Last month, I mentioned that I walked my hood daily during COVID as a healthy alternative to going completely bonkers (for which there is no vaccine), and that I continue to do so even though my local gym has re-opened. Yes, the gym has a range of equipment that exercises all of me, large flatscreen TVs with a zillion channels, regulated comfy year-round temps, and fluffy towels, but after nine years, it’s… boring. Not so the varied streets of my town, where every day brings something new and interesting to my view:
A jumble of tiny painted clay gnomes set beneath a maple tree.
An interweave of hedge branches so intricately constructed, so heartstoppingly beautiful, I paused in mid-stride, certain British nature sculptor Laura Bacon had snuck in and arranged it all moments before.
An eye-popping purple gate leading to a hidden garden.
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I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.
In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.
At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.
I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?
I used to think I was hard to love.
Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.
What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.
Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.
It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.
It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.
I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.
And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.
Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.
Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.
When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.
Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.
And here’s what I wish.
I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!
The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.
Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.
“When the whole world is entrenched in the bunker of physical and often emotional isolation, only flexibility and ingenuity can revive us to remain grounded and imbibe the bolstering sunlight piercing through the canvas of chaos.― Erik Pevernagie
Whether it’s socially, mentally, or physically, being out of your comfort zone can be unbearable—more so for some than others.
During the pandemic, we’ve had hard decisions to make, all of us, knowing whatever decision we made for ourselves would impact the loved ones in our bubble who’ve been riding it out with us. They’re not only counting on surviving it themselves; they’re counting on you to survive. A year is fleeting compared to a future without the people you love.
I always remember what my younger sister would say when things were not so great. “It’s temporary.” And what I used to tell myself, “Life is an adventure, part of which is figuring out what to do with every challenge thrown at you and then rising through the challenge.”
The restrictions, added to other stressful political and personal situations, have been tiring. They certainly brought out the ugly in some and the beauty in others. There are people in my life who’ve been sick with Covid or lost loved ones to the virus, and, at least for the time being, the spark I used to see in them is gone.
Finding ways to cope with even simpler things like wearing a mask and the constant handwashing and disinfecting is frustrating, yes, but we are warriors and survivors, and I love that about us. It comes down to preserving yourself for when you can get back the life you want. It’s definitely a time we need therapeutic measures—including ways to escape.
Sure, it was easier for most of us writers. I worked on several books, wrote poem after poem, read one book after another. Those were all things I could never wait to do, so, believe it or not, it was exciting.
Taking walks has always been an excellent balance for working in isolation, but there’s a lot of construction going on around here, where I live. Long Island is the suburbs, but my neighborhood, right now, looks like a rundown part of the city.
My son, who never cooked much in the past, decided to watch all these cooking videos and learn to make all these incredible meals from scratch. He became a great chef and managed to lose weight in the process because he worked out daily while doing his job remotely. All of it was a great confidence builder and kept him motivated!
Working out whenever, wherever, makes you feel good (well, afterward, at least 😉).
As for me, along with whatever else I was doing, I’d think crocheting might be enjoyable or maybe guitar lessons, but then I’d have to buy a guitar. So, another pastime I had was deciding what place I wanted to move to and then, from time to time, check out what houses were for sale there. For a while, it was Norway, then Germany, then Amsterdam. Right now, it’s York, in England. Yes, I want to move to York. I do very much, want to move.
And who knew I’d rediscover Super Mario Brothers and become so good at the Dr. Mario game? (Listen to me, bragging!) Well, it helps your coordination and response time. That is good for me. 😆
Music was another Godsend.
We’re so lucky, too, to have the internet for connecting with everyone—being able to talk to people all over the world about how they’re coping with the very same thing. I can’t imagine how people managed crisis after crisis in the dark ages. But they did!
And what I love most is the fact that laughter gets you through everything. You can’t ever lose your sense of humor. I was joking with a cab driver the other day about neighbors who never knock on your door, and suddenly, during the height of a pandemic, they come a-knocking. And it’s to tell you something like there’s a piece of paper outside your door, an advertisement. Uh, thank you?
No! Don’t bring me things when we are in lockdown! Do not knock on my door!
He and I laughed so much about that, joking back and forth because you have to. Sometimes people mean well, I know. And sometimes they don’t.
Another day, I got a letter in the mail saying that my neighbor (mentioned by name) is a disgusting boyfriend-stealing whore who will sleep with anyone, and her family deserves better than that. High school shit or something you’d expect to see on Desperate Housewives or maybe Jerry Springer. Its author used cut-out letters like a ransom note and pasted a biohazard symbol at the bottom. It’s not what healthy people do. It’s more so the work of a narcissist dragging everyone into their bullshit. They are experts at character assassination.
How dare they, right? Whatever happened between these people is their business, and I don’t care. Imagine someone cutting out all these letters to make a note like that? And God knows how many of these the person sent out! I found it appalling. Not my circus, not my monkeys, as they say. Come to think of it, I don’t have any of that chaos in my life these days, and I like it like that.
Aside from the heartbreak I feel as so many are still struggling to cope, I also have this stubborn enthusiasm that we may finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And that has me talking up a storm lately with an energy I haven’t put forth in a while.
Hold on to your peace however you can, and you will be okay.
“I can be by myself because I’m never lonely; I’m simply alone, living in my heavily populated solitude, a harum-scarum of infinity and eternity, and Infinity and Eternity seem to take a liking to the likes of me.”― Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude
My new book, “Awake With The Songbirds,” which includes the above poem and many more, will be available by the end of next week. I’m so excited!
Please let me know if you are interested in obtaining an advanced review copy or if you’d like me to notify you about any upcoming giveaways. There will be a few chances to win a copy in the forthcoming months!
This collection consists primarily of poems written during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time of loneliness and rumination.
Lyndon’s poetry stems from intense emotions that swing from one end of the pendulum to the other as she captures the agony of love and loss, along with innocent joy and lighthearted fun.
Each poem is an earnest response to life, love, and everything in between.
Here is one poem in the collection.
SAME OLD NEIGHBORHOOD
The neighborhood hasn’t changed,
But the draperies on the windows have been swept aside.
We see you.
Telling someone to go back to where they came from,
To the place where they had no voice
And no choice.
That place where they were beaten,
Neglected and shamed,
Where they never felt safe,
Never had a chance.
Oh, they’d love to go home,
But, home isn’t home anymore.
The neighborhood hasn’t changed,
But, the fanfaronade has consequences.
We hear you.
It’s not just words.
It’s not simply freedom.
It’s a weapon to harm and destroy.
To punish those who aren’t the same.
People just like you commit horrific crimes,
But you don’t identify them
Only with crimes because they mirror you.
People just like you hurt you and fight you and hate you
But you don’t see them all as threatening because they are you.
The neighborhood hasn’t changed,
But many more of us want to live here only in peace.
You can make that happen.
So many beautiful people I’ve known in my life
Were those people you rejected,
And they were full of warmth and kindness and wisdom.
You don’t see them because they’re not the same.
The neighborhood hasn’t changed,
And neither has any divine love for all who live here.
Like you, we are sacred.
All is sacred every moment of every day.
WHAT READERS SAY
“She has the ability to convey to the reader some of the most complex thoughts into words that truly reach our hearts.”— Love Books
“Her lyrical voice speaks with careful observation and passion. In the narrative mode, she is masterful in reading life around her. Kyrian possesses the sensitivity, insight, and soul of the true poet. Her writing provides a primer on how to compose meaningful poetry.”—Lou Jones
Please let me know if you are interested in obtaining an advanced review copy or if you’d like me to notify you about any upcoming giveaways. There will be a few chances to win a copy in the forthcoming months!
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin and As So It Begins by Rachel Abbott are two books that provided the page-turning suspense that kept me reading but still managed to leave me disappointed.
The main reason is I need characters I can like and root for throughout the book. Please give me one, at least.
It’s particularly distressing when I think there’s one, but it turns out in the end that they all suck.
My reviews for these will be short.
Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…
Knots and Crosses introduces a gifted mystery novelist, a fascinating locale and the most compellingly complex detective hero at work today.
My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I know Ian Rankin is good. So many people recommend his work. I also know Knots and Crosses was not the best example of why he is popular.
The main character in Knots and Crosses , Detective John Rebus, does not seem to do much of anything but drink and get laid. He didn’t solve any crimes, let alone the main one. There was nothing to like about him and plenty to not like. Oh, there is sufficient reason to feel sorry for him. I felt sorry for the victims, too, and, of course, I rooted for the ones still alive, but it’s not as if you get to know them. I liked the book, sure. I just needed more.
Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…
When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.
Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As Evie stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?
And So It Begins is a darkly compulsive psychological thriller with all the hallmarks of a Rachel Abbott bestseller – a provocative dilemma, richly-layered mystery, knife-edge tension, and brilliant characterization.
My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This book I liked a lot. Rachel Abbott is a wonderful storyteller, and As So It Begins is a well-written page-turner. I hated the twist and the ending for personal reasons, but I can’t get into that without spoilers.
What I can say is, the detective here, Stephanie King, is nowhere near as interesting as the people involved in the mystery that unfolds. (This is her series, and she is the star, but you’d never know it.) She turns up now and then and mostly worries about her love life. I feel like the whole story could have happened without her minimal involvement. A couple of minor characters impressed me, but, as I mentioned above, I want to root for at least one of the main characters.
As an aside, I’m reading another of Rachel Abbott’s books right now called The Invitation, and I love it, but now that I’m many chapters deep into the book, Detective Stephanie King emerges once again.
Hopefully, she makes a better impression here than in the last book.
“What other people think of me is none of my business.”
Yes, I’ve heard that, too, but I agree only in part. We still have to be accountable for our behavior, and it doesn’t help to stubbornly insist we are fine—and that whatever we do is okay regardless of how many people say otherwise.
It doesn’t mean we have to believe every negative thing anyone says about us. It’s more about the willingness to consider what others have to say, whether we like what they’re saying or not. It’s about our responsibility to learn, grow, and evolve.
Everything comes back to balance for me, but when you’re able to set aside ego and keep an open mind, discernment about what to take personally and what to blow off becomes easier.
You can surely tell if something is malicious or plain stupid.
She showed up every afternoon in the town square, her guitar and amp ready to display her bona fides, ready to dazzle. She used to hear god’s whisper but no longer.
She was an auburn beauty, which was incidental, but her gathered ponytail and her classical vulpine face were assets, however the music came.
Yes, pretty hurts, but goddamn, it still had such currency.
“Pretty lady, I won’t rain on your parade, but this isn’t the place for you.”
The wolf had appeared from shadows beneath the chapel roof and the market awnings, and he smiled through tumultuous teeth and tried to dam his drool. Oh, he was hungry.
“The skies are clear and this isn’t my parade, Mr. Wolf,” she said. “This is a way station, and I come from elsewhere, but here I sing my truth.”
“Don’t push me, woman.”
“I won’t. Instead I’ll make my music.”
And she did that. Splashes of half or quarter melodies, staccato squalls merging into dreamscape, arpeggios traipsing on ramparts of crenelated chords, spiralling into the darkest of wells and spinning into meadowlark updrafts. Distortion like the most shattered of mirrors, hot liquid globules and elastic spans of glass, a glittering haze of misted diamond. Her thumb like a hammer conjuring bass notes, rhythmic and sundry as coitus, her arachnid fingers a blur as lacquered nails plucked and glissandoed reflected layers of overlapping melody. And above it soared her voice, like the great mountain condor, effortless and buoyed by thermals.
The townsfolk gathered and grew in numbers, and they sometimes sang snippets that only augmented her song, and children danced, and then their mothers, and then, looking sheepish between themselves, their fathers.
The wolf was humbled, reduced, his snout a wilted thing, his ears flat, the luxuriance of his tail now tucked.
“Mr. Wolf, I won’t stay. I’ve done what I came for, and it’s always time to move on. What will you do?”
Cupping the town in its rough hands was a landscape of clear streams and falls, forests dappled by light and deer, skies that paraded like blue and white and grey ticker tape, crags and flats and the quiet eternal song of the land.
The wolf, who recognized the good as well, knew all this and loved it, but he felt thwarted. Her cello nape, her downy hollows, her female scent itself a taunt, and though he knew he was wrong, he let himself down.
“I will eat you; it’s how I’m made. It’s what I am. And you, my chestnut fawn, were made for this too.”
She sighed while she packed her instruments. Something in the faraway hills echoed and crackled like an exhaled nightmare. She wished she could love the wolf and receive his love in turn.
“You will do what you were made to do, Mr. Wolf. But you are not emblematic of your kind.”
The wolf was puzzled. He didn’t know what emblematic meant. And while he crunched her words like marrow from the bones of a lover, spurned and sickly as the plague-struck, the townsfolk moved in silence with their clubs and knives and systematically dismembered him, and hearing his last furious yowl she cried as she left town, her hardware hunched like a stigma on her back, the neck of her guitar a phallus, her keening cry a screech of corvid grief in the spent and airless afternoon.
I’ve been shut down and holed up here in my little world, feeling very disconnected. It’s like I activated my “off button” and can’t seem to switch it back on for long. I wonder how many of you need to do that now and then. I also had a sinus infection and then a pinky toe stress fracture, which I still have.
Last Friday, I went to have blood work done—all ready to do the people thing. The nurse drawing the blood didn’t have a printout for the thyroid part of the order. She told me to go to the front desk and ask them to print out that order. When I did that, they printed the same one she already had, and the nurse told me to go back again and tell them it wasn’t the correct printout. So, the woman at the front desk got all flustered. She complained to someone on the phone that this was “really stressing her out.” I have to walk back and forth with one sneaker and one shoe cast s to get printouts that should be in the lab, and she’s stressed out. Then she keeps repeating into the phone, “I know. I know, right?”
At one time in my life, I would have had to say something to her, but I just wanted to achieve what I was there to accomplish and get out of there. I explained politely, remaining calm, and someone eventually took care of it. I mean, have your little hissy fit, just give me what I need, and I’m gone. These little things are not worth my peace anymore.
Anyway, during the healing process, I have been writing a lot. My new poetry book is almost complete. A paranormal fantasy book is underway, along with the sequels to Shattering Truths.
The idea I had for a non-fiction book has turned into something else entirely—a somewhat shocking recovery memoir. It’s not fiction like Shattering Truths, so, for me, it is a huge deal. I’ve written most of it already, and I hope I don’t change my mind about publishing it. I believe it can, at the very least, be helpful to someone.
I’ll be looking for beta readers who’d like to read along and give input for any of these projects.
Of course, I’ve been reading a lot of books, too. Right now, I have a few lined up that are about Edinburgh detectives. It’s what I’m into right now, reading about Scotland and these mystery thrillers.
I watched a lot of the heartbreaking Derek Chauvin trial, and I’ve read about all these shootings across the country (including a recent one in my county on Long Island). For quite a while now, this whole world has needed a reset button. I always thought if there is a divine message for us, it would be, “Start over, people. You can do way better than that.”
On a lighter note, I’ve also been watching:
Netflix – Bridgerton, Lucifer, and the 100.
Prime -Dark Shadows, Mad Men, and Suits.
Network TV – I love Good Girls and Manifest.
I am such a fan of the 100. I love Suits, and Dark Shadows is one of my all-time favorites. Lucifer is hilarious, and I like Bridgerton, but I’m still waiting to see what all the fuss is about.
(It takes me a long time to get through a series because I may watch one show a night.)
What about you? What are you watching? Let me know in the comments, and, stay safe and well! ❤️
“The rationale seems to be that we keep people as victims by validating them, empathizing with them, and fighting alongside them for equality and the dignity they deserve. I don’t think people are kept down by that. I believe what keeps people down is the constant dismissal of their pain, the degradation, the humiliation, the fear of injustice, and the continuous crushing of their will, their faith, and their hope. This type of oppression kills the self-esteem people need to empower themselves.” ― Kyrian Lyndon
“The world is getting too small for both an Us and a Them. Us and Them have become codependent, intertwined, fixed to one another. We have no separate fates, but are bound together in one. And our fear of one another is the only thing capable of our undoing.” ― Sam Killermann
Everyone is in the grip of someone or something – besotted with or controlled by another person or captive of passions, ambitions, torments, or demons. . . . Mordecai Bornstein enjoys a successful scientific editing and writing career. He has a comfortable existence. He’s found passion with the woman he worships – Patricia Murphy, an alluring and ambitious museum director. But nothing good lasts forever, and Mordecai stumbles into a way to inject torment into his life. Years later, after that life has been turned upside-down, Mordecai is drawn into the orbit of divorce attorney and artist patron Sanford Glickauer, who loves talking about women and playing mind games, some of them designed to alter people’s lives. A bond develops between the two men, until Mordecai slowly comes to the realization that he and Patricia may have been the focus of Sanford’s ultimate game. In the Grip is a psychological mystery involving love, loss, sex, murder, and the worlds of scientific publishing and fine art. The action moves from Upstate New York to Manhattan to Frankfurt, Paris, Kiawah Island, SC, Washington, DC and its suburbs, and Providence, RI.
Well-drawn characters come to life with superb dialogue and compelling description, transporting the reader into the time and place of this narrative.
Myer Kutz has a writing style that is lively and entertaining. A slow-paced beginning sets the stage for skillful plot development with many clever twists and turns.
Mordecai Bornstein is the story’s endearing protagonist. He is someone to admire, root for and respect despite his weaknesses. He tells the tale of a charming love story, his profound devotion to the lovely Patricia who is not simply a stunner but a brilliant, successful woman making her own strides.
Be patient with the author’s masterful storytelling; the pace picks up and continues to accelerate until you can’t put it down. The end reward is delivered in spades. You will want to go back and read it again for anything you may have missed.
The epilogue was beautiful. I loved it. I think it would make a wonderful movie.
Every day, something reminds me of how vital it is for us to heal and recover from all trauma and harm and the consequences of subsequent obsessions.
I read something yesterday that said we should treat everyone like they are sacred until they begin to believe they are. That would be the ideal way to live, wouldn’t it? It would certainly solve a lot of problems in our world, individually and collectively. I’d love to commit myself to that. I’m certainly going to try, and, of course, I’ll need to remind myself always. It’s so easy to be impatient with people, but we all could use a little patience from others. We’re trying. We’re doing our best. Breaking the cycle of continuous damage to ourselves is a divine process.
I’m sending love to everyone and wishing you the very best, an abundance of all good things! Stay safe and well. ❤️
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” – Khalil Gibran
I’m about a week late for Valentin’s Day, I know, but things got hectic.😄
Anyway, let’s talk about weddings and marriage.
Marriage affords you all kinds of rights, privileges, and benefits, right? My son says it’s a bribe that gets the government more taxpayers and soldiers— the assumption being that married couples will procreate. Of course, it’s what they hope. Only decades ago, young, fertile women had a tough time getting a tubal ligation procedure. Doctors willing to perform it would not do so without her husband’s permission. There are people who’d still deny you birth control if they could.
Naturally, too, divorce comes with consequences. Some women wore that “divorcee” label like a scarlet letter disgrace. Real-life Alan Harpers support luxurious lives for partners who kick them out while they can’t afford even a decent life for themselves. I’m sure there are situations where people deserve their downfall, but it’s often wholly unwarranted.
Even a young widowed female is often judged harshly as a single parent as if she had any choice in the matter. I can attest to that. Other mothers are wary of you, often not even knowing how you ended up a single parent. All they know is you don’t seem to have a husband, and though you don’t deserve to be penalized for that, no matter the reason, they prefer the company of other married women. Your child gets ostracized in the process.
Oh, don’t worry, I fixed all that when my son was in the first grade by baking chocolate chip cheesecakes for the school’s annual food festival. The moms and teachers couldn’t resist that cake. 😉 And my son remedied it, as well, by being funny and smart. Eventually, we made many friends, but society is far more comfortable with the traditional norms.
Admittedly, I love the idea of marriage and being someone’s wife but not necessarily its reality.
Similarly, you can include me among those who love the “idea” of a wedding. As for being the center of attention on an anxiety-filled day of continuous pressure, no, thank you, but you go ahead; I’ll watch.
FANTASY vs. REALITY
When I was a little girl, I told my mother I’d never get married—that I was going to be so busy, I wouldn’t have time to be anyone’s wife. At the same time, I was enchanted by the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and madly in love with Prince Charming. He sang:
Do I love you because you’re beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?
It was a fascinating dilemma for my underdeveloped brain. That song and others from that musical are still on my iPod.
So, I am at least somewhat sentimental, don’t you agree? To be honest, I posted the live performance of “Marry You” above not only because I like the song but because Bruno Mars reminds me of my first “real” boyfriend.
But do me a favor now. Picture your fantasy of an ideal wedding. Got that picture in mind? All right, well, in my family, one wedding reception ended with both male and female cousins entangled in a brawl with people at the wedding next door. One male cousin pulled out a gun. The other (male) went crashing into the ladies’ room mirror in search of someone to fight. At another reception, two of my middle-aged cousins rolled around on the floor, fighting for the bride’s tossed bouquet. And then there was the time the priest stopped the ceremony to wait for my father to finish loudly explaining to his grandson (my son) how to use his new camera. 😮
But there are the moments that move you, for sure. I got all teary-eyed once as someone I’d known my entire life proceeded to the altar with the man she wouldn’t give up on no matter how tough the road got. They are divorced now, and I can’t say I blame her, but you get the idea.
OH, BUT THE BEAUTY OF IT ALL!
What I do love is the planning of a wedding. Of course, I love to plan. I am a novelist. No, I wouldn’t want a job planning weddings, but I’d get psyched creating a dream wedding to marry off my characters— unique destinations, gorgeous flowers, creating an ambiance, picking out cake. I love cake! (Maybe you remember that from above.) And then the music for the special dances and the party! The poet in me comes alive with music, and my emotions are all over the place. Laugh, cry, dance, sing—it’s all good. I’m a fan of all kinds of music, including classical wedding music, which I also have on my iPod.
And you know what else is beautiful?
The devoted couples who happily grow old together. Yep, it’s all so beautifully romantic. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who’ve decided on the person they want to spend forever with rather than continue to look elsewhere for ego gratification. Since childhood, I’d witnessed so much willingness, even eagerness, to be unfaithful. What makes life magical is the bond between people and everything they create together.
(This playlist includes some of my favorite classical music for weddings.)
So, what did I do when I finally got married, you ask?
My fiancé and I went to a judge’s house on Long Island. It was just the two of us, the judge and the judge’s wife, and we couldn’t help laughing like school kids that we were getting married, but it was perfect. I cherished every moment.
He was a kindred spirit that I treasured with all my heart, and the desire or willingness to replace him has yet to come. I liked being married to him, well, most of the time. I also wanted to be spoken for in that there was less explaining to do when I had to say no to an advance. What I liked even more than that was the ultimate realization that you don’t need to explain. 😉
For lyrics to this song (because I love the lyrics), go here.
This book was initially reviewed in May, 2012, but I am recommending it again to horror fans.
Before The House on Blackstone Moor, we experienced the wicked, self-involved albeit charming vampire and his polar opposite— the long-suffering, brooding wimp with a conscience. Carole Gill’s Louis Darton is neither. Instead, he is the perfect balance between the two—a Byronic hero with substance. He endures, as the author writes, no matter what. He does so with great courage, inner strength, and compassion. Now that’s seductive!
As a fan of 19th century British literature and all things gothic, I found, in TheHouse of The Blackstone Moor, all the elements I enjoy in a novel and all the features of a classic. The moods of great works such as Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, even Dickens (a la Oliver Twist and David Copperfield) surface throughout. Carole Gill presents excellent narration, well-drawn characters, and has a sharp ear for dialogue.
While hopelessly invested in Rose Baines and her beloved Louis Darton’s fate, I read this entire book in two days. No sooner had I put it down when an irresistible lure seemed to beckon my return. 😉 I’d have finished it in one sitting if I didn’t need to be elsewhere.
Between Darton and Satan’s cohort “Eco,” there is the additional element of the proverbial dark side with a twist. It brings to mind Anne Rice’s poetic Memnoch The Devil inspired by the Book of Enoch and Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. This genre has been met and embraced in the past with great interest and sheer fascination. Carole Gill continues in that vein. She pulls it off quite skillfully with wonderfully bold and descriptive passages.
About Carole Gill
Carole Gill is published by Creativia. She writes dark Gothic romance as well as contemporary horror.
Preditors & Editors’ Readers’ POLL #2 BEST HORROR NOVEL 2016 I, BATHORY, QUEEN OF BLOOD
BEST INDIE BOOK FINALIST 2016 CIRCUS OF HORRORS
Her acclaimed 4-novel series, The Blackstone Vampires: 2014 – Amazon Bestseller in Dark Fantasy – THE BLACKSTONE VAMPIRES OMNIBUS 2015 – Amazon Bestseller in Vampire Horror – THE BLACKSTONE VAMPIRES OMNIBUS 2015 – Amazon Bestseller in Horror Anthologies – HOUSE OF HORRORS
AWARDS: eBook Festival of Words 2014 Best Horror: The House on Blackstone Moor and Best Villain: Eco
Top 10 Books – 2013 – The House on Blackstone Moor Aoife Marie Sheridan – ALL THINGS FANTASY Publisher, Ultimate Fantasy Books ‘ 92 Horror authors you need to read right now, Carole Gill – The Blackstone Vampires Series. ~Charlotte Books Examiner,
Justine: Into The Blood Book One – Blood and Passion Series is on sale at Amazon. Book 2, Anat: Blood Princess, follows.
I, Bathory, Queen of Blood, a novel about the Blood Countess Erzsebat Bathory is her latest book. For dark horror fans there is, Carole Gill’s House of Horrors and the novel, Circus of Horrors.
In 2000 she was selected by Northwest Playwrights of England for further development. Short stories and novels were what she preferred to write. Her story, The Devil’s Work is being broadcast web and television in the Fragments of Fear Program in 2016.
She is widely published in horror and sci-fi anthologies:
Fragments of Fear tv and You Tube, ‘The Devil’s Work Killing it Softly, Digital Fiction Publishing Corp. Sideshow, published by PsychoPomp After Armeagedon short story collection by Brian L. Porter (guest story by Carole Gill) Rogues Gallery, The Illustrated Police News, Firbolg Enter at Your Own Risk: Dark Muses Spoken Silences Firbolg Vampires: Romance to Rippers an Anthology of Tasty Tales A S Publications: Enter at Your Own Risk: Old Masters New Voices, An Anthology of Gothic Literature, Fresh Fear: Contemporary Horror Triskaideka Books’ Masters of Horror Anthology One, Triskaideka Books’ Masters of Horror Damned If You Don’t, Sonar 4 Publishing’s Ladies and Gentlemen of Horror 2010, SNM’s Bonded By Blood3 Languish In Lament, Sonar 4 Publishing’s Whitechapel 13, Anthology, Rymfire’s Undead Tales, Rymfire’s Zombie Winter, Rymfire’s Zombie Writing Angelic Knight Press’ Satan’s Toy Box: Demonic Dolls and Whitechapel 13, An Anthology of the Victorian Era Sci Fi Almanac 2009 and 2010 and Science Fiction Freedom Magazine, issues 1-4, Sci Fi Talk’s Tales of Time and Space.Read less
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. ” (Winston Churchill)
[Note: After all the “hilarity” of life, detailed in last month’s post, my car was repaired, I got my “pass” sticker, and the yellow jackets gave it up for 2020. But two days after that dust settled, Ed had emergency surgery. He’s home and fine now, but there was a rather harrowing 48 hours in which all this happened, a sleepless two days that coincided with our driveway being paved. Do I know how to live or what? BUT Joe Biden did win, by millions of votes, and if we ever get him inaugurated, democracy has a fighting chance. Maybe by this time next year, we’ll be gathering with family for the holidays, vaccinated, and on the road to the deep physical/emotional recovery this nation so desperately needs…
I had sent my newly published poetry book to my friend, John, someone I have known for many years. Weeks later, I asked if he had received it, and what he thought of the book.
He responded with, “I have been rather absorbed in my own world which has been a struggle. I have been sick with walking pneumonia and yet am still working daily. I am on a bunch of medication, which doesn’t leave me with the clearest head. When not working, I am sleeping. Am slowly getting better but about four days bed rest would be ideal. I can’t afford to miss work so, you know the drill. I’m tired, sick, frustrated, but still fighting.”
He went on to explain, “Poetry has never been my strong suit. You are certainly elegant with words. I can appreciate the flowery wording but feel like I am missing something, and that…
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run— Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
The following article by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes resonated with me. I found it very uplifting and beautiful. With all the unsettling events as of late, I wanted to share it. (For me, it doesn’t mean we won’t call attention to the problems we face or fight the good fight but that we don’t have to feel hopeless or powerless. Of course, too, we may have different perceptions of a higher power or the highest power, but the message is the same.❤️)
We Were Made for These Times by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall.
When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”~Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I had Roger Daltrey’s poster on my wall as a kid. My father tore it down nonchalantly when he decided to panel the walls. He didn’t think my sister, who shared the room with me, or I would mind. But, we did. He left the beautiful poster crumpled up in a ball on the floor!🤣
I cried and did a little foot-stomping. The Who was one of our favorite bands. We loved the movie Tommy and the collection of songs from the rock opera that preceded it. I always thought it was the work of a genius, and that genius was Pete Townshend, the band’s legendary guitarist. His other works were phenomenal as well, and seeing Roger bring Tommy to life on screen was incredible. I’ll confess; I had a mad crush on him.
As you can imagine, by the time my sister and I got to see the band in concert, it was so powerful and emotional, I was in tears. My heart was just exploding with joy.
Now, I happen to love a good juicy memoir. When I say juicy, I don’t mean in terms of sex but information. Curiosity, I guess, but I do enjoy learning about people and things.
I didn’t know much about the band members beyond Keith’s self-destructive path, resulting in his death and Pete’s arrest for downloading child porn. (Pete was found innocent and cleared of the charges.) Roger tells that story in his book. He is a fantastic storyteller, and his collaborator did an excellent job helping him put it all together. Reading about his experience, I learned a lot more about music and what bands go through. Being a lover of music who could only dream about singing on stage, I found it fascinating. Reading about the sixties and seventies has always been exciting to me, too. If I could transport back in time to get there, I’d take the chance in a heartbeat.
So, in my assessment, Thanks a lot Mr. Kibblewhite is a fast-paced read and thoroughly enjoyable. Fans of The Who will love it. I got so into it that I had to watch a bunch of their live shows on YouTube. I wanted to observe each of them individually and collectively. (Yeah, when I’m watching or reading something good, I am obsessed.) They blow me away now more than they ever had! All of them were beautiful and brilliant— topnotch musicians and showmen.
I will say I can’t entirely agree with everything Roger says in his book. For instance, he thinks fidelity should not end a marriage. That might have been debatable at the peak of his fame, but to say that after the 80s? He’s had children with women he played with on the road, so he wasn’t too concerned about protection. In terms of awareness advocacy, I’d be remiss not to say I’m glad he and his wife never had to suffer the consequences.
Other than that, I admire Roger Daltrey and respect him. At 5’6, the man’s presence was (and likely still is) enormous. It seemed to me he was not only grounded and a tough guy, especially with his anti-drug stance but also vulnerable and emotional. What happened to Keith and John—and even the troubles Pete had— broke Roger’s heart. He seemed to have tremendous empathy for them, even though their antics had a detrimental effect on the band, in general, and individually.
One thing struck me while reading about his depression after the series of tragedies. He wrote:
“We hadn’t been able to grieve after John’s death. We had just pushed on through that intense tour and then, only weeks after we’d got home, before we could process it all, Pete was arrested and all our lives got turned upside down. In the face of a sustained crisis your brain stops coping. It shuts down to protect your heart.”
That was sort of an a-ha moment for me because this happened to several people I love and me, too. As simple as it may seem, it is deeply profound. In fact, after reading that, it helped me help someone else. 😉
Roger Daltrey shows, throughout this writing, that he’s capable of admitting his mistakes and learning from them. In my book, people like that are a treasure. Thank you, Roger, for sharing your fascinating story and thought-provoking words of wisdom. If I was a fan before, I’m more of a fan after finishing your book. ❤️
During the George Floyd protests, online activists listed book titles that would help increase black history awareness. The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley was among those recommended to me.
With this writing, Malcolm X hoped to shed light on how growing up in the black ghettoes shaped his life and character. And he knew it would require a great deal of objectivity on the reader’s part.
Indeed, there are harsh truths—painful and soul-crushing truths that justify every bit of anger black people feel. There arealso misogynistic generalizations along with expressed anger and vindictiveness particularly toward white women, but, as he stated later in the book, “Anger can blind human vision.”
It works both ways.
With the “Black Lives Matter” movement, I saw an inability to comprehend that people of color merely demanded the same due process, dignity, and justice given to white people. Those enraged by the protests could not put themselves in those people’s places or even imagine being in that position themselves. They were above it all, and facts didn’t matter. My impression was that they don’t understand because they generally don’t deal with black people personally, Generally speaking, their knowledge of black people is what they see on the news. Or they base their conclusions on the actions of a few, something they wouldn’t do with people of the same race and ethnicity.
There’s been an obsession with “sameness” that has baffled me since I was a child.
Interesting analogy—when my child was born, I had to get an Rh immune globulin shot because I am Rh-negative and didn’t have the Rh factor marker to mix with Rh-positive blood. If I hadn’t done that, and my son was born Rh positive, my immune system would have made antibodies to reject what it detected as a foreign invasion by attacking his red blood cells. That foreign invasion response. The impulsive instinct to reject what isn’t the same, not close enough, and thereby threatening. It’s part of humanity’s defective design. I don’t recognize you, plain and simple. You don’t belong here. Get out. It’s like a bad science fiction movie where you can’t get through to the people affected and can’t save them.
Malcolm X said that, in writing this book, he hoped to help “save America from a grave, possibly even a fatal catastrophe.”
I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.
I remember, years ago, while dating a biracial man, a black woman said to me, “He’s a black man, honey. You can’t possibly understand a black man the way he needs to be understood.” I didn’t know if she was right or wrong. Sure, I realized, from an early age, that discrimination and oppression were completely unacceptable. I was always willing to understand. I’m certainly a lot more aware now than I was then. Yet there is still more to learn.
Responding to speculation as to why he was the way he was, Malcolm X said, “To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth, must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.”
He talked a lot about how reading forever changed the course of his life. “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book,” he said. (And although women were hardly a second thought in the time that he lived, this applies to them, too.) 😉
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley has that ability to change lives. Mr. Haley did an excellent job with it. The pacing was slow—at times, a little too slow, but I’m glad I was patient. It is an important book to read. It proves, as far as I’m concerned, that reading is a must. It has been one of my saving graces in life, and it is what pulled Malcolm X up from the dark, deep, underground tunnels that kept him in the oppressor’s grip, a cycle of self-sabotage and self-loathing that his oppressors created for him and so many others like him.
Exploring works like Native Son by Richard Wright and The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley is a great start for people interested in learning why this great divide continues to exist.
However, according to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, “As of 2017, Americans spent an average of almost 17 minutes per day reading for personal interest (as compared to almost three hours watching television and 28 minutes playing games and using computers for leisure). Younger Americans (ages 15 to 44) spent, on average, less than 10 minutes per day reading for personal interest.”
I firmly believe a lack of reading and exploring is one of the many problems we have in this country.
The truth is, you don’t have to like a person to learn from them, but I ended up liking the person who told this story. The tragic end to his extraordinary life saddens me. Malcolm X was open-minded and remained teachable. He came to understand we are not all alike, all of us white people, and it’s the same thing everyone needs to realize about every other race and ethnicity.
His conclusion was, it isn’t necessarily “the American white man who is a racist, but the American political, economic, and social atmosphere that automatically nourishes a racist psychology in the white man.” And that “it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the human family and the human society complete.” He felt certain if this weren’t the case, we’d have a humane, empathetic society where all of us, rich and poor, could be treated with dignity and respect. He liked the idea of not seeing an inherently evil “enemy” but rather a society that “influences him to act evilly.”
Even Christianity—a religion black people clung to for comfort and hope—became part of that racist psychology. He noted that “The Christian church returned to Africa under the banner of the Cross—conquering, killing, exploiting, pillaging, raping, bullying, beating—and teaching white supremacy. This is how the white man thrust himself into the position of leadership of the world—through the use of naked physical power.”
I so admire the spiritual courage this man had in his search for the truth.
And the truth is, essentially, what makes sense to you after all your exploration and your quest for authenticity. I say it all the time, no group, no matter who, what, or where is perfect. We always have a mix of good and evil. Or, to be kinder, some have seen the light, and others have yet to see it. Let’s hope they keep looking.
“The most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. All too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.” -Martin Luther King, Jr..
MORE BOOKS RECOMMENDED TO ME
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn along with Malcolm X
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs
Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois by W.E.B. Du Bois
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Negro History by Carter G. Woodson’s by Carter G. Woodson
I’ve recently created a site at https://culture-cave.spruz.net/ that allows members to share work, blogs, photos, videos, memes, etc. We also have groups, discussions, and chat rooms.
This social network is for everyone involved in the arts (literature/art/music, etc.). It is also for people who appreciate these contributions (book lovers, music lovers, etc.) All are welcome to share, educate, and learn in a supportive space. Recovery from anything is another welcome topic. We strive to heal, evolve, and succeed!
Our “events” feature allows members to post about online or real-life events, including book launches, signings, and promos.
Our “links” feature will enable members to post their websites for interested readers/clients, etc.
The chat rooms can be utilized by members to host events, meetings, demonstrations—whatever helps them in self-promotion, and we will assist with the invites. They also exist to just chat. 🙂
We can continue to build this site together, so if you think you and anyone you know might enjoy this opportunity, please join us.
Once you join, I ask that you read the “IMPORTANT” note on the left side of our landing page and then “How To Use” this site on our “DISCUSSION” board so that you can achieve the maximum benefits of membership.
Fantasy often bests reality. Sentimentality can provide us with an illusion of innocence in a safe and familiar world. That’s fine, and it’s not hard to understand why people, in their everyday lives, cling to illusions and delusions that comfort and protect.
That said, most of us would say we are honest. We believe that we are. The trouble is, we can’t be honest with others until we are honest with ourselves. And we can’t be honest with ourselves until we know what is true—until we confront it, accept it, and deal with it however we must.
So, why would we not know?
Many of us grow up indoctrinated with a built-in belief system. The beliefs we hold may lead to harsh judgments—to the point of shunning, oppressing, and hating others. There is often an unwillingness to understand people who are different. And these core ideologies can simultaneously result in self-loathing and a feeling of being unworthy or never quite good enough. It’s the inferiority complex turned inside out—a desperate need to feel superior.
Along the lines of needing to be perceived a certain way, I’ve seen debates on how honest to be with children and whether they have a right to hit us with their perception of the truth if it isn’t favorable to us. The ancient rule that you respect all adults no matter what.
I believe children have the right to call out parents on their behavior, and that parents should address their concerns about any relative, family friend, or person in authority. If we care about people (and sometimes even if we don’t) but especially when we care about people, we need to listen to them when they tell us how we’ve hurt them even in the smallest of ways. We can’t be accountable while in denial, can’t grow and evolve, can’t set the example for the children who look to us for guidance.
Pretending we are perfect doesn’t serve anyone. It’s painful to acknowledge when we caused pain where we wanted only to love and protect, but we must. There are many hard lessons in life, just as there are other ways the truth may elude us.
A fair amount of clarity is essential in sorting out what is biased and what is factual. Specific characteristics and predicaments diminish that clarity. Here are a few:
Addiction/obsession (clouds perception, impairs judgment) – For example, I have found that people in recovery continue to gain clarity as they remain sober and clean.
A self-centered existence (usually correlates with substance abuse including alcohol and certain personality disorders)
Lack of self-care (sleep, healthy lifestyle, etc.)
Our agenda (of which we may or may not be aware)
Misinformation (I think being an avid reader of books, especially those that introduce you to different cultures and perspectives helps tremendously.)
Taking ourselves too seriously (also may correlate with substance abuse and certain personality disorders)
CAN WE HANDLE THE TRUTH?
Some of us fearlessly plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths and endure the grueling process of healing. Others deliberately avoid it or scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until they feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper. They don’t want to uncover the truth because they have an inner sense that it won’t serve them well. Indeed, at the moment, it won’t, but it definitely will in the long run.
Ten years ago, I’d assume people could handle whatever I could. It never seemed to sink in that they were as vulnerable and fragile as I was once. My idea of being characteristically direct may have been someone else’s idea of being attacked.
At times, we feel an urgent need to resolve things, and, if we’re not patient, we can end up doing more damage than we intended . The goal is not to “hurt” people, and like any conflict, resolution can happen only when both sides are mentally prepared and open to that— willing to go where it leads. There must be a mutual willingness to get to the truth. When you come from a place of caring and love, you see that they are human and vulnerable, and you approach them that way. Besides, even with the vast amounts of knowledge, wisdom, and insight we acquire, we are all still vulnerable to one degree or another.
THE PRICE OF DENIAL
In January of 2002, Psychology Today published an article by Bill Sullivan, Ph.D., about the devastating consequences lying has on our brain. “Dishonesty puts the brain in a state of heightened alert, and this stress increases with the magnitude of the lie,” he wrote. (It doesn’t apply to sociopaths lacking empathy, but most of us care about our trustworthiness and integrity.) “Symptoms of anxiety arise because lying activates the limbic system in the brain,” he explained. “When people are being honest, this area of the brain shows minimal activity. But when telling a lie, it lights up like a fireworks display. An honest brain is relaxed, while a dishonest brain is frantic.”
Denial has a price, as well, and it’s often quite steep. We see its cost while it continues to happen all around us. Don’t for a moment underestimate its power to destroy lives, institutions, countries, and ultimately civilizations.
While in denial:
We don’t know why we want what we want or need what we need.
We don’t know what our vulnerabilities are.
We hurt people or put them in harm’s way.
We obsess over certain people and things, oblivious to why or the fact that it isn’t normal.
We’re unable to see our part in anything.
We don’t see ourselves or others with clarity, so we mischaracterize our behavior and theirs.
We take dangerous risks and put ourselves or keep ourselves in situations that have serious consequences.
We lie to ourselves and others.
With highly unrealistic expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment and devastation.
We can’t take the right action because we make decisions without the correct information.
We lack empathy.
We have a constant need to do damage control.
We don’t learn from our mistakes, and so we miss life lessons that can empower us.
Being honest is not about unnecessary disclosure. It’s about separating fact from fiction, opinion, and popular belief—notions that cause egos out of bounds, discrimination, exclusion, judgment, and condemnation. We pull the curtain on delusion and denial to let the light in. We choose clarity over confusion. It leads to more empathy, less vulnerability, and decisions based on expanded horizons and a more substantial knowledge base as we surpass our self-imposed limitations and embrace a wider world.
YEAH, THE TRUTH DOES SET YOU FREE
We can wear masks for a lifetime, not knowing who we are or what is real. Or we can begin to peel off one layer of untruth at a time, just as if we were peeling an onion or discarding a myriad of veils.
In the process of uncovering and accepting the truth, the shame that drove us to compete and control begins to dissipate. We learn to love with our whole hearts—not just others but ourselves. We know we are vulnerable. We understand how vulnerable we are, so we walk away from people whose goal is to exploit our vulnerabilities. And we keep getting better at it. That’s good because before we understood, it was easy to lead us, fool us, and enslave us.
Blessed with clearer vision, we can routinely examine our motives and expectations. We won’t always trust our egos, and that’s a good thing. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.
Those of us searching for the truth are tired of being terrified of it. Denial has ceased to be our sole comfort and our only way to survive. The payoff in protecting our hearts, our image, and our secrets is no longer worth it. We came to fully accept that we are all struggling humans, equal in importance.
We continue striving to become more and more authentic. We continue to replace false with real. It’s not as easy as living in denial, but we know we have to get better. We know we have to do better, and it’s important to share what we learn. We are all teachers on this earth, just as we are all students. Sometimes people don’t mean to teach us anything, but they do. Learning doesn’t make you inferior any more than teaching makes you superior.
I love that we continually evolve, and we know better than we did in the past. We are worthy of the truth. We deserve that much.
Smear campaigns. Some of you are familiar with them. It’s when someone is desperately trying to destroy another person’s reputation, beginning with his or her credibility. It’s not a situation where one caring person is confiding in another out of concern. It’s a hateful mission where the motives are insecurity and a need to do damage control.
I often speak out on this subject because I’ve seen it happen between friends (really frenemies), coworkers, lovers, and family members. The saddest thing is when it goes on in a recovery group where everyone is there to work on themselves and help each other. Why would you isolate and destroy vulnerable people who have likely suffered from narcissistic abuse and are working to correct learned behaviors?
It happens a lot. A friend of mine is a target of this right now. I’ve been a target myself in the past.
For some, including me, the obvious solution is to get out of this person’s circle —abruptly, if necessary. If it’s impossible to avoid them entirely, I’d have as little contact as I can manage and refuse to participate. It’s easy to let them charm you when you’re hoping to resolve things, but confiding in them or pouring your heart out is usually a mistake. Just protect yourself. Let them say you abandoned them, rejected them, whatever they need to tell themselves. You don’t owe them a damn thing.
You may say, it isn’t right to have to sacrifice other relationships in a group by removing yourself. I think of it this way. Anyone successfully recruited in some war against you has never been in your corner. Your real friends will come to you. They will have your back and likely sever ties with the character-assassinating troublemaker. Sometimes people will go along with the narcissist to remain part of the crowd (like high school), but that’s not your problem. People believe what they want to believe.
I know it seems unfair, having to surrender without a fight. This person gets to win, and you don’t get to set the record straight. Let me repeat, TOXIC, as in detrimental to your health and well-being. Not worth it. If you’re dealing with the kind of person I’m talking about, you can’t fix it. The more you try, the worse it will get. Think “troll.” Yes, it’s like dealing with some internet troll. You’ll never get them to see things your way or empathize because they don’t really care about you. They’re not able to put themselves in your place. They’ll even take pleasure in your pain.
Humility is your friend here. Let your ego take the hit and move on. You trusted the wrong person. Cut your losses. You’re going to get good at this, and you’ll soon know to avoid these people like the plague, so you’re never in that predicament again.
Experiences like this are traumatic, but they help you learn and grow. They force you to look at whatever part you played in the whole mess, even if it was merely taking the bait from time to time. When we do that, we can easily say and do things that are ordinarily beneath us and, in doing so, strengthen the narcissist’s case. That’s why I say, drop the ball and run. It’s a trap, where you’ll always be damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
You’re dealing with dangerously fragile egos here. Because of what they experienced in life, they consciously or subconsciously, came to believe there is not enough love to go around. They see attention and admiration as a limited commodity. They need to feel they are more worthy and deserving of those things than you are, and second to none. They have to tell themselves they are the favorite, numero uno, the chosen one in every scenario. There are many reasons you may pose a threat. It can be anything. The damage control they do is to convince themselves and others that you are not better or more worthy because if you were, they couldn’t handle that. Underneath it all is an inner child seething with rage.
I’ll share a little story that explains, on a much lighter note, about taking the bait. My mother-in-law used to criticize me on unimportant things. She’d say something like, “She has everything in that diaper bag except the kitchen sink.” That would upset me because, like all new mothers, I wanted to believe I was handling things well. Instead of getting upset, I could have said something like, “Oh, no, the sink’s there. Check the zipper pocket.”
Here’s the key. It’s no fun for them if they can’t bring out the worst in you.
I’ve found it helpful, too, to figure out how I might have handled things better and how I can come out a better person. That’s not to say you weren’t a nice person before, or that I wasn’t, just that we are always striving to get better. What I’m saying is, when people tell you, “don’t lose the lesson,” that’s the critical part. That’s how you win. Continue to do the next right thing, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Live your best life and strive for greater understanding. What’s going to happen is, people will eventually know not to mess with you.
Let me preface this review with something I’ll exclude for the actual Amazon and Goodreads version.
How do you feel about revenge plots —an eye for an eye of stomach-turning torture?
Yeah, I’m not a fan, even though I read and write terrifying books without losing a wink of sleep. Of course, the cruelty is worse when it happens to the victims, but it’s painful to endure even when it happens to the culprits.
I’ve seen almost consistently in my life that people who deserve terrible things to happen to them will make those things happen on their own. They’ve lived it already, are living it now or will live it, and none of it has anything to do with me. Satisfaction can’t possibly come from the same kind of brutality—where we now have more deranged perpetrators than we did initially.
In a book or a film, it’s a fantasy. I get it. I have no harsh judgment for people who enjoy it. While I do have a good sense of humor, I can also be a buzzkill. I don’t even like catfights or cake fights, as hilarious as they may be to some. They’re spiteful and childish and, in the latter case, mess up a perfectly good cake. So I understand and accept that we’re all different in terms of what we like to see, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You think Fifty Shades of Grey is fantastic and exciting? I think it’s awful, but knock yourself out. I’m glad there’s something out there that you enjoy.
What I do like to see in terms of victim vs. culprit is justice served. That means people forever protected from those who’ve harmed them and may harm others. Even in real life, it’s never about punishment for me. It’s about self-protection and self-preservation.
So, on to the review.
T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times bestselling mystery and thriller author. I chose to read her book because I love thrillers. Amazon recommended it based on my browsing, and the reviews encouraged me further.
Two different storylines are going on here. One was about a crime reporter named Sawyer Brooks and her sisters. They grew up in the eerie town of River Rock, where the gruesome murders of three young girls remained unresolved. Sawyer struggles to control her rage and paranoia due to the horrific abuse she suffered since she was a child. When she returns to River Rock for her grandmother’s funeral, another young teen is found dead in the same gruesome manner as the first three. Sawyer’s investigation leads to danger in River Rock’s darkest corners and reunites her with her similarly traumatized sisters.
The other story told in this book focuses on several underdeveloped characters who, while justifiably angry, were doling out torture against men who had abused them. Because of their lack of development, these women never felt real to me. Whenever their chapters came up, I couldn’t wait to get back to Sawyer. Throughout most of both stories, I wasn’t sure what the connection was. The author does tie it together eventually, and she does so quite brilliantly. On that note, I’m glad I was patient.
Don’t Make a Sound is a good, suspenseful page-turner, nicely paced with some great twists. The Brooks sisters are worth rooting for—admirable and relatable in every regard. As far as who did what and when they did it, the author certainly delivered. The ending was satisfying even with that nauseating torture stuff.
Lastly, Don’t Make a Sound is timely in terms of the “Me Too” movement. Most of us understand how distressingly common the abuse is, having been objectified and victimized since childhood. Many of us can recall multiple incidents—perhaps, too many to count, so we get it. However, if you are one of those who find the whole “Me Too” thing uncomfortable because of guilt or denial, find another book to read. And if you have no desire to learn and understand, just go away—far, far away.