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I believe in
reincarnation, that’s all there is to it. Souls clump together and help each
other through lifetimes. We learn, collect good and bad karma, love or
dislike each other, hurt or shore up the other. When we’ve known souls for
several lifetimes, and one leaves this plane, it is difficult to bear. We miss
them. Our hearts break for our losses, while they are glad to be back. Once we move on, we again
remember what we thought we’d never forget, but did.
As 2015 shot out of the gate, and within weeks of each other, both my husband and I
lost life-long friends, people we knew since we were children. We grew up with them, rode
bikes together, suffered through puberty, know their children, their
friend lived down the street. He was always intense, and dedicated all of his
energy to whatever he did. While young, he played in a band, traveled all
over. One interesting place he lived was in Oklahoma among the Native Americans. He was a
collector. He collected Native American artifacts, arrowheads. He loved music.
It was part of his life. He breathed it, felt the thrumming of chords and notes in his flesh and sinew. He collected rare cd’s, band tee-shirts, memorabilia. Loved to
have his picture taken with a musical group and post it on facebook.One Saturday in mid-February, his chest hurt.
By morning, he was gone.
and I started out as pen pals when I was twelve and she ten. At the time, I was
embarrassed to have a friend so much younger than me, and I didn’t tell anyone
about our age differences, fearing I’d be ridiculed. She lived in the West
Midlands of England, near the Potteries where people in her neighborhood worked
in factories and crafted Wedgewood and Prince Albert dishware. I visited her
more than once, met her family, her aunt and uncle. I lived the same town for a
year with my boys while I researched a novel. She saw my anger when I divorced;
I saw her sorrow when her father died. Just before Christmas, she was diagnosed
with cancer, and left this mortal coil a month and five days later.
shocked by these quick deaths, so unexpected. Medicine today is quite good. The
doctors should have saved our friends, our loved ones. Why didn’t they? People
with the worst, most insidious cancers can live quite a long time. Why didn’t
my friend, or my husband’s friend stick around?
Because we are
the ones who choose when we come or go, what our lessons will be, how we will
learn these lessons, who we want to run with, love and dislike. Once our life's lessons are complete, we leave. We review. We either hang out in the clouds or begin another life. Our guides help us. God aids us. We are not alone.
I had vivid
dreams of my friend laughing at my sorrows. She was glad to be on the other
side. I asked where her life review took place, and she answered, on a hot,
sandy beach. She was always cold in England, and this satisfied her a
great deal. Almost a year ago, she told me she was bored. In my dreams, she
admitted her life had been too constricted, controlled. Now, she wants to play, have
a more exuberant life, be slightly naughty. She stuck around for her memorial service, then with a
sweep of her skirts, she was gone. I hope this new place she goes to will be
filled with more love, more light, and be better than the violence and hate of
this earthen plane.
work day afternoon, more years back than I care to admit, my desk phone rang. I
grabbed it immediately, both because I was (and still am) very good at my “day
job” and because it was a school holiday and my children, ranging in age from
fifteen to twelve, were home alone. Now that in and of itself should tell you
how long ago it was since nowadays, all kids call their parents at work on
their cell phones, but cell phones at that time were large, square and black
and generally lived as permanent fixtures on car dashboards. (Told you it was a long time ago.)
My eldest child and only daughter had that accusatory edge in her voice,
as though miffed at something. Or someone. I braced myself for some tale of
baby. Everything okay?”
everything is not okay! I’ve been
through this house from top to bottom and I can’t find the Easter Bunny anywhere! Now, don’t you think you or
Daddy need to get busy, hmmmmm?”
this point, I should explain that Easter was a big deal in our family. So
was Halloween and so was Christmas. Don’t
get me wrong, I know we’re not unique in that, it’s just – how shall I
phrase this? My husband and I went a
little crazy on holidays. Any
holiday. Every holiday. Okay, we went
completely over the top. We kept right
on going over the top for years after
most families dispense with any pretense that baskets of candy are delivered in
the dead of night by a magical rabbit or that the presents surrounding the tree
on Christmas morning came down the chimney with a jolly, bearded old man in a
unfilled Easter baskets themselves were part and parcel of the magic. All three of my children had their own Easter
basket, chosen for them on their first Easter. The basket itself never changed,
not in all the years the Easter bunny came. They sat their empty basket out on
the kitchen table every Easter Eve, after we’d dyed the Easter eggs and
carefully arranged them in the big Easter basket saved from my own childhood.
And sometime during the night, the Easter bunny filled those baskets with enough
gaily wrapped chocolate candy and jelly beans to give an elephant a sugar
rush. Then he tiptoed down the hall and
left each filled basket by each child’s respective bed, and sat a big boxed chocolate
bunny beside the filled basket. It had to sit beside the basket because the
basket was too dang full for the chocolate bunny to fit inside it. Of course, a
new stuffed animal always sat on the other side of the baskets to finish things
off. The new stuffed animal didn’t have
to be a bunny, though, sometimes it was a duck or a lamb.
this was easy enough to pull off when the kids were little. Things got a bit
more complicated as they aged. Especially since neither they nor we were about
to acknowledge the fact that either Mama or Daddy went down the candy aisle of
the grocery store filling their cart with bags of candy and hid it to await
Easter Eve, or that it was Mama who lined the baskets with grass and tore open
the bags of candy on the kitchen table, carefully dividing it between the three
baskets by counting out “one, two, three, one, two, three…”. Certainly no one
would ever admit it was Mama who snuck into the dark rooms and sat the baskets
beside each respective bed.
they aged, by tacit agreement, without it ever being discussed, I moved “Operation
Easter Basket” from the kitchen table into my bedroom closet, sitting on the
floor in the late night and early morning hours to count out “one, two, three…”.
The boy who would become our son-in-law entered our door at the age of seventeen,
and the count shifted to “one, two, three, four…” because of course, Jason had
to spend the night on Easter Eve so the Easter Bunny could bring his basket,
too. And by tacit agreement, without it
ever being discussed, the kids turned their lights off at least by midnight and
climbed into their respective beds.
the kids were really asleep during those teen years when I snuck into dark
rooms to deposit baskets, I don’t know.
I didn’t ask, and it didn’t matter.
All that mattered was the continuity, the tradition, the celebration of
the magic interwoven into childhood and holidays. I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t
sure that celebration mattered as much to my teenage children as it did to us
as parents. At least, not until my fifteen year old daughter made it known that
the Easter Bunny was an anticipated visitor who’d apparently gone AWOL and she
expected the situation to be rectified immediately.
And no, the Easter Bunny wasn’t AWOL.
His candy stash was sitting behind me in an office closet, safely away from
exploring teenagers. He doesn’t come to my house anymore, but that’s as it
should be. He certainly comes to her house, leaving baskets of goodies and
surprises beside two little beds. Because magic is a legacy, a gift from one
generation to the next. Pass it on and
never let the magic die. Happy Easter!
It’s no mistake that people are discovering Hamilton again,
that least known, most difficult to appreciate, and perhaps the most personally
conflicted, of America’s Founding Fathers. Less a politician than a matchless administrator,
Hamilton was a leader who actually seems to have believed the things he said, a
man who did not use his time in government to feather his own nest.He was self-made,
without family or fortune, but with a unique, nuts and bolts understanding the new
science of economics and the realities of international trade, of money and
banking. The men Hamilton worked beside, men like Washington and Jefferson,
were American aristocrats, slave owners, whose power base lay in land.
Jefferson, particularly, took an almost feudal view of the future, imagining a new nation
comprised of large landowners ruling over laboring classes of sharecroppers and
Hamilton’s political enemies, busy calling his patriotism
into question, conveniently overlooked the fact that a large part of his character
was almost Quixotic. Far from being a man obsessed with self-interest, he often behaved like a knight strayed in from some
earlier age. At the start of the Revolution, he gave his hard-won college money
to outfit a rebel artillery company. He crossed the Delaware with the remains of George
Washington's army as a foot-sore captain, freezing and hungry beside his men. During
the war, he was the kind of officer who led from the front, and also the kind
who intervened when his soldiers, still hot from battle, wanted to summarily execute
their prisoners. As an aide-de-camp, he
served his boss George Washington selflessly and tirelessly, becoming the
perfect secretary/assistant to a beleaguered general with no other such brilliant
props upon which to lean. After the war, in his new incarnation as attorney, he
was not afraid to defend ex-loyalists whose property had been illegally seized
by vengeful neighbors. Hamilton also advocated for ordinary men, one a humble
ferry owner, whipped and bullied by a local landlord. Law, Hamilton said,
should be dealt alike to all citizens, whether rich or poor.
For a brief time, he even may have dreamed, during the heady
first years after America’s founding, that we could have a “pure” government, one
without party, because servants of this new republic would be genuinely ‘public-spirited’.
After all, if a person wished only the common good—as opposed to only ‘good’ for
ones’ friends-- by use of the ancient tools of common law, common sense and
ordered debate--pragmatic, mutually agreeable solutions must, naturally,
emerge. ‘The People’ (as then defined) could govern themselves, not only
without the aid of a king or dictator, but without special interest groups, too.
But Hamilton was also an outsider, an immigrant, a “come
here,” a fact his enemies never forgot or forgave. Worse, he was born
illegitimate. An orphan, he arrived on these shores as a charity child. He was called, slightingly,
a “Creole,” or, with franker hostility, by John Adams, “the bastard brat of a
Scots peddler.” Interestingly, this is the trope which
has moved Hamilton back into public consciousness. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a multi-talented
first generation American, is making a big splash with a hip-hop opera at The
Public Theater in NYC. I learned about
this exciting theater piece around the time I’d begun re-editing a decade old “in-the-drawer” book—The Master Passion—but this
unforeseen enthusiasm, and its success, truly delighted me. After all, someone young, gifted and
vocal also wanted to make some art out of the life of this colorful, fascinating genius.
Hamilton has been in my life since I was ten. I’d
early learned that he’d worked against slavery, and that, like the wandering
lost prince of all the fairy tales, he’d come to the ‘Kingdom’ with nothing but
the brilliant head on his shoulders. As a teen, he'd fought for freedom. He’d won
the respect of a legendary commanding general and won the hand of a local 'princess'.
He’d spent the rest of his life devising ways to help his adopted country
become well-governed, rich and happy. He'd fought like a tiger to get
his brilliant—but far-less well-informed and/or insightful 'founding brothers'—to understand
and assist his plans.
I won't go into Funding & Assumption or his many other financial plans here. The simplest way to explain Hamilton's importance to America is that if he hadn’t created a system to unite those thirteen bickering colonies by getting
them to pay the debts incurred to fighting men—and to the businessmen who’d
backed the war of independence—there would be no United States today.Then as now, nation or family, paying the
bills is essential to safety and security, the firm base from which all creative
endeavor and industry flows.
Unavoidably, Hamilton was also a man of his time,
one scarred by a childhood full of violence, poverty and humiliation. He was a true genius and
as result could be vain, brash and impatient with slower minds. He injured and
embarrassed his family and friends with a sordid love-affair. His insecurities
and his anger toward the enemies who dragged him through the mud caused the political
missteps which destroyed his own Federalist party. The duel in which Hamilton died might have been avoided by a more circumspect man, one more assured of his status as a 'gentleman'.
Beyond all, he remains--to me and to others--a true tragic
hero, a great man destroyed by fatal flaws. If Alexander Hamilton hadn’t come
here, hadn’t fought in the Revolution, or practiced law and set still important precedents, hadn't been one of those critical first creative, hard-working public
servants,there probably would be no United
A few good books on a large subject:
by Ron Chernow ISBN: 1594200092 Penguin, 2005
Papers of Alexander Hamilton, 21 volumes, Harold C. Syrett, Ed.,
Columbia University, 1987
by Joseph L. Ellis, ISBN: 9780375405440, Knopf, 2000
Hamilton by Forrest
McDonald, ISBN: 9780393300482, W.W. Norton, 1988
Hamilton and the Constitution, by Clinton L. Rossiter, Harcourt,
Brace, ISBN: 9780151042159, 1964
for the perfect, or not so perfect, villain for your story?
a hero, well that is perfectly simple. A
dash of Prince Charming, a sprinkle of Albert Einstein, a quarter cup of Fred
Astaire, a hint of Hans Solo. . .well, you get my drift. A quick whisk or two
and TADA! You have a hero!
so, with a villain, that is an entirely different cup of (hemlock) tea.
flawed, and driven by: dark forces, questionable morals, a wounded soul, or
simply bad fashion sense, villains must connect with readers in some realistic
way. A strong villain forces the hero to
step up, demanding more moral fiber than he, the hero, knew that he possessed. Remember, there is no “Happily Ever After”
without the twists and turns supplied compliments of the villain!
unless your villain is a serial killer, or the embodiment of pure Evil, he—the villain,
must possession a rich and complex character and past. He must be a worthy antagonist for
protagonist (aka: Our Beloved Hero). So,
how exactly do you plan to come up with the perfect villain?
like to start with back-story (of course for most of the novel this is known
only to me). I pepper hints and drop in a few clumps of info. Later, the reader will say, “Of course! I should have guess sooner!” The reader may
harbor sympathy (which I like to develop in my Tween stories). Everyone can relate to an event, which made a
profound change is his/her life. Sometimes
this even makes a person better/stronger.
Other times (as in the villain’s case) it drives them to the edge of
insanity, or damages them beyond (mental/emotional/physical) recover. However, in the beginning, the story all about
is not until the middle of the story; we appreciate the villain’s ability to
set those nasty plot twists into motion.
villain can be your hero’s mirror. Oh,
you can go for the classic blonde vs brunette, if you are looking for
campy. Or, you can look to character
traits. The hero may be shy, fearful of
horses, and a back-words sort of dresser with a gentle way with those in need. While the villain is confident, articulate
(with a sexy accent), owns a stable of show-horses, wears Armani suits, and (at
times the veil slips) he sees gentleness as weakness. He discovered as a child, only the strongest
him quirks, sensitivities (remember the movie “Red Dragon”), an awareness of
himself. Your villain must evolve also.
He may escalate into pure Evil, or see the light. Or, perhaps, reside somewhere in between the
to open his old wounds. Something, be it
a place, event, smell, or sound must trigger his behavior. Show the villain trying to avoid a situation,
can’t divulge too much about my “villains” due to the manner in which they tie
into a story’s plot. However, I will
give you a hint, or two.
Whisper upon the
my YA/Tween novel set in the late 1880s in a Native American boarding school
deals with the aftermath of the Indian Wars.
The story also addresses the way the children were treated and forced to
become “White”. My villain is Sister
Enid. The reader will discover that
Sister Enid as a story of her own. My
romance and romantic suspense novels, Lynx
and Brede (Rodeo Romance Book 1
& 2), also have carefully constructed villains.
My next BWL release,
is an anthology, Gumbo Ya Ya has five
And, a myriad of delightful
villains to boo and hiss at!
off Murphy” my villain is a friend who shoves my hero into an ‘unwelcomed
Potion # 9” brings us two villains: “element of magic” and. .well, that’s
enough of a hint.
Slice of Scandal” is a murder mystery where villains abound.
Ghost of Gombi Island” we have a pirate, a ghost, and a witch on the high seas
(I will let you ponder the villain’s identity.)
(a T.A.R.A. and Fool for Love, finalist). Brings us an unnamed villain (at
least until the final pages—remember, no peeking when you purchase the book).
what I’ve discovered usually irritate me, and, consequently, my hero the
most. Remember, just like the menu at “Denny’s”
you can mix or match your selection.
Antisocial, Catty (one of my personal faves), Confrontational (perfect for a
co-worker when combined Catty and Devious).
Or, Obsessive (no wait, that’s me!), Paranoid, Perfectionist, Self-Destructive,
Vindictive. These are just a few traits,
I am certain you can name many, many more.
you villain need the limelight? Alternatively, does he prefer to hide in the
shadows? Does he have a driving need to
belong? To be loved?
villain did not just crawl out from beneath a toadstool.
that backstory and make certain your villain is the worst that he can be!
The 8th century British writer Bede, mentions that the name for Easter is derived from a Pagan spring festival of the goddess ASTARA. Revered by the Babylonians, Sumerians and Persians, this goddess derived from ASTRA and OSTARA the Greek goddess of spring and fertility. The name means STAR and she is sometimes referred to as the Star Goddess.
is said to be the last Pagan goddess to leave Earth, bound for the
stars, during the Bronze Age, and was worshiped throughout the civilized
world of that time, even in Asia (under the name of Kali). Ancient
Alien theorists will tell you that she must have been an alien visitor, who remained on Earth to teach the populations of the time, then flew back to the heavens.
familiar Easter bunny and the multicolored eggs (both symbols of
fertility) come not from the Christian or the Jewish Passover
traditions, but straight from the Pagan festival of ASTARA. Since this
was a spring festival, around the same time as the Jewish Passover and it
marked the resurrection of Christ, the early Church made both events
coincide, and blended the traditions.
other words, if you cannot prevent the Pagans from celebrating their
festivals, join them and call it a Christian holiday. This technique
worked well for early Christian rulers, and helped impose Christianity
in many Pagan societies.
the last supper that inspired the modern communion was a tradition from ancient
Egypt, where the priests and priestesses symbolically partook of the
body of Osiris during religious rituals.
that we have forgotten the origins of our festivals, we take for
granted that Christian or Jewish holidays include only Christian and
Jewish traditions, but the deeper roots of these traditions go far back
into our ancient past. It seems that religions change and evolve, but somehow, the
more about ancient traditions by reading THE CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, a
Medieval series based on authentic Celtic legends. Find these books on
my Amazon page HERE.
Writers who read this will know what I
am talking about, but if by chance there are perhaps a few people who just like
to read, then this is for you.
I am in the process of editing an old
book of mine and to me this is just like catching up with old friends and
acquaintances. Perhaps I am peculiar but I love the process of going over old
work and doing my best to improve it.
I’m currently re-writing Book 2 in my Wild
Heather series. Book 1—The Laird is available now and this
next one will be titled Travis (previously published as My Highland Love)
For non-writers only, I thought you may
be interested in my personal researching process that goes into creating a
story. Because the Wild Heather series is Time-Travel obviously there is a
marked difference to writing a contemporary. We not only need to know a lot
about history for the protagonists living in the present but also a great deal
of how life would have been in the past when they get back there.
And this series is set in Scotland,
creating a whole range of questions needing answers. The research in my case
starts just after I have the idea of what the book will be about. It would be
no good writing pages about the castle they found way back in 1050 if I made it
a stone construction with battlements etc. which weren’t built until the 13th
I needed to know some of the history of Stirling Castle, which
features prominently in The Laird, as my heroine Liz is
extremely interested in it and its past.
is the grandest of Scotland's castles and one of the most popular visitor
attractions in the country. 250 feet above the plain on an extinct volcano,
Stirling became the strategic military key to the kingdom during the 13th and
14th century Wars of Independence and was the favourite royal residence of many
of the Stuart Monarchs.
events from Scotland's past took place at Stirling Castle, including the
violent murder of the eighth Earl of Douglas by James II in 1452. Stirling
Castle played an important role in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. She spent
her childhood in the castle and Mary's coronation took place in the Chapel
Royal in 1543.”
I needed to know what flora and fauna
would be around in that time. Also what food the Scottish folk ate now and what
they would have eaten then. I had to know what clothing the people wore in 1050,
how they wore their hair and how they went about day to day living. I had no
idea the kilt as we know it today didn’t evolve until the 16th
century and the Scottish word for kilt derives from the Old Norse word
‘kjalta’. I would have looked silly if I had my 1050 laird wearing a modern day
We end up with reams of notes, most of
which never enter our stories, but come into the ‘need to know’ category to get
a feel of the time and place. Then there are the weapons used in the time
period we send our protagonists back to.
(apologies for my rough sketches, but you get the idea)
I didn't know wolves once roamed the
Scottish hills until the last one disappeared two centuries ago. The elk have
also gone, but the eagles remain, along with the red deer. I abhor all kinds of
sport that includes the slaughter of animals for enjoyment. In Travis’s time
they killed purely for food but the practice of shooting deer still goes on in
the highlands. The stag casts his antlers each spring around March or April and
new horns grow quickly. The stags are not considered suitable to kill until the
velvet has left the horns, a fact I had to learn in my research.
Lucky for me I enjoy the research
entailed as I haven’t stuck to one sub-genre in my writing career. I’ve also
had to learn about the Vikings (who intrigue me), the Ancient Brits (who
fascinate me), early Australian settlers (who have my utmost admiration), and London
during WW1 and WW11 (a period I learned a lot about through my older siblings).
Perhaps the easiest to research would be my Beneath Southern Skies series as
these are all set in present day Australia. Then there is my venture into
futuristic, the easiest of all, as this is set on another planet. In this book
my imagination was allowed to run riot and create characters, mode of
transport, and setting as the fancy took me, and who could challenge me on my
The Laird: Wild
Heather Book 1
Andrew reluctantly answers a plea to visit his ailing uncle in Scotland. His
PA, Liz, persuades him to take her along. In the dilapidated castle, while
exploring an attic, they set off a course of events that propel them back in
time to 1050 where they meet The Laird.
Heather Book 2
Book 1 we met Travis and his clansmen. In Book 2 we are reunited with them.
Driven by revenge and set on annihilating all his enemies, Travis has little
time in his life for another woman from the future. Amid the violence and
bloodshed a great love grows.