Tag Archives: writer

My Cold War Teen-age Years Come Crashing Down

I vividly remember one dark Idaho winter’s night as my teenage self  was writing in my diary, I thought, “What’s the point of even thinking about what I want to do for a future when we’re just gonna blow ourselves up anyway?”

I took some comfort in Billy Graham when he came through my hometown area of Boise, Idaho and said ‘Nuclear war won’t be the end of mankind, there’s the rapture instead.’ or some platitude thereof, forcefully spoke, affirming the cyclical prophecy of “Our national leaders are provoking a war but the bible says there’ll be wars and rumors of wars and great destruction like Armageddon so it’s all good.”  I mean, I can see now the pseudo-peace religion brings , back then the words sort-of helped.

Back then there were cancellations of Olympic games and Gorbachev and Reagan enjoying some dance of power vis a vis ‘strong language’ and ‘diplomatic warnings’. No one really wants to blow up half the planet, so there was a lot of bark, but not so much bite; until this President.

I know he’s unhinged, one need only look at his twitter rages to figure that out.  I know he’s full of hyperbole and as Scott Adams vociferously posits, Trump always opens with the most insane highest bid, and negotiates down from there.  Problem is, international diplomacy is an entirely different board game than monopoly.  At the moment my only confidence in anything is maybe a cautious Congress and General Kelly as Chief of Staff who probably understands more than anyone else in the WH the actual logistics of war.

None of that mattered when the old fear of nuclear war came crashing down after Trump made his “fire and fury” announcement toward North Korea.  “Breathe” I told myself.  “Cooler heads and minds will prevail,” I thought, with some confidence.  Then I realized that my fifty-something self doesn’t have to be frozen with fear like my teenage self was.

I have the power and knowledge to deal with this fear.  I understand that humanity probably learned a lesson after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and most of us (including our leaders) are reticent to re-live something similar.  Where there was some international support for a nuclear attack on Japan, thankfully, today there’s international opposition to nuclear options, and some of our leaders still care about optics.  I have the ability to call my congresspersons and hold them accountable, they are my employees after all.  I have power in the freedom to write and encourage others to understand that fear need not be picked up and carried around.  It can stay swimming in the stream of consciousness without being caught, taken home, and devoured. I am now aware that action deters fear more than any other recourse, I will act with my keyboard, with bridge-building discussions, with the knowledge that others are doing the same.  Solace is acquired with action.

So while this nation once again visits the specter of nuclear war, and for a moment that fear of no future came crashing down upon me, my adult self is confident in action instead.  I wish the same for you.



Someone to whom I Aspire, and a Side Note

Check out this nice little write up about Victor Hugo, one of the writers that inspires me regularly.   I hope his story will compel you to continue writing.

Now, more than ever, we need to be writing.   We are living in as historical a moment as Hugo lived, our voice will matter to future generations, to History itself.  I know it’s difficult to get up every.  single.  day.  to some new disappointment or other in the headlines and the insecurity it brings.   To exacerbate the issue, many of us writers are Highly Sensitive People so our reactions to national insecurity is felt more acutely, it resounds within our thoughts more; we have to work at giving our focus boundaries and keeping our mind from going down a dark road.  So writing, some days, can present itself as more of a challenge than others.   But I encourage you to slog through the thick mire and at least put something down on paper, or build up that word count in the bottom left corner of  your screen.   It is important right now.   It’s not important to us per se, it’s not even important to our cohorts or elders, but it’s imperative to future generations.  It’s imperative for the lens of History to have your story woven amongst the backdrop of change and restoration.   It will be significant to your progeny to understand where you stood in all the noise – what did great-grandma’s voice sound like against the others?

It doesn’t matter today, but it will matter greatly tomorrow whether or not you set your mind down to write.  Here’s to one of the best examples for doing so…



Memory Games

Oh memories!

Snapshots of going places,

Recollection of shared laughter,

Connective moments of time –

Weave their threads through my soul

with indifference as to their deposit.

Yet when I reach back to effect a withdrawal,

I am met with a bittersweet welcome.

Shiny and cherished, those memories

Tug nostalgically at the heart:

“That was a quaint time.”

“Wasn’t it a beautiful day?”

“My babies were little once.”

Turn the past psychological pictures over and see

How their initial viewing changes

To one of pride and treasure:

“I am glad to have had that time.”

“That day will always stay with me.”

“My babies are fine young men now.”

Memory Games.

The twofold experience of pain and pleasure.





Thanksgiving Manifesto

There is much for which I can be thankful.

I have three healthy boys that have grown to be great young men who seem likely to contribute positively to society.  I have a husband who loves and supports me.   I am healthy.  I have a handful of siblings who are my heroes, each in their own way.  I have a couple of dogs that keep me warm on cold winter nights.

And after the results of the recent election, I find I am especially thankful for the freedoms we have in our nation.  As a writer, I truly enjoy the freedom I have  to know that I can write about anything and have no fear over being arrested for my views.    I can press a button and publish a writ that hundreds can read, think, and decide upon, hopefully making us all better people in the process.

I do not take this freedom for granted, and today, more than ever, I am Thankful for it.

It sounds a bit conspiracy-theory-ish, but I worry about us writers.   We now have a president elect who has demonstrably attacked the press, time and time again.   We have a president elect who’s ties to Russia are disconcerting ( his son sat in on a call with the nation-state over the Syria issue).   We have a leader who can’t take any kind of humor or disagreement.   As a writer, these are deeply concerning issues.

My writing is a small bleep on anyone’s radar, I know, but a bleep nonetheless and in the current environment it’s not a simple matter of just pressing the ‘publish’ button. It’s a matter of weighing each posting, getting it right, ensuring that truth gets its time in the light and that  the unprecedented does not become normalized.   Now more than ever, I will write with all conviction and utilzation of the freedom of speech we have in our nation. No longer will I take this freedom for granted.  It absolutely is the thing I am most grateful for today.

And to my fellow writers , I encourage you to do the same: excercise the beautiful freedom of expression and speech that is part of the bedrock of our nation.  To do less at this moment in history is to fail to live up to the expectations of our forefathers for a healthy commonwealth.

May your thanksgiving be full of new memories, may we exemplify our gratitude for the freedom of speech as writers by making our voice heard and keeping the wheels of creativity churning. 




Live, While I Wait….

I am

In space.

My energy freed from a fragile shell of skin and bones.

I am.

More than I’ve ever been, I am now.

Time is of no consequence,

It’s iron chains no longer weigh upon my conscience.

Part, now, of the infinite universe.

Free as I once was, returned to my original state.


photo credit to n a s a

No longer tied to a planet,

No longer driven by the sun.

Holy stillness.

Peace, pure and perfect.

Silence, beautiful and consoling.

This is the death that awaits me,  and I live for it.



Mac’s Gig: The Formation of a Transgender Character

Caysee needed a sidekick.  And I had a deep desire to make this a story about friendship as much as freedom.   I wanted the message to get across that friendships are imperative; they deepen our life experience and keep our souls renewed.   Mac originated from these premises.

But he had to have his own story, his own motivations.   As I let the storyline and Caysee’s character guide me, Mac showed up and his past along with him.  I wrestled with the idea.  I knew that by keeping true to his original appearance I would perhaps also be creating a provoking manuscript, one that opens up entirely different kinds of conversations, and I wasn’t certain I wanted to pursue them.  I thought about some other way for him to have the kind of conflict that would drive him out of the house, or get him on the street.   I could not make him fit any other shape than the one that I presented.  I felt I had to be true to his essence in the way it teased itself out of the ether.

I purposefully didn’t do any research about transgender issues other than an occasional light peruse of headline stories.  I wanted to sniff out a reasonable reaction to the sort of prison in which Mac was living.  Most importantly, I wanted the character and struggle to be composed entirely on my imaginings, with as little influence from the real world as possible. This approach felt right and authentic to me.

Upon reflection, I’ve observed that Mac’s story can serve to inspire.  How many others, identity aside, find themselves in circumstances less than optimum?  How many of us understand the impossibility of thriving when our environment keeps us focused solely upon the task of surviving?  It could be a job or a relationship and maybe we inadvertently put ourselves in the situation, but I’m willing to bet that there are others out there who will be able to draw strength from Mac’s need to be staunch about where he could give up his sense of self and where he couldn’t, as well as his need to find an atmosphere that provided him opportunities to be free to express himself.  At least that is my desire.

When I made the decision to become a writer several years ago, I did so with the goal of always challenging people to think, myself included.  It doesn’t matter that a reader necessarily agrees with my point of view, I am content if I have caused another to at least consider an optional idea.  Even if there is disparity in the final analysis, we are all better for at least having weighed the other side of a thought. My hope is that Mac’s character, and the book as a whole, have achieved this endeavor.

Thank you for reading…


‘Caysee Rides: A Story of Freedom, and Friendship’ is available for FREE on Amazon’s KDP Select  for three more days.

Newest Published Work

Finally…after a nightmare editorial experience and much research about ebook
publishing, I have released my newest work, “Caysee Rides” today. I decided to publish on Amazon since it has 75% of the ebook market reach at the moment, which means it is FREE FOR THE NEXT FIVE DAYS if you are a Kindle Unlimited member…just in time for the long holiday weekend.  Click here to link.  Happy reading…and thanks for all your support!


Cover art by Aaron Phelps






Bird Wise

The sparrow picks away at some wiggly delight in the yard.  The young morning is sweet with new light.  Work, already.

The natural wont for us to be busy.  Eons old, the compulsion can not be stifled. Fend for a living.

When is man happier than when he provides for his family?  When is woman more confident than when pursuing her passion?  Innate career goals.

I took a moment, a long quiet nurturing moment, to watch the scrub jay sitting in happy calm upon a fence post.   I learned  much.

The winged territorial animal just IS.   He seemed content within himself and his circumstance.  I thought.

Awareness has its drawbacks.  The jay is unconscious of the abstract. Free from its weight.

I released the stress that greeted my day.  Instead I simply saw the present.   Minuscule part of an infinite whole.

I sit and hear a robin perched high in a confident cedar.  Her song is cheerful, seductive.  I am reminded.

It is important to listen, just watch and observe.  Thus I feed the well waters of my soul. I enjoy.

She has no care! she will survive today and that is all that matters.   She sings, not knowing that I am moved.   I have my own song.

I will sing it.





Sample Chapter – Caysee Rides: A Story of Freedom, and Friendship

Fourteen year old Caysee is making her escape from a war-stricken Chicago where her parents died to the hopeful Pacific Republic where she has the opportunity to go to college and be free. She travels with Mac whom she met just before leaving her home town.   They Ride the Wagon Train together out of the Northern Province and into freedom, but the escape challenges both of them, and the Underground Network, in ways that changed them and the continent forever.   Look for the full book to be released by the end of March.


The trio stood, stretched, and made their way to the stairs that led to the hatch. Bryant stood off to the side and let Caysee, then Mac climb their way from the inside of a dark train car to a thick, overcast morning that was brightened by the greenest grass either of them had ever seen in their life.

“Wow.”  Was all Caysee could manage to say when she looked at the sight. A dark cloud cover provided a low, cozy ceiling to the scene.  On their left a wide grey river stretched out, its far shores decorated with pine trees in a dark green hue that contributed to the serious color scheme.  On her right, foothills full of bright green grasses and small trees led her eyes up to the grey Rocky Mountains, whose uneven white tips took up the entire horizon with arrogance.

Nobody said anything for a long while once they settled on top of the car.   The morning was still cool so they huddled together in a bunch to keep warm, but their thoughts were entirely their own. The river guided the tracks along like an imaginary platoon leader, while the mountains stood like soldiers overlooking their travel.

Mac watched the landscape and let the rhythm of the train put him in a kind of trance.  All he could think about was being free.   Free to enjoy the air cutting across his face, even if it did bite at his eyes.  Free to gaze at the water mirroring the cloudy sky, if he looked carefully it was hard to tell where the reflection ended and the clouds began.  Free to just be himself and to feel what it was like to know he had a place in the world after all.  Free to set his own path, not dictated by others or circumstances, but a carefully thought out path, with meaning and purpose.   Free to breathe without worrying if someone was watching him.  Free to speak without having to carefully pick through every word.  Free to be happy and content in a moment such as this without being afraid to let his guard down.

Free.   ”Was there anything worse than being confined?  Is there anything worse being robbed of your ability to follow your own path?”   He thought of the friends he knew while he belonged to the IP.  Not one of them could really choose their own way, even if they felt they were doing so by rebelling against their conditions. He realized now that they were rebelling because it was the only choice they felt they had:  join the masses and let Execs dictate their fate, or exercise what little control they could muster and give into the gang mentality of the Posse.   Neither choice was optimum.  “The only real choice,” Mac decided, “was to take the risk and run toward freedom.”  He could see now that he would rather have died in the pursuit of it than let it be taken from him completely.

He almost did die, thanks to his appendix.  Mac took a moment to remember what he went through:  the painful walk to the abandoned mall – he recalled, for the first time, that Caysee propped him up in some doorway and that he thought she left him for good.  Because of Mac’s dreamlike- fever-state, it seemed like days before his friend came back.  When she did, he wanted to tell her to just leave him.  “Go on.  I am so tired I don’t want to move anymore.  My mind is outside of my burning hot body and I’m begging you to please just let me lie here.  It can’t be much longer and the rest of me will follow.  Go.  You’ll be just fine without me.”

Caysee’s voice acted like a tractor beam of energy that reached out to catch Mac’s mind and attracted it back to his body, “Come on Mac, let’s get you inside.  We got help coming, I promise to take care of you.”

Hell came next, Mac remembered.  He shuddered at the thought of it.  He remembered Caysee floating in and out of his dreams, forcing him to drink water against his will. Every sip was a silent battle between them; Caysee was always stronger and won.

Hell and Pain.  The same knife taunting his body, its blade never dulled and it always found the same opening on his lower right side.  Every muscle was cramped and burning from heaving, he could not move without them screaming and stinging.  Caysee’s voice sang somewhere up above his awareness, echoing in the heavens far above Mac’s hell, and at the very least reminded him that he was not alone.

At some point a man’s voice made its way down to Mac’s hell and he knew that it was important but he wasn’t sure why it should be.  Then magic.  The pain went away.  Everything was quiet.  His body was still.  His breathing was normal.  He could sense light outside.

He grew out of his hell and closer to the voices.  Even though they still sounded faint and far away, Mac knew he was coming back to life.

“Drink, Professor, drink.”  He could hear Caysee reading from one of her books, was her voice shaky?  Was she crying?  She let the book fall to the floor and moved the chair closer to the bed, “I’m so glad you’re going to be okay Mac. I don’t know what I would do if you left me right now.”  She held Mac’s limp hand and sobbed into the blanket it rested upon for a long time.  Mac was somewhat awake and a bit confused by Caysee’s behavior; he hadn’t realized yet what a close call he had with death. He could sense a kind of relief in the sobbing.   Caysee had to be strong for Mac and to do that all of her emotions were shoved aside so that she could make clear, smart decisions.   Once Dr. Greg declared that Mac was going to be okay, Caysee could finally let her emotions out.  The passage in the Harry Potter book reminded her of every fight they had over every sip of water.  It was a memory that triggered her meltdown just now.  It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the relief and exhaustion Mac sensed in the sobbing made an impact on him; no one had ever cared for him like this.

The thought of it overwhelmed him and Mac leaned back slightly on top of the rail car to watch his friend and savior for a few seconds.   Caysee’s hair was growing out, its color reminded Mac of the browning wheat fields they passed on the way to Saskatoon: golden? sandy? silvery?  He noticed the hair clip was finally getting some use.  It was holding the hair from her face and the dragonflies seemed to coast in the wind the way a vulture can glide for hours at a time. Her face was fuller, Mac thought.  Her skin was healthy instead of kind of dull, a sign that she was eating better.  She held her face straight on, her shoulders square and confident even in the slicing wind. Her lips rested naturally in a half smile. A wave of gratitude came over Mac. Caysee had showed him what a true friend was, someone who stuck around no matter what kind of mess a person might find himself in.   Mac had never known this kind of unconditional devotion and now that he had, he was determined to be the same kind of friend.

Freedom.  Greens and greys and muted whites flashed before Mac and while he let it all move past him he let all of his old life stay behind, blown off in chunks by the wind, no longer needed, no longer wanted.

Freedom.  Deep breaths of air, pure and unpolluted by either chemicals or sounds of bombs and guns.  Freedom.  The long metal chain carried them both closer.  Closer and closer.

Caysee decided she would never get tired of the air moving across her face as the metal chain cut through it with ease.   It was good to feel the wind in her hair. “It’s so cool to have hair again!” she thought, “To be traveling and moving again too!”  These past few days of moving and adventure had awakened many forgotten memories for Caysee.  Most of them were fuzzy, some were quite clear, but they were all memories of going places with her parents.  “Are you ready for another plane ride Caysee?” her mother’s voice was nearly audible.  She was probably around four and she remembered she was sitting on her parent’s bed, surrounded by neat piles of clothes ready for a suitcase.   “We are going to go to the ocean where there’s lots of water and warm sun.  Daddy wants to show you the dolphins.”  Her mom leaned in to smooth her hair over then kissed her on the cheek, and tapped her nose with her finger, “I love you Caysee Jo.”  Caysee didn’t remember the dolphins, but that small fractal of a recollection of her mother was much better.

She suddenly realized that her parents would always be with her, no matter where she went. Every little thing her dad taught her, every story her mom read to her, every camping trip they had together gave her the strength and tools to survive on her own these past three years.   A part of them hasn’t died and that part was her.

Of course!  Caysee thought about this idea for a very long time while the movement of the train rocked them to and fro.  At some point, a feeling of peace overcame her.   Understanding that her parents would always be with her and live on in her gave Caysee the sense of peace that she longed for.   At last, she didn’t have to hold on to their memories so tightly, they would still be there.  At last, she realized she didn’t need to feel guilty for letting them go, they would always be with her.   At last, the past she was hanging on to was finally laid to rest, Caysee could now focus on the future.

It’s a luxury to think about the future Caysee thought, the fresh, cool moving air somehow made her more observant.  She was used to being in survival mode, only able to look as far ahead as maybe tomorrow, no further.  There simply wasn’t the time or energy to consider a future when a girl was always forced to think about eating and a safe place to sleep.  Caysee allowed herself to dream for just a moment about teaching in a classroom while the train rocked the three riders back and forth.  She couldn’t tell the age group or what she was teaching, but she could picture herself standing in front of a group of people and lecturing.   “Yeah, “she thought, “I can do that.”

Bryant sat in the middle of all this thinking and did a fair amount of his own.   “I haven’t been along this route in a while.”   It was a kind of magic to him that nothing really changed.   A fallen tree was new, the river’s bank changed slightly here and there, but the mountains and the green and the vastness of the scene were the same.  Solid.  Secure.  Unmoving.  He marveled at the idea, he could always count on Mother Nature.  For the thousandth time he thanked whatever gods or fate there was that allowed him the freedom to have the life he had. Bryant knew he was alone and he treasured his freedom .  But now, Caysee and Mac captured his attention and held it. For one thing, it was good to have someone his own age to speak with.  Most of the Riders that came through that were his age were scared and with their own adults, he never really took the time to make friends with any of them.  As he hung out with Caysee and Mac he found himself reminded that he was still a kid in some ways.  There was a kind of comfort in knowing he wasn’t an adult yet, that he still had some growing to do.  It made him feel like he had a future.  He couldn’t see it, just as sure as he couldn’t see around those proud mountains, but he knew it was there and he knew there was a lot of it.  He would have to make sure Caysee and Mac were part of it.  They were two of the toughest people he ever knew.  So many of the Riders were skittish and wary, which made them dangerous because he couldn’t count on them to know what to do in a pinch.  But not these two.  He was impressed with Caysee’s ability to live on her own.  Allen gave Bryant a good idea of her life, but the way she held herself and spoke with confidence intimidated Bryant, and though it made him uncomfortable, he respected her for it.  Not many people intimidated him and usually they were much older and wiser for their experiences.  She would be a good friend for him.  Her confidence was contagious.

He let out a sigh and the three of them shifted their positions slightly but stayed to themselves.  He glanced down at Mac, who had shown his own strength and confidence.  “He sure does try to be tough, but the kid wouldn’t hurt a fly.  He just needs a direction and he’ll be fine.”  Bryant didn’t doubt Mac’s ability to work well for the Train or VNET, his passion for helping others was obvious.   Now he just had to think where to hook him up.

The wind was growing colder, drops of rain splattered the top of the rail car, the three of them began to shiver and they spoke almost at once the same thought:  “It’s time to get back inside.”

Waiting…In the Meantime

I am (not so) patiently waiting for my book cover artist to finish his magic so I can finally publish “Caysee Rides:  A Story of Freedom and Friendship” as an e-book.    Caysee makes her way from a ruined Chicago to the Pacific Rim where education and freedom offer a better life.  Riding a modern day Underground Railroad, fourteen year old Caysee also discovers that friendship is as valuable as freedom.  Look for a sample chapter on this site next week and the full release by the end of March.

In the meantime, I’ll be submitting a couple of works to writing contests.   I can’t encourage you enough as a writer to consider entering a competition or two.   The challenge does wonders to sharpen one’s writing skills, and what better accolades to the back of your book cover than “Winner of such-and-such award”?

I’m also doing quite a bit of writing on the economic/political scene in the US, borne of my own original research.  If that’s of interest to you, click here.

Here’s to creativity, patience, and maybe a winning poem or two.  As for me, I am grateful to call myself a writer.