Join in the celebration of #RRBCAuthor @sharrislaughter, #RRBC’s November “SPOTLIGHT” Author! #Author of #OurLadyOfVictory

The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is all about supporting, uplifting and promoting authors. And Shirley Harris Slaughter is a great supporter of others. So, this month, it’s her time to shine!

Not only does she have a newly polished re-release of “Our Lady of Victory,” but she has a birthday on the 28th, which is also the day she co-hosts the RAVE WAVES show, RATERS NOT HATERS.

Shirley was chosen for the Spotlight Author for the month of November, so she is being celebrated in a big way!

If you missed my interview with her on the RAVE WAVES show, #RRBCBringOnTheSpotlight, you can catch the replay below. It was a ton of fun! Especially when her two sisters showed up! 🙂

But the highlight of Shirley’s writing career is the re-release of her first book, “Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an African American Catholic Church!

Blurb:  This is a second edition with updates on the state of this historic church. In the original publication files were lost then resurfaced with content altered along with missing photos during transition from one publisher to another. Such is the fate of an Independent Author.
This book evolved out of years of frustration at the total disregard and lack of respect for the contributions of Black Catholics in the city of Detroit. The author says, “We are not mentioned in the pages of history along with the other Catholic churches that sprung up during the World War II era, and that needed to be corrected.” The author did fulfill one dream since publication … that this church can now be found on the web even though it has merged with another church. It is now called Presentation-Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church.

I had the privilege of reading and reviewing this book!

MY REVIEW:

4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Piece of History Preserved Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2020

I know nothing about the catholic church or religion and I learned a lot from reading the factual account of the establishment and demise of Our Lady of Victory, a black catholic church in Detroit, Michigan. While names and locations didn’t mean anything to me, the main focus of the book was the sense of community and the difficulties that came when there was forced blending. I admired the strength the author’s mother showed, struggling to provide for her children as a single mother and her determination to see that they received a good education and religious background. This is true preservation of a piece of history for future generations to learn from that might otherwise have been lost. It is relevant to today’s society as an example of how racial discrimination can destroy lives. My hat is off to this author for her detailed account of the birth and death of this church and the names, dates, and events she chronicled.

Pick up your copy today!

PURCHASE LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Our-Lady-Victory-African-American-Community-ebook/dp/B08JJL8JFF/

Congratulations, Shirley, and happy early birthday!

Welcome to Day 7 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @Maurabeth2014 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

This month we have 11 awesome writers on tour, showcasing their writing ability via short snippets of their never-before-seen written works of art.  Each day, one author will be profiled on multiple blogs until the next day, when it will be another author’s turn to shine in our spotlight.

We invite you to check out each piece, no matter which blog you find them on, and then let the author know what you thought of their work via the comments sections.  After enjoying the piece, we ask that you visit the author’s RWISA Profile Page here on the RWISA site, where you will find more of their work to enjoy.

Today, we are featuring Maura Beth Brennan!

CHRISTMAS WITH AUNT ALICE AND THE PINEAPPLE

By Maura Beth Brennan

You could say the trajectory to that strange Christmas Eve began on the Saturday before, when Mother and Father took us to Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia. There were five of us, counting my two little brothers and me, and we were there on our yearly trek to see the renowned Wanamaker’s Christmas tree and hear Christmas music played by a live orchestra.  

After the concert, we wandered around the store, admiring the decorations. Mother was especially taken by the centerpiece on one of the tables in the furniture department. There, a pineapple, resplendent in a coating of golden spray paint, nestled on a platter filled with fresh pine boughs and sparkling ornaments.

“Oh, isn’t that lovely,” exclaimed Mother.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Father. Father was usually a cheerful person, full of jokes and funny stories, but that day he was grumpy, facing the prospect of having to eat lunch in Wanamaker’s Mezzanine Restaurant, where, as he put it, “They only have lady food.”

Mother rolled her eyes at me like she did sometimes, now that I was thirteen, and apparently had been admitted into the Sisterhood of Aren’t Men Silly. I rolled my eyes back at her, straightened my shoulders, and stood straight and proud.

Mother worked feverishly all that week to prepare for the holiday and finally, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we all decorated the tree. In those days in our house, the tree was brought into the house on Christmas Eve and not a day before. Father would spend hours groaning, shouting, and trying not to curse as he secured the tree to the walls. You read that correctly. Father was sure that the tree would escape its confines when left to its own devices, wreaking havoc, and so would place it in a corner and tether it to each wall with nails and the thickest string he could find. Only then could our tree, safely restrained, be adorned.

The tradition was that we would listen to Christmas carols as we all performed our assigned decorating duties. Finally, Father would finish with gobs of silver tinsel and, with a flourish, turn on the lights. After the “oohs” and “aahs” died down, we would head to the dining room for Christmas Eve dinner.

That’s how things usually went. On this particular Christmas Eve, though, as we were filing into the dining room, a loud shriek emanated from the direction of the kitchen.

“Oh, SSSSSHIP!”

Mother shot Father a look. “Aunt Alice.” she said.

I should have mentioned that my Great Aunt Alice was visiting. She was extremely old and, on holidays, came to stay with us. We kids loved Aunt Alice. She was funny, though not always intentionally so, told us fabulous stories which she made up herself, and she loved to curse. This was a great learning experience as I saw it. However, my parents had recently had a discussion with Aunt Alice about this behavior. I listened in, rooting for Aunt Alice, and it went like this:

Father said, “There are children here, Aunt Alice. Think of the children.”

“But you curse, and you’re my favorite nephew,” Aunt Alice replied.

Father countered with, “Look, Aunt Alice, that’s different. I’m a man, and I was in the Navy during the War.”

Aunt Alice, voice rising, shot back, “Oh, come on. What a crock of—”

“Stop!” yelled Father.

“POOP,” Aunt Alice screamed. “I was going to say POOP.”

Mother chimed in, “That was better, Alice. Crude, but better.” Then she swooped in for the finish.  “Alice, Dear, you are so creative! Why, all those stories you tell, I’m sure you will have no trouble coming up with interesting things to say when you’re upset. If you want to keep coming here to be with us and the children, that is. It’s completely up to you.”

“Dag blig it,” said Aunt Alice.

So on that night, hearing that strange cry, Father rushed in the direction of the sound and we all followed. I, for one, hoped it meant a ship was visible from our kitchen window, though we lived nowhere near a body of water. That would have been a treat.

But there was Aunt Alice in the kitchen, crawling along one of the counters and opening and closing the cabinets, a fairly tricky situation. Father caught her just as she was tumbling from the counter, having been pushed off by the cabinet door she was trying to open.

“Aunt Alice, what are you doing?” Father shouted. “You could have broken your hip.”

“Forget my bleeping hip,” Aunt Alice shouted back. “Where did you people hide my flipping glasses?”

Father pointed to the glasses dangling from the ribbon around her neck.

“Oh,” she said. “Well, it’s about frogging time.”

Finally at the table, all proceeded well, although Mother seemed distracted. She cleared the dishes and started toward the table with our desert, at which point Aunt Alice laid her head on the table and moaned, “Oh, why won’t they let me have a beer?”

“You know why, Aunt Alice,” Father said. “You’re on that new heart medication and the doctor said you can’t drink.”

“But you’re drinking,” she said, pointing to Father’s glass of wine.

“Now, look Aunt Alice,” Father began, but Mother interrupted him.

“Don’t worry, dear, I’ll get you something,” she said, patting Aunt Alice on the shoulder,  and winking at Father. She signaled to me to follow her into the kitchen.

“She’s been so good, with the non-cursing,” Mother said. “I better come up with something. Do you think we could fool her with some grape juice?”

I was honored to be included in this weighty decision and offered my solution. “Let’s add vinegar,” I said. That will make it taste like wine, I bet.”

“Hmmm,” said Mother. “Well, I don’t drink, because I think it tastes terrible, so I’m not sure . . .”

She filled a crystal goblet with grape juice and topped it off with a splash of white vinegar. She handed the glass to me. “How does it taste?” she asked.

I took a sip and immediately spit it out. “Yuck!” I said. “It tastes terrible.”

“Well then, that should do,” said Mother.

She took the glass to the dining room and handed it to Aunt Alice, who brightened up and took a sip.

“Ah,” she said. “Now that’s more like it.”

After we settled again, I noticed that Mother still seemed distracted, which I attributed to all the work she had been doing the past week. But suddenly, after desert, she threw her hands to her face and cried out, “Oh, no! I forgot to spray a pineapple!”

Father sat back, threw his napkin on the table, and burst into hearty guffaws. “Oh, Mary,” he said, “now that’s a good one. A pineapple! Heh, heh, heh, like that silly thing we saw last week?” He shook his head. “Mary, I have to say, every once and a while you come out with a good one.” He wiped his eyes and grinned in Mother’s direction, then stopped cold when he saw her face. “You were kidding, Mary, right? Kidding about that funny pineapple thing? Mary? Sweetheart?”

But Mother rushed from the room and we could hear the sounds of things being thrown around in our pantry closet—pots clanging, wrappers rustling, cans and boxes colliding. Before long, Mother emerged, a look of relief on her face, displaying the elusive fruit—one glorious pineapple. We all applauded, and Father sprang from his chair to escort her back into the room. But Mother glared at him. “I have things to do,” she said.

Father looked like he wanted to go after her, but Aunt Alice tugged on his sleeve. “Can I have more of this wine?” she asked. “It’s delicious.”

I washed and dried the dishes, and soon it was time for my brothers and me to go to bed. I heard Father call to Mother once, asking if he could help, but she shouted back, “You just leave me a-lone.” I imagine after that he kept what is known as a low profile.

On Christmas morning everyone jumped out of bed, eyes shining, faces bright with smiles, even Mother.

And what a beautiful sight lay before us. The Christmas tree glimmered in the darkened living room, surrounded by gaily wrapped gifts. And visible through the archway was the dining room table, draped with a golden cloth and graced with an arrangement of fragrant pine boughs and glittering gold Christmas ornaments. Nestled in the greenery sat the singular, spectacular, gilded pineapple.

“Oh, Mary,” said Father. His face flushed and his eyes looked a little watery. “It looks beautiful.”

“Well, I’ll be a son of a—,” began Aunt Alice, but Mother grabbed her elbow.

“Don’t even think it,” she whispered. Then she smiled her lovely smile and said, “Let’s all just wish each other” and we all chimed in—

“Merry Christmas!”

***

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Maura Beth Brennan’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 6 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @healthmn1 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

This month we have 11 awesome writers on tour, showcasing their writing ability via short snippets of their never-before-seen written works of art.  Each day, one author will be profiled on multiple blogs until the next day, when it will be another author’s turn to shine in our spotlight.

We invite you to check out each piece, no matter which blog you find them on, and then let the author know what you thought of their work via the comments sections.  After enjoying the piece, we ask that you visit the author’s RWISA Profile Page here on the RWISA site, where you will find more of their work to enjoy.

Today we are featuring Harriet Hodgson!

Unleashing the Advocacy Warrior

By Harriet Hodgson

My husband and I live in a retirement community that has a continuum of care. He is paraplegic and I have been his caregiver since 2013. Several months ago, my husband was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. A bone scan showed the cancer had spread to many parts of his body. As my husband became weaker, I realized I needed help to care for him.

Now my husband is in a rehabilitation unit. Unfortunately, COVID-19 prevents me from seeing him. I live on the 18th floor of the high-rise and my husband lives on the third floor. We are near each other, yet so far away. Being apart from each other made us feel stressed, frustrated, and down.

Then I received a notice in my mailbox. A new program was starting. Family members could make appointments to see their loved ones. Only two family members could visit at once and they had to follow strict rules. My daughter called the contact number and was given an appointment date and time. We were super excited.

Before my daughter arrived, I talked with my husband’s physical therapist. It was difficult to understand him because of his mask. He had difficulty understanding me because of my mask. I felt like we were going to do charades at any minute. Still, meeting the therapist gave me a chance to ask questions. Every question yielded the same answer: “That’s not in my pay grade.” What the heck did that mean?

A nurse came into the room and greeted my husband with, “Hi Handsome!” She seemed proud of her greeting. In fact, she turned to my husband and asked, “Every time I walk into your room, I say that, don’t I?” My husband answered “yes” in a flat, discouraged voice. The nurse didn’t pick up on his voice inflection and seemed validated by my husband’s reply.

My daughter and I stayed for two and a half hours and my husband coughed most of the time. As we left the rehab floor, we met the director of nursing. Of course, we grabbed the opportunity to talk with her. We made sure there were six feet between us. The director was patient, attentive, sympathetic, took notes, and said she would give the matter her attention.

Did I have the power to change anything? This question rattled around in my mind for hours. That evening, I sat down at the computer and wrote a heartfelt email to the director of nursing and carbon copied the director of the retirement community. This is the letter. I modified the wording to maintain confidentiality.

Dear ______________,

Thank you for meeting with me and my daughter this afternoon. I am aware that my husband may have declined physically and mentally. I am also aware that he doesn’t feel well, hasn’t slept well since he was admitted to the rehab unit, and feels isolated and depressed.

My husband has been coughing for three weeks. He feels so badly I don’t know how he could endure physical therapy, let alone benefit from it. He feels so badly he would just as soon die. Before we make a final decision on Supportive Living, I would like him to get some sleep and for his cough to subside.

I have gotten confusing information from nurses. Yes, my husband has pneumonia. No, he doesn’t have pneumonia. Communication is my business and the communication from staff on the unit has been poor.

The physicians who founded the clinic believed the needs of the patient come first. After I talked with the physical therapist I was confused and sad. I asked him several questions and his answer was always the same: “That’s not in my pay grade.” This is not the answer I expected from a clinic employee or physical therapist. I was also upset by the attitude a couple of nurses exhibited. They treated my husband like a foolish old man in a wheelchair. Like every patient, my husband deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

I share these thoughts with you out of concern and love. My husband and I have been married for 63 years. We went together for four years before we married. This is a difficult time of life. At a time when we are most vulnerable, life demands the most from us. I am my husband’s wife and advocate and will not fail him as his life draws to a close.

The next day I received a call from the director of nursing. Since I had been tested for COVID-19 twice and the tests were negative, administration did not think I was a health risk and could visit my husband daily. I was astonished.  “I’m going to cry,” I admitted to the nurse.

My story is not unique. There is an advocacy warrior inside you—a person ready to stand for love, quality care, and human dignity. But we must assume this role thoughtfully. Note important dates, such as hospitalization, on the calendar. File important documents in a safe place. Keep a log if you think it is necessary. Follow the chain of command. Speak in a calm voice and be civil. Remember, there is a difference between being persistent and being pushy.

You and I do not know our strength until we are tested. We are stronger than we realize. Most importantly, our loved ones need us. As my husband asked, “What happens to people who don’t have an advocate?” The famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss, explained advocacy better than I. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Advocacy takes many forms—better healthcare, better transportation, better education, better architecture, better laws, a welcoming community, and more. One person can make a difference. Maybe the time has come to unleash the advocacy warrior in you.

***

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Harriet Hodgson’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 4 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @LinneaTanner @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

This month we have 11 awesome writers on tour, showcasing their writing ability via short snippets of their never-before-seen written works of art.  Each day, one author will be profiled on multiple blogs until the next day, when it will be another author’s turn to shine in our spotlight.

We invite you to check out each piece, no matter which blog you find them on, and then let the author know what you thought of their work via the comments sections.  After enjoying the piece, we ask that you visit the author’s RWISA Profile Page here on the RWISA site, where you will find more of their work to enjoy.

Today’s feature is from Linnea Tanner!

The King’s Champion

by Linnea Tanner

At dawn tomorrow, I compete with every reputed warrior in our kingdom to become the King’s Champion. Defeating my opponents is almost an impossible feat for any man, much less a woman. Even so, I will triumph and win my father’s respect.

As the king’s eldest daughter, I vow to protect him and everyone in his kingdom. I stand ready to defend my father in mortal combat against any challenger vying for his crown. A true champion emblazons courage, loyalty, and sacred love for her king and family. But first, I must tell you my tale that seeded my desire to combat every warrior in the kingdom and stand by my father as his champion.

 When I was barely five winters old, my mother and I gathered with villagers to greet my father, astride his coal-black stallion. Returning from war, he was like a god towering over his worshippers as he rode through their midst. They welcomed him with chants and cheers. Snowflakes danced around him, also celebrating his return.

Shivering, I covered my mouth with both hands, suddenly ashamed about my appearance. Boys had earlier taunted me, “You have a donkey’s jaw and bray like one, too.”

 My nursemaid, a woman with ample bosoms spilling out of her low-cut dress, shooed the boys away and told me, “Don’t listen to them. You have an overbite, that is all. They’re jealous of you. You can beat anyone of those whelps.”

Her words didn’t make me feel better, though, as I studied the reflection of my face on a polished metal mirror. My upper jaw hung over my bottom lip. My upper front teeth protruded outward, making it hard for me to eat and speak clearly. Hence, I remained quiet most of the time.

When my father approached us on his horse, I drew out of my muse and swallowed hard with anticipation of speaking to him.

“What do I say to him?” I muttered to my mother.

“Only speak when he tells you to do so,” my mother instructed.

Fiddling with my plaid cloak, I recalled waving good-bye to my father in a season of blooming wildflowers before he left for war. My mother told me then, “He sails across the narrow sea to fight for a foreign army. By winter, he’ll return home.”

During the summer and fall seasons, I never gave my mother’s words consideration about my father’s return. He was out of sight and ceased to exist in my mind.

My little sister’s soft touch on my hand grabbed my attention. She looked at me with pathetic-looking eyes. The day before, she had fallen into the hearth and caught on fire. The queen’s guard—my only true adult friend—pulled her out of the flames.

After my father dismounted onto the soggy ground, he no longer appeared a giant. He didn’t look like other men in the village with a clean-shaven face and cropped wheat-golden hair. He also didn’t resemble me one bit. My hair was dark like my mother, and my acorn-brown eyes were the same color as the warrior who saved my sister.

Father embraced my mother, then pulled away and stared at her bulging belly. “Gods above, how did you get so big?”

Mother’s burning scowl made my father whither like a green sprout under a hot sun. At that moment, I didn’t like my father for his cruel comment. He must have seen the displeasure on my face because he apologized, “Forgive me, my love. Battle hardens a man’s words.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, my mother turned to me and said, “Vala, greet your father.”

I felt like a fish gulping for air as my father bent over and squeezed my chin with his fingers. “Hmm, you look as strong as an ox,” he said amiably, but the disappointment on his face shouted, You’re as ugly as a donkey!

Conflicting emotions grappled with me. I only wanted Mother in my life, not Father. I  burst into tears—a sign of weakness.

Father gave my mother a contorted, baffled look. “What did I do to make her cry?”

Mother’s eyebrows arched in a warning for me to stop my bawling. I bit my lower lip and fought back sobs.

He shifted his ice-cold blue eyes to my little sister. “What happened to Morgana? She looks like she was in a dogfight and got the worse of it.”

My sister’s wails spurred mine. Neither of us could stop crying despite my mother’s glower. The nursemaid’s hefty bosoms smacked against my face as she grabbed my hand and reached for my sister’s arm. She dragged us both away from the people’s peals of laughter to the silence of the Great Hall. Halting near the central hearth, where my sister had fallen, she thumped my forehead with her fingertips. “Shame on you. Why did you make such a fuss in front of the king? I learned you better than that!”

I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, “I didn’t do anything wrong,” but snapped my mouth shut when I saw her eyebrows rise like a storm. She would answer my protest with a swat on my rear end.

The nursemaid marched us through the high-vaulted, feasting hall into the adjoining living quarters where she corralled us like cattle in our bedchamber. “You get nothing to eat,” she bellowed and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

My sister covered her face with both hands and wept. Sitting on our straw-mattress bed we shared, I cuddled her like a baby in my arms to calm her.

“Shh … shush. No cry.”

She nestled her head against my shoulder and whimpered, “Vala, my Vala,” like a mantra until we both fell asleep in each other’s arms.

*****

Later, the bang of a closing door awoke me. I wiped the drowsiness from my eyes and found Mother sitting on our bed.

“Why did you cry when your father greeted you?” she asked.

“He … he’s so mean!”

Mother frowned. “He never said an unkind word to you.”

“He thinks I’m ugly!” I declared.

“That is how you see yourself,” she said, stroking the top of my head. “Your father only sees goodness in your heart.”

I looked down at my chest in bewilderment. “Father sees my heart? Can he also see the babies in your tummy?”

Mother sighed. “No. He knows”—she touched her belly—“they are in here. That is why he has returned. To make sure I’m safe. It’s hard bringing two babies into the world.”

“When will they come?” I asked, recalling how bloody a calf looks after being squirted out of its mother’s rear end.

“Too soon, I fear.”

I could see the angst in my mother’s eyes as her gaze drifted to the closed door.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“You must always obey and love your father,” her voice cracked. “I may not always be with you.”

My stomach dropped into what felt like a tidal wave. “Where are you going?”

“I want to stay here with you, my dear. But we don’t always get our wish.” She sighed as if trying to lift the worries of the world off her chest. “Your father is outside. He wants to give you something.”

“A gift,” I squealed with excitement.

Mother turned her gaze to the door and called out, “My king, you can come in now.”

When my father poked his head through, his face burst into a big grin. “Good aft, my precious daughters. Look what I’ve brought you from my travels.” He bound into the room like a frolicking fox and held out two carved, alabaster horse heads in the palm of his hand. He offered each one of them to my sister and me.

I took the horse head and fingered the attached leather strap. “An amulet?”

“Yes. Let me tie it around your neck,” my father suggested with a smile. “The horse is our family’s sigil—an animal guide that protects you.”

After he placed the amulet around my neck, I beamed with pride and clasped the carved horse head against my heart.

My father’s leathery face softened. “Vala, you must promise to watch over your little sister and the babies in Mummy’s belly once they are born. Can you do that for me? Will you protect them with your life and be the King’s Champion?”

A sense of pride swelled inside me with the honor he had bestowed upon me. “I am the King’s Champion.”

“Truly, you are,” he said, embracing me.

“I promise to protect my sisters,” I vowed, hoping the babies were girls.

And from that moment on, I aspired to be my father’s champion, embracing the strength to protect the weak and the oppressed. 

***

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Linnea Tanner’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 2 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @JanSikes3 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

This month we have 11 awesome writers on tour, showcasing their writing ability via short snippets of their never-before-seen written works of art.  Each day, one author will be profiled on multiple blogs until the next day, when it will be another author’s turn to shine in our spotlight.

And, yes, you guessed it – today I”m up!

WALK TO YOUR OWN BEAT

2020 has been a year.

And that is a gross understatement. No one could have predicted the diverse levels of craziness we’d experience as the year unfolded.

Not only are we dealing with a worldwide pandemic that has us wearing masks and hiding in our homes, but here in the United States, we’ve witnessed hatred and divisiveness to a degree I could never have imagined. While we watched and perhaps joined people taking to the streets to protest injustices, we also saw organized groups invade our beautiful cities and set them ablaze. Everyone is in a hypersensitive mode. History is being erased with the dismantling and destruction of national monuments, while sports teams are changing their names because someone is offended. 

The culmination of it all has left us reeling.

I do not watch the news, and that is a personal choice. I can name lots of reasons why I stopped, but the main one is, I do not believe even half of what they report. The media uses its power to incite and ignite more hatred and division amongst us.

Folks take to social media to try and coerce others to bend to their ideals and beliefs. And they do it in the most aggressive ways imaginable. It seems no one wants to allow their fellow man to have his or her own opinions. People are not willing to tolerate differences. Families are split by these differences, leaving children confused. We are allowing those in power to turn us into a society focused on isolation and fear.

So, what can we do?

I heard a song the other day that says it better than I ever could. The music artist is Brent Cobb, and he gave me permission to quote some of his lyrics.

He sings about how people want to tell each other how to live and how to die. You don’t get too low, don’t get too high, which is precisely what the pharmaceutical companies exhort.

The best thing you can do is don’t listen too close. Walk on to your own beat. Keep ‘em on their toes.

What does that even mean? To me, it means staying true to your authentic self. Don’t be a part of the herd that follows blindly. Make decisions for your life based on your truth, not someone else’s. Go where your heart tells you to go. I genuinely believe your heart will never lead you wrong.

Then, rather than to try and convince others to follow your truth, tuck it deep inside where you can nurture it and make it grow. You will never persuade another person to change their way of thinking because of the words you speak, but you can lead by example. And you can keep them on their toes. Keep them guessing about you. In other words, don’t be so utterly transparent.

Maybe this says it better. Keep ‘em on their toes, your business outta sight. Make ‘em look left, if you’re gonna hang a right. If the pot’s hot, don’t let ‘em see your hand. Make ‘em gotta know what they wouldn’t understand. The best thing you can do when the ignorance shows, is walk on to your own beat, keep ‘em on their toes.

I love that! We live in an electronic age where privacy is a thing of the past. The only way to have real privacy is to be completely disconnected, including no cellphone.

I have had many experiences that prove to me we are always under observation. It’s easy to understand how an ad will randomly pop up after browsing for an Amazon item. But I have had things pop up about something relating to a simple conversation with a friend. Big Brother is listening. No, I’m not paranoid. Just honest and see reality.

I do not know where we are headed as a society. The rose-colored glasses part of me wants to believe this hatred, division, hypersensitivity, and deadly pandemic we are experiencing will all come to an end, and we will go back to living our lives peacefully. But reality tells me we will never go back to the way we were before all of this chaos hit.

We are forever changed by it all.

So, the big question remains, “Where do we go from here?”

I can only answer that question from my point of view, from my truth. I will continue to be kind. I will continue to share and celebrate others’ accomplishments. And I will continue to love my family and do my best to impart any hard-earned wisdom to my grandchildren.

I can’t visualize what this world will be like ten years from now. I can’t even picture it a year from now. So, I must live for today in the best and most honest way I know.

I will walk on to my own beat―do my best to keep ‘em on their toes, and my business out of sight. That does not mean I can stop caring or go numb. In fact, just the opposite. I will celebrate every positive moment life brings, and I hope you will join me. Together we are stronger. Together we can make a difference.

Together, we can keep ‘em on their toes!

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Jan Sike‘s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to the #RRBC “ROCKIN’ 2020 AWAY” BOOK, BLOG AND TRAILER Block Party! @jansikes3 #Giveaways

Hi, and welcome to my stop on the “Rockin 2020 Away” Book, Blog & Trailer Block Party presented by the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

CONGRATULATIONS TO MY WINNERS! PTL Perrin, Flossie Benton Rogers, Balroop Singh, Karen Black, Sam Polakoff  & Bette Stevens

WHAT I’M GIVING AWAY!

TWO $10 AMAZON GIFT CARDS

TWO COPIES OF MY NEW SHORT STORY “BRAZOS WIND”

TWO COPIES OF MY NEW SHORT STORY AND THE 2020 GRAND PRIZE WINNER OF THE #RRBC 90-DAY ALPHA/OMEGA BEGINNING TO END SHORT STORY CONTEST

“BROTHER’S KEEPER”

NUMBER OF WINNERS AT THIS STOP – SIX (6)

At the end of the tour, there will also be GRAND PRIZES awarded, as well!

*1st/Grand Prize:  $50 Amazon Gift Card 

*2nd/Grand Prize:  3-day Blog Tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing

*3rd/Grand Prize:  Book Bundle {10 books of your choice from the Kathryn C. Treat Book Giveaway Treasure Chest}

*4th/Grand Prize:  A *LIVE* interview on an upcoming segment of a RAVE WAVES “EYES ON THE BOOK” or a BOOK OF THE MONTH slot.

Today, I want to talk about my two new short stories, “Brazos Wind” and “Brother’s Keeper.”

I am so honored that “Brother’s Keeper” won #RRBC 90-Day Alpha/Omega Beginning to End Short Story Contest! And, because I have won the Grand Prize three years running, Nonnie has given the contest my name! Wow!

Story inspirations can come from anywhere and “Brother’s Keeper” came from a conversation with a family member. And while the circumstances depicted in this story are pure fiction, the seed was planted by a simple statement. I truly think that is what makes writers and artists different. My late husband used to talk about painting and how you don’t just see an object that you’re painting, you look into and beyond it. That never made any sense to me until I started writing my stories. Now, all these years later, I understand.

The main character, Quentin Marks, really came alive for me. He made an ultimate sacrifice for his younger brother.

Here’s the blurb:

Quentin Marks’ mother can only love one son, and from the day Rowdy was born, she makes Quentin, his little brother’s keeper. She demands that Quentin fix every problem for Rowdy and that he also protect him. The truth is, after a deadly snakebite, Quentin owes his very life to his little brother, a debt that will never be paid in full. Only now a man is dead, and once again, their mother calls on Quentin to make the problem go away and save Rowdy from prison. When is enough enough, and how much of his own life will Quentin Marks have to sacrifice?

AND, you guys get the premier viewing of the brand new book trailer for “Brother’s Keeper!” This was so much fun to make and my first time to experiment with video clips. Honest feedback welcome and appreciated!

The inspiration for “Brazos Wind” came from a song by the same title written by Texas singer/songer, Phil Hamilton. I had never attempted to write a western, but found that it came easily. I had no trouble putting myself back in the 1800s time period to write about Jack McClean and Savannah Logan.

Here is the blurb:

War-torn drifter, Jack McClean is left with nothing but bad memories, scars, and a restless soul. When he stumbles upon a burning homestead, and an unconscious woman, beside the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, he stops to render aid. Grieving widow, Savannah Logan, sees no reason to live, and only wants to join her husband and children in their graves. But, Jack refuses to let her die. In saving her, he might somehow find redemption for himself and hope for a new tomorrow. Is it possible that both Jack and Savannah can find a new destiny in the changeable flow of the Brazos wind?

I hope that this has piqued your interest enough to head over to Amazon and grab your copies! Click on the book titles anywhere in this blog and it will take you to Amazon! Or you can go to my Amazon Author Page.

I’d love it if you’d subscribe to my blog while you are here!

And, in case you don’t already know, here are all of my published books so far. 🙂

Once again, thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this post.  Good luck on winning my giveaways!  I’ll see you at the next stop of this awesome BLOCK PARTY! Follow along on the RRBC Site!

If you’re not doing so already, I’d be grateful if you’d follow me on Social Media:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

BOOKBUB

PINTEREST

#BookReviews! @fredsdiary1981 @hmkindt @nonniejules @EnigmaSeries #RRBCAuthors

I read constantly. And it’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to post some of my reviews. So, today I’m going to remedy that.

The books and reviews are listed in random order.

THE BLURB:

A holiday can change everything…

…it did for Fred.

He went on a two-week break with three friends to the Spanish island of Ibiza in July 1976. It was so enjoyable they all vowed to come back for the following season.

In April 1977, Fred returned to Ibiza, alone, in pursuit of his dream.

Behind him, he left his family, his girlfriend, and a promising career in banking.

Challenges lay ahead.

This would be no holiday.

He needed a place to stay and to find work that would sustain him through the next six months.

This true to life memoir follows 21-year-old Fred’s adventures as he acclimatises to living abroad. In a time before instant communication, he keeps in touch with family and friends by letter. They are his lifeline to home.

If you enjoy reading about people’s life-changing experiences, then this book is for you.

MY 5 STAR REVIEW:

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir from Robert (aka Fred) Fear! As he took me along with him on the many adventures he had in Ibiza during the summer of 1977, I never lost interest or got bored. That summer changed the author’s life. It was not all roses. He had to work hard at different jobs to make ends meet. He slept in a tiny room and shared a bathroom with other tenants. But the magic of the island outweighed the discomforts. Mr. Fear gave me an inside view of moving to a foreign place and becoming a local. He immersed himself in the culture, the people, and the jobs he had to work in order to stay the entire summer. It became apparent throughout the story, that he grew through the experience. His confidence increased and his determination to have more adventures grew. This is a well-written memoir. The author made me feel as if I was there with him. I found it to be highly interesting and entertaining. Anyone who loves to read true stories will surely enjoy this one!

PURCHASE LINK:

THE BLURB:

Dottie Gale would hitch up with a tornado if it took her out of Kansas. Stuck in a dead-end teaching job beside her cheating ex Corbin isn’t her idea of a dream life. So when her wicked new principal Maxine Westward gifts her a trip to Las Vegas, she grabs her ruby slip-ons and heads for the nearest yellow brick road.

Forced to drive the entire way, Dotty picks up the motley trio of a dimwitted hunk, a heartless drifter, and a cowardly educator along the way. Far out of her comfort zone, the Kansas teacher and her passengers embark on a surprising adventure. But when Dottie reaches her destination and receives an unexpected declaration of love, she wonders if the journey has changed her far too much to accept…

As Westward’s fiendish plan to ruin her trip takes shape, will Dottie finally find her happiness somewhere over the rainbow?

Ruby Slips and Poker Chips: The Modern Tale of Dorothy Gale is an award-winning romantic comedy. If you like wise-cracking heroines, heartwarming stories, and hilarious twists and turns, then you’ll love Heather Kindt’s emerald of a novel.

MY 4 STAR REVIEW:

While this story is slightly comparable to the classic tale of the Wizard of Oz, I loved the way the author delivered it in a modern-day setting with realistic characters. Dorothy (Dottie) Gale wants out of small-town Kansas, especially after a new principal takes over the school where she teaches. She’s stuck in what she sees as a boring life with no future. Her childhood friend turned boyfriend, turned cheater (she thinks) is her main reason for wanting to run. So, when she is handed the chance to attend a teacher’s conference in Las Vegas, she jumps at it. But there are drawbacks. The evil principal insists that Dottie drive from Kansas to Las Vegas, and to save money, has to pick up two other teachers along the way. And that’s not all she picks up. A hitchhiker named Tina, joins the trio. The group has lots of adventures along the way including a visit to a county jail in handcuffs. I found this a very entertaining book to read. The choices Dottie is faced with, as well as the lessons she learns, are well executed. The author did a great job of telling this story and the book is error-free. If you like lighthearted stories with a touch of sizzling romance, you will enjoy this story.

PURCHASE LINK:

THE BLURB:

During this pandemic, I offer a 5-part Micro Read series on how COVID19 has impacted and interrupted lives around the world. Since the beginning of this crisis, I have followed and also documented every step and misstep along the way by the current administration in Washington, and also the plus and minus moments of our local leaders around the world. As deep as we are right now into this disease, some still don’t really know what’s going on, or how it’s impacting them – mentally, physically and emotionally. Now, the issue has moved extremely close to my heart. They want to send our kids back to school during the worst pandemic of our lives.

I am a Mom who values many things, but above all else, I am a Mom who values life.

Everyone is sharing their opinion about what we’re living through and how it should all be handled – now it’s time that you heard mine.

MY 4 STAR REVIEW:

Author, Nonnie Jules is well-known as someone who does not shy away from sensitive topics. In her new short story release, she stays true to that persona. She brings some valid points to light along with solid references and research. In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, we face very uncertain times, not only in the world of education but in every facet of our lives. This short book is filled with advice, reasoning, and logic. My hat is off to educators everywhere and my hat is off to this author for putting together such a comprehensive narrative regarding the issues we face in our current times.

PURCHASE LINK:

THE BLURB:

Hopelessly in love and desperately fearful!

Zara and Buzz are products of vastly different upbringings. Their chance meeting ignites attraction they must explore. Even with lies and omissions, they find themselves falling in love. For them its good thing love is blind.

A defining incident offers the opportunity to explore a future together. They move away from everything for a fresh start. They optimize their experiences to build a life they never imagined in the Caribbean. Then their demons’ surface.

Zara distrusts love because of her past. She’s afraid to commit anyone. Buzz wants love, better than what he’d lost.

Will Zara slip through his fingers? Can they honestly bury their past? If those secrets are shared, will their love be destroyed?

MY 4 STAR REVIEW:

I love the idea of this story. It starts with a high tension rescue that grabbed me right away. Buzz and Zara have dark pasts, but they deeply love each other. This short story covers a span of several years within the twenty-five pages, which leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination. But, the main focus is the deep love they feel for each other. Buzz continuously, over the years, asks Zara to marry him and she always declines. We get a glimpse into her sordid past and what is holding her back from the big commitment. We also get to see the two share their passion for technology by imparting their knowledge to students who are hungry to learn, as they settle on the island of Puerto Rico. The ending is somewhat jolting. And it leaves the story open-ended for more, which I hope these authors will explore. I’d like to see this love resolved. While there is some inconsistency with points of view throughout the story, it is error-free and engaging. It can be read in about thirty to forty minutes.

PURCHASE LINK:

I hope at least one of the books grabbed your attention and that you are now hurrying over to Amazon to make your purchase! Thank you for stopping by and supporting these authors!

News Flash!! – Brother’s Keeper Wins! @RRBC_Org

I was SUPER excited to wake up this morning and find that “Brother’s Keeper” took the Grand Prize in the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S 90-Day Alpha/Omega Beginning To End Short Story Contest!! I am SO proud of this story!

The inspiration for it came from a conversation with a family member. 🙂 You never know where they will come. As most of you know, my husband served fifteen years in a federal prison for a crime he did not commit. And, in a conversation with one of his cousins, she made the statement that she thought my husband’s little brother was involved in the crime, and that my husband took the fall for him. While that was not the case, it certainly inspired a story!

Excerpt:

Quentin Marks covered the length of the eight-by-ten jail cell stopping now and then to punch the concrete walls that held him.

A mere forty-eight hours ago, he was resting comfortably at home ― before his brother’s frantic visit.

He replayed the conversation in his head for the hundredth time.

Rowdy Marks had pounded Quentin’s door with desperate blows. “Open the door, Quen!”

When Quentin had opened the door, his brother rushed inside in full-blown panic mode.

“What the hell, Rowdy? What have you done now?” Quentin had questioned.

“You gotta help me, man.” Rowdy grabbed him by the shoulders.

The pungent odor of whiskey and cigarettes assaulted Quentin’s nostrils. “You’re drunk, Rowdy. Go home and sleep it off.”

“No! You don’t understand. I’m in big trouble.”

“Since when is that news?” Quentin snorted.

“It’s serious this time. A man is dead.”

Quentin stopped in his tracks. “Shit, Rowdy! What did you do?”

“Pour me a drink, and I’ll tell you everything,” Rowdy whined.

“Another drink’s the last thing you need,” Quentin snarled. “Start talking.”

Have you picked up your copy yet? It’s only 99 cents on Amazon!

PURCHASE LINK:

#RRBC September Spotlight Author – Susanne Leist @SusanneLeist #RRBC #RRBCSA

It is my great pleasure to welcome the #RRBC Spotlight Author for September to my blog! Susanne Leist is the author of The Dead Game Series, and today we’re featuring her third and newest book, “The Dead At Heart!”

Over to you, Susanne!

Thank you for having me at your blog stop today, Jan.

I want to share a poem that I composed as I watched the rain through my bedroom window.

WASH AWAY MY SORROW

Please wash away my sorrow and pain.

Let it flow down the streets with the rain.

Dissolved in torrents of despair and sadness,

Joining others on its way past the madness.

The ocean may take it far away

To places, we cannot even say.

Where no one recognizes its sting

Or knows the infliction it can bring.

Let the rain grow harder with its might,

Becoming hail on this fateful night.

I want to be free of all traces

Of unwanted feelings and faces.

My body grows cold from the rain.

It stands clean and free from the pain.

Shivers create a path along my spine

As I wait in the darkened woods of pine.

I hold my head high to the wet spray.

It becomes a mist of blue and grey.

The faucet has turned off for the night,

Leaving me feeling clean and so right.

Author Bio:

I have always loved to read. Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and other authors filled my young imagination with intrigue and mystery. When I wasn’t reading late into the night, the TV shows such as Murder She Wrote and Columbo, entertained me with murder and suspense tales.

Over the years, my taste in TV expanded to include such shows as Supernatural and The Originals. I searched for paranormal, murder mysteries, but found few at the library or bookstore. So, I wrote one.

The Dead Game, Book One of The Dead Game series, brings fantasy and surrealism to the classic murder mystery with dead bodies, suspects, and clues. It offers vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to spice the motley mix.

The story continues in Book Two, Prey for The Dead, as The Dead vampires use an exclusive club in Disney World to infiltrate the rich and famous. As The Dead grow in power, not even the bright sunshine of Florida can weaken them. Linda and her friends join forces with human vampires–known as hybrids–to defeat the evil threatening to control Oasis. A masquerade ball and a romp through the tunnels beneath the town lead to a showdown in southern Florida’s swamps.

The Dead At Heart is Shana’s love story. Will her love for William strengthen, or will Sam lead her on a different path? At Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Shana and her fearless friends fight for Oasis and their lives.

A career in writing has been a giant leap for me. Accustomed to the number-crunching field of budgeting and the hectic commodity markets, I left my first career and M.B.A. in Finance behind to pursue my dream. I do not regret my foray into literature for one moment. Fellow authors helped me make my way through the competitive field. I write every day and even tried my hand at poetry. If someone tells you it’s too late in life to try something different, they are wrong. It is never too late to follow your heart.

William’s bite bonded Shana to him, but he didn’t ask her to mate with him for life. She isn’t ready for a lifetime commitment. Now, William excludes her from his vampire meetings. Shana understands he’s an original vampire with immense powers. For them to be a couple, he has to treat as an equal partner. If William doesn’t respect her, then what are their chances of finding happiness?

Shana speaks to Linda, her best friend, of her fears.

“Paradise is an illusion.” Shana’s face grows heated as her frustration mounts. “Oasis is a haven for vampires. I’m tired of their battles. The Watchers get rid of an evil group of vamps, and another group arrives and attacks. It’s a vicious cycle. Vampires are trouble.”

“We will have a happy ending.” Linda lifts her head. “Don’t lose faith. The Watchers will protect us, and Gregg has an elite force of original vampires.” She touches Shana’s arm. “William loves you; he won’t let something happen to you.”

“The vampires keep secrets from us.” Shana swallows the lump in her throat. “I don’t want to live with vamps anymore, and I need time to decide on my relationship with William. One minute, I’m suffocating, and then the next, I’m lost without him.”

As a new enemy descends on Oasis, Florida, Shana turns to Sheriff Sam, who broke her heart. Can she trust the human-vampire?

This begins Shana’s journey to fight vampires and werewolves with Sam at her side.

An explosion at Chateau Frontenac in Quebec doesn’t stop Shana and her friends from saving their town, and maybe even the world.

AMAZON PURCHASE LINK!

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter handle:  @SusanneLeist

Facebook URL:  https://www.facebook.com/susanne.leist.98

Website address:  https://www.susanneleist.com/

Thank you for supporting RRBC’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author!  If you’d like to follow along with each stop of this tour, please check out our “SPOTLIGHT” Author forum on the RRBC site.

Authorpreneur, Nonnie Jules – #RRBC #RWISA @NonnieJules

Nonnie (aka Wonder Woman) has been super busy organizing the 5th Annual #RRBC Writers’ Conference & Book Expo (a super-duper virtual literary event!!!!), so a group of us decided we would shine the spotlight on Nonnie.

Please support an author who gives tirelessly and selflessly (on steroids!) to other authors every day of the year. So, as well as sharing our posts & tweets, please buy her books, and post your honest reviews.

#RRBC and #RWISA – Let’s make some NONNIE NOISE!!!!

Nonnie Jules – President & Founder of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {RRBC} and RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS {RWISA}

“As a writer who values the (polished) written word, it is my mission to help my fellow authors understand that their reputation as a writer should be treated as a rare treasure and that the only way to be taken seriously in this business, is to ensure that your writing (no matter the forum) is impeccably written and well-edited.”

RRBC Author Page https://ravereviewsbookclub.wordpress.com/about-nonnie-jules-nonniejules-rrbc-rwisa/

You can find Nonnie’s books listed under the following categories in the RRBC Catalog:

Non-Fiction

Novels

Parenting & Relationships

Poetry

Short Story

Latest Release: No Pedigree

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Baylee never quite fit in…anywhere. She was taunted and teased because her clothes had no designer labels, and spit upon because her only pair of shoes had holes in the bottom. The butt of many jokes, she was excluded from all social activities, sneered at by the parents of her peers after school as she waited for the bus, watching them drive away in their fancy cars; assaulted in the most unthinkable fashion.

Having been born to a white father and a black native American mother didn’t make things any easier. In fact, that circumstance made her life ten times harder – until the day she made them all stand up, take notice, and regret every ugly word and deed they had inflicted upon her.

My 5 STAR REVIEW OF “NO PEDIGREE!”

SWEET REVENGE!

This is a short story that addresses a social crisis that still plagues us. Racism has never gone away in the United States, and in fact, over the past four years, has escalated. This short story shines a light on that hard subject. When a beautiful girl of mixed race is forced to attend an all-white up-scale school, she is shunned by everyone but one girl. So, when the most popular boy in school shows an interest in her, she has no idea of his motives. The story is well-told and the best part was the ending. Satisfying is not a strong enough word to describe the ending. This book is inspiring because in real life we all know that the good guy does not always win. I highly recommend that every teenager in America be required to read this story.

RWISA Author Page https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-nonnie-jules/

Watch out for Wonder-Jules truth lasso!

Social Media Links

Contact via:

Email:  nonniejules@gmail.com

Twitter:  @nonniejules & @AskTheGoodMommy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BooksByNonnie/

Blog/Websites:

Books By Nonnie

Watch Nonnie Write!

Ask The Good Mommy

4WillsPublishing

#RRBC #RWISA Thanks for supporting author, Nonnie Jules!