Monday, November 30, 2009

Welcome, Gregory Taylor

Note from Ging: I apologize for the confusion. Kelly A. Harmon was scheduled for today, but I've moved her up in the slot. She and I had shared miscommunications and I almost missed out on her fine post. I'm featuring a would-be author. I recently had the good fortune to meet a man named Greg Taylor, when he petitioned to join my author's loop. Greg is interested in writing, and clearly has the talent. In exchanging the normal welcomes, etc., I discovered Greg is homeless and lives in a shelter at the moment. He has shared openly all the events that led him to this stage of his life, so I asked his permission to share the following with you. I was touched beyond words when I read it.

As we leave behind Thanksgiving and progress toward Christmas, I think his post is the most fitting of all to conclude a month of Thankfulness and enhance in our memories that life is more than material things, and we have blessing we often forget to count. My appreciation to Greg for allowing me to post the following:

Before this day of Thanksgiving cometh to an end, allow me to express my thanks for that which I've been blessed . . . . .

My life within the very definition of vagrancy affords me a whole new appreciation for my circumstances.

One revels in a few rays of direct sunlight when the temperature is a notch or two above freezing, and you are fated to be out in the elements. A tall, wide building is a blessing for the windbreak it gives. And when frozen fingers struggle to hold pen to paper, the value of gloves cannot be overstated. Even a blank sheet of paper can be priceless when demand is there to document one's life.

Finding a public clock when one lacks a watch is a serious gain when one must be on time to a soup kitchen or go hungry. The resounding peal of a cathedral's carillon provides a warming rendition of familiar hymns of yore. And thank You for a day that is clear, that I am not chilled to the bone by a soaking rain.
I thank you, God, for a brain that is active and intelligent. Thank you Lord for my not being physically handicapped, or having dire health issues like cancer. I celebrate living in a city where I can sleep upon the pavement without fearing molestation or assault.

Lastly, I appreciate those things I do not have. Thank You for my not having a drug habit, nor an alcohol dependency, as do so many of my circumstance, as they seek escape in false releases. Thanks be above for my not being incarcerated, as freedom is so very priceless. And thank You for my being free from the stressers of divorce, the grief over a lost loved one, or other such like.

I have so very much, even now when I have so very little. Above all, I have you, my Lord, as my constant companion, as I journey through these dire times. For this, I am truly blessed.

Gregory Taylor via post by shared computer in Homeless Shelter, USA.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome, Kelly A. Harmon

Thank You, To Those Who've Gone Before

Among the many hats I wear is "Family Genealogist." For many people, this means collecting names and dates and seeing how far back they can trace the family line.

But, I'm a story teller, too. And for me, genealogy isn't just about the names and dates, it's about the people, and their stories.

For instance, it's a fine thing to know my great-grandad on my father's side was mechanically inclined. Is that where my father get's his ability? I could leave it there, but it doesn't really tell me much about the man.

I have a newspaper clipping from 1937 where in it he refused to accept a million dollars for a machine that he built. In 1937. Was he crazy? If he had invested it, do you know the kind of life
I'd be leading now?

Let's just say I'd probably be able to write full time without the added benefit of a full-time job.

(And yes, I think he qualified as crazy: he spent time in Leavenworth Penitentiary for "moonshining," after being told the revenuers were traveling door-to-door in the neighborhood. He offered those suited fellers " fine distillation..." and they cuffed him and took him away for his hospitality.)

Old Mirt may not seem like much of a family to be thankful for, but he was good looking, from what I can tell from the newspaper photo, and that's got to be something to feel good about. Any woman will tell you that good genes are always something to be thankful for. His life was another: you can bet bits and pieces of it show up in my writing from time to time.

My great-great grandmother came over on the boat to Baltimore from Russian-Poland in the late 1800s. She nursed hundreds of people in the great flue epidemic in 1918 (called "The Blue Death) before succumbing herself. Her selfless devotion enabled others in my family as well as perfect strangers-- to pull through. She was barely forty.

Every generation of my family has members who joined the military, and it's them I thank most of all. I wish I knew why they joined. Was it a spirit of patriotism? For those whose parents came over on the boat...did they feel a need to prove they were Americans by enlisting? I don't know...but every son in my grandmother's family joined up. My great-uncles were Army and Navy men. My maternal grandad was a Navy man. My paternal grandfather, along with his two
brothers, enlisted in the Army.

Oh, the stories! From a writer's point of view, I've hit the mother lode.

Let me tell you the one where Uncle Walter arrived back in the states on Christmas Eve...with a donkey...and brought it home to his sister in Baltimore City. Grandpa traveled around the world
with my Mom's baby shoes in his pocket.

I'm also thankful for their service: not just because they kept this nation strong and safe, but because they did a job I didn't have to.

Maybe that's why they joined: to provide a better life for their families. After all, they had already left one country for a better life in another. Maybe it was all part of their plan.

And so, I'm thankful. To them, and to all service men and women of today. Thank you for keeping me and mine safe.

Kelly A. Harmon
Blood Soup, Eternal Press


What They're Saying About Blood Soup:

This is a medieval tale about a kingdom destined for certain dire ruin if the King's heir isn't a girl. The characters in the story work together AND against each other as they secretly manipulate, scheme, hope, and react to the surprising birth of the King's heir.

Filled with murder, mystery, and very dire consequences, this is a fast paced Novella with vivid portrayal of events and characters, pulling you into this harsh world the author has created and no
doubt leaving her with new fans eagerly awaiting her next book.

My Biggest/Smallest Blessing

I assumed I had reached the heights in being blessed when God gave me two sons, but I can't describe the feeling of joy I experienced when I watched my grandson, Spencer, come into the world. I was the first to hold him and my love blossomed beyond words the minute I saw his face. It was like looking into his father's face so many years before, and that immediate bond that made my heart hurt surfaced anew.

Spencer looked normal, acted normal, and was a beautiful baby boy. I noticed from a very young age...even before he was a month old, when I held him tight in the rocking chair, he sang to me...a crooning little tune that tugged at my heart strings. Always a happy baby.

I don't recall when we noticed that he was delayed in his developmental milestones. He didn't roll over as early as he should have, which in turn delayed his sitting up, pulling to a stand, and everything beyond. It wasn't until WE approached his pediatrician and mentioned OUR concerns that he referred us somewhere.

After much playtime with home visitors who assessed Spencer, and testing at a major hospital, the diagnosis given was Global Developmental Delays NOS (Not otherwise specified)...a glorious name for an Autism that doesn't fit all the spectrum requirements. But no one tells you what you need to do, because they don't know. And sadly, the number of children diagnosed grows daily. Why aren't more people concerned?

Most children with severe Autism lock themselves away, but Spencer loves everyone. He stims...that crooning nose he started almost from birth, and flaps his hands when he's excited. He just turned seven, but he's much smaller than most of his classmates, and because of his delayed speech, harder to understand. He couldn't say "Grammy," so I became his "Nee Nee." Love it!

I've never met such a polite and thankful child. My children were never so well behaved, and I have no idea where he came by it. Certainly not from his parents. *lol* I'd been sick for a week and stayed away so as not to infect him, and when I picked up from school on Friday, he ran to me. "Nee, Nee, you're back. Are you better?" What a guy!

This year, we insisted that Spencer be mainstreamed. For the past two years he's been in a special education class with children who suffer more severe issues. These were his only role models, and he often came home with new habits that definitely weren't considered progressive. He's doing a great job in his first grade class, learning new things, numbers, letters, and coloring pictures which are almost within the lines.

To hear his voice, and be able to know what he needs, desires, or wants to share is a joy I cannot explain. Two years ago, he couldn't speak, and the frustration for both of us was unbearable. I had to point and guess. His only communication were hugs and the sign language the school taught him for "more." So not just this month, but because we're sharing what we are most thankful for, I present my grandson, Spencer. He is the light of my life and I learn something from him every day. It's because of him I want to stay healthy and stick around. I want to watch him walk across stage and get his High School Diploma with others, and never fear that someone will treat him as though he's different...even though he may always be. Thank you, God for blessing me with such a special gift.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Welcome, Andie Alexander

Happy memories…

When I think of being thankful, I like to look back on the funny things in life—the things that become family legends, whether we want them to be or not. I was the number four child out of five, so I was always a little out of the loop for family jokes that had happened before I was even born. Thus, my younger sister and I made our own, and some of them were doozies. For example, my father always wanted to be Mr. Helpful. So he told us both we had big noses and we needed nose jobs to get a man. No kidding. So my sister and I actually measured our noses…with yardsticks! (Our noses were about an inch long, and I bet right now, you’re measuring the length of your own nose with at least your thumb.)
We laughed so hard, tears poured down our cheeks.

Or I think of the time the two of us decided we were going to be news reporters. We sat down with an old tape recorder and started an ‘interview.’ My sister was the interviewer and I was the ‘guest.’ However, I wasn’t just any guest. I was Mr. ‘Not Sick’, who was sick all the time and talked with slow speech, making her ask me if I’d died throughout the whole interview. We still laugh about these things. She went on to work at a radio station where she interviewed people all the time and made hilarious mistakes on the radio—need I mention the time she had no script in front of her yet had to tell the weather? She stuck her head out the window and said, over the air, ‘It’s going to be cloudy today and I’d say the temperature is going to be 58’, making it all up as she went. Or when she couldn’t pronounce Chihuahua, and instead said, ‘chi-hu-a-hu-a-‘ over the air.

When I got married, my husband and I carried on the tradition of family jokes, whether we knew it at the time or not. We traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado for our honeymoon. Think big mountains (the Rockies) and a nice town, seeming more like a suburb at the time. Now, I have a tendency to speak before thinking. We were driving along and I saw a mountain a few miles off in the distance. Silly me, I looked at the landscape beside the car, then off at the mountain, and still can’t believe what was uttered from my lips—‘Do you think that building is as high as that mountain?’ My husband just about slammed on the brakes and stared at me, wondering who—or what—he’d married. It’s still a running joke here, but at that instant, that exact thought ran through my mind. We have so many running jokes here, all we have to do is mention one word about the joke, and all of us break out in laughter, doubling over while trying not to have the tears pour down our cheeks.

The point is this: Be thankful for the fun times in your life. Remember the times that made you laugh so hard, milk shot out of your nose and you had problems not wetting yourself. Cherish the laughter and make new memories whenever you can. Life is short, but laughter makes it seem longer and fulfills each day.

Have a wonderful day, filled with laughter and new memories,

Andie Alexander

Note from Ginger: If you want a treat to some great upcoming titles, make sure and check out this page!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Welcome, Lisabet Sarai

Thank Heaven He's Stubborn

By Lisabet Sarai

The topic of gratitude is dear to my heart. I have been blessed in uncounted ways in my life. I have enjoyed the benefits of a loving and supportive family, an excellent education funded mostly by scholarships, generally good health, and work that is challenging, worthwhile and fun. I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to travel to a wide range of exotic places. I'm humbly thankful for whatever writing talent I have and for the persistence required to turn that talent into a semi-career.

When I think about it, though, what I am most thankful for is the fact that my husband didn't give up when I tried to brush him off.

Let me explain...

Romance is the realm of love at first sight, but when I met K., I tried to discourage his obvious interest. The last thing I needed was another man in my life. To start with, we lived 3000 miles away from each other. He lived on the east coast, where he was studying towards a PhD. Meanwhile, on the west coast, where I was working at my first job out of graduate school, I was juggling three different lovers.

I know that this may sound a bit shocking to some readers, but at the time I was exploring my sexual self and trying to figure out what I needed in a romantic relationship. I wasn't lying to anyone; each of the men I was seeing knew about the others. I was just having some difficulty deciding which if any of them was Mr. Right. In fact, I wasn't sure that I subscribed to the concept of one perfect mate.

Anyway, K. came up to me at a scientific conference on the east coast, where I had just made a presentation describing my research. He asked me some intelligent questions about my paper, but I could tell he was more interested in me as a woman than as a colleague. I liked him, but I was already reeling from the complications in my love life. I definitely didn't think I could handle yet another lover. I was polite but distant. K. joined me at the welcome cocktail party that evening. I pointedly ignored him, flirting instead with the cute British guy who was also part of the crowd.

K. did not give up. He invited me to lunch the following day. I accepted (hey, I had to eat) and found him to be articulate and unpretentious. He was quite a bit older than I and had led a fascinating, unconventional life. As I recall, we talked about relationships. What was most remarkable about our interactions was the level of comfort. I barely knew him, yet it seemed as though we had been friends a long time.

Still, I held back. He took the offensive. He was driving up to Boston (my home town) from the conference that afternoon. Would I like a ride? Certainly it was better than going by bus as I had planned. The three hour trip was filled with sexual tension. He was beginning to win me over.

He dropped me at my parents' house and asked if I wanted to have dinner that evening. Of course I agreed. We dined at a Burmese restaurant where he regaled me with tales of his travels in Europe and Asia. I urged him on, eager to hear more. Near the end of the meal, he looked me in the eye and said,
“You know, I'm looking for someone to travel with.” I was more or less hooked.

I flew back to California the next day. For the next six months we wrote and called each other. The other men in my life transformed themselves from lovers to friends. When I came home to Massachusetts for Christmas, it seemed completely natural that K. would return with me to the west coast to share my apartment. After the holidays, we set out together on a three week cross-country odyssey. We were still relative strangers, yet traveled together as if we had known each other for years.

On that trip, in a motel in Taos, New Mexico, K. proposed to me. I told him to wait a year and then ask me again.

That was twenty seven years ago. I'm grateful every day for his love, his support, his companionship, even his criticism. We are not only lovers but also partners and collaborators. We work together as well as play together. I am amazed by the strength and longevity of our connection.

When we met, I thought that it was unlikely that I would ever marry. I couldn't imagine that there existed one man who could keep me interested over the long term, and I didn't want a string of divorces like my aunts.

I was wrong. And now I'm eternally grateful.

Lisabet Sarai writes erotic romance and erotica for a variety of publishers. Visit her website at and her group blog, Oh Get A Grip

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Welome, Clare London

As the song goes...
It’s only words…but words are all I have, to take your heart away.

I’m so glad that there’s an opportunity to give thanks on Ginger’s blog this month, and she’s been extra generous in offering it to us all. Ginger’s been my dear friend for almost 2 years now. We’ve never met, we live on different continents and exist in different timezones, yet we keep in touch with each other’s life – through words!

That’s what I want to give thanks for today. Words. I’m thankful that I can speak and hear, that I’ve had the education and environment to learn how to express myself, that I’ve had the eyes to read and the hands to write. Words are a treasure and a treat to me, and I’m thankful daily that I can use them to communicate.

They can bring us joy and knowledge, they can create worlds, they can hurt or heal, each as strongly as the other. They allow us to cross boundaries of distance and age and background. We used to have letters and cards to communicate, and some of us still love those. But now we also have the internet, email, blogging.

I love the internet. Ask my family, who have to peel me from the screen to eat supper LOL. I know its dangers and I know its lack of moderation. It’s not for everyone. But it’s been a boon for me, in opening out the world. I’ve learned about other lives, about other worlds, I’ve made friends, kept in touch with their lives and loves, and I’ve been encouraged to find myself another career and pleasure in writing fiction. All based – partly or wholly - on words.

They’re everywhere! Who doesn’t love a favourite song? Or laugh at a particular kind of joke? It all hinges on words. I don’t Tweet, my blogging is erratic, I’m not what I’d call a social ‘networker’. But I love writing and communicating, whether it’s through email or through my stories. I have made some truly good friends, whom I’ve never met face to face, but whose style and generosity in their correspondence allows me to see and love the real person.

Believe me, it doesn’t mean I have *more* friends – because a ‘friend’ on the net may only ever be a passing acquaintance. Because words have their shortcomings, too. They can be misunderstood, they can come across too baldly. They can’t replace the importance of seeing someone face to face, of reading body language, of smiling to ease potential hurt, of frowning to express caution. A *hug* is never the same as a real one, but to a trusted friend who’s far away, an emailed *hug* is still a treasure. I know it is for me.

So that brings me back to my thanks for the gift of words, and articulation. I’ve always written stories, but at the end of 2007 I finally plucked up courage to submit some for publication. I’ve been lucky enough to have several novels published and plenty of short stories. I love my m/m romance genre, I take great strength from learning from others’ writing and improving my own, and it continues to be a joy to take two characters who inspire me and then create conflict, passion and a Happy Ever After for them!

And how do I see words in my own world?

I visited my mother at the weekend. She’s always been a strong, articulate, witty, intelligent woman, who brought up me and my sister for many years on her own until she remarried, who started in a fairly modest job but after encouragement from her boss and her own mother, found herself an important career in education. She’s not old – she’d kill me if I told you her age LOL – but she’s had a lot of physical problems for a few years, and now she’s struggling with her memory and thought processes as well. It frustrates her horribly. Now, when I talk to her, I’m never sure if she’ll remember it an hour later. She can’t join in the whole conversation because she can’t remember the words for certain things: she forgets names and repeats herself, and hates herself for it. Believe me, I love her the same, but it’s heartbreaking to watch her loss of vocabulary and ability to chat easily.

Then I talk to my Sons at home and see them beginning to develop their own vocabulary and the powers of reasoning and debate. And not *always* about pocket money LOL. Son#1 is a beautiful singer, he accompanies himself on the guitar and the words he sings are evocative and powerful. He talks intelligently and persuasively about current affairs, especially environmental issues, even if he has inherited his father’s doggedness ^_^. Son#2 has done drama for a while, is a great joker, he also has a strong singing voice, and his conversation is like an express train – it rarely slows down!

I was out with Son#2 in town the other day and we were stopped a few times. People asked directions, or chatted to us in a queue, or they knew us from the boys’ school days. At the end of the trip, Son#2 turned to me and said – “We always end up chatting to people, don’t we? It’s good fun.” It was one of those moments when a Mum goes ‘awww’.

Words are all around us, available for our pleasure, comfort and excitement, with new ones always waiting to be discovered, old favourites to be savoured.

Thanks for them – and for the extra special delight they bring, keeping me in contact with my friends!

You can contact me or find out more about my work here:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Welcome, Therese Kinkaide

It may seem odd that I am writing about thankfulness two days after going to a funeral, the sixth funeral this year for my family. And yet with each funeral, each family gathering, I have walked away with an overwhelming sense of peace and belonging. It’s been a very difficult year, and yet at the same time, this family always pulls inward and gets through the hard stuff together.

My mom was the ninth of eleven children. I am the fifty-second of fifty-five grandchildren. I can’t even tell you where my children fall in line in the next generation, there are so many. When I was younger, the whole family gathered often for holiday parties and summer picnics in the park. My grandparents were always a part of the fun, although my Grandma died when I was seven. The gatherings that I don’t remember are well-documented in photographs, which are rapidly becoming prized possessions.

Our family’s losses started in the 70s and have staggered through the years. However, this past year has been almost unreal. On May 5, 2008, my Uncle Bill died in a hunting accident. After he had defeated cancer, it was an incredible shock to lose him so suddenly. In March of 2009, my mom’s eldest sister-my Aunt Marian-passed away after a short illness. Two months later, on May 7, 2009, we lost Uncle Bob to cancer. And just last Friday, we lost Uncle Ken, again, to cancer. Add to that my husband’s grandma’s passing in August 2008 and my grandma (my dad’s mom) passed away this past June.

A part of loss, a part of grieving these deaths is gathering together with the rest of the family and celebrating the loved ones who are now gone. It’s a powerful love, in our family, that reaches out across eleven families, hundreds of people. There is strength in our numbers, in our memories, in our hands that reach out to everyone else. Our family bond carries a colorful, well-lived past, a busy, exciting and prideful present, and a hopeful future where the sky is the limit.

At Uncle Ken’s funeral Tuesday, Father John said that as much as his family loves him, God loves him more. As a practicing Catholic, I guess I have to believe that. But as a part of the whole, extended family, and as a witness to the life he lived with his wife, children and grandchildren, I have to wonder if that’s possible.

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, my heart breaks for those in my family who have lost loved ones this year. I can’t imagine the holidays without my mom and dad, without my husband and his family, without my children. And yet, as someone who has always loved the holidays and each year takes out those very special memories of Thanksgiving dinners at Aunt Fran’s and Grandpa’s house and Christmas at Aunt Joan’s house, I am filled with love and joy and gratitude. I am one of the youngest of the grandchildren, and since we are spread across the United States now, I don’t often see many of my cousins. I’m quiet, and I don’t always know what to say to people, especially in times of sorrow. But I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. I thank God for making me a part of this family. I am so very proud to be a member of this family, and though I don’t often have the opportunity to say so and I don’t always take the opportunity when it is presented to me, I love you all. I thank all of you, each and every one of you, for being a part of my life. And I would like to say a special thanks to my grandparents, my parents, and my aunts and uncles. Each of you has contributed to the person I am today, and I carry you with me every day, everywhere I go.

Therese Kinkaide
Luther’s Cross, Wings E Press

What they are saying about Luther's Cross:

Luther’s Cross, the newest book by author Therese Kinkaide, should come with a warning label: Caution-This book may inhibit the reader’s ability to turn off the light and sleep. Luther’s Cross is a well-crafted story that delves into both the heart and mind of a young woman tortured by her past and unable to take hold of her future. Ellie is stuck with the heartache, guilt and grief over the loss of Luther, her young son.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Welcome, Nancy O'Berry

Did you know that by the end of this year it's estimated that over 1.3 million women and men will receive this from their doctor, "I'm sorry, the test results show that its cancer."
Nothing strikes more terror than those words. My mother heard them alone when I was away in college. I don't know if she was ashamed to tell me or if she didn't want to admit it, but she went through the surgery and the recovery with the help of her older sister who had been through it 15 years before. Thirty years ago, there weren't offers of reconstruction. My mom and her sister wore weighted bras to keep their shoulders from rounding. I know my aunt went through radiation, cobalt, chemo therapy. My mother never mentioned having any of that. Then seven nearly eight years ago, her breast cancer returned, but not in her other breast. The cancer this time had changed its cell pattern and tumors began in her mouth. This time, she heard those words with me at her side.

For more than a year we battled them, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but she and her younger sister are two of the biggest hero's I've ever met. My mother at 82, did not survive the complications with this last cancer, but she never lost her dignity. Now, her last remaining sister is waging her own valiant battle. That strong will to survive is a testament to how they were raised and dignity my grandmother instilled. My latest book is dedicated to them and other members of my inner circle that have battled and won against an insidious disease that doesn't care if you are rich, poor, black or white. I am honored that the local chapter of Susan G. Komen has picked up this ebook and soon to be print book with the proceeds going to fight breast cancer. Breast cancer is not just something that happens in October, it's something these brave people fight daily. It's something, I am sure to face myself. So , ladies, gentlemen do those monthly breast exams. Prevention is our best resource until this disease can be removed from our vocabulary.

Here's a blurb from Stormy Weather:

“So, what are your plans now?” Karen Quinn asked as the two women strolled across the narrow, wrought iron bridge that spanned The Hague.

“I don’t know.” Lauren shrugged. “Go back to work, I guess. Begin a new life.”

“Lord knows you need to,” Karen agreed.

They paused at the crest of the bridge spanning the narrow inlet close to downtown. Karen was right; she did need to. Her life had changed one hundred and eighty degrees since March of last year when she’d found the lump just under her nipple on the left side of her breast.

“It still galls me that he found another woman,” Karen spat. “Just left you and moved in with her like everything was fine.”
Lauren pulled her dark blue coat tighter against her thin frame. “It was his choice,” she replied.


Lauren looked at her friend, touched by her loyalty. “He was and still is an immature boy,” Lauren conceded, then sighed as they walked on. “My doctor told me to get on with my life.”

“Are you?”

She nodded. “I called Mr. McGuire this morning and asked for my job back.”

“And?” Karen asked, her eyes shining with excitement.

“He…he said he has a good replacement in my position,” Lauren said.

“No, he didn’t!”

She looked over at her friend’s shocked expression. Reaching out, she placed a hand upon her arm. “It’s okay. He offered me a new position.”


“I’m the young Mr. McGuire’s personal assistant and project manager,” Lauren explained.

Karen’s face filled with joy. “This deserves a drink. Come on, the Purple Elephant is no more than a block away.”

Stormy Weather
Mainstream Romance Contemporary
ISBN: 978-1-60435-430-0
Editor: Michelle Ellis
Line Editor: Mike Kay
Word Count: 17,754
Price: $2.99 November 26th release date.

to buy link To buy link:
or check at my website

Please note, this book contains frank discussions on breast cancer and reconstruction. The money raised from this book goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Tidewater chapter. I have signed over my royalties to raise money for the cure of cancer. Won't you join me in stopping this disease. Nancy O'Berry, author.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Welcome, Leigh Wood

Give Thanks for Pleasure

Sure, no one wants to talk about sex on Sunday mornings with all the grandmothers and kids about. It’s completely understandable that there’s a time and place for romance, erotica, and pleasure. Sometimes in our prudishness and hypocrisy, however, we tend to forget one special notion: sex is a good thing.

I can get religious about it if you like, but sex and religion are the two things that make people squirm, aren’t they? No, I’m not going to quote Biblical or wax super philosophical, but this Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful for pleasure. Whatever your personal pleasure is, human sexuality is special among the creatures of our planet. We don’t just breed and be done with it, procreate or lay eggs to anonymously keep the human race alive another day. The day we do start having doctored dish babies as norm rather than the expensive exception, I think the human race would lose a touch of soul, don’t you?

Humans are also one of the few species who mate for life. We have to have attraction, affection, and love beyond the pheromones. We may laugh at the notion in our current society’s trends towards divorce and nontraditional marriages, but it is true compared to all those other duck and run animals I mentioned. Now porn, gratuitous sex, and all the other nudity shock and awe tactics aren’t what I mean here. I mean true intimacy, inspiration, and divine bodily pleasure. Those who have it know what I mean.

If you think I’m full or wedded bliss, look at it from the dark side. We’re the only species that has rape, aren’t we? No other creatures abuse the body, mind, and soul for power, corruption, and control. In Shakspeare’s Titus Andronicus, the titular Roman General’s daughter Lavinia is raped, has her tongue cut out, and her hands cut off. Sure one of those is bad enough, but all three? We despise such gruesome losses of innocence, but we never fully come out and acknowledge that safe, consensual getting your kicks off is a good thing. Why the f not?

Enjoy your mind and body with your loved one this holiday season. Discretion and thoughtful intimacy are a delight! Treasure the gift of pleasure; appreciate the totally unique sensuality that God gave us. Give thanks for pleasure. is the place for the latest news, excerpts, reviews, and interviews regarding Leigh's new science fiction erotica novel from Eternal Press, On The Way to New Isosceles.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Welcome, Page Ryter

Today I’m truly thankful. I was able to wake up and get out of bed, so I’m not dead. I could speak my mind and yell at my kids who didn’t want to get up, thankful for freedom of speech. I could eat, even though I need to cut back, BIG TIME. I’m lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom, and I consider that completely priceless. Yes, it’s boring at times, but the kids make up for that when they get home. I’m so thankful for my life, for the ability to be able to breathe fresh very cold air (it’s getting close to winter in Wisconsin and cold is the name of the game). I have a roof over my head and a heated home.

I also write as a mystery/suspense writer under a different pen name. I’ve sent my characters to other places in the world, and through my research, realize that in America, we’re so extremely lucky and fortunate, it’s scary. Every time I research another third-world country, I’m just thankful, beyond belief. Yes, we whine about how bad we have it, however, we truly have no idea how bad it could be.

So this Thanksgiving, be truly thankful. There’s so much out there to be thankful for, and if you just take the time to look, your list of thankfulness would outweigh the whining every time. And if you want to show how thankful you are, I’d encourage you to help the homeless, give to a charity, or even help a neighbor. You’ll be amazed how good it feels to help others, and make you even more thankful for your own life.

Paige Ryter at www.paigeryter.comThree Minutes Before Christmas’ coming out December 10, 2009, with Red Rose Publishing

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Welcome, Jim Whitaker

I've always been grateful for friends and really fresh turkey dinners.

While we were in fourth grade a buddy and I visited the poultry farm of one of his great aunts. She raised chickens, turkeys and several pet geese. I wanted to stay home and sit around bored, dreaming that someday someone would invent Wii. He insisted we go with his dad on a country drive to, well, the country.

It was near Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, Mo. But that's beside the point.

Great Aunt was a weathered 70 or 80, maybe 120. From birth she had been a farm girl. Without apology she still was as far as anyone was concerned. Anyone concerned – and with a sense of self-preservation - would not dare challenge her on that.

Our mission to the farm, I was told on the way, was to bring home some fresh poultry for the holiday. I wondered aloud how we were going to transport the livestock in the mid-size Ford.

In the trunk I was told. How does it breathe back there? My friend looked at me with the "how dumb are you" smirk.

Quietly walking among the noisy birds in the barnyard, Great Aunt, in a flower pattern dress and knee-high green rubber boots, her hair bobby-pinned back and her glasses perched on the tip of her nose, an old yellow dog limping behind her, sized up one of the bigger strutting turkeys.

Her reach near the speed of light made me jump. She grabbed the bird around the neck at the base of its head. Its eyes popped. She lifted the plump fowl 20 feet in the air. It didn't have time to plea bargain. With a whirling wrist she spun the turkey around – its beak to the south, its breast to the north - in a gnarled iron grasp.

Thud. The part of the turkey she wasn't clutching fell to earth, did a jig, ran over about 40 squawking, feathers-flying-everywhere chickens ... fell over dead.

The geese stood unconcerned near Great Aunt, unabashedly gloating with their obnoxious honking to the rest of the surviving birds that they had maneuvered themselves into the coveted pet status. If they were butchered, it would be the easy way. The axe.

Great Aunt smiled. "Happy Thanksgiving," she drawled with a polite pleasantness as she tossed the turkey's defunct head into a galvanized bucket near the chicken fence. The old yellow dog trotted to the bucket and stuck its nose in.

"Get outa that," she yelled. As the dog took off making more chicken feathers fly Great Aunt looked our way.

"Well, go claim your Thanksgiving dinner. Dress it yourself."
From that day forward I had a new and abiding respect for any old lady in a dress and rubber boots who told me she was going to wring my neck if I didn't stop whatever I was doing.

The bird thumped around in the trunk of the car on the way home as we rounded country-road curves. My friend and I poked each other.


"Hey that turkey is still alive."


"It's gonna get us. Killer turkey's revenge."


"Hey, dad," my friend yelled at the driver dad," the trunk is opening."



"Yeah, it's coming, it's coming. Better be glad it can't see us."
Thump. Thump.

"Look, it's peeking out of the trunk. There's its head ... oh, wait a minute ... erase that ... there's its neck."

Although saying nothing and pretending to tolerate us, my friend's dad, as he adjusted the rearview mirror and glared beyond us, appeared somewhat concerned about a dead limp bird banging around in the trunk of his Ford.

I heard later that normally he really enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal. That year, though, he didn't consume as much turkey as usual.
You have to wonder how he received the "mashed" potatoes and the kitchen "cut" green beans. Not to mention the "scalped" potatoes as we used to call them before we learned to spell better.

I never saw that particular turkey dinner after it got its head yanked off. My friend, after forcing me to share the dubious adventure on the farm, didn't invite me to the payoff Thanksgiving dinner. Come to think of it, I didn't invite him to our Thanksgiving dinner either. So he didn't get the payoff from the trip to the frozen section of the store when Mom forced me to go with her. So we're even. Hey, wait a minute, he didn't have to go to the store, I did. So we're not even.

And I had to go to the farm and listen to that clunk when the head hit the bucket.

You may wonder am I traumatized after 30 some years by my fourth-grader experience of seeing firsthand just what happens to a turkey before we get to eat it?

Nah. I love roast turkey.

I just need to get even with my friend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Welcome, Jena Galifany

Thankfulness. There is not enough of it around these days. It feels good when someone says "thank you" for something you have done. Do we all have so much that we don't have to be thankful any more? If so, we all need to take a step back and look at our lives.

I am thankful that there is a designated day to be thankful. We all love the food and the ball games and the family getting together, but do we take a moment out of that day to truly be thankful? We should.

I am thankful for the freedom that we have in America that other countries don't have. I am thankful for all of the soldiers that leave their families and risk their lives to assure that I keep that freedom.

I heard a man once tell the story of when he and his men were caught on the wrong side of the fighting in Vietnam. They were stuck for three days without supplies. He was blessed enough to live through that experience. Since that day, he gives thanks for every glass of water. Would you think of giving thanks for water? Try being without it for a few days.

I'm thankful that three years ago my family was able to enjoy the perfect Christmas. My three children and my son-in-law made out a wish list. They each received everything they asked for and more. We created some wonderful memories. I'm thankful we had the opportunity to do this for two reasons. One: My son-in-law had never had a Christmas. He came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior. Two: He died in a car accident a little over a year later. It was a great comfort to my daughter to know that her husband was saved and went to be with the Lord.

I am thankful for the creativity that God has given me. I'm thankful for the fans that read my books, fans that send me encouraging emails and have become my personal friends.

I'm thankful that in this time of recession, my husband and I have full time jobs with benefits. I have a home, clothing, and food on the table. There are so many out there who do not have these things that are taken for granted.

I could go on and on. There are so many things to be thankful for. Have your family during the week before Thanksgiving write what they are thankful for on small pieces of paper and collect them in a basket on the dining table. Before you tuck into that wonderful meal, take the time to share the notes with those gathered at your table. During this season, take the time to be truly thankful for what you have and have a wonderful holiday season.

Jena Galifany
Whiskey Creek Press
Jena's Website

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Family & Thanksgiving

As I sat and thought about the things for which I'm thankful, this poem just sort of popped into my mind. Things have changed since I was isn't what it used to be, but food still makes us feel better. I hope your Thanksgiving finds you seated around a hearty table with those you love, and your family still intact. I wish mine was.

One sister hates the other one,
the other one hates me.
I'm not certain what I did,
but I'm off the family tree.

We can't share a turkey as once we did,
I'm sure that knives would fly.
I already have a cataract
so I can't risk losing my best eye.

My health is good, my weight is high
and my BP suddenly grew,
So what the heck, my Cholesterol
is probably chart topping, too.

People who don't smoke die each day,
and those who do hang around.
So will one more pile of potatoes
put me in the ground?

I can't resist a piece of pie
It's punkin don't ya know.
How much more can a sliver cause
this old behind to grow.

So bow your heads and give your thanks
on this Thanksgiving Day.
You may as well forget to diet
Christmas is but a month away.

P.S. If anyone is interested in sharing "Letters to Santa" at Dishin' it out, contact me for a slot. I have a lot to ask that old geezer for. :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Welcome, Juliet Waldron

The Iroquois have an inspiring “Salutation to the Natural World” which I’d like to offer as my contribuion to “Thanksgiving. I really love this prayer and we've used it at our Thanksgiving dinners ever since I learned about it, some years ago.

Their Thanksgiving prayer begins with: “We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings thanks…”

First, they send “greetings and thanks” to the Earth Mother, for “she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time.” Second, they thank the waters of the world, for “water is life.”

Third, they turn their minds to the Fish in the water, who, they believed purified the water, and who gave themselves to the Iroquois as food.

Fourth, they thanked the plants, which “work wonders,” sustaining all life. They especially thanked the food plants, the grains, vegetables, beans, berries and roots which “help the People survive.” They thanked the Medicine Herbs, who are “waiting and ready to heal us.” They thanked the trees, who gave food, shade and shelter to men and to animals alike.

They thanked the animals, who were their teachers, and who gave their bodies as food. They thanked the birds. With their “beautiful songs…each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate our life.”

Then they thanked elemental Nature. They thanked the Four Winds, which “bring messages and strength,” and the “Thunder Beings,” ancestors, who brought water and kept demons” in hiding. They praised the Sun as “Elder Brother,” “the source of all fires of life.” They thanked Grandmother Moon, “the leader of all women,” and the stars who guide hunters and warriors who travel at night.

Finally, they thanked the “enlightened teachers” who have come to earth throughout all ages. “If we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live…”

Last of all, they thanked The Great Spirit, sending “greetings and thanks for all these gifts of creation.”

The Iroquois believed that all we need to live a good life is here on Earth. Sometimes in our modern, frazzled getting and spending, racing here and there, our ceaseless competition and “keeping up with the Jones,” it’s therapeutic simply to pause, to look around us and remember to give thanks exactly as they did, for the natural wonder of the world which sustains and surrounds us.

You can learn more about Juliet at her website.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome Kat Bryan

Ten Things I Am Thankful For (In No Particular Order)

Clean slates
Around Thanksgiving we start to think about saying goodbye to the old year and hello to the new. The New Year ushers in clean slates—an opportunity for us to change, add positive elements to our lives or remove negative energy that surrounds us daily. What if we lived in a world where change was forbidden or you could never wipe the slate clean?

I’m thankful for clean slates.

Little things
I look around and see unspeakable tragedy, a teen beaten to death in New York, a hate crime in Pennsylvania, the shooting of a priest in a small town. Big things. And then I realize how truly fragile life is. I have a place to live, cars that run, heat, and electricity—little things we take for granted.

I’m thankful for little things.
minute and be thankful.

Groaning Tables

My cupboards are full and so is my refrigerator. On Thanksgiving my table groans with platters of food, laughter of children and smiles from elderly members of our family. Did you know that one out of eight children in the US go to bed hungry?

I’m thankful for groaning tables.

Sweet Visits

I love that my children still like hang out with me, truly want my company. Tell them you love them every time you see them on a sweet visit, hug them, show them how blessed you are they were sent to journey through life with you.

I am thankful for sweet visits.

Meows and Barks

Cats have saved owners from burning buildings, dogs have rescued drowning children. Your pet in most cases will always choose you over anyone else in the world. Your pet gives you unconditional love, friendship, and loyalty. Give it back and you’ll never be sorry.

I am thankful for meows and barks.

The joy of writing
I’m horrible at math, not very good at biology or science either. But someone gave me a gift I’m sure I’m not worthy of. If you open a dictionary and choose a word, 90 percent of the time I can tell you the meaning. One thing I can always count on is the ability to string words together. I’m gonna ride this one out for as long and as far as it will take me.

I am thankful for the joy of writing.

Random acts of kindness
A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by a person wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual or in some cases an animal. There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happy. An oft-cited example of a random act of kindness is when paying the toll at a toll booth; pay the toll for the car behind you as well.

I am thankful for random acts of kindness.

4,355 US soldiers have died in the Iraq war and 909 in Afghanistan. I realize giving one’s life is the ultimate sacrifice. This Thanksgiving, thank them/pray for them for surrendering all they ever were or could ever hope to be to ensure our freedom.

I am thankful for freedom.

Friends and family
I saved the best for last. I have made wonderful friends over the years and have been blessed with the most wonderful family. On Thanksgiving and every day of the year I will remember to be thankful for friends and family.

I am thankful for friends and family.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kat Bryan writes for New Concepts Publishing, The Wild Rose Press and has several books listed at Celestrial Books.

Where The Rain Is Made

Sojourn With A Stranger

Blood Lust

Follow Kat at Twitter:
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Kat’s Author Home:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome, Eryn Grace

I'm Thankful For writers:

I had to think long and hard about this, because being a writer, you’re always ‘in the trenches,’ waiting for that golden (better than brass) ring when an agent or publisher notices your hard work. It’s a negative business and not for the faint of heart. Rejection is the name of the game, and if you get one inkling of getting ahead, you’re on top of the world. For example, an agent requesting a full manuscript is like gold. But when that same agent dumps you after reading that full for four months with an exclusive because they can’t place it and just give you one line something like ‘sorry…not for me,’ you’ve gained nothing, but actually lost four months with that manuscript.

I could say I’m thankful for my health, the family, my friends both online and off, but I want to take a more unusual look at this, because that’s who I am. I’m actually thankful for those rejections, believe it or not. Yes, they sting. Yes, they can make me cry and make me think I’ll never make it, even making me consider just giving up and getting a ‘real’ job. But after receiving TONS of rejections, I realize this…I’m farther ahead than I was before the latest rejection. I’ve learned a lot from those rejections, even if it’s not to submit to a certain agent or publisher again, because of their nasty form letter or their lack of even acknowledging that I’d sent them anything. I’ve gained priceless other writer friends through those rejections, realizing I’m not in this battle for the golden ring alone. And I’ve grown to the point that the rejections aren’t nearly as personal, getting me ready for scathing reviews once I am published. Everyone’s a critic…every reader, every publisher, every agent, and negativity seems to be the name of the game.

So, to all those writers out there, be thankful for every single rejection. It’s getting you closer to the golden ring or the prize, whatever it might be in your case. For some writers, it’s just to be published anywhere. For others, it’s to be on the New York Times bestseller’s list. And yet for others, it’s just to finish that first manuscript. Be thankful if you’ve accomplished any of those goals. I certainly am. Those rejections mean I’ve finished that manuscript, had the guts to let someone else read it and even submitted it, baring my soul to the world through my words. I’m thankful…to all those agents and publishers who have turned me down. And some day, I hope to actually make it, to be able to look back on all those rejections and laugh, but for now, I’m truly thankful.

Eryn Grace at www.eryngrace.comHearts of Compassion’ coming out December 3, 2009, with Red Rose Publishing

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome, Cheryl Norman

Keep the Gratitude Attitude

It’s so easy to feel blue and down about the negatives in your life, but you have the power to resist. I learned from the master, my dad─God rest his soul—that you get what you expect, so always expect the best. Make a habit of feeling thankful for all that is right instead of dwelling on what is wrong.

Dad grew up during the great Depression. My grandmother raised him (and my aunt and uncle) to focus on God’s blessings as a way to keep the Devil at bay. Dad practiced that philosophy all his life, even when he faced his final days with leukemia at age 82. He didn’t lie in the hospital bed and feel sorry for himself; he met every nurse and med tech with a smile and strived to make them laugh. He told everyone how blessed he was to have the best wife, daughters, and grandchildren a person could have. As long as he was able to talk, he was able to smile, no matter the discomfort or pain.

The chaplain at the hospital gave a eulogy at his funeral, and she talked about her duties in the terminally ill wing of the hospital. Often it tried her spirit to comfort and cheer patients and their families who faced impending death. She then said she looked forward to visiting my dad because his attitude cheered and comforted her. She looked to him as needing her less than she needed him.

What a powerful legacy! She ended the service by challenging us all to live as he did, by wearing a smile even when things are discouraging in our lives, to greet others with a smile as an ambassador of peace. When Dad died, I didn’t think I could ever feel happy again. It was, at that point in my life, my saddest experience. Yet the chaplain’s directive to wear a smile in Dad’s honor kept me going. Sometimes the smile was forced, but I smiled just the same. Eventually I emerged from the grief and sadness, and the smiles came more easily.

What I learned—and what I want to pass on—is how powerful the gratitude attitude is. You can choose happiness and optimism by focusing on the good things in your life. Even in your darkest hour, you can find something for which to give thanks. I show this with my characters in my books as well. They learn to recognize the gifts they have and discover that what they think they want is not necessary to their happiness.

I have so many reasons to feel gratitude in my life it would fill a book in itself. I know because I once challenged myself to list all my blessings, and it ran on for pages and pages. Try it. You will find there’s no time left for listing your sorrows. It may take practice to form the habit of feeling thankful and keeping an optimistic attitude, but the rewards are worth it.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Cheryl Norman

Visit Cheryl's Website to find out more about her.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Welcome, Kim Smith

November is the month where we all count our blessings.

According to Wikipedia: “Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. It is a holiday celebrated primarily in Canada and the United States. While perhaps religious in origin, Thanksgiving is now primarily identified as a secular holiday.

The date and location of the first Thanksgiving celebration is a topic of modest contention. Though the earliest attested Thanksgiving celebration was on September 8, 1565 in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida[1][2], the traditional "first Thanksgiving" is venerated as having occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621. The Plymouth celebration occurred early in the history in one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States, and this celebration became an important part of the American myth by the 1800s.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Thanksgiving dinner is held on this day, usually as a gathering of family members and friends.

Well, I don’t know about all that, but I know it’s my favorite holiday, and I am always thankful to be in America, in the South, and in my family on that most honored day.

I love my country, and I really love my region (especially the food at Thanksgiving!) but being in my family is the best of it all. My kids are pretty well grown now with the youngest about to depart college with an undergrad degree, the eldest about to deliver a new baby, and the two in-betweens surprising us with their very-grown-up lives.

I also thank the Pilgrims. If it weren’t for them, I would never have taken up writing. Yes, it is true, my first story was about the Pilgrims in Plymouth and how they celebrated Thanksgiving. My mother, God rest her soul, saved the whole thing and gave it to me years later when I was an adult expressing the desire to write, with the advice to remember my humble beginnings.

Boy, do I remember them! And I am very thankful as well, that my humble beginnings were about something like Thanksgiving.

Thanks Ginger for letting my hijack your blog today. I hope everyone has a great holiday!

Kim Smith is the author of the zany mystery series featuring Shannon Wallace. She has penned several contemporary romances including the recent release Love Waltzes In. You can download her work at Red Rose Publishing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Welcome, Margaret Tanner


More than twenty years ago, I was involved in a serious accident when a fully laden semi trailer ran into the back of my car, virtually demolishing it. How I survived was a miracle, how I was able to walk away with just a few bruises was even more miraculous. Even the emergency workers who arrived on the scene couldn’t believe it. My car was crushed, the semi-trailer jack-knifed and ended upside down, and the driver had to climb out the window, but all I could blubber about was losing one of my shoes. Since that time, though, I only drive when I absolutely have to, and even then I hate it.

Everyone knows me – the lady who sits on or just below the speed limit. The one who gets tail-gated and abused by impatient road users who ignore speed signs.

I always leave a reasonable distance between my car and the one in front of me, only to be out-maneuvered by someone else squeezing into the gap. When the skies open up and the rain buckets down, giving the road surface the texture of an ice-skating rink, I reduce speed, while others roar past leaving fountains of water in their wake.

There are those who abuse me for stopping a few feet from a railway crossing when in a long line of traffic, instead of waiting in the middle of the tracks. Everyone knows the cars in front will move before the train comes. Perish the thought that when the lights do change, someone might stall and hold up the flow, so I’m left like a sitting duck at the mercy of the boom gates crashing on to my roof, or the 5.08 express train, running me into the ground. Selfish individual that I am – don’t I realize everyone else is in a hurry.

Why do I get upset when some maniac passes me on the wrong side of the road? After all I can easily slam on my brakes, and let them in front of me when the third lane they have created peters out. Tough luck if the truck almost sitting an inch away from my bumper bar can’t stop, but a few precious seconds gained, a few extra vehicles passed, means a lot when a driver is in a hurry. Don’t I realize how busy everyone is?

The lights are green in the distance; they change to amber when I am meters away. How can a woman be so stupid? All you have to do is accelerate, as long as your front wheels are at the intersection when the lights turn red, it’ll be o.k. The tooting driver behind me is obviously running late, and there are no police cars around.

One might be moved to ask what all the fuss is about. Everyone knows you have to take risks on the road, show the machine you’re driving who the boss is, intimidate other road users so they know how tough you are. After all, you’ll never have an accident because you’re such an expert driver.

A metamorphosis seems to come over many people when they climb behind the wheel. Their well-mannered, easygoing ways evaporate. They become ruthless predators, waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting victim, whose only crime is that they try to obey all the road laws.

Have you people who use your vehicles as speed chariots ever felt the gut-wrenching sensation of real fear? Do you know what it is like having to traverse the highway every morning and evening, along the same stretch of road where a truck slammed into the rear of your vehicle, completely demolishing it?

But I am alive and I give thanks for that.


Margaret lives in Australia and is a multi-published author with The Wild Rose Press and Whiskey Creek Press.

On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Welcome, Donaya Haymond

Gratitude: A Poem

Walt Whitman once said that laughing flesh was enough. Good company was enough - Assuming you like the company, it is so. Epicurus said that friendship, adequate shelter and food,freedom and time for thought, that is enough... How his name grew associated with gold-plated spoons is one of histories little ironies.

The Beatles posited that love is all you need, which clearly is oversimplifying the matter: Romeo and Juliet had love but their raging hormones, and sense of melodrama and entitlement led to singularly stupid ends,and if you are speaking of a more general, charitable love,how happy do you think the average humanitarian is with always another unfortunate to help, and billions more beyond
her reach?

The mind plays a cruel trick upon our psyches, where it adjusts your expectations so that the pariah may feel atop the world when given a smile and the prizewinner droop upon receiving the silver one is tempted to find fault with the unsatisfied winner, to tell the truth any one of us would have felt the same, including a leper you passed on the streets of Kolkata,given treatment, emotional support, and a few years of wealth,give anyone a CEO’s pay for a decade and they scream when it is reduced by a tenth.

We are living in a matrix not of computer simulation but of a masquerade we ourselves create, not letting the true wonder of the world in there is so much of it we could annihilate our intellects, replaced by constant agape and ‘mazement.

So today I would like to be grateful for the moments when the deception slipped a little, when I felt your hand envelope mine,
when I trotted to my room with an armful of fairy tales,when I put on my contacts and saw the stars with renewed clarity when I stopped reading and talking and listening to music and ate my gooey apple cobbler with my eyes shut,letting the trills of brown sugar dissolve in my tongue, no barrier of inattention between us.

You don’t have to believe someone is at the other end saying "Thank you" keeps your eyes open a little longer.


Donaya Haymond

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Welcome, Tiranth

Hello everyone! I'm Antonia Tiranth but most everyone just calls me Tir. I want to thank Ginger first of all for being so kind as to host me on her blog. She offered awhile ago and usually I have a blog entry ready to go but this one took me awhile to think up. What am I thankful for? Well, of course there are the obvious things: my health, my job, my family, etc, etc. I've said many times in many places about how I'm thankful to Delilah K. Stephans for being my writing buddy and kicking my butt when it needs to be kicked. I'm thankful for my sister in spirit Elle and my fiance for being my rapid fans. But there is one thing I've never mentioned being thankful for and I'm really surprised he hasn't called me up on this. I am exceedingly and for always thankful for my muse.

A tiny purple dragon appears with a squeak. Tir's Muse : Me?

Yes, you. Thank you Shir for being my muse.

The dragon looks stunned for a long moment and then lifts his head proudly

*laughs* I know, I usually post about wanting to turn him into a giant hippo or how I'd love to tear his little scaly wings off but without him where would I be? Yes, I have many files of unfinished stories and sometimes I run head first into walls but with Shir, my world would be a dull place. Shir brings me worlds of my own to play with and so many interesting people to talk to. Not only that, from what my muse has brought me, I've met many wonderful authors and made many new friends.

Shir looks quite smug.

He's going to be unbearable for months now but it was long over due. And now I'm off to find something else I'm very thankful for...pumpkin pie and a huge dollop of Cool-Whip.

I love hearing from everyone so please stop by my website. I'm also on twitter and facebook.

Thanks again Ms. Ginger for letting me and Shir stop by.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome, Janet Elizabeth Jones

The "I" in Gratitude

First thing I need to be thankful about is the opportunity to post here today. So, thank you, Ginger!

I told Ginger I was going to come here today counting my blessings. I'll spare you the itemization. It's a lengthy list, and you have treasured blessings of your own to be glad for. And when it all comes down to it, my list and your list would probably tally up pretty much the same, and I think it's safe to say, it would be the same for our fellow human beings throughout the world. That's the thing about gratitude. It's a human thing. It's also like a garden. It has to be cultivated.

I was trying to be clever with the title of this post and say that. Not sure I managed it, but the three ideas I'm striving for is that gratitude is, like every other human emotion, a state of mind. As such, it's as unique to each of us as our individual self-perception, and it's a choice each of us make, every single day, just like anything else in life.

In fewer words (never easy for us writers), I realize that in order for me to be the "I" in gratitude, I, as an individual, must consciously decide to be as mindful as I can be of all I have to be thankful for.

In other words, I have to get over myself and be grateful.Grateful that I'm here. Grateful that you're here. Grateful that there is a "here" for us to share. Grateful that we have time and opportunity and intelligence and perseverance to make this "here" the very best "here" we can share, the best we can pass on to those who come after us.

For many of you today, in this moment, faced as you may be with grief, pain, illness, relentless expenses, ailing dear ones, uncertain futures and unemployment, this decision will call upon every ounce of personal strength and fortitude you have in you. If you find yourself in such a situation, and you are able to be grateful in spite of it, then I hope you know, you're exhibiting one of the most remarkable and beautiful things about being human that humanity can show. And gratitude in the face of such hardships, as you probably already know, brings with it its own rewards.

And you already know, too, that gratitude is a state of mind, like joy, and peace, and humility, and also like anger, envy, and greed. Either we carry it with us, or we don't. It's a choice we make, as individuals, and we share it with others by expressing it, just like a smile. We may not always see the difference we make when we show our gratitude, but I like to think it makes the day brighter, even if we don't see it right away. For one thing, I believe being grateful is good for me, regardless, and saying "thank you" makes me feel right with myself and the world. Because it's not all about me. And it's not all about you. It's all about all of us, together, making individual decisions to create as peaceful, safe and happy a world as we can.

And it starts by being grateful. The reason it has to start there is because when we see what all we have to be thankful for, we realize how precious--and fragile--life is, and that makes us want to protect it, to cherish each other and to make the time we spend here mean something.

There's no telling what might happen if suddenly, we all woke up and decided to be grateful together. Oh, hold on. Yeah. Here in America, it's called Thanksgiving Day.

Unhappily, that holiday is sometimes overshadowed, because being thankful doesn't sell TVs, dishwashers, stadium seats, tires, toys, cars, Christmas trees, diamond rings, thigh masters, Ginzu knives, Spiderman decoder rings or any of the other things that we like to play with and own and feel good about adding to our existence. Sure enough, in our consumer society, gratitude doesn't pay and being thankful just doesn't sell a thing.

Well, except for turkeys and those yummy sweet potatoes that Mother bakes in the oven and puts marshmallows on top of. Slurp. And then there's the apple salad... :)

But if we notice Thanksgiving Day being overshadowed, if not downright skipped over, during our holiday season, we can still keep it alive in our hearts. Because, look, families still gather together and observe whatever the holiday means to them, and this in itself is a tribute to the importance of being thankful.
It's just that, this month, which is set aside as a time of thankfulness, we're going to find ourselves challenged and distracted on all sides by things (or the pursuit of them), situations and many tribulations.

But in our hearts, and in our ways, we can make the decision to be grateful, and we can show others the appreciation that will, in turn, make them grateful they got out of bed today.

Even if your thanks goes unacknowledged, it's a good thing in itself. It carries with it nothing less than the power to heal in cosmic proportions, because being grateful is another way to love, and loving others overcomes strangleholds of old emotions left too long, turns curses into blessings, brings what's broken back together, and best of all, brings each of us home to ourselves and makes us realize what it really means to be human and alive.
So, thank you. :)

Janet Elizabeth Jones

Monday, November 9, 2009

Welcome, Barbara Romo

Fall is here!

Okay, I know you Northerners are shaking your heads because autumn officially arrived weeks ago, but seasons change a bit differently down here on the Border. No doubt you, too, look for signs outside the arbitrary number assigned to a certain point in time. That touch of crispness in the air carrying a faint scent of wood smoke, schoolchildren bundled in wool skirts and team jackets, trees bursting into the rich reds and glorious golds of their final show of the year. Maybe even a snowflake or two...

In Laredo, Texas, we have none of that. Well, it's true we've grown so accustomed to the hundred-plus degree days lasting from late April into October, when those first 70 degree days finally hit we have a tendency to reach for the lone hoodie lurking in the back of the closet. But our smoke comes from a barbecue grill, our palm trees don't change color, and a snowflake would seriously stop traffic.

What we do have is butterflies. Clouds of them, yellow and orange and brown, dancing around your legs as you walk, clinging to the bricks on the wall beside the sidewalk, forming drunken tidal waves across the roads until you despair of being able to drive slowly enough not to send handfuls to butterfly heaven. They're our sign of fall - delicate little "leaves" with a mind of their own, here for a week or three, then gone, leaving nothing behind to rake or bag or mulch.

When my husband and I moved to Laredo four years ago, it was to be an adventure, an opportunity to learn more about the culture of my husband's family, who immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. nearly a century ago. But I wasn’t expecting the culture shock. Raised in Dallas and having spent the first half of my married life in Houston, moving to Laredo, for me, was like emigrating to a foreign country.

Things have often not been what they seem – like the ice cream truck that sells Frito Pie and sweet, icy raspas instead of the predictable Popsicles & chocolate-covered treats we were expecting. Other things have been wonderful discoveries, like the frozen bars on a stick at the local paleteria, where artificial flavors, colors and non-dairy substances are scorned in favor of chunks of ripe mango or coconut or pineapple frozen in real cream. And even on the hottest days, someone on a corner somewhere in town has fired up a grill and will be selling home-cooked five-dollar steak, bean and rice plates to support their church, their school, their political campaign, or maybe just a neighbor who needs help getting to San Antonio for their cancer treatments.

We’ve heard local musicians so stunning their audience momentarily forgets to clap, and eaten soup so good it's worth fighting for a parking meter in the eighteenth-century-wide downtown streets, just to stand in line outside a restaurant that doesn’t even bother to put up an sign.

The deer are so comfortable at the local university, the does tuck their offspring to bed on the lawn in the middle of campus, and the tiny fawns, eyes wide, watch cell-phone chatting students trudge by on their way to class mere feet away. And the human families are so important they do everything together, which means the dozen people ahead of you at the express checkout lane probably is just one person picking up milk and you'll be out of the store in far less time than you think.

Like the hero in my book, I’ve been an alien in a strange new land, but I’m glad to have been here. I'm thankful I learned how to see the butterflies.

Barbara Romo
Undercover Alien – CrescentMoonPress

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