Monday, October 5, 2015


Recently I was contacted by a book promoter named Jessica Hardesty (Mind Buck Media) with a request to read/review a MG/YA novel Thee Links of Chain. I rarely read anything in this genre, but her pitch for the book was intriguing:

Just as parents are searching for those elusive last summer reading titles that are both exciting and uplifting, I'm working with Dennis Maley on his upcoming book release. Maley’s new young adult book, Three Links of Chain, tells the story of an escaped slave who makes his way across the Kansas Territory in the mid-1850s. Three Links of Chain provides a textured historical account of how Kansas struggled with becoming a free state and the importance of literacy to the individual at that time within a gripping adventure story. 
Intrigued by the themes of the novel, I accepted the challenge. I am glad I did. First let me introduce you to the author, Dennis Maley.


Born in the middle of the baby boom, 1948, Iowa. The best uncle a guy could have moved Mom to Wichita, Kansas, where my dad came once he got his walking papers from the Navy.
Just north of Wichita is a town called Valley Center. I was a mouthy underachiever K-12. Went to Kansas State University in the Little Apple, Manhattan, one semester, then transferred to Tulsa University where I met Mrs. Maley.

Mrs. Maley (Deliliah, Dee, Boo) was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She attended Edison High School in Tulsa (portrayed in the book and movie "The Outsiders" as the soshes). She and I married two years after the "Summer of Love." A bum shoulder gave me a 1-Y draft classification and I wasn't called to serve.

We moved to Oklahoma City where I worked in the income tax business. We have two kids. Our daughter was valedictorian at a good school, Phi Beta Kappa at Oklahoma University, suma cum laude. Our son won an award during freshman orientation for being able to put a condom on a banana the fastest while blindfolded. I am proud of him, too. He runs marathons. Because he graduated college, the odds against him getting incarcerated are 63 to 1. We're nuts about our three grandkids.
Mrs. Maley is a killer reading teacher. The part of "Three Links Of Chain" that is about literacy is a hat tip to her.

I started writing maybe 15 years ago. I gravitated to screenwriting as I didn't think my wordsmithing was good while my storytelling was OK. I love going back home to Oz, or Kansas as it is sometimes known. Mrs. Maley and I got a chance to visit the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church on a recent visit. Several years ago, out in the tallgrass prairie, I saw a roadside marker that sparked my curiosity and I ended up writing a script that involved Kansas history. People seemed to love a minor character, a runaway slaveboy. That's the genesis of "Three Links Of Chain."

I made four comedy short films with a couple of friends who have since died on me. Just as soon as I took over as dictator of my book club, one of our venerated members died. A theme is developing.
I sang and danced in a community theater production of "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," a minor role, the mayor. I got paid $6. I have a couple of guys hot to make a short film out of the first chapters of "Three Links Of Chain." If we didn't cut corners, the budget says $60,000 for 15 minutes. And if we caught lightning in a jar, maybe we make a feature length film. I organized a tax-exempt charity, raised $3,100, but have since run out of good ideas.

The number of ways to get $50-ed to death in this business are endless. I joined the Historical Novel Society six months ago, attracted to conference, but I didn't see any classes I liked. They all seemed to be for writers of bodice-rippers.

A writer from Florida accidently got himself born and was given my name. He's an ex-wrestler and boxer and to avoid conflict I've ceded the part of Florida south and east of Tallahassee to him. DON'T BE CONFUSED. It's the real me that has written "Three Links Of Chain," and I'm trolling for an agent to help me sell "Profane Fire At The Altar Of The Lord," a popular history about a couple of false Messiahs in the 16th century.

I don't want to tarnish my serious writing, so for my trashy humor, I borrow the name of a figment, T-Bob Corvus. A second e-book should be posted on Amazon in a month.

I play poker weekly with a bunch of guys I call my poker students. I like to walk when I play golf. I'm learning to play the banjo clawhammer style. People think I am eccentric.
Facebook: Dennis Maley

The flyer reads “One dark mulatto runaway, aged fourteen, well dressed and bright…”

Blanche thinks he has it good. He has risen above the field hands to a position helping run a printing
press. He's well fed, never physically mistreated, and he has taught himself to read, though he keeps the illicit skill a secret. Most importantly, he has been promised a chance at emancipation. Then, in a single bloody morning, Blanche’s world is overturned, his master lies dead, and his widow has no intention of following through with her husband's promise to free him.

Blanche would never have considered running away from his old life, but faced with the prospect of being sold as a laborer or worse, he forges his free papers and flees north, a fugitive, to create his own future. Only a few steps ahead of the slave catchers, he travels hundreds of miles across the violent backdrop of “bleeding Kansas” in the 1850s, a land torn apart by two very different visions of humanity.

This richly researched work of fiction weaves actual historical characters and institutions into the gripping story of a young man born into slavery but resolute in his quest for freedom.

Release: July 7th, 2015
Publisher: Jublio
ISBN: 978-0-9861158-0-6
Price: $11.95
Kindle Price: $2.99
Pages: 242
Distribution: Amazon and Ingram
Publicity Contact: MindBuck Media

My Review:
This was an intriguing book. I liked the voice and pace; it was written using the languge (idioms) of the 1850's. The story line was interesting, the setting was vivid and sometimes violent (as befits the "Bleeding Kansas" situation), and the main character Blanche was well developed with a large character arch. I liked the arrogance he developed as a skilled laborer, and how that arrogance was chipped away, sometimes in large chunks, as his life deteriorates and he finally determines to run away.

The journey Blanche embarks on to find the underground rail road leads him through much of the political turmoil in pre-civil war Kansas/Missouri, and the author expertly weaves in the corruption, violence, and debates of the times. My only complaint with the novel was the author's prolific use of research, often overly describing the uses and development of items and issues, and personal motives and histories of the famous individuals Blanche encounters.

Overall a well developed, well paced historical fiction, with authentic voice and personalities. The author note at the end of the novel was much appreciated, as it described which of the characters and events were historically accurate, and which were composites of much research. I highly recommend this novel to anybody who enjoys a rich historical content; but mostly for school aged children who don't enjoy a dry history lesson, but enjoys a good, factual story.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Dennis certainly sounds like a character. And he's dabbled in so many things over the year. Cool that his novel has so many actual, historical events and people.

Stephen Tremp said...

I've noticed many great writers were K-12 underachievers. I was one. Good luck to Dennis and Three Links of Chain.

Pat Hatt said...

That is a great addition to let readers know which are accurate. Never saw any author do that before that I recall.

Arlee Bird said...

Dennis sounds like a guy with whom I can relate. The story also sounds up my alley. Those journey stories are my favorites.

Wishing the author well with his book.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Thanks for highlighting this author, Donna. Because of you, I've now heard of him and can follow his career. This book does sound interesting, although it's not my "typical" fare.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Hi Donna. I could see this being made into a movie! Love the 1850's 'flavor.' Your review is great - now I want to read this book.

Wishing Mr.& Mrs. Maley, a fulfilling future. (smile)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - and thanks for hosting Dennis - he's introducing us to history we need to remember, or for me to learn about - such an interesting read. Cheers to you both - Hilary

Olga Godim said...

Sounds like a good book, and the author seems a pretty cool guy. Thanks for the post, Donna,

dolorah said...

Alex: I thought he was a character out of his own books too :)

Steve: me too. Must be what it takes to be a good writer :)

Pat: it was appreciated

Lee: I bet the two of you could share lots of stories.

Mike: like me, its good for you to stretch your reading venue. When's your next book coming out?

Thanks Polka Dot: yeah, I thought it'd make a great movie too. I'd watch

Hi Hilary. You are sounding so chipper, like your old self again :)

Olga; he was fun to host, and to read his book.

cleemckenzie said...

He sounds like an interesting man. And he plays poker regularly. That's impressive. I can't do that and stay solvent. Congrats to him and his new book.

Yolanda Renee said...

Only way to stay solvent and play poker is not to play for money, but then there aren't games where that happens, except in my house. LOL
What a greats sounding book and wonderful for history teachers and students.
Great review, Donna, you do these so well!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That sounds like a really interesting read. Kansas is still so barren for long stretches today, I always wonder how those early settlers found their way across it.

dolorah said...

Lee: I suck at poker.

Yolanda: we play for pennies at my house, and consistently share pots to keep everyone in the game.

Susan: I wonder how people traveled to the store in those days, lol. I hope never to be car-less again.

DEZMOND said...

nice to see deeper topics in YA genre!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like an interesting historical story. I don't read many of them, but really enjoy them when I do. I may have to check this one out.

Cate Masters said...

Sounds intriguing and unique, a great combination. Best of luck with your book, Dennis.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Don't you hate it when another author turns up with your name? There's a Diane L. Wolfe out there who writes cookbooks and I promise it's not me.

J.L. Campbell said...

The story sounds fascinating as does the author himself.

Chrys Fey said...

Three Links of Chain is an interesting title. I really like it! The story sounds good. I don't read much historical fiction but this sounds like one I'd like. Thanks for sharing your review with us!

dolorah said...

Dezzy: my thoughts too.

Natalie: I'm sure you'll enjoy both the character and the history.

Thanks Cate

Diane: yeah, There are several Donna Hole's out there that are advertising sites, and one that has confiscated my former blogspot. So creepy.

Hi Joy!

Chrys: it is from a song of that era that really fits the theme of the novel.