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Yesterday our community in Vernon, British Columbia, observed a Walk for Alzheimer Research and for those who are living with Alzheimer Disease and their families. The Ukeleles for Fun band for which I usually play percussion performed for the walkers as they rounded the arena track. I wasn’t able to participate this year as I had an important commitment at my church, but I was there in spirit. I also contribute regularly to the Alzheimer Society’s research campaign and have been doing so for many years. I urge everyone to consider regular donations of whatever they can afford to Alzheimer research. The main reason I am so committed to this worthy cause is that my late husband, Gus Johannesson, had early onset AD, was diagnosed at age 58 and died four years later. At the time of his diagnosis our children were 12 and 17 years’ old. Now my present husband, has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and is getting some help from an Alzheimer drug that wasn’t available when Gus needed it back in 1992. It is not a cure, but can hold off many of the complications from AD for a length of time. I’m hoping and praying that a cure may be found in the near future. In remembrance of Gus, I am sharing a copy of the letter that Alzheimer Manitoba asked me to write for their 1994 campaign.

Gayle Moore-Morrans


Alzheimer   Manitoba     

Johannessons at Pishew Falls MB 1988

And they didn’t live Happily ever after . . .

November 7, 1994

Dear Friends,

This September my husband Gus turned sixty. We wanted to celebrate as many families do, but the plans for our party were a bit different. His 60th “Toast and Roast” became the retirement party he never had and an affirmation of what he has meant to his family and friends while he is still able to appreciate it.

On the day of festivities we presented him with a book of remembrances gathered from friends and relatives around the world. This book is a tribute to Gus’s life as well as a tool for memory as he copes with his illness.

Two years ago Gus was diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. I can’t say that our lives immediately changed. The disease doesn’t change your life overnight, but has over a number of years changed every aspect of our lives. To date, the cause of AD is unknown, there is neither cure nor definite treatment; it is progressive and will eventually be terminal.

It is incredible the emotional upheaval we all have been through these past years. All four of us have had counselling and hope that it remains available whenever we need it. The family has found comfort, relief, professional information and fellowship in support groups for adult caregivers, a children’s support group, the early stage support group, numerous educational sessions, and from Alzheimer staff and volunteers.

The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba has been able to provide these services because of people like you. I am happy to have this opportunity to personally thank you and let you hear firsthand how meaningful your help is for my family and many others.

It took a long time to really recognize that something serious was happening as Gus has always been a bit of the “absent-mined professor” type and we just figured he was getting more-so with age. This is not the situation. A man admired for his keen mind, having studied at the doctoral level in systematic theology has now forgotten how to tie a tie or manage the simple task of handling a sandwich. In happier days Gus was a Lutheran pastor giving support and guidance to others. Today he is on the receiving end.

Alzheimer Disease attacks the whole family. We are all hurting, angry, frustrated, scared; dealing with a tremendous loss.

Your roles change. I have had to become in as many ways as possible mother and father to my children and husband, directing all my energies outside of the workplace to the family. The children and I have become caregivers, not easy for an adult, let alone a twelve-year-old and seventeen-year-old. A caregiver’s day is often referred to as the “36-hour day.” That is how we live, each and every day.

As is typical with early AD, symptoms come and go resulting in good and bad days. So far Gus’s skills that are totally gone are writing, public speaking, driving, anything mathematical, and many deductive reasoning processes.

We thank God for the good days, for the patience that we are learning, for on-going medical research, for the help offered by the Alzheimer Society and most of all, for the prayers, love, help and support of family and friends.

Our family includes you when we say “Friends.” You probably don’t know us personally, but as a supporter of the Alzheimer Society you help make each and every day a little bit brighter, a little bit easier.

Once again, thank you for making our lives happier. Please continue your needed support. It is your caring and generosity that makes the difference!

With our sincere appreciation,

Gayle Johannesson

P.S. The number of families coping with the devastating reality of Alzheimer Disease is expected to at least double in the next decade.

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It's Not About You! It's About The Story...

What is writing fiction all about? If you're an author, ask yourself this 10916221488?profile=originalquestion. It's important, and here's why. You have to make a decision about why you write. If you write to make a big splash on the literary ocean, then that's the wrong reason. If you write because you believe what you have to say is important, then that's the wrong reasonburning_book. If you write because the story is everything, then you're writing for the right reason.

Some of you are sitting out there scratching your head and saying, "Hey, my story is important and it will set the world on fire." You could be right, and your story might be one that will ignite change and raze the world. But could someone else tell the same story, and do it better? If you answer yes, then you are writing for the right reasons. Why? The story is everything.

Some of you are still sitting out there and scratching your head saying, "That's your opinion." Well, yes, and no. It is my opinion, but it is also the opinion of many of our illustrious predecessors in the craft. They wrote because they had to write. They had to get the story out. It was building inside of them and unless they wrote it down, they would burst. Dostoevsky couldn't write unless he had an idea behind it. Meaning had more importance than just telling a story. Others, like Conrad and Dickens felt the same way. The story didn't take on significance to them unless it had meaning, an underlying idea that would give their story life.

It isn't enough to tell a story about boy meets girl, boy loses girl, then boy and girl unite. 10916221499?profile=originalI've read many number of stories that are about that simplistic. Throw in a vampire, or put these people on another planet, throw in some sex to make it erotica, or have them chase a killer and you have a story filled with action, but it's empty. What made Dickens great is that he cared about the society he lived in. He saw things around him that needed to be told, that needed to be corrected. He could have written dozens of non fiction books about the differing classes in British society, and how they didn't address poverty or child labor, or how the weak are preyed upon by the unscrupulous and those obsessed with making money. He did it within his timeless tales. Those ideas were all there and he addressed them brilliantly. Dostoevsky wanted to discuss the criminal class in Crime and Punishment, but more importantly, he wanted all of us to know how many people are affected by a murder, how the criminal class thinks, and to discuss the conscience of man.

Once upon a time, people read a book and discussed it in the marketplace, just like

people talk about television shows today. TV is weak and filled with scandal and stupidity. Books spur a deep conversation, connect us, create empathy for our fellow man. American Idol doesn't. Shows like Scandal diminish us, they don't spark conversation about ideas, just salacious gossip. Authors wrote about ideas within a story. The story was everything, and that is why their books last, are continually read by generation after generation. They are not sterile, or bereft of meaning, they make us think.

Over the past few years, I've listened to many authors talking about their writing, and have read their interview on the many blogs out there about books and authors. The writers all say they enjoy telling a story, or God wanted them to write, or friends and family encouraged them because they said they have talent, etcetera. Out of all the thousands of authors interviewed out there, the reasons are surprisingly the same.

Where it gets sticky, and the reasons once professed start to change dramatically, is when you get into a fight over the author's ability to tell a good story outside the fantasy land of friends and family encouragement. I'm talking about the writer who starts butting heads against the real world of publishing. Any good editor or reviewer will tell you about those authors, the ones who use the cheesy cheap vanity presses, or Smashwords and other sites like those to put an Ebook on Amazon. You know, the self-publishing world. The truth emerges, and it ain't pretty. It doesn't have anything to do with God, or that they can humbly enjoy fashioning a good yarn. No. It becomes, "I'm good, and I know it."

Writing fiction to those authors is all about them. It's not about the story. But they're wrong, and here's why. As writers we have a responsibility to write with clarity and truth, and as Vonnegut says, to pity the readers and say what you mean. Even if you're writing about a vampire, or another world, authors still have a responsibility to follow that line of truth. My stories are not about me. And they should never be about me. It's the story that's important. I want to make you think, and to wrap it up within a story. Even if you can't remember my name, it's my fervent desire to help you remember the story. The story is everything.

When I work with my editor I'll even pause and ask her what she thinks is true to the story, to the characters. I listen to her advice and think hard about what she says. I have to leave the role of writer for a moment to see if the story is working. For those who hang on to their prose as if it's an organ you're trying to surgically remove, it can never be about the story. This is a little something to think about over the weekend. Ask yourself the question and see what you really answer, what lies in your heart. If your story is everything, then you might be a teller of tales that will last beyond your life and change the world, if only a little bit, like one person at a time.

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'Conflict' In Your Writing

In writing your screenplay or novel or play, you must have a star. This is the person who fascinates you enough to write all those countless words.  When we have a tightly written manuscript, it means we have become fascinated with a certain person in such a way that we actually live through that character.


What do we mean by “live?”


To live in a fictitious or real word our daily bread is “conflict” or in the writing jargon, what we call plot. This simply means that two people are at odds over a certain situation. It can be little or big—but a battle is there nonetheless. The two people can argue over which movie to go see or which restaurant to visit or maybe your landlord wants his rent and you don’t have the money to pay him.


You can climb higher on the conflict ladder and that’s where two people are in a life and death struggle or clash. You certainly don’t want to go to see a film or read a book where everyone is in complete harmony and peace with one another. How boring that would be.  Even Walt Disney films have tons of conflict in them. The wolf versus the three little pigs, for example. He wants to eat them and to do that he has to blow their houses down.


Conflict, as I have mentioned, is just another name for plot. Thus in a sense, we could go further by saying that the word plot is called “entertainment.” It is why we spend our money. We love nothing more than dissention. The higher the dissention, the more interested we become.  We have names for each of the two opposing people involved: Protagonist or our hero, who generally represents the one of the two we’re rooting for; Antagonist who is the rival or the one we call the villain or heavy.


The battle these two wage against one another is based on a series of choices. In dealing with the bad guy, the good guy has to always come up with a series of choices: diplomacy, logic or as a last resort war  The bad guy also has a choice of dealing with the good guy: shooting him, throwing him off a cliff, tying him up. Choices on both sides and carrying them out make up your storyline. The more difficult the choices, the more you get involved in the story. You proceed like this for most of your tale until you tease us by making it look like the bad guy is about to win. Then all of a sudden due to some ingenious choice, the good guy wins and vanquishes the bad guy. The end.


So, there you have the writing profession in a nutshell.  This brings us to the specific category known as a “good writer.” This is a person who can hold you on the edge of your seat via interesting choices. You can’t put the book down or you are completely enthralled by the film. This means you’ve done your job well. Your characters have had to deal with a ton of conflict in their personal lives and have had to make many interesting choices for good or bad.


Writers who have lived lives full of choices are able to pass those moments along to us in a realistic way. In other words, they have the “life experience” to pass them along in a meaningful way. These are writers who are thought of as gifted. More than likely though, life has been a big hors d’oeuvre tray to them.  They have actually tasted life. Bad writers dream of life and philosophize about it. Boring. They are trying to impress you by using big, rarely-used words and long, complicated sentences. They are snobs and intellectuals who are peddling more sizzle than steak.  These people hang out more in writer’s workshops than in life’s alleyways. Conflict to them is something to avoid at all cost.  Unfortunately tons of them are out there clogging the works for real writers.


Most good writers don’t have “writer’s block.”  They realize that if their project becomes sluggish , they should just add some more conflict. Agatha Christie said that in her writing if things slowed down, she always introduced another murder.


Bad writers in the first place are not friends with conflict and, therefore, always seem to be experiencing writer’s block. Now, you see why. They haven’t had enough conflict in their lives to be able realistically to relate it to others.


I heartedly recommend you “live” a lot if you intend to write. It will not only fill up your years with fun but could even fill up your pocketbook. Cheers!

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Peace of Mind Childproofing

10916222681?profile=originalYou’ve put up a baby gate to prevent falls, carefully covered your electrical outlets, padded the sharp corners on your coffee table, and buckled your tiny passenger into an approved infant carrier.
You try to keep your home as bacteria and germ-free as possible, disinfecting thoroughly and then locking up household cleaners away from inquisitive hands and mouths.

Yet there are still an estimated 2.1 million accidental child poisonings each year, with dishwashing liquid the leading cause. Sadly, the damage caused by these products is often gruesome: burned mouth, scarred esophagus, repeated operations to rebuild the throat, sometimes even death. And no matter how diligent you are about keeping your cleaning products out of harm’s way, you may still be slowly and unwittingly poisoning your child, day after day. How?

If you use products with harsh and harmful chemicals that contain known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) the toxic residues left behind on your floors, furniture and in the air find their way into your child’s body through her skin, mouth, and nose. And your personal care products (soap, shampoo, conditioner, styling aids, deodorants, etc.) can contain dangerous chemicals as well.

Your little one is like a sponge: developing cells in a child’s body are more susceptible than in adults, especially in his central nervous system. Even small doses of neurotoxins that would be harmless to an adult can alter his nervous system development. And until your child turns 13, his growing body has virtually no ability to fight biological and neurological damage from toxic chemicals. As much as we tend to think of skin as a protective barrier, in fact it’s highly permeable, as evidenced by the successful use of skin patches to deliver prescription medication.

Your baby or toddler is most often down at floor level, crawling and exploring, and frequently sticking her hands into her mouth. And in fact, only 10% of health problems from chemicals are a result of ingestion, 90% are caused by inhalation and absorption.

Are you confused? How can your brand name household cleaning products and personal care products contain harmful toxins if they’re sold at grocery stores nationwide? The truth is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does NOT regulate personal use products. The workplace and the outdoors are considered legal environments, while your home is not.

Did you know that indoor air quality is 3 to 70 times more polluted than the outdoor air in the worst polluted U.S. cities, according to an EPA study? And that women who work from the home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those who work outside the home, according to a 17-year EPA study?

Labeling laws simply don’t protect the consumer. The U.S. Federal Code of Regulations exempts manufacturers from full labeling of products if used for personal, family or household care! “Warning!” labels mean that as little as 1 teaspoon of product can harm or kill an adult, “Danger!” means that as little as 5 drops can harm or kill an adult. Go ahead and take a look at the products in your home, you may be shocked and surprised!

Many conditions such as the rising rate of childhood cancer, asthma, and ADD/ADHD are being linked to increased use of chemicals in our homes. So what can you do to protect your loved ones? Educate yourself on what’s really in the products you use to bathe, deodorize and beautify yourself and your family. Study the labels on your household cleaning products; anything that says “harmful to humans and domestic animals” isn’t something that’s good for you or your child.

Research your alternatives: responsible manufacturers don’t use formaldehyde, phenols, NTA, phosphates, ammonia, or chlorine (bleach) in their products, and trustworthy companies do exist. As a responsible adult and savvy consumer, you owe it to yourself and your child to make informed choices about the products you allow into your environment.

As a concerned parent, you want to provide the very best for your start today to make saferScience Articles, healthier choices!

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Using Exclamation Points in Your Novel


One of the first errors I learned about as a novice writer had to do with the use of exclamation points. After penning my first novel, and fortunately, before publication, I was taught by a writing guru that exclamation points don’t belong in one’s narratives. Period.

Here’s an example of very amateurish writing where exclamation points abound. This is not okay! (I just had to put an exclamation point here to make you smile.) It’s actually very similar to several newbie manuscripts I was asked to critique.

She walked into the crystal cave and cried out. In front of her stood a giant elf! He was huge! And his eyes burned with fire! She turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her, and almost fell!

All right, now that you are cringing (I hope), I will stop. A few years ago, I actually edited a manuscript where there were multiple examples like this on every, single page, all throughout the book. Yup. But my young author learned, just like we all do, and she dutifully removed those offensive punctuation marks.

Of course, there’s a difference when you use exclamation points in narrative versus dialogue. Although this example has far too many exclamation points, it’s not quite as awful as adding them in your narrative as I showed above.

Shelby held a silver chain to the light. A heart-shaped crystal dangled below, winking in the winter sunlight. “Look what Uncle Sig bought me!” she said.

Camille jumped up to examine the necklace and Johnny roared into the room, “flying” his rubbery metallic green dragon toward me.

“My dragon flies!” he yelled, zooming it up and down in the air and finally landing it on my shoulder.

“Wow. What’s his name?” I peered down at the realistic reptile who perched on me.

“I dunno,” he said. “How ‘bout…Claws?”

I picked up the squishy critter and looked at him. He did have very distinctive claws and a rubbery mouth that opened when you pressed on the skull. “Claws is a good name, buddy. I like it.”

“Can he come to dinner with us? He’s really hungry!

Camille fastened the necklace around Shelby’s neck.

I handed Claws back to Johnny. “Sure he can. Do you have to use the bathroom before we go?”

“Yes!” he squealed, holding two hands in front of himself and dancing in place. “I do!”

Okay, so the little boy and his sister in the above segment are really, really excited. And it’s probably okay to sparingly use exclamation points in their dialog. In the blue text above, such as those with the dialog tags “yelled” and “squealed,” they are sufficiently clear to let the reader know the boy is being very loud. I would remove the exclamation marks from those segments, at minimum. Frankly, I think one or two per chapter is more than enough. You can show excitement in many other ways, especially by using action beats.

For example, you might say, “He shrieked and ran in circles, arms flapping like an airborne chicken.” Or something equally as silly. ;o)

Remember, as a general rule, avoid exclamation points in narrative, and use them very sparingly in dialog. You don’t want to get the same highbrow lecture I did when I was a newbie, do you?

Now, how do you handle someone shouting in your novel? How about when it’s an inner thought?

What if your character has just stumbled upon the dead body of the one he loves?

(As you know, all inner thoughts are generally shown in italics, except where you use, “he thought,” etc.)

I have seen at least three methods to show this:

1)    No! No! No!

2)    NO. NO. NO.

3)   “No, no, no!” he thought.

Some folks use upper case to stand in for exclamation points. I’ve used that approach a few times in my own work. What do you think? List your comments below, and if you have any examples you’d like to discuss, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Remember to take pleasure in the little things. And if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, thrillers, love stories, and writing guides, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at and watch for his upcoming releases, THE SEACROFT: a love story and DEVIL’S CREEK.


Aaron Paul Lazar, copyright 2015




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10916222466?profile=originalRELATED TO ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI?


     It is true that I am a relative of Thomas Jefferson which causes a great deal of pride but lately, I have been considering the possibility that I may have another relation of more ancient descent and more holy.  This thought is not something which occurred to me suddenly.  Considering the events over the past twenty-five years, the randomness of this assumption is most unlikely.  Yes, there is indeed something very strange at play here.  Is it an aura which surrounds me?  Could it be my voice, which is a real contender in my considerations?  Maybe my scent?  What would cause a group of normal birds to behave so unseemly?  Perhaps that is the key.  Could the birds all suffer from some sort of mental instability?  Forgive the pun but maybe the birds in question were all bird brains?  Who knows but it is a unique story.

     My tale begins over twenty-five years ago when a friend asked me to join her for a day of sunbathing on the lovely local beach at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.  A Carolina blue sky greeted us.  Looking up at the sky, I was content to watch the wispy thin layers of white smoky clouds move endlessly past.  The warm sun was so relaxing that it was impossible not to dose carelessly on such a day.  As I began to turn over so that sunburn may be avoided, I noticed him.  Standing only about a yard away, a simple seagull was watching me.  Harmless enough, I gave it no thought.  After a while, I again raised myself from my incoherent state of sun intoxication to note that what appeared to be the same gull was standing in nearly the same spot; still watching me.  This was a little strange but when my friend pointed out the gull’s strange stance and gaze, I agreed that it was more than weird.

     “Look at him, he looks like he is in love with you.  What did you do to him?”  My friend was one of those less than jovial sorts who was very suspicious of even the best of her friends.  When I explained that all I had done was enjoy the incredibly perfect day, she groaned loudly.  She thought that every man was a victim of some sort of spell which she believed that I cast. That was an interesting suggestion but this was not a man but a small bird.  I ignored her comments once again.  Yet, I began to watch the bird watch me.  He inched his way closer to me.  This was beginning to feel uncomfortable.  Was he about to attack me?  My negative minded friend remarked that he may be rabid.  This did not soothe my feelings of despair as others began commenting on the strangeness of the poor bird.  Another lady pointed out that the bird was looking at me with looks of love.  Quiet laughter was stirring around me.  The bird was so close that now he was resting near my foot.  He was passive so any fears abated for the time.  Still, he moved nearer.  Things continued well enough after that.  However, I was afraid to move my foot for fear that I may upset my new friend.  When a passerby moved a little closer than my protector felt was appropriate, he spread his feathers and charged him.  Laughter erupted as everyone agreed that the bird was in love with none other than yours truly.  My friend announced that she was embarrassed.  She thought that we should quietly leave.  Actually enjoying my notoriety, I looked at the bird as I softly commented that I was not dating anyone at the time and he was a very handsome bird.  He would make a lovely dinner companion.

     Marching away, my friend replied, “You always take things too far.  The bird is sick.”  After that, I have no recollection except that I felt sorry for the poor guy.  Mumbling only to him as I packed up for the day, “I’m really sorry if I did anything to encourage you.  I haven’t meant to hurt you.”  Sadly, he flew away.

     Fast forward about eight years.  My husband and I are enjoying cappuccino in Venice.  St. Mark’s square is not so busy; it is an off tourist season time.  As we enjoy the rare moments of quiet; I spy a lone pigeon yards across the square.  I notice that he seems to be looking at me.  Repeating the funny story of the seagull to my husband, we watch with disbelief as the pigeon walks very unsteadily towards me.  Something is obviously wrong.  He looks bloated. 

     “He is not well.”  I proclaim this to my beloved who sadly nods.  Closer the ill feathered friend moves until he is near my foot.  Feeling a little overwhelmed and perhaps slightly freaky, I change the subject; hoping to make my husband forget my earlier story.  When I feel my new friend collapse on my foot, I know that I could not ignore that the bird had chosen me to die beside.  This act raises questions in my mind such as is there some strange connection between me and nature?  When I embarrassedly reveal my secret, my husband whisks me away.  He also fears for my safety from others if they know my strange powers.  I have always regretted leaving yet another victim.  Surely, we should have given him a proper burial. 

     Years later, we are now living in Florida.  A place which displays endless sunsets of pastel crayoned colored skies.  Wildness such as one never images in the hustle and bustle of Florida are ours each day.  Bald eagles are a common site.  We have a family of the king of birds living near our home.  Frequently they stir our hearts by their flight of strength and majesty.  We watch the heavens for their sightings.  One of the eagles is goliath.  His large white head and tail are wide and strong.  He soars over our home; our days are richer because of his protective flights.  Any snakes that would harm us are in danger.  We name him Sampson; a worthy name.

     So it was that innocently I would call to him, “Good morning, Sampson.”  At first, nothing happened.  Quickly his act of avoidance seemed to turn to one of curiosity.  He began to fly over the house a little more frequently.  Waiting on the balcony for his majestic appearance, I would call to him.  Soon he would land in the tree near our house.  For a very long time, he would sit and watch me.  One day as I talked with my son on the mobile phone, I explained that I was in the garden talking with Sampson, my eagle.  My appalled son begged me to stop my liaison with “a predator.”  He seemed to believe that I may be putting myself in harm’s way.  Since I love and respect my son, another victim was left in my wake.  Poor Sampson still flies overhead but he ignores my calls.  He knows that I am fickle and no longer trusts me.  Just as well; my neighbor has mentioned my bizarre behavior of talking to the clouds.  Now I talk with God often in my garden so I ignore his looks of worry.

     The final episode in my list of quirky bird lore is the one that is now playing out each day.  This little Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker is driving me insane.  It started innocently enough.  Since I frequently study my Florida bird book with matching binoculars, I am aware of his fate.  He is an endangered species in our fair state.  He is almost as handsome as my warrior, Sampson.  This red headed specimen once lived in a dead pine tree months earlier.  I watched him frequently from my perch in the window.  Often I would see him in the tree in front by the garden.  One day, I made the mistake of calling to him.  I am a slow learner.  The next thing that I knew, he was pecking on our house.  The incessant pecking of this bird on hardy board seems absurd.  After all, we are speaking of a reinforced wood.  If he is looking for insects, they are not there.  His next move to my bedroom window seemed more thoughtful although my afternoon naps are constantly disturbed by his pecks of whatever it is he is pecking about. My retirement is not as blissful thanks to my newest amour. When I sit in the swing on the front balcony, he sits in the tree and stares at me.  It seems that he is talking to me.  My husband asks me to please not encourage another suitor of the feather species.  I laugh but am becoming concerned.  Then the bird dive bombs my husband’s head.  We no longer enjoy our swing.  It has become a place of territorial rivalry.  My husband wins, of course, but I never should have put him in this position.  Daily, my red headed friend pecks.  At night, I can hear him as he protects my bedroom in his tree by my window.  The only peace which I seem to obtain is when my husband yells angrily at him.  This causes him to fly away but he always returns.

     My deduction is that St. Francis must have suffered the same sort of admiration and love from his many friends. Did he also suffer from concern at their strange behaviors?   If I am related to yet another great person, I am thrilled. My hope is that perhaps these are small miracles that God has given me because he allows these creatures to see something special.  Maybe I have a similar quality such as kindness that only one who sees the heart can understand.  I hope this is true.


 Linda Heavner Gerald

Some of Linda’s other works: Beaufort Betrayal, Rosemary Beach, Will He? Dusty the Island Dog, and Till Heaven Then Forever.  Her books are for sale all over the world.

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A Romantic Writing Room


After a year of giving up my newly renovated antique house to my dear daughter, beloved-but-unemployed son-in-law, grandkids, pregnant mother cat, one hormonally challenged male dog, and a still-chewing everything puppy…  (while being unemployed myself during much of that time..)

After looking the other way when antiques were scratched, lamp cords were chewed off, couch skirts were peed on, satin fabric was clawed apart, our new Oriental rug was destroyed…

After having to search for a single fork in a sink full of dishes almost every day (“We’ll do them in the morning, Dad!”), dealing with a sore back from bending over a thousand times a day to pick up casually tossed cheese stick wrappers and toys, and wondering if I’d ever get into the laundry room to do laundry for my wife and me…

After all that – I think I deserve this new room of mine.

10916220462?profile=originalOkay, those of you who know me realize I’m exaggerating, because I adore my daughter, grandchildren, and animals. Since they moved out to their own place just a few miles down the road a month ago, I’ve been filled with conflicting with feelings of terrible longings for their company... mixed with blessed relief. I call them constantly, with any little excuse. And I ache to see the kids every second of every day.

But there is a bright side to all this, and it’s the reclaiming of our home. It’s clean. Oh, is it clean. Organized. Tidy. Polished. Shiny. Dust-free.

This is the 200th anniversary of our 1811 house, and in the spirit of giving ourselves a little reward, I decided to redo the boys’ bedroom. We gave the kids all the furniture, anyway, so it made sense to change things around a bit.

10916220096?profile=originalI’ve never had a writing room. I’ve never had a home office. I never even had a corner of a room that could be mine, where I could write in quiet and focus on getting my characters into trouble, and finagle the plot so they could be saved again. I always had to clamp headphones over my ears to drown out the television, or get up at 4 AM to find some quiet time to write.

My usual typical writing spot is my comfy leather chair in our bedroom. It’s too close to the TV, though, and my wife enjoys have it on all the time. But I like to be with her, so I hang out in the bedroom in the evenings. But that means I'm always tuning out 10916220278?profile=originalwhatever sit-com blasts from the darn thing. 

Sometimes, for an hour or so in the freezing cold dark winter mornings, I sit in the living room downstairs while the fire takes hold in the woodstove. But I'm often distracted by the need to let the dogs in and out, clean the cat pan, put a load in the washer or dryer, make my lunch for work, take out something to defrost for dinner, load up the wood rack by the woodstove, etc. You get my drift, all the usual pre-work morning stuff. So unless I got up, again, at 4 or 5 AM, I don’t get much time to focus on writing.

Okay, so all this is leading up to me trying not to feel guilty for spending too much money on what I’m calling my “zen* room”. It’s a romantic writing, reading, thinking, quiet room. I thought of my wife when I designed it, and have also referred to it as her “sitting room”, because I made it kinda girly-pretty and put her Keurig coffee maker in there.

I know, I know. You’d expect a guy to want a MAN cave, right? Something with lots of leather, dark wood, heavy curtains, beer posters, big screen TV, sports trophies, and the like. Well, I have something sort of like that in our living room already, with dark antiques and brown leather couch and club chair. Ahem. Minus the beer posters and sports trophies.

But this time I departed from that model. I guess I figured I wouldn’t feel so guilty for spending the money if I designed it with my wife in mind.

So in spite of the fact that it’s kind of a feminine room, I must state that I consider myself a regular guy in some aspects. I love to do handyman projects around the house, can’t wait to play with the snowblower and lawn tractor, adore chopping down acres of brush and clearing land, and have a list a mile long of outdoor brick-laying type projects I can’t wait to start.

But I’m also a guy who loves some not-so-typical things. I’m a great deal like my character, Gus LeGarde, who is frequently referred to as a Renaissance man. Gus and I love antiques. We love Chopin. We love to cook. We love French Impressionist art. We love nature. We love to hike. And, we love to cross-country ski.

So, that was my lame attempt to prove to you that I really am a semi-regular guy in spite of how pretty this room is. Ha.

What inspired this? My hairdresser.

Yeah, really. The lady who cuts my hair was running late last month. She offered to let me sit in her new little new-age-comfy room with the water fountain and a footbath. It was so darned comfortable I almost fell asleep several times, and I realized that I wanted one, too!

So, let me show you what I did.

I asked my wife what color walls she wanted, and she chose a pale orange sherbet color. On an impulse, I checked out a Ruby Gordon’s annual half off sale, and found a cream-colored leather loveseat and comfy chair/ottoman in the clearance section. This sort of set the tone for the rest of the room, which really is quite romantic. (And DANG, is it relaxing and comfortable...)

I ordered this trickling wall mounted water fountain. Still waiting for a pump to be sent that isn't LOUDER than the trickling water sound, but it's en route, so they say. 

I found turquoise pillows and a throw at Pier One, a vase thingie that holds apple blossoms, or whatever fake things my wife my wants to stick in them during the winter, and then I went nuts and ordered a glass lamp to match the turquoise color that had ended up being so prevalent in the room. 

10916220670?profile=originalI haunted my favorite antique stores to find a perfect – I mean made for this room – antique lamp with the exact same colors that we’d already chosen.

Next, I ordered a cherry wall cabinet to store some of my Young Living Essential Oils, an Aria oil diffuser to set the scene, a foot bath and all the good smelling stuff that goes with it, and some gorgeous photos from a wonderful photographer friend. 

Here is one of the images that will eventually be hanging over the loveseat and chair, in large format. 10916221063?profile=original

See how it miraculously matches the room colors? It’s like it was meant to be.

It’s almost all put together. I’m waiting for the ottoman, so I can put up my feet while I write. The essential oil diffuser arrived yesterday, and I set it up this morning. My wife wanted curtains, so I got those last weekend – sheer, romantic type curtains. (I won’t dwell on the fact that my cat, one of the seven kittens my daughter’s cat had last year, keeps climbing up them and messing them up.) I’m waiting for the prints to frame and hang. And then, I’ll be ready to write in style. Wonder if my characters will have any more romance in the next few books? I do feel some love scenes coming on...

Here are a few shots of my writing room - a work in process


The "Aria" my new Young Living oil diffuser that also has soothing natural sounds and beautiful colors within its clear glass globe. Highly recommended! (and you'll know why if you read Essentially Yours, one of the books in my Tall Pines Mysteryseries.)


Here's where my wife sits and reads from her Kindle.


One corner that ended up looking a little "Oriental."


And here's where I sit, minus the wall art that's coming. Like I said, pretty darned comfy.

And so, as the project comes to a close, it's just in time for the next adventure of either Gus LeGarde, Sam Moore, or Marcella Hollister. Haven’t decided what’s next yet, but I’m itching to start something new.

 Happy Valentines Day! 

Guys: Do something extra special for your sweetheart today. Maybe buy her a copy of my new love story, The Seacrest. You'll brighten up her day, and you'll feel all mushy inside. Who knows? It might inspire you. Maybe you'll end up with a girl-cave all your own.

Aaron Paul Lazar

copyright 2015, aaron paul lazar

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Direct, Not Indirect

We all use shortcuts in writing. When we perceive a topic to be of lesser interest, we summarize it, treating it like a minor building block of the story. One way to do that is using indirect quotes. By not putting what is said into dialogue, you are relegating it to a passing mention.

Indirect storytelling can also, however, be a sign of inexperience. It is much easier to report on a scene than inhabit the characters involved in it and tell it from the inside. Plus, we are all influenced by what we read, and a veteran writer often uses indirect speech—because she knows which pieces don’t merit more attention. Yet we may not realize the distinction when we sit down to write ourselves.

I’ll use a running example to show how relative weights need to be assigned. “He told Annie he would be working late” works well in the context of a businessman engaged in an elaborate fantasy about an upcoming dinner with a sexy new client. In his mind at the time, making that tired excuse to his wife is an insignificant matter, and so it should be told that way.

Indirect is the wrong approach, though, when a plot event is crucial. Let’s say that later the husband has to tell his wife he had sex with the sexy client. That same indirect storytelling—“He confessed to Annie that he slept with the new client, and she broke down crying”—is the utterly wrong way to engage the reader. What he tells her is not minor anymore. It may make or break his marriage. For that reason, the reader’s emotions will be deeply engaged if the scene is told in full, with dialogue throughout.

I should point out one other aspect of indirect storytelling. It can be a way for an author to shield himself from truths he’d rather not face. Writing is a process of exposing yourself. An author who writes about a cheating husband may in real life be faithful to his wife. So the indirect approach may be the author shying away from a subject that makes him uncomfortable. His wife, after all, may well be his first reader of the manuscript.

A large factor in determining importance is whether an action is being performed by the scene’s point of view character. You’re trying to raise your major characters to more prominence, and indirect quotes tend to lower them.  So when a plot event is attached to someone the reader knows, open up the nut and show what’s inside.

Exercise: If you decide that a passage should be heightened more by dialogue, you don’t have to write out an entire conversation. Sometimes a few lines of exchanged dialogue will provide the proper emphasis. If it needs more than that, add thoughts. In other words, you can calibrate. Just don’t deaden the screams.

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Copyright @ 2015, John Paine

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10916219688?profile=originalLinda Heavner Gerald 


Confessions of an Assassin


Confessions of an Assassin is the story of Catherine Carnegie.  Although she was born to a wealthy, prestigious family from New York, her dream was all things southern.  “Cat” finally obtained everything that she dreamed of since childhood. Once established in the loveliest home in Eufaula, Alabama, she meets a vaguely familiar man from her college days who changes her life.  What begins as a fun diversion attending state dinners in Washington, soon immerses her in a dangerous unknown government agency.  Despite attempts to withdraw from their clutches, she realizes that they are ruthless and unwilling to ever let her leave.  Her assignments become more dangerous; sent to various places all over the globe.  Eventually, she is given her most heart wrenching assignment in Bali, Indonesia which will change her life forever.

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My parents divorced the summer of my third year in school. This did not come as a great disappointment. My father was a womanizer and a heavy drinker. The fights between my parents were frequent. We moved that summer into our “own” house. My mother was a hard worker and with my aunt to help her, our new life began.

In many ways, our life was much better. There were no more fights to fear and our little cottage, although not in a really desirable part of town, was better than the house we shared with our father. My brother and I were happy and accustomed to making the best of things. Our life sailed along with an occasional trauma as life goes with all of us.

The summer of my thirteenth year, out of the blue, my father called. Professing his undying love and remorse that he had not called since I was eight years old, he asked for the pleasure of my company for the approaching Saturday morning. Excitement pulsed through my young body. My father actually loved me. All of those years feeling that their problems were somehow caused by me were erased with that one call. He was probably drinking pretty heavily when he called but I didn’t know or care about that. MY FATHER LOVED ME. I decided right then that every Saturday would be spent with my Dad. We would make up for all of the lost days, weeks, months and years in the coming Saturdays. At school, all that I talked about was my upcoming special time. I cancelled my usual time with Kathy, my best friend. She would have to understand that although she had been my companion for years spending each Saturday morning with me, she had been dropped. Our typical Saturday at the local movie and then a banana split were over. Whatever my father had planned would be so much better.

The time passed slowly. My wardrobe was planned down to the ribbon in my hair. That day finally arrived. My mother tried to curb my over zealous attitude. “He probably won’t come.” She would stress that my father was undependable and basically a liar but I knew better. After all of the hurt that he had caused, he wouldn’t dare disappoint me.

An hour before his arrival, I was dressed in my prettiest dress and waited on the front steps with my mother who continued to warn me that I was about to be hurt. I listened to her patiently at first. Sure, she hated him because he had caused so much hurt but that was her problem. He loved me. I remember waiting in the hot sun as mother continued to try to prepare me for disaster. An hour late, he pulled up to the curb as my mom explained that we could go get ice cream later.

“I knew that he would come. You need to believe in him!” Yelling those comments, I ran to the opened door without a hug or kiss to my faithful mom. Dad closed the door and we were off for a few hours of much needed bonding. Little did it matter that he wanted to see a Western movie. Not my favorite for sure but next week, he would probably insist that I see what I liked. After the movie, he treated me to a banana split as he watched with great pride. We laughed and talked so much. The day was everything that I had ever dreamed.

The next week, I excitedly planned his arrival. Just like all of my friends, I had a father. The kids at school quickly tired of hearing about my special day. What was the big deal anyway? Didn’t everybody have a father?

The next Saturday found me dressed in another pretty dress with a new ribbon because dad liked the ribbon in my hair. Again I waited in the hot sun. Mother didn’t join me since she was amazed that he showed last week. I waited for three hours. He never came; not even a phone call with a lie. When my mother tried to get me to go with her for ice cream, I assured her that I was not disappointed. It had always been crystal clear that he was a liar. Now that I had given him a chance, I would never wait for him or make plans with him again.

Quickly, I changed from special clothes to those of play. Pulling the ribbon from my hair, I frowned at my reflection. How gullible could I possibly be? The rest of the afternoon was spent in my swing where I sorted out life’s problems. He never phoned again but I didn’t care. My Saturday’s were spent again with Kathy and life went on as before. Yet, in my heart, I always hoped that someday he may call again.

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I have loved everything to do with the paranormal world for as long as I can remember. I write about ghosts, hauntings, aliens, angels, demons, ESP, premonitions, past lives, reincarnation - you name it - for quite some time as well. One place where I write regularly is

I have also written a number of books including Glimpses: True Stories of the Paranormal, Glimpses 2: (it could happen to you!) and Totally Scared: The Complete Book On Haunted Houses with Dawn Colclasure. The last one is being update with even more information than the first edition.

As well, I have had quite a number of personal paranormal occurrences during my life including seeing spirits, having a vision, hearing the angels sing, a near death experience and more. These I have also written about on various blogs and columns, as well as in my books.

I am so happy to report that people are now beginning to take claims of the paranormal much more seriously than in the past. I just wrote a story about The Afterlife Files, which aims to prove that what people are experiencing is real. That story can be found in my Examiner column. The fellow behind it wants to create a made-for-TV documentary showing this proof for all to see.

Todd Moster is a lawyer, so he should certainly know what constitutes solid evidence. He says that such a documentary could potentially change the way we view our world.

He is particularly interested in EVP (electronic voice phenomena), which ghost hunters acquire through various means including the regular digital voice recorder, to Frank's boxes and more up-to-date spirit boxes.

Asked how he developed such a strong interest in EVP in an interview on January 21, 2015, he replied, “I’ve been interested in the subject of EVP since the late ‘70s when I read the book Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead by Konstantin Raudive, which documented his experiments in that area. Although I later put the topic aside for many years as I concentrated on my career as a trial attorney and executive recruiter, I looked into the area again in the early 2000’s and was intrigued by all of the new research in the field. The new information inspired me to produce a mini documentary about EVP called Breaking the Barrier in 2008.”

To fund his project, Moster has begun a Kickstarter campaign called The Afterlife Files with a goal of raising $500,000 so electronic voice phenomena (EVP), which has become a mainstay of proof for paranormal investigators on the reality of life after death, can be studied and analyzed from a scientific standpoint.

That sounds like a lot of money to get within the short time allowed by Kickstarter, but he is determined.

“As has been the experience of many a producer before and after me, I found that the needed funds were not forthcoming,” he said. “The advent of the crowd-funding phenomenon in the last few years, however, has given a new platform for producers to take their ideas directly to the public for support. And in keeping with the innovative spirit of the crowd-funding platform, we’ve chosen We’ve reinvented the format from the more conventional documentary vehicle we pursued in 2008 to a cutting-edge scientific exploration of EVP, combined with a documentary-style series intended for TV or Internet distribution, which will follow both the experimental process and the diverse group of paranormal investigators, die-hardskeptics, mainstream scientists and other participants who carry it out.”

He called his project “the most ambitious and decisive scientific exploration of whether the human personality lives on after physical death.” The proposed series would begin with a pilot similar to Breaking the Barrier but would focus more on “introducing viewers to the subject of EVP, as well as to the mission, design crew and key investigators who will conduct the hard core scientific study that is at the heart of The Afterlife Files.”

Then the 12 remaining episodes would involve actually garnering proof in the field that EVP does or does not represent the voices of the deceased.

Moster said the total of $500,000 that he hopes would be donated through the campaign would ensure that he meets his financial requirements. However, he admitted that it might be optimistic given that Kickstarter projects must meet their goal within a specified amount of time. He said the site allows a campaign to run “from 1 to a maximum of 60 days.” He chose 40 days beginning on January 28, 2015.”

But would that be enough time to raise such a large amount of money?

“At first glance, $500,000 seems like a crazy amount of money,” he said, “but it’s the absolute minimum we need to obtain the high profile scientists, lab facilities and cutting-edge equipment to do this right. Kickstarter advises us that the average contribution comes in around $75 although many people, of course, contribute more and some pledge less. If that average holds true for us, we’ll need about 7,000 backers for our project.”

He realizes that hoping to raise enough interest from that many people might seem like quite a stretch but he believes it is “really a tiny percentage of the millions of people worldwide who are fascinated by the paranormal, or just wonder from time to time (as do most of us) what happens to us when we die.”

He plans to place a video trailer at the top of his Kickstarter page. You can see that trailer HERE. If he can get the trailer to go viral he said, “we’ll have a good chance of crossing the finish line.”

As well, he said there are quite a number of rewards being offered as part of the campaign for those who donate, “ranging from music and signed movie posters at the lower levels to producer credits, private progress reports, and exclusive tickets to our premiere screening at the higher levels – to make it a fun experience for our supporters.”

The success of his campaign will ultimately depend on how people feel about his proposed project and their willingness to help see it to fruition.

“We’re depending on everyone who finds this project intriguing and worthwhile, even if they already have an opinion one way or the other on the subject, to spread the word to their friends, family and coworkers. That is really the only way we will succeed and be in a position to start putting our team together in April.”

If successful, Moster plans to film the pilot and a 12-episode series for television that will be more of a scientific expedition designed to determine if EVP claims are based on reality or just wishful thinking. He plans to collaborate with EVP researchers, people who want to make contact with those who have passed over, scientists and of course, skeptics of the phenomena.

In the past, Moster has written for a History Channel series and other shows. The co-producer for The Afterlife Files will be Nancy Williams of Nancy Williams Productions, who is an Emmy winning journalist and was a syndicated TV news reporter/producer for Time Warner. Her production company based in Los Angeles, CA, produces material for video, web and television.

But that's not all...

Another 'afterlife' documentary is also in the works call The Scientific Establishment of Parapsychology. Created by Don & Steve Mera of the U.K. it is destined to become a TV series. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to say any more about it at this point but any project that aims to add credibility to the paranormal field is certainly good news - at least to me.

I have written literally hundreds of story based on information from people around the world about their personal experiences with spirits of the dead (which is really a misnomer since they are still very much alive - in spirit). I have also written about people's real experiences living in haunted houses, having predictive dreams, near death experiences, premonitions and so much more.

As well, I recently wrote a book review on The Science of Spirit Possession by Terence Palmer in which he uses a critical scientific mind to determine that possession is a real phenomenon. 

To know that there are folks out there who want to prove these types of events based on science, is a wonderful thing. Surely, they will help open the minds and eyes of those folks who have never had such experiences and others who seem to live just to debunk anything having to do with the paranormal. Hopefully, even the staunchest critics will give the subject another more serious look.

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Why Lipstick, Lies, and Lupus?

Why a blog titled “Lipstick, Lies, and Lupus”? Because I am addicted to lipstick and normally have 4 or 5 tubes of the stuff with me at all times. Because I am a lupus patient, and because I hate all the lies and misinformation circulating about lupus and the damage and hurt it causes to those who read and believe the lies.

I want to write about lupus and the lives of the patients I know – the ones who keep on living despite the disease. The ones who laugh, have fun, get married, have children, work, don’t work, play with their grandchildren, change clothes sizes and need 4 separate closets, and all the in-betweens.

A few years back I was reading a newsletter that came from one of the local lupus groups out west. There was an article in the newsletter written by a nurse. I don’t remember the name of the article any more, and probably didn’t after the fire that article started. I’m sure the title was lost when a fire was ignited inside me after reading a lie that she wrote. The R.N. author stated that “lupus is a progressive” disease.

When I read the word “progressive” I was infuriated. First I was angry because this article was written by a nurse who should know better. Second I was furious because it was written by a nurse and most people would take her word as the gospel. Third I was boiling with anger because the group who published the newsletter did not correct the lie.

According to a progressive disease is one that is increasing in scope or severity, advancing, or going forward. For example, a disease that is progressive is worsening. Lupus is chronic, meaning they have a disease that is a long-lasting, one that can be controlled but not cured. ( According to the Center for Managing Chronic Disease)There is a big distinction between these two types of diseases. Lupus is characterized by flares (more active states of the disease) and remissions (less active states of the disease). The time and duration of the flares and remissions is different for every lupus patient. They can’t be predicted but can, in many cases, be controlled.

I can only hope that this blog can reach all those who read the original article and more. I pray that anyone who read that article and the other lies and misinformation that circulate about lupus find accurate information and learn the truth. It is my sincere wish that only the truth be published. I said it was a wish. I know it would take a genie in a lamp to make that happen.

Now you know a little about why I’ve begun this blog. One other fact you may want to know – I have a 911 rule that did play a bit in naming this blog. Here’s my rule: if something should happen to me that may require calling 911:

  • First – apply lipstick because I’m not going to the hospital without it
  • Second – administer Coca Cola. It could bring me out of whatever my current state is, thus negating the need for the 911 call
  • Third – if all else fails, dial 911, but send the lipstick with them

Lipstick, Lies, and Lupus – a blog by Wanda M. Argersinger

© 2015 by Wanda M. Argersinger



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7699943_f260.jpgMy belief has always been, when the dark and hidden areas of our minds are exposed to light and truth, the darkness has to go.  Light and darkness simply cannot dwell in the same place. 

So, as a Life Coach, I endeavor to ask the right questions that will uncover areas in ourselves that will ultimately answer our questions and set us free from bondage.  Or to help us see the truth within relationships that perplex us, that also sets us free from the actions of others.

Sometimes our communication and conflict management patterns can be out of whack.  

This can be for a variety of reasons based on our background and learned behavior.  Those patterns can change with some insights, skills and relationship help.

And if you want it to change. 

You have to want it to change. 

It is always about a choice, isn’t it?

So, if this post helps you see your own passive-aggressive behaviors, you will understand why others find it difficult to be around you, trust you, and respect you as you would like to be trusted and respected.

passive-aggressive-spouse (1)You confuse them.  People move away from folks who purposefully confuse them — if they are smart.  It can be such a drain.

Or if it answers your questions or rings a bell in some of your relationship conflicts with the other people in your life who have these traits this will help you realize you are not really crazy–and it is not you!

Just becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that our behavior patterns change overnight.  The minute we become believers of Jesus Christ, our hearts are born anew.  We get brand new hearts, alive unto God.  And we are saved by His grace, not by our own goodness, but by His. 

But our souls, (mind, will, and emotions) have to be renewed on a daily basis by a continued pursued relationship with Jesus.  His spirit helps us to change and it is never ending growth.  We have to learn how to recognize old coping skills from the past and allow the Lord to show us how to move past them and find our security, comfort, and value from Him alone.

So, I am offering you a list of what you can look for in a passive aggressive person, or to even recognize some of the traits in yourself.  If so, I hope you find it home-hitting and immediately revealing and you start the journey to correct it.

passiveaggression1If these traits describe you as you usually are, I invite you to sit up and take notice.  You likely do not even realize you are doing these things.  Once you read them and ponder your own behavior, you may finally understand why you are having difficulties having the relationships you most want, at home and at work or in the church.

More good news, the more willing to work on yourself you are, the greater your chances of having the life with others that you crave.  When you realize how you are pushing them away by your crazy-making behaviors, you can change things within yourself. When you are trustworthy within yourself, you will be perceived as trustworthy by others.

Although men and women express their passive-aggressive behaviors somewhat differently, generally, you are behaving in passive-aggressive ways if you are regularly:

1. Unwilling to speak your truth openly, kindly and honestly when asked for your opinion or when asked to do something for someone.

How this shows up in communication is being “assertively unassertive”.  You say “Yes” (assertive) when you really mean “No way” (unassertive).  Then, you let your behavior say “No way” for you.  People become confused and mistrusting of you.

2. Appearing sweet, compliant and agreeable, but are really resentful, angry, petty and envious underneath and your actions are just off enough to the point that those close to you sense it.  It makes those around you annoyed and confused.

sb_passiveagressive2People who do not get along with others are interested only in themselves; they will disagree with what everyone else knows is right.  A fool does not care whether he understands a thing or not; all he wants to do is show how smart he is. Pro. 18:1&2 NLT

 3. You fear direct communication because you fear rejection. You then often push away the people you care about because you don’t want to seem in need of support.

relationship difficultiesAll the while, you are afraid of being alone and so you want to control those around you so they won’t leave you.  Very confusing!

4. Complaining that others treat you unfairly frequently.  Rather than taking responsibility for stepping up and speaking your truth, you set yourself up as the (innocent) victim.  You say others are hard on you, unfair, unreasonable and excessively demanding.

5. Procrastinating frequently, especially on things you do for others.  One way of controlling others is to make them wait.  Ouch!!  I know that speaks to so many of us.  You have lots of excuses why you haven’t been able to get things done.  You even blame others for why that is so.  It’s amazingly unreasonable, but you do it even though it destroys relationship, damages careers, loses friendships and jobs.

And, you tell others how justified you are in being angry because, once again, others treated you unfairly.

6. Unwilling to give a straight answer.  Another way of controlling others is to send mixed messages, ones that leave the other person completely unclear about your thoughts, plans or intentions.

Then, you make them feel wrong when you tell them that what they took from your communication was not what you meant.  Silly them!

depositphotos_21157319-Man-telling-spooky-story7. The silent treatment.  Passive aggressive behavior is recognizable by the disconnect between what is being said and what is being done. Nothing highlights this more than the famous silent treatment. Silence generally signifies agreement but not in this case.  When you are on the receiving end of the silent treatment, you realize that the other person is far from agreeable.  They have a big problem with you and just to allow themselves the victory, they have no intention of telling you what that is.

There are 2 other common versions of the silent treatment.  One is to answer the question ‘What’s wrong?’ with ‘nothing’, when there certainly is something wrong.  The other is to answer any question with just one word.  This is intended to signal that there is a problem, without you having to say it.

8-Examples-of-passive-aggressive-behaviourBoth expressions say “You poor confused person. You’re not worth talking to.”  But the real reason for their behavior is that they have not, cannot, or will not take responsibility for their own behavior.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2 ESV

8. Frequently feeling inadequate but covering it up with superiority, disdain or hostile passivity. 

bully-free-workplacesWhether you set yourself up to be a self-sabotaging failure — “Why do you have such unrealistic expectations of me?” or a tyrant or goddess incapable of anything less than perfection, “To whom do you think you are speaking?”  You are shaking in your boots from fear of competition and being found out as less than perfect.

9. Often late and/or forgetful.  One way of driving people away is to be thoughtless, inconsiderate and infuriating.

And, then, to put the cherry on top, you suggest that it’s unrealistic to expect you to arrive on time, or, in your words, “think of everything”.  Being chronically late is disrespectful of others.  Supposedly forgetting to do what you have agreed to do is simply demonstrating your lack of trustworthiness.  Who wants to be around that for long?

Pro. 16:7   When people’s lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them.

10. Making up stories, excuses and lies.  You are the master of avoidance of the straight answer.  You’ll go to great lengths to tell a story, withhold information, or even withhold love and affirmation in your primary relationships.  It seems that if you let folks think you like them too much, that would be giving them power.  You’d rather be in control by creating a story that seems plausible, gets them off your back, and makes reality look better from your viewpoint.

11. Constantly protecting yourself so no one will know how afraid you are of being inadequate, imperfect, dependent or simply human.

12. Complaints of injustice and lack of appreciation

13. Dragging your feet to frustrate others.  Again, a control move somewhat like procrastinating, but the difference is you begin and appear as though you are doing what you said you would do.  But, you always have an excuse why you cannot continue or complete the task.  You won’t even say when it will be — or even might be — done.  Do you know anyone like this? 

people-running-scared-clipart-1044249-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Fearful-Man-RunningEverything is viewed as an attack on you.  When something doesn’t go your way, it is seen as unfair or an injustice.  It’s all about how the world impacts you.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1-20 ESV

14. Disguising criticism with compliments

At first, passive aggressive people may seem pleasant and warm.  They often appear to be complimentary.  It is only after they have left that you realize that the compliment was actually disguising a cheap jibe.

15. Always getting in the last punch.

Passive aggressive people love to throw the last punch.  So much so, that even when an argument has been reconciled, they slip one last insulting remark into the conversation. This remark is often more subtle than the ones which went before but it is still an insulting remark which allows them to feel victorious.

gods-willWe belong to God.  It is time for us to step into maturity and begin to face truth about the strong holds in our lives that hold us back from producing His fruit in us. 

The answer always lies in Jesus.  Our renewed minds will flow out from Him if we are willing to admit the truth of our actions to ourselves and then to Him.  It is not in our own power but in His.  In our weaknesses He is made strong, but we have to be willing to get out of denial and face our truth.  He will help us with the rest! 

loveLove is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

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How to Catch Those Pesky Typos

10916219871?profile=originalIt’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer, don’t you think? Editing your own work, running over the same pages over and over again…and still, if you’re human, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss a quotation mark here, an extra space there, or worse, a typo.

You know that reading your own words is the most difficult scenario for proofing, don’t you? Your big, beautiful brain is so good at translating what you physically “see” on the page into what your mind “knows” you “meant” to type, that it usually will glide right over an extra “the” or a missing “a.”

Yes, it purposefully corrects the errors, without even notifying you!

You can read the same sentence a hundred times, and it’ll look great to you. Your mind interprets it as you intended it. And when the first person to take a look at your book finds a glaring omission, or an extra word in that lovely prose, you may feel like an incompetent idiot.

You thought you were careful. Right? You worked so hard to catch those typos.

When it first happens, it's embarrassing. But over time, you’ll learn you cannot catch all of the errors by yourself.

I’ve written twenty-two books, so I’ve been through this process a few times. (you can see them at, including my newest release, Betrayal.) Over the years, I’ve had publishing house editors go over my manuscripts. They found errors, I fixed them. And I tried not to make more errors when I made the corrections, which is all too common.

We had the first and second edits, then copy edits in the end to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Once in a while, in spite of our best efforts, an error would creep through. Humiliated, I’d beat myself up for this one stupid error and swear it would never happen again. 

Because, you see, I, like you, get upset when I see typos in a best selling book. I used to think, "How can they have missed them?" "How hard can it be to find them?" "Didn't they even READ this thing?"

It was very humbling and illuminating to discover that sometimes, in spite of heroic efforts, these pesky mistakes can make it through to the final version. It happens to the best of us. 

As time went on, I learned that beta readers were an amazing asset. Not only were they excellent at finding and spotting typos, but if you found talented readers or writers with a knack for literary insight (like my beta readers!), they would point out inconsistencies in a scene or even mention when they thought a character went beyond their natural boundaries. My beta readers have helped my books become the best they can be, and I love them. ;o)

Over the years I’ve developed friendships with writers and readers, and I’d offer them the job of beta reading my manuscripts before I submitted the book to my publisher. It worked out very well, and I always felt better when they’d read through my books. On average, I have 10-12 people read the manuscript before I consider it “close to done.”

Of those twenty-two books, I’ve published fifteen through a traditional small press since 2007, and have recently moved on to self publish (through Kindle Select) seven more that were waiting in the publishing queue in the past year. Polishing and proofing all of these manuscripts was a real challenge, and my beta readers did me proud. But believe it or not – they didn’t catch all the typos.

I have discovered there is one more essential step to proofing one’s manuscript: reading it aloud.

Yes, it’s something you can do yourself. It might take you a whole weekend to get through it. But it’s worth the effort. Better yet, if you have a narrator who is recording the audio book version, this is where the final catches will be found. 

Aside: I recommend that authors release all books in this order: eBook, audio book, print.

I have found that my best narrators (actors, really, with great attention to detail) have consistently isolated a couple of leftover “extra or missing letters/words” which are the hardest to find. Sure, with a real typo, like a misspelled word, MS Word underlines it for you in red. Those aren’t too hard to find. It’s harder when you have an extra preposition in a sentence, or a misused word like “here” instead of “hear.” MS Word doesn’t often catch those mistakes.

I find these errors creep in at the end of a work in progress, when I’ve gone through to beef up a sentence or make changes in general. Then I don’t always “cut” fully or “paste” fully and that’s my downfall! Creating typos because you’re fixing another typo is annoying, but pretty common.

Does that happen to you?

Here’s my advice on how to produce a typo-free book.

1) When creating your book, try to find a writer or reader friend who will swap chapters with you as you write it. You read their stuff, they read yours. You help them, they help you. It’s all good. They can help you cull out that first crop of errors, right off the bat.

2) When you’re done writing the book, go through it until you feel you are satisfied. This may take multiple read-throughs. It all depends on how careful you were the first time around when creating the story.

3) Ask another good friend to check it over, so you can be sure you didn’t make any really embarrassing faux pas.

4) Draft beta readers to help you. This may take years of cultivating friends and readers, but it is worth its weight in gold.

5) Review it a few more times yourself after you’ve incorporated beta edits (remember, just use what makes sense to you, you don’t want to lose your focus!)

6) Release the book as an eBook.

7) Find reviewers. Watch the comments come in from readers. Notice if anyone mentions typos! If so, go after them immediately. In this day and age, it’s easy to fix a file and reload it up to your seller’s page. Repost the eBook with the changes. (easy peasy if you are on Amazon)

8) Post the file on ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) to find the perfect narrator. Choose him/her carefully.

9) Send the manuscript to your audio book narrator to read before they begin production. 

10) When they find a few mistakes – fix them. Reload the eBook to correct these things.

11) Let the narrator finish the audiobook recording. If they find anything else (at this point it might just be a missing quotation mark, or an extra space), then upload the corrected eBook again. Now it should be close to perfect.

12) At this point, it’s safe to start thinking about creating your print version. I use Create Space and have been very happy with their quality and support. 

13) Order a proof (or two, or three, depending on what you find and fix!) before you finalize the manuscript. NEVER just review it online – you need to hold it in your hands, go through it page by page. Formatting can be tricky at first, so make sure you focus on page numbers and margin spacing before you let it go live. And read this printed version one more time – you might find another error! 

14) Send an autographed copy of your print book to all your beta readers – they worked hard for this, and they deserve a special treat!

Even with this painstaking approach, once in a while something slips through. It’s disappointing if it happens, but it’s probably God’s way of keeping us humble. ;o)

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar

copyright aplazar 2015

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We want to increase exposure to indie Writers Support, as we have been doing everyday through all of our combined channels that brings in thousands of book readers everyday.

The more (content) we add to the Indie Writers Support network, the more exposure we will receive in return from the SEO and Socia Media system. The algorithm of how this work is kind of hard to explain, but it is a proven fact. Depending on how good your submitted/published article is, the piece of work may end up generating you thousands of visits and new fans, so why not give it a try anyway. The system is already set up for you.

Huffington Post rose to the top literary journal in the U.S because of its online contents, submitted & published by viable writers.

We, at Indie Writers Support, have the same resources; the best-selling writers, free blogging & friend-request capabilities, and we can even chat with one another on our network. So why not expose our self more with the I.W.S network by submitting your your composed Blog, Reviews, Published Book info, Articles, Excerpt, or whatever literary journal that you feel you can share with our readers.

We look forward to reading them., as the topics would be emailed to our member on our next newsletter.


To add your own blog to the Indie Writers Support network, go to,

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The Thing in the Idaho Wilderness

**Posted under the pseudonym, "Tom Spencer."

When I was a boy, we lived in Idaho.  I'm not going to say exactly where in Idaho. I have my reasons. This state is known for it's tough, scraggly wilderness areas.  There is much to do and see in Idaho.  From raging white water rafting to scenic beauty to camping, many tourists are attracted to my home state.  My father's boss, Mr. Johnson, had a cabin near what is now known as The Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Area.  It consists  of parts of several mountain ranges, including the Salmon River Mountains, the Clearwater Mountains, and the Bighorn Crags. The ranges are split by steep canyons of the Middle and Main forks of the Salmon River.  The Salmon River is known as "The River of No Return."  There's a good reason for that.  It has extremely swift currents that can drag you under.  Many have died on this river.  Certain scenes of the movie "River of No Return," with Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, were shot on this river. As I said, Mr. Johnson had a cabin near this area (it was known as the Salmon River Breaks Primitive area in the 60s. It was renamed in Senator Frank Church's honor in 1984) that myself, my dad and grandpa camped out at Mr. Johnson's cabin many a summer night.

It was in August of 1965 when I heard the first scream at the Johnson cabin.  I was a shy, awkward 14-year old boy who felt more at ease in the wilderness than I did around people.  It had been a fruitful day of fishing for trout.  The deal was whoever caught the first fish of the day had to clean all the fish.  It never failed I always caught the first fish of the day for reasons I still can't understand.  Usually, about 3PM, we would call it a day and head back to the cabin.   I would finish up the fish cleaning, grandpa would coat them with his favorite flour and seasonings. Grandpa would have made a killing selling his fried fish if he had ever decided to do so.  But, back to that scream...we had finished up eating, and grandpa decided to open the windows to let a little air in the cabin.  We didn't want the place stinking when Mr. Johnson would visit it after we would leave.  Right after grandpa started opening the windows, the first scream of that awful night occurred.  It's a scream that is, to this day, hard to describe verbally.  It is even more difficult to explain in the printed word.  It was the combination of a woman and lion screaming.  I know that is a difficult to imagine.  But, that's the best way I could describe it   Aaaaooooooooooyyyyyy.......AAAAAAOOOOOOOYYYYYY is as best as I can put it in print.  It was incredibly loud.  We had glasses on the edge of the sink that literally vibrated right off and broke on the floor.  Yes, they were not only loud, but the screams originated within 100 feet or so from the cabin.

My dad and grandpa grabbed their .12 gauge shotguns which they always carried with them when we went camping.  Grandpa took the old kerosine lantern with him outside to get a better view of whatever it was out there.  That kerosine lantern was not very bright.  But, we could see movement in the dense bushes behind grandpa's old Chevy truck.  I said, "Dad, behind grandpa's truck....LOOK!!!"  It was visible for the briefest of times....maybe as long as one heartbeat.   My dad said later he did not see anything when he fired that shot of buckshot.  But, he hit something.  We then heard the mother of all screams.  It was a deep, guttural scream not unlike that of mountain lions I have shot in California poaching on my property.  It was definitely a scream of pain this time though.  Whatever it was, it took off at an inhuman speed.  As I said, I did see it.  It had human form.  But, it was not human.  It was approximately 6 ft tall and maybe 140lbs at most.  I saw it for only a second that particular moment.  But, I would see it again.  

We all went back inside since whatever it was had taken off.  My grandpa was a tough, no-nonsense type of man.  I never saw him upset or scared....until that night.  Grandpa was shaking like a leaf.  He was so nervous he couldn't light his own cigarette.  He finally asked me to light it for him.  Dad was white as...well, a ghost.  I wasn't any better.  I felt sick to my stomach and was nauseated.  I looked at both my dad and grandpa and asked, "What was that thing?  I think you got a piece of it, dad."  My dad looked at me and said he thinks he winged it also.  "Whatever the hell it was, I got a feeling we ain't seen the last of it," grandpa correctly predicted.  Indeed, it was only the first encounter with "The Thing in the Wilderness" that particular night. 

As we had finally gotten our wits about us, we again heard the unholy scream.  This time, it was closer.  Grandpa quickly grabbed his shotgun. "Whatever that damn thing is, he's pissed off now.  Get your shotgun, son. This might be a long night," said grandpa.  My dad grabbed his shotgun and they both looked out the window.  Dad told me to go hide under the bed.  There was no way I was going into that bedroom by myself.  I wasn't leaving.  There were four windows from the kitchen back toward the sparse living room. Dad then told me to keep a look out the windows in the living was only one big picture window.

 Again this thing screamed!!!  It was incredibly loud.  I can't stress enough how loud it was.  In some respects, it sounded like T-rex on the "Jurassic Park" movie.  It doesn't seem possible something this small (relatively speaking) could scream this loud.  It just seemed impossible. Grandpa, who was momentarily taken aback and shaken, had regained his composure. "I'm going out there to give this damn thing something to scream about!!!" grandpa exclaimed.  My dad said he wasn't letting him step out that door.  "We don't know what this is.  Until we do, none of us are leaving this cabin," Dad told us. He didn't have to worry about me.  Nothing could have forced me out that door now.  We all fearfully waited to see what would happen next.  It had been at least an hour since that last scream.  BAM!!!!!  Something had slammed against the living room door!!  The front door hinges had come loose from the impact.  My dad told grandpa to stay at the kitchen door, he was going to the living room door.  My dad grabbed me and told me to stay behind him.  Again, silence for an hour and then two hours.  Nothing.  It was now about 1AM.  Nobody was sleepy.  We were too scared to sleep. 

It was now closing in on 3AM.  Grandpa had his head on the kitchen table with the shotgun resting near his head.  Dad was alternately waking and then snoozing.  I was doing neither.  I was still petrified by the night's events.  I was looking back and forth at both doors, at the windows and shaking with fright.  I then just casually glanced toward the big picture window in the living room where I was sitting with my now snoozing dad.  THERE IT WAS AGAIN!!!  This time, I got a very good look at it.  It had a grayish, milky skin layering.  It had deep sunken eyes that were blacker than the night sky. It was thin and tall.  It looked right at me.  I was too shocked to even move, much less scream.  BAM!!!!! Another huge impact on the living room door!  This time, the top hinge flew completely off.  The living room door was still shut.  But, it was only hanging in by the bottom hinge.  One more hit and the door is coming down.  My dad and grandpa jumped up immediately with this latest attempt to knock down the door.  My dad tried opening the door.  But, it was jammed.  Again, the unearthly scream pierced the night air.  "OOOOOOAAAAAYYYY.....OOOOOAAAAYYYY!!!!!!"  Grandpa opened the kitchen door, my dad screamed at him to close the damn door!  Grandpa did, but not before he got off a shot from his shotgun.  Grandpa later said he didn't see anything when he fired.  But, he wanted "The Thing" (as I still call it) to know they were armed and could inflict considerable pain.  After he fired off that shot, grandpa closed the door and propped a chair up against it.  Dad did the same thing to the now unstable living room door.  We all sat back down....and waited.

As it turned out, that was the last time "The Thing" attempted to get inside the cabin.  I think it was like grandpa had said, it was pissed off and was wanting a piece of each of us.  Dad had clearly winged it with some buckshot. The next morning, as we slowly awoke, dad went outside (with his shotgun, of course) to inspect any other damage to the cabin.  The living room door was smashed inward.  It would have to be replaced.  But, the damage was not limited to the cabin.  The rear bumper of grandpa's Chevy truck had been completely ripped off!  I don't even like to think about the strength of something that could have done that.  Dad looked at the bushes where he had fired his shot that night.  There was a chalky substance in the bushes similar to blood splatter.  We figured it must have come from that creature.  We immediately gathered up all our equipment, supplies and headed out from there.  When we got home, my dad called Mr. Johnson to tell him a bear had attacked the cabin.  Mr. Johnson said he has lived here 35 years and never seen any bear.  But, that was our story and we decided it best we stick to it or else wind up in the state mental institution.

We never went back to Mr. Johnson's cabin for reasons I am sure you can now understand.  We never told Mr. Johnson the truth.  My dad told Mama about what happened.  But, she never believed it.  Few people ever believed us. Most people think grandpa and dad had too much whiskey and gave me some also.  Grandpa and my dad are gone now.  They were both avid hunters.  But, after that night at the cabin, they never went hunting again in the wild, to my knowledge.  I still have both of those shotguns used that night in my dining room closet.  Just in case.  As for "The Thing," your guess is as good as mine as to what it was or is.   It did not look anything like the many instances of "Big Foot" that you have read about or seen pics of on TV and the internet.  Personally, I think there are many things in nature that can't be explained away by science.  Science is not the definitive answer to everything on earth.  That night at Mr. Johnson's cabin convinced me of that.  Like my grandpa and dad, I never ventured back into the wilderness of Idaho again.  I was and still am too damn scared.  Whatever it was that night, might still be looking for a bit of revenge from the only surviving member, that scary night in August, at Mr. Johnson's cabin.

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White Magic


White Magic is almost ready! Can't wait! Here's what will be on the back cover. I think.

Fifteen year old Lily has a secret, has kept it hidden for as long as she can remember.

What teenager wants to be shunned for daring to be different? And wanting to become a witch is as different as it gets.

While other little girls dream of being princesses, that has never crossed Lily’s mind. Her only dream is becoming a witch.

She has her own spell book, none of witch - oops, none of which actually work, but it's her very own, and she's spent years building it up. She's tried to give up on her dream time after time, but it's impossible. It's part of who she is.

Lily's friends end up in the hospital, one after another, deathly sick. While Lily’s dream comes true and she’s gifted with powerful magic, is it worth the price she may be forced to pay?

Good battles evil.

White Magic fights Dark Magic.



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