Friday, June 8, 2018

One Author's Response to Anthony Bourdain's Death.

Good morning.

I know I've been MIA from this blog for some time. But today I'm beyond sad and felt the need to share with my fellow readers and writers.

Anthony Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide in his hotel room in France this morning.

On the heels of that and the apparent suicide earlier this week of fashion icon Kate Spade, a companion headline ran on the news outlets today:

"US suicide rates up 25% since 1999."

1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The loss of Bourdain is significant for me.  I've been a fan for years, watching his shows "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown" and reveling in the episodes of "Top Chef" where he was a judge.  My husband and I have enjoyed reading his books. He wrote not  only cookbooks and detailed travelogues, but he delved deeply and well into the world of fiction.  In short, this loss is personal for me.

But it's more than that.  At 61, (A young age by this era's reckoning) and on top of his profession, how does this happen?

As a person who suffers from depression, and the mother of two adults who have mental illnesses, I think I have some perspective on this.  Mental illness in the US, and possibly other countries, but I can only speak for mine, is still looked upon as something less than a medical epidemic.  If a person has cancer or a broken bone, people talk about it, they pray for the person suffering, and the person is offered every assistance possible so that they can recover.

But mental illness is still something that's only whispered about, as if it's a shortcoming, or a crime.  While more and more celebrities and sports figures are coming forward and talking about their own struggles, there are millions in this country who suffer in silence, without proper support or medication.

I believe it starts with the US work culture.  I have worked many different jobs in different industries over my life and I have yet, in more than 30 years of employment, to work for a company who understood that "mental health days" are a real need for those with mental illness. If I had the flu, or needed physical medical care, my employers were supportive and wished me a quick recovery. But, learning through many conversations with management, I understood that any days taken because I was "blue" or couldn't get out of my bed would be counted against me and would be a black mark on my annual reviews. I was written up by one employer for missing a day of work after I'd spent the night in the ER with one of my children after they attempted suicide.  If I had to leave work an hour early to take another child, a minor at the time, to a Psych appointment, which they could not attend without  parent, my employer complained that I was shirking my duty. 

The message so many employers send to their employees is that if you miss work and it's not due to a physical illness, then you may as well not bother working at the job.  This keeps many people who are mentally ill from realizing their full potential. Many stay in jobs that are less strict about schedules, such as food service and low level unskilled jobs because even if they are fired for attendance problems, they can jump into another similar job quickly. The problem there is that they never rise much above the poverty line, the struggle to survive is continuous, and the depression increases.

US medicine is also a problem.  Mental health treatment and meds are EXPENSIVE.  Without insurance, it is impossible to get treatment for a mental illness.  But health insurance coverage is expensive and sometimes won't cover mental health issues.  Also, if the employer doesn't offer it, those who suffer from mental illness have to find their own health care, which is more expensive.

Those who are open about their illness are looked on as unstable, a liability to work.  Some are even in a strange gray area, listed as having a disability by the government, but not allotted the social
programs and support that physically disabled people are.

Here's the thing:  There is no cure for mental illness. There is treatment, but even with treatment there are going to be good days and bad days. That's just a fact. 

My grandmother was schizophrenic in an era when people simply did not admit to having "emotional issues."  Because of that she went untreated until she was well beyond middle age.  My childhood is littered with stories of her illness affecting the family negatively.  It was something that wasn't explained until I was in my 20's, so as a child I didn't understand my grandmother and I feared her because she accused me of some terrible things.  Had I know it was because she had an illness, I might have been able to relate to her better instead of resenting her.

I'm sharing this with you because I believe it's time for us to all wake up and understand that mental illness is just that: AN ILLNESS.  It is a disease that affects the sufferer their entire lives.  Rather than shunning the ill or hiding them away, we should find a way to open society up and find a place in the light for the mentally ill. 

Meanwhile, what can we, as authors, do?

We can give the world more light.  We can speak out about our own mental illnesses, if we have one, and we can support those who suffer.  We in the creative community probably have more contact with the mentally ill than any other industry simply because the creative community doesn't have set hours or rules and tends to be more inclusive.  We need to step up and speak out, we need to wake up other industries to the fact that the mentally ill have so much to offer and should be looked upon, not as a liability or as a lazy person, but as a person who is every bit as hardworking, loyal and diligent, but who has a disease and will need time for appointments and sick days. 

We as authors can, and should, create characters who suffer from mental illness but are able to function in our world. It is our responsibility to wipe the stigma of mental illness away, We need to erase misunderstanding and fear by giving readers characters who are vibrant and relevant, but who just happen to have a mental illness.  We need to create characters who are heroes and heroines who may also have an illness, but who are not defined by it.

Anthony Bourdain had everything and still felt the darkness, the hopelessness. 

Since 1999. suicide rates in 49 states have gone up by double digits, some states as high as 40%.

Mental illness does not care about age, gender, wealth, education level. It strikes where it strikes and until we as a society look at it as a medical condition rather than a weakness, it's going to continue to take our loved ones from us.

RIP, Tony.  I pray you've found peace at last.  And I pray your death will not be in vain, that we can rise up and end the stigma. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Holding out for the (Anti) Hero.

Good morning everyone!

So last night Hubby and I were binge-watching a Showtime TV series on Netflix and I realized something fairly disturbing about our favorite series:  The heroes are actually the villains.

Going all the way back to my childhood I've loved a good hero.  It started with Randy Mantooth, TV's "Johnny Gage" on "Emergency!"  Now, Johnny was hardly perfect...and had 1970's television been a touch more graphic it's doubtful my parents would have allowed me to watch a show featuring a fireman who had a bed in the back of his personal vehicle.  That said, Johnny Gage was my first love, and my first hero.

Over the years I've come to realize I have a type:  Tall, dark, and heroic with just a touch of bad boy.  Tom Selleck, Mark Harmon, Scott Bakula were all my dreamboats through the 80's and into the 90's (and oh yes, I'm all over Mark Harmon and Scott Bakula on their NCIS shows on's the highlight of my week).  All of this culminated with the ultimate hero (with just a touch of bad boy) David James Elliott as Harmon Rabb on JAG.

With the exception of NCIS, however, I I realize that the "hero ideal" is sort of...non existent in TV today.  Instead, we've replaced the slightly bad boy HERO with a completely decent BAD GUY.

Not sure what I'm talking about? Okay, let's look at just a couple of the biggest TV shows in the last decade:

Don Draper.  Tall, dark, handsome, rich.  Completely amoral.  Smoker-drinker-womanizer-complete jackwagon at work.  Oh, and let's not forget the whole stolen identity thing.

Walter White:  Family man. Endearing father.  Faithful husband.  Dedicated High school teacher.  Meth kingpin and murderer.

Dexter Morgan:  Mild mannered blood expert.  Family guy.  Devoted brother.  Crime fighter.  Serial killer.

Marty Byrde:  Husband, father, all around good guy played by the ultimate all around good guy, Jason Bateman.  Oh, but Marty is a mob money launderer who also, if memory serves, stole a strip club.

These are the TV shows I can't put down. These are the heroes, if you can call them that, that I'm cheering for.  Yes, I wanted Walter White to make the "good meth" and I'm cheering for Dexter to slaughter people because he only kills the really deserving.  And I want Marty to succeed in laundering all the money he's hidden in the walls of the resort he also sort of stole.  And as for Don Draper, well, yes, he must drink all the Scotch and sleep with all the women so he can be brilliant and save the ad campaign.  

Sing it, Bonnie.

What has happened to our heroes?  When did we decide evil criminals were the guys we were going to cheer for?  Does the right motivation truly cover a multitude of sins?  It must, because I fill my TV time with hours up hours of just this kind of material.  

It can't just be about the lead being good looking.  I mean...let's face it, Bob Odenkirk is many things, but good looking he is not. Yet, when I sit down to watch "Better Call Saul" or "Breaking Bad" I'm truly cheering for this sleezeball lawyer to win at all costs.  (The same goes for Brian Cranston of "Breaking Bad".)  The key is that they are compelling and sincere, even at their worst. 

It doesn't hurt the antihero movement if the guy in question is good looking. I mean, Jon Hamm (Mad Men), yes please!  (Although if my husband started acting like Don Draper, I'd show him the door.  So I guess money and ridiculous good looks do count.  I'm not proud that I'm admitting that.  But I know I'm not alone.)

Where are the good guys?  Where is the balance to all of the dark-souled evil we see in so many male characters now?  Where is the 

Oh, wait...maybe we just don't want them....

Are we simply getting what we deserve?  Have we gravitated toward the "bad boy" side of heroes so far that we've lost the "hero" and just gotten the "bad boy?"

I would love to see another pure hero type all around good guy back on TV.  A nice guy who is just out to "put right what once went wrong."  You know, someone I could sort of fall in love with without feeling dirty.

(This one's currently fighting crime in New Orleans on Tuesday nights.)

Maybe I'll mount some kind of protest, you know, demand that TV bring back a true "knight in shining armor" kind of guy.  Demand that we walk away from hot criminal and celebrate the "good guys" who are truly "good."

Wait, what's that?

TABOO season 2 is coming out soon?  

Never mind...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Writer's Take on the Winter Olympics

Hello everyone!

It's been almost a month since the Winter Games ended.  I can't believe how time flies when you're still catching up on 72 hours of non stop curling coverage on your DVR, but maybe that's just me.

It's no secret that I'm a huge Olympics fan, especially when it comes to winter stuff.  Maybe it's because I don't like being outside in the winter and this is a great reason to stay inside for 17 days.  Maybe it's because I can swim and run (sort of) but I will never, ever be able to ski or skate or...what ever it is those snowboarder do, and I love watching it.

Or maybe it's because every single event in the Winter Olympics involves an element of death.  With the possible exception of curling (my favorite of all the sports) go ahead and name one winter sport where DEATH is not a possible outcome.

You can't.

So after hunkering down for some hardcore TV watching I've come up with a few points I'd like to make about the coverage of the 2018 games in Pyeonchang, South Korea.

Counting down from 5.

5)  Pyeonchang is hard to spell, but worth it.

I'll be honest, outside of a paper I did in high school about the Korean War (Mostly because I wanted an excuse to watch "MASH" I know relatively little about South Korea.  These Olympics were an eyeopener for me.  Their culture is beautiful, historical, and very advanced.  The US could learn a thing or two about niceness, too, from what I hear.

Bigger point in how great Pyeonchang was as a host:  While generally the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics are awesome, the Closing Ceremonies typically are dull and over long.  Not so in Pyeonchang! The South Koreans took this last opportunity, after showing the world a thriving, joyful country, to remind us one more time that they are pretty great.  The Closing was every bit as much fun as the Opening.  Made me wish we could have the Olympics there every four years.

4)  How NBC dropped the ball

NBC has several television networks it controls and in past years Olympic coverage has been endless and massive.  This time around the coverage was...underwhelming. Maybe it's because there are fewer events in Winter than in Summer Games.  I don't know. But opening up my DVR and finding that NBCSN and NBC simply duplicated each others' daytime coverage was annoying.  

Also, let's talk announcers and color analysts.  NBC dropped the ball BIG time by hiring Olympic skier Bode Miller to do the color for the Alpine events.  Of all the events in the Winter Olympics, downhill skiing is the fastest, the most dangerous, and therefore the most awesome to watch.  Not this time around. Bode Miller, with his endless monotone droning about technical stuff and pointless anecdotes that went nowhere managed to suck all the excitement right out of the events to the point where I skipped it.  You know what I watched?  Cross country skiing!  That's right...I watched hours of coverage of people basically walking on skiis.  Why?  Because Chad Salmela LOST HIS MIND while calling every single event. Sure, Jessie Diggins of the US got a gold in cross country skiing, something that's NEVER happened. And it was a thrilling finish.  But Salmela managed to call up that same level of enthusiasm for every event he called.  (And there were a lot of them.) Oh, and he managed to NOT offend married people.  (Thank you, again, Bode.)

While we're talking about announcers, why did NBC try to hide Scott Hamilton and Taneth Belbin White on the sidelines (And on that ridiculous fake ice rink outside the broadcast center)?  I get it, Tara and Johnny are the cool kids and the Olympics probably wanted to skew a little younger and a lot whackier (that HAIR!) to draw in a younger crowd for figure skating.  I get it.  But they still let Andrea Joyce run around with her goofy interviews while two American treasures of the sport had to pretend to demonstrate skating moves on what looked like a cardboard floor.  You're telling me there wasn't room for everyone in figure skating?

3)  How NBC picked up the ball and scored.

First of all, a network dedicated every day to curling coverage. WIN.  My DVR is still full of these lovely encapsulated matches and I will be able to watch them over the coming months and fully absorb the sport.

Second: Mike Tirico.  So much better than Bob "I got a gross eye infection in Sochi" Costas.  Tirico is the Olympics wrangler for this era.  Jim McKay was the gold standard, but Mike is following closely with his eternal cheerfulness and his clear diction.  The man is gold.

Third: Hockey coverage.  The NHL did not send players to the Olympics this time around, and that's fine for me. I think highly paid professionals don't NEED a gold medal.  But having many of the NHL cover guys from NBCSN do the coverage was a good idea. No stammering over names or struggling with the rules. And who can forget Jeremy Roenick's reaction at the end of the women's gold medal game?  Awesome.)

2) Yes, they are our representatives...but they are also

Honestly I think we expect a lot of Olympians, and that's fine, but we have to remember that in many cases these are very young people. And I do mean very young.  Chloe Kim and Red Gerard, both gold medalists, are both 17.  You know what I was doing at 17?  I wasn't representing the USA on the biggest world stage in sport, that's for certain.  So yes, Chloe Kim tweeted a bunch of random things about food while she was competing and yes, Red Gerard let some colorful language fly when he realized he'd won the gold medal.  But on the medal stand, they stood up, they focused, they looked respectful and no one can fault any gold medalist for not singing along in that moment. I mean, it's a nice thought that all of our gold medal winners sing our national anthem, but unless you're Whitney Houston, you probably can't sing it well (I'm looking at you, Fergie) and maybe you should just focus on looking respectful rather than showing the world your singing face when you try to hit that note "land of the FREE."

Watching the youth of the world, especially the US, I noticed something I haven't noted in the Olympics before: and openess between competitors.  The world of sport is much smaller these days with world cup events in every sport happening all year round.  It used to be that the Olympics were pretty much the only time you saw some of these sports being done, but that's not the case now.  Now the competitors know each other well.  There's no mystery to the Russians...well, maybe there's a little mystery yet, I mean, most of them did get banned, and hey, I saw "Icharus."

My point here is, these are first and foremost real people. The buttoned up, expressionless East Germans and Soviets of my childhood no longer exist.  And as long as they don't create some international incident (Ahem, Ryan Lochte) let's not sweat the other stuff.  Let NBC figure out how to beep someone on live TV when they win the gold medal.  I like my Olympians to be real.

1)  Flag, race, color, language does not matter.

I found myself fully engaged in events where the US wasn't even a blip on the screen.  The Olympics have always given us a window into the lives of people in other nations, and that was true this time around.  I was fully invested in the story of the Jamaican bobsled team that lost their sled to their coach.  I was fully invested in the Nigerian bobsled team, the first African country to have a bobsled team.  (12 Athletes from 8 African countries participated this time around.)  And who didn't love the story of Tito Tuafatofua, the shirtless Tongan from the 2016 Rio games who again showed up to the Opening Ceremonies, again shirtless, this time as a Winter Olympian.  He participated in Cross Country skiing, and he finished 114 out of 119. Not bad for a guy who didn't start skiing on snow until 12 weeks before the games.  

There were cross county matches won by men and women from other countries with names I don't remember and probably couldn't pronounce, but in the moment of the Olympics I was their biggest fan.

Did you know that in curling the word "HARD", whether screamed by a tiny Korean lady nicknamed Pancake or a healthy sized girl from Wisconsin, sounds EXACTLY the same?

As a writer, I got wrapped up in a dozen different stories from these Games.  I laughed, I cried, I cringed. I didn't love all the sports (Can we skip long track speed skating and just give all the medals to the Dutch?  And also, "Big Air" was a little underwhelming since it came AFTER all the other snowboarding stuff.)  But I loved so many of them  (snow-cross and ski-cross...quite possibly the most hilarious thing I've ever seen on television.) and now that they're over I feel a void.

Eventually the Winter Games will be a distant memory. They already are for some people. And in another year we'll ramp up for the Summer Games which will fill our senses in 2020.  But it's going to be another four years before I get to hear Chad Salmela scream out Jessie Diggins' name or...see this...

Although, maybe, if we're really good and eat our vegetables, he'll come back for the Summer Games.

One can only hope.

So well done, South Korea, I give you an A++.  NBC, you get a B.  You've got some work to do. Maybe just let the South Koreans have the Winter Games every time?

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.