Monday, March 5, 2018

Literary Titan Gold Award Winner - Life Sliding by S. L. Mauldin

Literary Titan Gold Award Winner

Life Sliding by S. L. Mauldin



Literary Titan 5 Star Review 

Life Sliding by S. L. Mauldin 


High school, a time for learning who you are, what your values are, and what matters in life. Gavin is the popular, most liked guy in his school. He is the trend setter and his hand-picked friends are at the top of the social pecking order. When they start planning their last summer bash before becoming seniors; he is quickly ripped out of his comfort zone when his dad decides he needs to spend his last vacation giving back to the community. Gavin is going to spend his summer working as a volunteer for camp Lift Me Up, it is a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses, a chance for them to feel normal. Here Gavin reconnects with an old friend Jacob, and they befriend Marissa, a girl with a lot of emotional baggage. Together the three of them bond and look to make their senior year one to remember not just for them, but for the whole school.
Visit www.LifeSliding.com for further information.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Sliding-S-L-Mauldin/dp/0692629726

Gavin is your typical self-absorbed teenager, he’s on the football team, one of the popular kids, and comes from a family of money. Everyone knew that kid in high school, if you were not part of that crowd chances are you despised him, if you were in the crowd you looked up to him, or at least followed so not to lose your standing. When Jacob stopped following the cool crowd Gavin abandoned him. He never looked into why his best friend suddenly changed over the course of a summer. Gavin soon learned with his service at Lift Me Up what brought about the change in Jacob. Following the back and forth between Gavin and Jacob is exciting, you are never quite sure what their feelings for each other really are. Seeing Gavin grow is emotional, he learns that there is a lot more to the world than his little bubble, and he learns to really care for other people. This awakening is uplifting, it gives you hope that society is not doomed.


One of the most predominate themes in this novel is that love has no boundaries or appearances. High school romances are often flirty and based on who is who and what social class you fall into. While this novel starts out following those trends and is easily relatable to readers, it soon twists and becomes so much more. The story of Caleb, the boy with leukemia, that latches onto a resentful Gavin is a catalyst for the change in Gavin. His memory is a constant reminder of how fragile life is and that you can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s standards. I was really touched by Caleb and how his short time impacted so many lives. It is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long we are here on earth, but what we do with the time we are given. Caleb melted the heart of Gavin and reminded him there is more to life than his little social circle. Gavin and Jacob’s relationship is touching and so fluid you just can’t help but want to see how life goes for them both. Everyone should have a friendship like that in life, someone that loves you unconditionally and is there for you no questions ask. Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin is a touching novel, thought provoking and full of compassion and hope.  


www.LifeSliding.com 
Available at your Favorite Book Retailer.
Audio Format Available. 

Readers' Favorite - Five Stars - Review

Life Sliding is a young adult coming of age novel written by S.L. Mauldin. Though he had indeed handcrafted the persona that made him the kid everyone wanted to emulate, even Gavin Bailey found the yearbook title, “The Most Looked Up To,” somewhat tedious and a little bit absurd. Still, he accepted his role as a king at his high school and pondered what it would be like reigning in his senior year. Taylor, his long-term friend/girlfriend, had invited him to come with her family to Cabo for the summer, but his father, who had gotten increasingly strict and controlling, had nixed that idea. He had made other plans for Gavin, plans that would put the kibosh on any entertainment for his last high school summer, and his dad had made it clear that there was no point in arguing about it. After the last day of school, Gavin was woken up early on Sunday morning and driven off to the parking lot where a herd of yellow school buses were waiting for the campers to arrive. To make matters even worse, his father had pulled the plug on his cellphone coverage, effectively cutting off any communication with the real world as Gavin knew it. Camp Lift Me Up was created to let kids with special needs just be kids for a summer, and Gavin’s father had volunteered him to be one of the Counselors-in-Training. Gavin viewed it as a wasted summer at first, but he soon discovered it was a life-changing experience.

S.L. Mauldin’s young adult coming of age novel, Life Sliding, is a grand and glorious read about the pressures to conform that shackle children and young adults in school, and one popular kid’s realization that there was much more to life than being the most looked up to. Following Gavin’s metamorphosis from an arrogant and entitled kid to a compassionate and independently minded young adult is a mesmerizing and moving experience. Life Sliding is one of those all-too-rare books that get it. Mauldin seems to have the inside scoop on the angst, self-doubt and insecurity of the young whose issues are often dismissed with condescending platitudes such as “youth is wasted on the young.” His plot is original and compelling, and Camp Lift Me Up is marvelous. I have to admit that I’ve always harbored a wistful envy of those fortunate kids who got sent to camp and became counselors when they were teens. So I automatically looked forward to vicariously experiencing Gavin’s camping summer, even if he didn’t, but, like Gavin, I found it far surpassed my anticipation. Mauldin’s characters are authentic and intriguing, especially Gavin’s lifelong friend, Jacob, and their friendship is a big part of what makes this book work as well as it does. I had a grand time reading Life Sliding; it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Life Sliding is most highly recommended.

Amazon Author Profile: 


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review of Life Sliding

Literary Titan 5 Star Review 

Life Sliding by S. L. Mauldin 


High school, a time for learning who you are, what your values are, and what matters in life. Gavin is the popular, most liked guy in his school. He is the trend setter and his hand-picked friends are at the top of the social pecking order. When they start planning their last summer bash before becoming seniors; he is quickly ripped out of his comfort zone when his dad decides he needs to spend his last vacation giving back to the community. Gavin is going to spend his summer working as a volunteer for camp Lift Me Up, it is a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses, a chance for them to feel normal. Here Gavin reconnects with an old friend Jacob, and they befriend Marissa, a girl with a lot of emotional baggage. Together the three of them bond and look to make their senior year one to remember not just for them, but for the whole school.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Sliding-S-L-Mauldin/dp/0692629726



Gavin is your typical self-absorbed teenager, he’s on the football team, one of the popular kids, and comes from a family of money. Everyone knew that kid in high school, if you were not part of that crowd chances are you despised him, if you were in the crowd you looked up to him, or at least followed so not to lose your standing. When Jacob stopped following the cool crowd Gavin abandoned him. He never looked into why his best friend suddenly changed over the course of a summer. Gavin soon learned with his service at Lift Me Up what brought about the change in Jacob. Following the back and forth between Gavin and Jacob is exciting, you are never quite sure what their feelings for each other really are. Seeing Gavin grow is emotional, he learns that there is a lot more to the world than his little bubble, and he learns to really care for other people. This awakening is uplifting, it gives you hope that society is not doomed.


One of the most predominate themes in this novel is that love has no boundaries or appearances. High school romances are often flirty and based on who is who and what social class you fall into. While this novel starts out following those trends and is easily relatable to readers, it soon twists and becomes so much more. The story of Caleb, the boy with leukemia, that latches onto a resentful Gavin is a catalyst for the change in Gavin. His memory is a constant reminder of how fragile life is and that you can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s standards. I was really touched by Caleb and how his short time impacted so many lives. It is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long we are here on earth, but what we do with the time we are given. Caleb melted the heart of Gavin and reminded him there is more to life than his little social circle. Gavin and Jacob’s relationship is touching and so fluid you just can’t help but want to see how life goes for them both. Everyone should have a friendship like that in life, someone that loves you unconditionally and is there for you no questions ask. Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin is a touching novel, thought provoking and full of compassion and hope.  


www.LifeSliding.com 



Available at your Favorite Book Retailer.
Audio Format Available. 
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01BCQS3OK

Monday, January 15, 2018

Kudzu | Folklore | The Trail of Tears | Southern Stories Part 2


©Kudzu | Folklore | The Trail of Tears | Southern Stories



Continued from Part 1 

The creek presented itself as most peculiar at first sight. From its starting point water springs up from the fist size hole in the ground, then begins cascading in the direction it flows while growing wider along the way. Such an unusual sight made the story even more believable to the children after observing Sliding Rock for the first time.

When little ones of Appalachia set out on their first journey alone they proudly announced to the grown up folks that they were going to play in the puddle of tears.

#

The delicate scent of the honeysuckle’s tender yellow blooms saturated the morning air as an attention-grabbing symphony of grasshoppers and cicadas rumbled which summoned fond memories of seasons past. One bloodthirsty mosquito pierce affirmed the arrival of steamy summers of Blue Ridge, Georgia.

As for nine-year-old Ray, he squirmed when hearing stories of a mysterious clearing in the woods, his suspicions clear. Because of his disbelief and inquisitive nature it wasn’t odd when the young fellow engaged conversations on the topic attempting to resolve many years of questions left unanswered.  

Those brown almond shaped eyes darted from left to right then back when Ray pondered a more in depth inquisition. Without doubt, he believed segments of the far-fetched tale were mildly exaggerated and someone out there must possess more accurate facts. His knowing of the many differing versions of the tale, Ray remained assured each story contained partials of what might be the truth. This quick-witted nine year old found himself unconvinced a congregation of mourners had cried so much no matter what dire circumstances were afoot. Ray sought those tiny original details lost from one generation to the next; the essential ingredients making the tale worthy of sharing and passing down in the first place.

Claudette shuffled closer stove, “I’ll tell you as sure as I stand here on this kitchen floor it’s true.”

“Granny that is the silliest darn thing I ever heard.” Ray’s eyes continued darting.

“It ain’t done it. What’s silly is that new haircut of yours,” Claudette stretched out four fingers over her head, “like a peacock.”

“It doesn’t seem to be hurting Elvis none.” Mimicking Claudette’s finger motion, Ray’s eyes widened as he nudged his head forward like a chicken. “That cockeyed story doesn’t make any sense. I believe I’ve heard about twenty versions and they’re all just a little bit different. Who knows what really happened, if it happened at all.”

“Well, you just go on down there when the moon is full and stick your dirty little feet in it. You might find out. Just one boney hand straight up and out of the muddy water! That should be enough to convince you. Then you won’t have to hear another word of it cross my wrinkled lips. You can then make up stories of your own to tell mister.”

“You ain’t going catch me down there in the dark. I might be brave, but I ain’t crazy.” Ray’s eyes widened, his eyebrows rising upward.

“You go on now since you’re so wise and tell me where do you think that water comes from? It’s a coming right straight up from a hole in the ground I tell you. I saw it with my own eyes back when I could see right.”

“Granny, you gotta use more than the eyes. Everybody with a brain the size of a pecan knows there is water stored in the ground.”

“If that’s what you think, but I tell you, there is something mighty strange about that water. You explain to me why there are no more spots where water just pops up from the ground then?” Claudette’s hands rested on her hips, her face marked with a questioning expression.

“How would we know anyway? It’s not like we get out of Blue Ridge much. Besides, I’m sure there are others. What do you think Preacher Will might think about your cockamamie story telling?”

Since the day newborn Ray appeared in this world, the two had become inseparable. It didn’t take much to attach, the bond was instant when her first grandson wrapped his tiny hand around her index finger for the first time. Claudette knew she was hooked for the time remaining of her life. She had a way of knowing.

In earlier days while pressed down by the blazing heat of the summer, Claudette took no issue lugging Ray around on her backside in a makeshift carrier. No matter how much her back pained by the end of the day, Claudette never complained, continuing her pace through each garden row picking away. Her comfort came from knowing he was close by. Ray tugged on her ear, pulled her hair, and drooled down her muumuu, but still she gathered food happily content.

Shortly after Ray rose to his feet, moving at a higher elevation, Claudette in her way, gazed directly into those alluring chocolate tinted eyes expressing to Ray he possessed an ancient soul. A spirit as old as the whispers that rustle through the mountain pines, she said. She would go further when concluding her grandson was an old man being held hostage in a little boy’s body. Evidence clearly indicated that Ray was far more gifted than anyone in his range of age. He seemed knowledgeable as the older are and held an awareness of life’s goings on that only someone with experience should.

 Nowadays, Ray promptly assures Claudette he is only nine-years-old and his soul is just getting started.

It was no bombshell when Ray questioned the vague story as he promptly reminded his grandmother about the strict teachings of the church in regards to things that were not directly linked to the good word.

A battle of ideals with a prisoner in a young body was one war Claudette preferred not to participate in so early this summer day. The first meal dishes needed washing, dirty laundry piles demanded attention and the wording of a song coming through the radio presented a clear reminder of vast chores stretched out for the day at hand. Lyrics written by a woman who obviously had a few years experience running a busy household and raising a family.

“Ray, I think now is a good time for you to go outside, go down to the barn and ask your Granddaddy about it.”

“About what Granny? The scary water or ask if the good Lord in Heaven frowns on little white lies?”

“Go on now before I get my fly swatter. I don’t have the time to talk about church this morning. You hear that gal on the radio. She and I have the same amount of work to do. The only difference is well, she gets to sing about it and I actually have to do it. On top of that I don’t get royalty checks included with the other waste in the mailbox.”

#



Ray waltzed his way down to the barn like any nine-year-old with an uncontrollable urge to touch, feel and observe everything within arm’s reach. Despite being barefoot, Ray eased across the naturally littered ground. Those feet were conditioned to weigh down on chunky red clay, jagged rocks and the occasional pointy pinecone. Callused hands reached for overhead tree limbs, ripping off handfuls of green leaves only to loosen his grip allowing the dance of the foliage to the ground below. Finding a multi-legged caterpillars or beetles, Ray tenderly picked those up for further examination. Once the curiosity was satisfied, he then politely placed the creature back in the position where he made the discovery.  

Skipping as he continued his trek, the inspector hummed an old gospel tune I’ll Fly Away, which was one of his all time favorite songs to sing both at church and in his spare time.

Arriving at the old tattered barn and without hesitation, Ray promptly announced his presence as to not startle his grandfather, who’d be consumed with his projects.

“I’m here to get in your hair Papa!”

“Well, I afraid I don’t have anymore for you to get into mister. Might find one or two I suppose. Granny must have run you out of the house again. I learned long ago to come down to the barn before she had the chance to run me out.”

“I reckon, scared her talking about the church and telling little white lies. Raised the tiny hairs on her neck I suppose. As if I haven’t heard enough tales from folks, she said I should come down here and ask you about the silly story of that there creek.”

“Why that old women is touched in the head I tell you. Claudette has been telling that story since we got our first milk cow. That was long before her hair had gone and turned the color of a snow cloud. I suppose she will be telling it till the last breath moves past her lips.”

“I reckon. I suppose it would do me just fine if I knew the real story. Something other than bubbling water, howling wind and mama Indian grabbing people’s legs.”

“I remember when she told your mama that story. Being grown, I figured she wouldn’t believe such nonsense. Still, your mama wouldn’t step a foot down there to see it for herself. Right silly if you ask my thoughts on the matter. Brave enough to walk around with bright red lips that can be seen ten miles away, but afraid of little ole stream.”

“Mama was scared of a lot of things. Scared of the dark until the day she died. She was always hollering out the door for me to get in the house because the sun was sinking into the ground. I guess somebody forgot to tell her that the earth is round or something. Maybe that’s why she liked the city so much. It never gets dark.” 
To be continued... 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Kudzu | Folklore | The Trail of Tears | Southern Stories

Kudzu ©2018


Blue Ridge


Folklore
The tamped trail worn from the many visitors who traveled the path to bear witness of the creek’s existence held unruly blackberry bushes growing wildly that protrudes along both sides of the flattened grasses, clover and moss. Berries randomly dot the thorny stems of which some were lime green waiting for the end of the season sun to bring about their darkened perfection of glossy blackish purple. Not only was the beaten route traveled by those seeking out answers, the trail was frequented by pie makers, whom plucked ingredients right out of nature.  
Just in the distance cool clear water streamed across smoothened weathered granite formations as the musical interlude hypnotically lured anyone within an earshot to come in closer. Folks say during a full moon the shadowy rolling of the water secretly reveals truths about the mysterious clearing. By listening closely a detectable voice calls from beneath the constant trickle inviting anyone to come into the creeks tempting ripples and play.
      This was merely a portion of a bizarre tale constructed some time ago. Traditionally, the myth handed down from one storyteller to the next and of course over generations, the story altered and grew grander, but still planted seeds in the fertile ground of curiosity amongst the willing.  
As soon as the children of Blue Ridge were old enough to seek adventures without adult supervision, the trail guided them to the one that topped their ever-growing list of what they wanted to do when they grew up. Following years of hearing the folklore, Sliding Rock was a must see.
The legend stemmed from a story that came into being after young Native American couple’s desire to conceive a child without success. Shaman spells, potions, and tricks left them fruitless. Complicated incantations and sacrifices were ritualistic and without success up until the point when hope floated away within the flow of the wind past beaver dams, bear caves then through rise and fall of the mountainous terrain. Their surprise blessing came just as they were resigned to carry on without progeny.
 Of course the parents cherished the infant and members of the tribe held a special place in their hearts for the tiny child because there was no denying their believing the long awaited birth was a miracle. One created by Great Spirit.
The newborn being the firstborn male of his generation, he would someday take on the role of a leader. Once maturing into a young adult, enduring many lessons from the elders, this blessing would eventually be bestowed the title of Tribal Chief. The cumulative of such left no lack of parental nurturing and loving attention given to the little one by the Cherokee. Not a single moment passed, where their future leader’s needs went unmet, but change was looming on many fronts. Mother Nature’s harsh winter storm and Settlers had other plans.
A wrenching sadness overwhelmed the communal tribe, when tragically, a new life ceased due to an unknown illness. Not even the sacred leaves of the underbrush dealt a cure. So, in a sacred clearing in the thick forest, while the tribe prepared for a parting ritual, the lifeless child lay at rest. Handling of the remains never made the headlines of the passing folklore so, whether the dead were burned or buried remained unclear.
As with any loving begetters, the young couple was heartbroken. In tow with other grief stricken mourners as part of the ritual of mother earth reclaiming a soul, they visited the peaceful resting place for numerous weeks after the initial ceremony. Day and night, they arrived to bid farewell and tried to make meaning out of the loss.  
Believing the death an ultimate curse from Spirit, the tribe shed tears continuously and couldn’t work through their anguish. Fear of Spirit and they’d done something wrong motivated their desperation. Perhaps, they believed that tears might remove the torment inside or if anything resolve a curse. The mourners cried so many tears the saturated ground couldn’t absorb the water fast enough or so the story goes. The mystery creek and a seductive legend were born in the dead of winter following an untimely death, losing a beloved infant called, Sliding Rock.

     What made the creek most peculiar was.... to be continued.

Sliding Rock
  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

*Short Film Based on the novel Always Here by S. L. Mauldin*



Always Here - A Short Film Based on the Novel by S. L. Mauldin

A teenager dreams of musical theater stardom, but is beaten out by the popular girl in school, who is hiding the abuse in a seemingly perfect high school romance. Rushing to save a girl from violence, a life is lost and it takes a spirit to return and expose the truth about what happened late one night on a two-lane road. Film adapted from the young adult novel.

....but there is so much more to the story so, enjoy this good book for teens and anyone who survived those tender years. 

MIRANDA IS AN AWKWARD teen, who dreams of musical theater stardom and following some encouragement from her eccentric best friend Christian, she decides to audition for their school's upcoming performance. It comes as no surprise when she is beat out by the most popular girl in school.
All is not lost however since Miranda is selected to understudy the girl whom everyone views as perfect. Perfect looks, perfect money, and the perfect boyfriend. Even her younger brother's goofy best friend falls prey to allure of Pam who Miranda jokingly speculates might be a vampire.
Soon after the leap of faith, Miranda and Christian uncover that someone in a seemingly perfect high school romance is hiding something. The bruises and the public displays that aren't so affectionate initiate the discovery. The secrets are well hidden behind the walls of popularity and gated communities where proper fork placement takes priority over the frivolous dreams of a teenager.
Rushing to save someone dramatically alters to the lives of six young adults when late one night on a two lane road a flickering brake light leads to the revealing of truths and the fulfillment of promises. One of those promises Miranda and Christian made in the third grade. With an auditorium fully seated on opening night, it becomes necessary for Christian to remind Miranda of a pact they made at a very young age. It came with two words "Always Here."


Review by Jack Magnus Readers' Favorite


"S.L. Mauldin's coming of age novel for young and new adults, Always Here, is a beautifully written and compelling story about love, friendship and expectations. Miranda and Christian's friendship is one of the most moving and profound relationships I've encountered in a fictional work, but theirs is not the only relationship worth exploring in this perceptive and intelligent work on growing up. There are family issues, from the marvelous pranks played by Miranda, her brother, Greer, and grandmother, Nana, to the darker and deadly abuse issues faced by Trent and Pam. Trent, especially, is both victim and abuser, perpetuating the tragic chain of abuse in his treatment of his girlfriend. I had already read the author's previous work, Life Sliding, and wondered how Mauldin could top that stunning coming of age tale, but Always Here ranks right up there with Life Sliding. They both have important stories to tell, and the plots and characters will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page. Always Here is a must-read, and it's most highly recommended."

Books for Teen by S. L. Mauldin


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ks for Teens

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S. L. Mauldin

Literary Titan Gold Award Winner - Life Sliding by S. L. Mauldin

Literary Titan Gold Award Winner Life Sliding by S. L. Mauldin Literary Titan 5 Star Review  Life Sliding by S. L. Mauld...