Portrait by Tao Nguyen

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

DOGS HELP VETERANS AND CIVILIANS WITH PTSD

After Vietnam Vet, John Carrows rescues an abandoned puppy he starts to emerge from decades of self-imposed isolation. Here are some excerpts from page 112 "Vanilla Grass":
“Look at your new bed,” he said laying it on the floor. “Here’s a Nylabone and how about these biscuits?” He opened the box and offered her one, but she backed away. “C’mon, these are doggie treats. You’re gonna get them every day. Try it.” He held it toward her to tempt her. He watched her hesitate at first. She sniffed and finally grabbed the biscuit between her teeth. She finished it off, whined, and begged for another. “Oh, so you decided you like these? Okay, one more now, but you’ll have to wait till after dinner for dessert.” He held out another biscuit and this time she snapped it so eagerly she grazed his fingers with her teeth. “Ouch! You’ve got to learn some manners,” he said, rubbing where she bit him. “Sit, Sage.”
“Tomorrow, after you have your check-up, I’d better get a phone. What do you think?”
Sage continued chewing and he laughed at himself for thinking she’d have an answer.
He fixed himself a fresh pot of hobo coffee and put on one of the old scratchy gramophone records. He watched Sage laying on her new bed gnawing on her Nylabone. The fire was roaring and he felt content for the first time in forty years.





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

Sunday, March 5, 2017

FEMALE SLEUTHS!

As a preteen I had the whole collection of Nancy Drew books. I'd settle in with one of her mysteries and read for hours, fascinated by the way a young girl about my age pieced clues together. That's why I featured female Detective Viola Hendricks in "White Dunes." What begins as a case to bring down a corrupt judge leads to several murders. Detective Hendricks doesn't stop digging for evidence until she arrests double-crossing thugs in the small desert town of White Dunes, California. As secrets are revealed through a combination of dogged sleuthing, coincidence, and fate, unexpected events emerge. Lives are changed in ways persons living on both coasts never could have predicted.



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.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"GOOD FORTUNE" FEATURED ON BOOK OF THE DAY!

"Good Fortune" is being featured on Book of the Day!

http://bookoftheday.org/good-fortune-leslie-bratspis/

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!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

THE IMPORTANCE OF UNSELFISHLY SERVING OTHERS & EBOOK SALE!!!!

I wrote two novels about service to others from different perspectives. Service is so meaningful to me it's a theme I incorporate into my novels. My third novel (in editing stage) will continue this principle.




I volunteer for two organizations and donate to Disabled American Veterans and Golden Retriever Rescue. To be able to help those in need, humans and animals, is a blessing. By serving others, we are serving ourselves. Whether it be through volunteering, teaching, or donating money to worthy causes we believe in, it's all good.


"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.com
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

WHAT MADE IT ALL WORTHWHILE

I was somewhat apprehensive about my "VANILLA GRASS" author event at Barnes and Noble in Silverdale, WA. Barnes and Noble! I took a deep breath and walked inside. I was thrilled to see my picture on the poster with my book cover. This was really happening.

For weeks I planned what I was going to say, collected props, and got a mani-pedi the day before. My presentation was scheduled to begin at 1 pm. I arrived around noon to give me time to get my table arranged. Barnes and Noble also ordered copies of "GOOD FORTUNE." I brought a bowl of fortune cookies for everyone to sample.





As people began sitting down I recognized some familiar faces and relaxed. They gave me a microphone and I talked a little about my background and what brought me to the Pacific Northwest. Spoke about what it's like to be a writer. Showed scraps of paper where I scribble notes whenever ideas come to me. Explained I write about subjects that are meaningful to me--overcoming life's challenges, being compassionate, doing work for the greater good, volunteering for Golden Retriever rescue. I explained all the Golden Retrievers in "VANILLA GRASS" are my rescued dogs and I chose Sage to be the star because she was blind in one eye and injured when I got her from the shelter. Said how John Carrows feels damaged inside so when he finds Sage he recognizes another wounded soul and feels an instant bond with her. I read the pages where he first encounters her. Then I compared my two protagonists, Chow Lee Tong in "GOOD FORTUNE" and John Carrows in "VANILLA GRASS" who at first glance seem like complete opposites, yet are similar in many ways.

Then a Vietnam Veteran walked up with his service dog and approached me carrying a copy of "VANILLA GRASS" he'd purchased some weeks before. He walked with a cane and introduced himself and his dog. He wore a Vietnam Veteran's cap, jacket, and shorts that exposed a long scar on his right leg. 


"My name is Richard and I came here to meet you and thank you for writing your book," he said, holding up his copy. "I want you to autograph it. This is my service dog, Chloe. My friend gave her to me. John Carrows is exactly like me. I have PTSD too. Where does he live? How do you know him?"


"John Carrows is a fictitious character I made up. He's not a real person."


Richard's eyes blinked. "He's not? But . . .  how did you know exactly what I've been going through? The way your write about it I was sure you were writing about someone you know."


I told Richard about all the hours of research I did about PTSD. How my former husband served two tours in Nam. That one of my friends shared his war experiences with me before he passed away of Agent Orange complications. 


"I was exposed to Agent Orange, too." Standing up, Richard became excited. "I want to buy another copy of your book for my friend who finds housing for homeless vets like me. Will you autograph it?" He gave me his friend's business card.


"Of course."


Richard turned and began talking to the audience. Tears rolled down his cheeks when he told how he was the sole survivor of his unit, witnessed four of his buddies get killed, and has survivor's guilt. Lost all contact with his family until four years ago and discovered he's a grandfather.


Everyone was so moved listening to him tell his story there wasn't a dry eye in the audience. We all thanked him for his service and Richard became choked up.


When things were starting to wind down I stood in line with Richard while he purchased his second book. There were a lot of people milling around and the noise and movement was distracting. Chloe stood by his side alert, silent, and protective.


It was a good day. People bought copies of both "VANILLA GRASS" and "GOOD FORTUNE." But what was most meaningful to me and has stayed with me was meeting Richard and realizing I touched his life. He hugged me and blessed me, said he was going to pray for me when he went to church Sunday. Repeated how he came just to meet me and thank me for writing this book. It was difficult for me to find the words to thank him for coming because I was so emotional.


Page 66 "GOOD FORTUNE" Grandfather is teaching young Tong life lessons and the difference between wealth and fortune. "Don’t mistake the abundance of costly possessions for a fortune. Money does not give you love. It cannot nurse you back to health. Jewels may be beautiful to gaze upon, but they will never give you sons; only a devoted wife can do those things for you. A simple bowl of rice is as valuable to a starving man as a holiday feast is to a king. Do you understand?”


What I took home from that day was the knowledge I made a difference in a Vietnam Veteran's life and this experience was more valuable to me than anything. I was living what I wrote and believe. It wasn't the book sales or the accolades that I held inside my heart. It was the realization I wrote a book that was as meaningful to a reader as it is to me and it helped him. In this day of selfies, I realized on the drive home I hadn't taken my picture taken with Richard. I was so moved by our meeting and what he said it never occurred to me to snap our photo.


A UK blogger is featuring me and "VANILLA GRASS" for the next month. I hope you'll read the interview.

http://natashaorme.com/2015/08/26/author-interview-leslie-bratspis/.








For more information please visit my website: www.lesliebratspis.com
Follow me on Twitter: @LeslieBratspis
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leslie-Bratspis-Vanilla-Grass/1459047377684683
                 https://www.facebook.com/GoodFortuneFans
Amazon Author page:http://www.amazon.com/Leslie-Bratspis/e/B005EJ438W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1440722923&sr=1-1

Thanks for stopping by. Namaste,
Leslie Bratspis, Author

Sunday, August 2, 2015

AUTHOR EVENT FOR DOG LOVERS! LEARN ABOUT COMFORT DOGS


Have you ever wanted to meet an author and ask questions about a book you've read? Or ask questions about what goes into the writing process? Come to my author event!

"VANILLA GRASS" is the story of a Vietnam Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the Golden Retriever he rescues that changes his life. John Carrows finds Sage abandoned, hurt and afraid. He realizes she needs his help to survive and from that moment their mutual healing begins.



It's recognized that trained service dogs can help veterans and others with special needs, especially trauma survivors with PTSD. Comfort dogs are a different kind of dog. They're pets that provide emotional healing to their owners or give comfort to children and adults in hospitals, and survivors of any major disaster. LCC Canine Comfort Dogs is one organization that has licensed Golden Retriever comfort dogs fly all over the United States to provide comfort wherever needed. There are many other comfort dogs who accompany their handlers either on an individual basis, or with other organizations.






In "VANILLA GRASS" Sage is John's personal comfort dog. She brings him back from the deep depression and emotional isolation he has been living since his return from Vietnam. Sage accepts John as he is. She has no expectations and his flaws don't matter. Her love is unconditional. As their bond deepens, he trains her through the Pet Partners Therapy Program to become a licensed comfort dog. They visit wounded veterans in the hospital and then . . . well there's so much more to the story! You'll have to read the book to find out how they change the lives of many.



"VANILLA GRASS" is available through the usual online retailers and can be ordered through your local bookstore.




Tuesday, June 30, 2015

BARNES AND NOBLE "VANILLA GRASS" EVENT! COME LEARN ABOUT GOLDEN RETRIEVER SAGE

This just in! August 15th from 1-3 p.m. I'll be at the Barnes and Noble book store in Silverdale, WA located at 10315 Silverdale Way NW. If you're in the area please stop by. Free bookmarks for all, and autographed books for sale.

"VANILLA GRASS" is the story of John Carrows, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD who rescues an abused Golden Retriever puppy that changes his life. John names her Sage because she's so young and yet, so wise for her age. Sage is blind in one eye, but that doesn't damper her spirit. She and John need each other and together, they begin the healing process. Finally, after living in isolation, John is no longer alone.


Sage was a dog I rescued some years ago that sadly, passed away in 2006. Resurrecting Sage in this book was comforting because as I wrote about her, I felt as if she were with me again.









You're probably wondering what does vanilla grass have to do with a Vietnam vet and a golden retriever? And what is vanilla grass, anyway? Vanilla grass, commonly called sweet grass, was and is widely used by north Native Americans. The Indians of the Great Plains believe it was the first plant to cover Mother Earth. Vanilla grass is one of the "four sacred medicines." The other three being cedar, sage, and tobacco. It's sweet smelling and has the lovely aroma of vanilla, chamomile and apples. Leaves are dried and made into braids and burned as vanilla-scented incense. It's used in healing rituals, woven into baskets, and braided into jewelry.








Throughout my novel, its fragrance and a certain bracelet are used to represent courage, love, healing, and promise. "VANILLA GRASS, a novel of redemption" is available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kindle download. Your local bookstore can also order it for you.









www.lesliebratspis.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/lesliebratspis  
Twitter: @LeslieBratspis