General Non-Fiction posted July 24, 2021 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 5... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
A man of courage, talent and character.

A chapter in the book Memories of Mastery

A Tribute to Mastery

by Mary Kay Bonfante

Bob Hartson (Mastery) was an illustrious author and a mentor to a number of FanStory members. I was deeply saddened to hear that he passed away. My prayer was that he would survive his difficult illness, and that he and his family would be blessed by the mercies of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hoped that he would continue doing what he loved -- writing -- and return to us, posting, reviewing and replying.

But sadly, that was not to be. We all have our time, and his time seems to have come too soon. My prayer now is that his family and friends will be blessed by both the comfort and mercies of Jesus Christ, Our Savior; Our Almighty Father God; and the Holy Spirit, Our Comforter.

Although we were not especially close, I had a lot of respect and admiration for Bob. In June, Raffaelina Lowcock (Ralf) did a book review on his memoir, Falling Up the Stairs. I was so intrigued that I purchased it for myself, on Amazon. Although I never thought I would have time to read it in the near future, I began to do so out of curiosity, and then I could hardly put it down.

While the book was based upon his own early experiences, and not literally an autobiography, I am sure it depicted his struggles in a very authentic manner. And so, I can't help but feel that the pen name he chose, "Mastery," reflected not only the hallmarks of his accomplishment in writing, his chosen craft, but his ability to prevail amid the misfortunes that came his way, unbidden, and amid which he became a stronger person as he grew into an individual of character and integrity.



Riveting and intensely personal; you'll want to keep reading this!

Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2021

Brave and unflinchingly bold, yet believable in his portrayal of the failings and frequent brutality of the foster care system in World War II-era America and the postwar years, "Joey" is a young boy who also suffers neglect and injustice from parents who either couldn't, or wouldn't make their children their priority. Despite the love of his siblings and other relatives, and the inconsistent affection of his parents, he was thrust into one unpredictable situation after another. We see a close-up view of some adults who heartlessly took advantage of the children they were assigned to nurture and protect: they were a means to an end, an income from the government and free labor! The author also lovingly portrays those people along the way who touched his heart and set a good example, like beacons of light in the darkness.

Joey defied the odds and overcame every obstacle he encountered, having refined his decision-making capability in the fire of adversity. I won't give too much away; you'll have to get the book and read about it yourself.


The book is mostly about his youth, but does make some reference to his military enlistment and future family life.

Eight years with the Marines is a generous length of service to our country. I have sometimes imagined that the trials he endured as a youth made the rigorous discipline of military life comparatively easy; and yet, that he voluntarily spent all that time serving our country is a tremendous credit to his good name.

Our friend, Ralf, who started this book I'm contributing to herein, also wrote her own review of Falling Up the Stairs, and I encourage you to read it in her portfolio. In it, she makes reference to the "phoenix rising from the ashes" in describing how Bob overcame adversity during his adult life; the heartache of losing a teenage son in a tragic accident. Bob Hartson, a boy who was treated so unjustly in his youth, and then lost his first son, still persevered and started a new family that blossomed and grew large. Family was always important to him.

While searching around for his other books, I came across a delightful surprise in Mastery's portfolio: Santa's Diary. Yes, it's the actual diary of Santa Claus (only kidding, of course). It reveals a very playful side to Bob Hartson's character, which you'll see if you take a few minutes to look it up. Apparently, Bob spent some time playing Santa Claus for children during his lifetime, and had a few tales to tell, in connection with that, about those adventures.

I can't help but also be grateful on Bob's behalf for the grace of God that brought people of kindness and compassion his way in Bob's youth; role models who never seemed to stay long, but who were there long enough to point him in the right direction, if he was watching -- and I believe that he certainly was: keenly, carefully, and sometimes desperately. These kind souls left footprints on his heart-- footprints that time couldn't erase. I'd like to think they were waiting for him in Heaven with the Savior of us all. May they rest in peace with him together until the Day we meet Jesus, Our Lord.



I thought about promoting a chapter or two of "Santa's Diary," because I think it's so sweet, and I wanted to encourage people to read it, but I decided against the promotion. It might present an awkward situation because some people might not be aware that he is deceased and expect answers to their reviews. It wouldn't be a good way for them to find out.

The best thing is just to let people know that this enjoyable book is still available to read (for free!) and helps people get to know Bob a little better. At the time it was posted, it got many hundreds of reviews for just seventeen chapters.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by alaskapat at

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