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As a brief introduction to the PSYCHIC PROMPTS SPECIAL CHALLENGE, I’d like to say I was impressed by our creativity and inventiveness. There were eight participants, and three of them tackled (if that’s the word) two prompts each for a grand total of eleven. A few more stats: Prompt #1, the one about Penny, who thought nothing could ever surprise her again attracted two suitors, whereas Prompt #2, “There are all kinds of love,” wooed three. However, Prompt #3 was the big winner. Five members, over half of those responding, couldn’t resist “A voice out of the past.” We seemed to be almost immune though to Prompt #4. Marsha says “I never thought you could do it this way,” but only one person wanted to do it at all. As for other comments, I could talk all day, but I think I’ll just thank Clayton for posting these remarkable stories and let them speak for themselves. John Rosenman


PROMPT #1: Penny thought nothing could ever surprise her again until the day she heard a knock on her door.



Psychic Chic
Bryan Murphy

Penny thought nothing could ever surprise her again until the day she heard a knock on her door resonate with a different tone. A strong, confident rap, not the timid tap of her habitual clients. She knew why: Manny was gaining in self-confidence as the sessions progressed. He was early.

“Hang on, love. I’ll be with you in a jiffy,” she called.

Penny wanted the room to be just right. She turned off the main lighting, switched on a lamp by the couch and brushed the crystal ball on the coffee table with a cuff of her long-sleeved dress. On the way to the door, she gave a ritual kiss to the photos of Sai Baba and Miss Cleo. The knock came again, even more strongly.

“OK, just coming!”

She never rushed for her clients, not even the most profitable ones. They had to learn who was boss. Penny pressed the control that turned on the concealed voice recorder. Whatever information they came out with during the sessions, she could always use it to her own advantage. Now she was ready. Penny composed her features into an imperious but other-worldly expression, moved silently to her flat door and threw it open.

Two men stood on the threshold. Neither was Manny Suppleton. One of them spoke.

“I’m Inspector Reeson. This is Detective-Sergeant Stryke. We are arresting you on suspicion of fraud, extortion and tax evasion.”

Penny’s jaw dropped; her teeth started to chatter; her eyes bulged. She had not seen that coming.

Copyright © 2014 Bryan Murphy

* * *

Bryan Murphy is a skeptical Briton currently living the life of Riley in Italy. You can find an assortment of his literary snacks for hungry bookworms here: Most are free.



Salvatore Buttaci

Penny thought nothing could ever surprise her again until the day she heard a knock on her door. Not a knock precisely. More a rapid pounding of four heavy raps echoing through the cabin. Nightmare-trapped, almost silently, she whimpered in the dark closet.

She held her breath when the bushy creature battered down the door. Tail wagging like the antenna of some giant insect, it approached on four legs, sniffing as it moved. From the log walls Penny heard a comforting voice –– her late father’s –– whisper “Courage” to her. “This is only a dream.”

Then the beast pressed its moon-flecked eye against the keyhole of the closet door and Penny snapped open her eyes. She lay there panting in her bed. Outside the new sun was rising.

Now, nights later, those same four poundings in real time, in real life, and Penny in real terror could feel her blood coursing wildly, pulsating in her head.

Again the four raps at the door. Then quiet. Again the four raps louder this time. Four raps.

Déjà Vu, she thought. Life imitating dream? Coincidence?

Four raps.

She glanced out the side window. In the ebony sky a pale yellow moon rested in the spires of trees. The room was deathly still. Nowhere to run. No one to save her.

Finally the night wolf –– by day a man –– crashed through the window and in a single leap severed her jugular with fangs razor-sharp and whiter than fear.

Copyright © 2014 Salvatore Buttaci

* * *

Sal Buttaci is the author of two e-books published by All Things That Matter Press. Only 99 cents each!

Horror: RITUAL.


Sal lives in West Virginia with his wife Sharon, the love of his life.


PROMPT #2: “There are all kinds of love,” Howard said.  “You just have to keep an open mind.”


Forever Love-475617_640

Forever Love
Monica Brinkman

“There are all kinds of love,” Howard said.  “You just have to keep an open mind.” With this, Howard gave a grandiose bow before the large audience and walked toward backstage as the dense maroon curtain closed behind him. He grinned with pleasure hearing the loud roar of applause and sound of “We want Howard” shouted from the group. Not now, no he was too eager to get to the dressing room.

After removing the thick stage make-up and changing into jeans and dark blue T-Shirt, he canvassed the small room from his seat before the mirror. Ah, would it be tonight, he wondered. His anticipation grew into excitement when he heard the window drape rustle. Could it be?

She had promised him eternity.

His heart quickened to view the voluptuous figure of Andrea as she emerged from behind the green drapes. She was dressed entirely in white; her gown flowing upon the floor. A glow of light caressed her ample breasts as she drew near.

“It is you. I didn’t think you’d come.”

Andrea gave a lilting laugh, walked behind him and began massaging his shoulders. He groaned in pleasure. Ah, it felt so good; he wanted it to go on forever. She was his. His own specter and she was the passion of his life.

A sharp sting at his neck changed into piercing pain and he gasped. The last thing he recalled was the mirror reflecting his image and a sultry voice.

“Yes darling, eternity as promised.”

Copyright © 2014 Monica Brinkman

* * *

Monica M Brinkman believes in ‘giving it forward’; reflected by her writing and radio show. A firm believer open communication is the most powerful tool to make positive change in the world; she expresses this in her book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel and It Matters Radio.  Look for her book, The Wheels Final Turn, to be released in 2015.

Monica resides in the Midwest with her husband, two dogs and five cats.

Visit her web sites


Regarding Love
Clayton Bye

“There are all kinds of love,” Howard said. “You just have to keep an open mind.”

“Easy for you to say,” Desi said, shaking her head in disgust. “You didn’t just get fucked over by a middle aged man who thinks a 43-year-old male model is to die for.”

“You do love him, right?”

“Yeah, but what’s that got to do with it when he’s shacked up with this guy?”

“Well, maybe there’s room in his life for both of you. I mean he did try to come home, didn’t he?”

“Imagine that.”

“Look, Desi, people your age often drift apart sexually only to discover other kinds of love. After all, there’s a lot to be said for companionship.”

“Are you suggesting that we live together and he can go out and get his rocks off any old time he feels like it? What about me?”

“What about you? How was your sex life before this happened?”

Desi blushed.

“It wasn’t the best.”

“And … ”

“Okay, we hadn’t had sex in two years.”

“So what we have here is your pride being hurt, more than anything else. Do you remember a guy by the name of Leo Buscaglia?”

“They called him the love doctor, right?”

Howard nodded. “He believed in love as a real, living thing. I once saw him speak, and at the end of his hour on stage, he made himself available to every single person who wanted a hug.”

“A hug isn’t going to fix this,” Desi said.

“It sure won’t hurt.”

“But that would be like telling him what he did was okay, and it wasn’t.”

“No, it would be you saying that you love him and will support him in whatever he decides to do.”

“That’s crazy.”

“No, that’s unconditional love. It’s the hardest kind of love, the one that says to the people around you, ‘I care about you, not your behaviour.’ It says, ‘I’m here no matter what you do. Because I love you, and that will never change.’”

“You’re asking a lot, Howard.”

“No more than God asks of you. After all they say God is love. So the more love you can show, the closer to God you’ll be.”

“But it’s a man! I can hear what the neighbors will say, ‘Did you hear? She got thrown over for an old Queen!’”

“It doesn’t matter what the neighbors think or say. It doesn’t even matter what you think. All that matters is what you do.”

Howard leaned in close and asked her, “What do you want to do, honey?”

Desi rubbed her face in her hands, straightened her shoulders and made a decision.

“Give me the phone, Howard,” she said. “Let’s see what he’s got to say for himself.”

Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye

* * *

Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. The author of 11 books and a varied collection of short stories, poems, articles and reviews, he has also published 4 books under the imprint Chase Enterprises Publishing. The books published for others include 3 award winning anthologies and a stunning memoir about what it’s like to live with and die from anorexia. Visit his e-store at


Why doesn’t she love me?
Kenneth Weene

“There are all kinds of love,” Howard said.  “You just have to keep an open mind.” As he spoke, the lanky redhead reached both hands toward Berta.

Perhaps it was the tone of his voice, the softness of his words, but this time Berta did not back away, not as she had Howard’s three previous attempts at reassuring her. Indeed she moved forward, tucking her nose into the crook of his neck and blowing warm, sweet smelling breaths which made him smile in anticipation.

Now that things were moving forward, Howard began to undress, undoing his suspenders, unbuttoning his flannel shirt, and finally allowing the rough denim of his jeans to sag towards the floor. Berta watched, undisturbed by his slow deliberate actions.

Yes, this was going to be a good day. To offer more reassurance, Howard reached forward and stroked his love’s face. “I know we’ll be together for always,” he murmured.

With ever so slow and careful movements, the naked, now tumescent man slipped behind Bertha. As he came ever closer, she nickered in distress, kicked behind, and catching him with one flying hoof to the scrotum bolted out the barn door.

“Why doesn’t she love me?” the farmer asked. How he wished he could be the stallion of her dreams.

Copyright © 2014 Kenneth Weene

* * *

Besides his work organizing The Write Room Blog and co-hosting It Matters Radio, Ken Weene writes and writes. His latest book Broody New Englander is now available in print and Kindle.


PROMPT #3: A voice out of the past was one thing.   A face quite another, especially when


psychic prompts

Dream On
Monica Brinkman

A voice out of the past was one thing.  A face quite another, especially when it taunted one within a dream, revealing only a hazy form, ambiguous, though clear enough to recognize the impression of its features.

I dreaded slumber and yearned for days past when sleep brought me peace and tranquility.  No amount of caffeine would keep me awake, nor did sleeping pills still the nightly emergence of this despicable apparition. Why invade my mind so frequently? Why mock me with promise of recognition?  Engulf my senses with trepidation.  Hadn’t I been through enough? All the years of self-hatred; the hope of love where there was none.

I find myself waking each day with remembrances that preoccupy my thoughts and vilify my mind. Loathing what I have become, the things I’ve done. Slumber, once my paradise, now brings all-consuming grief of culpability.  This visage, oh how it calls to me, “Draw closer–come and see.”  I hesitate and turn away, frightened and reserved.  Faint whispers spout from its obscure mouth, echoing into derisive, scathing, hysterical laughter, from which I find no escape.

Will this night differ from the rest?  I pull the covers up to chin and drift into a sleep. The form appears, becoming clear.  I cannot look and I swiftly turn away. Yet not before I catch a glimpse of Matthew Lear, with dagger still in place, its blade shoved through his head.  While crimson blood seeps from the gash, pouring from the wound I made.

Copyright © 2014 Monica Brinkman

* * *

Honey, I’m Home
Micki Peluso

A voice out of the past was one thing, a face quite another, especially when it was Jack outside my door. I’d felt his presence since his sudden demise; suffered through the lonely nights. It was a bit disconcerting though to see only his face floating around.

“How’d you ring the doorbell?” I asked. “And why?”

“Always told you I’d come back.” He smiled that impish grin that always made me laugh. “My body’s here, just not visible yet.

“Well, I’m impressed, but you’re missing a few parts, some I might add, you considered your most important, and my favorites.”

“The Archangel said it’ll take time. I have eternity to practice.” His face leaned in, giving me a deep kiss which, as always, sent my senses reeling. I yearned for the rest of him, needed to hold and clasp his body close to mine.

“I promised to never leave you,” he murmured into my ear, an especially erogenous zone. We spent the night with his whole head on my pillow, a good sign that he might materialize completely. I ached for all of him. Still it was . . . Heavenly. The best lovemaking we ever knew. I wondered when I’d awaken from this exquisite dream.

“Annie.” Opening my eyes, I saw Jack’s entire body — buck naked. “It’s time,” he whispered. I reached out to hold onto his hand, my spirit light and free, as we soared off toward another realm . . . And immortality.

Copyright © 2014 Micki Peluso

* * *

I began writing after a personal tragedy, as a catharsis for my grief. This led to a first time out publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25 year career in Journalism. I’ve freelanced and been a staff writer for one major newspaper and written for two more. I have published short fiction and non-fiction, as well as slice-of-life stories in college and other magazines and in e-zine editions. My first book was published in 2008; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called . . . AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG. I am presently working on a collection of short fiction, slice-of-life stories and essays, in a book called, ‘Don’t Pluck the Duck’.


A voice out of the past
James Secor

A voice out of the past was one thing. A face quite another, especially when I began writing this story about a cheerleader who, like, solved murders and the like by, like, listening to the wind in the trees (?). She is a blond airhead whose dream is to cheer for Notre Dame? And join the headiest, most elite and fun-loving sorority and meet lots of guys? Real hunks, y’know. ‘Cause that’s where the mystery is. The mysteries. Boys being boys and sports being sports. Of course, there would be lots of trees and wind to fuel her wild and sleuthing life. (And mine, to be sure.) Maybe she’d even make, like, a name for herself(?). More of a name than Miss Nuisance here in Chelmville.  A silly little place out in the middle of nowhere, where 50% of the senior class fail to graduate and 80% of the football team also. Chelmville High did not win football games.

Well, I was writing this new Misty Mooi mystery when, instead of my usual infusion of a voice from the past, I was beset by this face out of the past. One of my great-great something- or-others. Zes See van Aat. At least, I think so. He didn’t say anything.

“What do you want?” I asked in exasperation. After all, he was interrupting my creative energy flow.

He pursed his lips and blew, like blowing a kiss.

And then I disa—

Copyright © 2014 James Secor

* * *

Jimsecor is the creator of Detective Lt. Anthony Lupée of Liverpoool. He is over-educated and voluble and a lover of the absurd. Sometimes he is found at Minna vander Pfaltz’s blog at Jimsecor is a world traveler and has been published in Japan and China. In China, he also produced several plays, including an all female Lysistrata (the gov’t came to film it). [written by Minna vander Pfaltz as Jimsecor  disappeared mysteriously while writing] Messages can be left for either of us at, I read his mail whether he likes it or not, though now, what can he say?


Trish Jackson

A voice out of the past was one thing.  A face quite another, especially when she knew he had died three years ago. She had seen his body, seen it jerk when they gave him the last drug. She had watched them wheel the gurney out of the execution room.

She sank onto the sofa and held both her hands over her mouth. “Who… how… I don’t…?” She could hardly speak and her words didn’t make sense. Uncontrollable shivers ran through her body. She stared up at him, unable to break her gaze.

“You don’t look pleased to see me, Sheila. That disappoints me. I think I’ll have to punish you for that.” He stood over her and smiled that evil smile she remembered so well.

“No. Please. I went to your execution like I promised. I was there for you. I know you saw me.” She fought to suck in air.

“And now I’m here to get my revenge. You shouldn’t have testified against me like that, Sheila.”

“You raped me and killed Lorie. I had to testify.” A tear slid down her cheek. How was this possible? What would he do to her? She couldn’t breathe.

He bent down to grab her. She screamed. He was shaking her.

“Mom, stop screaming, please. You’re scaring me.” Annie’s face swam into view.

“I’m okay now,” she said with a smile.

But the cold hand of fate still gripped her heart and squeezed, and her life ebbed out of her.

Copyright © 2014 Trish Jackson

* * *

Trish Jackson grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, Africa, and lived through many real life adventures that sparked her imagination. She writes provocative and poignant romantic suspense/thrillers and romantic comedies, focusing on animals, and the passions, dreams, and tragedies in the lives of country folk in small towns. Trish loves country living, horse riding, chocolate and all animals, and is happiest sitting at her computer working on her next novel.


Dying is Easy
Clayton Clifford Bye

A voice out of the past was one thing. A face quite another, especially when it’s a face that hides so much. I thought I’d put it away, but the face returns, hiding my past, my present and, perhaps, my future. Why? Because people don’t want to see what’s behind such a face. I’ve been told so—forcefully. But if I don’t allow you to see, how will you learn? How will you ever understand that dying is easy? One quick pull of the trigger, a bottle of pills to ease you into a permanent sleep or, if you’re really in it bad, the next transport coming around a corner will gladly do the job. Personally? I have a particular affinity for concrete abutments.

Am I shocking you? Good. Most people have no idea what Clinical (Serious) Depression is like. They have no context, no shared experience from which to draw images or create feelings of empathy. So let me take you there. Let me show you the inside of a mind in the clutches of serious depression.

First, when you’re drawn down into the black hole of depression, a funny thing happens to your mind. It turns inward on itself with soul-cutting efficiency until unbridled pain causes thoughts of relief to come fast and furious. In specific terms, the pain of living with your particular problems begins to seem like it’s too much to bear. Note that I said seem. Negative thoughts and emotions are blown up to such an extent that the unthinkable becomes immensely attractive. How do I know this? I’ve suffered from Clinical Depression and, on a more regular basis, Bi-Polar Disorder, still known in some countries as Manic-Depressive Disorder. And I don’t have the kind of depression that’s triggered by my environment, what is called Situational Depression. No, mine is the kind that’s caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The depression descends on you like a sort of madness that creates warped filters for you to look out of and try to find your way. Or, as is often the case, you must work hard to recognize the untrue thoughts and emotions, then ride the demon bull of terror until it tires.

Make no mistake about the fundamental nature of depression. It’s all about terror, about losing control of who you are, of being replaced by a demon so crazed that it can wreck your world or, when in a Schizophrenic State, replace it with another world entirely. That’s right, some seriously ill patients with Bi-Polar Disorder also experience bouts of Schizophrenic behaviour. This disease can be described as a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior.  It can lead to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships, and a descent into fantasy, delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. This loss of “self” is so real that ending it, that killing off the demon, becomes so urgent that the cognitive mind begins to offer all sorts of solutions. Permanent, effective solutions guaranteed to provide a release from the pain of such a tragic loss.

Continuing on, sometimes, when in a Deep Depression, and whether you want to show it or not, the beast comes out. Then no one is safe, because your thoughts turn only to ending the pain that’s ripping at your very core. And you don’t really care about hurting others in the process. If you let Depression do that unchecked, then all sorts of narcissistic behaviours become possible, the darker ones always seeming to be the easiest to pursue—much easier than turning yourself in to a hospital or locking yourself in a room or putting your head under a pillow and sleeping the day away. Dying is so quick and painless, it’s a siren song for the Depressed.

And let’s not forget the Manic or Upward Phase. When this particular devil arrives, you don’t think about killing yourself and maybe others. No, instead you feel grandiose. You live large and loud. Songs burst unbidden from your lips and you dance about the house. (But heaven help them if someone tries to bring you down. You can become irritable in seconds, lashing out at that person before you know what has happened.) Money loses meaning. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on wasteful, silly things, with no thought as to the repercussions for my family, and so, too, have many others. No, in your mind all things become possible. You can replace the money. No problem. Your thoughts and ideas are golden, sleep is unnecessary, and sometimes you even manage to come up with brilliant and more innovative ways to destroy yourself.  What? You wonder why such a happy person would seek to destroy himself. You must remember that the Upward Phase is also a type of devil/demon. It, too, seeks to steal away your personality. It wants to kill that which makes you who you are. And believe it when I tell you, the easiest way to stop such a monster is to kill the host. Yes, it seems contradictory. After all, you will also be dead. Ah yes! But that death brings peace to an exhausted soul. It brings a final, welcoming darkness, where you don’t have to be someone you hate. And it kills those fucking demons once and for all.

In the end, we shouldn’t wonder why people take their lives. That’s easy to understand. We should wonder why more people don’t. Because I can tell you from experience, my friend, when the devil takes your mind, dying is easy.

Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye


PROMPT #4: “I never thought you could do it this way,” Marsha said, panting with emotion.


Lesson Learned
Kenneth Weene

“I never thought you could do it this way,” Marsha said, panting with emotion.

Erik smiled and guided her.

How many times had her mother warned her? “Beware of older men. Beware of men who have had too much experience. They’ll lead you astray.”

Had Marsha listened?

Hardly—only in the way of teenagers: sure and smug, smiling behind parental backs, planning on just the opposite. And all the time her thoughts on Erik Dawson.

“He’s so handsome, so sure of himself, so…so.” Marsha loved him from the very first, her first day of high school.

He was a junior, but kind enough to give her, a homely freshman, directions. That smile.  Did the stars steal their light from his teeth? Wearing his football jersey, his shoulders wide, his abdomen flat, his hips thin and made for dancing. Every girl in Fairview wanted him, but he had stopped to help her, had smiled…had smiled at her.

“Oh my God!”

Marsha’s heart had jackhammered her chest. Her breath had disappeared with the red heat of embarrassment. Afterwards, walking the halls, her books clutched against her breasts, the feelings had been different—elation mixed with love, expecting other girls to look at her with the awe she herself felt.

Had that been months ago? No, only three days. Still, it felt like months. That was how fast…

“Like this.”

Yes, yes, it would work. It would work! Wasn’t he wonderful?

“Breep, breep, breep.” The electronic sound interrupted.

“Damn! What has he done?”

Game over! Her avatar dead. Maybe you couldn’t do it that way after all.

Copyright © 2014 Kenneth Weene

* * *

Yes, indeed, GAME OVER!  Thank you all for playing.

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Keep Your Heart Open by Louise Malbon-Reddix


On 8-8-08 I married the love of my life. I lost him tragically and so unexpectedly on 12-07-09. Some people say there is a limit to grieving. To them I say, “You have never lost a piece of your heart.” Surely some losses are easier than others to go through. But, when you lose that special someone, you will be spending some considerable time mourning and grieving. Even when you think you are finished, you aren’t. There will always be that street called familiar. Perhaps you’ll hear a favorite song, or notice something very special that was once your loved one’s, that will start the grief again.

And if you are one whose loss is fresh; as in it happened yesterday or a few weeks ago, or just over there in the distant past; I want you to know that here is one who truly understands.

Turning back to a page of my own story, not sure of the exact page, but somewhere way back now, about 5 years ago when the loss of my own beloved was so, so, so fresh, I found sleep to be elusive. Grief tormented me.

Oh to have a word or a way to come to terms with this pain. My heart and mind could not find lovely words to use to explain how to cope. A friend of mine did find those words. They are “keeping my heart open”. In retrospect, flipping back through these pages, that is what you are doing as you travel through this tumultuous time in your life.

You see, I had never been in this place of deep loss before. Never (even though I have had other losses in my life) had I been in such stark, raving grief. Not knowing what to do or what to say. Exhausted. Trying to come to terms. Scared and in pain. Still in love, but so terribly alone. Yes, still in love! Night after night, and day after day, because at some point I didn’t know if it was night or day. Still holding on to the essence of that pure and perfect person who had entered my life and now left me so suddenly and without warning—with no chance to prepare and no chance to say goodbye. My life and times of being unconditionally loved and desired now gone, just like that.

I could tell more, but I will stop except to say, “Yes, I still love him, still live with the soul of that love.”

Is this perchance your story? I call this whirlwind of emotion a dance with the Divine. Only at times, I feel like God is playing my 33 1/3 album at the speed of a 45 single, and I’m still trying to do the two-step. And I don’t feel like bopping and all of that snapping of my fingers and doing the jitterbug. I go on because grief has a way of making us feel that we must, that we have no choice.

Looking back, I know that agony was a time of learning how to “keep my heart open.”

At the time, crying, and more crying, was all I could do.

This is what I know now: tears are the only way our soul can speak when it is so profoundly and deeply hurt. Tears are the only language the mourning soul has. Let them flow. It is okay! Let your soul say all it wants. We dared to love, and love is huge. It has many expressions, times, and ways. So wonderful! When we feel its loss, our grieving reveals wounds that never show up on the body. But they are there, deep and more hurtful than anything that bleeds!

So, my grieving Sister or Brother, no more words for now. Please know that yours is a dance with the Divine. Just like with any other long, emotional dance, there are going to be some physiologic things that will happen; they are the adaptive responses of our bodies. Not being able to sleep is one. Headaches, fast heartbeats, and sweats are a few of the others.

Both your soul and your body are learning how to deal with grief and loss. Things like sleep and rest and good food can help the body.

But what of your your soul? It still has some pages to write. Let it! Even while life somehow is still going on around you, it will write on. God made us that way. The sun still will come up and day will come. The sun will go down and night will come. But during this time of pain and sorrow, the soul doesn’t understand all that. It just knows what it knows, and you will have no choice but to let your grieving soul take the time it needs.

During these five years, I have learned there are some things that will come. Grief is like a river, it flows until at some point you can come to a place where you can allow yourself to catch up with the speed of life. Now I know why God has put banks on the sides of rivers. As with any river, grief may overflow its banks at times. Don’t worry. Allow yourself the time you need to learn again how to “Keep Your Heart Open.” Know that it is still a dance, and you will learn the steps to this dance, too. Like the river, flow along and “Keep Your Heart Open.”

I hope these words give you some relief, for a moment or two, or maybe more. Day by day, you too will learn just how to “Keep Your Heart Open!”

Louise Malbon-Reddix is the Author of Stand In Your Anointment-This Too Shall Pass. It was written with the hope of coming along side of others to help and guide safely as they navigate through a time of unimaginable pain, grief and misery.

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What’s Next by Fran Lewis


Imagine walking into work one day and being told that you are no longer needed. That your job does not require a human to handle it and although you might be an auto mechanic, electrician, painter or even a teacher you have been replaced by a computer, drone or even a robot. What would you do if you had to start all over again? What would you do if you had to do something else with your life?

You are told that your position no longer exists and that many others have also been phased out due to budget cuts. Computers can do your job faster and younger people have more drive and energy. Your boss states that if you wish to remain in the company you will have to take a pay cut and a demotion in position. A corporate lawyer who is not a partner is offered a job as a paralegal. A Registered Nurse is offered a job as an aide. But, what if the decision was in your hands and you could decide on any career you wanted–even though you are older: what would you do? Where would you look and how would you go about beating out others who might be younger but do not have your knowledge and experience?

Thinking about it, if I had to start over again I guess I might consider going into another field other than education. The way things are going you never know if teachers are going to remain in the classroom or if children might learn more online, from online teachers and or from some form of artificial intelligence. You just never know when you might have to start your life again. Your company, as companies have done in the past, may outsource to other countries, leaving workers here unemployed. Some might even find that their jobs are no longer needed, that others can do more than one task, forcing you to have to move to another area, another company or apply for unemployment.

Forget that I retired early because my mom had Alzheimer’s. Forget that I decided to go into another career as an author, interviewer and editor of a magazine. Before choosing another career I might have to be trained in the new field as well as research the requirements, job availability and age requirements, if there are any. Of course, working for someone much younger might prove uncomfortable as you try to fit into a company where most people are under 40. It might create situations that at times alienate (for example, during times when workers socialize before and after working hour)s. As an educator I worked with people of all ages and found that in some cases the younger teachers were in their own group and the older, middle range not as much. So, what would I do right now if I decided that I wanted another career, had to go back to work in order to make ends meet or just because I wanted to do something other than review books, do radio or my magazine? Good question! I was recently told that I have a great memory for facts and information by an author who I was interviewing who said I recalled more facts about his book and understood the deeper meaning. I would love to do research for a medical company. I would love to learn more about forensic science. Starting over again would be hard for anyone, depending on the reasons. What about if you are forced to move to another state or country for health reasons or because your job insists you work in another area of your company?

Think about this the next time you go to work and realize that things are changing. Maybe people are being forced into early retirement. There might be talk of a company take-over or, worse, the company is going under. What would you do if you had to start over again? What obstacles do you think you would face? How would you overcome them?


Fran Lewis: Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters Degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The titles of her new books are Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey; Ruth’s story and Sharp as a Tack and Scrambled Eggs, Which Describes Your Brain? Fran is the author of 11 titles. Her 12th title: In Her Own Words is in final edits.

She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites. You can read some of her reviews on and on under the name Gabina. Here is the link to her radio show, Fran is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Educators and Professionals and is the editor of MJ Magazine.

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For Love of a Good Book by Kenneth Weene


dreamstimefree_122041My introduction to books was not innocent—not in the least. I was three and curious. Specifically, I wanted to know where babies came from. My father, not the most comfortable of people, harrumphed, cleared his throat, and told me that he was too busy.

I resolved to get the needed information on my own. My uncle, who was in the Army, had stored his medical books in our attic. I had looked at them and knew those pictures contained the kernels of truth; but the words: what might those words tell me? All I had to do was learn to read. Sufficiently motivated, I easily mastered the task.

The joke, however, was on me. Those wonderful books filled with information were in Latin. Oh, well, at least I had opened the door to new and wonderful worlds.

Finding books worth reading was not easy. I really didn’t care about Dick, Jane, or even Spot. Quickly, I was reading the few adult books our home offered. It was a limited and strange assortment, mostly chosen to fill the bookshelf Dad had found on the street and brought home. Still, they were books and I devoured them. One of the unintended consequences came to light when at five I began attending Sunday school. Being Jewish, I was not expected to know the legends of all the national saints of the European countries, but I did. I particularly loved the saints who had killed dragons. To be honest, the rabbi reminded me a bit of a dragon, and I did have fantasies of slashing him with my great sword. But that is a different story.

Somebody suggested the library. What a wonderful place. One small problem, those darn Dick and Jane quality books. I was five and had read most of the Hardy Boys and had heard of books by people named Twain, Stevenson, Dickens, and London. When would I get to read them?

“Too young. Too young.” The refrain hurt my pride and interfered with my favorite leisure pursuit. Eventually, I talked my way into a grownup card. I was off and running—or at least reading. Unfortunately, I had no idea which books were worth reading and which not. Worse, there was no one to help me. Perhaps one of my English teachers might have helped, but I had been duly warned that if word got out, my precious card would be taken away. So I read a motley array of books; none of which, by the way, providing the information I had originally sought.

Some of those books were great and some were trash. At the time I had my own list of which were which. Now, of course, I have the lists of “great books” and “classics” to tell me what I am supposed to think of them—not that I give a fig about such lists.

What I do care about—what I cared about then and still do—was finding books that did more than entertain me. Keeping a kid occupied is easy. I wanted books that made me think and feel, books that made me expand, made me aware, made me alive. Because I found them—too often buried in the trash, but still there, my love affair with books went on and grew. It still burns today. I try to read at least one book a week as well as lots of other stuff. On a vacation, I can push that number up to one per day. Such is true happiness.

I suppose books have made other members of The Write Room Blog happy as well. For some, perhaps the world of books gave them a sense of safety in a difficult and confusing world. Maybe others were looking for rules and standards, models by which to live their lives. For whatever reason, I guess we all do love books; why else would we write so many of them? And, because we know that visitors to our blog also love books—Why else come here? —we take pleasure in giving some of our books away. Please join us in this celebration of words and writing and enter The Write Room Blog giveaway. May the book you read today give you pleasure for years to come.

Link to The Great Book Giveaway

As one of the founders of The Write Room Blog, Ken Weene takes great pride in the ongoing success of this group and thanks you for visiting today.

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Path to Professional and Personal Success by Yves Johnson



If you’re like some, you’ve already abandoned  your New Year’s Resolutions.  Hey, it’s been five days already!  What do you expect?  Seriously, let’s take a very brief look at goals for a moment.

A few weeks ago I was honored to present a leadership seminar to two very diverse organizations. One was faith-based and the other not so much.  This wonderful international organization  was holding its bi-annual conference.  The audience was full of leaders from various parts of industry.  As any good speaker who is worth his or her salt, I tailored my presentation to meet the needs of the audience.  To my surprise, nearly all of these individuals had one thing in common.  What was it you ask?  They did not have any personal goals.  They had goals for their corporations but none for themselves.  Do you have any goals?

Before we go any further, let me tell you about the faith-based organization.  The members were great and very professional.  I noticed a striking parallel between  this organization and the international organization.  Yes, you guessed it.  They had goals for their organization but didn’t have any personal goals.  I ask you again, “Do you have any goals?”

There are several types of goals.  If you were in my seminar I’d ask you, “Where do you want to be in the next 3, 6, 12 and 18 months?”   These are immediate goals.  Collectively they help navigate you towards your bigger goals.  For instance, you want to buy your first home.  Your 3, 6 and 12 month goals may be to reduce or eliminate as much debt as possible.  I say  this to help you make  some milestones to  get on track for that particular goal of purchasing your home.  Buying a  home  might be what some call a long term goal. This type of goal might be 5 years away, if not longer.

What goals have you deviated from so far?  Let’s say you planned to  get physically fit in 2015.  But so far you’ve missed two of the last five workouts.   Should you quit and forget about this goal?  Of course not.  Celebrate your victories.  After all, you completed three workouts.  Let’s shoot for completing at least four workouts next week!  Don’t let failure sidetrack you from the goal!

Here are a few things you can do to help with your short-term goals.  Take a few days and think where you want to be.  Think about when you want to achieve that goal.  Think about some of the things that might prevent you from achieving those goals.  Obviously, these are just some mind ticklers for you to consider.

I also encourage you to create milestones to keep you on track.  Milestones are simply some of the intermediate steps that you need to reach before the goal is accomplished.  Don’t forget to  celebrate once you attain each milestone.  This celebration will inspire  you to continue on toward the goal.

What happens if you don’t reach your goals?  This is a possibility and unfortunately some failures, no matter how small, prevent some people from keeping their goals.  If you fail, that’s OK. If you fail, you still will be closer to the goal than you were prior to your march towards it.  Celebrate your victories.  If you follow these few principles  you’ll be on the path to professional and personal success.

Give me some feedback and let me know how you are doing with your goals.  I know you’ll do well.  Also, remember to vote on the poll.


Yves Johnson is a Speaker and Author.  He is the author of two  books and a varied collection of articles and blogs. He is the President of Christ Is My Savior Ministries LLC.  He’s a sought out speaker and offers a wide range of leadership and development seminars for both Faith Based and non-Faith Based organizations. You can find his books at



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Giving Away Books


Why do authors give away their books?

The first reason is that we want people to read our books, and giving them away to you is one of the easiest ways to assure that we are not mere scriveners but have actually reached an audience. You may not see us lurking in the shadows, but there we are—watching you with bated breath, asking will he turn the page, will she laugh at thejoke, and especially will they tell other people about our offspring.

Which brings up the second reason. We want you to tell people about us. Yes, go to GoodReads, to Amazon, and to any other place you care to share. Tell your friends, yourfamily, even your enemies. Tell them, encourage them, even cajole them. Yes, we arethat desperate; our children need homes on bookshelves and in reading devices all over the world.

Of course that raises yet another reason for The Write Room Blog giveaway; while we arehappy to have readers, we are even happier to have buyers. Your endorsements lead to sales of our books, and sales make the happiest authors. It used to be that authors did not need to worry much about marketing their wares. Perhaps a book tour and a few interviews, all set in place by a publicist, but the hard work, the getting word out, well that wasn’t part of the job description.

Oh, how different the world has become. Today, we writers work hard at getting your attention, at hawking our wares. Like the carnival barker offering the free ticket to that curious child or that curvaceous colleen, we hope to draw the rest of the crowd into our tent.

And that, dear friends, is what we the members of The Write Room Blog are hoping to do with our book giveaway, draw other readers into our carnival encampment. And what a show we offer you. Historical fiction, self-improvement and reflection, crime and mystery, literary fiction, political thrillers, romance, and speculative fiction: a cornucopia of delights.

The best part, you have to do so little for the possibility of great reward. Simply send us an email with your name, address, and your preference of print or e-format. In late February, we will contact the winners, those whose emails have been selected at random, and they will receive a book.

We promise you will not be getting sales calls, tinkers knocking on the door, or bills.Your email address won’t be sold to a marketing company in Dubuque or Bangladesh.

But, what you will get is the possibility of a great read. If you’d like to see the possibilities, click on the giveaway tab and take a gander.


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Somewhere in the Middle of China By Bonnie Hearn Hill


 I was in my twenty-fourth year as a writer and my ninth year as a newspaper editor when I began teaching an adult school writing class. In that class, on one of those clear fall California evenings in 1992, I met Pat Snider. All I remember about that first night is the smell of rain through the open window of the classroom and the faces blurring before me as I gripped the podium. I was new to teaching and terrified. Once I began to speak, the trembling within me subsided, and the magic began to take over, an almost palpable energy that passed between the students and me.

We were as unlikely a group as one could imagine. Walter, the African-American retired military man, had been the first black teacher in a conservative district. He was finding words to express what, to paraphrase James Baldwin, was the realization that, in a world of Gary Coopers, he was an Indian. Anita, a retired bookkeeper, experimented with confession stories. Bob, a bearded computer geek, was a card-carrying member of the NRA and the writer of essays just a shade to the right of where most of us were politically comfortable. Maria, a feisty forensic nurse relocated from Brooklyn, wrote biting articles on prison reform.

The intensity increased throughout our weeks together. Anita sold the story she had reworked countless times. Bob became a guest columnist for our newspaper. Although Pat Snider never spoke and didn’t read in class, she did turn in a poem. It was rough, as I recall, and I tried to combine encouragement with honest criticism. Yet I was too new to teaching to know that the ones who sit in the back row and never speak are often the ones who need the most attention.

The class ended before Christmas, and to my surprise, I received a card from Pat. It contained a poem, “Ode to a Teacher.” She spoke of a fear that is common to all of us who dare to be writers—a fear of starting too late, of not being good enough. She wrote, too, of a teacher who guided her, who, as she put it, “…takes my hand and tells me I can fly.”

It felt like undeserved praise. In my reply, I said, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears,” and I encouraged her to continue writing. The following March, I received a handwritten note from her, saying that her husband’s job had ended, and they would have to “move on.”

“My question is, may I keep in contact by mail?” she asked. “Never having written before, I now can’t seem to stop, to whatever end. As my dear George would say in the idiom of his beloved West Virginia, ‘Think someone done left the door open.’”

I told her to keep in touch but received only a Christmas card from her that year. By that time, I was caught up in the demands of the next session. In a world of rejection, doubt, and the smug sanity only non-writers enjoy, my students and I became the ultimate support group for each other.

On the last day of that year, we met at a local café to celebrate the selection of Maria, the nurse, from almost two hundred applicants, to replace Bob as guest columnist for our newspaper. Maria often said that Bob was so far to the political right and she so far to the left, that, “We meet somewhere in the middle of China.”

Her statement resonated, perhaps because it reflected the essence of the class.  Our differences in politics, philosophy, and the workings of the world were little compared to the real obstacles we shared as writers—the challenge of that blank page, the isolation, the inevitable rejection, the fear.

Bob was the last to arrive at the restaurant that day.  He walked up to our table, grinning, as he held up a tiny flashlight.


“I’m passing on the torch,” he said, and then he handed the flashlight to Maria.

Sitting next to Walter, I watched the unlikely couple at the head of the table.  The youthful, bearded conservative and the white-haired Amnesty International advocate talked quietly, their heads close, the tiny light flickering between them.

“Only in our group,” Walter said, his voice catching.

As I reviewed my lecture notes several weeks later, the phone rang. The voice of the woman on the other end was unfamiliar and strangely disturbing.

“I’m Pat Snider’s daughter,” she began. “I found your number with some of her poems.”  She sounded far away, tired.

My mouth went dry. I didn’t want whatever I was going to hear next.

“Is Pat all right?”

“Cancer. The hospice worker just left.” She began to cry softly.  “I don’t even know why I’m dragging you into all of this. You meant so much to her that I thought maybe if you two could just talk…”

“Of course,” I said, and wondered what I could say to a dying woman I had barely known.

“I’ll call you back once she wakes up. It’s going to mean so much to her.”

Instead, Pat’s husband, phoned to say she hadn’t wakened at all.

Anita, the confession writer, moved to another state that summer. Bob began working nights but kept in touch. Maria left the class as her involvement in prison reform demanded more time, and she later co-authored a book for the families of prisoners. Walter remained, “a lifer,” he said, blending with each new group of students.

Over years of teaching others like Pat, the quiet ones, it occurs to me that had I been lucky enough to find a class when I was starting out, I would also have been that almost invisible student in the back row.

Regardless of how Pat found my classroom, she got exactly what she needed there, as many of us did. In that room, somewhere in the middle of China perhaps, she too found kinship, validation, and a reason to believe. It is the most any of us who write, regardless of when we begin or how much time we have left, can ask.


California author Bonnie Hearn Hill’s fourteenth novel, IF ANYTHING SHOULD HAPPEN, will publish in the UK in March, 2015 and in the United States four months later. It will be followed in 2016 by GOODBYE FOREVER, the second in that series. A conference speaker and mentor to writers, she writes suspense that deals with social justice and women’s issues. A film based on one of her books is currently in pre-production.

Link to INTERN


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Beloved by D. M. Pirrone

Two hearts 27122014

Until she saw him, she never believed in love at first sight.

Everything about him draws her, makes her heart expand to the size of a harvest moon. There was just such a moon in the sky a year ago, the night before they met. A good-luck omen, and ever since, she rarely sees him without remembering that huge, golden orb against the midnight blue. The beauty of it echoes the beauty he’s brought to her life. Who knew mere existence could turn to such joy so quickly?

She loves everything about him. The way his hair slants across his forehead. The merry mischief in his wide, dark eyes. The wonder with which he approaches everything. She loves that most of all. Through sharing the world with him, familiar things are made new. The taste of chocolate ice cream. The darting grace of a butterfly around the backyard roses. Songs he makes her sing, that she’d thought forgotten long ago. All this and heaven too, she thinks now as she sits with him, his head resting against her shoulder.

She’s humming an old favorite: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Unlike Dorothy, she doesn’t have to go looking for her heart’s desire. After years of trying, of slowly losing hope with every failure, she’s finally found it. Not quite in her own backyard, but close enough.

He’s almost asleep now. She shifts in the rocking chair and begins the first verse, moving gently back and forth as she sings her adopted son a lullaby.


Author Bio

  1. D. M. Pirrone  is the nom de plume of Diane Piron-Gelman, who works as an editor and audiobook narrator when she isn’t writing. Her latest novel, Shall We Not Revenge (Allium Press of Chicago), was a 2014 Kirkus Prize nominee and a Notable Page-Turner in the 2014 Shelf Unbound Indie Novel competition. She is also the author of No Less In Blood (Five Star, 2011) and various horror and cyberpunk-themed short fiction. A Chicago native and history buff, she is a longtime member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Website link:

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The Romance of Christmas By Kathleen Ball


I can’t think of anything that goes together as well as Christmas and Romance. I know for a lot of us it’s a time of stress, but if you can take a moment to sit and relax you might discover the wonder of it all. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy presents as much as anyone, but Christmas is not only a day for presents. it is a day of great emotion.

The joy of watching a child’s or grandchild’s eyes when they discover the presents under the tree; the very same tree you told them not to touch. Their expression of pleasure is dreamlike. It’s a day of love and laughter and it’s a day to listen to your heart.

The buildup and suspense of Christmas starts as soon as you put up your tree and your first and most fervent wish is for the lights work.  The first smile comes when topping the tree, unless you have a hot toddy. In that case your smile may be earlier. When finished I always take a step back and sigh, it’s Christmas time.

As in romance, there is anticipation and hope for a blissful outcome. And like romance, there can be a multitude of obstacles to overcome. In a romance novel there is the will they or won’t they moments— moments where one of the main characters does something to throw a wrench into their relationship. You keep reading, hoping they get back on track and then the magic happens. The author weaves a story of hope, dreams, and shows us love is the main thing, the only thing that matters. The feeling of wow, a sense of well-being and delight invade your heart.

Last year my father died, my son was deployed, and the magic didn’t happen for me. I didn’t want to celebrate. It made me realize two things. Life is short, celebrate when you can and it doesn’t matter where my family is as long as they are all safe.

This Christmas Eve I expect the swirl of enchantment to wash over me as I hope and pray for a better, peaceful year. I’ll experience the delight of my heart overflowing as I count my many blessings. I will have inner peace knowing I played secret Santa to a few families in need. And I will hope and pray for all who are having a bad year—especially for the military families with their loved ones halfway around the world.

This year I celebrate, understanding the need to cherish and make lifelong memories. I celebrate with an open and compassionate heart. Mostly I pray these things will happen- hence the magic of Christmas.

Hope and a happy ending is why I love to read and write romance. I love the emotions of expectation, happiness, despair, and love. I love cheering for the couple and crying when all is lost. I love the heart-filling ending, and I try to hold the feeling close to me as long as possible.

Most of all I have learned that giving is really much better than receiving. I understood the concept but never carried it within me. Kindness is free and I have embraced the saying Kindness Matters. It’s not only for a few weeks or for a special day—kindness needs to be a lifelong project. What if a simple smile is all it took to make the world a better place?  I know I can be too optimistic; it’s the romantic in me.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday and a year of kindness.


Sexy Cowboys and the women who love them…

Finalist in the 2012 RONE Awards. Top Pick, Five Star Series from the Romance Review.

Kathleen Ball writes contemporary western romance with great emotion and memorable

characters. Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists including

Amazon’s Best Sellers List, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, Desert Breeze Publishing and

Secret Cravings Publishing Best Sellers list. She is the recipient of eight Editor’s Choice

Awards, and The Readers’ Choice Award for Ryelee’s Cowboy.

There’s something about a cowboy…. Http://

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Lessons from Quebec  By Delinda McCann


Hubby and I decided to take a few days and visit Quebec City, Canada. The city is beautiful, and to say it is very French is an understatement. Quebec seems to be more French than France. I’d say it is the center out of which all the Frenchness in Canada flows.

Since, I visit Vancouver and Victoria BC fairly often, I thought Quebec might be similar with perhaps a bit more French spoken. I’ve often laughed on my visits through British Columbia about all the signs being in French and English and how redundant they appear to me.

Loren and I have traveled to France and French Polynesia, but nowhere, have I had to rely on my college level, but long forgotten, French as I did in Quebec. I came prepared to chuckle over signs in French and English. I didn’t see much English anywhere.   All day, I translated menus for Hubby and read signs. He may have had a more colorful trip than most tourists because of my inaccurate translations of signs on buildings and shop fronts. I confess, when I got tired, I started making stuff up. “Oh look Honey, shoes made out of mushrooms,”–or whatever.

While it is fun to be amused over my challenges in a forgotten second language, Hubby saw a display in the museum that shocked him. He knew Quebec was French until some treaty gave the territory to England. What he’d never learned before was that the English attacked the city and conquered it. The citizens were not happy. The people of Quebec had no say in their fates, so like many powerless peoples, they rebelled in the only way they could, refusing to speak English and clinging to French architecture and culture.

The rest of Canada seems to tolerate the uniqueness of Quebec. I’ve heard friends from Vancouver or Yukon Territory or Alberta snort and say, “Those people. They really are not like the rest of Canadians.” An eye roll frequently accompanies this statement. However, Canadians in general are pretty nice about most things, except hockey, so this bi-cultural arrangement works for them, most of the time. They’ve had some bumps along the way with threats to secede, but have worked things out.

I guess the significant fact here is that the people of Quebec became part of Canada against their will. While some people recognized the benefits of being part of England—particularly an end to constant bickering with their English neighbors, they saw no reason to change their identity and language.

While Quebec has formed a decent relationship with the rest of Canada, these people have prompted me to ask, “How many other places around the world are like Quebec? Cultural groups may be aligned with a particular nation, but don’t identify with the majority in the country?”

Looking at the sharp language and cultural differences in Quebec City forced me to think about civil unrest around the globe. How many times do we hear of rebel forces here or there, who are no different, really, from the people of Quebec. They just want to speak their own language, eat their own food, and worship in their own way, or to go about their lives without the threat of genocide hanging over them.

As I continued to think about this problem, it occurred to me that the world has a wonderful resource in the people of Quebec and Montreal. Perhaps these people should be our advisors in how to handle a situation where a group with different ethnic ties from their government comes into conflict with their government over those differences.   I’d like to hear their opinions.


Delinda McCann writes general fiction based on her experience as a social psychologist and has published five novels. She expresses her sense of humor in many of her short stories. She’s also published numerous professional articles on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Youth At-Risk. The professional articles are rather academic and dry, but Delinda pulls what she knows about human behavior, disabilities and youth into her fiction.


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