Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome, Jim Hartley

Penrod - a Review

by James Hartley
Penrod is a book (or, more accurately, a set of three books) written during the 1910's decade by the noted author Booth Tarkington. It is the story of Penrod Schofield, a boy approaching his twelfth birthday, and his friends. Truly, it is the story of how many ways they can find to get into trouble.


Now you may be asking yourself, why would I be reviewing a book written almost a hundred years ago? Well, Roseanne said she wanted something personal, and this book had a great influence on me ... an explanation is coming, wait for it! When I was younger, I had the set of three books, but they vanished somewhere. I suspect they went with the Oz books (boy, I wish I had some of those back!), given to a younger cousin went I got to college age ... my parents could see no use in an adult keeping that stuff, it was kid's books.

Things were different back in the 1910's decade. Behind the Schofield house was an alley, and facing on the alley was the empty stable, empty because the horse had died a year or two earlier. In the stable was a large enclosure that held sawdust to use to make a bed for the horse, providently half full when the horse died. This was Penrod's hideaway. In it he kept a box with pencils and a notebook, and in the notebook was Penrod's magnum opus, "HARoLD RAMoREZ THE RoADAGENT," filled with such lovely phrases as "He shot the scondrel in the abodmen." Yes, Penrod was an author, and as I read these books, it occurred to me that if he could do it, I could too. Here was one of my earliest inspirations to write, and I do remember making some efforts at the time. Long since lost, of course, but influential nonetheless. Yes, this was one of the things that eventually led me to writing my current book.

Which brings us to the present. My new book, "The Ghost of Grover's Ridge," has just been released by MuseItUp Publishing.

This is a contemporary fantasy, a battle between the (good) witches and the (evil) warlocks. It is the story of Ken Parker, an out of work Paranormal investigator who discovers that his cute, red-headed girlfriend Jinny is a witch, and then finds out that he too is a witch. The book is available (watch it, Mabel, here comes the commercial!) from the MuseItUp Bookstore at
or for Kindle users at

Here's a short excerpt:

The Ghost of Grover's Ridge (excerpt)
by James Hartley

“Please forgive me, Ken,” she said, the ceiling lights sparkling
in the tears forming in her eyes. “I wanted to protect you.
We're expecting bad things to happen, terrible things. I thought
if you knew nothing of it you would be safe. I could sense that
if you knew of the upcoming battle you would want to join in
with me ... my friends ... my fellow witches.”

Ken grabbed her and kissed her. “Jinny, Jinny! Of course I would
want to join in with, with, who are these other witches?” He
turned to look at Violet, stared a minute, then said, “You're a
witch too?”
“Well, duh!” she replied.
Ken continued, “I imagine a lot of the people in town are
witches too, aren't they. Your grandmother, Mr. Brentwood—”

Jinny interrupted him. “My grandmother, yes, but not Mr.
Brentwood. Most witches are female, male witches are very rare.
Right now there is only one male witch in all of Groverton.”

“One?” Ken asked. “Who is it? Anyone I've met?”
Violet broke in, saying, “Is he always this dense, Jinny?” She
turned to Ken and continued, “It's you, dummy! You're a witch,
and if you'll stop denying your abilities, a very powerful witch
at that!”

--------------------- end of excerpt ----------------------
Hope you enjoyed that ... well, you'll enjoy reading the whole book even more. Now, I have to get back to my writing, and I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm working on a book titled "This Wand for Hire," which will be the further adventures of Ken, Jinny, and the rest of their friends ... and some vampires! So long for now.


Roseanne Dowell said...

Penrod sounds like a wonderful story. I grew up on Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and Nancy Drew mysteries. I had whole sets of books. I eventually gave them to my daughters, who I hope still have them for their children.

Charlie said...

Love the dialogue with Jinny and Ken. One of my favorite slangs, 'duh?' Nice Excerpt. And Penrod sounds delightful.
Thanks for sharing.

Ginger Simpson said...

We all have books that influenced our writing it seems. Laura Ingalls Wilder and I were fast friends with the Little House series.

Great excerpt. Your book sounds fascinating. Witches and Warlocks...but no bears? Oh My.
I truly enjoy your posts.

Pat Dale said...

It's fascinating how things from our childhood trigger our decisions when we grow up. Thanks for sharing a bit of your youth with us. Your book sounds intriguing and I'm sure many of us will want to read it. Cheers,
Pat Dale

MuseItUp Publishing said...

There have been many who have influenced me but never pursued that style of writing. They were like silent mentors pushing that force that is called 'a writer' to come out of me.

I'm glad you had these forces behind you, too, James.

Heather Haven said...

Fabulous column, Jim, but I've come to expect no less.

Arlene said...

Hey Jim, great interview and thanks for taking me back into my past. Mark Twain, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and er..I have this well worn book titled Robin Hood that belongs to a certain library, I've had since I was 8 according to the due back date. Lovely excerpt.

Erika Gilbert said...

Great post, Jim. I think it's the books we fall in love with as children that inspire us to become writers and gives us the desire to create some of that magic for our selves.

Anonymous said...

Interesting beginning James. Nice excerpt that Ken didn't realize he was a witch. Congratulations in your success and a wish for many more.
Thanks for sharing Roseanne.
Kay Dee