Aya Walksfar, Author

Hard hitting, in-the-news murder mysteries


Blessings quote image

  1. Thanksgiving isn’t a day–it’s an attitude!
  2. Have you made your Gratitude List today?
  3. If I can choose between living in the dark of despair or stepping into the light of hope, why would I choose the dark? Each day we have that choice.
  4. If you’re having a really bad day and can’t think of anything to be grateful for, stop and hold your breath. When you take your next breath, inhale with gratitude. This was really brought home to me when our elder Betty’s emphysema got really bad. Sometimes, I felt like I struggled with her as she tried to catch that next breath.
  5. Dwell in beauty, so that beauty may dwell in you.
  6. Be the reason someone else is grateful!
  7. A dog’s love never fails. If you own a dog, you always have a reason to be grateful.
  8. Remembering to be grateful for the small things in life is good for your health. Gratitude reduces stress!
  9. Smiles are contagious!
  10. Why wait for Thanksgiving? Give thanks every day!
    priceless gifts received
    May you and yours find many things to be celebrate this Thanksgiving Day, and every day.


In this brave new world of literature, all the old rules have been tossed aside. #Ebooks have been blamed for this phenomenon, but the ebook revolution is only guilty in that it allowed more books to reach the public. According to Bowker, a respected name in publishing industry, over 3500 books are published each DAY! Currently,there are literally millions of books available.Competition for reader attention is fierce.
So, authors are reinventing the novel. A novel used to be defined as a complete story –with a distinct beginning, middle and end–consisting of seventy thousand words, more or less. In today’s world, novels may have as few as fifty thousand words or they may have over a hundred thousand words; the reader might reach the end of the book only to discover that the last page is a cliff-hanger and the second book–which may not yet be available yet–must be purchased to continue the story without any guarantees that book two will provide a satisfying climax and ending. This type of book is usually not labeled as a ‘cliff-hanger’.
Personally, this is when I am sorely tempted to fling the book at the wall then stomp it for good measure! (Unfortunately, I read a lot of e-books and reading devices do not like being bounced off of walls!)
Serial novels are another device designed to hook a reader. These books have an ending, but the main storyline has not ended–much like a television serial. These books are sometimes labeled as a ‘series’, or less often they are labeled as a ‘serial’.
Book series–not to be confused with books that actually belong to a serial story–are frequently written. With some series–like Kay Hooper’s earlier books in the Bishop series–the individual books can be read as stand-alone novels and/or read out of sequence without compromising enjoyment of the individual or of the series.
As a reader, I enjoy the flexibility this offers. This is reflected in the fact that as a writer my Special Crimes Team series (found at http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar) follows this model–the books can be read out of sequence.
Length and endings are not the only things rapidly changing. Gone are the days when romance novels stop the action at the bedroom doorway and mystery novels hint at the blood and gore, yet leave the details to the reader’s imagination. Scenes containing sex and violence have become increasingly graphic and prolific.
At a romance writer’s conference that I attended this summer, one publisher stated that readers not only wanted more graphic sex scenes, but that they were bored with plain vanilla sex. At one time, writers would have regarded such a statement as bordering on the demand for pornography. Today it is more along the lines of ‘business as usual’.
I read one of a well-known writer’s recent works in which I finally defaulted to skimming pages of the novel because various graphic sex scenes were endlessly repeated with a variety of partners. I never did find an actual storyline, unless the sex was it.
Then there are the novels that grossed a huge profit in very recent times, but have been called by some people in the BDSM community a bad example of true BDSM, but a good example of the glorification of domestic violence. (Actually, the Fifty Shades of Gray series follows the warning signs for the entire cycle of domestic violence. In my other life as a counselor, I referred young women like that to psychologists or therapists who specialized in treating victims of domestic violence.)
As a reader, I find graphic sex and violence that is not intimately tied to furthering the storyline boring, at best. On the other hand, as an author I write novels in which graphic sex and violence occur; however, I work diligently to be sure that those scenes are necessary for the development and movement of the storyline. As a reader, I enjoy novels that adhere to this general rule.
Another striking difference in novels of bygone years and novels of today is the level of profanity. In the past a writer who used “crap!” was considered racy. Nowadays, books contain a large variety of words considered to be profanity.
Again, as a reader, I look for novels where the word types used are congruent with the characters speaking. A rough and tumble detective in a hardcore mystery or crime novel might very well curse while an amateur detective in a cozy mystery might be skating the line by murmuring, “Oh, poo!”
Even in the face of changes that they do not like, readers frequently feel that they have little to no influence on what is written and published. In reality, readers are the key element in a novel’s success.
The reader’s input is mainly measured in four ways: 1. Sales numbers 2. Reader reviews 3. Personal feedback from beta readers and from the general public 4. Word of mouth recommendations.
Of those four methods that measure the reading public’s reactions to a novel, reader reviews and word of mouth recommendations are the most important ones. People browsing to find another book to read will often look for “social proof” that the book is worth their time. Reader reviews and word of mouth recommendations are that “social proof”. Unlike word of mouth recommendations, reader reviews can be directly linked to sales increases. An increase in positive reader reviews will increase the sales of a book.
Because readers,like everyone else in our busy society, have a large number of demands on their time, reviews are sometimes difficult to obtain. As a reader, I will often end my day by sitting down to read for a while before I go to bed. As a voracious reader, it is not unusual for me to read anywhere from five to ten books per week.
Each review requires approximately five minutes to write and post on Amazon or Goodreads–the sites most widely used to find new books. Five minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time to invest in such a worthy cause, but when time to relax is at a premium it can feel like ‘one more chore’.
In order to combat this feeling, while supporting authors whose work I enjoy, I keep a pad of paper and a pen handy. While I read I jot down notes on the points I liked best about the book. Authors love long, detailed reviews, but a two-sentence review that summarizes what a reader enjoyed most–one reader’s review focused on her enjoyment of the character Grandma Greene in the novel Old Woman Gone(http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Gone-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00OICBEV0). In Backlash (http://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Special-Crimes-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B00W7UJAWA), a woman identified with the struggles faced by several supporting characters–is deeply appreciated (especially if the star rating is four or five! As an author, those reviews make the long hours of writing, editing and rewriting worth every minute spent).
There you have it–with a few minutes of your time you, the reader, decide whether a novel succeeds or fails. In so doing, you ultimately choose everything from the length of future novels to the amount of profanity used to how graphic the scenes containing sex and violence will be written. You are the future of literature.
Do you enjoy:
1. Short novels of less than 200 pages?
2. Do you feel short-changed by a novel that does not contain over two hundred pages?
3. Do you like cliff-hanger endings?
4. Do you buy serial novels, with serials defined much the way television serials–such as Special Victims Unit–are defined?
5. Would you rather have a series of novels connected by the characters, but still able to be read out of sequence as a stand-alone novel?
6. Are you comfortable with graphic sex scenes used in romantic situations during which sex would be a natural progression?
8. Do you feel violence should be depicted graphically in the more hardcore crime and mystery novels, if it is a natural occurrence within the storyline?
9. Are you comfortable with the use of profanity by characters depicted as people who would likely use such language?
10. What would you like to see different in the development of novels?

katrina leavereview


A Short Reminder

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Hard Road Home Front Cover
The Story Behind Hard Road Home
Many times those charged with keeping troubled kids safe become their worst nightmare. Already feeling as if they are broken, the child believes s/he is at fault for the adult’s abusive behavior. Abuse by the foster parent, or other authority figure, confirms this belief: it must be their fault since more than one adult abused them. They must’ve “asked for it”; or, somehow “provoked” the assault.
Such beliefs coupled with low self-esteem program the child to act in ways that mark her/him as a victim. Perpetually trying to please, and always failing. The cycle of abuse repeats itself, over and over, with different abusers.
After aging out of the social services system,this learned hopelessness continues to haunt the young person. Often s/he drops out of school, and can’t find a job with a living wage. In economic desperation and emotional neediness, s/he moves in with an abuser. Her/his self-esteem and economic position works to keep them locked into the unhealthy relationship.
Either introduced to alcohol and drugs by the abuser as a way to further control over the victim and to undermine self-esteem/self-confidence, or discovering the awesome numbing effects on their own, the victim becomes addicted. Addictions lead to deeper feelings of inadequacy and further confirmation of worthlessness.
Having never learned to relate to others in a healthy way, s/he cannot accept that anyone would want to befriend her/him if s/he wasn’t sexually pleasing and easily available. Relationships with adults during childhood have confirmed this reality in the victim’s mind.
Many young people die trapped in this cycle of never-ending abuse.
Hard Road Home goes beyond the tragedy of such children. When people read Casanita Redner’s story,Hard Road Home,five things will remain with them:
1. This story is based upon facts, though I have fictionalized the account to be able to concentrate on clarifying the message. Like Cas, however, there are young people who have found the strength to fight free of childhood sexual abuse. Remember: No matter how dark
2. Adults, whether central or peripheral to the child’s life, can in fact aid the child in laying a foundation that will allow her/him to escape this vicious cycle of abuse. In Hard Road Home, Cas receives these building blocks for a stable foundation from her grandfather, her grandmother, and other healthy adults she meets along the way.
3. Every adult has the responsibility to become aware of victimization of children, and to work–in whatever capacity that they can–to end it. Whether you are an educator, an author, a doctor, a counselor, a social worker, a foster parent, or a neighborhood adult you can make an impact.
Journey you make
4. Child victims are NOT responsible for the crimes against them, regardless of how they dressed, walked, talked, or acted. Children are worthy of true friendships and deserve healthy relationships.
5. If you have been a child victim, I am here to tell you: you can break free. You have the right to build a good life for yourself. You are lovable. You deserve people in your life who value you. Believe in yourself! You are worth it!
Are you one of the adults who help shine a light for young people during a dark night? Are you a survivor of childhood abuse? Please leave a comment.
You can always reach me at ayawalksfar@gmail.com




10 Ways to Tell if Someone is an Author
1. Do they often hear voices in their head?
2. Do they see things that don’t exist, like unicorns and dragons?
3. Do they sometimes suddenly laugh with no apparent reason?
4. Do they spend a lot of time thinking up ways to kill people?
5. Do they write pages about steamy love affairs?
6. Do they sometimes speak with different accents?
7. Do they always having their nose in a book?
8. Do they know more about alien worlds than they do about their own neighborhood?
9. Do they sometimes forget and invite their main character to dinner?
10. Do they frequently walk around with a faraway look in their eyes?

All ebooks are now $2.99! Go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar to grab your copy today!

After a busy summer of bike-tripping, I made one last five-day trip to Colorado. I’d never been to the state, except to pass through on my way to someplace else. One of the places I visited was Estes Park.
Eleven thousand plus feet took me from eighty degree weather to finger-numbing cold on the Colorado tundra!
The next day, my companions and I hiked up into the hills of a place call Red Feather.
My hiking companions: my daughter, Lyn, and my grand-dog, Raven.
Colorado plus some from eastern washington 382
Many of the rock formations looked like a giant had carved them.
Red Feather Rock formations
And trees grew out of stone.
tree growing in rock
Though I loved seeing new places and wondrous things (to view more photos from Colorado, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar)it was good to return home and get back to writing! #AmWriting a literary novel to be released in early 2016: Beyond the Silence.
Barb Hensen always felt different. Trapped in an abusive marriage, she is slowly killing herself; and, the only hope she has is that her death won’t be long in coming. The day she meets Yona Long Runner Barb’s life is forever changed. At last, she understands her feelings of “differentness”. As she struggles to accept herself and her growing attraction to Yona, the abuse in her marriage escalates to an intolerable level. Now, she must choose between living and dying.
Meanwhile, the Vampire War is heating up! #AmWriting the second book of The Vampire Wars–The Return of Arundia (this is the working title only. The actual title may be different). Serena Longer, the First Councilwoman of the North American Region, faces deadly foes.

My readers are important to me. This short survey will help me decide on the content of this blog and the newsletter.
What would you like to read on this blog and in the newsletter?
1. First chapter(s)of published books?
2. First chapter(s)of upcoming books?
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ROSES Thank you survey



IMG_3241 Summer has gone so fast! Can’t believe early #fall is here with yellow and red leaves drifting and swooping like tiny hang gliders to the ground. The final vacation of the summer began with an abrupt change of plans: instead of heading down Highway 101 where the rains were predicted for the entire week, we headed back over to eastern Washington, but to parts of it that we’d never visited.



Light and dark; hills and river

Light and dark; hills and river





Ran into some brisk winds which made those hours a bit challenging for this novice rider, but the beauty of it all compensated for any breath-holding moments.

Last day of the ride, we headed out of Winthrop and ran into rain halfway up the mountain. At the summit, we got pelted with hail. On the way down the other side to Newhalem I learned that those signs announcing areas of ‘severe side winds’ told a tale I didn’t hear on past rides down the mountainside. The wind and increased rain decided to slap me around and give me a few new gray hairs! Got through the curves and the rain and home, soaked to the skin but safe and feeling proud that I’d met the challenge and actually survived! Biker Granny wins!

Soooo….. I don’t often go “down below” (what us locals call anything south and west of Oso) but weekend before last (September 26–Saturday) I attended the Gay Romance Pacific Northwest Meet-up at the Seattle Library downtown. You know, that big glass and steel one with multiple floors and books galore? IMG_3268  Sure was a lot different than the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I hung out as a kid! But the pigeons looked pretty much the same.

Pigeon checking out the "tourist" from Darrington

Pigeon checking out the “tourist” from Darrington

But, the library building hosted some weird visual effects.

Building caught in glass

Building caught in glass


A serious note: At the conference/meet-up hosted by the Seattle Library and Old Growth Northwest I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some great lesbian authors and writers and publishers. I must say, though, that I came away feeling a bit like I danced between worlds–the straight world and the lesbian world–in my writing; never quite fitting in either one.

My books, as most of you know, feature strong, female protagonists–usually lesbian–but, the stories/plot lines are not centered on the protagonists being lesbian. My mysteries center around the crime and the solving of that crime with lots of twists along the way. My literary novels deal with real world issues that women, regardless of sexual orientation, must often face such as the impact of family secrets on young people, the abuse of children by the social system, violence against successful women, and in my vampire romance, though both women are lesbians their romantic conflicts arise from their different ‘cultures’ and the vampire war. (BIG SIGH) Not lesbian enough to fit into the lesbian niche and too lesbian to fit into the straight niche. I always have to be difficult and a rebel, I suppose!

For all of you who enjoy my ebooks, please note that the prices have been dropped to $2.99! I will be leaving the prices at that LOW set point until the new year. Now is a great time to stock up on #ebooks from Amazon! Don’t forget that voracious reader during the coming holidays! All of my ebooks can also be purchased as print books for those who like the feel of a ‘real book’. (PLEASE NOTE: Prices for print books are different than for ebooks)

I am still in the process of catching up on everything that got ahead of me this summer. Currently,  #amwriting a thriller with the working title Attack. Thrillers are a new genre for me. Mysteries involve a crime that has been committed, and the search for the perpetrator while thrillers tell you who is doing the crime and the book is about how that person is, or is not, stopped before committing/completing the crime or crime spree. Slightly different focus that calls for developing some new skills as an author. Love a challenge.

Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1 of the #Vampire Wars, released recently has been quite popular. This book marked my foray into #fantasy and the world of #supernatural creatures. Now, #amwriting the second book of the series which I have tentatively scheduled release for spring or summer of 2016.

For those of you waiting for Biker Granny’s Motorcycle Philosophy, I may have to re-schedule its release from fall-winter 2015 to early 2016. Biker Granny has to learn how to copyright a nonfiction book that combines text and photographs/illustrations. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Would LOVE to hear what you did this summer. New adventures, new skills, new discoveries! Leave a comment below.

If you don’t already follow the blog, be sure to sign up.  If you are signed up (through email) for the blog or the newsletter but have not been receiving BOTH please let me know! I am not tech-savvy so I may have messed up on combining the lists. Don’t miss getting the newsletter full of specials, image quotes, and other interesting stuff! Just drop me a line at ayawalksfar@gmail.com. If you would like to correspond, ask questions, comment at length about my work, I would love to hear from you. Be sure to drop me an email!





When the road serenaded me with its song, I followed the music into #Canada. We hopped the ferry out of Anacortes headed for Sydney, Vancouver Island. Once there, we kicked our bikes into gear and zipped over to the motel to rest up for the coming day and a trip to #Butchart Gardens.

IMG_2658  Loved it! As do about a million visitors a year. We even ran into a family of bears among the trees.

IMG_2661 Fortunately, they were of the vegetative kind.

Not far down the road, we whipped into the Butterfly Garden.

This beauty is actually a moth! IMG_2908

Several birds flitted about the gardens. IMG_2971 This one decided to land on my wife’s shoulder and tell her a secret. I didn’t ask Deva to reveal the bird’s secret.

After seven plus hours on my feet, I was ready to just cruise the roads of Vancouver Island the next day. The day after that, we caught the ferry to Tsawwassen on the mainland of Canada. From there we rode on into Harrison Hot Springs. The internet teems with articles about the Hot Springs, so I will simply say that the town of Harrison, in addition to the hot springs, can boast that their little chocolate store has lip-smackin’ good English Toffee.

The following day found us scrambling up the mountain side to stand at the base of Bridal Veil Falls. In spite of it being mid-summer (an off season to view the Falls) and the area being in a four-month drought, it was worth the sore muscles to stand there, gazing up toward the source. IMG_3078

The days blended into one another and our next notable stop was the small town of Hope, British Columbia–not far from Harrison Hot Springs. Hope is a bit of what I would call a ‘sleeper’ town–it will absolutely surprise and charm you. This small town of 5,969 people not only hosts an art gallery well worth the time to check out, but carvings done by internationally reknown carvers scatter throughout the town.

I was especially pleased to meet Harry of Harry and the Hendersons. IMG_3126

The next town that hosted us required a ride over the hill. IMG_3141

Princeton sits in the middle of, well, nowhere. After dinner at a local restaurant, we decided to call it a day and veg out. Not given to listening to the news and being out of touch with all media, we finally turned on the television as we flopped out on the bed. The next day’s ride would be on the Crow’snest Highway, or BC-3, into Osoyoos  then drop into the United States by way of Oroville and onto Omak on US-97.

As the news flashed to the scene of a blazing inferno, I gaped at the reader line across the bottom of the television screen: #Omak, #Washington. Needless to say, we turned around and headed back to the United States via Chilliwack, British Columbia, to Sumas in the States.

Unfortunately, our shock wasn’t to end with leaving Canada. We arrived in Darrington to a beautiful sunset and the smell of smoke. IMG_2552

Approximately a year and a half ago the town of Darrington wrestled with the devastation of the Highway 530 Mudslide that destroyed homes and took lives. Last night we once again gathered at the Community Center to face fire this time. Though our small fire only encompasses approximately eighty acres on the side of Jumbo Mountain that towers above the town, concern lay heavy on the room. Avalanche chutes and winds could easily spread the burning debris.

Only thirty-three miles away–less if you draw a straight line between the towns–the Skagit Complex fires–eight of them–rage around the small towns of Newhalem and Diablo. Only a small percentage of those fire perimeters are contained, meaning that a line has been built that will stop the progress of the fire.

Just over the mountains, fire devastates communities. Three firefighters lost their lives. Homes and farms and dreams go up in columns of black smoke.

All over the states of Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Northern California fire claims lives and homes; businesses and farms.

Less talked about are the countless thousands of animals and birds–both wild and domestic–that have lost their lives to the greedy flames. The decimation of their homes and food supply will have tragic, long lasting consequences. Some of the species may not fully recover for years, if ever.

So while I urge you to continue to send prayers, and relief aid, to the victims of those most devastating fires, such as the Okanogan Complex Fires, I would like to ask that you send a prayer, a thought out to the Universe for the wildlife, wild birds and domestic animals that are suffering.

Meanwhile, here in Darrington, we watch our small fire on Jumbo Mountain as we send relief efforts and prayers to those who face raging infernos.

mountain with smoke above restaurant

To view more photos from Biker Granny, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar

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Share these download codes with family, friends and co-workers. These four #books will remain #free ONLY until August 30, 2015. (JUST 4 more DAYS!) Go to http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AyaWalksfar to download your FREE copy, or copies! Download any one or all four of these #ebooks. These are COMPLETE books; not teasers.

  1. (Genre: #Mystery/Thriller/police drama) Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team, Code JE68B   (NOTE: all the books in my series can be read out of order or as stand-alone novels) What do the bodies of two young children have in common with the murders of two adult men? Eleanor Hasting, a black bookstore owner and child advocate knows these killings are linked. Now, she must convince Lieutenant Michael Williams, head of the Special Crimes Team. Psychic Jaimie Wolfwalker is prepared to do whatever it takes to locate and rescue the missing street children. The law be damned! Jaimie’s attitude and methods place her on a collision course with Sergeant Nita Slowater, second-in-command of the Special Crimes Team. Four dedicated people struggle to come to terms with each other in their desperate search for clues. Every day brings more missing children, more young bodies. They must stop the monsters before another child disappears…forever.
  2. (Genre: Mystery/Thriller) Run or Die, Code MX48Y Life had never been easy for Jaz Wheeler. When love touched her world only to be snatched away, emptiness settled around her heart. She barely cared enough to keep body and soul together until she landed on Hawk Hill and the Hopewell Farm. Somehow the isolated farm caught her by the heart strings. Now, she must find the strength and the courage to stand against the ultimatum to run or die.
  3. (Genre: #Literary) Good Intentions, Code HQ72R Bev Ransom thinks her life can’t get any worse after her father dies unexpectedly. At least, she has her friend and employer, Rene Lawson, an intriguing older woman whose past is shrouded in mystery. Then, on a day like any other, Bev goes to work and by evening Rene is dead. Devastated and unable to let go of another loved one, Bev becomes obsessed with unraveling the mysteries that surrounded Rene. When she uncovers a twenty-year old secret, Bev’s world is shattered. Is there anyone she can trust?
  4. (Genre: Mystery/Thriller, a novella) Dead Men and Cats, Code UH42Z When Megan Albright and Janie Sampson discover a dead man and a live, calico kitten floating in an old rowboat the serenity of the quiet community of Shadow Island is shattered. Then Dan Uley, a close friend, is murdered. Doubting the sheriff’s commitment to finding the killer, they know they must do it for there is no telling who will be the next to die.

Here are the instructions for downloading via Smashwords: (They can only be accessed for FREE through Smashwords!)

  1. You have to set up a FREE Smashwords account. It’s totally FREE!
  2. After the account is set up:

Go to http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AyaWalksfar

Scroll down until you find the book title you have a coupon code for and click on it

Click on the book cover

Click “Buy”

The book cover and title will appear along with the original price and below the original price will be “coupon code” with a box next to it

Type in the code for your FREE download

Click “Checkout” in the upper right corner

“Review you order” will appear with the title of the book on the left and the price of the book on the right. The first “price” will be the original price and right below it will be $0.00 with the code that you typed in next to it

Complete checkout

Go to “view library” and the book cover will come up with a green “download” button

Click “download”

On the right side a box will appear that says “Download the full versions of this book”. Below this will be buttons with different formats. Choose the format that is right for your device, such as epub for NOOK, mobi for Kindle. If a page appears that says this book has multiple versions, always choose to download the most current version of the book.

“Save” file. Now your FREE ebook is on your PC.

Transfer from PC to your device. Enjoy!

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The Open Road Calls!

JUNE 2015 141The open road calls! (and I answered the phone.)

Just wanted to let everyone know that I will not be on #SocialMedia, including this blog, until after August 26th or so. I am taking time to hang out with my bestie and wife, Deva, and just chill, doing things we want, and need, to do for ourselves. JUNE 2015 064 Our last trip. JUNE 2015 107 Here we are taking a water break to stay hydrated. (You never should look like a prune–all dried up–at the end of a ride)

When on the #bike, we gear up! Road rash at sixty miles an hour is no joke.  JUNE 2015 060

May all of you have a wonderful and profitable ten to fourteen days! I’ll post once I settle back down in front of my computer and my #dogs forgive me for ignoring them! (It’s really hard to type on a computer with a German Shepherd on my lap! LOL!)  AyasLapDog






Fond memories–who doesn’t have at least one? Even growing up in a poor neighborhood, I had several. #Books figure in all of them; usually along with a dog. One of my fondest is of the Carnegie #Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–the one on the Northside. I spent untold hours within its rooms; curled up in a corner somewhere with my nose stuck in a book.

At some point in every winter that I recall, at home our heat got shut off for non-payment. It’s hard to feed a family when your wallet is empty, much less keep the heat and the electricity turned on. Carnegie Library was always warm. And quiet. And never violent. No one got stabbed or shot or beat up within those walls. No one even yelled. That was back when libraries had a hushed, reverent atmosphere.

Oftentimes, when I’d walked in with my toes nearly frozen as they peeked from the holes in my tennis shoes and wearing clothes that were always too big for me, the librarian would smile and glance around then wave for me to come over to the desk. She would dart looks here and there like she and I engaged in a great conspiracy. I’d stand on tiptoe and lean as far over the counter as I could and she’d stretch toward me and whisper, “We just received some new books and I found a few I thought you might like.” Then she reached beneath the counter and drew out two or three or four books and slid them over the counter to my eager hands.

With a quick look around, I swiped them off the counter and tucked them in faded backpack I’d bought at a thrift store–treasures to savor. Sometimes, a sandwich lay on top of the books. Of course, there was no eating or drinking in the library, but she’d lean even closer and say in a voice only for my ears, “No one’s over by the table at the end of the A-B aisle in nonfiction.”

Though I visited that particular library many times every week from the age of six to the age of nine, if I ever knew her name, I’ve forgotten it. Her face, over the years, has blended with other faces, but I have never forgotten her kindness to a poor child in a rough neighborhood.

During the winter of my ninth year, my grandfather was murdered. Shortly afterwards, Mom moved us out of the city and into rural suburbia. I never saw my beloved library nor the kind librarian again, yet the impact of both still affects me to this very day. Every time I write a book, I remember her. I hope that my work honors her kindness.


http://i1.wp.com/andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/Alleghenyfront.JPG?w=538  Once upon a long time ago, I climbed on those concrete banisters. Sometimes, I ran up and down them; and, sometimes, I lay on my back and stared up at the sky and dreamed of a place far from where I’d grown up. This building was my sanctuary, my haven.




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