17 more reasons to be blue

There are 17 more reasons to be blue after what happened in Florida today. Sadly, Nikki’s poem, “Streaks of Blue,” from my 2013 novel of the same name, still applies today …

“Red, white and …
Streaks of blue
Far off the path
I search for truth

Live free or die
A state of beauty
Will we be next
To look to the sky
And find more stars
Than the night just passed?
Lessons never learned
The youngest of souls
Pay with their lives
So for them I cry

The rain in my heart
Soaks every ring
This paper on which I write
Once was a sapling
So young and new
But now it’s a vessel
On a lake
Beneath a cloud
And onto it flow
My streaks of blue

Again and again
More trees fall
No not me
But it might as well be
For I die with them

As the view gets clearer
And the truth gets nearer
I am sad to discover
That we truly are lost
So I look in the mirror
And dye my hair blue
So I brook through the mountains
And keep my heart true

I’ll blaze a new trail
No matter the cost
One without labels
One that is just
Souls are for saving
While we’re still walking
So strap on your packs
Your hopes, your boots
And keep your eyes open
For my streaks of blue

Yes, I’ll blaze a new trail
A path for the lost.”

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First time I’ve been called a badass author level 10 in a review!

Goodreads reviewer “Ren the Booknerd” from the Philippines posted this 5-star review of “Nikki White: Polar Extremes” and called the Nikki series “mind-blowing” …

“You would never expect the series to end like that if you just read Streaks of Blue. In my reviews of the first two books, I said that I dont think they should be in the same series. Boy was I wrong! You have to finish the whole series to figure it out. This series is mind blowing. My head is still boggling from all those twists and surprises. I truly enjoyed reading this book, and I’m glad that the writing style of the author has improved a lot. How do you do that, Jack Chaucer? How do you go from just your average author to badass author level 10?”

‘Hardcore Dutch Epicure Gypsy’ is a true story of grit and sweets

My wife, Wilma, and I are teaming up on a true story, “Hardcore Dutch Epicure Gypsy.” That’s the description of my wife that a bakery supply truck driver left on a note she found, and it is certainly fitting for the story of Wilma and her parents, Wolfgang and Betsy, and what it has taken to make a little international bakery in Litchfield, Connecticut, such a sweet success for the past 50 years. Preliminary work on this book has begun and we’d like to get it published in time for Litchfield’s 300th birthday in 2019, because The Dutch Epicure Shop is one of the many things that makes this town unique and special. We’ll also be seeking anecdotes from the shop’s customers, so message me if any of you want to contribute a favorite memory or story about the store, its many delights and/or the hardworking Joas family.

For now, here’s a little teaser …

THEY MET ON THE SS ROTTERDAM, a Holland America cruise ship, where they learned to work hard while others vacationed. They honed their skills as a pastry chef and stewardess. They saw the world together and fell in love.

And one day in 1967, Wolfgang Joas of Germany and Betsy Pronk of Holland docked for good in the little town of Litchfield, Connecticut, where they began raising a family and operating a fledgling bakery called The Dutch Epicure Shop.

More than 50 years later, in an America full of big-box retailers and fast-food joints, that little shop still hand-rolls pretzels and hand-dips macaroons in chocolate behind a modest storefront in a nondescript plaza.

If not for the German and Dutch flags flapping in the breeze alongside Route 202, one could easily miss this portal to a different time and so many places all at once — all of which can be experienced in as little as one bite.

PERHAPS IT IS FITTING that Wilma Joas — daughter of Wolfgang and Betsy, and owner of The Dutch Epicure Shop since taking over from her parents in 2002 — began selling her own ice cream in flavors ranging from apricot brandy to marzipan swirl to celebrate the family’s 50th year of running the store in 2017.

Wolfgang’s job in his first cruise on the SS Rotterdam was to make ice cream. When the massive ocean liner departed Holland on May 5, 1962, for a weeklong journey to New York and back, the 23-year-old was one of nine pastry chefs and part of a 130-person kitchen crew. The ship could ferry up to 1,700 passengers, including 150 to 200 in first class, during a time when it was cheaper to cross the Atlantic by boat than plane.

Wolfgang didn’t know it at the time, but his future wife was among the ship’s 600 total crew members who set sail that day …

P.S. I’ll be writing under my real name, John Cullen, for this one. Jack Chaucer, last seen blasting off for Mars with Nikki and touring the Isle of Wishpers with a group of children, is on hiatus.

5 great reviews from 3 different countries for THE PASSWORD IS WISHPERS …

Five NetGalley/Goodreads reviewers from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Canada and Great Britain share their thoughts on Jack Chaucer’s new children’s book, THE PASSWORD IS WISHPERS, now available in paperback at Amazon and Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, as well as major e-retailers.

“Such a super quick, and very cute story about keeping a group of small children calm during a scary situation. Even though it is only around 30 pages long, I have already fallen in love with the author and his writing style, and I cannot wait to check out more of his stuff.”

— Jemma Hammond, author and reviewer from Great Britain

“Ever wonder what kids do during a school lockdown? How do teachers keep their classes quiet when they are in such an emergency situation?

THE PASSWORD IS WISHPERS is a tale of imagination and playful fantasy set in the context of a lockdown. Mrs. Shea keeps her class of twelve students quiet and calm with a trip to the Isle of Wishpers. With their eyes closed, Mrs. Shea uses storytelling to guide them through their trip. Each child has an opportunity to whisper a wish (wishper) to add flair to the story.

The tale was beautifully written. I was in awe of Mrs. Shea’s ability to smoothly incorporate each child’s wish into her story and change the direction of the story without hesitation. I could see the eager faces of the children and imagine teachers inspired to tell similar tales to their own classes during lockdown drills or the real thing.”

— Liz Tipping, book reviewer from Joelton, Tennessee

“This is a very good story that shows the school classroom during a lockdown. I can’t exactly describe the quality that sticks with you other than to say that the story created a sense of peace in me. I can only hope that my children have a teacher like this in a similar situation. The teacher’s quiet confidence sticks with you after the story is finished. It does feel like it could use a few more illustrations. The ones that are included are well done and help bring the wishes the students make alive.”

— Richelle Zirkle, former school and government librarian in Houston, Pennsylvania

“As a retired elementary school teacher/administrator, we had to practice lockdown drills with our students. Because they were always drills, I do not think they were taken as seriously as they should have been. I liked that this story emphasized being quiet, taking it seriously. the story the teacher and students whispered was calming and kept them on task. The story was a bit long and probably could have used more illustrations. The illustrations that were there were large, vivid and colourful. This would be a great book to read before a lockdown drill or emergency so the activity could be used when the time arises. A nice addition to a primary classroom.”

— Carla Johnson-Hicks, retired teacher and primary school administrator in Windsor, Ontario, Canada

“I liked the colourful illustrations dotted throughout the book, allowing the reader to imagine what is happening a bit clearer. It’s a unique book. I’ve not come across anything similar before which is nice.”

— Rebecca Walsh, primary school educator in Great Britain

THE PASSWORD IS WISHPERS officially released today!

My new children’s book is now available in Amazon paperback, Kindle, Apple iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, etc., as well as the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot! The amazing cover art and illustrations are by Jeanine Henning of Cape Town, South Africa!

Here’s the Amazon link …

And here’s what Joanne M. Moore, MLS, school library media specialist at Litchfield Center School in Litchfield, Connecticut, USA, had to say about the book:

“Author Jack Chaucer sensitively addresses a solemn school exercise in his first children’s book, The Password Is Wishpers. Along with fire drills and other safety measures, lockdown drills are standard in schools of today, and the author’s message soothes and distracts students in the fictional story about the sensitive topic. In the story, during an extended drill, the teacher and her students weave an exciting tale of adventure. Along the way, the children spell the word CHILDHOOD, as they discover and are reminded that their childhood is a gift to be cherished every day. Although silence is often required during a lockdown drill, if whispering is permitted, the book has a comforting message and is an exciting read. The book would be an excellent one to “whisper read” to students during lockdown drills in every school.”