Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Real America

I don't use this blog to be political. But in the wake of Charlottesville, I have a story to tell. And this is without a doubt, the longest post I've ever written

Prolog
I grew up in a white minority in the Virgin Islands. In 1955, my sister and I were the first (and only) white kids at the public school on St. John. I was one of six white kids in my high school graduating class. While I was in the islands last month eight of us were able to get together for dinner.
We are a beautiful rainbow.

The older I get the more grateful I am that I was raised in the Virgin Islands and that my family has been in the area over 100 years. My sister still lives on St. Thomas and I have cousins who live on St. John, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico. We are a multi-racial family.

Act I 
Scene I
On August 15th I got to the airport in St. Thomas and learned the plane coming from Atlanta had been delayed, which meant it would arrive late to St. Thomas, which meant it would be late returning to Atlanta, which meant I would miss my connecting flight to San Antonio. The lady who to took care of me at check-in assured me I'd get a flight out of Atlanta the morning of the 16th and that the airline would put me up for the night.

Scene II
There was a most gorgeous sunset as we flew across the ocean and traveled up the Florida coast. The massive clouds were painted golden-yellow with streaks of orange and red while rays of sunlight shot upwards from behind the clouds, a giant fan of light.

Scene III
Coming into Atlanta, off to the southwest, a huge thunder storm was in progress. The clouds were lit up by massive flashes of lighting. It was better than fireworks at Disneyland.

Act II
Scene I
Once on the ground in Atlanta I asked a lady at the gate what I had to do next and was politely told where I had to go and to whom I had to speak. I followed her directions and secured my next day's boarding pass and a voucher for a hotel room and was told how to find the shuttle that would take me to the hotel. "Don't be afraid to ask anyone for help," the lady told me. On the way there, just to make sure, I did ask help from a young woman who walked me to where I needed to go.

Scene II
The shuttle driver took my bag and I, along with others, were loaded into a small bus and taken to the hotel. A handsome young man with a beautiful smile whizzed back and forth behind the counter in a wheel chair, checked us in and give us our room keys. I asked when I needed to get myself to the airport to catch my morning flight. He suggested 6 AM "To be on the safe side. The shuttle leaves every 15 minutes so if you're downstairs by 5:30/quarter to 6 you'll be fine." I was given a large comfortable room and though I had only 5 hours of sleep, it was a good sleep.

Scene III
I left a tip on the bed for the maid and went to drop off the key. The same young man who’d checked me in whizzed out from a side room to greet me with his beautiful smile. “You’re still here?” I asked. He laughed. “I think live here sometimes!” By 5:30 I was waiting for the shuttle to take me to the airport. A few others were waiting as well. A cheery older gentleman soon showed up, greeted us all and loaded our bags. Inside the shuttle soft, smooth jazz was playing.

Act III
Scene I
I had a precheck boarding pass so I got to avoid the long lines through security. Even so, my carry-on was pulled aside after being x-rayed. An older man was training a young man. They had spotted my baggy of sand. Even though they knew it was sand, the older man question the young man on what the procedure was when encountering something like that. The young man politely asked me to refrain from putting my hands anywhere near my bag. He removed the baggy, opened it, tested it and, finding it to be benign, returned it to where he gotten it. He apologized for the inconvenience. I told him I was happy to help with his training. I was then told how to get to my gate.

Scene II
It was, by this time, barely 6 AM. Walking to my gate I stopped at a restaurant, thinking to have breakfast and was told they wouldn't be open until 6:30. I continued on to my gate and outside through the large plate glass windows a brilliant, golden sunrise blazed in the sky. I felt calm and peaceful about everything. Life was good, my journey uneventful despite the delay, and people had been friendly and helpful.

Scene III
There was no one else at the gate when I sat down to wait for the restaurant to open. I didn't think about where I sat, I simply picked a seat. And there, hanging from the ceiling in front of me was a TV screen. Blaring from the screen were horrible images of hate with people screaming horrible words of hate and bigotry. I'd seen some images on facebook, but I hadn't seen any "news" as I'd pretty much been without TV for a month. Something inside me broke. In a flash, tears welled up in my eyes and I began to sob. I couldn't control it. I happen to have a napkin and pressed it to my eyes trying to staunch the flow. But they wouldn't stop coming. How could there be such people? How could they believe as they believed? How could they say such things? Where was the compassion for our fellow humans? How could this be happening in America? My heart was breaking and my soul being torn. In Bob Dylan's words, "Insanity is smashin' up against my soul."

Act IV
Scene I
So there I was, quietly sobbing into a napkin, trying not to cry out loud and make a scene when, from across the other side of the terminal, a woman approached. She stopped about 10 or 15 feel away from me and asked, "Ma'am, are you okay?" I looked up at her and without hesitation said, "No." Pointing at the TV I said through tears, "I don't understand it. It's breaking my heart, my soul is aching. I can't believe this is happening." And so the conversation began. We talked for a good half-hour, about life and how "those people" on the TV were a small minority making a lot a noise. That most of us, and she indicated me, the people working at the airport and the travelers, were just trying to live their lives in peace. She told me she not only worked full time for the airline, but was a nurse and owned a business, that her own family was multi-racial and that "those people" weren't worthy of the ground they walked on. 

Did I mention she was a black lady? I told her I'd grown up in the Virgin Islands, in a white minority. That it was a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment that, for the most part, was and is, extraordinarily tolerant and accepting of diversity and that I couldn't wrap my head around the news. She told me a story of how, on the day Trump was elected, a white man felt emboldened to be rude and called her a black fat-assed bitch. This, to an attractive slender woman in her late 30s, early 40s, with long braids pulled together that hung down to her waist. In response to him she looked around and asked the man who he was speaking to? And he said he was talking to her. She then asked what gave him the right to speak to her in that manner. And he said, "Now that Trump's been elected, it's called free speech." After he left she was so shaken she had to move to another department for a few days to calm down. I asked her how she handled it, how she dealt with the hatred. She told me every morning she gets up and thinks rainbows and puts rainbows around people. We talked about so much. Like how she thought we'd already been through this and it was like going backwards in time. How I'd lived through the 60s and the Civil Rights Movement and the riots and it was like going back in time. But finally the moment came when she had to get back to work. I thanked her for talking with me. “I would do the same for anyone I saw in distress.” We hugged, and held each other for several long seconds. I wished her a most blessed day and year and watched her walk away, my life forever changed. As I told my sister, I will not be tolerant of intolerance. (An oxymora for sure.) I know in my heart, if I see or hear intolerance within my sphere of existence that I will not be able to keep my mouth shut that I will have to speak up and defend what is right. Nazi salutes and intolerance towards human beings different from ourselves is WRONG, PERIOD.

Epilogue
Did I tell you that EVERY SINGLE PERSON I dealt with, from the lady in the St. Thomas airport to the flight attendant who greeted me as I boarded the plane to San Antonio, was black? And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, was kind, courteous, helpful, and friendly.


That is the Real America.


Pictures of diversity from other class reunions. 
The smiles on our faces are genuine. We always have a blast when we get together, picking up where we left off, as if we'd been separated only a few days rather than years.



Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for diversity.
What are you thankful for?

PS: Since writing and posting this blog I have written my first letter to our local newspaper in response to a letter I read that I couldn't "tolerate" going unchallenged. It was published in the Sunday paper, my first published Letter to the Editor.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Where am I?

I'm not here.
Or here...

I'm here.

And here.
I'll be here for a while and won't be back to blogging until the end of August.
Enjoy your summer!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Welcome Carol Kilgore and Book One of The Amazing Gracie Trilogy! Plus #InkRipples

Please welcome Carol Kilgore and the cover of her latest book, the first in a trilogy. Don't you just LOVE IT!?

 JALAPENO CUPCAKE WENCH
AMAZING GRACIE TRILOGY, BOOK 1
A hot and spicy taste of murder—and more.

Blurb

During the day, law enforcement consultant Gracie Hofner is on assignment at a small San Antonio bakery, waiting for a delivery. No one knows what it is or when it will arrive. The upside? Working next to Donovan Beck, a flirty hunk and a half—perfect fling material.

At night, Gracie resumes her search for a little girl and her mother who went missing following a double murder. Finding the pair is imperative or the girl will become a target.

At the girl’s aunt’s house, Gracie experiences a peculiar need to leave immediately. She tries to deny the urge to flee and pushes the pressure aside, but the compulsion intensifies. Gracie thinks she must have a brain tumor. Or is losing her mind. When similar events continue to occur, Gracie sees a pattern. Can she use this newfound ability to help her find the girl and her mother before it’s too late?

Bio

Carol Kilgore is the author of Jalapeno Cupcake Wench, the first book in The Amazing Gracie Trilogy, and three romantic suspense novels: In Name Only, Solomon’s Compass, and Secrets of Honor. She’s married, with dogs, and lives in San Antonio, the setting for the trilogy.



Where to connect with Carol:
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#InkRipplesBlogBanner#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Kai StrandMary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. We post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. We’re all authors, but you don’t have to be to participate.
The idea of #InkRipples is to toss a word, idea, image, whatever into the inkwell and see what kind of ripples it makes. We provide the topics and will be blogging about them on the first Monday of the month. You can spread your own ripples by blogging about the topic any day of the month that fits your schedule, just be sure to include links back to the three of us please (KatieKai, and Mary).
This month's topic is Heroes and Villains.
I'm going to keep it short and list five favorite heroes and villains. What's curious is that there is only one female in the group. I need to think about that.
Heroes
Odysseus - because he loved his wife
Don Quixote - because he wanted to right wrongs
Robin Hood - because he fought injustice
Atticus Finch - because he fought injustice
Winnie the Pooh - because he loved and accepted everyone

Villains
Big Nurse - because she was so subtle in her evilness
Professor Moriarty - because he was so wickedly brilliant
Iago - because he was so heinously deceitful
Long John Silver - because he was a pirate!
Sauron - because he's SO evil we never even see him (except of course for his eye...)
***
Excited for Carol? Gracie sounds like a great character! Got a favorite hero or villain? Hope you'll share.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

IWSG

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts, Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan!

This month's question is: Have you given yourself permission to fail?




I almost failed to post today. Have I given myself permission to fail? Oh yeah. I may not like it, but the truth is (for me) I fail at writing all the time. Don't tell anyone but my first drafts always need a lot of work. Sometimes it takes multiple tries before I feel confident enough to let someone read it which, of course, invariably leads to more revisions, more edits. Yeah, I fail all the time. But so what? Although I don't remember it, I'm sure a fell down many times before I learned to walk or run. I know I fell down when I learned to ride my bike. And I know I didn't always catch a fish when I put out a line. Were those failures? You tell me. 

Is this hibiscus a failure?

There are a gazillion excellent quotes about failure on the net. I picked 20. 


  1. “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”– C. S. Lewis
  2. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”– Samuel Beckett
  3. “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”– Buddha
  4. “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”– Confucius
  5. “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”– Thomas Edison
  6. “A man may fail many times but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”– John Burroughs
  7. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”– J.K. Rowling
  8. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”– Albert Einstein
  9. “When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.”– Eloise Ristad
  10. “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”– John Wooden
  11. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.”– George Bernard Shaw
  12. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”– Michael Jordan
  13. “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”– Wayne Gretzky
  14. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”– Mark Twain
  15. “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”– Zig Ziglar
  16. "Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be" - John Wooden
  17. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy
  18.  “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” - Chris Bradford
  19. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill
  20. “I'd rather be partly great than entirely useless.” - Neal Shusterman
Just so you know, this whole post is an epic fail! The question this month is, What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing? My answer to that is, as long as I'm still breathing then failure is NOT the worst thing that can happen. 

Got a favorite quote? Ever failed at something only to succeed at a later time? What valuable lesson have you learned?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Being Thankful

Being Thankful

We don't always get to see how the ripples from the stone we cast into the pond of life affect the far distant shore.
Ripple effect on water
As some of you may know, I worked at a home of abused, neglected, and emotionally disturbed kids whose life stories are the stuff of fiction except for the horrifying fact that the stories were true. When I arrived in 1980 my intention was to volunteer for six months and then go back home to the islands. 23 years later I retired.

In those early years I did a little bit of everything. I slopped pigs, milked the cow, worked in the garden, helped build buildings, kept bees. In between those jobs I houseparented. Within a few years I was the assistant editor for the newsletter that went out to about ten thousand people around the U. S. and the world. Eventually I settled in as the librarian which pretty much remained my primary job for 18 years. Being the librarian meant I was also the keeper of kids who were home sick (school hours was downtime for houseparents), kids who were suspended from school, kids who were new and not yet enrolled in school, kids who were in a kind of alternative school program (they got work from the school, but it was done "at home.") Consequently I was nursemaid, anger defuser, introductory first adult (outside of a houseparent) and tutor, to name just a few of thing I did. (I read with them, colored with them, taught them how to make paper airplanes, did crafts, put jigsaw puzzles together...)

I loved working with and being around the kids.

Recently the home held it's 40th anniversary. I got to see kids I haven't seen is in over 30 years. Many are now in their late 40s early 50s. (OMG!)

I have seen where the ripples have gone.
There are so many families... that chain of abuse broken for good.
There is a 4****star  chef, an industrial engineer, a jewelry designer and maker, an oil company electrician, nurses, health care providers, teachers, administrators...

And these are just some of the things said to me.
"The first day I met you you looked at ME, and saw ME, not words in a file."
"You are the constant."
"You taught me about love because you were always talking about love."
"Because of you my home is full of books."
"You taught me there were more than 8 colors in the crayon box. You taught me to live in color."
"I used to pretend to be sick so I could stay with you in the library and read."
"Thanks for the gift you are."
"I always enjoyed spending time with you in the library. You inspired me to keep reading, to never give up on myself. You are amazing."
I haven't cried so much in a long, long time. Copious buckets of tears of joy. I was so stuffed with heart and soul food I'm still digesting.

And without a doubt I know this to be true: If I do nothing else with my life, if I never write or publish another book, never post another blog, never share another picture on facebook, or tweet another tweet, it won't matter. 

What matters is that I have seen where the ripples have gone. They have traveled to the far distant shore working magic and miracles. Some continue to travel outwards, but some have bounced off that far distant shore, and returned back to me. That is a gift for which I will be forever thankful.


Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Khalil Gibran

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What are you thankful for?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Welcome author Joylene Butler!


Award-winning author Joylene Nowell Butler is showcasing not one, but two of her intriguing books in two different formats and you could win a copy of one of them.

Joylene won the IPPY Silver Medal with Broken But Not Dead. Once only available in print, the book has received a fresh new cover and title for readers to enjoy and is now available in eBook format. Maski: Broken But Not Dead is the prequel to Joylene’s 2016 release, Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries, which is now available in audio format.

Maski: Broken But Not Dead
◊ By Joylene Nowell Butler
◊ Psychological Thriller
◊ Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press LLC
◊ eBook ISBN 9781939844385

To the Breaking Point...

When Brendell Meshango resigns from her university professor position and retreats to her isolated cabin to repair her psyche, she is confronted by a masked intruder. His racial comments lead her to believe she is the solitary victim of a hate crime.
          However, is all as it appears? After two bizarre days, the intruder mysteriously disappears but continues to play mind games with her. Taught by her mother to distrust the mainstream-based power structures, and with her stalker possibly linked to a high level of government, Brendell conceals the incident from the police. But will her silence keep her safe?
          Then her beloved daughter, Zoë, is threatened and Brendell takes matters into her own hands. To save Zoë, Brendell searches for the stalker and confronts not just a depraved madman but her own fears and prejudices.

Maski: Broken But Not Dead is available on Amazon.

Excerpt
Chapter 1
I waited at the intersection of Yellowhead Highway and Domano Boulevard, soothed by the gentle vibration of my truck’s engine. This weekend I vowed to do more than worry about my bourgeois existence. I would think about who I really was and what I might do with the rest of my life. Wasn’t that the goal of all women of the millennium? To define our true selves?
April’s sun slanted through the trees, making me squint. I retrieved my sunglasses off the dash, inhaled brisk air laced with the pulp mill’s fumes and closed my driver’s window. Today, I took the first step to salvage the rest of my life. This morning I resigned my tenured position with The University of Northern British Columbia English Department, a surreal experience. I was about to put my life on the right track, if I could figure out what that meant. I’d become an English teacher because my mother refused to speak the language. I’d wasted valuable years annoying her, twenty of them after she was dead. Today seemed a good time to stop.
Feeling both frightened and exhilarated, I wondered: If not an English professor, and other than being a divorced Métis with an innate distrust of white people, who was Brendell Kisêpîsim Meshango?

Anyone I bloody well wanted to be. Was I twenty-five years too late?

Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries
◊ By Joylene Nowell Butler
◊ Psychological Thriller
◊ Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press LLC

A murder enveloped in pain and mystery...

When Canada's retired Minister of National Defense, Leland Warner, is murdered in his home, the case is handed to Corporal Danny Killian, an aboriginal man tortured by his wife's unsolved murder. The suspect, 60-year-old Sally Warner, still grieves for the loss of her two sons, dead in a suicide/murder eighteen months earlier. Confused and damaged, she sees in Corporal Killian a friend sympathetic to her grief and suffering and wants more than anything to trust him.
Danny finds himself with a difficult choice-indict his prime suspect, the dead minister's horribly abused wife or find a way to protect her and risk demotion. Or worse, transfer away from the scene of his wife's murder and the guilt that haunts him…

The audio version of Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries is available through Audible and Amazon. Click on the links to hear an audio sample of the book.


Joylene, Métis, is the author of Dead Witness, Broken But Not Dead, and Break Time. She and her husband and their two cats reside in Canada for the summers and Nayarit, Mexico, for the winters. They believe life should be an adventure. 

For more on Joylene and her writing, visit her website and blog, as well as connect with her on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.

Comments on Maski: Broken But Not Dead:

“A psychological thriller filled with suspense, action and drama...” - John Bell, 93.1CFIS-FM: Prince George, BC

“Riveting and beautifully written. You won't be able to set it down.” Judith S. Avila, author


This tour-wide giveaway is for two (2) eBook copies of Maski: Broken But Not Dead and two (2) audio copies of Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries. The giveaway ends July 6.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. If the widget doesn’t appear, just click on this link and you’ll be taken to a page where the widget should be.

Thanks for stopping by today. Does it bother you to read books out of order even if they are standalones and can be read that way?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 19, 2017

WEP...Write, Edit, Publish and Being Thankful

Write…Edit…Publish (WEP) is a permanent bloghop posting every second month and hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee. Check out the program for 2017.  Submit your name to the InLinkz list to join us each challenge. WEP challenges are free, and open to all. If your entry catches our eye, you will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a winners’ badge.


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The theme for this WEP is Bridges.



Explosion of charges on two of the three tied arches, looking southeast - Alsea Bay Bridge, Spanning Alsea Bay at Oregon Coast Highway, Waldport, Lincoln County, OR HAER ORE,21-WALPO,1-23



There are bridges that should never be crossed again, bridges that are best burned. These include, but are not limited to: bridges to addictions, bridges to people who repeatedly cause you emotional, physical, or spiritual harm, bridges to hate and separation.






Nakatsu-bansho-en Marugame Kagawa pref01n4350


There are bridges that should be crossed every day of our lives, that should be built and rebuilt as needed and wanted. These include but are not limited to: bridges to healing, bridges to love and compassion, bridges to inclusion.






A Bride build by Nature


There are bridges that are ambiguous, that should perhaps remain standing, but with some kind of barrier to remind us to be cautious but open. These include but are not limited to: bridges to forgiveness.


Forgiveness is tricky. Many times we can, and should, easily forgive the faults, transgressions, and idiosyncrasies of a person and leave the bridge wide open for future travel. But forgiveness does not mean that one has to build or repair a bridge to a person who can no longer be trusted or to a relationship that no longer exits. Forgiveness is about no longer harboring anger, hatred or resentment towards the person who caused pain. Forgiveness is a bridge of healing to yourself. Forgiveness is a wide brush, whose stroke is a rainbow of colors. Our task is to learn when to forgive and leave the bridge open, and when to forgive and close the bridge or burn it, not in anger or revenge, but in love and compassion.
Full Rainbow in november essex
***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for fresh green beans picked from our garden. 
It's been many years since we've had a garden.
***
What are you thankful for? What bridges have you crossed lately, or... burned? Do you have a garden this year?