US Army Retired

US Army Retired

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sonora Symphony

       This depicts one of the many myths told in the book. It's about a brave rabbit who's wants the sun to stop burning everyone and everything up. It also explains why he has a black streak down his back!

Well, I was just reminded this morning by my publisher that I've omitted talking about a book I have a contract for.

Virtual Tales, an online publishing house, signed me up to publish my novel Sonora Symphony. I had high hopes that it would be out sometime early this year. But, the disability of one of their key people has delayed their publication schedule. Hopefully, I will hear in the not-too-distant future what the status is. I do know they've assigned an artist to do the cover and it's pending a second editorial review.

They sent out a press release last year when we signed and it can be found here:

Also, this is their website:

This may be a little long but I thought someone might want to read the synopsis. So, here it is:

Staff Sergeant RAY DANIELS is a Cherokee, a veteran of two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

He rides a bus west through the desert night, leaving behind medics who’d picked and prodded him to remember his past. He has no idea where he’s going and doesn’t really care.

The bus stops in South Tucson, Arizona and, while the Hispanic passengers go inside the restaurant, Ray stalks across the huge parking lot, searching the tarmac for signs of possible landmines. When he finds himself in front of a small diner, he goes inside, having no idea why as he has no money.

JOE REDMOND, a Papago Indian elder, watches Ray enter. As an ex-Green Beret, Shaman and healer, he recognizes the blankness in Ray’s eyes as shellshock, what modern doctors call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also senses that Ray is of The People. He joins Ray and buys him breakfast. Ray wears a Battle Dress Uniform jacket that tells Joe his military rank and history. Joe tries to distract him by telling him American Indian myths about how Bat came to be.

Sensing Ray’s bewilderment and fear, Joe invites him into his eco-friendly home nestled in the Sonora Desert. He takes Ray for walks through the Tohono O’odham Reservation, showing him abundant life and beautiful plants. He alleviates Ray’s stress by telling many American Indian legends.

Joe introduces Ray to many healing foods such as frijoles and Nopal, diced prickly pear leaves, along with many other therapeutic plants and herbs. Ray gains physical strength and starts daily exercises - although he’s upset he cannot see those invisible comrades exercising with him. Some bits and pieces of memory return, but Ray’s subconscious fights them back. Seeing Ray cannot get a good night’s sleep, Joe makes a Dream Catcher to help and Ray’s nightmares stop at last, allowing him full nights of sleep.

Joe takes Ray to David-Monthan Air Base, where Ray is examined by a local psychiatrist. Ray’s status is changed from absent without leave to sick leave, as the doctor sees the effectiveness of Joe‘s treatment. Ray knows and fears that if his amnesia cannot be healed, he will be discharged from the Army. The doctor has the official report of the ambush in which the Taliban killed all but two members of Ray’s scouting party and his heroic actions to save one of his men. But, as he can’t remember it, there’s no meaning in it for Ray. Joe senses the doctor’s holding something back having to do with Ray’s family.

A woman named Janis Catsclaw from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee searches for Ray. She’s told army officials she seeks Ray on behalf of his mother.

Joe’s grandson and his girlfriend help Ray regain a lust for life. They travel into Mexico to visit Papago living in Sonora. A Curandero mentions a rite in which Sacred Datura, an autogenic plant, is used to help people regain their memory or find things they’ve lost. Joe’s against it because, when used improperly, the herb can be fatal.

Eventually, Janis Catsclaw meets Ray as he leaves David-Monthan hospital after a second visit with the doctor. Thinking she's a reporter, Ray sends her away but Joe learns she’s an apprentice medicine woman of the Paint Clan and that Ray is a member of the Wolf Clan. That confirms Joe’s belief that Ray’s of The People.

Joe eases Ray’s misgivings about Janis and she visits several times, telling Ray that she’s there to help him over the trauma of losing his family. At last, Ray learns that his mother, father and adopted sister were murdered when their house was burned down as they slept. The police believe Ray’s adopted brother is the prime suspect for the act of arson. Ray cannot react to this news as the people and place are unreal to him.

No matter how hard he tries, the fog of amnesia clouds Ray’s mind, only increasing his anger and frustration. Determined to regain his memory - and his life - Ray begs to take part in the dangerous Datura rite. The ritual will be conducted along with the Vision Quest for Joe‘s grandson. During the night before the ceremony, Ray has a vision in which he learns his totem is Jackrabbit and his name is to be Brave Rabbit.

Upon Mount Baboquivari, the heart of the Papago world, Ray enters the specially prepared sweat lodge. The herb-laden smoke opens Rays mind. Elder Brother appears and leads Ray to visit his family and relive his past. Ray sees his parents and home in the verdant forests of Tennessee. A huge raven carries Ray across an ocean to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. Helpless, he watches the Taliban ambush. Agony sears his soul as he dreamed about it ahead of time and fumes at being unable to stop it. He watches his men - his brothers in arms - slaughtered. He is able, for the first time, to see the faces of those soldiers who were family.

When the Datura wears off, Ray awakens, covered in sweat and severely dehydrated. Janis, along with the others, is there to help ease his pain. Ray now remembers everything and with the help of Janis, he rises to face life anew.

Although he has lost one family, Ray has found a new one - and a woman who will help him through the rough times ahead.

[And yes, the sequel has already been written and I'm waiting for my publisher to say something about it!]

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