Keep Pounding!

img_5478In a blog post a couple of weeks ago I  wrote about Alj — his full name is Albert Jefferies.  He is still in the hospital, waiting for a new heart.  He has been no stranger to hospitals in his short life but this time, the hospital has been his home for the last 78 days.  Well, he did get a chance to go back home once but he had to return almost immediately.  I’ve stayed in the hospital twice, both times for like two days and both times I hated it.  I can not imagine spending almost three months there.

Alj  is inspiring.  This young man has endured so much:  prodding and poking and endless tests … and he continues to do so.  Part of his strength, I’m sure, comes from his mother, Tina Turner.  I’ve only met her online, but I know my wife met her in person, briefly,  before Christmas.  Tina beats the drum about Alj’s illness relentlessly, recruiting “angels” as she calls them … all the time trying to add more prayer voices to those she has already recruited.  In that brief conversation, my wife was moved by Tina’s passion and her love for Albert, and by her force of will.  If the strength of a mother’s love was all Alj needed to be cured, he would be out playing ball with all his friends right now.  Both Albert and Tina are tremendous human beings.  They are my heroes.

I’m writing this update to let you know about a couple of new things.  For one thing, Alj has a new website and he’d love to hear from you.

Just click the contact tab and send him your well-wishes.

Also, he’s made the news!  He’s met more reporters in his young life than most of us will ever meet.  Why?  Because he is an inspiration.  The latest story just aired on a local Raleigh North Carolina TV station WRAL.  Great story.  Please check it out and tell your friends.

Their hospital expenses are enormous and there are links on the web page for a gofundme campaign.  Every little bit helps.  There is also a local fundraiser this weekend in Hillsborough, NC … if you are in the area, you might consider participating.  As I said, every little bit helps.  You can find information about it on the web page as well.

TeamAlj has a motto, “Keep Pounding” — Take one moment every day and place a hand on your chest and feel the magic of your own beating heart and think about young Albert and silently repeat that motto —  “KEEP POUNDING!”

God bless you, Albert and Tina.



Trench Warfare

enemiesI’m doing a rare book review for a writing buddy, Richard Barnes.  We have both published books in the last year from the same publisher.  It’s a good book, about The Great War.  Below is the text I used for several other reviews I’ve posted.
The release of Enemies was well-timed, coinciding with the centennial of the War To End All Wars. What we are presented with is a story within a story — something I can’t say very much about or I would divulge spoilers … but I will say the secondary story reflects events roughly fifty years after the war so in that respect those events are fifty years ago. With this, the author created an ingenious vehicle to combine the past with that present.

Ah, but the war, it’s mostly about the war. It follows two young men, one a young Canadian fighting for God, King, and Country, and a young German, fighting for the glory of the Kaiser and the Fatherland. Despite the obvious differences, i.e. fighting for the opposing forces, they follow very similar tracks in their respective journeys to the front.

Most “war stories” tend to dwell upon the big picture and the generals but Barnes effectively brings us an intimate portrayal of what I like to call the real war. Main characters Brian and Jurgens both suffer through the training and the boredom outside of combat. They both dwell upon questions of “what if” regarding hasty pre-war almost-romances. They both have close friendships and rough relationships while in the service and they both endure loss from the ranks of those associations. And of course, they are both thrust into situations no young person should ever have to endure, never knowing what the big picture of what they are doing is supposed to be, never knowing if the screaming death of constant shelling will find them, never knowing if a they will be called away by an unseen sniper’s bullet, never knowing if the next trench, the next whistle blow, or the next muddy water filled crater will be the last thing they see or hear on this earth.

I have a degree in History and am a student of this war and I have to give Barnes credit, he puts the reader right there in the trenches ON BOTH SIDES. His research was spot on and his military background gave him insight into a front line soldier’s mind. That he can convey that into a work of fiction is remarkable.

I think any reader will enjoy this work … it is not just a war story, it is a story of the human condition, the fears and frailties, the hopes and dreams, and ultimately it is a story of remembrance and resolution.

the REAL braveheart

This is Alj … currently in the hospital in North Carolina waiting for a heart transplant.  He is thirteen years old and has been suffering from a form of congenital heart disease his entire life.

Some time before Christmas his mother was standing in line behind my wife at a store … the woman’s trips away from the hospital have been rare of late, and this was one of those few trips.  She mentioned his facebook page and we’ve been following him ever since.

I thought I’d take a break from hawking my novel and telling silly stories to tell you about him.  Please help get his story out.  I’ve learned a few things from Alj … he is a fighter, he’s upbeat, he has never given up hope.  Whatever your life throws at you, just reading about his life puts the minor trials and tribulations of most of our lives into a new perspective.

Go read about him and keep up with his story.  He is an inspiration, and so is his mother, who rarely leaves his side.  He’s hit a particularly rough patch this week and no matter your inclinations, please share your prayers, thoughts, vibes, karma, whatever you have … put it out there for him.
You can read more about him here: