Vinegarone is nothing more than rugged land with few inhabitants and little to hope for. Or is it?
Jeep Allhands says that time bends in Vinegarone and that life as we know it emanates from a large tree – the Lone Madrone. A descendant of the original Native Americans who called this part of Texas home, Jeep maintains a sanctuary for a handful of homeless men who bask in the humility of this foreboding land as they mend their souls.
Life with his clan and Kimmisue, the daughter of the only woman he ever loved, gets turned on its end when Jeep befriends a confused, homeless woman, Candi LaRue. Jeep does what he does best. He heals Candi's physical and emotional wounds. Afterwards, he integrates her into the odd mix of personalities at home. Just as all seems to be going right, Candi recalls what brought her to Texas in the first place. She was hunting a criminal, and she can't give up the chase.
There's one catch, nobody ever leaves Vinegarone...
Vinegarone is my second published novel. It is a romantic fantasy that is set in the present day, with an integral romance, in a western setting. Two things happened to me that gave me the concept of this novel. First, I witnessed the unconscionable treatment of a woman transient (let's call her Mandy) by a hospital's staff. I was able to personally intervene in what I felt was a positive way and turn a terribly inhumane situation into something that would hopefully become life-altering for her. My imagination blended this episode with a little My Fair Lady to develop the storyline and relationships. While Candy, the character in my novel, finds herself, Mandy, in real life, remains today a troubled individual. Homelessness and mental illness are a scar on the American landscape that we must collectively address.
Now for the second event that influenced me. Where would this story take place? In Vinegarone, of course. I was having a conversation with a friend over a glass of wine, and she asked about one of the towns listed on the front cover of the local telephone directory. Keep in mind we live in a very rural area. The town was Vinegarone, and she had never heard of it, nor had I. I investigated, and it was quite an undertaking to find anyone who had heard of this place. Little more than a remnant of a general store and, quite literally, a wide spot in the road, it sounded perfect for the setting of the story.
Warning for readers. As a paramedic and firefighter, I deal with "street language" all the time and it isn't all pretty. In fact, it's profane in excess, and slurs and bigoted language are unfortunately too common. I had to choose between authenticity and prudishness. I chose the former. Some of my readers object to my language. That comes with the territory within which we wade if you read the entire novel.
Sexual & violent content: All of my novels have at least a few steamy scenes that leave much to the imagination. This novel is one of them. Most of my readers look forward to them. They are tastefully done. There are no explicit sex scenes. There is some violence including recall of a previous sexual assault and an attempted rape. If these subjects offend you or bother you in some manner, you may wish to choose another one of my novels.
"This book pulled me into the story from the beginning. I had to force myself to lay down my Kindle. I wanted more, more, & more once the book ended! Can hardly wait for Mr. Carlyle's next book."
"...I highly recommend this book if you like to read something different once in awhile. It's well-written and atmospheric. And the story itself is fascinating."
"After reading Vinegarone, I wasn't sure whether it would come under the category of thriller, romance, or fantasy, However, Mr. Carlyle is an excellent writer and this book certainly keep the reader turning pages as you reach the final chapters."
"Writer and teacher John Gardner once talked about what he called 'the fictional dream', which means that good fiction does its job by creating a dream state for the reader, and as long as the writer manages to maintain that dream state, the reader won't 'wake up' from it and will continue to 'live' in the fictional world the writer has created. In my mind, Douglas Carlyle succeeded in doing just that with this book."
"...Could not put this book down!! Makes you really think about other communities and their people. Made me wonder what this world would be like. Doug gave me an amazing read..."
" I loved this book and all the characters. You had me going when the last section of the book started. Hehe. Surprise! The premise is intriguing and the cast is engaging. Good vs evil is as old as time, but always a real and present battle. I enjoyed fighting this one with you."
"Loved this book! Caught my interest right from the beginning and kept it throughout. Liked the twists and turns. Some were expected but most were not."
"I really loved this book. It had all the things you like, romance, mystery, but it was done with a new and very refreshing twist. I highly recommend it."
"Wonderfully strange yet truly beautiful. Interesting cast of quirky misbegotten characters and amazing story lines. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the Shaman aspect."
" I absolutely LOVED, loved, LOVED this story.
Is it a mystery? Is it a scifi? Is it a thriller, a horror book or a spiritual manual? It is ALL of these things, and, oh, so much more.
I adore a book that 'makes me think', that gives me pause in my day, Demands that I take notice of the moral or the underlying story told. This book is one that made me sit up and take notice. It covers a gauntlet of subjects, including the WAR between good and evil in the hearts of humans, Native American Mysticism, Time travel (really? Yes!) It is exceptionally difficult to do a book WELL that is as 'busy' as this book is, that has so MANY things going on within it's pages, but the author accomplished this.
I realize I sound as if I am rambling and for that I apologize - to the author and other readers. I finished this book nearly a two years ago and quite honesty, was too ill at that time to devote the time to leave a review. I can easily say this, though - THE BOOK STAYED WITH ME. When I saw another of Douglas Carlyle's books on sale today I immediately flashed back to this book and how WONDERFUL it was to have read it. I remembered searching the internet for the geological locations described within the pages, searching out information about a specific BUG (yes, a bug) and other faucets that I found interesting. And, above all else, I remember the EXACT feelings of BLISS inside of me at being able to meet the people of this book. It was truly a great story, one that deserves to be passed along for others to become enlighten about Vinegarone, Texas and how the people who live there are the keepers of all that this world holds dear. I would like to go there, but one must be INVITED.
GREAT STORY. "
Published originally in 2012, I released a 2nd Edition in January, 2014,
Vinegarone made it to the short-list of finalists in the 2010 William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition (Novel-in-Progress)!
My daughter Sarah created this incredible cover by merging three photographs. The eyes belong another daughter, Megan. The tree is at the top of our ranch, and the mountain in the distance is the region of the Devils River in Val Verde County, Texas.
The picture to the right is that of a vinegaroon, also known as a whip scorpion. They are indigenous to the desert southwest and lack the stinger and tail of the scorpion most of us dread. When disturbed, the vinegaroon emits an odor similar to that of vinegar - hence the name. The region where this novel takes place is called Vinegarone. I'm thinking something got lost in the translation over the years.