Tuesday, November 7, 2017

BooksGoSocial Army of Authors Blog Tour Crime Fiction About An Undercover Cop By a Former Undercover Cop





‘Crime Fiction About An Undercover Cop By a Former Undercover Cop’ is roughly how the blurb goes on the Amazon listing for my latest book ‘Who The F*ck Am I?’
The title may be a tad controversial to some, but it is part of the very fabric of an infiltrator. Identity confusion among undercover agents is a medically recognized condition.
It is Book One in a trilogy featuring Steve Regan, a fictional British undercover cop. The action takes place mainly in the United Kingdom but also takes the reader to Miami and Boston in the United States.
The book is available from October 31, 2017, in both Kindle and paperback through Amazon. It will also be available in other eBook formats through Smashwords and at most other online bookstores.
The blurb also makes the claim, “This surely has to be a first! Crime fiction about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop!
From Amazon UK bestselling author, Stephen Bentley, comes a fictional undercover cop, Steve Regan, following on the success of his true crime undercover cop memoir 'Undercover: Operation Julie - The Inside Story.'
Steve Regan, an undercover detective, is tempted by the riches of drug smuggling so he can be free of debt, police bureaucracy, and help a loved one. He wonders whether he can go 'rogue' and cross the line.
Regan gets involved in one deal with a Miami-based drug lord. But is everyone who they say they are?
Short, fast-paced, high-impact entertainment, from a bestselling author who knows how to suck you into a story.”
This novella was inspired by two gangsters I met in real life while undercover. I harboured thoughts about them for many years and felt obliged to deal with those thoughts in this fictional work. I believe I can safely say that is a first!
As the author and a former undercover cop, I do not profess to know with certainty if my claim about it being a “first” is fact. I mean the claim: This surely has to be a first! Crime fiction about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop!
I could argue, in line with another former profession of mine (lawyer), that it isn’t a claim at all - merely a hypothesis. Pedants may argue there ought to be a question mark following “has to be first.” Possibly, they are correct.
But in any event, whether claim or hypothesis, it intrigues me. So, a challenge to all readers of this blog post - tell me if I am right or wrong about it being the first fictional work about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop. At least I ask you to leave a comment letting us know your thoughts.
There is a reward for the best comment left - one free copy of the book featured here and a free copy of my bestselling memoir ‘Undercover: Operation Julie - The Inside Story.’
Please note there can only be one winner and the prizes will be provided in any eBook format of the winner’s choice.
The winner will be judged by the author on the basis of the insight provided by the commentator, the originality of the comment, and any tendency to humour gains extra marks J

Notes For The Blog Owner


Stephen Bentley BIO
Former UK Detective Sergeant, undercover cop, barrister (trial counsel). Now a writer, author, and blogs at HuffPost UK.
Author of 'Undercover: Operation Julie - The Inside Story' - an Amazon UK bestselling book about his undercover days on one of the world's largest drug busts.
Lives in the Philippines, enjoys the beaches and a cold beer and follows "his team", Liverpool Football Club from afar.
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Steve-Regan-Undercover-Book-ebook/dp/B075N3158G/

Cover Image and Bio Picture sent as attachments to LOB at BGS

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Curse of Apathy




     Apathy is a curse and it what I live day by day.  Having faced so much rejection in my life, I have adopted the apathetic mentality that it doesn't matter, so why try? It keeps me safe, but never it also keeps me from venturing outside my comfort zone, while I shout out to my Soul and Spirit to change things. The answer is always, "We are behind 100 percent. But you have to put yourself out there, too. You want to succeed, then start pushing yourself instead of envying all those who are succeeding."
   This is me. This is who I am. I keep saying I will push myself. I keep thinking I can put myself out there, then I get lost on Facebook and reading the dreaded news. Another way to keep me from working on my promotions, and finishing that third book.
  Here I go, succeeding. Here I go, blogging about myself and my apathy as a way to confront it and hopefully see it for what it is. Perhaps I need someone to keep me in check. Once the world knows that I'm not that successful because I don't believe in myself enough, perhaps they will find something to relate to. Maybe just maybe I'm not that much of an outsider.
  Here I go, taking the Bull by the proverbial horns.  Hell, maybe I need to learn to blow my own horn more and know it is okay to believe in myself.
  And Connor is a Crow Judge, damn it! Respect his title, man!  Yeah, please respect his title. And respect me. I suppose I need to respect myself. Okay, here I go. I gotta love me.
  Hmm, how does it feel to really love me? How does it feel to actually have books selling like hotcakes off of Amazon and Kindle? If anyone can describe that to me, I would appreciate it.
  Maybe Apathy can be a blessing. Maybe I can find something good it in.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dream Interpretations interview with Alex Stewart



Welcome to another session of Dream Interpretations with Merri Halma. Today we welcome Alex Stewart, a social worker at Louis Ellis Adult Group Home                                                                              
Alex: Thank you for having me. 
Alex has been having a recurring dream of being with her parents and older brother sitting around the Christmas tree. Alex, you mention feeling invisible, as you watch your parents and brother opening presents. He calls for you to come join them, and you try to move to the couch where they are, and then you start growing. They don’t appear to notice, yet you call to them to notice you. Your words fall on deaf ears. You continue growing, breaking through the roof. It starts to snow, so you do your best to protect them.
Let me remind everyone that each item in the dream is symbolic of the dreamer. Now for our interview with Alex.
Merri:  I understand you’ve been having this since your brother’s death, right?
Alex: Yes, well I think so. I always felt like I had the dream before he died, but certainly in the years since then, probably once every six months, at least every year. When I first left for college, I had the dream or some version of it every night for a week.
Merri: What stresses were you experiencing at the time of the dreams?
Alex: I'm not sure about all of them. The last few times, I was stressing over my relationship with Kat. She and I were struggling there for a while, mostly due to my stupidity, but we're on track right now. It's funny, the more life throws at us, the better we are, but when everything was going on with school and the new job at Louise Ellis, I was not doing a lot of self-care. I guess the job was also bringing Shawn's death into the forefront, and I had a lot of unresolved feelings about him. I think about him every day. He was such a cool brother.
Merri: Tell me how this recent dream changed from when you were a child?

Alex: When I was little the dream stopped before I got out from under the tree. I could hear my parents talking from across the room, which comforted me. In college, the dream, it became more stressful when I tried to get their attention and couldn’t. After I started working at Louis Ellis, in the dream I became more protective of my family and Shawn, from the elements, the wind, and sleet in the dream.
Merri: That’s after you broke through the ceiling, correct?
Alex: Right.
Merri: As a child, after Shawn passed away, did you feel lost? Like you couldn’t say what your feelings were?
Alex:  I was lost. My parents were lost, too. I kept my feelings to myself, I guess because I didn't want to make life harder for them. Our family changed overnight, really. We went from kind of an Ozzy and Harriet existence to everybody for themselves. We didn’t talk about Shawn for a long time. It was hard because, everywhere you looked, Shawn was there. I think we were all scared of making the pain worse for each other.
Merri: You sound helpless, though. Like whatever you do isn’t enough. Is that right? What kind of danger were you seeing in your waking life growing up?
Alex: I guess I was always worried I was going to disappoint my parents. They had already lost one child, and I had to be uber-responsible to make up for that. Even during my “rebellious” phase, where I barely talked to them and got in a lot of arguments with my mom, I was killing it at school, AP Math, Science, and English classes. I won a statewide essay contest. I was on the debate team. And I had a part-time job working at a bookstore. My rebellion was basically being shitty to my mom and ignoring my dad. Also, I smoked for about a year. Stupid, right? Anyway, the biggest fear I had was letting my parents down, but I ended up distancing myself from them in the process. And then I felt more alone because they didn’t see me. They didn’t know me.
Merri: Fear keeps us from opening up to family and friends. You buried yourself in your schoolwork to avoid feeling your fears and as a form of protection. Now that you’re older, are ready you to get to know your parents? Are you ready to feel your feelings?
Alex: Yes. We have had several talks now, and it is helping me understand on a psychological level what happened. I’m beginning to see them as two different people, not just “the parents,” and they are actually pretty cool individuals to know. My dad is funny, in a dad sort of way, and really easy to hang out with. He knows a little about everything. My mom is a bit harder to get to know, but she is brilliant, snarky (like me at times), and organized. If I ever need help getting something done, she is right there for me.
As to my own feelings, I am always a work in progress. I have a hard time trusting people, so I end up thinking the worst when things don’t go the way I planned. In the past, I have held pretty shallow relationships, where there was no need to develop high levels of trust, really nothing to lose. As things got serious with Kat, I struggled more with the fact that I did have something to lose than anything that was actually going on with her, the bar skanks, etc., although that is what I focused on so that I didn’t have to face my own feelings directly. Now, I see how bad that was for our relationship and my own well-being. It isolated me from Kat, which made me feel even more invisible to her.
Merri: That’s great insight, and shows you are facing your feelings. In the dream, too, you mention a feeling of invisibility. In what way in your waking life now do you feel invisible? 
Alex: I haven’t really thought about that. As a social worker, I want to make a difference in people's lives. When Carla died that brought that feeling front and center. I mean, I oversaw her, and there was nothing I could do to keep her ... safe. If I'd just gotten to the phone in time. If I had driven around to all the local bus stops. I don't know, it just felt like my presence, nothing I could do mattered, but I kept trying. I struggle with it sometimes, but I do believe that I can make a difference.
In some ways, maybe I feel like Kat wasn't hearing me? She kept everything bottled up inside and then shared it when she's ready. I like to talk things through, plan things out, so when she doesn't tell me things, I feel left out of the loop. When she was going through this whole commitment thing, it wasn't the typical settle down or play the field question, it was how do I settle down? Will I be able to keep my other family back home? I guess she needed to work through that on her own, but I felt left out like she had better things to do.
Merri:  So you felt isolated and alone.
Alex: Yes, that’s about right.
Merri: In your waking life, how are you not protecting yourself?
Alex: Well, for a while I was just flying by the seat of my pants. I was avoiding feelings instead of addressing them. If I had talked with my parents a long time ago, I could have avoided years of lingering guilt over Shawn. If I had faced down some of my jealousy issues, I wouldn't have had to put Kat and me through the horrible separation that we had.
I am learning, though. My dad got hurt in a car accident, and I have been helping him, but instead of running myself threadbare, I have been writing in my journal, walking, and meditating. Kat and I are learning to communicate a lot better. And I have had learned a lot about forgiveness. My parents for their grief, the universe for taking Carla, Kat for keeping things to herself, and most of all myself, for always feeling like I've let everyone down if I don't do the exact right thing. I think I'm a pretty cool person. Even my cat, Schrodinger, thinks so, from time to time.
Merri: Aren’t we all flying by the seat of our pants? (giggle).  I wanted to get to the dream you had with Carla now.
Alex: The last time was just before they found Carla (a client from the group home where I work). In that one, I could see her at the house next door, watching television, and there was this red shade over the window. What was weird was that I had an extension to that dream, and I haven’t had one like this before. I was lying in this meadow where I like to go, and I kept getting covered with leaves. I don’t know if I believe in precognition, or whatever, but I woke up covered in leaves, and I couldn’t breathe. Carla was found in a wooded area covered in leaves just a few days later.
Merri: That dream gives me pause. Yes, it does sound like you were experiencing a bit of precognition. Perhaps Carla was reaching out to you.
I remember your original dream changed, too, when you burst through the roof of the house, your brother, Shawn, noticed you. He said you didn’t have to be up there, right? What are you trying to get yourself to see?
Alex: I think I was up there trying to see more about Carla, and he told me to get down. When I said I was trying, he asked me why. I think maybe he was saying all my trying wasn’t doing any good, that I needed to stop trying so hard and let some things come to me. He was telling me to get down from where I was so I could see. But I could see better from up there, right? Well, maybe not. Maybe I need to have more than one perspective to really understand things. And maybe I am trying too hard.
Sharon, who is my boss and a good friend, has counseled me to think more of the everyday ways I can affect the lives of our clients, rather than focusing on all the potentially bad things that can happen, the worst all would be a client getting harmed or dying. Certainly, those things may happen and will have to be dealt with, but the day-to-day care is the most crucial thing. In my personal life, I need to come to the understanding that I am not on the hook to prevent all the bad things that happen to the people in my life. I can keep all the balls in the air I want, but life is always going to throw another one in, one that I may or may not be able to handle. And that has to be okay. My brain gets that. It may take a while for my heart to catch up.
 Merri: Alex, you are bringing in your own insight to that dream. I’m happy to learn so much from you and look forward to seeing your continual growth. I hope you start keeping a dream journal and learn from your dreams.

 Thank you for coming on our show, Alex. And thank you, listeners, for tuning into Dream Interpretations with Merri Halma. Until next time. Goodbye and pleasant dreams. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Nose Knows

 “You’re so ugly your face hurts,” Dusty used to tell me in junior high.
  She didn’t care that we were supposed to be working on our assignments. The teacher was out. She’d turn her plump body around in her chair or perch on the desk in front of me, her fat face staring at me, taunting and waiting to see if her words made me cry.
  I took her words into my soul, repeating them to themselves over and over throughout the years.
  “Flat nose, Prudich. You look at you. You’re so ugly, even your parents can’t love you.”
  Flat nose. Yep, I had a stubby, flat nose with a weird bump on the bridge. My mom called it the Williams’ bump because everyone on her side of the family had one.
  Flat nose. Ugly. Even my cousin my age would press his nose down, unknowing that the kids in my school taunted me like that. Reminding me of how ugly it was. And how it wasn’t normal to have a nose like that.
 What else isn’t normal about my nose? No one ever mentioned this. I am a mouth breather. Yep. My flat ugly nose was so narrow in the bridge I had difficulty breathing out of it.

I remember as a young child always feeling stuffy. I kept blowing my nose to clear it. I’d be standing in front of the full-length mirror in the hallway, holding my little monkey under one arm, as I blew and blew and picked my nose.  My older sister standing near me, adjusting her clothes for the day.
  “Stop blowing your nose, Mary,” she’d admonish. “Nothing will come out. You’re going to make it bleed.”
   I remember that night, I’d blow my monkey’s nose, saying, “Does that feel better? Or is nothing coming out?” Something had to be there, blocking my passage ways.


    I’d come home from junior high in tears. I’d tell my parents how ugly and flat my nose was. They’d assure me nothing was wrong with it.  Well, Dusty told me there was. Even though I was repulsed to look at her day after day during the school day, I put a lot of weight on her words.
  “Does your face hurt?” she would hate. “It’s so ugly, your face hurts.”
  I never had a response for her then. I was ashamed of myself because I was a stutterer. An outcast. Someone others hated and were so terrified to speak up for me or even admit they were my friend.  I do now.
  “Yes, my face hurts, Dusty. Not because I’m ugly, but because I hate to look at your face day after day in school.”
    At 16 or 17 years of age, my dad took me to an Ears, Nose and Throat doctor to have to be looked at because I kept complaining about always being stuffy and nothing could be done to help it. The doctor said my nasal passages were too narrow. He recommended surgery to widen the passages. So for my high school graduation present, I got nasal surgery in the hopes it would help my breathing problem. The surgeon shaved off the Williams’ bump and put it on the end of my nose. I had a famous nose. My surgery, before and after photos, appeared in medical text book back in the late’70’s. Wish I had a copy to show my new Ears, Throat and Nose doctor.
   Life goes on. After a while, the pain in my sinus became something I learned to live with. My nose still felt stuffy and I could still feel a block in the right side of my nose, but I didn’t complain or talk to the doctors much about it. After a while, I did manage to pick it and fuss with it until it bled. The pain subsided for a while. I never thought to talk to a medical doctor about it until this year.

Your Face is so ugly it hurts
It wasn’t ugliness that caused my face to hurt. It was my sinus and chronic sinus infections that made the pain unbearable. But I learned to live with it. Most people take breathing through their nose with their mouth closed as second nature. To me, I can do it for a brief amount of time, but find I must open my mouth before I feel like I’m suffocating. I wake up in the mornings with a minor sore throat from sleeping with my mouth open.  
  
Do you Hear Me Now?
June or July of this year. An audiologist called me for a check-up on my hearing. It was free. I went to it. I love free exams. She noticed that there was a discrepancy in the hearing in my left ear versus my right, so she recommended I see an Ears, Nose and Throat doctor. I went to my regular doctor for the referral. I finally told her about the consonant pain my sinuses and my nose bleeding because it felt so stuffed. She approved of my referral. But there was nothing wrong with my ears. She even agreed I really didn’t need the hearing aids that the audiologist wanted to sell me.

Recommendations and Solutions
 September 1st was my date to see my new specialist. I counted down the days. Not sure what he would say. He looked at my nose and ears. I did say I was experiencing pain in my left ear, but he couldn’t find anything wrong there. He said he could see why I can’t breathe out of my nose. It’s still too narrow.
  For now, I am on antibiotics for two weeks. After that, a Cat scan will be ordered. After four days of being on the antibiotics, I’ve noticed my face isn’t so puffy and my eyes are opened wider than I’ve seen them. I used to wonder why it looked like I was half asleep all day.  One of my friends remarked that my nose wasn’t as swollen, either.  Depending on what the Cat scan reveals, I may end up having another nose surgery to widen my nasal passages again and correct my crooked nose. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Death, the Final Frontier

      


  He came running over the green hills of Margaret Peirce’s lawn, calling my name. Barely three or four years old, he was free to play and couldn’t wait to go venturing with me.  I don’t& remember how we met, we just always knew each other. I turned in my yard and ran towards him, “Kirky!” I called.
  While he was barely three or four, I was close to eight or nine. Kirky was always tall for his age, happy, eager to learn and eager to crack a joke or see the humor in a commercial. His twin sisters, Merry and Terry, used to babysit my sisters and me when my parents went to play bridge on a Monday evening. Or went to parties – usually bridge parties.
  During the summer, when I wasn’t playing the boys on the block my age, I was hanging out with Kirk, riding bikes in his grandparent’s back yard, which was the house next door to us.  His dad was a pharmacist downtown Sunnyside. We used to go down there to visit and Mr. Montgomery would let us choose a Matchbox car to take home. I was a major tomboy. I loved my cars and trucks.
His grandparent often took us to the A & W. Kirky called it the Rootbeer Stand for lunch. It was one of his favorite places as a pre-schooler.   We had our fun, but there were other kids on our block that were closer to his age. And as I grew up, I became more of a loner. And one of his best friends was a boy who was the son of good friends with his parents who also played bridge with my parents. I remember the young boy, Michael Quigly as a towed boy who seemed to go everywhere with Kirk. He was a bright boy and was eager to smile.
   Puberty takes a toll on each one of us. Some in good ways, and some not so good.  I went off to college. And came back. I remember one of the last discussions I had with Kirk was at the time of his own puberty spurt. He discussed some of his concerns that young boys have and I assured him he would be okay and things would grow as needed to be. The very last time I saw him was at his dad’s funeral over twenty years ago. Maybe more.
  My Mom kept me up with what Kirk was doing in college and his many ventures into careers both in college and out. But it doesn’t replace actually keeping up the friendship. I regret that we lived so close together the last twenty years, but we never actually spoke or messaged each other. Indeed, friends grow apart.
 Kirk became a successful business man with Valley Ride in the Treasure Valley and I’m a struggling Indie author who feels more like a failure than a success. 
 August 9th, 2017, I attended Kirk’s funeral service. He was very loved and respected. I saw his sisters and was uncomfortable to approach them through the sea of people I did not know. I thought I was a fake friend because it’s been close to 30 or more years since we last talked. I regret not speaking to them now.
 I mean, what do I say? “I’m sorry your little brother passed away. It’s good to see you all after all these years. But the circumstances aren’t so keen.”
 And what do I say to his wife? “I was the child hood friend who used to borrow Kirk’s big wheel so Tony and I could ride big wheels around his drive way?”
 Wow, that would make a big splash, wouldn’t it? I think not.
I remember once as a teen, I was riding my bike alone when I saw Kirk playing basketball in his yard with some of other kids in the neighborhood. He called me over to play with them. I wasn’t very good at sports, but I gave it a try. We had fun.

 Death isn’t a friend to anyone. Yet is not something to fear. It is a transformation we undergo. We mourn the loss of physical life. Not being able to see our loved one again. But we take comfort in knowing our loved one’s spirit is still alive and waiting for us on the other side. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What’s in a Name?


 If you could name yourself, what would it be? Why does that name resonant with you?  A name defines us, and often once we change our name, something around and inside of us also changes.
What is in a name? Babies are always named before birth. Usually according to gender, or preference of the parents.  Babies don’t always match their names, though. Sometimes when the parent's divorce and the babies are too young to speak for themselves, the name gets changed. Sometimes no name really matches the child.
 When I was a baby, I was given the name Alice Lorraine. My birth sir name was Ventaloro. That is who I was meant to be. My birth mother left me while I was still a newborn (roughly four to six months, I’m guessing) and my birth father was working out of state. My sister and my brother were given to my maternal grandparents raised. At the time of adoption, my name became Mary (which I changed the spelling in the fourth grade). I’ve always hated that name. It doesn’t fit me.  
 As a stutterer, it was difficult to say my name. I’d always blocked on it. A little-known fact about stutterers is that we identify with our names, so it is often hard for us to get it out since most of us hate that fact we can’t speak fluently.
 Later I experimented, calling myself Lorraine for a while or M. Lorraine. But still, it didn’t match who I was or fit me. 
 After moving to Idaho, I’d introduce myself to strangers and the response would be, “Glad to meet you, Erin.”
  The first time someone called me that, my whole being lit up a like a Christmas tree.  My second response was, “I love that name. That isn’t what I said, though.”
 The person, whom I was shaking hands with said, “I heard you say ‘Erin.’”
 That has happened to me many times since that first time. So often, I have considered changing my name to Erin. Others I have told say my whole being changes when I say, “My name is Erin.” And that is how I feel when I think it or say it out loud. It's named that truly does fit me.
 What name would you choose for yourself?


Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Sunshine Blogger Award: An interview with Sarah Johnson, From Indigo Travelers and the Keys to the Shadowlands



I’ve been nominated Stephanie Barr for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’, where a character in one of my novels has to answer ten questions about themselves. I’ve chosen Sarah Johnson, of Indigo Travelers and the Keys to the Shadowlands, (book 2 of the Indigo Travelers Series). I nominate the following authors: Carol Green-Kjar, Mercedes PruntyChrista Yelich-KothPukah Works (also has http://pukahworks.com/) and Jocelynn Babcock to answer the questions at the end of this blog.


                      http://amzn.to/2lXo5qr

  Part of the chain is to nominate people with your own questions, so here’s mine!
1. How would you describe the world you live in three sentences or less. 
I live in the World of Nampa and travel with two other friends to Curá where we must find the lost soul of King Titus. Curá is a world so different than Nampa because everything is alive. The world is monitored by Crow Judges who talk with us and guide and make sure every being is obeying the laws of lands. Not just the main society laws, but the spiritual laws that Albagoth set up. The danger of this world is the Keys to Shadowlands were stolen from the Superior Crow Court Judge and now an evil raven is stealing people and trapping them there. She has offered me to the human Prince Tayson to be his bride. I am no one’s bride. I’m only 15 and much too young to be married.

2. What is the one thing or person you couldn't bear to lose?
   Xander’s friendship. He is a good friend and I kind of like him. But he isn’t very certain of himself. He is getting more certain of himself since his first trip to Curá. Yet I sense he’d be lost without me. I have to protect him. We are a team. Yet I have secrets I can’t confide in him about. If he knew I could be adopted and dropped into the World of Nampa where I don’t belong, he might reject me. I can’t bare it if he does reject me. I can’t tell him or any I could be an alien who isn’t really human at all.
 
3. What is the one thing or person you'd love to lose?
  I’d love to lose these visions of spiders. Whenever I close my eyes, I see spiders crawling around this circle with many paths or divisions, like a pie chart. I see close of up one with a tattoo of that symbol. I want to know what it means. It tells me to trust it. How can I trust it, when I can’t even look its beady eyes?


4. What chore or responsibility do you hate most?
I hate having to watch my little brother and sister. They’re so annoying. Always on me to play kid games. And lately, my little sister wants me to put make-up on her and brush and style her hair. Why, I don’t know. I don’t wear make-up at all and can’t bother with styling me blond hair as if it I just stepped out of movie trailer. No way. Give me black Trip pants, army boots and black Ghost metal t-shirt and I’m set. If I were to wear make-up, I’d put black lipstick on and maybe dark eye shadow.

5. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
  When I feel overwhelmed, I get on a bike and ride out to a park where there are few people and more trees. I feel very relaxed and at home there. While in the Shadowlands, I met a Banyan Tree named Raindom. He helped me to get in touch with my inner being. Though, I still have many walls I need to break down. I can’t let them all fall at once. If they do, I could become a meek pushover, girly girl. I must remain rock solid and not allow anyone to walk all over me.

6. If there was one of your traits you wished you could change, what would it be and what would you change it to?
  I wish I could exchange my strange round, and kind of cauliflower ears for regular human ears. I would also add more piercings. Right now, my parents only let me have snake bites. But I want to pierce one of my nostrils and maybe add my own tattoo. I’m not sure what it would be. But that circle with the many divisions means something, I’ve got to find out what.

7. What do you most want to accomplish?
 I want to end fighting. I want peace in all the world and maybe in all worlds, besides the World of Nampa. I want all spiritual paths to see how they are connected. To recognize their common elements and stop fighting with each other over their differences. Also for it to be okay to be atheists and agnostics.

8. What aspect of yourself are you the most pleased with?
 I am most pleased that I can fight and stand up for myself. I’m pleased that I’m teaching Xander to fight. Though, he has learned some of that on his own, because of his first experience in Curá two years before mine.

9. Would you replace your author if you could? Does your author annoy you?
 No, my author is the only one who understand me. She doesn’t work fast enough, that bothers me. Also, when she finished the first book, Indigo Travelers and the Dragon’s Blood Sword, I just had to express my anger that she left Geoffrey, the griffin, in Curá. He was supposed to come home to live with Xander. I want my author to write my book faster so I can know how I will face those two warring spiritual paths on Wayla.

10. If you could turn into any animal, which one would you choose and why?
     This is a tough one. I would want to be an armadillo because they have a tough skin and can roll up into a ball to protect themselves. They also have long, sharp claws so they can lash out at another animal that is trying to eat them.
  I would also like to be a cat because they are very independent and don’t take any sass from anyone.
 Now for the authors I have tagged to answer:
1.    Tell me about yourself and your world
2.    What would you change about yourself if you could? What would keep?
3.    Describe your favorite activity
4.    If you could write your own story, how would you change it?
5.    What is the one person you can always depend on to be there for you?
6.    Who most annoys you?
7.    Who do you have to protect?
8.    What motivates you to get up in the morning?
9.    If you could sit down with coffee with your author, what would you talk about?

10.   What is your favorite color and define who you are?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Touch Your Soul

Sitting alone in a group of women, I scanned the room, observing all of them in deep conversations with each other and here I sat, with two empty chairs between me and the next woman.
  The leader of the group gave us the assignment, to write a mission statement for our life. She called it our vision statement – why we are living. What makes our life worthwhile to still be active and doing what we are doing for a living.
I scanned the crowd. Noticing that the woman closest to me glanced my direction, sneering. I wondered why she looked at me like that. What made her so special that she felt she was better than me.
 I noticed the women across the room would glance at me; they also dismissed me. I had to ask myself why I even came to this group. It was supposed to be a group to empower each one of us to touch our strength and build our inner selves up so we felt stronger the. But I felt so alone. So isolated.
 I started to write my mission statement about inspiring others—inspiring those who read my books or even those who could approach me without fear. But maybe I am the one who is living in fear.
 My comfort zone is being reserved, quiet, listening and observing others.
 I watched as the leader went around to each woman present, ignoring me. I was in the seat closest to her, but she started with the second person to my right. I wanted to cry. Instead, I continued to ask myself, “Why are you here? These women don’t like you and look down on you. What I am coming here?”
 I realized I come for myself. I come to build myself and to hell with them.
 I scribbled out what I started to write.
 “Please, Soul, come into my life. Come into this moment. Assist me with this task.”
 As soon as I uttered that silent request, my sadness went away. My aloneness went away. I wrote, “I live my life according to my inner voice and it’s guidance.”
  When the leader finally came to me, I read it to her, expecting her to dismiss it. Instead, she wanted me to read it to the group. Others put their family and friends a head of them. The lesson she wanted us to take away was putting ourselves first. The leader high fived me. As usual, I hit her left high hand with my right hand, instead of matching thumbs.  Yes, I am totally awkward.
  I am me. I am who I am.
 I touch my soul. This is what I want others to learn. How to take their power by touching the part of them that knows more about themselves.

  Invite that seldom seen but always felt part of you daily. Feel better, stronger and know more about your own direction in life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What is Your Legacy?


  
           I was given a copy of The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (http://amzn.to/2ljM7LR) last summer. I hadn’t heard of Mr. Schwalbe or his mother and wasn’t sure about reading about death. But I was out of interesting books to read when I ran across it in a pile, so I started reading it.
 As I read it, I fell in love with how Mary Ann Schwalbe raised her three children and work successfully in many different high profile roles. She the kind of life I would love to be and gave back to society and across the world. One of her pet projects was seeing a library was built in Afghanistan. She was diagnosed with panarctic cancer in 2007, I think it was, so her middle son, Will, and she decided to share what she taught him most: share their love of reading.
  In the two or three years she had left, they chose books to read together and they discussed them during her chemo treatments. Many of the books they discussed, I had not heard of, but am interested in finding so I can read them, too. A few of them, I had read, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It interesting to read they enjoyed that book, whereas I was less taken with it.
  All through The End of Your Life Book Club, I found myself reflecting on my own life, and how it would be so different if I had believed in myself more and not allowed others who discouraged me. If I had not listened to my mom who said others knew more than me.
  One of my goals in my youth was to be able to give back to others. To set up funds for groups to aid in organizations, like helping with literacy, and creative endeavors.   Mary Ann Schwalbe could help with many originations. She left a legacy behind and many people benefited from her social fundraising and love of seeing others benefit from books and libraries. Of course, she had the financial ability as well as the social connections to assist with her raising the money.
  Mrs. Schwalbe did not look back with regret. Nor did she allow the times she was raised in prevent her from living life to the fullest. The more you give to others, the more others will give back to you.
 As I read this book, I thought back to the deaths of my own parents, wishing I could have been there and be able to forgive as well as have those last few years or days with them, with a clear understanding of what they had given me and what the really wanted me to learn. So much time I lived in anger and resentment that they did not allow me to be the person I wanted to be. So often, I felt judged, strangled and like I could not move. As I look back, perhaps I was also strangling myself by keeping my own anger and resentment in front of me, living the past instead of learning to let go, forgive and create a new life for me. I kept my mom’s fear as my own fear, instead of recognizing it was her fear and I did not have own it.
 It is true, not all of us are blessed with the ability to travel the world and help in refugee camps, like Mary Ann Schwalbe, but we can find local areas to volunteer at that can make a difference.

  Let go. Share your love of books with others. Share your life with your parents, if you still have them. Open your heart to your spouse and your children. Give your favorite books to your children and grandchildren. Encourage all to read and discuss them. Give back to others any way that you can.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What do Avoid and Why?

 What do you avoid and why do you avoid it? We all avoid something in our life either out of fear of what would happen if we did it or because we think we aren’t good enough to see it through.
 I avoid putting myself out there, telling my whole story out of fear of others ridiculing me, or saying my story isn’t worthy. I’m not good enough can’t be inspiring enough.
  I’m afraid of I’m not professional enough or can’t teach good enough to really help someone. Yet I want to teach. I want to be there for others. I want the love I feel to shine through what I say and feel. I want to inspire others to go beyond their own sense of worthiness.
 I’ve struggled all my life to be something I thought I was meant to be. Someone almost always says I fall short of my own goals, or that I should give up and try something else. If I could turn back the clock, I would not allow those nay-sayers to stop me. I would keep fighting for my goals.
  

I have always felt I battled an uphill climb to get to where I want to be.  Recently, I don’t have as many nay-sayers. Instead, I have more individuals cheering me on. Yet I still feel I am a long way from attaining my goal of being a successful writer who is noticed for what I am doing my best to say to people.
  The reward is being noticed by others and my blogs shared by numerous readers and noticed by people who have a larger following than I do.

  
What is your fear? What are you avoiding?  Maybe it is safe to come out after all. If you and I make a pack to keep each other accountable to face these fears together so we know we are not alone.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We are the Stuff that Dreams Are Made of

What is your dream? How much time would you invest to make your dream come to pass?

My dream has always been to be a writer and attain a large following. At the age of 12/13, I thought it would be easy to write and attain a publisher. I did not realize how much work goes into it.
  My dream became a love-hate relationship because my mom didn't want me writing because of her own fears of hearing about famous writers who have lost their minds. Their imaginary worlds became too real to them. Or they allowed their battles of depression and desire to end their misery with a bottle of booze and  Colt 45.
  Those images haunted me. The last thing I wanted was to become crazy. If anyone called me that, I'd get upset or I quickly pulled my neck in and refused to show anyone what I was writing.

  Some thirty/forty years later, I have now self-published. I'm still struggling to find an audience and battling my fears of being so different than other writers. I write fantasy. More than fantasy, I aspire to make the reader see a different way to see their spiritual life. I hope I am challenging them to look deeper inside them. In order to be successful at this, I have to challenge myself to go beyond my own fears.
  My fears of being seen as crazy because I combine different folklore and spiritual myths as well as use a few psychological techniques (or perhaps I am creating my own methods based on things that made sense to me). My fears of being seen as so different because I write a type of genre that is not usually accepted by those who place literary writing above the genre of any kind of fantasy whatsoever.
  My fears that I will never have the kind of fanbase that will allow me to be seen worldwide.
  Technology is a baffle to me. So much of what I need to get my books seen is a far reach for me. I need to have a good healthy business account into to hire the best marketing team, the best editors, graphic artists and the best web designers. I need to understand how to write the advertising copy and create the ads for Facebook, Amazon and other places. Exactly how am I get that healthy account? No one has ever truly told me what I need to have so I can try it.
   What is your dream? What is holding you back?



Friday, January 13, 2017

Trees Are Calling Me

There's a line in Tuesday Afternoon by the Moody Blues that says, "The trees are calling to me. I have to find out why."
  I love that line because often I see a group of trees and feel I need to go toward them to see what secrets they hold.

  Trees are known to have the wisdom of thousand years or more. Banyans trees are said to be the tree that Buddha sat under that helped me to reach Nirvana. It is no wonder, when you put my love of daydreaming about trees, into my novels.

 About four or five years ago, I started the book that would become my fourth book in the Indigo Traveler Series, (tentatively titled Ian's Story), about a young teen who sees trees walking passed me, or running after his school bus to try to catch him. Banyan trees are known as the walking trees, so they are the species I began to foreshadow starting Ian's adventures with Sarah Johnson finding Raindom in the Shadowlands ( http://amzn.to/2ftkzVX ).
  Raindom introduces Sarah to the concept of love, acceptance and assists her to see a way beyond her sad thoughts about how to tell Xander she might be adopted and her wondering why she was given up to begin with. Once she embraces Raindom, she is infused with love, forgiveness and realizes so much of what she experiences really is not what she thinks. She is able to see the Shadowlands for what it is and assist the others to do the same.

  In the third book in the Indigo Series, Many Paths to Follow (in beta reading right now), Milo Bickford is rescued by a Banyan tree named Windsly. Windsly teaches Milo how to meditate, and how to let go of his concerns. Milo begins to see a different view of his life without his biological parents, though, he knows he still needs that connection. Windsly stays with Milo, helping him find the peaceful Murdoc Village so the other two spiritual paths do not disturb him.

   I only began to write another draft of Ian Temple's story. I started many drafts over the last few years, but never finished them. This draft, though, will be finished. Ian's story will take him to a land that is similar to India. But first, he notices the many Banyan Trees that are following him, chasing his school bus and will even see the Crow Judge, Tanner, riding in one. So, Ian will have  his own personal Crow Judge to guide him, watch over him and help him to navigate what he really needs to see and learn.
  Share your experiences with trees. What is your favorite tree?