Aya Walksfar, Author

Hard hitting, in-the-news murder mysteries

Interview with a Werewolf

First day of your life
The other day I interviewed Elder Maria Many Horses, the Alpha of the North America Wolves, and told her that I was confused about the designation of alpha. I had always heard that alphas were the biggest, strongest, most dominant and, oftentimes, the meanest wolves in the pack.

Elder Many Horses accepted my offer of coffee and settled across the kitchen table from me. “It is only human conception that an alpha wolf is the one who can dominate the other wolves by brute strength and fear. In any fight, especially a true dominance fight, both wolves will be injured. Werewolves have the same instinctive fear as wild wolves—that injury can equate to death even if you win the fight. So, the actual leadership is often passed along to the best qualified leader without bloodshed. Besides, the alpha position is more about caretaking than being taken care of.” She gave a little shrug. “Not many wolves are willing to shoulder the tremendous responsibilities inherent in the alpha position.”
Elder Many Horses on Power
“Besides, wolves are pack animals. We hunt cooperatively; the entire pack cares for the young; and we are extremely social animals. We need each other in order to not only survive, but to thrive. If we solved everything by fighting, our society would devolve into bloodshed and chaos.”

A puzzled frown drew my eyebrows tight. “What if you are directly challenged for the leadership position?”

All levity vanished from her face. “That has occurred in the past, and will most likely occur again in the future; however, one-on-one fights are as often won by cunning and intelligence as by brute strength.” She held up a hand to forestall my question then proceeded to answer what I had not yet asked. “Yes, strength counts, especially in that type of confrontation; however, prowess in all types of battles will win out against pure brute strength. The mind powers the body, regardless of how well-developed the body may be. The one who believes in what they fight for, will frequently win over one who simply fights to gain power.” A smile tipped the corners of her mouth up. “Knowing martial arts helps, too. It is an alpha’s responsibility to stay in shape and to keep our fighting skills honed.”

I refilled our coffee cups before I sat back down and asked another question. “What exactly does an alpha do?”

“We are leaders. Our number one priority is to ensure the safety of the entire pack. That means maintaining peace among the members—from the beta to the omega—and providing a niche for them in the pack’s hierarchy. That, also, means keeping our existence secret from humans, and being prepared to repel aggression from other Supernaturals; such as the situation we’re facing now with the Vampire War. That may mean negotiating a peace or it may mean fighting. The alpha has to consider both options.”

She sipped her coffee, a thoughtful look on her face. I took a chocolate chip cookie from the plate and nibbled it as I waited for her to continue.

“As for keeping our existence secret from the human population. Well, technology has made that more difficult. The only way we can survive is to adapt and change, and the alpha has to lead the way. If there are wolves in the pack who can’t adapt then it’s the alpha’s duty to relocate them where they can live without risk of exposing our species. For the rest of the wolves, a leader has to find ways for them to integrate successfully in the human world. Remember that an alpha’s mantra has to be ‘all things for the greater good’.”

“So, mainstream culture has it all wrong about werewolves?”

A gentle smile stretched her lips and crawled up to her dark eyes. “All of those myths that were so carefully seeded among humans have kept my People safe for millennia. And, they still do. Tell me, who in popular culture would expect the werewolf leader to be a woman of mature years?”

“Is alpha usually a hereditary position?”

“Werewolf succession is neither bloodline bound nor gender bound. Many times in our Story, however, you will note that the best leaders were the biological or the adopted heirs of the current alpha.”

“What about your family?” I dipped another cookie in my coffee and ate the delicious gooeyness as I waited for her to respond.

“I demonstrated alpha qualities at the age of two. Eventually, I took over from my father who had taken over from my grandmother and so on for the past seven generations. My daughter, however, shows beta qualities rather than alpha. My adopted daughter will succeed me as alpha.”

“What if someone issues a dominance challenge?”

Elder Many Horses lips pursed as if she tasted something bitter. “Then she will answer the challenge. Bloodshed and death are always possibilities, not only in werewolf succession but in life; especially, when great power is the prize.” She sat straighter in her chair and locked gazes with me. “I believe she will win any challenge. She has trained since the age of three and she has great strength. I speak not only of the physical, but also of mental and psychological and spiritual strength. If she must fight, she would be fighting to protect our People. There is no more noble objective; and it is one for which she would gladly die, or live. Just as I do.”

To learn more about Elder Maria Many Horses and the Vampire War, read The Vampire War Trilogy. NOW ONLY $0.99 get Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, The Vampire War: https://www.amazon.com/Artemis-Warriors-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B0158NZ1L6

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Arundia Returns, Book 2, The Vampire War ONLY $2.99: https://www.amazon.com/Arundia-Returns-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01HYBFJBW
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Hashtags

manydroplets
As an author, my work is motivated by passion. I care deeply about every novel that I have written. I feel strongly that I have a gift that must not be wasted.
Journey you make
Consequently, while my work entertains, it also tackles some difficult subjects. This can, of course, be more easily seen in my literary and mystery novels, but it even occurs in my vampire trilogy and my YA novel, Black Wind.
(http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK)

What does that have to do with hashtags? Hashtags highlight an important point in a subject so that it is more searchable on the internet and, therefore, can be more easily located by readers. There is a hashtag that sums up the major motivation behind all of my work: #WomensLivesMatter

As I was thinking about that hashtag and how it relates to my writing, I began to realize that there is a second hashtag that is every bit as important: #LGBTQLivesMatter

It is only recently that I began considering what hashtags relate to my writing. It was the advent of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter–coupled with the insistence of writing coaches that hashtags are important to authors–that finally helped me realize how important hashtags really are in this web-connected world. I began considering what the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter meant to me. The longer I thought about this hashtag, the more similarities I discovered between the occurrences that birthed that particular hashtag and the events that motivated my work. Let me start at the beginning.

I write to entertain, but I also write to empower women. Why do women need to be empowered?

Women grow up knowing that we are never safe: not on the street, not on college campuses, not in high schools; and not even in their churches. We realize that we face potential violence toward us whenever we do those ordinary things such as riding the subway, walking down the street, having a drink in a bar; and even in our own homes in bed asleep.
We are at risk for being beaten, raped, and murdered simply because we are women. The least dangerous thing that happens to us is being verbally harassed, but even that can turn deadly in the blink of an eye.

We are not safe from teachers, preachers, strangers, friends, lovers, or even family members from the time we are small children. And, all too frequently, we are not safe from the very ones society has placed in power over us; and policemen are all too likely to be a part of the problem, right down to actually beating, raping and murdering us.
There is simply no telling when or from where the attacks might come.

This situation has gone on for so long and has been so prevalent in our society that it has become normalized. Girls are warned about what they must do to lessen the risk of being attacked: don’t provoke them, don’t talk back, go along with whatever they are asking of you, don’t complain, be careful of what you wear, watch out for how you present yourself including how you walk, don’t go to certain places, never be alone as there is some safety in numbers sometimes, and if you are attacked, don’t fight back because they might kill you.
Of course, none of those things really work because the woman is not the perpetrator of the crime against them. We are the victim.

In order to break this cycle of victimization, the situations need to be brought to light. We cannot overcome that which we cannot name.

Just as women have experienced this level of potential violence all of our lives–consciously or subconsciously–black Americans also experience this level of violence. Simply take out the word woman and insert the word black in the above descriptions. And, as it is with women, it is with black Americans: they are warned not to provoke their attackers, to be careful where they go and when they go, to watch what they wear, and so on. Yet, as it is with women, it is with black Americans—there is nothing they can do to prevent those attacks upon them because they are not the perpetrators; they are the victims.

Women must measure the potential threat from all males in all situations. For black Americans, law enforcement officers have become a large, and very visible, part of the problem of violence against them.

A problem that is named is a problem more likely to be fought and overcome. Because the violence against black Americans has been coming, increasingly, from law enforcement officers, it has become important to name the issue: the issue is the casual and deadly violence with which police officers are confronting black Americans. Hence the need for a hashtag that refutes the police officers’ casual use of deadly force: #BlackLivesMatter

The more I considered the violence against women, the more I realized how the violence against black Americans contains strong similarities.

  1. Both situations occur with such regularity that they have become “normalized” and therefore, a nearly invisible part of society.
  2. Victim blaming occurs in both situations.
  3. These situations are not going to improve until certain conditions are met.

The conditions needed to resolve both situations are very simple, yet quite difficult to put into place. Think of these conditions as an arc, or an arch, beneath which justice and safety lie for all citizens.

A. Accountability: the perpetrators must be held to strict standards of accountability to the victim and to society.
B. Responsibility: the perpetrators must be given the absolute personal responsibility for their own actions against the victim, regardless of such irrelevant issues as what the victim was wearing, how the victim spoke, and so on.
C. Consequences: the perpetrators must face serious consequences that truly fit the crime they committed. For example, murder should result in very long prison terms, at the least, and should most often result in life in prison since the victim’s life has been cut short. Rapists should not be free to rape again and again and again.

Currently, perpetrators are not held accountable for the damage to people’s lives, and for the deaths they cause. They are not forced to stand responsible for their own actions. Excuses are presented to explain their behavior which then mitigates their personal responsibility; things like what the victim wore, how the victim spoke to them, why was the victim walking alone on the street at that hour (because they have a right to be there?), why was the victim standing on that corner.

In the case of law enforcement officers, there is the additional responsibility they assume when they begin wearing a uniform: they assume the responsibility to de-escalate situations so that the least amount of violence occurs.

And the perpetrators all too often do not face consequences commiserate with their actions. Rapists are given hand slaps and set free even when found guilty (after all who would think of ‘ruining’ a young man’s life when he is such a great athlete, regardless of the fact that he negatively impacted a woman’s entire life?) Law enforcement officers walk away from killings with a few weeks administrative leave and a bogus investigation into their crimes.

Our country does not face the greatest threat from outside terrorists. The greatest, most grave threat to our nation is the threat of home grown terrorists be they maniacs hiding behind religion or murderers hiding behind badges.

A good friend of mine, who also happens to be a very intelligent woman, pointed out that many people seem to demand that every Muslim who is not a terrorist should apologize for and condemn every terrorist who murders in the name of the Muslim religion while at the same time we do not hold police officers to that standard of behavior. For some reason, we don’t demand that all police officers apologize for and condemn every terrorist who hides behind the blue line and a badge.

Muslim civilians are not responsible for what others who claim that religion do. It would be like saying that all white Christians be held responsible for the actions of the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Church! However, when police officers take the oath to serve and to protect, they are accepting the responsibility to protect civilians against all threats, even if that threat comes from one of their own. Even moreso if that threat originates from one of their own.

It is time to demand that our police officers live up to that responsibility, or find new vocations. If there is a bad cop out there who pulls a gun on a civilian in a situation that does not call for that measure of violence, then it is up to the good cops to stop that cop before he murders a civilian; before he rapes a woman; before he beats up a queer.

To those entrusted with great power, rests great responsibility.

Yes, all lives do matter and that includes the lives of police officers. There are police officers—wonderful people who uphold the law and whom I greatly admire; people I am honored to call my friends—and I fear for their safety out there on the mean streets; however, until certain groups are no longer targeted, we must keep bringing to the public awareness that these groups are being targeted: women, LGBTQ people, and black Americans.

#BlackLivesMatter #WomensLivesMatter #LGBTQLivesMatter

As grave as these matters are, I am an eternal optimist. In every novel I write, the good/the light within people always triumphs. I believe our country will overcome this dark night and the sun of a beautiful day will one day shine upon all of us.
NoMatterHowLong

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July 4th

There are many things I love about #America, but the one that brings me the most hope is being celebrated on this day–July 4th celebrates change; great change.
That is what the United States is truly about: the ability to change; to learn and to grow.
Change

Sometimes, our growth has been bitter with spilled blood as seen during the Civil War and during the 1960s when civil rights for black Americans was hotly contested.Yet, as #MayaAngelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This has been America’s saving grace; America’s greatest strength—the willingness to do the best we can, and when we know better, we try hard to do better. As an American who is both a woman and a lesbian, this has been the knowledge that has kept my faith in America strong. I believe that women and men, citizens of our great nation, will always strive to grow and to learn; and, ultimately, to do better.

This past year has brought great changes to the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, it has also brought about terrible backlash. LGBTQ people, especially of the transgender orientation, have faced tremendous violence in every city and state in the nation. In Orlando, Florida the worst attack ever launched against us was when a deranged man with an assault rifle murdered 49 people and injured 53 others in the Pulse nightclub—a place that had been founded to create a safe space for LGBTQ people.

We have people trying to discover ways to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling; and we have others discovering new ways to write laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people—laws that allow LGBTQ people to be fired from our jobs, evicted from our homes, refused service in an eating establishment; laws which negatively impact our ability to foster or adopt children and in the long run, may once again impact our right to even maintain custody and/or contact with our own blood children. (Beyond the Silence was written specifically to highlight not only the physical violence suffered by some lesbians, but the emotional violence of having their blood children ripped away because their mother is a lesbian! Though my novel is fiction, it was written with the blood and tears of real people. With North Carolina’s law in effect, such things can once again occur.)

History has demonstrated that change is difficult. People fear anything different. They desperately try to maintain the status quo. But, in the end, America has never backed away from true and lasting change that resulted in guaranteeing freedom to all of her citizens. When we allow laws to be put into place that disregard the freedom of a particular group of people—whether that group is black Americans, LGBTQ people, or Japanese-Americans—we are setting the foundation for everyone’s freedom to be violated.

In the 1960s, it was determined that if you owned a business establishment that was open to the general public then you had to serve black Americans the same as you served white Americans, regardless of your personal beliefs against it—beliefs that told you that black and white Americans should not drink from the same fountain, eat at the same establishment, or attend the same schools. Today that same argument—the argument that says someone’s personal beliefs should allow them to discriminate against a particular segment of the public—has been used by several states against LGBTQ people, most notably in North Carolina.

I believe that the citizens of this nation will not allow such a law to go unchallenged; will not allow such a law to continue to exist. Just like in the 1960s, I believe that the people of the United States will destroy such discriminatory practices, once and for all. I believe that someday, soon I pray, LGBTQ people will celebrate July 4th with the same guaranteed freedoms that their heterosexual counterparts now enjoy.
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#LGBTQ Month

CreatorLovesDiversity

As LGBTQ Month draws to a close, I wanted to tell a story about my own life.

We are all products of a number of variables, among them our environments; especially, the one in which we matured. I wish I could say that I was different; completely self-made, independent of anyone’s influence, but I can’t. The way in which we grow up helps us to either accept ourselves for what we are or it throws us into a lifetime of denial and pain.

creator's child

As many of you know, I grew up in a desperately poor neighborhood. Of course, my mother, being the rebel that she was, refused to stay confined to those few streets, unlike so many people in our neighborhood. Whenever she could scrape together the gas money, she would load all of us up, including my grandmother, and go driving. Sometimes out to North Hills—much nicer, a rural setting back then—where we had a particular ice cream shop at which we stopped. My grandmother always had rainbow sherbert while the rest of us tried a variety of flavors. Something encouraged by my mother.

That vignette sums up my mother: someone who pushed against the strictures in which she found herself bound. When those strictures wouldn’t give, something in my mother did, and she expressed that frustration and depression as rage.

It took me many years to discover why my mother held such rage inside. At the age of nineteen, I finally understood. By this time, my mother had moved our family out of the city and into rural suburbia to live on two-and-a-half acres of land, surrounded by animals she rescued. However, the move had done nothing to calm her “temper” and periodically, blood was spilled. I don’t excuse my mother’s violence—all too frequently I suffered as the target—but I do now understand it.

A creative individual, my mother wrote songs, played the guitar, sang, could dance any dance, and could even dance on roller skates. At fourteen, she left home to “seek her fortune” as a singer. Not uncommon at the time for a talented young person to do. Unfortunately, those talented young people were almost always males. Turned aside at venue after venue, my mother turned to illegal means to earn a living. (Years later, I suffered the same type of discrimination when I worked as a mechanic. Shop after shop denied me employment due to my gender.)
Over time, Mom relinquished the pursuit of a singing career and eventually founded a home remodeling business.

At nineteen, I returned home and went to work for my mother. After a couple of weeks of no “flying off the handle”, I chalked up her “mellowing” due to her getting older. (After all, she was thirty-nine.)Until that special Wednesday.

Mom and I had been working on a beautiful Victorian-style house in Mount Lebanon that belonged to a nurse. At lunch time, the nurse came out and announced that lunch was prepared. This in itself was unusual. Some clients, who loved my mother, would fix us sandwiches and beverages, but never a sit-down full meal lunch. During that lunch, I watched the interactions between my mother and this other woman. Kids always know the score!

I left the table that day with the knowledge of what—or in this case who—had brought about the drastic changes in my mother.

My mother died about a year after I met her nurse-friend-lover. That year was filled with good memories—memories of the two of them together, memories of my mother and I laughing.
Up until then, being the product of my society, I had bristled and even gotten into fights if someone so much as insinuated that I might be lesbian. After seeing how that woman brought out the best in my mother, I accepted that being a lesbian—for my mom—was a good thing. It would take me a bit longer to accept being a lesbian for myself.

What was even more interesting was this:
I had always believed that I had inherited my mother’s rage. I was prone to fighting, and never flinched from a violent confrontation. After my mother met her nurse, her rage dissipated. Although it was years later before I got a handle on my personal rage, I finally knew genetics had nothing to do with our rages.

Society’s bigotry had forced my mother to be someone she wasn’t; had denied her not only the work she would have loved, had she been given the opportunity to perform in the venues that were open to men, but had also denied her sexuality. Mom was, in many respects, able to overcome her disappointment in not achieving her dream, (after all, she knew how competitive a career as a singer could be and she was realistic),but she could never overcome her unhappiness at being forced into a heterosexual life style.

My mother gave me an invaluable gift: the ability to accept being a lesbian. Accepting my lesbianism, eventually allowed me to overcome my own “rages.” I learned that #LoveWins and it can, indeed, change us. So, no matter who you love….

loveisagift

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5 #Supernatural Facts You Need To Know

From the time of the Great Fall, vampires have lived among us. Although there have been times when humans and vampires have coexisted somewhat peacefully, that has not occurred for hundreds of years–not since the Time of Hunting. During the Time of Hunting, humans partnered with certain segments of vampire society and declared war upon all Supernaturals. Fortunately, another segment of vampire society continued to be strict adherents to Artemis’ Purpose.
By the time the second vampire war ended, thousands of humans, vampires and other Supernaturals lay dead. Human hysteria fed continued attacks on vampire and Supernatural enclaves, and so vampires and other Supernaturals went underground. In order to soothe human fears, many myths, legends and other sources of misinformation were established by the Supernatural community.
Here are 5 such myths:

  1. Myth: #Vampires, werewolves, witches, and other Supernaturals don’t exist. The truth is that Supernaturals have existed since Time Began, except for vampires. Vampires were created by Artemis in response to Caine killing his sister, Abella.

  2. Myth: Vampires are harmed by garlic, holy water, crosses or other symbols of religion, silver, and sunlight. The truths is that some vampires enjoy a nice, garlic-laden Italian dinner, belong to various religions, have silver serving dishes and wear silver jewelry, and sun bathe like humans. Vampires can be killed, however, by shredding the heart and decapitation. Gold weakens and burns them.

  3. Myth: Vampires are evil. The truth is there are two distinct segments of vampire society. One segment views humans as blood cattle; the other segment adheres to Artemis’ Purpose to save human souls.

  4. Myth: Vampires turn into bats and fly. The truth is that vampires can no more fly–without an airplane–than humans. However, they can teleport, but it is a rare Power. Vampires do have a wide range of other Powers, though.

  5. Myth: Vampires are ruled by blood lust. The truth is that Artemis instilled both a blood lust and a sexual lust in vampires in order to remind them of there connection to humanity. Although vampires can survive on feeding their Hungers with vampires, Supernaturals or even animals, over time their Powers will weaken. In order to maintain the optimal level of Power they must feed from humans, both blood and sex.

In spite of hundreds of years of carefully maintaining their mythological status, vampires now face the risk of being outed. Once defeated by the combined efforts of vampires and other Supernaturals, the segment of vampire society that wants to make humans into blood-cattle has risen from the ashes of that defeat. While the World Council of Matriarchs sit on the sidelines, First Councilwoman Serena Longer faces the greatest challenge of her very long life: to keep her heart and her People safe.
To learn more about vampires, read Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, The Vampire War.
https://www.amazon.com/Artemis-Warriors-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B0158NZ1L6
front cover artemis

COMING July 8th on Amazon! Arundia Returns, Book 2, The Vampire War.

If you love vampires, enjoy a good adventure with a sexy heroine, you don’t want to miss The Vampire War Trilogy!
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5 Rules for Juggling Life

5 Rules for Juggling Life
1. When you wake up, decide on your attitude for the day. Sometimes, we all have days when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe we had unpleasant dreams or ate the wrong kind of food for dinner; whatever the reason, we are irritable. Such irritation sets the tone for the day. If you allow it to continue, it will taint all that you attempt to do. Take a few minutes, grab a cup of tea or coffee and look out your window at the magnificent day! Even if a cold wind is blowing and rain is slashing down, it is still a glorious day. You have these hours of life ahead of you. This moment, right now, is the beginning of the rest of your life!
what moment waterfalls imagequote
2. No matter how positive we determine to be, sometimes life happens. Sadness invades our hearts; perhaps a friend dies or a senseless act of violence rips through the community. You feel impotent, angry, lost. Reach out to someone and ask for help in dealing with such events, whether those events are personal or more widespread. We all need help sometimes.
IAmHappy
3. Prioritize your day. No day is ever long enough to accomplish everything we want to get done. If we fail to prioritize, we spin our wheels leaping from one emergency to another and getting nothing completely done. By the end of the day, we are exhausted and feel as if we’ve failed. Don’t do this to yourself! Sit down with that cup of tea or coffee, take out a piece of paper and a pen. Make a list of everything you want to do then go back through it and number it. The “have to get done” thing is number 1. Number 10 or higher is reserved for those things that will inevitably wind up on tomorrow’s list.Remember, to get where you are going, you have to know which roads you need to take and in what order.
no distance too far
4. Be sure to leave time for loved ones; take time to say I love you. Take time to hug that special someone. Life is not guaranteed to any of us. This moment is all that we own. I think of those poor relatives of the Orlando victims—their loved ones will never return home; there will never be another day, or even another hour, in which to tell them they are loved; they are valued.
loveisagift
5. Make time for yourself. If you don’t allow yourself time to heal, to regenerate, you will eventually have nothing to give to anyone else. You are one of Creator’s children, too, and you are worthy of care; of love, both from others and from yourself.
creator's child

Per Rule 1: I realize that it is easier to expound on “rules for juggling life” and all of its many demands than it is to actually put these things into practice. I have found that if I take time for a cup of tea in the mornings, before I begin my day, then it is easier to keep a positive attitude. There are times that translates into getting out of bed a few minutes earlier. In my experience, such measures are well worth the reward.
Per Rule 2: This past week has been rough; emotions swing wildly as the full impact of the massacre in Orlando, Florida becomes devastatingly apparent. As a lesbian, I have faced violence before, but the pure hatefulness–such as the protesters at the #Orlando funerals–that has come to light staggers me, heart, mind and soul. Then love will shine through the darkness and my emotions swing back the other way. Trying to maintain a positive and/or productive attitude in the midst of this tragedy, has been challenging. There have been times I have had to simply shut down any input from outside to give myself a breather to regroup. I have talked about this attack to friends and that has helped to a certain degree. I have turned to my pagan beliefs and that, too, has helped as my spirituality always does. And, I have written. Writing has always been the staff that steadies me against the greatest of storms.
Per Rule 3: I have a easy-to-carry-with-me calendar. I write down everything in the calendar from stopping at the store to doctors’ appointments to what I need to do for my writing. Then I break those things down farther, such as writing becomes write one chapter in new WIP (work in progress), respond to three readers’ questions, contact beta readers about newest novel, and so on. Not only does it help me not to forget important steps I need to take, but it is satisfying to run a line through each item that I accomplish.
Per Rule 4: The people and dogs that I love recharge me. When I hug my wife, I am energized. I feel as if I can climb Mount Everest. Throwing a ball for my dog or taking one of them for a walk or simply cuddling one of them on the couch, centers and refreshes me. I usually don’t set aside a large amount of time all at once, except for things my wife and I have planned, but instead I take fifteen minutes here and there. Those minutes help me to clear my mind so that when I return to my work, I often find the solution to the problem that had previously had me stumped.
Per Rule 5: I must admit–I am not very good at this one. I find it difficult to take the time I need for myself. For example, my occupational therapist says I have to do certain exercises throughout the day, but when evening arrives I often find that I have not performed those exercises. Literally scheduling in time for such things on my calendar goes a long way toward achieving my self-care goals whether that goal is exercise, a long soak in the tub, vegging out with a book, or taking time to make a greenie Smoothie for myself instead of eating a Danish roll.

These five “rules” help me to #ManageStress and accomplish more.

What rules do you have for juggling your life? I would love to hear. Please, share.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
1. Arundia Returns, Book 2, the Vampire War, will be released July 8, 2016. I am offering a FREE pdf of Artemis’ Warriors to anyone who would like to do a review of Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, the Vampire War. Simply drop me an email at ayawalksfar@gmail.com In the subject line put: Reviewer’s Free Copy Artemis’ Warriors. This offer is only good until July 7th.
2. Death by Dog, #SpecialCrimesTeam, goes ON SAle for $0.99 from July 1 through July 9.
3. Are you a member of Audible? FREE #Audible download codes for Sketch of a Murder, Special Crimes Team; Street Harvest, Special Crimes Team; and, Old Woman Gone, Special Crimes Team, in exchange for a review on Audible and/or Amazon. Simply email me at ayawalksfar@gmail.com In the subject line put: Free Audible download code In the body of the email, please specify which book you would like to have.

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#RememberOrlando

ChooseToBe
49 dead. 53 injured. 25 still fighting for their lives in the hospitals in Florida. The worst massacre on United States soil since 9/11. Hate was the foundation for both 9/11 and the massacre in Orlando. On 9/11, people felt they had the right to “punish” the United States; that they were called by their “God” to do so. In Orlando, one man felt he had the right to “punish” people because they dared to show affection in public, and they happened to be gay. (Think how often you have kissed your loved, touched your loved one, in public…)
In spite of the Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015 to be openly LGBTQ is still dangerous—not in some foreign nation, but right here in the United States.
Haters still cling to expressing their hatred in a number of ways. It is manifested by government officials refusing to issue a marriage license the looks the same as any heterosexual couples marriage license (one state issues a different looking marriage license for lesbian and gay couples). In some states, such as North Carolina, that hate is manifested in a wide variety of government-sanctioned ways, one of which is a restaurant owner hiding behind his Christianity can refuse to serve LGBT people. In several states that do not explicitly forbid discrimination against LGBTQ people, an employer can fire a lesbian or gay employee who gets married and asks to have her/his wife/husband covered by the employer’s insurance; or an apartment manager can evict a lesbian or gay family. Some states do not allow lesbian or gay couples to foster or adopt abandoned children.
On Sunday, June 12, 2016, around 2:40 a.m., as a crowded, LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida served its last round a man with a semi-automatic AR-15 that had the capacity to rapid fire 20 or more rounds–an assault weapon usually carried by the military in war zones; the same type of weapon that massacred people Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. and San Bernadino, California–manifested his hate with a spray of deadly bullets.
For over three hours, people in that nightclub did not know whether they would live or die. One young man texted his mother: “in the bathroom” and a little later, “I’m gonna die”. He never made it home. A 22-year-old man had gone to the nightclub to listen to salsa music with his boyfriend. His bullet-riddled body was one of the ones carried out. A 31-year-old woman was dancing with her girlfriend when the shooting erupted. A 49-year-old heterosexual woman had gone to the club with her 21-year-old gay son. She had survived cancer twice; she didn’t survive the massacre.
Some political candidates–instead of focusing on the victims–are using this massacre to increase more hate. They want us to believe these kind of things are only perpetrated by Muslims associated with Islamic Terrorists and that therefore we should take strict measures against those who are Muslim, including banning their immigration into the United States. Unfortunately, the man responsible for the mass murders in Aurora, Colarado in 2012 was Caucasian and had no affiliation with Muslims or Islam; the boy who killed 20 6-and-7-year-old children and six adults was likewise Caucasian and had no affiliation with the Islamic Terrorists. In 2014, a young man murdered women and men because “women rejected his advances and sexually-active men had a more fun life than he did”. No affiliation with Islamic Terrorists. Men who proclaim to be Christians have routinely murdered black men and women and children since the days of slavery and the only organization with which they are affiliated is the Ku Klux Klan. Other radical, Christian groups have also periodically targeted blacks, LGBTQ people and others who were different than themselves.
These killings are not about religion; they are about hate. It is as simple as that. People who hate and have access to assault weapons can do more damage more quickly than those who do not have access to assault weapons. It is a simple equation even for someone like myself who “doesn’t do math”.
(NOTE:I believe in the right to own handguns, rifles and shotguns. Own a few myself; even have a Concealed Carry Permit. But civilians have no need to own assault weapons whose only use is to kill a massive number of people in as little time as possible without the need to reload frequently!)
The scary thing is this: for the past month I have been working on a new novel for my Special Crimes Team series. The working title is Eve of Destruction. It is about people who despise those who are not like them and make a decision to physically attack those people simply for the “crime” of being different.
CreatorLovesDiversity
I began writing Eve of Destruction in response to having a major political election with a candidate who preaches hate and discrimination. Such high level propagation of misogyny, racial bigotry, and religious hate is bound to fuel the hate and violence of those who already walk a fine line between civility and violence.
Although my Special Crimes Team series dissects serious issues in our society (as well as presenting a edge-of-the-seat mystery), my natural optimism always shows itself in my work. At the end, those who had been hard beset find ways to overcome.
While I read about the massacre in Florida, the death, the dying, the senseless violence, the hate of one man, I also read about victims who instead of blindly running away helped other victims escape; people who tore off their shirts to bind someone else’s wounds. I read about candlelight vigils and those who reached out to victims and their families and friends. I read about the real people; the everyday people of the United States, and that made me proud to live here, to be a U.S. citizen. It seems that regardless of how ugly a few people can get; how they can manifest their hatred of women, blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ, and anyone different than themselves there are others who remind me that people are often beautiful, brave, generous, and kind.
This is what keeps me optimistic. And it is this optimism that prevails in my work and my life. Though the massacre of innocent people occurs, and has been occurring with a frightening regularity in recent years, I believe that the people of the United States are basically good people; kind and just people. I believe that those people of common sense and basic human decency will overcome the haters.
CarryPeace
DON’T speak his name! Instead #SpeakNamesOfTheVictims!
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/orlando-nightclub-massacre/orlando-massacre-what-we-know-about-victims-n591141

DON’T LET HATE WIN! LOVE CAN OVERCOME!

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Absent Until June 6

butterfly
Wanted to let everyone know that I will be taking a few days off from my work to simply enjoy my wife and the beauty that surrounds us every day. Have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. Be sure to kiss your loved ones and take time to gaze in awe at the sunsets.
IAmHappy

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The Truth About #Vampires

In the Secret Archives of The Matriarch
Dissertation: The Truth about Vampires
By Serena Longer, First Councilwoman of the North America Vampires

Through the millennia vampires have had to propagate certain falsehoods for their safety, and the safety of humans closely associated with them. Here is a brief, and true, history of the vampire race, and the establishment of the North America Region.

When Cain murdered his sister, Abella, he and his children then attempted to eradicate Abella’s progeny. They cruelly hunted the children, murdering and torturing any they found. Their rationalization for such extreme actions was that Abella’s children followed a false diety, the Great Mother.

Artemis, Protector of the Vulnerable, intervened. She granted certain powers to Abella’s children, making them no longer fully human. She granted them superior strength, speed, intelligence and senses as well as near immortality. Goddess Hecate, the Mother of Magic, added certain magical abilities to the vampire race, though those abilities varied with each vampire line.

In return for the Warrior Goddess’ protection and Hecate’s magical abilities, the Children of Abella gave an oath to Artemis to follow the Goddess’ Purpose. According to The Purpose, Abella’s children would use their gifts to guide and to protect Cain’s progeny. They were to aid in the salvation of human souls by helping humans to evolve beyond their genetic predisposition to murder and destroy not only other two-legged, sentient beings but the other beings, such as animals, birds, even the trees and the Earth Mother as well.

A thousand years after The Purpose was set out, a number of vampire families fell away from The True Path of Artemis. They began to use their ability to enthrall and to enslave humans and other Supernatural races, and to treat all humans with contempt. Certain powerful vampire families often left drained human bodies where they died. Since at this time, humans were well aware of the existence of vampires, there was no doubt as to what type of being killed their sisters and brothers.

Panic among the human population ensued. Years of bloody fighting occurred. This was the time of The Great Fall. Many of the vampire Ancients and the vampire Teachers were murdered either by powerful vampires wanting to usurp their Families and Clans or by panicked bands of humans. Humans rioted through many vampire estates burning and beheading.

At this time there arose a type of human, from Cain’s descendants, who wielded magical powers given to them by the gods who were jealous of Great Goddess and the Goddesses. These magical wielders came to be known as Magic Users. Among their abilities was the magic that allowed them to break the enthrallment that some vampires indiscriminately used to bind humans, taking away the human’s freewill.

Magic Users despised vampires and lived only to destroy the vampire race. Though human, they frequently lived for much longer than normal human lifespans. Their powers increased as they aged and they experienced no human tendency toward disease or disability. Magic Users would gather enthralled humans, break their enthrallment and lead them to destroy vampire compounds and villages.

Between devastation reeked by humans and the destruction visited upon smaller, weaker vampire Families and Clans by those vampires of superior military strength, many vampire Clans were greatly reduced. Some vampire Clans were wiped out completely during the time known as The Great Fall.

Fortunately, the vampires who sought to enslave humans, other vampires and other Supernaturals also suffered grievous losses during this war. Weakened and at risk of being totally destroyed, the vampire race as well as other Supernaturals went into hiding; often in plain sight.

Humans who once knew about vampires and other Supernaturals eventually died off, as humans are prone to do. Knowledge about vampires and other Supernaturals became relegated to the status of legend and myth. Vampires in positions of power in the human world—either as educators or historians especially–did much to obfuscate the truth about the existence of vampires, witches and other Supernaturals.

For many generations, vampires exercised caution and took only what they needed. Using their powers, they confused the minds of the humans they drank from, leaving those humans to believe that they dreamed of the encounters. If a human was drained, the offending vampire—fearing vampire justice—carefully hid the body. Many returned to The True Path and to the Teachings of Artemis.

Hundreds of years of relative peace and prosperity for vampires followed. Until The Time of Hunting. Human history notes this era as the Dark Ages. Old legends were revived. Magic Users, who understood the fears of their fellow humans, slowly came out of hiding. They led the populace against the vampires and other Supernatural races. During this time, some vampires fled Europe. The ones who remained went deep underground.

After the hysteria died down, The Time of Hunting came to an end. The vampire population had once again been decimated. The Families and Clans who survived created the Matriarchs’ World Council comprised of the five surviving Ancients—those Matriarchs who were among the Original Vampires. The Council set out certain rules of conduct known as the Edicts of the World Council or Vampire Law.

The first and most stringent Edict was against Open Enthrallment. The Policy of Open Enthrallment upheld a vampire’s right to enthrall humans who would then be compelled to provide sustenance in the form of blood for the vampire and any she/he chose. This was much like the keeping of cattle among humans. Once the human grew too old or too ill to provide sustenance, or to be used as a slave, they were killed. Furthermore, selected humans could be Changed against their will.

The First Edict of the World Council was The Policy Against Open Enthrallment. It provided strict guidelines governing who could be enthralled, as well as who could be Changed, and under what conditions.

The second most important edict, The Edict of Mythology, decreed that all vampires propagate certain mythologies concerning Vampires and other Supernaturals.

These major reason for these mythologies was to convince humans that vampires and other Supernatural races only lived in one’s imagination or as stories told to frighten children into behaving.

Among the many mythologies some of the most popular ones are:
–Vampires are destroyed by sunlight.
–Vampires cannot go into a church, or other holy edifice.
–Vampires must sleep in coffins, sometimes with dirt from their homeland.
–Holy water and other holy artifacts can physically harm, and sometimes destroy, vampires.
–Vampires must kill in order to stay healthy.
–Vampires are cold to the touch.
–Vampires have no heartbeat.
–Vampires do not breathe.
–Vampires do not have souls.
–Vampires cannot propogate, except by ‘turning humans.’

There are, of course, other mythologies that usually spring from specific localities or cultures.

The Matriachs’ World Council, however, refused to enforce Artemis’ Purpose. It was decided that such matters must lie within the power of each vampire to individually decide.

After The Time of Hunting, the Matriarchs divided the world into five Regions. The Longer Family, led by Matriarch Belora, eventually immigrated to the New World, claiming the North America Region, which consisted of what came to be known as the United States of America, Canada and Mexico.

This paper is an overview of the history of the founding of the Vampire Race and the establishment of the North America Region.

See other entries in the Secret Archive of the Matriarch for further information and additional subjects.

To learn more about Serena Longer and vampires, be sure to read Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, The Vampire War https://www.amazon.com/Artemis-Warriors-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B0158NZ1L6

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It’s Really Up To Each of Us

creator's child

Like many authors, I tackle everyday issues in my work–everything from dog fighting, hate crimes, serial killers, human trafficking of children to LGBT rights. All of these issues are close to my heart. I love dogs; I believe we all have a responsibility to stop human trafficking; I have worked with street kids; and I have spent a lifetime fighting for human rights in one way or another–the first time at the age of fourteen.

Like many lesbians, I had hoped that marriage equality would pave the way for acceptance of LGBT rights–not special privileges as some seem to believe–just human rights enjoyed by any heterosexual person. Unfortunately, the fight for LGBT rights is not over.

Why should this concern my readers?

The words of Martin Niemoller, (1892-1984) a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken foe of Hitler, and consequently spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camp, say it more eloquently than I can:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

For those living in the beautiful state of Washington where #HumanRights is more widely accepted than some states this may seem like a dead issue. I truly wish it were, but the advent of I-1515 places grave doubt that the fight for human rights for LGBT people, even in Washington state, is over.

According to The Atlantic in January, 2016:
“Twenty-eight. That’s the number of states where it’s not against the law to discriminate against a gay person who’s looking for an apartment, applying for a job, or buying something from a store. Five more states have protections, but with exceptions: New York, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin don’t forbid discrimination against transgender people, for example, and Massachusetts and Utah don’t protect all LGBT people in all situations in which discrimination might arise. The federal government does not protect against this kind of discrimination, either, except in limited cases. Although Democrats have proposed legislation that would change that, the chances of it successfully sliding through a Republican Congress in an election year seem slim.
The irony of gay marriage becoming legal in the United States is that it has made discrimination against LBGT people easier. For example: Many newlywed couples may be asking their employers for spousal benefits for the first time. Depending on where they live, it may or may not be illegal for that employer to respond by firing them—something that happened in a number of states in 2015.”

(see full article http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/lgbt-discrimination-protection-states-religion/422730/)

Conservatives are using the #FirstAmendment to attack LGBT rights. The First Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;….
While this Amendment originally pertained to establishing places of worship and worshipping without fear of violence, conservatives are using these words to bring back Jim Crow segregation laws that will at first be used against LGBT people.” (emphasis is mine)

Essentially what it boils down to is that I may have the right to marry the one I love, but I may not have the right to take her out to dinner (anyone remember a time when black Americans could not sit in certain restaurants?), or have our photographs taken, or to order a cake to celebrate our anniversary.

Several states have bills to allegedly “protect religious freedom”, but which in reality allows commercial businesses and organizations, including taxpayer funded organizations and governmental workers, to refuse services to LGBT people by simply saying it is against their “sincerely held religious beliefs” to serve certain individuals.
These same people frequently do not adhere to the rest of the tenets of whichever faith they are hiding behind, such as Christianity. If one decides that their “sincerely held religious beliefs”–almost always based on Christianity and the Bible–says they should not serve homosexuals because the Bible condemns homosexuals, then why are these people still divorcing, having sex outside of marriage, wearing cloth made of two different kinds of threads, not closing their businesses on the Sabbath, and so on? Why should they be allowed to cherry-pick which so-called sincere beliefs they have so that they can justify discrimination against a particular group of individuals?

According to Huffington Post, these bills—AKA Religious Freedom Restoration Acts—are popping up all over the place.

“Conservatives are putting forward state-level RFRAs to let people claim religious liberty as a justification for denying services to LGBT people. So you’ve got the evangelical Christian bakery that refuses to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, for example, or the photographer who refuses to provide services to a gay couple. In some cases, these bills are written so broadly that they also allow discrimination against single mothers, interfaith couples and interracial couples.
Seven states have active RFRA bills: Colorado (HB 1180), Hawaii (HB 1160), Iowa (HF 2032, HF 2200, SF 2171), Michigan (SB 4), Mississippi (SB 2093, SB 2822), North Carolina (HB 348, SB 550) and Oklahoma (HB 1371, SB 440, SB 723, SB 898)

As if that is not enough to worry about there are other classes of bills aimed at limiting the freedom of LGBT people.

Marriage-Related Religious Exemption Laws: these bills provide a religiously based exemption regarding same-sex marriage. Some only apply to religious organizations; others apply to commercial and government officials.(our tax dollars hard at work to discriminate against a group of people)

First Amendment Defense Acts — These bills, in essence, allow any person, business or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage. Yes, it’s as sweeping as it sounds. It not only discriminates against LGBT people, but can extend to single mothers and anybody with a sexual relationship outside of marriage. A state-contracted counselor, for example, could deny services to a single mom. Taxpayer-funded adoption agencies could refuse to place children in the homes of same-sex married couples. Government employees could decline to file official forms for gay couples (remember Kim Davis?). Three states have active FADA bills: Hawaii (SB 2164), Illinois (SB 2164) and Oklahoma (SB 440).

Pastor Protection Acts — These let churches refuse to perform marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. The First Amendment already covers this right, but sometimes lawmakers like to pass bills just to send a message. So, we have Pastor Protection Acts. Fourteen states have active PPA bills: Arkansas (HB 236, SB 120), Colorado (HB 1123), Kentucky (HB 17, HB 28), Louisiana (HB 597), Maryland (HB 16), Michigan (HB 4732, HB 4855, HB 4858), Minnesota (SF 2158), Missouri (HJR 97, SJR 39, HB 2000, HB 2040, HB 2730), Mississippi (HB 587, HB 737), New Jersey (AB 1706), Ohio (HB 286), Oklahoma (HB 1371, SB 811), South Carolina (H 4446, H 4508) and Tennessee (HB 2375, SB 2329).

Government-officials-using-your-taxpayer-funds-against-you bills — Some bills let judges and clerks refuse to perform same-sex marriages or issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Four states have active bills like this: Kentucky (HB 17, HB 14), Minnesota (SF 2158), Mississippi (HB 586, HB 1342) and South Carolina (SB 116).

No-wedding-cake-for-non-straight-non-white-heathens bills — These allow businesses to refuse to provide goods or services related to marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. That could mean a frame shop refusing to sell pictures frames that are going to be used for a same-sex wedding, an interracial marriage or an interfaith marriage. Four states have active bills like this: Kentucky (SB 180), Minnesota (SF 2158), Missouri (HJR 97, SJR 39) and Ohio (HB 296).(It isn’t just LGBT people these bills can be used against!)

Other marriage exemption bills — These bills provide yet other kinds of religious exemptions relating to same-sex marriage. Five states have active bills in this category: Kentucky (HB 31), Michigan (HB 4733), Missouri (HB 2754), Oklahoma (HB 1125, HB 1599, SB 478, HJR 1059, SB 973) and South Carolina (H 3022, H 3150, H 4513).

God-Doesn’t-Want-Gay-People-To-Raise-Kids Bills
These let adoption and foster care agencies refuse to provide any services that conflict with their religious beliefs about marriage, such as same-sex couples. This is regardless of what is in the best interests of a child. Three states have pending bills like this: Alabama (HB 158, SB 204), Nebraska (LB 975) and Oklahoma (HJR 1059, HB 2428).

Other Generally Terrible Anti-LGBT Bills
It turns out there are too many categories for all the bills out there, but there’s a few more of note: Two states have bills (AB 1212 in California; SB 210 in South Carolina) that require public universities to provide funds for student organizations, regardless of whether the organization discriminates against LGBT people based on religious beliefs. Three states have bills (HB 325 in Arkansas; HJR 1059 in Oklahoma; and Tennessee’s HB 566, SB 397, HB 1840 and SB 1556) that let health professionals deny services to LGBT people by citing religious objections. And there’s one bill in Oklahoma (SB 1289) that prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination protections, including LGBT protections, that go further than protections at the state level, such as the law proposed by North Carolina.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lgbt-state-bills-discrimination_us_570ff4f2e4b0060ccda2a7a9

Here is something to remember:

In 1933 Hitler began his reign of terror by first targeting the Jewish people. He proclaimed them inferior (and therefore undeserving of the rights of other German citizens) and began a systematic stripping of their rights, beginning with firing them from their jobs and not allowing them access to services enjoyed by the general German public.

July 14, 1933, Hitler began targeting other groups, namely Gypsies and African-Germans. He stripped them of their rights by using some of the same arguments for taking Jewish rights.

October, 1934, Hitler began targeting LGBT people. Again, he stripped this group of people of the German-citizen rights by using the same arguments as he used against Jews, Gypsies and African-Germans.

When a tyrant, whether they clothe themselves in political or religious rhetoric, begins to strip away the rights of any group of citizens then all citizens need to fear for their freedoms.

As a pagan, I am very much in favor of protection of my religious/spiritual practices; however, that does not mean that I should be allowed to engage in discriminating against other citizens. If I am engaged in public commerce–such as running a restaurant, bakery, photography studio, selling books, or any other business—then I need to serve ALL of the public. If I do not want to serve all of the public then I should not be in business.

Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black Americans could not sit at the counter of just any diner. Now, there are certain groups of people who want to bring back those laws of segregation by cloaking them as religious freedom restorations and protections. Segregation is segregation regardless of how you clothe it and regardless of which group of people you target.

If left unchecked, these laws could easily be applied to any group of citizens—
–You are Muslim and it is against my religious beliefs to serve you
–You are black and God said you are inferior and therefore I should not serve you
–You are a single mother or an unmarried couple. God does not permit sex outside of marriage and so I will not serve you.
–You are interfaith or inter-racially married and God does not want us to mix the faiths/races, so I will not serve you.
–You are Native American and therefore a heathen and since you don’t believe in my God, I will not serve you.

Here in the beautiful state of Washington, you can do your part by working against I-1515. Discrimination protects no one’s rights! Discrimination has no place in a free country.
beauty

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