Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mass Shootings in the US...what is the answer?

Good Afternoon!

The following blog is my opinion and my opinion only. I do not write this to offend or call out any group or person.  I am expressing my opinion.  If you do not wish to hear my opinion, or of you prefer telling someone they're wrong or stupid for not agreeing with you rather than having a calm discussion about differences of opinion, I would ask that you refrain from reading the following. 

By reading beyond this point you are not saying you agree with me, but that you will refrain from abusive, insulting language when expressing a different opinion.

Thank you.

Those of you who know me know I don't get involved in much when it comes to politics or expressing an opinion on world events. It's not that I don't have political views or that I'm uninformed, it's just that I don't feel the need to force my views on others. Live and let live. 

But today I feel compelled to speak out.

 What did it for me was the mass shooting yesterday at a school in Florida.  I was watching the coverage and all I could think of was, "how many more of these images of our children running out of schools do we have to have before something is done?"

It does not matter which political party you belong to, or if you don't belong to one at all.  It does not matter what religion you are, or if you don't worship at all.  IF YOU ARE A HUMAN, you should be looking at these pictures and saying ENOUGH.

Don't misunderstand me, people to have the right to own a gun if they want to and are legally able to. I don't think MORE gun laws are the answer because laws only affect law abiding citizens. Those determined to do harm and break laws will.

But something needs to be done.  I've said too often, "Thoughts and prayers."  As a Christian, my faith is in God, and I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe that God gave us brains and the tools we need to survive.  Why do we go to doctors, if God is the ultimate healer?  Because God gave the doctors their brains and technicians the skills to perform the operations and use the tools that heal.

So yes, my thoughts and prayers go to the families in Florida who have lost loved ones.  I weep for you.

But people, honestly, how much longer must this go on?

I, for one, can no longer watch the images and think, it's a random thing. It's not.  It's the middle of February and we're already near 30 mass shootings in this country (media sources vary from 20-30), 8 of which have been in schools (No one varies on that fact).

I'll give you a moment to absorb that.

Schools are supposed to be a place of learning, a place where children learn to socialize and interact with other people who might not look, speak, act, or worship like them. I realize kids are human and therefore not perfect, but honestly, the WORST thing that should be on the radar in a school is kids picking on kids, which a teacher, a parent, or a guidance counselor can deal with.

 Grief counseling should NOT be a common thing in schools.

We are so careful these days to not cause offense for any reason...but I think we're missing something someplace.  While we're building gender neutral bathrooms and outlawing bake sales, and arguing about the Oxford comma (which I'm in favor of), all for the good of the kids, we're still letting people walk into buildings and slaughter our children.

We are so divided when it comes to matters of faith, politics, ideas, life choices, lifestyles, opinions, and race, that we can't band together and figure out a way to keep people from walking into buildings and slaughtering our children.

While we're wrapped up in the latest Hollywood or DC scandal about who sexually assaulted someone (I include myself in the list of women who have been harassed and/or assaulted), we can't stop pointing fingers long enough to figure out how to keep people from WALKING INTO BUILDINGS AND SLAUGHTERING OUR CHILDREN.

The point is, I'm not belittling all the other issues we have in our society because we have many and they are serious. But shouldn't our first priority be to stop people from walking into buildings and slaughtering our children?

What's the answer?

Some will say a better mental health care system.  

I'm all for that.  But blaming mass shootings on the mentally ill is a cop out.  It's a crutch.  I have known several mentally ill people, I live with mentally ill people, and I live with my own depression.  And NOT ONCE have any of those people thought it was a good idea to walk into a school and start shooting. The vast majority of mentally ill people in this country understand that it's wrong to go into a school or a movie theater or any public place and start killing people.

But still, better mental health care is a good idea.  Maybe a system where needing mental healthcare wasn't still looked on as a failing of some kind.

Some will say, outlaw assault weapons. 

I'm totally in agreement on this.  And gun fans, don't start with the "if you take the assault rifles away, you'll start taking away hunting rifles."

It's not a slippery slope.  It's common sense. There is not ONE PERSON, except possibly the military, who NEEDS to fire off 13.3 rounds PER SECOND.  I'm not a hunter, but my guess is if you hunt like that, you're going to obliterate the animal you're shooting.  And how many targets do you REALLY need to blow away like that?  No, common sense tells me that the only reason someone wants a gun like that is to cause massive trouble.  (Go ahead, yell at me, but when the Founding Fathers said, "right to bear arms" they were NOT thinking about a gun that could potentially kill 12 people a second.)

This opinion is backed up by stats.

Some will say, outlaw guns completely, like other countries.  Or really restrict gun ownership.

Here are some facts about other countries and their gun laws.

Here's where those in favor of the 2nd Amendment get really prickly.  I'm not a revolutionist.  I'm not about banning an Amendment.

But do we all need so many guns? REALLY? 

I've heard people justify buying a gun because "Obama is going to take away our guns."  Seriously, people who NEVER in their long lives through about owning a gun have gone out and bought one because they were afraid a president was going to outlaw owning guns.

I realize Obama wasn't everyone's cup of tea.  But come on.

Back in 1999. when we were all freaking out about Y2K (wasn't that a lovely, simple time?) I suggested to my husband that we buy a gun.  He thought I was nuts.

In the years since, I realized I have no business being a gun owner.  Not because I'm a criminal or mentally ill or whatever, but because I refuse to be the person who ends someone's Time of Grace.

See, as a Christian, I believe we are given a Time of Grace by God.  This is our time to come to faith and prepare ourselves for our eternal life.  

If I die by illness, accident, or someone's hand, I know where I'm going for eternity.

BUT I refuse to be the person who ends someone else's time when they could have come to a faith that would give them a good eternity. I believe that in the eyes of God everyone is truly equal, and therefore why would I try to play God and take away someone else's life?

But, Sarah, what about your family? What if someone threatens your family?

When my children were small yes, I would have done anything to defend them from harm.  Turns out, in many ways, I was not able to because the harm they suffered ultimately came at the hands of people I trusted, and while it did not involve guns, I still wasn't able to protect them.  Now my children are adults and they have made their own choices when it comes to defense.  I do not force my views on guns on them. One child fully believes in abolishing guns, and one has a less dim view of gun ownership. That's their right.  My husband as well has a different view on gun ownership.

I choose non-lethal weapons, which is why I've picked up a childhood passion of mine in archery and started working with a hand held crossbow.  I'm not good yet, but my goal is to get good enough that I can hit a threat within forty feet and it will hurt enough that he thinks twice.

Still, I know I haven't given an answer to this question. How do we stop the violence?

I do not have the perfect answer.

I'm going to put this out there:  how about if first an foremost, we DEMAND that our government actually DOES SOMETHING?  Our federal government is made up of part time working millionaires who do not live under the laws they pass, they do not have to use Obamacare for their health care, they get to decide THEIR WAGES as well as OURS.

Hmmmm, sounds like Taxation without Representation to me. Who's ready to dump some tea in Boston Harbor?

I'm not part of the two party system anymore. I realized that both parties in power have a game plan that's quite simple:  Get us shouting at each other loudly enough so they get elected and then sit there in Congress where everyone's a pal and the only goal is to get reelected.  

It has to stop.  Our Government has to look at what is happening and DO SOMETHING.

But, my friends, we cannot wait for those who have long gotten fat off of our labor to actually work.  We have to take it upon ourselves to find a way to make the gun violence end.  And here I'm not just talking about school shootings. I'm talking about unjustified police shootings, drive by shootings, people walking into a McDonald's and shooting up the place and then killing themselves.  IT. MUST. STOP.

We are Americans. No matter what we look like, how we worship, who we love, or what language we speak, we have a long history of putting it all aside when tragedy strikes.  I don't think there's a person in this country who believes mass shootings should continue, or that it's just not that bad.  We need to figure out what we can do to HELP instead of causing a divide. If we are screaming at each other, nothing is going to get done.  We need to link arms and form a chain and say, NO MORE.

My friends, I've long a been a states' rights advocate. What works in Florida may not work in Wisconsin and may not work in New York.  I say all of you, my writer friends, those who read my blogs and my books, and those of you who simply want our children to grow up to look at what gun options might work in your community.  We cannot depend on our Federal Government to do anything, we need to depend on our neighborhoods.  One giant, sweeping piece of legislation bogged down by 100 pounds of pork isn't going to do it.

We must work together. This must end.

My thoughts and prayers are with us all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Celebrating Valentine's Day AND the Winter Olympics? How About A Free NOVEL?

Good morning!

It's odd, I know, but as a romance author I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day.  I mean I believe in romance and love, OF COURSE, I've just never gotten into seriously celebrating. (Except the first year I was married, and that ended in a car accident, sooo...not a great attempt. LOL)

I AM, however, fully on board with the Winter Olympics. 

To that end, I think I have the marriage of both worlds and this week it's going to be free!

A free download starting today and running the next four days!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Review You Can Use: GET OUT

Good afternoon!

I've been meaning to write this review for some time, but I haven' there's that.

It isn't often I review a movie in the "horror" category. It's not my thing.  But there was some buzz about this little film from writer/director Jordan Peele at the Golden Globes and I ran across it at my local Family Video store so I picked it up and gave it a whirl.

I was blown away.

"Get Out" might be one of the most original, thought provoking, shocking films I've seen in eons.  In an age of prequels, sequels, remakes, and adaptations from TV shows, "Get Out" is a breath of fresh air that Hollywood's long needed.

What's it about?  Well here's what I can tell you without giving it away:  A young African American photographer goes to meet his white girlfriend's wealthy parents at their weekend home.

That's it. That's all I can tell you.

If I say one more thing, it'll give everything away.

So let me get down to the acting:  Leading man Daniel Kaluuya is not a household name...yet.  But he should be after this performance.

Long time actors Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford will make your skin crawl.

Stephen Root, one of my personal favorites, is lovely and creepy and weird and fun all in the span of roughly seven minutes of screen time.

Lil Rel Howery as the TSA agent is hilarious and I want him to be my neighbor.

"Get Out" was nominated for the big four Oscars, as I call them:  Film, Director, Actor, Writing.  In a perfect world where talent and original thought is rewarded, this movie should win all four.  It won't.  (Neither will my other two faves, Dunkirk and Darkest Hour) BUT I do believe Jordan Peele will get the writing and/or directing Oscar and Daniel Kaluuya has a better than average shot at winning best Actor.

Oh, and Mr. Peele?  If you're looking for more original stuff to turn into movies, maybe give me a call?

Seriously, folks, "Get Out" is money well spent whether you can still find it in theaters or get it in video.  This is NOT for the kiddies, the language is really hard core and the violence gets gruesome, but fans of horror, thrillers, and good movies that entertain AND make you think are going to love it!

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Good morning everyone! 

It's with great joy I'm able to tell you that my third Nora Hill Inspirational Cozy Mystery, "WARNING IN WAUKESHA" is NOW available in print!

Get it on Amazon

For you digital readers, it's coming, I promise. Just going to take technology a couple extra days!

Happy Reading!


Thursday, January 11, 2018

SNEAK PEEK! Less than 48 hours away from "WARNING IN WAUKESHA!"

Good evening:

So, file reviews being what they are, the best guess is that my newest Nora Hill novel, "Warning in Waukesha" will be available online in print or digital form in the next 48 hours.

This book took a lot longer than I anticipated to finish.  Why?  This one was a soul struggle for me.

There are two reasons I began writing Christian fiction:

The first most people know, that I set a challenge for myself to come up with a fictional heroine set in modern times with modern temptations and modern questions about faith, family, and perceptions.  I believe, with Nora Hill, I've done that.  And since is my third book with her, I've come to know her very well. She's the character, in all of my books, who is most like me.

Which brings me to my second reason for writing Christian fiction.  I've been a devout practicing Christian my whole life. That does not mean I haven't questioned my faith, the teachings of my church, and God in general from time to time.  In recent years I've found myself struggling especially hard to find what it is God wants of me following the diagnosis of mental illnesses  for two very close family members. I've wrestled to balance the clear cut "right and wrong" world my parents lived in, the one I was raised in, to the more subtle shades of today's morality and how it pertains to my children and the other young people I love and respect.  

This is a difficult world to live in, no matter where your faith lies, I think that's one thing we can all agree upon.  So, writing Nora's stories has become more and more of a personal battle, a personal vein opening, if you will, for me.  "Warning in Waukesha" not only takes place in a a town I call home, much of the storyline hits very close to my heart.

Below is a tiny peek at the book. This is the first time ever I've released parts of this one to anyone. I'm so excited!

Watch in the next couple days for the book release on my Amazon author page. But in the meantime, please enjoy this sneak peek!

“Oh look, Nora, there’s Cassie Wilson. You remember her from the Rochester Deli yesterday, right?”

I look over my shoulder, just to please Mom, because there’s no way in the world I’m going to recognize Cassie Wilson right now. Turns out, she’s serving sandwiches and cake to the mourners. She brings a tray of cold ham sandwiches to our table and as I take the tray from her, our hands brush. The tray slips out of my hands, fortunately falling onto the table. Not that there’s anything I can do about it at the moment, I’m too busy trying very hard not to pass out.

There is no doubt in my mind that something is going to happen to Cassie and I’m going to be the one to have to track her down when it does happen.  Apparently this gift of finding missing children, this gift I love so well, (get my sarcasm) has broadened and now adults who are clearing just fine and dandy are landing on my list.

Oh goodie.

My cell buzzes. I blink away the last of the dizziness, and look at the screen. It’s Sam. I ignore the call. This is not the time or place for more angst. I need to clear my head and get ready for the next step in the whole “finding Cassie” process. Which means I need to listen for a quiet voice that’s going to tell me where to find her.

A little too mystical for most people’s tastes, but that’s my life.

My mother chit-chats for almost half an hour before deciding she’s been there long enough to satisfy the rules of church etiquette. Once inside the confines of the car, she rattles off a litany of complaints about this person and that person, all fine, upstanding church members who have said or done something she finds inexcusable. She relays how one of Lily’s precious lambs was wronged by the demon spawn grandchild of another member and she, Brenda Hill, was just about at the end of her rope with it all.

Normally I ignore Mom when she’s on a rant about church. When I was a kid her rants were directed toward Dad, who could absorb them with an easy grace. Since his passing, she’s gotten more involved (if that’s even possible) in the church and with more involvement comes more stories about people who just aren’t doing Christianity right.

She seems really worked up for someone who just ate two pieces of decorated funeral cake, so I ignore my better judgement and ask a question. “Mom, if this church makes you so upset, why don’t you just find one you like better?”

I know I’ve said something monumentally stupid. Mom takes a break in her constant stream of vocalizing to gather herself to squash a challenge she deems to be ridiculous. “Nora, I can’t just leave that church. I’ve been a member there since your father died. All my friends are there.”

“Well, you wouldn’t know it to hear you talk.”

I don’t know why I say things. I should just be quiet.

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand, given how you don’t darken the door of a church unless someone forces you. I pray for you, Nora, I pray for you every day.”

It’s nice she’s praying for me, even though I know she doesn’t mean for me to think it’s nice. I’ll bet she doesn’t have to pray for Lily and Rose. “Mom, all I’m saying is that if your church is making you miserable, maybe there’s one where people, you know, don’t irritate you.”

Mom shakes her head. We’re back at her house and in her driveway, which means the discussion is over because we both know this isn’t one we’re bringing into the house. “I can’t just pull up stakes from my church because someone bugs me, Nora. That’s not how it works.”

Sitting on her perfect settee, watching a humid Saturday pass me by, I roll her words over in my mind and realize that maybe it’s not that easy for her, but it maybe should be. I have my doubts that there’s a church out there where a person like me is going to feel at ease, but I keep looking. I’d like to help Mom find a church that gives her more peace than irritation.

My phone buzzes again. Sam, again.

Guess I’ll have to worry about my mother’s church home another time. I can’t ignore Sam forever.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Thank you, Readers. Here's a holiday gift!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

I'll keep this short:

To thank you all for another amazing year of writing and selling my books, I'm offering 3 days of FREE DOWNLOADS.

All my Elsie W, Rock Harbor, and Nora Hill titles will be FREE for download on Amazon today, Tomorrow, and Sunday as a way of saying, "THANK YOU!"

To get your free titles, click here 

See you all in 2018!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Kill the Holiday Blues by getting some FREE Books!

Hello all!

It's been a wild year and I'm on the verge of releasing my newest Nora Hill novel, "Warning in Waukesha." (Many delays, but it's coming out soon!) 

To celebrate the holidays and the imminent release of "Warning"  I'm doing something I've never done before:  I'm giving everyone a chance to get ALL OF MY BOOKS FOR FREE!

That's right, this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (December 22, 23, 24) ALL OF MY BOOKS (excluding the movie review collections) ARE FREE DOWNLOADS ON AMAZON!

Click here!  I WANT FREE BOOKS!

All Elsie W titles, all Rock Harbor Titles, and all NORA HILL TITLES are FREE for three solid days! 

December 22, 23, 24  Get them all by clicking here:  SERIOUSLY I WANT FREE BOOKS!

My gift to you!  Happy Holidays!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Okay, so we're the bastards of publishing. What, we're going to stop writing?

Good afternoon friends!

It's been a bit since I've blogged, and there's a reason for that.

I've been down.

I've been very down.

My writing career has been up and down as many of you may know, but mostly it's been a career largely unknown to the vast majority of readers. I have worked with professional publishing companies, and I have published on my own, and my experiences with the professional companies have been 1 very good and 1 very not good.  I found out that a company that strokes my ego and asks for all of my books might seem like a good idea, but the end result can be disappointment.

So I'm back to 100% self publishing which puts me back the in the battle between those who are "legitimate" (Those who work with publishers and let publishers deal with marketing and cover art and all of that) or those who are not at all recognized.  (You know...those of us who are self published, the bastards of the writing world.)

Two things happened in the last few months that really got me down.

1) I found out that the person I'd paid significant cash to edit my novels not only didn't do a good job, they made things worse.

This was brought up by a customer at the farmers market where I've been selling my books for the last three years.  I put my trust in someone who was opening up her own publishing company and therefore I didn't go back and check her work. I should have been more watchful. The knock on self published authors is that the final copy isn't clean and I've long prided myself that my books are clean. This summer was humbling because I found out I'd been taken and some of my novels, indeed, were terribly edited.

Well, I've fixed that issue.  So there, no worries there.

2)  A customer of mine went to my local library asking if I could do some sort of event there. I've done library events before, but I've been hesitant to approach my own local library, probably because, well, I'm trying to sell books and libraries, well, they aren't so much with the selling.

And, in this case, they aren't so much with the self published.  It is their policy, they told my customer, NOT to do events with self published authors.  What they mean is this:  Self published authors are not real authors and therefore have no place in our precious collection of only legitimate publications.

Not much I can do about that attitude and that's had me down big time.  And, as we writers know, the mental aspect of writing is so vital. Being down means I haven't worked on any of my current works in progress for some time and I haven't blogged here.

The battle to be recognized as a legitimate contributor to the writing community may be a losing one for now. For the past eight years I've been self publishing and, this editing hiccup aside, I've put out some quality work.  Not my problem that publishers don't have the time of day to either look at or even acknowledge my submissions.  If I waited for permission (because that's what it is) from a publishing company to send my stories into the world, I would have exactly one book to my name and I would not be doing public appearances several times a year as I do now.

My own friends in writing look down on my work because they've got book deals with small presses and they are "legitimate." When the topic comes up I bite my tongue, I smile, and I say nothing because I'm not going away...and they aren't ever going to accept my work until I can wave a contract offering me 17% of the royalties if I sign away my rights to what I write.

Don't get me wrong.  If a publisher offered me the right contract, I would go.  But I've done enough wrong contracts (really, one is all you need) that I'm ultra careful about who gets to judge and/or reject my work.  Meanwhile, I'm not going to stop writing. And I'm certainly not going to wait by the phone (or email in box) like some desperate high school girl waiting for a boy to deign to call her and ask her out.  I'm going to continue to publish and I'm going to continue to sell my books.  I have a new editor now, one I trust completely and one who actually does a very good job.  My storytelling style is my own.  My content is what I want.  My covers are approved by me and only me. 

The people who read my work generally enjoy it.  I meet with book clubs and groups frequently and we have a blast.  I love the hands on approach, I love meeting people the way a local farmer or crafter would.  I'm proud of what I do, and I enjoy sharing it with others.

So, my self published friends, take heart. Yes, things are up and down in the world of self publishing.  And you're going to have to fight to be recognized.  But here's the thing: Things are up and down in the "legitimate" world of publishing, too.  I know authors who are published and guess what?  They have to work day jobs just like we do. They aren't world famous.  Most of them, the vast majority of them, continue to work and build what ultimately is a small reader base.

What's the difference?  Well, legitimacy comes at a cost.  Maybe it's up front fees. (I don't recommend that.)  Maybe it's the publisher taking the lion's share of the royalties.  But the only difference between many "published" authors and those of us that are self pubbed is this:  Someone looked at their work and said, "Hey, with a lot of rewrites this could be something. So turn over your rights to the book and we'll edit it, make a cover for it you may or may not love, and we'll take 80% of everything you make off the book."

Yeah, okay.

So my friends, those of you who are self published and those of you who are traditionally published, let me give you my battle cry:  I might just be one of those bastard children of publishing today.  But my work is out there, and I'm not going away.  What, you're going to make me stop writing?

I don't think so.

The one thing, my self pubbed friends, that you do need to be wary of is this:  Get the book edited properly.  Get an English teacher who knows how to spell (and read) to look it over. Do not trust spell check.  Contact your local high school or college and see if they have a teacher or a student willing to work for a small amount of money.  (Professional editors cost a ton.  And that's what I thought I was hiring...and I got screwed.  Don't be me.)  Make sure that the work you put out there is as clean as you can make it, editorially speaking.  YOU CANNOT LINE EDIT YOUR OWN WORK.  You just can't.

We, the growing army of self published authors, need to make sure we continue working, continue writing, continue making our voices heard.  We've come a long way, but there are still hearts and minds to change along the way. The goal, the focus, must always be on the reader.  Give the reader something good and you will always have a measure of success!