Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday's Warriors - Aloha to Grace Augustine and RICHARD'S RELICS


War and its remnants are cruel. Just ask Richard Dempsey, a Vietnam Vet.

Richard served his turn in Vietnam, but came home a changed man. Plagued with nightmares of the past, Richard and his friends go on a life changing trip back to modern day Saigon. Their slay the dragons that stole so much of their lives.
Each deals with his own demons. Each has life changing experiences. Each finds out the importance of friendship and family.

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Internationally known author, Grace Augustine, was born in Shelby, Montana and grew up in Cut Bank, Montana (dubbed as The Coldest Spot in the Nation). Her work career has taken her from title and abstracting to administrative assistant church work to co-owning a small town weekly newspaper to her current profession as a floral designer.

Grace thinks of herself as a "Jill" of most trades and is not afraid to learn new things. "If you can't learn something new each day, there's something wrong," she says.

Augustine was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in July of 2003. Her thoughts on that "It may slow me down, but if I can at all do it, I will. Sitting and feeling sorry for yourself isn't the your life with an open, joy-filled heart is."

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Grace joins us for a cozy chat ...

Kim:  Montana! What is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Treasure State? 

Grace:  Oh my gosh...Glacier National park is my favorite smell....and you think I'm weird when I say this, but there is nothing like the fragrance of the sun on the ponderosa pines. Once you get that in your head you never lose it. You cannot compare the beauty of the really is Big Sky just goes on forever and the blue is crisp and clear. The sounds in the mountains of quiet or of the water rushing over the rocks creating roadside waterfalls....incredible. If you haven't been, I encourage you to do so.

Kim: Thank you for serving your community in so many ways! I appreciate floral designers - what are your favorite flowers and why? 

Grace:  My favorite flower...I love purple iris, dendrobium orchids and white hydrangea. Most people love roses...but I don't. To me they are way too common. Iris is a sign of spring. I remember the dwarf iris in the garden when I was a child. Dendrobium orchids are gorgeous and add a spark of color to vase arrangements and can be used in corsage and boutonniere work...hydrangea...who doesn't love those huge what puff balls? They take floral spray paint well so can be used in a variety of arrangements.

Kim:  Who or what helped you along the path to publishing?

Grace:  I remember visiting Writerspace one night when author Ginny Baird was the guest. Ginny and I struck up a conversation and have been friends since. She was instrumental in schooling me in the pitfalls of publishing. I've chosen to do self-publishing because the larger houses are inundated with manuscripts that sometimes sit for years with no response. I've been very happy with the process through Createspace and Draft2Digital. Their companies and employees are more than willing to help and very knowledgeable.

Kim:  What inspired RICHARD'S RELICS, namely, a Vietnam veteran returning to modern Vietnam?

Grace:  The Acorn Hills series is about a close group of friends who grew up in the late 60's on. It seemed only right that one of those characters serve in Vietnam. This was the most difficult book of the series to write, and I feel it is the best as well. I researched for days and happened on an article about Vietnam vets moving to Vietnam and setting up businesses to help other veterans come to terms with what happened over there. It was fascinating. Growing up in this time, it wasn't taught in school because it wasn't history, so to know anything you had to watch the news, and in my house...we didn't watch the news. It was a whole new world for me to explore and I enjoyed the research very much.

Kim:  What's next for Grace Augustine?

Grace:  I live my life on the day is a blessing of new adventures to move forward through. Personally, I continue to find ways to manage MS and be an advocate for others who endure the effects. I feel my personal reason for being here is to make a positive affect on as many people as I i will continue doing that and continue learning and seeking positive and peace in my life so I can pass it on to others. I have a couple local book signings...Romance Rendezvous II in Cedar Falls, Iowa in April and another local one in Marion, Iowa this summer. I hope to be traveling back to Montana for a visit in the fall as well as to a workshop in Washington state, and if it all works out, will attend Emerald City Romance Writers conference in October.

In the literary world...I will finish and publish the final book in the Acorn Hills series, Special Occasions. I have ideas for several short stories and stand alones...and I am starting a new series set in is a spin-off from the Acorn Hills series. Lindenport will be a 5 book collection.

Thank you so much for allowing me to visit with you and your readers today.

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Grace offers an excerpt from RICHARD'S RELICS ...

“Johnny! Goddamn it! Get down!” Richard yelled from his belly, the brush barely hiding him and the other four men on this clusterfuck of a mission. Just as the sound of gunfire erupted, Johnny hit the ground, not even a twitch from his body as bullets whizzed by like a thousand angry, deadly bees. 

Richard kept his stomach French-kissing the ground as he crawled over to the young man who was in his charge. Blood covered Johnny’s chest and head.

“Sonofabitch! Johnny, don’t you dare die on me! Do you hear me? Johnny!”

Richard sprang to a sitting position and looked at the clock. The red digital numbers 3:00 am stared angrily back at him. 

He ran a shaky hand through the small stubble of hair on his head. Like so many other mornings he woke up drenched in sweat from undying memories: memories of gunfire, yelling, children crying. Memories of clear unblinking eyes and permanent looks of fear frozen into faces as still as marble. The stench of death. Vietnam.



  1. There is actually a lovely antique shop near to where I live. I'd love to buy it all.

  2. That photo of the man visiting the wall is so touching. I visited it many years ago and found the name of a childhood friend who I had know died over in Viet Name. So very sad.

    This author is new to me and this story sounds like something I would enjoy.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I hope you have the chance to read Richard's Relics. This photo was taken at the wall in Des Moines, Iowa.

  3. Most of the antique stores around my house have closed.

    1. Antiquing is an almost obsolete business. I have many and have tried selling, to no avail. It's fun to look when you find one, that's for sure!

  4. There are no "unique" businesses where I live, so I make up for it by visiting the library.

    1. Traveling is a great way to find little out of the way shops. Sometimes you only have to go to the next town to investigate. :)

  5. SOS Aloha...thank you so much for hosting me on your blog.

  6. There's nothing nearby but if I travel to the other side of our city we have many little, unique shops of all kinds. I enjoyed hearing about you and your story. My husband served in VietNam.

    1. Thank you so much! I hope at some point you will have the opportunity to read Richard's Relics. I appreciate your support and encouragement!

  7. I agree, the day I stop learning something new is the day I need to find a new job.

    My town's quaint downtown has a cute little boutique. I can always find unique gifts and house decorations there. I love finding fun stores that are not part of a chain and show the character of the owners.

  8. We have an antique mart that has booths they rent out to a variety of dealers. I love to go in and browse around. There is such a delightful variety of things and I can always find something I like.

  9. There's a fruit and veg shop at a local farm closeny & not much more. The fresh produce is lovely though so I do shop there.

  10. I've heard of several unique stores, however, I've been buried in my business and couldn't tell you the last time I went shopping just for fun! Hoping to rectify that soon.

  11. There is a mountain town in our county that has an assortment of antique stores and little speciality shops. And pie stores too.

  12. Our small town coffee shop is a little hometown awesome place. So homey and welcoming. It now has canvas painting once a month. I love visiting!

  13. Not really into antiques. But like reading about them in novels.
    Karen T.