Archive for the ‘Book Reviewers’ Category


May 8, 2012

2011 Book of the Year Award Finalists Announced UPDATE: CORRIGANS’ POOL WAS AWARDED THE GOLD! WINNER 2011 “BOOK OF THE YEAR.”

ForeWord Reviews is pleased to announce that the 2011 Book of the Year winner in historical romance division is Corrigans’ Pool. Representing more than 700 publishers, the finalists were selected from 1200 entries in 60 genre categories. These books are examples of independent publishing at its finest.

The winning  book is a second, revised, printing of Corrigans’ Pool, the original of which was published in 2009. This new edition was published in 2011 by Checkered Swan Publishing, under a new ISBN, with an additional chapter, plus other minor revisions that the author, Dot Ryan, was compelled to make.

Dot is a native of Beeville, Texas, and lives there with her husband of 29 years, Sam.

ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards program was established to help publishers shine an additional spotlight on their best titles and bring increased attention to librarians and booksellers of the literary and graphic achievements of independent publishers and their authors. Award winners are chosen by librarians and booksellers who are on the front lines, working everyday with patrons and customers.

ForeWord is the only review trade journal devoted exclusively to books from independent houses




CORRIGANS’ POOL is ForeWord Reviews’ 2011 “BOOK OF THE YEAR” (Historical Romance category)

July 14, 2011


Corrigan’s Pool, Dot Ryan – Author Guest Post

January 6, 2010

Corrigan’s Pool, Dot Ryan – Author Guest Post.

Dot Ryan’s Corrigans’ Pool gets Five Star Review!

November 4, 2009

ForeWord Clarion Review
Corrigans’ Pool
Dot Ryan

404 pages
Five Stars (out of Five)
Upon finishing Dot Ryan’s debut novel, Corrigans’ Pool, readers will feel thankful that this remarkable writing talent has burst on the scene and chosen to share such a gem. Ryan’s storytelling ability and masterful use of setting, dialogue, and characterization add up to an exquisite piece of historical fiction.
The eldest of two daughters, Ella Corrigan rises to the challenge when a family tragedy results in an incapacitated mother and a father consumed by guilt. Despite the pressures of essentially running the family plantation on her own, she bears the burden of responsibility stoically, with kindness, efficiency, and little resentment for her lot in life.
Somewhat resigned to the possibility of never marrying, Ella is stunned by her reaction when she meets the dashing, if seemingly ill-suited, Gentry Garland. She repeatedly resists the attraction at first, resulting in moments both touching and amusing, until Gentry finally lays it all on the line: “One of two things is going to happen, Miss Ella Corrigan. Either we’re going to walk away from each other here and now, or we’re going to stop fooling ourselves and admit the god-awful truth.”
From there, it doesn’t take long for Ella to begin envisioning a different, more enriching future—at least until the Civil War lands on their doorstep and Gentry strangely disappears without a word. Devastated, Ella refocuses on doing the best for her
family, making the fateful decision to marry neighboring plantation owner Victor Faircloth. Victor’s increasingly contemptuous violence toward those who serve his household sickens Ella, and a gripping mystery begins to unfold involving his rapidly disappearing slaves and the beautiful pool on Ella’s family property. As the Civil War rages on, Ella finds herself fighting a war of her own to save her home, her loved ones, and the innocent victims of her husband’s brutality. Villains and heroes are exposed in their true light, loves are lost and found, and the strength of human spirit ultimately prevails.
Corrigans’ Pool manages to blend romance, mystery, humor, and tragedy with flawless precision. Ryan paints a picture of the old South with a colorful palette of respectful admiration and stark reality, drawing readers into the beauty of the land as well as the horror of the war that threatened to destroy it. Each character is vibrant in their individuality, and every scene is drawn with a rich detail that engages the reader and evokes emotion without becoming cumbersome. The romance is moving but subtle, the mystery is suspenseful, and the story flows smoothly toward a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.
Readers are sure to be enthralled with this exceptional novel, and they will be pleased to know that Ryan is currently penning the sequel. Corrigans’ Pool is a superior achievement, and author Dot Ryan is undeniably a talent not to be missed. Highly recommended.
Jeannine Chartier Hanscom

Get a glimpse at the serial to Dot Ryan’s historical novel, CORRIGANS’ POOL

October 14, 2009

If you read my historical novel, Corrigans’ Pool,  and are interested in reading more of my work,  please go to my website site to read about  the sequel, NO PLACE FOR NAKED DOWSERS           

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I want to thank fans for giving Corrigans’ Pool such high marks, and for conveying to me that they indeed wanted a sequel, even to the point of telling me which of Corrigans’ Pool’s characters they definitely wanted to reappear in the sequel. I am overwhelmed by you enthusiasm and very grateful. No Place For Naked Dowsers takes place in Gentry Garland’s wilds of Texas after the Civil War.

Bless you all,

Dot Ryan

Dot Ryan’s frank talk with Barbora Knobova

October 8, 2009

Interview with Dot Ryan, Author of Corrigan’s Pool

September 30, 2009 — Barbora Knobova

I’m very honored that Dot Ryan, author of Corrigan’s Pool, agreed to this interview. Dot is a great author and a wonderful lady. Her book, Corrigan’s Pool, is truly exceptional – just like the story of her life.

1. What inspired you to write Corrigans’ Pool and what made you choose the subject?

I learned at a very early age that my Irish paternal great-great grandparents came to Texas from Pennsylvania in 1819. Stories passed down from generation to generation about the hazards they and others faced piqued my interest in history even before I was old enough to read and write.  In time, my interests gravitated to novels, books with strong characters struggling to survive, in one way or another, through an era of American’s diverse history, especially the Civil War years and its aftermath. I grew up knowing that someday I would write such a novel.   Corrigans’ Pool popped into my head and into my dreams years before I actually wrote it.

2. How long did it take for you to write Corrigans’ Pool?

This is a truth that is very hard to tell, but, like my Irish grandmother always said, “Never fib about anything—the truth is easier to remember per chance you need to repeat yourself.”  I suppose one could say I wrote Corrigans’ Pool the hard way, discovering, as I went along that the desire to write a book is all well and good … but first, one must learn to write! I wrote bits and pieces of the novel in the 60s’ and 70s’, then put it away for months and years at a time while I struggled with the knowledge that I needed more knowledge. The two years of college business courses that I had completed earlier were not enough. Thereafter, I began a campaign of self-study, hours in libraries doing research, reading and re-reading dozens of books on writing, enrolling in every writer’s course available within reasonable driving distance from my rural home. And, of course, reading as many novels as I could. By the time I felt that I could truly call myself a writer, I had a son and daughter in high school and a third daughter just starting junior high.  It was not beneath me to study their English books late at night when they were asleep; I did so with a dedication that had been lacking when I was a student.  I finished my novel in 1982 … and lost every page of it in a fire a few months later, along with most of my research notes.  Devastated is not a strong enough word for what I felt.  After struggling against bouts of crippling self-pity (that surfaced periodically during the next few years) I started Corrigans’ Pool all over again. Six years later, with time off to run a business, my novel was a hefty tome of 1012 pages.  More work was ahead in that it had to be shortened by more than half. When a male relative discovered that a new Corrigans’ Pool had risen from the ashes of the old, he declared me a classic example of stubborn feminine fortitude. That’s a good enough description, as far as I’m concerned.

3. Did you encounter any difficulties when writing?

In addition to the problems mentioned above, the most difficult thing was finding the time to write while still maintaining a healthy life style.  Loss of sleep and failure to exercise takes its toll on many writers.  Most of us have outside jobs, after which we rush home to care for families.  I did that for years, and had to learn to pace myself.  The difficulty I now face is learning to market my published book effectively while finding time to write more books.  My retirement from the workplace makes the process easier.

4. What was the most difficult part to write and the easiest? The most difficult part was making certain of my historical facts and then working them into my story’s timeline.  Doing research and double-checking that research took many long hours. The easiest part was creating the characters, picking their brains, deciding their quirks and attitudes, and then discovering how they react to each other. Before I wrote the first word of Corrigans’ Pool, I had created most of the characters. I had even introduced myself to a few of the characters that would appear in the sequel to Corrigans’ Pool—which was only an incomplete though in my head at the time.

5. Would you change anything if you could?

No.  Like Corrigans’ Pool’s Gentry Garland said to the tenacious young Honor Corrigan, “Never ask why unless a why can change a what.”   In other words, if you can’t change it, don’t fret it.  I used to wish I could have pulled that first manuscript from the flames before it burned, but I’ve since learned that when your dreams go up in smoke … take a short nap and then dream again.

6. Tell us about your favorite character.

Besides the central character Ella Corrigan and her younger sister, Honor … I like their domineering grandmother, Beatrice Corrigan. She is a contradiction of her time, extremely old fashioned in many of her beliefs but scandalously modern in her views of divorce. A sample of this is when she said to Ella, “There is a part of me that says scandal is to be avoided no matter what—the part of me that taught you all those unbendable rules that apply only to females.” She grasped Ella’s chin and studied her face. “And there is a better part of me that argues a woman should not have to hinge her well-being, her happiness, her value, on the decree of a callous husband or a pitiless society.”  I don’t think Beatrice would have burned her bra in the 60s’ but she would have marched alongside the dissenters even as she tried to cover their bosoms with her cape. Another favorite character is Timon Pledger, a guilt-ridden young preacher—a character that readers have told me they find fascinating.  He fascinated me, too, as I wrote about him. I also like the twin slave girls, Moonbeam and Sunbeam, along with Ella’s protector, Meshach. (I’ll stop here before I tell you that I love all my characters, which I do … except maybe the horrible Victor Faircloth.)

7. According to your opinion, who is your book for?

When I first began writing Corrigans’ Pool, I thought I was writing for women of all ages, but as the story developed, I wondered if perhaps men would also like it.  This, because it is far from a “traditional romance” story of the type that most men shy away from.  The war, in conjunction with the male characters and what happens to them, along with the slaves whose story drives the mystery behind an important sub plot in the book are reasons for men to read Corrigans’ Pool.  My thoughts were reaffirmed by several reviews on that were written by men who had high praise for Corrigans’ Pool.  So yes, I would say that Corrigans’ Pool is meant for men and women of all ages. 

8. What would you like to accomplish with your book? Can I regard this as a fun question and say that I would like to sell several million copies, and then get a call from Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, or Clint Eastwood wanting to make a movie of it?

Realistically though, I would like Corrigans’ Pool to establish me as a serious writer. I believe this can be accomplished only when, and if, I can get Corrigans’ Pool into the hands of the reading public.  I am perfectly willing to put my fate in their capable hands.

9.   What are you working on at the moment? What are your future plans?

Presently, I am working on the sequel to Corrigans’ Pool, which takes place in Texas immediately after the Civil War during the state’s dangerous Reconstruction era.  Many readers of Corrigans’ Pool have told me which characters they definitely want to see in the sequel, and I am paying close attention to everything my treasured readers say.  I will post Part One of the sequel (which I have tentatively named Leaving Corrigans’ Pool) on my website ( later this fall.  I hope to publish the entire book by the end of next year, hopefully before that.  Self-promoting Corrigans’ Pool may slow the finish of the sequel, but I will do my very best.

My future plans are to finish two additional novels that I started some time back.

Both take place in World War II America, in the South.  I am also working on a comic memoir about my and my husband’s seven-year adventure as entrepreneurs in the Texas Dance Hall business, during the dying throes of the Urban Cowboy days. I’ve got a lot to do, but writing is a joy that keeps me young at heart and mind.  I am a lucky woman, with the encouragement of a great husband and family who lovingly share me with my writing habits.

Thank you very much for the interview, Dot!

Dot’s Website

Excerpt From Chapter One

August 9, 2009


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EXCERPT FROM CORRIGANS’ POOL: Circling around to the front of the manor, Ella paused in the garden to examine one of the two dozen rose bushes scattered about, a few of which were already in blossom. The clatter of a carriage on the circular driveway caused her to look up, and she spied Victor Faircloth, driven by his daft servant, Lenny, pulling up to the manor steps.

Almost in reflex, she stepped backward to hide behind the lattice and peek through the thorny leaves. What else would ruin her day? She watched him move with exaggerated pomp up the steps and across the veranda, his never-used silver-handled cane hooked over his elegantly sleeved wrist. In an odd way, the man was handsome, his cheeks deeply grooved, almost like elongated dimples. But his cheerless gray eyes could take the joy out of one’s thoughts almost before one realized it had happened.

And to think this man—her father’s boyhood friend—wanted to marry her. He was more like a distant relative than a suitor, and a cold one at that. She had been only seventeen when he first proposed, and he was forty-one at the time. Shocked, she had sprung from the divan without uttering a word and abandoned him for the privacy of her room. On his next visit, she apologized for her rudeness, then regretted ever since that she was not forthright and simply told him that she would never marry him. He bowed his signature stiff bow, and she was surprised how it irritated her.

“I am aware of your parents’ unfortunate situation,” Victor replied. “In such times, an eldest daughter’s first duty lies with her family. But I shall not be far, my dear.”

He had been true to his word, his frequent presence in her home becoming her greatest bane. Not that he wasn’t sweet to her, but when he thought she wasn’t looking, his eyes followed her, hostile even in their admiration. He reminded her of a praying mantis, stiff as a stick, waiting … always waiting.

She flicked a bug off a rose and tried to think kinder thoughts of  the man. She did pity him and his loneliness. He was without friends, other than her father, who was kind to everyone and had many friends. Never once had she seen Mister Faircloth enjoying himself at socials. He limited himself to smoking and sipping bourbon with the menfolk, or standing off in the corner observing everyone with a supercilious air. And except for his attention to her, she noticed in him a veiled coolness toward other women, a coolness that, to her notion, indicated contempt for them. Something told her that such a man would have the same feelings toward a wife.

A week ago, exasperated that she must hide in her own home or else suffer the man’s gaze upon her at every turn, she had all but ordered her father to do something about him. “Don’t worry, my dear,” Adam Corrigan chuckled at her uncommon anger. “I would never suggest that you marry Victor, not even if someday you find yourself plump and forty and still single … and with only him in pursuit.”

“Please, Father, I’m serious. He truly believes us betrothed simply because he wishes it. You must speak to him!”

“Yes, yes. When next he mentions it,” he said, smiling at her and pinching her cheek. “Victor is captivated by your beauty, my dear, like everyone else. But he would never understand the mind of a woman like you.”

“Don’t you mean, Father, he would never understand a woman who has a mind?” She had made her father laugh, and she left the room smiling; he would set Victor Faircloth straight, and that would be the end of that.

Still peering from behind the lattice, she plucked a rose and pinched off the thorns then rested her cheek against the post. Her father had been joking, but what if he was right and one day she discovered that her only choice was the mediocrity of spinsterhood or a loveless marriage to Victor Faircloth? She raised her eyebrows. That being the situation, she would swallow her pride and ask her dear friend, Jack Kearney, to marry her. At least she loved Jack like a friend, and Jack made her laugh. And unlike Victor Faircloth, Jack was young, a handsome jester, carefree, and like all Kearneys, always in  celebration of something simply for the fun of celebrating.

She frowned. Truth was, she didn’t love Jack like one loves a friend. She loved him like a brother—and for that reason, marrying him would be out of the question. Besides, Jack flaunted his pledge to bachelordom like a big placard worn defiantly around his neck. It would take someone more determined than she to wrestle that placard away from him.

She tossed the mangled rose aside, slowly climbed the steps, and went into   the house, trying to imagine if spinsterhood would be a worse option than marrying Victor Faircloth. The man rarely even smiled—and after observing the marriages of friends and relatives, she concluded long ago that there were but two kinds of husbands: those who made their wives laugh and those who made them cry. Faircloth would certainly fall among the latter group. But not marrying at all would be a terrible fate for her, who so looked forward to  having children. Perhaps someday the situation would become so dire that  she’d have to talk Jack into marrying her after all—just as a favor, of course,  to save her. Her only other option would be to fall in love, but with whom? She was almost twenty-four and felt certain that she already knew everyone she could possibly meet in her life who would qualify—none of whom had inspired anything other than friendship or a yen to be rid of them.

Nearing the closed library door, Ella could hear bits and pieces of   conversation drifting over the open transom. Victor’s voice, though calm, was chilling in his diatribe against Abraham Lincoln and the North. War talk again. Why, even Grandmother Corrigan railed for months about “the economy-destroying Yankees.” Ella could hear her now: “When the bird starts to bloat, the feathers pop right out,” referring to secession from the Union by virtually the entire South—a step that Ella thought just plain foolish. War fever did indeed cook men’s brains! As proof of it, just two months ago in January, a “strike force” of one hundred thirty-seven Savannah volunteers, bolstered by six artillery pieces, made a big to-do out of taking possession of Savannah’s Fort Pulaski—the Yankee threat there being one old caretaker and an ordinance sergeant.

She leaned against the wall, feeling as if her feathers were about to pop. She  was preparing to walk away when the door slid open and she found herself  staring into Victor’s eyes.


INFO ABOUT NO PLACE FOR NAKED DOWSERS: Even after Civil War decimated Ella Corrigan’s revered Greenpoole Plantation, and post-war efforts to revitalize it met with one setback after another, she never dreamed that her new husband, Gentry Garland, would want to leave it all behind and take her and their son to his wild Texas ranch lands. She refuse to go, but Gentry does something that will give her no choice–something that, overnight, turns her love for him into a bitter obsession for revenge.

Ella finds Texas in the midst of a killer drought and filled with strange characters that either terrify or revolt her. Among them are the old ex Texas Ranger, foul-mouthed, irreverent, and professed woman hate, Hempstead Grouse: twelve year old Molly Barton, a victim of incest and ignorance; young Dan Meaney, who would have looked like an innocent schoolboy to Ella upon their first meeting . . .  if the two 44 colts on his thin hips hadn’t contradicted every charitable thought she tried to have of the boy. In Texas, Ella sees her and Gentry’s old antagonist, Timon Pledger, in a way she’d never dreamed anyone would ever see the shy, fallen preacher from back home in Savannah–naked as a jaybird, and with a dowser stick clamped to his exposed groin.

In constant longing for her family’s ancestral plantation, Ella devises a plan to return there someday and reclaim her property; thereby, the wedge between her and Gentry thickens . . . threatening the love that both had thought would last forever.

Will Gentry’s vast herds of Longhorn cattle be the answer to his money problems or will his need to save his land drive him to a danger that will force Ella to a decision that could have disastrous consequences for them both….


Excerpt from Chapter Twenty-Four

July 28, 2009

Excerpt from Corrigans’ Pool (Civil War era novel by Dot Ryan)

ON THE RIDE TO Moss Oak, Ella stopped Moonbeam and Sunbeam from passing the baby back and forth between them like a doll, taking him protectively into her arms. Lord! They’ll give him a brain fever jostling him around like that. She cuddled him to her, stroking his soft cheek, but her thoughts were on Victor’s slaves. She could not stop thinking of them. Why would Victor claim the escapee had come to Greenpoole if he had not?

“Sun, you gonna let me hold your baby when it come?” Moonbeam asked her sister.

“So’nuff. I might even let you keep it iffen it look like that ugly Bruno.”

“I don’t want it iffen it look like him.”

“Mebbe it won’t be so ugly,” Sunbeam said, rubbing her tiny bump of a belly through the heavy woolen skirt.

“Iffen that Bruno gets holt of it, he probably skin it like a possum and eat it,” Moonbeam said, rolling her eyes.

Ella shot a disdainful look over her shoulder at the pair. “Don’t be ridiculous, and do be quiet. You’ll wake Adam.” She held her son closer, unable to get enough of looking at him. Strange, after months of misery and recriminations, the minute he was born she saw in him only a precious part of herself. He was a creation of her own and no one else’s, someone to love who would love her back, someone to ease the lonely years ahead at Moss Oak.

She could not ignore that he looked like his father—the dark, slightly slanted eyebrows, the eyes that Hannah knew would soon turn black as pitch, the strong chin and jaw, the long fingers, the clenched little fists that would someday be as large as his father’s. But Ella was determined that little Adam Faircloth’s resemblance to Gentry Garland would never go beyond his physical characteristics. Her son would be gentle, kind, and true of heart. It was possible, she knew, for a man to be those things and be that much more of a man for them. Her father was such a man, even with the drinking having taken over him. She thought of Victor waiting at Moss Oak for her, and she felt her insides recoil. Be calm, she told herself.