2023 Gold Medal Winner
Best Coming of Age Fiction
Global Book Awards
Summary: In 1966, John Pierce and his friends are discontented teens shackled by the boundaries of home life and their oilfield culture.
When news of an electrifying rock concert captures their hearts, they leave their boomtown on a quest for music, girls, and self-indulgence. They knew there was a big world beyond the cactus and oil wells, but no one warned them about the nightmarish elements they could face.
Based on a true adventure, The Concert is an unforgettable exploration of friendships and harsh realities that can loom along the stepping stones to adulthood. After the concert, they would never be kids again.
In the style of THE BODY and the movie STAND BY ME.
Readers who enjoyed Stephen King's excellent novella and its movie adaptation will connect with THE CONCERT.
Finding a treasure can be the easy part…
To keep it, you need to be RESILIENT.
Resilient is a coming-of-age story that will have you cheering for a trio of teens who, despite the odds, never give up.
For high school junior Steve Brandon, trouble begins with a short fishing trip, a relaxing escape from reality. Steve’s world turns upside-down when he discovers a mysterious metal box on the Missouri River’s muddy banks. The golden treasure inside presents a mystery that must be solved.
Steve sets out with his best friend and a cousin to learn the fortune’s secrets. The three are soon immersed in an adventure that sends shockwaves through the city’s highest offices. Along the way, the trio leaves a wake of reeling public officials, crooked cops, and thwarted would-be thieves.
This extraordinary tale proves that learning a life skill or two does not have to be stuffy. Resilient will keep you guessing, entertain you, and inject you into a captivating dilemma all the way to the final showdown. The ending is so unexpected that the role of destiny cannot be ignored.
This book is an excellent read for today's younger generation. It deals with many subjects and problems that youth find themselves facing! The author certainly delivers when it comes to authentic and deeply researched places. He also delves into the social mores that young people must conquer. Excitement, challenge, and even humor make this book fun to read and easy to like!
Amazon Review. This book is an excellent read for today's younger generation. It deals with many subjects and problems that youth find themselves facing! The author certainly delivers when it comes to authentic and deeply researched places. He also delves into the social mores that young people must conquer. Excitement, challenge, and even humor make this book fun to read and easy to like!
BETTER DAYS AHEAD
A Single Woman in Troubled Times
“Better Days Ahead” is a standalone short story prequel to Ginny Cooper’s War, the story of a young woman who helps change the world. This work is set in the male-dominated college culture of WWII Harvard.
Ginny Cooper, a groundbreaking young professor, is slammed with successive losses. Still coping with grief from the devastating death of her brother, her college administration unexpectedly fires her to make room for a younger, male professor.
What’s a single girl to do when her world crumbles around her? Thankfully, her grandmotherly landlady comes to her aid with some of the best guidance anyone could ever get.
Themes: Harvard, Radcliffe, Boston, gender equality, life skills, coping with anxiety. WWII.
Amazon Review. This is one of the few historical fiction works I have read, and I will gladly say, it was phenomenal. The author clearly set the challenge level to the highest possible setting for himself, and aced it! I can only imagine what it must be like to challenge yourself with that kind of character in that kind of setting. I love the scenes detailing historic references, the accuracy of time, and the speaking to concerns. The author clearly has an enviable level of mental flexibility and has the generosity to impart some of it to the readers.
Amazon Review. short story made me think about very topical issues even though the action in the book happens in the World War II time frame. The book addresses coping with grief, coping with pressures, and job re-assignment at work. In this story, the background is Harvard University, but the topics in the story are something I had to deal with in my everyday life no matter where I worked. The messages of the story are to always believe in yourself and know there are better days ahead that await you.
GINNY COOPER'S WAR
A Story of War, Love, and Tibbets' Enola Gay
Ginny Cooper is facing an uncertain future. She is struggling with personal loss when she learns she must leave her dream job to enter the rough work-a-day world. In 1942, Ginny joins millions of women staffing vital industrial jobs. America’s survival is at risk. Little does she realize how pivotal she will be in achieving victory.
At a huge bomber plant near Omaha, Nebraska, Ginny faces gender conflict, production woes, and deadly enemy spies—vicious infiltrators who take aim at the plant, America’s beloved president, and Ginny herself. Amid the chaos, Ginny discovers unexpected love.
On the other side of the world, Colonel Paul Tibbets is fighting his way across Europe and Africa on a course that will lead to Ginny’s plant and the Enola Gay. As Tibbets flies the Enola Gay on a war-ending mission, Ginny finds herself on the run from an evil that’s been right in front of her all along.
This is the story of an extraordinary young woman who went to Omaha, Nebraska to do her part in the great struggle. If you do not know the names Jimmy Doolittle, Enola Gay, Paul Tibbets, or Glenn L. Martin, you can meet and appreciate them in Ginny Cooper's War.
The thrilling climax will leave you breathless and wanting justice. And justice you’ll get. Welcome to World War II. Horrific, fast, furious!
Foreword by USAF Brigadier General Sally Eaves (Ret.)
28 historic photos and posters.
Amazon Review. I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but "Ginny Cooper's War" may just be the book that changes my mind. Unlike most war novels which are set in the war zone, this one is set on the homefront. I travel to Omaha, NE once a year, the place where this story takes place which helped piqued my interest. During WW II an aircraft assembly plant was built near Omaha where the famous "Enola Gay" was built. It's refreshing that McDowell chose a woman as the protagonist. He cleverly intertwines Ginny Cooper's story with the building of the "Enola Gay," throwing in the danger and intrigue of an enemy cell that has infiltrated the plant. McDowell's attention to detail is short of brilliant. As the tension builds, you'll keep turning pages until you reach the exciting climax.
One Man's Story of Building Lincoln's Transcontinental Railroad
In 2019, America marked the 150th anniversary of completing the transcontinental railroad.
In this exciting retelling of winning the West, a former soldier, Colton Rusk, finds himself in Indian battles, train wrecks, troubles with Hell on Wheels, and facing the challenges of achieving the impossible. You will quickly learn that the spirit that won the west was anything but polite.
His adventures place him next to Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Dodge, and the unethical Dr. Thomas Durant as they struggle to join East and West. The railroad’s construction is one of America’s most enduring stories. Colton’s adventures underscore why Americans were so proud and why European newspapers updated readers on construction progress every day.
Based on actual historical events. Contains 30 historical photographs, including several believed to have never before been published.
Amazon Review. This is an exciting story of war, family love, intrigue, epic turmoil and perseverance against all odds. Like me, you’ll be glad you didn’t turn your nose up at historical fiction. You’ll be empathetic toward Colton Rusk, the disabled soldier struggling to rebuild shattered lives in a coldhearted world. You’ll probably curse the antagonist, Dr. Thomas Durant, a financial genius but unethical and ruthless, who financed the project and determined which route the railroad would take. Maybe the positive effects brought by the railroad far outweigh his character flaws, however, it’s interesting to note that Omaha refused to honor the man who turned a frontier village into a thriving city; nowhere in the city will you find a monument, a street or a park named after Durant. And after reading this story, you’ll understand why.
Amazon Review. The dream of a transcontinental railroad system was a broad idea at the end of the Civil War, an idea popularized by Abraham Lincoln et all. The book illustrates the issues of the railroad routes, which territory the railroad should serve, and how the railroad was to be engineered. The major players were skilled planners and engineers. Building a railroad was prohibitively expensive, but highly profitable, which attracted, of course, many shady and greedy characters, high and low in society. The depiction of life in that period of time, the Indian attacks, the frontier, are faithfully rendered. The many historical photographs are fascinating. I am rating the book with 5 stars, honoring the author's vivid and fluent writing style as well as his profound research. I highly recommend the book for its authenticity. It is also very suitable for young adult readers.
BEFORE HE BECAME
A Story of Charles Manson's Time at Father Flanagan's Boys Town
In 2023, America marks the 54th anniversary of the horrific Manson Family murders. Charles Manson has long been a synonym for evil. But years before his reputation as a killer, Manson was an unwanted boy. In 1949, when 14-year-old Charles Manson arrived at Father Flanagan’s legendary Boys Town, he was brimming with hope. He saw a promising future. Then something happened that crushed hope and sent history in a darker direction.
Charles Manson made major contributions to this book. From 2010 to 2012, Manson and the author talked regularly about Manson’s time in Boys Town, his life, and the crimes that made him infamous. Manson wanted people to know his story.
Though many of the characters in this book are fictionalized, their stories and interactions fairly portray Manson’s mindset, his street-hardened experiences, and his appeal to others. Even with Manson’s input, this story should be considered historical fiction.
With Manson’s involvement, McDowell explores the largely uncharted territory of a feared killer’s adolescence, weaving fact with key speculation to explain what might have gone so wrong. Convicted of ordering others to murder for him, Manson remains a fascinating—if horrifying—subject. Whether interpreted as controversial social commentary or simply a great read, this poignant tale of childhood tragedy will leave readers questioning their perceptions of history.
Includes 22 original and historic photographs.
Amazon Review. A word of caution, reading this novel may make the hair on your arms stand up. Lawson McDowell's page-turner is filled with chilling stories and incidents about Charles Manson that are difficult to imagine. Most of the novel takes place in Omaha, Nebraska, at Boy's Town where Manson, age 14, was sent for one last attempt to "save” him. This tale of childhood tragedy will have you wondering how this boy could turn into such a monster. McDowell spoke regularly to Manson via recorded phone in an attempt to get into his mind and did an excellent job portraying that twisted mind.
Amazon Review. Far from a "true crime" type novel, McDowell has written a rich story asking "what if." What if Manson could have been saved? If anywhere could have done it, surely it would have been the famous Boys Town. But it wasn't to be. An interesting story that imagines how the young teenage Charlie developed early skills for which he was later well-known: how to build alliances, exert influence & manipulate, and, unsurprisingly, charm girls out of their underpants.
Amazon Review. (UK) This book is brilliant I had no idea there was such a different side to Charlie. Really opened my eyes. Thank you to the author.
Amazon Review. – (UK) I bought this for research purposes, being a writer myself and having been fascinated with Charles Manson for a long time I found this refreshing. McDowell is a good writer, and he eloquently pieces together Manson's Boys Town past, which is something entirely new to readers and as far as I know, an area that hasn't been explored.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the case. It throws much of the media hype and sensationalism back at you and makes you think.
Charles Manson's Escape to Destiny
A quick read true story, and a standalone prequel to BEFORE HE BECAME A MONSTER.
In 2019, America marked the 50th anniversary of the horrific Manson Family murders in Los Angeles. If you’ve ever wondered how a child could grow into one of the world’s most sinister criminals, this short story is a great starting point.
The tale is based on actual events related by Manson to the author. The underlying event is noted in several non-fiction books and articles. This story chronicles twelve-year-old Manson’s escape from Father Gibault’s Boys Home in Terra Haute, Indiana, and his desperate cross-country trek to join his mother in Indianapolis.
The powerful telling remains close to the actual occurrence. It is marked by a unique subject, evocative language, and unexpected turns. If you are expecting a formula Manson thriller, clear your mind for something completely different.
Amazon Review. This is a great book. The author clearly cares about every aspect of telling Manson's life as accurately as possible. Good writing, an engaging story, and great insight into Manson's childhood. I definitely learned something about Manson's life that I hadn't heard before. I think once you read this, you will want to check out the author's other books on this topic as this book is a prequel. Great job. 5 stars!
Amazon Review. Thought-provoking with well-developed characters. A wonderful and engaging read.
Amazon Review. I must say that I had a firm mindset against finding any redeeming qualities to Charles Manson, even as a child. I was totally wrong. Lawson McDowell manages to make Manson a sympathetic character in just a few pages. Read this story. And anything else that Lawson McDowell chooses to write. He has a voice that touches your soul.
CHRISTMAS CARDS FROM MANSON
A quick read, true short story. This account is based on a recorded conversation with one of America’s most sinister and feared killers.
Background research into Charles Manson's story carried its own risks. The Devil was caged, but still possessed a dangerous reach through thousands of followers. Both the prison and my friends warned me about Manson, but I charged ahead.
I knew from the moment Manson followers called our home that I was in for a rough ride. After the Family’s interrogation and vetting, things got even rougher when the demon himself called. I fought my fears every time we spoke. Was I being a fool? Was I putting my family in harm’s way? Only time would reveal the answer.
In 2019, America marked the 50th anniversary of the horrific Manson Family murders. There is more to the story than most realize.
Contains strong language.
Amazon Review. Doesn’t get more real than this. I stumbled back to comfortable reality after this short read. Scary and thought-provoking. It is not enough to simply know the name of the most infamous serial killer of our time; you must delve into his soul. The author gives us a glimpse into the dark crevice Manson's soul lurks in. This is first-hand accounting of conversations with the devil.