Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Amazon #1 Best Seller.

April 22, 2015.  From the Author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller The Book of Barkley - Love and Life Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever  - a story crafted from the heart and soul of a mother who wasn't a Mom.

It started with a piece of paper--a birth certificate, sent to the author's parents long after her birth. There is much history in that piece of paper. For she was born to an unwed mother in the generation prior to Roe v. Wade, on a warm day in August-a small, painful beginning in which she had been an unwilling participant, yet one that would shape her destiny. She is adopted into a loving home with another child that would become her beloved brother. She finds herself pregnant; she's a teen and a college student, abandoned at the news. The options are obvious, but there is only one decision she could make: to give her child up to a family praying for one, and walking away. Saving Grace is more than a story of adoption. It's a deep look into family-at hope and faith and why we end our days surrounded by souls that may not bear our name or share our blood, but who are our true family.

Available at Amazon (USA, Au, Japan, UK, and Italy) and Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Draft Chapter from "Small Town Roads" - To Be Published in winter of 2016 (I may edit the characters slightly but you can get a sense of the theme)

A Man's morning shave ritual.  It's something that's been done for centuries, even in the days of rampant beards, a number of men preferring to remain clean shaven. My brother always had a beard. With his red hair, build, and height he very much resembled a Viking, until cancer took 120 pounds off his frame, tempering his blade, honing his spirit.

Dad tried to grow a mustache once. It was in the early 70's, and was less than successful.  Dad had fine, dark red hair that resulted in a mustache that came in thin and sparse. I remember my Mom looking at the final outcome and trying her darnedest not to giggle and failing. Dad looked at with a wry smile and shrugged and went back to the bathroom and shaved it off.  Mom wasn't trying to belittle his efforts, her love fluttered over all of us like small wings, whisking away tears, and brushing aside fears.  She treated Dad the same way, but oh dear, was that a sorry looking mustache and even Dad, realized it.
So from that day forward, each and every morning, Dad was in the bathroom shaving. For most men, the morning shave is something they must do each and every day.  It's done whether there are a houseful of kids bustling around, or they are on their own.

I remember my Dad's ritual which remains to this day.  After he does his morning work-out (which he has done six days a week for 80 years), he'd go shave.  He never uses an electric razor or any of the shave creams in a can.  No, Dad always has a mug of fine soap, a high quality brush and a regular razor, with a straight razor when he wanted an extra close shave for a special occasion.

I remember vividly those winter mornings, all of us dressing quickly, not so much that the house was cold but hearts and blood and minds weren't quite awake yet and movement was with willful purpose until such time as the chocolate milk or the caffeine kicked in. Dad would come through the kitchen from where he worked out, giving my Mom a kiss, the morning sun highlighting the freckles on her face, then a kiss for each of us, still in our pajamas, our faces innocent of either guile or water.
While my brother and I tried to stay out of his way, he'd shave, the tiny half bath which was his bathroom, filling with steam. He was careful with the straight razor, pulling it over features as carefully as if they were oiled glass, rinsing the razor in hot water, as the dark stubble on his face brushed away like filings from a new gun barrel.  I simply watched from the kitchen table, carefully and quietly.  Dad was so intent in his task, before he even drew down that fine blade in its first stroke, his attention was almost perceptible in the air, surrounding him as fragrance does, leaving a subtle impression of his intent long before the act was complete.

When he was done, he'd finish as he started, with a clean washcloth doused in extra hot water, laid on his face to steam it.  Then he'd finish with a splash of aftershave.  There were only a few that he would wear.
Brut was beyond popular when I was growing up, one of the first to use a celebrity endorsement to persuade men that grooming wasn't for wimps.  Famed heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper was the original "face" of Brut, urging men to "splash it all over"long before David Beckham had his first shave.

Then there was the Hai Karate. My Dad had some of that and was supremely disappointed and used to tease my Mom that his bottle must have been a dud as he didn't have to fend of any super models with karate chops like on the commercials. I don't remember what it smelled like but I don't think he ever had to fend off Mom wearing it, though, come to think of it, once, when he put on too much, she drove a golf ball from the back yard through the back kitchen window with a Five Iron.

Dad gave that up for Old Spice which he has worn ever since, though once in a while he'd put on "Stetson" and give Mom this look and she'd giggle and we'd go stay with our beloved Aunt and Uncle for a couple of days.
When I go home now, Mom's giggling laughter but an echo in the walls, Dad gives me a big hug and I can still smell the Old Spice on his shirt, that "Dad" smell that's both reassurance and comfort. I'm happy my husband has much of the same ritual as my Dad, with the soap in a mug and the high quality brush. I get this wonderful bay rum soap and cut a piece big enough for his mug, leaving a little chunk for hand soap.
He shaves at night, after I've had my bubble bath, and as I curl up on the sofa with a splash of Scotch. he'll begin that ritual.  He's shaved in hundreds of hotels, in countries all over the world, the ritual much the same yet, there's something almost peaceful about the act performed in one's own bathroom, in one's own home, small rituals of sameness.
Many of us wander all over the world, the esteemed  and the obscure, the bold and the invisible, earning beyond the oceans our riches, our scars, and our destiny. But when we go home, we are rendering an account, we are sweeping away those things we picked up that pull us down, as we surround ourselves with the familiar, with that which is cherished.

When he is done, he'll join me on the couch in his bathrobe, a cup of tea already poured, the house quiet but for hundred year old sconces on the walls that lend the room an aura of timelessness.  We won't talk much but of family, of things in our home that need repair, or simply our day as we sit and stroke the flanks of an old black dog that lies besides us.  Then we will pray, together as a family for His continued blessing and the richness of this life we have centered around Him. Such rituals are as fine as a blade, as comforting as stone. Shared, they are as bright and uplifting as the flash of sparks as dulled blade and stone meet.

Soon, I will leave my husband again, to make another trip to see my Dad.  I dread the changes I will see in his physicality and changes in his world. But in going home, when my frail Dad takes me in his arms in a big bear hug, he still smells like Old Spice, and I'm six years old again.

So much has changed, the house having seen both the lives and the deaths of my two Mom's, of my brother's presence that still thunders through the rooms, the walls still adorned with the medallions of his courage.  So much gone, swirled down the drain with past and present tears. But still, I look at the world as I did those long ago mornings, carefully and quietly. And when Dad gives me a hug, and I breathe deep a familiar scent, it is the same feeling I now have in my own home each night  In that moment of ritual, I'm at peace, safe, and loved, with a future that is too far away to fear.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Amazon #1 Best Seller

2015 Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree and winner of Silver in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards.  Gripping Memoir, Hailed "An Instant Classic" by Critics, Shares Journey of Love & Life through the Inspirational Eyes of Man's Best Friend...

Crafted from the heart and experiences of L.B. Johnson, 'The Book of Barkley: Love and Life Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever' takes readers from the author's depths of grief and personal despair to an empowering new life chock-full of love. But Johnson's radical life change didn't come from her renewed faith in God or her friends, but instead from a black Labrador called Barkley who taught her the real, innate meaning of love

 In a wholly-unique and uplifting new memoir, Johnson tells the deeply-personal story of her life and experiences with a rambunctious Labrador Retriever named Barkley. It's not just a story of one woman and her dog; but a bold journey to discover what love really is, and why learning to live like a dog gives humanity a powerful new meaning.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lord,

No one but you and I understands 
 what faithfulness is.
Do not let me die until, for them,
 all danger is driven away. 

Carmon Bernos de Gaesztold, The Prayer for the Dog


Thank you for supporting the books of L.B. Johnson.  Through your purchase, another animal may find a purpose as 100% of all book sale profits are donated to animal rescue groups including American Dog  Rescue, Waldo's Muttley Crew, numerous Lab Retriever Rescues, Search Dog Foundation, Lucky Pup Dog Rescue in San Diego, Kevlar for K9's, and many, many other animal non-profits.