the invisible disease, PTSD, the story’s heartbeat pulsed out of my control, like the disease itself.

              Masada and her littermates, the real heroes in this drama, matured into valuable service dogs. They changed not only the characters’ lives, but my life as well. I am no longer the silent American. I hope Masada will change your life, too.

Every hour a veteran takes his own life.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author, Judy Howard’s mailing address is Sun City, California, but you will rarely find her there. Instead, you might find the top ranking Amazon author strapped in at the race track ready to check out the Mario Andretti Racing Experience or cruising  down Route  66. 

Of one thing, you can be sure she is living up to a quote by Henry Thoreau, Howard questions, “How vain is it to sit down and write, when you have not stood up to live?”
 

Getting my kicks on Route 66


2016 Route 66 Trip

July 26, 2016

My neighbor, up early, startled me as I sat in my drivers door  studying  my phone and googling  last minute info. I climbed from the cab and he sent me off with a big hug, saying  he loved me and would miss me. Something had changed for me. For the first time  I  would really miss my friends on this trip.  Facebook would keep us connected, and I  knew they would all cheer me along on my route like a marathon runner making her laps. I pulled away from the house at 6:15.

I squeezed through the inland empire commuter traffic and the road opened up as my motorhome climbed up the Cajon pass.

The vista spread before me, and I inhaled with a pleasant surprise.  I missed the traveling during the last four months at home. The joy of being on the road again swelled inside my chest like a lover’s first kiss after a long absence.  I was glad to be alone because as I considered the enormity of the past events in my life, which led up to this precise moment, my eyes teared up.  I was going home to the flatlands of the Midwest, cornfields and soybeans.. No words could express the   deep level of feelings I felt for all the events  I  had been through this past year. And soon I would be facing the events of my entire life. As the motorhome's engine hummed  like a quiet creek cutting through the land before me, It carried me  along  with  my  new intense emotions  while I anticipated  the road ahead.

My motorhome labored up each steep grade, and rushed down into every valley like the roller coaster in Happy Hollow at the Ilinois State Fair.As the distance increased behind me,  the miles ahead decreased bringing me closer to whatever the future held.

 After  an hour on the road, I exited at Barstow, California, where I choose a TA Truck Stop, Travel Centers of America, to get a cup of coffee.
My goal this trip, to meet and interview truckers. As I climbed out of my rig,   a bulky, black man with a round face, kind smile, and a soft voice for such a big man admired the “Short Story” lettering on my Smart Car.

 “Are you a trucker?’ I asked and told him that the hero in my next book was going to be a trucker.

“Yes I am,” he said.  

We shook hands and he invited me to join his girlfriend, Tina, his team driver, and her nephew, a sixteen-year-old boy for breakfast.

 

I slid into the booth as the trucker introduced me to Tina’s nephew.  The boy looked me straight in the eye and shook my hand. “Nice to meet you ma’am," the boy said. Even though I found his southern twang endearing the boy succeeded in  pulling  off a masculine presence of someone much older. 

 His respectful, grown up attitude, a  rare aspect for a teenager  these days,  delighted me.  “How do you like riding on the truck?”  I asked.

 The boy’s face lit up and I saw the road’s romantic pull in his eyes.” I love it.”

Their broker called, twice while they ate, assigning them two loads, one in Los Angeles, which they would deliver to Rapid City, South Dakota. There they would pick up another and transport to another destination.  Tina shared stories of trucking life while Rayman finished off his breakfast.

 
In Newberry Spring, I gassed up across from the Bagdad Café. The rising  heat and my  waning energy made me choose to ignore the lure of the  historic café. After checking my phone, I pushed on.

The afternoon temperatures climbed higher and higher as did my stress level.   What happens when you break down out here in nowhere land? You deal with it, I told myself. Drained from the miles, the events of the day and the anticipation of what lies ahead, I passed Kingman.  Unable to sing out with enthusiasm in accompaniment to my favorite country singers, I fought sleep.

Seventeen miles past Kingman I pulled off I-40, topped off my gas tank and checked
into Blake Ranch RV Resort.  Parked and with the air-conditioning blasting, I stretched out on the couch and waited for the interior to cool down.

The TV scanned for stations on the cable provided by the park while I heated up a serving of my baby back ribs and green beans, and straightened up. I ate dinner, watched Judge Judy,  and unwound.  After my first meal on the road, I carried Sportster outside. Like the King of his castle that he believed he was, he lounged under a tree  while I cleaned road dirt off the car and rig.

Chores finished, I returned Sportster to the motorhome and walked over to the campsite across from me and introduced myself   to a man and a younger woman sitting at their picnic table. The temperature had dropped to a bearable range.

The man smiled. “When I registered they told me there was another Howard in the park. Is that you?  My name is Howard, too. This is my daughter, Debbie.”

With last names in common, the conversation took off. Of course, I went into my book spiel as the man cooked hamburger patties on a small grill. I wished I had not left mine at home. When the burgers were cooked, we rose and I said   goodbye. The man reached out his hand and said, “My name is Jack.” 

“What?”  A light hum from the interstate in the distance as we shook.

“My name is Jack Howard.”

“That was my husband’s name,” I said.

The woman Debbie said, “That’s weird.”

“Yes it is,” I said. “Yes it is.”



        
 
 
 
         
In this mystery-romance, widow Judy Howard drives her RV along Route 66, encountering the ghosts of her teenage past when she was drugged, raped, and forced to undergo an illegal abortion.
         Tragedy strikes when Judy is drugged and date raped on a Saturday night in the parking lot of the town’s roller rink. But her high school crush Brad comes to her rescue, helping her deal with the crime perpetrated against her, even going as far as to arrange an abortion for her, though the practice is illegal. Judy must live in fear as the drug prevented her from knowing the identity of her attacker. Racked by guilt over the abortion and panic over the sexual assault, she accepts a college offer in California and flees to West Coast.
         After four decades of marriage, her husband dies and a high school reunion invitation from Brad threatens to shatter her illusory peace. Nonetheless, she summons up the courage to go, loading up her motor home and heading out on Route 66 with her cat named Sportster.
            Judy Howard is a writer whose debut novel is fictional, even if she happens to share the same name as her protagonist. She has traveled alone in her motor home with her cat, Sportster, throughout the country.
 
 
 
 
 
Sportster the cat had always envied the huge cats who lived the big life in the jungle until opportunity sends the motorhome in which he travels veering into a roadside ditch. When strangers whisk away not only his Winnebago, but also his chauffer, Judy, he is alarmed. However, once the dust settles, he purrs a happy tune as he discovers he is free! I He is in the wild! And he is in the Olympic Forest!
ACTIVATE LION MODE is just what Sportster does as he spins this yarn in his own words. Living wild and free brings on encounters he never have imagined. The life he dreamed becomes an adventure full of bears, pit bulls, drugs and more. Sportster weaves this story of his incredible journey as only a coddled cat of leisure can do.
 

When her husband of twenty-five years, Jack, passes away, Howard is faced with an overwhelming sense of loss. She takes to the road in her Winnebago on a journey of self-discovery accompanied by her cat, Sportster, and Jack Incarnate, a life-size stuffed doll she creates with an eerie resemblance to her late husband. During their travels she and Sportster experience the beauty of the land as she resolves her troubled memories through conversations with the doll. She comes to terms with her deep love for her husband despite the abuse that was part of their relationship and discovers how she became a stronger woman for it.

“The book is a narrative, both of physical travel and of emotional and spiritual evolvement,” says Howard. “It leads the reader through the hills and valleys and provides insights to fear and bravery.”

Howard aims to weave an emotionally-charged narrative with humorous anecdotes and a unique perspective on life, engaging and inspiring the reader. She looks to take the readers on a ride into her new stage of life, through the joys of travel, over unexpected bumps in the road with glimpses of the world through her eyes and even the eyes of her cat to a final destination that is hope.

Masada, a bumbling golden retriever puppy, struggles through eighteen months of training to become a lifeline for a veteran with PTSD.
As part of her training, the puppy is assigned to prison life, where she matures and adapts to the cold concrete life of confinement and experiences hair-raising risks, tension, and the ache of loneliness.
She forms unusual bonds, first with Roy, her inmate trainer, and in the end, the total prison population as well.  
When she walks point for her veteran down the graduation aisle, an awe of respect silences the crowd.
Will the readers also be led down the wedding aisle?  Brad and Judy, founders of the K9s for Warriors training facility,  who have reunited after a forty-year separation, face monumental responsibilities that test their relationship as they try to build the dog-training program for veterans.
A touching yet educational story, about the world of service dogs who save veteran lives.
 

When the subject of our military arose, I proudly stated my patriotic views and gave a blanket, but silent ‘thank you’ to all who lost their lives to keep me safe. My heart twisted in sadness every Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I consider myself an average American.
              When I decided to write MASADA’S MARINE, I imagined it as a nice story about a puppy named Masada who grows up to become a service dog and changes the lives of two men.
              One man, who began his life as a patriotic boy, graduates high school, starts his own family and becomes a gung-ho Marine. The young man has everything to live for until he comes home from his first tour in Iraq with PTSD and loses it all, even his will to live.
              Another man, who began life as the son of a drug addicted mother, learns how to fight a war of survival on the streets and exists inside a life of crime. The pressures of the young man’s illicit career takes its toll, and he ends up in prison, defeated. He, too, has nothing to live for.
              As I penned my story, the characters took on lives of their own and demanded that this not be a nice story about a man and his dog. During hours of research and interviews the characters became people, electric with emotions, and sometimes terrifying, like the firefight that promises only one victor. As I learned more about the invisible disease, PTSD, the story’s heartbeat pulsed out of my control, like the disease itself.
              Masada and her littermates, the real heroes in this drama, matured into valuable service dogs. They changed not only the characters’ lives, but my life as well. I am no longer the silent American. I hope Masada will change your life, too.
Every hour a veteran takes his own life.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author, Judy Howard’s mailing address is Sun City, California, but you will rarely find her there. Instead, you might find the top ranking Amazon author strapped in at the race track ready to check out the Mario Andretti Racing Experience or cruising  down Route  66. 

Of one thing, you can be sure she is living up to a quote by Henry Thoreau, Howard questions, “How vain is it to sit down and write, when you have not stood up to live?”