My Favorite Book: GWTW

When people ask me about my favorite book, I scratch my head and wonder. There are so many that I love, choosing one is nearly impossible. For the purpose of this post I’ll focus on a book that has special meaning for me, but start with the first runner-up.

My mother always made a point of taking my sisters and me to the public library. She never directed us, but let us roam freely until we found something that interested us. She, by the way, was doing the same. One day I found what was to be my first novel, in a pink cloth cover. It was a Victorian story about a woman named Cassandra who gives a young girl a jewel necklace she calls The Wishing Star. The gem is intended to give the girl confidence until she realizes she has it within.

GWTWpromopicI  have not been able to find the book again because there are several with The Wishing Star title. I loved it and did not want to return it to the library when the due date came. I checked it out several times just to have it. This book was my first introduction to historical fiction, and my first real love of story. But it is not my all-time favorite book, because my heart was stolen by another: Margaret Mitchell’s 1939 novel, Gone with the Wind.

I am sure I join a long line of readers in choosing this book, especially since it was brought to life on screen by David O. Selznick and Victor Fleming, and all the magnificent actors: Vivienne Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Everett Brown and so many more.

The book was bursting with interesting characters and dialogue that became classic (“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” or “I can’t think about that now, I’ll think about it tomorrow” and of course “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”)

The lead character, Scarlet O’Hara, became one of my heroes in life. I loved her strength, her spark, her resourcefulness and hopefulness. She was real, human, made mistakes and suffered from her flaws and bad decisions. She never quit, never gave up.


Cover taped and pages yellowed, this is one of my greatest treasures

But something very special makes me choose this book. It was the first time I went to my mother for advice about what to read. I was bored, I suppose. She led me to the bookshelf in our living room, which was fairly jammed with volumes. She was an avid reader, always having a novel or two on her reading table. She scanned the shelves for just a moment before pulling out the fat book in its blue cardboard cover.

I don’t remember what she said exactly, but something about that book keeping me busy for a while (it did), and that she thought I would like the lead character, Scarlet O’Hara (sure enough). I loved the adventure I had with this book. It remains one of my greatest treasures. And, it cemented my love for historical fiction. My mother knew that, but I don’t think she took credit where it was certainly due. Since then I have never been bored.

The reason this former journalist now writes historical fiction is because all of my reading over the years gave me the confidence to do it myself. The love of historical fiction is, in fact, my wishing star.

Happy reading!

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Five Takeaways from The Martian

THE-MARTIAN-movie-poster2Karl and I watched The Martian on demand last night. We have the book but neither of us had read it yet (so many books, so much research to do, so little time!). It’s the story of an astronaut, Mark Watley (played by Matt Damon). who is stranded on Mars and uses his brain and ingenuity to survive until his crew members return for him.

About halfway through, we were bracing for the painful, horrible, gruesome deaths of those crew members as they went about trying to rescue him. Thank you, Ridley Scott, for taking the high road, letting viewers focus on the magic of the story rather than gratuitous violence and gore.

I woke up thinking about this film and the five takeaways I have from it.

  1. Obstacles happen. Things go wrong.
  2. Prepare. The flight team had considered and prepared for many potential difficulties they might experience on such a mission, and knew their equipment and ship inside and out. Still, life on Mars was beyond their control. They had a contingency plan.
  3. You already have the answers within you. Watley drew from his knowledge of many sciences to survive. Most of us won’t be going to Mars, and won’t have the high level of training he had, but we probably have some learning and experiences to help us through situations we encounter if we use the resources we have.
  4. Ask for help. Watley was brilliant, but no one knows everything, and everybody needs help from time to time. It’s the smart thing to set the ego aside and ask. Using the point and nod technique works just fine if that’s all you have to communicate. My dogs point at the cookie jar, hoping I will nod. Usually I do. It’s all good.
  5. People are more important than missions and money. Okay, partly it was a PR thing–the bureaucrats knew the agency wouldn’t survive if the public learned they’d left a man behind, so they launched the rescue mission. Sacrificing the man seems the more likely thing to happen in reality, and the crew would have had much more difficulty choosing to spend almost two more years in space and away from their families on a risky rescue attempt. But no one would have been able to stomach the deliberate abandonment of Watley. I like to think love conquers all.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to see your comments.

BrandYourselfRoyallyIn8SimpleSteps_Blanton_cropPlease follow this blog if you are interested in updates. Last year my new book on personal branding — Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps — was published in paperback and ebook. My new historical novel, The Prince of Glencurragh, is due out in summer 2016.

And please check out my award-winning Sharavogue, a novel of 17th century Ireland and the West Indies, for a fast-paced adventure you won’t soon forget.

My website at provides more detail on books and upcoming events. Please visit!