Saturday, August 22, 2015

Just A Few Blocks Of Stone
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Just a Few Blocks of Stone

I've had a very busy month with some personal setbacks. So this month I'm not in the mood for writing something funny. Someone in last months wrote about some interesting facts regarding Stonehenge. For those of you who think I'm just a crazy funny guy, well I am, but those that know me more, know that I have a far deeper spiritual side and I've done a lot of research into native beliefs and other cultures. I've written a lot of science fiction and love learning about ancient places. One of the most interesting for myself has always been the Pyramids of Giza. Some old blocks of stone, a friend once said to me. Yup, on that he was correct. But once I begun to look closer at these blocks I begun to realize there is so much more here than some Egyptian scribes working with copper tools could have put together.
So some facts on what is known. The main pyramid contains two and a half million blocks of rock cut from an Aswan quarry six hundred miles away. It weighs an estimated six to seven million tons, which probably doesn’t mean a lot until you consider it’s heavier than all the cathedrals, churches and chapels built in England since the beginning of Christianity, and the tallest structure erected until the Eiffel Tower was built it 1889. The main pyramid was supposedly built by the pharaoh Khufu in twenty years. We now know his name is a forgery put there by an English archeologist which wrongly spelled it as Rhufu, and to this day here's been no true evidence of any pharaoh has ever been found inside the main pyramid, or any inscriptions of any kind. Pretty humble scribes in those days, I'd say.

This is quite a remarkable feat, considering the Egyptians lacked astronomical, geological and mathematical expertise. Although no records recorded anywhere by the Egyptians have shown any details on building, moving or assembling the blocks. Which you'd think some egotistical hotshot would have put into permanent inscriptions. I Know I would.
To build this grand edifice in twenty years would require placing one block every five minutes, day and night, nonstop for twenty years (read this as no unions, no holidays). This doesn’t even include cutting the stone, moving it and building the ramps needed to place them. Setting a mere twenty blocks a day would need 340 years just for the main pyramid to be finished. The easiest way would be floating them up the Nile, man what a traffic jam with all those barges.
Historians claimed that they were erected using an earthen ramp circling the pyramid. Engineering experts have said it is not possible to construct them to such precise dimensions in this manner. Also, that ramp would not be shallow enough to allow the huge blocks to be dragged up it. A ramp of a shallow enough gradient to allow this would have to have been 4,800 feet long - that’s more than three times the length of the pyramid itself - and would have to be built out of stone in order to handle the 5-20 ton blocks. And if it were made of stone, where are the remains? Nothing has ever been found to even suggest how all this was done.
If I've got your attention, here’s where the fun and real mind-blowing stuff starts. The precise nature of the main pyramid is amazing. The difference in length of any of its sides is eight inches. The twenty-two inch thick plain it sits on is within one inch of level on an area of 756 X 756 feet. Which doesn't sound big, but is about ten NFL fields side by side. Gaps between the casing stones measure just a fiftieth of an inch and the apex of the pyramid is located directly over the center, not bad considering this building is forty stories high. Some really good string there and a great plomb bob I'd say.

The lower passageway is 350 feet long. It’s straight to one fiftieth of an inch through the blocks they’ve laid, and straight within a quarter of an inch through 200 feet of solid bedrock. Darn sharp copper chisels and a mighty good eye. Oh, did I forget to mention no evidence of any torches used?
The Meridian Building of the Greenwich Observatory in London was built to align with true north and even it is out by nine-sixtieths of a degree. The main pyramid is aligned to true north within one-twelfth of a degree. It sits exactly on thirty north parallel, that’s an imaginary line one third the distance between the equator and the North Pole. Also, if a line is drawn along the longest land parallel on Earth and the longest land meridian the exact center is the apex of the main pyramid.
Calculations of the length of the King’s Chamber and of the length of the pyramid divided by its height both equal pi. If a line is drawn through the apex of all three pyramids and another through the left shoulder and headdress of the sphinx then the entire Giza complex becomes a Golden Mean Spiral based on the Fibonacci spiral of numbers, which is a sacred set of numbers that govern all patterns and growth in nature. Seashells and watermarks have been found about halfway up the pyramids, carbon dated to around 10,000 BC. These shells, along with a fourteen foot layer of silt around the base of the pyramid, seem to indicate that there was flooding here at one time, a fact which could be further confirmed by the inch-thick sea salt crystals discovered inside the pyramids when they were first opened around 1200 AD. You’re probably thinking ‘how did that happen in the middle of the bleeding desert.

According to the Bible, and fossil records, the Giza area had a lush environment around 10,000 BC. This was also the time of the great flood. Erosion marks on the Sphinx, which, by the way, is the largest limestone structure in the world, shows that it was subjected to rain storms for thousands of years and is perhaps far older than the pyramids. Seashell growth on the Sphinx also indicates that it too was underwater at some time. Lastly, the alignment of the pyramids is the same as the three stars of Orion’s belt as they appeared from Earth in 10,500 BC. The two larger pyramids were originally encased in white limestone and the smaller in red to resemble the color of the three stars as seen in the night sky. The Egyptians weren’t the only ones to build pyramids dedicated to Orion. In Xian, China.

You'll find what look like the same configuration of seven pyramids. Also built in Teotihuacan in Mexico is again the same configuration of pyramids. If you draw a straight line across the globe, oddly enough they all link up.  Which makes my scratch my head and say, "Very Interesting. Weird, but very interesting." I like to think facts are stronger than fiction. So if I've got your curiosity piqued, go grab a tape measure and give your local travel agent a call and check out those old blocks of stone.

Note: Photos courtesy of the New York Public Library

Friday, August 21, 2015

Goodbye Julian Bond, hero and powerful voice for justice, By Sandy Semerad

“Those were the days,” Julian Bond said, as I handed him a copy of my novel, A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES.
“It’s based on the murder trial I covered as a reporter in Atlanta back in the 1980s,” I explained.  He remembered the trial and the Klan march I wrote about in the novel.
            I felt fortunate to have reconnected with him. I wanted granddaughter Cody to meet a fearless and cool civil rights activist and listen to him speak at the Destin Library in Destin, Florida.
Although that was a year ago, it seems like yesterday. I can’t believe he’s no longer with us.
We have lost a hero and a powerful voice for justice.
I first saw Julian on television at the Democratic National Convention. He was nominated for Vice President of the United States, leading up to the 1968 election.  He was only 28 and had to decline, due to a constitutional age requirement of 35.
            Julian was ahead of his time. He began his activism at 17.  He helped lead the sit-in movement to fight segregation in Atlanta, and bravely spoke out with a deep and resonant voice for those with no voice in the Jim Crow South.
He was one of the Freedom Riders with Martin Luther King, Jr. and later helped start the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
            In 1965, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representative. (The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act had given blacks the opportunity to vote).
Although he was lawfully elected to serve, the Georgia House refused to seat him, because he had endorsed SNCC’s policy opposing the Vietnam War.
            Julian refused to back down. He fought for his rightful seat in the House. He took his case all the way to the United States Supreme Count. The high court ruled (Bond v. Floyd) in his favor, stating the Georgia House of Representatives couldn’t deny his freedom of speech. He went on to serve four terms in the Georgia House and six terms in the Georgia Senate.
            I remember meeting him face to face for the first time at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Atlanta. We kept running into each other while talking to the same people. We laughed at this coincidence and he said, “Must be in the stars.”
            And speaking of stars, he was a bright and shining beacon of hope, who spoke out for what he thought was right. For decades he's been saying black lives matter, women’s rights matter, gay rights matter, human rights matter, and he never gave up the fight.
“If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married,” he has said. He was born African American, just as some people were born gay, he said.
            Thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Julian co-founded with Morris Dees, the Klan lost its vicious bite.  SPLC sought justice on behalf of victims. These lawsuits helped to break the Klan financially.
            I could go on and on about Julian Bond’s accomplishments. Not only was he a civil rights activist, commentator, eloquent speaker, professor, author, poet, Saturday Night Live host and occasional actor, he was also a husband, father and grandfather.
“He advocated not just for African-Americans but for every group, every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all,” Morris Dees has articulately said.
I say amen to that, as I bid farewell to a great man.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Voices by Ginger Simpson

I heard this older song today by Chris Young and some of it really relates to how I feel when I'm writing.  I recently promised Jude, our publisher, a book by December 31st.  I have it started, but now I have to tune out the voices of Cassie and Will from Deceived in order to get Sarah's Soul finished in time for the fall deadline.

I'm sure I explained in a previous post the difference between Pantsers and Plotters.  I, unfortunately, rely on voices in my head to help me write.  Without all that chatter, I'm at a loss.  I've tried plotting and it just doesn't work for me, so all the people talking in my head are really a times.

For me being a "pantser" is akin to having someone tell me a story.  I listen and jot down the words, but I never know where I'm headed until I get there.  It's a lot more exciting, in my opinion, to having a chart of some type that outlines your entire novel for you.  I prefer to be surprised.  The only problem is when the characters are done, so is the book.  I've written some short, some long, and some in between.  You never know how long creating a novel is going to take when you're a pantser.

 I have to admit I do take notes now because my memory has faded with age.  There is nothing worse than forgetting the heroes name and putting in one from another book or having your heroine suddenly gaze through blue eyes instead of green with gold flecks.

If you're a pantser too, you'll be able to relate to this video.  If you aren't, you probably will anyhow, since all those words of wisdom your parents and grandparents shared with you still run through your mind.  I can hear my granny to this day telling me all little boys wanted to do was get in my panties.  I could never figure out what they'd do once they got them on.  How embarassing.  I never wanted to wear Jockey shorts.  Now that I'm older, I realize she was warning me to be a lady.  *lol*

So...I may be camping for the next few months, but I'll be working on Sarah's Hope.  This will be sort of continuation of Sarah's Heart and Passion.  Here's an except closer to the end of that book so you'll better relate to what Sarah is sharing with me now.  She's a chatty one, for sure.

“Really.” He (Wolf) caressed her cheek. “I love you Sarah Collins, and I’d be honored if you would consider spending this life with me. I might have been unselfish enough to have given you up once, but not twice.”

Glee squeezed Sarah’s heart. She’d lived through pure hell in a dream, found the love of her life only to lose him, and now she had a second chance. No way was she missing out on the passion she felt for this man. Locking her arms around his neck, she rested her cheek against his chest, drinking in his warmth, his smell, his feel. “I love you, too, Nathaniel Grey Wolf Elder, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend eternity with…even if it’s on a cattle ranch in Missouri.”

Please check my website for places where you can find this book, and most likely my upcoming one.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mothers and Mortality by Stuart R. West

A year ago, my mother had open-heart surgery. I was just as terrified as her. Nothing makes you confront your own mortality more than having a parent--someone you've taken for granted all your life, always expecting to be there--go under the knife. I felt like I'd be on the operating table alongside her.

Months before, my mom waffled about having the procedure.  Her aorta was closing fast, surgery the only option. But my mother elevates stubbornness to an art-form. She'd said, "Maybe it's best to leave it in God's hands and let me live the rest of my life as is." 

"Your grandchildren are counting on you," I'd told her. Absolutely shameless, sure, but I played the "grandkid card" nonetheless.

It worked. Mom decided to have the procedure. I told my winter-bound Florida "snow-bird" mother to get her dancing heels ready 'cause the procedure would go great.

The family gathered on the day of the operation, three sons and their families. We sat in the cold, sterile waiting room, chugging bad coffee, killing time by reminiscing. Every embarrassing tale from my childhood was dragged out and beaten like a rug. Then we had even more bad coffee.

The operation went well. So well the surgeon pronounced the procedure as "boring."  "Boring's" good in this case.

Hours after the operation, my wife and I visited Mom in Intensive Care.

And I totally lost it.

I wasn't prepared.

My mother, dear God, I didn't recognize her.

She uttered disembodied, agonized "oh's" every few seconds, her eyes wandering, milky and lost. She looked like she'd lost twenty pounds in ten hours. I wanted to hold her, kiss her cheek, afraid I'd break her.

There was no way of letting her know how much I loved her.

Later that same day, I visited again, dreading what I'd find.

I couldn't believe the difference. Sitting up in a chair, she welcomed me. I helped feed her breakfast, administer her medicine, scratch her neck. When she started griping about things, I thought, "Yes! My warrior mother's back!"

All past grievances, annoyances, racial and political differences I'd had with her jettisoned out of the room.

My Mom. The angel who raised me, formed me, talked me through things. Protected me from monsters under the bed and monsters in the school yard.

I cradled her head as gently as I could, said, "Mom, I love you. I'll do anything I can for you."

My new Books We Love novel can be found here: Ghosts of Gannaway

Book trailer for Ghosts of Gannaway:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Do We Ever Really Grow Up" by Nancy M Bell  

 Lately I've been thinking about old times when I was a kid. Not sure what's brought this tide of nostalgia sweeping over me. It got me to thinking about how no matter how old I get chronologically I can still revert back to the child I was in an instant. Sometimes it's the smell of moth balls that takes me back to opening up the cottage at the lake in the spring time. The memories are so vivid it seems like I should just be able to step through the veils and become part of the scene again. There's people living in my memory that I'd love to talk to again and walk down the old roads again.

Just this week I somehow came across a posting on Facebook and learned that a person I knew many years ago had passed away. I never knew him well because he was a bit older than me. But his cottage was on the same lake as ours and I kind of grew up with him in the peripheral circles of my friends. I knew who he was, he knew who I was, and we always smiled and waved at each other. I had the hugest crush on him for years. Even though I haven't been to the lake since the early 1980's and frankly haven't thought about this guy for literally years, the news of his death saddened me very much. I think somehow in a corner of my mind I believe that all those years of memories are still living and breathing somewhere out there in the ether. In my heart we will all be forever young and vibrant.

Silly, I know. Sometimes the urge to return to those places is so strong. Almost as if I believe if I go to the places that held us then, that somehow some vestige of beings will still exist there. All those summer nights we built a bonfire on the beach and sat on the big granite rock and sang songs. All people I still love and miss even though I haven't seen them in years. I still remember the white violets growing in the ditch by the gravel road where I used to walk with Gramma Breckon and her little dog Mitzi. She wasn't really my gramma, but she was part of my extended family.

It's not just people, either. All the horses I have ever known still live in my memories. Realistically, I know they are mostly dead and gone now, but if I close my eyes I can still see their dear faces and feel them under me as we ride down old trails with old friends who are no longer with us. Each horse is subtly different in their movement and the connection to me through the reins. In my heart I am eternally sixteen. Now if only I could be sixteen with the knowledge of the world I have now, what a difference that would make.

I'm not sure I really want to grow up and leave all that behind me. The magic I felt the first time I rode down the ravine in Scarborough under a canopy of newly minted spring leaves, the air around me all green and gold and speckled with sunlight. The ravine is still there but there's a parking lot for the subway where the barn used to stand. The river is all concreted and civilized, but the wildness still exists.

In those days I wrote poetry and scribbled stories in duo tang folders on binder paper. I still have them, though I cringe to read some of it now. White Lightning- about a horse of course. Trails of Life which wound the lives of an old cowboy, a wild stallion and an twisted pine tree together. Wrote that in Grade 7 I think. It might actually be worth dusting off and doing a major overhaul on. Or not... It would have helped my self esteem at the time to know I'd actually be a real live published author. Late last night I finished the first book in a new series. It will be my eighth published novel. I still remember the thrill when I got my first contract. Something I thought would never happen.

The new novel is called The Selkie's Song and is the first book in the Arabella's Secret series. It tells the story of the heroine in my The Cornwall Adventures series grandmother. Unlike the Laurel storied, this series in not YA Fantasy, but Paranormal Romance. I may at some time do a G rated version of the story for those younger readers. Watch for The Selkie's Song in September from Books We Love.

Until next month...Oh wait, I forgot to tell you. Next month at this time I will be (should be LOL) all packed and ready to go on a Hawaiian cruise! Fifteen days of pampering and sitting on the balcony and watching the waves go by. Time to get in some reading and relaxing. I'll tell you all about it in October. Come November it will be time to update you on the Surrey International Writers Conference and shenanigans I get up to there very year. Until then Salient Be well and may you be in Heaven an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Casting Your Characters with Janet Lane Walters Using Astrology - Leo #astrology #fantasy #swordandsorcery


Leo characters can be a fascinating read.

Sun in Leo - These characters have an active mind and generally a sunny nature. They are ambitious, independent and determined. When they have a goad people should get out of the way. They are quick to anger and are easily appeased and that's a plus. They can be outspoken and candid. The Leo character appreciates affection. They are fond of drama and often employ dramatic scenes to get their way.

Ascendant in Leo - The face shown to the world is one that is good natured and generous. There's an impulsive element and this can result in some outspoken comment setting off a minor war. They do have great hope and fortitude. Grudges are not held for long. They are conscientious and charitable and are loyal friends. Then have a need to be in a position of authority.

Moon in Leo- The emotional nature is generally sunny. Watch out beneath the sunshine lies ambition, self-confidence and self-reliance. This is a loyal friend. Leo moon gives a fondness of home a particularity in dress, a love of pleasure. Those with a Leo moon like and enjoy the opposite sex.

The brother of the heroine in Lines of Fire is a Leo and one day will have his own book. My next Moon Child book will have a Leo hero.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Corner Drugstore by Roseanne Dowell

Back in the late 50s, we visited the corner drug store, after school and at least once a day in the summer.  
Our footsteps clattered on the wood floors as a group of us walked into Hagodornes. We sat on the high stools at the soda fountain, giggling and being silly as teenage girls are prone to do. Every day was pretty much the same thing, we ordered phosphates, malts, shakes or sodas while a highschool boy patiently waited on us.
A display with greeting cards, highlighting the nearest holiday, stood in them middle of the store.  A pharmacy, where Mr. Hagadorn filled prescriptions for the neighborhood, was in the far corner.  Everyone knew Mr. Hagadorn, and he talked to us kids from behind his counter when he wasn't busy. 
Back then you couldn’t find bread, milk, soft drinks or anything other than first aid, drug store related items. It was, after all. a drug store. The soda fountain was meant to serve customers waiting on their prescriptions, but we pretty much took it over. But if an adult happened to be waiting for a prescription, one of us always gave up our seat.

With only six seats by the fountain, and sometimes eight or ten of us in the store, some of us had to stand. Not that we cared.  We stood around talking and drinking our drinks or eating our sundaes. Oh those sundaes, they make my mouth water even now, piled high with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Not to mention those milkshakes. Thick, rich, chocolate shake. Made with real ice cream and lots of it. So thick you almost
had to eat it with a spoon and so cold they always caused me a brain freeze.

And those banana splits - vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream between a split banana, topped with nuts, pineapple, and strawberrys with a huge dollop of whipped cream and a cherry on top. To die for. We didn't order those often, especially after school. For one thing they cost more and took longer to eat, plus they filled you up and who wanted dinner after that.
 Sometimes we just ordered cokes. Mr. Hagadorn didn’t care how long we stayed, although most of us had to get home so we didn’t linger long. Except in the summer and on Saturdays, then we sometimes stayed an hour or two, drinking a coke and laughing and talking. The drug store was closed on Sundays, as were more stores back then. Nothing stayed open 24 hours like today.
We were only freshmen then and none of us had cars so there wasn’t much else to do.  In the summer, we walked from our houses to our friends, met with a group and on to Hagadorns. And of course there was the boyfriend, girlfriend thing.  Going steady was the big deal back then and most everyone did it.  It never lasted long a couple weeks or so and then on to the next boyfriend/girlfriend. I still remember my first love. I’m sure all of us do. I was in 7th grade and crazy about a boy named Chris. I’ll never forget the first time he asked me to dance at canteen.  I thought I died and went to heaven. He walked me home afterwards, mostly because he walked past my street to get to his. He even held my hand.
Wednesday nights was canteen. What fun that was. All the kids went, didn’t matter if you were the class geek or not, everyone went to canteen and danced the evening away, but that’s a blog for a different time.
Looking back, I can’t help but smile at the memories. Memories of carefree times. Of course back then we didn’t think our lives were so carefree. After all we had homework and grades to keep up. Life should be so difficult now. LOL 

When Meghan Shelby inherits the family home, she returns to her hometown after a ten year
absence. Not only does she find the house is in a rundown, dilapidated condition, there’s a dead body in it. She also discovers a heart-shaped locket with a picture of a man and a journal that reveals secrets and deceit from years ago and learns why her parents never returned.
Available from Amazon

Short Story - Maude, There's A Body - Janet Lane Walters

I began my career writing short stories but I don't write them any more. This is the last one I wrote and it took me more than two...