“As always I try to be true to my characters who, for better or for worse, happen to be human.”  

While looking through my older notes about Wind Scarred, I came across a nice review by reader Tom T. from 2005. Thank you very much, Tom.

Wind Scarred by Sarah Mankowski
A Review by Tom T. (Orlando, FL)

What stuck me about Sarah’s story of small town secrets and undying passions was how biblical it all seemed. The year may be 2004, but the characters and the events are straight out of the book of Genesis.

This is a story of two families living in a little Central Florida town called Blossom Lake. The Kavanaughs, prosperous citrus growers. The McCorveys, a simple God-fearing family who are prone to the worst kind of luck.

As the story opens we meet brothers Kendall and Neil Kavanaugh, as children back in 1979. They’re off from school that day and helping their father pick oranges.  Everybody praises younger brother Kendall for being a hard worker. In a moment of resentment, reminiscent of Cain and Abel, Neil beats up the younger boy and breaks his nose.

Now we move forward to the summer of 2004. August. Miserably hot and muggy in Central Florida. Kendall is trapped in a loveless marriage to the daughter of the local congressmen. He manages the citrus groves for the family and is a devoted father to son Josh. Brother Neil has continued down the path of worthless piece of crap.

Meanwhile over on the other side of the railroad tracks on Heaton Rd, (everybody calls it Heathen Road) The McCorveys’ are preparing for J.T.’s upcoming wedding, even though his own mama isn’t happy about the engagement to a black schoolteacher.  J.T.’s sister Jan is coming home for the wedding. Jan is the one McCorvey to break free from life on Heathen Road, becoming a successful attorney in Tallahassee.

Before long we learn that Jan and Kendall were involved in a heartbreaking romance as teenagers. Now that Jan is successful she wants revenge against the family that shooed her off like a mangy stray cat. But there’s a strong sexual tension between these two that no amount of time can suppress. They also share some of the funniest moments in the story, such as when Kendall, a Florida Gator’s fanatic, learns that Jan went to FSU. If you know about Florida football rivalries you’ll be rolling on the floor laughing.

But back to what I mean by Biblical. The “Am I my brother’s keeper,” theme is repeated often in this story. For example, J.T. has never forgiven Kendall for stealing his sister’s innocence. But as different as these two men may seem, they were both raised to put family above all else. After their town is devastated by Hurricane Charley, and nearly ripped apart by the scourge of crystal meth they realize that being my brother’s keeper means putting the welfare of the community before family.

Then there’s Jan in the role of prodigal daughter.

Kendall’s father warning him to prepare for the hurricane, that he correctly predicts will be far more destructive than forecasted.

Jan’s niece Amberleigh who after the death of someone she loves, can’t stand to hear people say that it musta been God’s will. At the funeral she declares, “If this was God’s will, I hate God.” Soon after, poor Amberleigh finds herself literally lost in the wilderness as the hurricane moves in, pleading to Got to save her.

This summer if you’re looking for a novel with lots of heart and humor along with a few naughtier moments to read at the beach or at the poolside or, God forbid, in your safe room during a hurricane, read Wind Scarred.

From Sarah: Reading the review after so many years was a surprise. I can assure readers that I did not include Biblical allusions, consciously. This story was written back in my agnostic days. I wrote the original drama with no higher purpose than to create an entertaining summer read.  It is a story of contemporary life. Some readers may find language and some situations offensive. As always I try to be true to my characters who, for better or for worse, happen to be human.  

 

Destination Tranquille

A few words must be written about Warrior Clans of Tranquille. People keep asking me if the big green creature is a dinosaur or dragon. Neither. Meet the clobclip.

What is a clobclip? They are a semi-aquatic species that may not even be native to Tranquille. The marooned settlers never mentioned them in their 500 hints for establishing peaceful communities. Clobs are slimy and smelly and would be perfectly disgusting if they were not so obliging. They never forget the person who shows kindness. They are loyal. Once you become accustomed to the great leaping motion, there is nothing as exhilarating as leaping down steep slopes, or even down a waterfall.

But my novel is not called Clobclips of Tranquille.

The human settlers came from every continent on Earth, being enchanted by the primitive planet’s name: Tranquille. Unfortunately, only about 1000 of them reach the surface before their ship is destroyed. All the conveniences they have brought to establish a comfortable new life are lost. They must survive on whatever the planet offers. Fortunately, the original scouting ship left behind some sheep and goats, which have adapted well to the native green stuff.

As the story opens, some fifteen generations later, the descendants are trying to defend their communities from a relentless foe called the eart. (Earts are distantly related to clobs.) Warrior families have emerged, dedicated to protecting the struggling human population. These families have become quite powerful, and unyielding in their code.

Eb and Su are the daughters of the most powerful warrior clan. They have trained as healers, and among other duties care for ailing clobs. As children they spent a year in the valley studying with Ecru the Healer. They became great friends with his students Flint and Gager. These four young people have been forever influenced by wise old Ecru. They yearn to explore and unravel the mysteries of Tranquille. But they are restrained by the often-bizarre interpretations of the settlers’ helpful hints.

I am thoroughly enjoying writing this story.

  1. Wind Scarred originated as an 8-part Internet drama called Blossom Lake during the summer of 2002.
  2. The story was never meant to be anything more than a steamy summer read. Warning to my more genteel readers, the story is a bit sleazy in places. Only so far as necessary to be true to the characters, to be sure. If this were a movie it would be rated R.
  3. While I envisioned the community called Blossom Lake to be located in the same geographic area as Lake Wales, it is entirely fictional. Various memories from a number of small towns in Central Florida were infused. I was born in Lake Wales, but that was a long time ago. I have only been over there a couple of times since the 1970s. Any similarities, if any exist, are coincidental.
  4. In the original drama the hurricane was fictional, although modeled after Hurricane Donna (1960).
  5. I began work on the novel during the summer of 2004.
  6. I was editing the first draft on the morning of August 13, even as Hurricane Charley blew up in the Gulf. To my surprise this storm fit perfectly into my story.
  7. Wind Scarred will be available for Kindle on July 1, 2014.

 

One of the most invaluable proofreading tools that I use is text-to-speech. Listening to the written word is a great way to spot typos, redundancies and skipped words.

I can read something ten times without noticing that I have left out a word such as to, or that one is missing an e. Sometimes the ever-so-helpful Word turns district into distinct. If I write fat instead of far, I may not notice. But when I hear the words read back to me, the mistakes become obvious.

The text-to-speech software may not quite sound human, but they are vastly improved from even a few years ago. I use Ivona.

The Ivona software permits me to save a file as a MP3. In this way I can listen to the work-in-progress on my mp3 player while gardening or doing housework.

Here is an excerpt from Wind Scarred, which I am currently formatting for Kindle. In this excerpt five of my characters must take shelter in a tiny bathroom during Hurricane Charley. I call this excerpt Of Mice and Hurricanes. Simply click to listen. Excerpt_From_Wind_Scarred

Wind Scarred Cover

Was it really ten years ago?  I guess it was – 2004 – a hurricane season like no other.

 

Wind Scarred

 

Passion, Betrayal, Murder and a Hurricane Named Charley

In a tiny Central Florida community best known for citrus and bass fishing, the August heat turns toxic with bigotry, politics and crime. Old secrets must now be revealed, while two families cope with tragedy. One romance defies time and circumstance.

First published in 2005, Wind Scarred will be available for Kindle July 1, 2014.

 

Warrior Clans of Tranquille coverWarrior Clans of Tranquille

The settlers sought a peaceful life upon the primitive planet called Tranquille. But the biggest threats to survival may have arrived within their all-too-human minds.

And if you are looking for something completely different, Warrior Clans of Tranquille will be available for Kindle early in August.  I will have more to say about this project soon.

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