Sunday, January 14, 2007

Review of The Winter Pearl

If you enjoy reading historical novels, you will want to read Molly Bull’s The Winter Pearl. It’s a wonderful story of a girl, Honor McCall, on the run in Colorado 1888 from her cruel Uncle. This is a sweet story of love and forgiveness. I had never written to a publisher about a book before, but I wrote them about this book last year after reading it. I never expected this book to have such a strong effect on me! At one point into the story, I had to lay the book aside because I couldn’t read through my tears. This took me completely off guard! Molly allowed me to see inside the head, and heart of an alcoholic, through a secondary character named Lucas. To be quiet honest, I have never had a lot of sympathy for people who abuse alcohol or drugs, or even food. I knew that this was a fault of mine because I was a child of an alcoholic father. In the past, I had prayed that God would give me more compassion for these people. Who knew that it would be through this book?

I could tell that something in my heart was slowly changing, after the first couple of chapters. Lucas was on his third drinking binge. The reader is able to see deep into his heart for what he truly is, ashamed, and feeling worthless. He knew that he did not live up to his parent’s or sister’s standards. Lucas figured that he didn’t really matter to anyone, and no one cared what he did with his life. The story began to make me understand what it must feel like to be in his shoes. Something I never thought about before with my own father. Molly made me care about the Lucas, and taught me something about having compassion for people who are addicts, through Pastor Kline, his wife, and Lucas’s sister, Regina. My contempt for these kind of people was replaced with compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.

Kudos to you, Molly, as your book hits the bookshelf in mass market this month. Put this on your definite read list!

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Here's a picture of my brother, sitting with his dog, Cliff. Many times he would meet his wife there for lunch. He loved Glacier Na'tl Park and couldn't wait to show it to me. Because of the terrrible fires, I had to cancel a trip to Glacier that summer. After his death, and a writer's conference that I attended in Denver, I traveled on to MT to see where he lived, his writing cabin and his wife, Slyvia. It was so beautiful that I could hardly stand it, and his presence seemed so strong. He was Deputy Superintendent of the park with a huge responsibility, especially during one of the worst fires in Glacier history. I met the Superintendent, his boss and close friend, Mick. It was very evident that they were close working partners that dealt with a lot of stress during that fires. They were responsible, for the park, surrounding homes, and many lives. The experience changed them both forever. While it was still beautiful, the evidence of the fire on the park was everywhere. We were escorted by two park biologist to a remote area near the Canadian border to collect Ponderosa Pine seeds that they were planted. When mature enough, they will be transplanted to the grove near the river in his memory.

I wish everyone could have known Jess. He had great wit that shown through in his 7 books, and in everyday conversation. He impacted my life as a steady father figure, never shirking responsibility to his family. He constantly read my writing, and showed me how to improve it, and encouraged me to never give up. I feel so lucky to have had a brother like him! I hope that I continue to write, but to also be the kind of encourager to my writer friends, especially to the ones that meet here in my home.
This year will mark the 5th year of my critique group. I plan to post a picture of his last book on a future blog.

His death was caused by the Hantavirus. A deadly disease contracted from the deer mice and, incidentally, is more prominent in MT and New Mexico. A very tragic and sudden death. I'll save that for another time perhaps. You can look up his titles on under the pen name of Jess McCreede.

Whether you or a writer or not, make everyday count for something. Pursue your life with enthusiasim and each day as a gift from God. Our life is as a vapor and will soon disapear...James 4:14

Monday, January 01, 2007


I’ve been sick for 4 days with a stomach virus, and had to endure a New Year’s feast of tea, rice and toast, instead of the usual delicious southern meal of ham, black-eyed peas, and of course, collard greens for prosperity! Though this is not how I would choose to spend my last 4 days of vacation for the year, it did give me plenty of time for quiet reflection.

But what was uppermost in my mind was today, was that today would have been my brother, Jerry’s 64th birthday, had he not tragically died over 2 years ago. Every New Year’s Eve, a few minutes past midnight, I’d call and wish him happy birthday. Seems so odd now not to be able to do that. Several nights ago, I dreamed that I was making him a batch of cornbread when he walked in looking so healthy and happy.

To say that I loved him would be an understatement. He was funny, smart, gentle, and a great writer, as well as my mentor and friend. When he died suddenly, my world, as I knew it stopped, and so did my breathing…I could tell you all about him, but instead I'll post a copy of the fellowship that was established by the National Park Service, in his honor below. You can read about what an incredible person he was and how he touched many lives. You might even decide to donate to this fellowship fund. Maybe you know a student that can apply for this Fellowship. His memory will live on in my heart, and through his work
others will eventually benefit.

Announcing the Jerry O’Neal
National Park Service
Student Fellowship
2007 Call—
Applications due
January 15, 2007
Applications are now being accepted for the Jerry O’Neal
National Park Service Student Fellowship. Jerry O’Neal was
a scientist, poet, and writer. He had a deep love of nature and was an outspoken proponent for the need to have sound science to support resource management decisions.
Jerry began his nearly 30 years of public service as an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service and was the regional toxicologist for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service in Atlanta. He joined the National Park Service in 1998 as chief of science and resources management at Mammoth Cave National Park and later served as chief of the resource management program for 64 parks in the Southeast. He became deputy superintendent of Glacier National Park in 2002 where he was actively engaged in a range of environmental management projects and was a key park official during the wildfires of 2003. Jerry grew up in a poor family from the south and was the first to attend college. Education cultivated his commitment to preserving the natural world. In keeping with his model of learning as a way of improving one’s life situation and fostering environmental stewardship, the fellowship aims to provide educational assistance for students seeking to understand natural and cultural resource issues and how these intersect with human values. Special consideration will be given to proposals that address the following:
1) natural resource issues such as aquatic ecology, fire ecology, invasive plants, and other landscape processes
2) cultural and historic resource studies, including the integration of cultural and natural landscapes
3) social science that informs resource management about one of the natural or cultural topics listed above or that addresses visitor impacts to park resources Eligibility: Graduate students or superior upper division undergraduate students (3.5 GPA or above) in fields applicable to understanding and management of Glacier National Park, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Historic Site. The fellowship is available to students at universities and colleges within the Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem
Studies Unit (RM-CESU): University of Montana, Montana State University, Salish Kootenai College, University of Calgary, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder and at Denver, University of Northern Colorado, University of Idaho, Utah State University, Washington State University, and University of Wyoming.
Jerry O’Neal National Park Service Student Fellowship Application Procedure:
Applications for 2007 must be postmarked by January 15, 2007
All applications must include:
• 2-page resume (with current contact information; name of major professor or academic advisor, program, and institution)
• Photocopies of all college transcripts
• Project proposal (15 pp. maximum) including statement of need; objectives; study area; methods and relevant literature summary; proposed timeline; relevance to resource conservation in one of the three eligible parks; and anticipated research and educational product(s) (e.g., thesis, publication(s), report to park, presentation to park managers, CD, public lecture)
• Project budget including salary; equipment; supplies; travel; laboratory analyses; and any other budget categories. Include written justification for each budget item and state any other funding sources available, if any
• List of cited references
• Additional support requested from park (s), if any (e.g., housing and dates needed, transportation, assistance with equipment or park access)
• Statement(s) of support (email messages ok) from appropriate park personnel addressing the relevance of the research to park management
Applications will be judged on the relevance, technical soundness, and feasibility of the proposed study; qualifications of the student; and clarity and completeness of the application. Proposals may cover a one-time
survey or project or a clearly defined portion of an existing research project. Projects may be completed in one or more field season(s). Studies may occur in one or more of the parks’ ecosystems and adjoining lands.
Projects must comply with appropriate agency regulations and permits (separately administered from this fellowship). Fellowships will be awarded in the range of $1,000-$5,000 per project. Awards may also include housing if available. Students are expected to provide a final project report and copies of any publications as a result of the research. In addition, they will prepare a one-page, illustrated project summary, suitable for the general public and an additional educational product to facilitate information transfer beyond the scientific audience (e.g. a presentation to site managers, a public seminar, CD, or non-technical article).
Send to: Jerry O’Neal NPS Student Fellowship
c/o Lisa Gerloff
Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit
College of Forestry and Conservation
32 Campus Drive
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
For more information contact:
Lisa Gerloff, Executive Coordinator, RM-CESU,
406-243-5346 or
Leigh Welling, Director, Crown of the Continent
Research Learning Center, Glacier National Park,