Thursday, June 29, 2017

Interview with Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes, authors of Iniquities of Gulch Fork

In the worn and tired town of Gulch Fork, Arkansas, certified nursing assistant Samantha Caminos heads to her patient Rob Dean's home and wonders how she can find common ground with the aloof, disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from not only PTSD but also severe neuropathy caused by Agent Orange. As Samantha approaches the house, she has no idea that very soon their lives will take a new turn. Gulch Fork, a town once filled with Ozark tranquility, takes on an aura of evil when bizarre events begin to affect Rob and two other war-scarred veterans, Peter Ness and Ron Woods-Samantha's father. But when Samantha learns that two elderly couples without living relatives in the area have fallen prey to fraud and embezzlement by a man who claims to be a pastor, she sets out on a quest to piece together a complex mystery fueled by those hell-bent on taking advantage of citizens too fragile to defend themselves. In this compelling novel based on true events, three veterans seeking peace and serenity from PTSD fall victim to injustice, prompting a young health care worker to investigate the evil that has infiltrated their once peaceful Arkansas town. 


Who or what is the inspiration behind the book? 

The desire to help those afflicted by PTSD, alcoholism and war related problems.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it? 

Bob- I had written a lengthy spy thriller (East German spies, West German spies, Soviet Union spies, Mossad spies) in a Flamenco atmosphere when I lived in Spain. A professional editor found a literary agent in New York City, who agreed to accept it. While it was on its way to the literary agent, the Berlin Wall came down and any spy thrillers in the process of being published were all axed.

Sara- My first book, we used iUniverse self publishing, was very easy.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books? 

Northwest Arkansas (this is a combination of four medium sized towns with a metro population around a half million), comprised of Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville. We live the far southeast side of this area. There are many unique coffee shops in Fayetteville, any of them would be great for chatting about books.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

Bob- Spend time with my cats.

Sara- Spend time with my family, sew, crochet, knit and escort my daughter to track meets. Also, play fetch with my dog.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job? 

Bob- I’m a retired 100% disabled Vietnam veteran.

Sara- I care-give for Bob and others. I’m also a CNA who works part time.

Bob Smith is a naval officer who had Agent Orange spilled on him in Vietnam and suffers from severe PTSD in addition to disabling neuropathy. After living in Spain, he returned to America and settled in the Ozarks, where he is happily pursuing his dream of writing. Sara Rhodes is a wife, mother, and certified nursing assistant who originally lived in Alaska before moving to the Ozarks with her family. Bob is her former patient whose teachings about PTSD helped her recognize her own father's battle with it. Both Bob and Sara find animals to be a great source of comfort.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Feature: Great Objectives by Robert Finch

In his book Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill refers to the great objects of human life. We may assume that that what Mill calls an object is the same as an objective in modern parlance. The examples of great objectives that Mill cites include power, fame, and money. One wonders how seriously Mill was actually endorsing such aims to be the overarching objectives of living or whether he was simply expressing his finding that many people actually do take such aims as these for life. The contention is that Mill was indeed recognizing that people do choose such goals in life. After all, happiness has been recognized as an objective of life at least since the time of Aristotle, and virtue has a similarly ancient pedigree. It is quite common for ordinary people to adopt such mottos as “Healthy, wealthy, and wise” as aims for life. But we know that having more than one such value can lead to conflicts. This had been a concern to Sidgwick as well as other nineteenth-century moralists. A resolution to the problem was found by the time of the twentieth century, when it was realized that we should not try to achieve definite objectives, but instead look to some other procedure, such as a variety of evolution, to shape our objectives. In that case, we make plans and evaluate them, as we proceed. We should use our values, as Dewey recommended, for guideposts. The book discusses the methods of arriving at such plans and weighs some of the ethical and moral problems an individual or a society might face at the present time.

Robert Finch is the author of five collections of essays and co-editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing. He broadcasts a weekly commentary on NPR and serves on the faculty of the MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. He lives in Wellfleet, MA.