Aya Walksfar, Author

Hard hitting, in-the-news murder mysteries

Is She or Isn’t She?

Ever wonder if that reclusive neighbor is something….different? Read on and get the real scoop!DSC09897

From the Archives of the Matriarchs

At the beginning, Great Goddess was. She is the Alpha and the Omega. She is Creative Force of all that Was, Is and Ever Will Be.

From Her Very Soul, she ripped pieces and formed the Goddesses in her own image. In blood and pain and sacrifice she gave birth to them. Their names are Mother of Magick who came to be called Hekate, Athena who was first known as Mother of Wisdom and Learning, Warrior Woman and Protector who came to be called Artemis, Woman of the Sun who refused any other name, and Woman of Fierce Darkness once called Amanirenas. These were the first five. Companions and co-creators with Great Goddess.

When their souls demanded them to create, she warned them that creation must come from ripping pieces of their own souls loose and implanting those pieces in the new creation. She told them that Creation could only be done amidst blood and pain and sacrifice for such is the nature of creation. Still their souls demanded for them to create and so they did.

Together they created all the universes, all the worlds, and all that lives within them. Except the Earth. Mother Earth was endowed with a strip of the soul of Great Goddess. From different parts of that strip of soul came the mountains, the valleys, the lakes, the oceans, the plains, the volcanoes, and all that make the body of Mother Earth.

Woman of the Sun took a piece of her soul and Created Father Sun then set him in the sky to warm the Mother. Amanirenas placed Grandmother Moon to shine when Mother Earth needed a rest from the strong rays and the warmth of Father Sun. Grandmother Moon fostered the quiet, the time for contemplation and feeling. Father Sun fostered action and growth.

Then Great Goddess took pieces of her soul and made the trees, the grasses, the flowers, and all that clothe Mother Earth.

Hekate, Athena and Artemis took pieces of their souls and made the animals, the creatures of air, of water, of earth. And because each piece of soul was unique, each creation–be it tree or be it tiger–was unique.

Great Goddess called together her companions and co-creators and they shared the worlds and universes they had created–each beautiful in its own way. Yet, when they gazed upon Mother Earth, in spite of all they had Created, they felt something was missing. Some essential element still needed to be brought forth. They Dreamed long and finally decided. This was a world where they could place small images of themselves, to watch each one grow and develop; to watch as they came into their creative powers. And so it was that Woman was Created. They let their Creative Powers rejoice and out of this celebration came the many colors and shapes and sizes of these replicas of Great Goddess and the Goddesses that Great Goddess named Woman. In a great burst of joy, they also created almost-replicas of themselves that Great Goddess named Man, for he was not fully a woman.

They Gifted Woman with a small bit of their own Creative Power. In her, new life could grow, but only in the image of the female. So it was that tigers gave birth to tigers and humans gave birth to humans.

Man begged to feel closer to Great Goddess and the Goddesses, begged to become more like them. And so, it came to pass that Great Goddess Gifted man with a seed that could assist in the creation of new life. Man rejoiced to be so close to Great Goddess, to be a part of creation.

Great Goddess created almost-replicas of the Goddesses and called them gods. They, like the almost-replicas on Mother Earth, could not create as the Goddesses did.

For millennia, all grew and prospered both in the Heavens and on Mother Earth. Woman and Man took only what they needed to live and they gave back as much as they took. So the balance continued.

After many millennia, the gods became restless. Unbeknownst to Great Goddess, they incited human males to anger and envy of the human females’ ability to create life. They filled the weaker male minds with thoughts that were subversive to all that Was and Ever Had Been.

Eventually, human males who followed the gods enticements were named Caine by the gods to distinguish them from the ones that followed the Way of Great Goddess. They named those Abella, as the leaders were always females.

During the Dark of the Moon, the followers of Caine rose up and slaughtered the unsuspecting followers of Abella, those who held tight to the Teachings of Great Goddess and the Goddesses. Millions died. That period of time came to be known as The Great War.

Because each living being held a piece of Great Goddess’ soul or a piece of the souls of the Goddesses, and therefore were given freewill, Great Goddess could not allow interference in The Great War, could not allow the usurpation of Freewill.

There came a time, however, when Artemis wept and threw herself at the feet of Great Goddess. Those the Goddesses loved had been reduced to small groups and even then the Children of Caine hunted them. She begged Great Goddess to allow her to save the remnants of their people, those who were known as the Children of Abella.

And so it came to pass that Artemis bestowed upon the Children of Abella certain powers. Among those powers were enhanced senses, enhanced strength, and near-immortality. The other Goddesses gathered close and they, too, bestowed certain powers upon the Children of Abella. In return for the many powers, Artemis demanded that the Children of Abella adher to the Purpose set by Great Goddess Herself.

The Children of Abella must never kill without reason, and must seek to help the Children of Caine overcome their blood that had been poisoned by envy, greed, hate, and needless violence.

So the Children of Abella would never forget their connection to the Children of Caine, Artemis decreed that in order to live, the Children of Abella must drink the blood of the Children of Caine. To remind the Children of Abella that none are free of fault, they were afflicted by sexual lust. The only way to be free of the Lust was to find their True Mate, be that mate a Child of Caine or a Child of Abella. Not all would find a True Mate.

Because the root of human male envy was the human females’ ability to create life, among the Children of Abella only the female could create life. To more tightly bind the Children of Abella to the Children of Caine, only a liaison with a human male would result in a child.

Because males brought about destruction, only females could hold power over the Children of Abella. Born females received Powers upon their 24th birthday. Before the receiving of power, they were brought to the House of the Head of their Family and watched over as the Power Came Upon them. Not all survived the Coming of Power. Born males never received powers nor were they able to impregnate females of either species.

Both Born male and female could Create new Children of Abella through a controlled bite and sharing of blood. Only females were allowed to do so without explicit permission of the Head of the Family. Created males were a lower caste than Born males. They could aspire to the Born male caste through accomplishments.

Huvams–those children born to a Vampire mother with a human father–became the leaders of the Children of Abella. Created females could aspire to leadership through their accomplishments.

A World Council of Five Matriarchs ruled all the Children of Abella.

The world was divided into regions and each region was headed by a Matriarch. Within the regions, First Councilwomen ruled the Heads of Family. The Heads of Family were responsible for all Children within their extended Family.

Over time, the Children of Abella came to be called Vampire. The Children of Caine came to be called Human and mostly forgot that the Children of Abella still lived.

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#3/22/14: When the Mountain Fell

light in darkness

On March 22, 2014, at 10:37 a.m., the side of the hill above the #Stillaguamish River gave way suddenly. It crashed into the river, scooped up the river’s water and became a mud tidal wave that crashed against the far shore and swept away the lives of 43 people and numerous wildlife and domestic animals.  The wide spot that had once held the town of Hazel, Washington and more recently had been known as the Steelhead Community had vanished under tons of earth within minutes. Friends and family had been lost. The community of #Darrington devastated.

To make matters worse, the major artery between Darrington, Washington and “down below”–all points to the west of Darrington–had been severed. It would be weeks before traffic could resume use of Highway 530.

For all intents and purposes, the small town of Darrington was isolated. Yet, in this small town everyone from Cub Scouts to one hundred school-age young people to Senior citizens rallied to create the infrastructure necessary to field, outfit and feed multiple volunteer teams of local people dispatched to the mudslide. (Local volunteers arrived minutes after the slide hit and though most of them had no prior rescue experience, they were the leading edge of the rescue efforts.) A road was punched through to reach the far edges of the slide. Chainsaws growled, heavy equipment grumbled, people called to each other. As the days piled one on top of the other, young people stocked food banks, elders cooked, some people took care of the home bound, others took care of those affected physically and emotionally, cots were set up, information streams established, and still others made sure that supplies kept coming in for the teams and for the town.

The byword was ‘hope”. Every where you looked yellow ribbons spelled out that brave word: #hope. candle in dark We each became a candle that glowed in that great darkness. Together, we lit the way for each other, and for our town.

During those days and weeks, I learned what made Darrington such a special place. I saw people drag in to check out from their volunteer positions after nine at night and saw those same people back in front of me to check in for work at six the next morning–day after weary, heartbreaking day. People stopped in the middle of the store, in the middle of the street, and gave support and encouragement to each other; hugged each other. We had each others’ backs.

Darrington still epitomizes the word “hope” to me.  We still have hope. I think this town lives and breathes hope. Now, it is the hope that we continue our healing as the first anniversary of the day when the mountain fell approaches.

Be kind to one another. Hope lives in each of us. We can heal each other, and ourselves. I send a hug to each and every one of you.

imagequote sunsets prepare for new day

Candle photo courtesy of geralt, all-free-downloads.com Other photos courtesy Deva Walksfar.

 

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BACKLASH, BK 4, COMING SOON!

BACKLASH!

Chapter 1

On the day that Ellen Delaney’s carefully constructed world shattered, she crossed December first off the desktop calendar, signed off her laptop and placed it in its black leather satchel. With the satchel set to one side, she removed the Gucci handbag from the deep drawer on the right side and pulled a small hand mirror and a tube of mauve lipstick out of the makeup tote.

Lipstick carefully applied, she dropped the tube back in the tote. The reflection staring back from the mirror showed dove gray eyes looking back from a heart-shaped face. For a woman staring at forty, she had aged well. A few light laugh lines at the corners of her eyes and a few silver strands threaded among the fall of midnight wavy hair. Her five-foot-five slender body moved with grace and style, whether clad in business suits, workout clothes or designer jeans.

A chill rain tapped lightly at the office window as she put the mirror away. A glance at the diamond-studded wrist watch had her slipping into the suit jacket hanging on the high back of the deep-red leather office chair. A quick look around assured her that everything was tidy.

The obsession with tidiness grew from the untidy things that had happened to her; the same things that had made her choose a career in Women’s Law. Such things happened to women all the time. The law could be used to tidy up a woman’s life; to make it easier; safer.

Purse and laptop satchel shouldered, her heels clicked a staccato beat across the high gloss floor. Keys jangled in one hand though a keycard worked the lock on the office suite. She strode across the carpeted reception area, stepped out of the beveled glass door. An alarm keypad hung unobtrusively on the wall to the left of the door. Code punched in, the green light flashed.

Redundant locks–the office suite, the elevator stop on the sixth floor, the exterior door to the building and the security guard at the gated garage entrance–enhanced a feeling of safety. During this past year, a sense of safety had become critical.

The law had a few drawbacks; some shortcomings. It could only function within a set parameter of evidence and argument. If only she could obtain incontrovertible proof….

The rustle of her suit and the tap of heels on the hall tiles echoed in the silence of the sixth floor at six p.m. This close to the Christmas holidays the occupants of the other offices in the ten-story Bell Town building had left earlier than normal.

The elevator hummed to a halt and its doors swished quietly open. She stepped inside the glass and chrome box and fed the keycard into the slot then hit P1 for the parking area.

Keys in hand, finger on the button of a canister of pepper spray, Ellen left the confines of the elevator and started across the well-lit parking garage. A couple of feet from her Cadillac ESL she thumbed the key fob. Headlights blinked signaling that the doors had unlocked. She swung open the driver’s door, set the laptop satchel and purse on the passenger seat, slid in quickly, clicked the seat belt and drove to the exit.

Since she owned the building, she’d set up the security routine. The high-risk occupants of the offices–wildly successful attorneys who landed on hardcore hate lists, a hard-hitting journalist whose name had made the drug cartels hit list and others whose careers increased their jeopardy–appreciated the extra layer of safety.

Simon Getting, retired Marine sergeant, walked around her car, shining a light in the back seat and peering in the front. Finally, he stepped to the driver’s side rear quarter panel and waited for the trunk lid to be opened. He inspected the trunk, slammed the lid and walked back to the security booth. “Have a nice evening, Ms. Delaney.”

She eased out of the gate and onto the street. Tonight a drive to Olympia and a late dinner at the Governor’s Mansion with Governor Andrea Marleton. A smile crossed her lips. Governor Marleton–she’d been so proud when Andrea took the Governor’s Mansion.

Andrea’s insistence on meeting tonight had impinged on other plans, but it had been for the best. What had she been thinking? It was dangerous enough that he knew about her friendship with the governor; that had been inevitable. At least, a circle of protection surrounded Andrea.

No one else’s life could be put in jeopardy. Dinner with Andrea to discuss the Notable Women in Law Award that she’d won made a good excuse to break the date with Celeste. Tomorrow the next step–dropping her gym membership.

At a time when she should be reveling in her achievements, planning future successes, she knew there would never be any future successes. Not unless she found a way to stop him.

Bittersweet that her greatest achievement had so enraged him. She’d never dreamed of winning such an prestigious award; a white trash girl from the wilds of Montana. No one would ever know that part, though. Those Libby, Montana roots had been deeply beneath stories of a head-on collision that allegedly–and conveniently–killed her parents right after she graduated high school.

They remained deceased to everyone, including herself, except for one day each year. One day that she drove hours to experience. What would happen if she failed to show this year? She forced the troubling thought away.

The mansion would be decorated for the holidays. She enjoyed that sort of thing, but had no desire to do it. For a moment, she wondered why Andrea had never married. Must not have found that special someone.

She’d given up on finding a special someone; accepted that one-night stands would fill the years. A short, bitter laugh burst out. Two years ago, everything she’d ever dreamed of had been within her grasp. Within months the dream had been shattered. She’d had a taste, though; enough to feel the ache of losing it.

Several times she’d come close to confiding in Andrea. Each time some hand of caution had clamped across her lips. Too bad that same caution hadn’t been there with Celeste. Determinedly, she locked away those melancholic thoughts. I will savor these hours with my best friend. I will not think sad thoughts.

Two point three miles from home while she hummed along with the haunting sound of Enya, a dark van shot out of Kelly Road, one lane of hard-packed dirt that served two houses back in the hill. It smashed into the back quarter panel of her car. Airbags deployed as the car spun. The steering wheel whipped in her hands as she fought it and the airbag. The front tires left the asphalt and bit into the soft side of the ditch, wrenching the wheel free from her white-knuckled grip. For a moment, her heart pounded with hope as the car teetered on the edge of the ditch. Then the wall of dirt gave way and the car slid sideways. It came to rest tilted nearly perpendicular to the roadway above. Groggy from being hit by the air bag and jerked this way and that way, she reached up and touched her forehead. She pulled her hand down in front of her eyes and stared blankly at the slick red on her fingertips. Her mind felt as sluggish as molasses on a bitter winter’s morning.

Blindly patting the passenger seat, she searched for her handbag and cell phone. The driver’s side window burst inward, sprayed her with rounded bits of shatterproof glass. An arm reached in and clamped a stinking rag across her face.


Ellen rolled to one side just in time to heave. Yellow bile spilled in a small puddle on the rough plank floor. Eyes cracked open a slit, the dull daylight caused her head to pound. She squinted her eyes and tried to scan her surroundings. None of it made sense.

She inventoried herself: black ski jacket, faded blue flannel shirt, no bra, black ski pants with a rip in the right knee where blue denim showed through. A faded black sleeping bag lay beneath her. She wiggled her toes. Felt like they were encased in wool socks within the heavy leather boots that had cracks across the toes. A little bit itchy, but she felt grateful to have the socks. Her breath clouded in front of her.

Then she saw the shackle. A dull steel chain anchored to the floor snaked across the sleeping bag and latched onto the dull steel cuff snapped around one leg just above the top of the boot. Where the hell am I?

Heart pounding, she forced herself to scan the space around her, though spears of pain shot through her head. A room. Not a very large room. Some kind of opaque white material over the only window. Light seeped through, but no way to see through it. No furniture. What the hell happened?

The last memory was… a truck of some kind roaring out of Kelly’s Road. Then… bile rose up the back of her throat. She swallowed hard. Black, someone all in black. Couldn’t see anything, except his light colored eyes. Oh, God! What kind of maniac has me?

Chamberlain, it had to be Chamberlain. Nothing else made sense. Why didn’t I see this coming? Should’ve known he’d pull something like this. There had been plenty of warnings. Why didn’t I pay more attention? Why didn’t I do something! For Christ’s sake, why didn’t I simply leave? I had the money to leave, to start over, but no, my stupid pride refused to let him chase me away from my home, my practice. Now look where I am.

Her stomach heaved again and she barely cleared the sleeping bag before the bitter bile spewed out. Flopped back on the sleeping bag, arm over her eyes, tears leaked down the sides of her face, leaving icy tracks.

None of it had mattered. None of her work had made any difference at all. She’d gone full circle. Back to what she had fled.

 

See all of the Special Crimes Team books at http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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4 Ways Journaling Heals

light in darkness

With the first anniversary of the Highway 530 Mudslide looming ever closer, emotions are intense.

Words are powerful and can help us deal with emotions. This is why keeping a journal can be a healing process. By writing down the feelings we are experiencing, we can begin to deal with them rather than allowing them to eat away at us on the inside.

This can be especially true of grief. In your journal:

  1. Write a story about the person you lost
  2. Describe a happy memory with that person
  3. Write a conversation you wish you could have with that person. Try to include what you think they would tell you
  4. Describe your feelings
  5. List two ways you can honor the memory of your loved one

No matter how dark

Another way journaling can help us heal is to reduce negative self-talk, increase positive self-talk and help us recognize achievements.

  1. Write down the negative self-talk. (ie: I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough, and so on)
  2. Now write down five positive things about yourself ( ie: I’m a good person, I help others, I do my job well, Yesterday I phoned my parents because they like hearing from me, I like my hair (or whatever physical attribute you think is positive) and so on.
  3. Write down two ways you will use to improve yourself. Make these very specific and have a deadline for implementing or achieving. Do not use such things as I will lose ten pounds this month. Instead list it like this: I will make three healthy dinners this week. I will not eat bread for five days. I will read one book every month.
  4. On a clean page, at the end of the deadline, write down what you achieved, why you didn’t achieve the entire goal and how you intend to approach it now. BE SURE to INCLUDE ANY progress toward your goal, such as: I fixed two healthy dinners this week. I failed to schedule in enough time to fix the third dinner. This week I will write up my menu for three healthy dinners, go shopping for the ingredients at least the day before the dinner, and I will put the dinners on my daily schedule.

Memories capture moments in our hearts. By briefly recalling a memory, we can help heal ourselves.  When you journal, you can capture your impression of the moment. The way your heart lifted when you watched the sunset; the way the brownie your sister made melted on your tongue; the sweet chocolate taste that flooded your mouth; or the warmth you felt when your spouse embraced you. Life can be rough at times and being able to return to a journal, leaf through it and recall these moments in poignant detail has the ability to pull our souls up from the darkest times, if only for a moment. Just remember:

imagequote sunsets prepare for new day

Journaling helps in the healing process.

  1. We can capture a moment in time; how we saw and felt at that moment
  2. We can release negative emotions in a healthy manner and brainstorm better ways to handle situations
  3. We can increase positive emotions on a daily basis or whenever we need to
  4. We can accept our grief, validate our feeling of grief, and begin the process of healing.

One last word: I am NOT a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, medical doctor or other professional helper. This article is NOT medical advice or even professional advice. I am an author and have found ways to use writing to deal with emotion.

If you are feeling angry, depressed, unable to motivate, suicidal, or any strong negative emotion that lingers, PLEASE contact a professional. Depression is a common illness. It appears in many disguises such as a shortness of temper, a feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, a feeling that life isn’t worth it, not having an appetite, wanting to sleep a lot. It comes to all of us, just like the flu, at various times in our lives. It is a normal feeling, just like when a cold attacks you. However if it won’t go away, just like if that cold or flu lingers, you need professional help to rid yourself of the illness. DO NOT hesitate.

One of my favorite actors was Robyn Williams. But, Robyn Williams was unable to seek help to get through a particularly rough spot in his life, and a bright light left our world with his suicide. Do not remove your bright light. Believe me, you DESERVE help, even if you don’t think so right now.

Are you depressed?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

  • you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • you feel hopeless and helpless
  • you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  • you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
  • you have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case)

To read more about depression:  http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-suicide-and-depression-are-not-selfish

 

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Through The Fires of Hell

Every story that I tell is rooted deep in my soul. I pull them from the years of growing up with the cramps of hunger and the queasy feeling of never knowing when the next meal or the next blow will come. I rip the scent of blood and the fingernails-on-chalkboard screams of pain from memories that no number of years can ever smother.

But story roots grow deeper than the darkness; deeper and wider than the despair. The smile of being able to share food scavenged from the railroad yards with neighbors who are hungry, too; the heart-wrenching sweetness of a guitar played late at night; the wonder of a wild flower pushing up through concrete and blooming in the shadows of crumbling brick buildings–these, too, are the roots of my stories.

These are not my stories, but the stories of many. I have the obligation to give voice to the voiceless; to hear and tell the stories not yet told.

And so it is with Hard Road Home. Though my coming of age novel is fiction, what Cas Redner goes through is real. It is that reality that nurtured this novel. It is a novel of loss, pain, betrayal of the worst kind; yet it is triumph and love of the highest degree.

Kahlil Gibran once wrote: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

In every story I write this is an underlying theme: the very things that cause great sorrow, also prepare us to face horrendous obstacles with courage. It is those obstacles that allow us to grow into our deepest selves.

It is through the fires of hell that we find our way to heaven.

Hard Road Home 2 14 Collage

http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Road-Home-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00TLCRUFQ

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1 GREAT REASON TO #PROOFREAD

We’ve all been there. Settled into a comfy chair, hot cup of tea on the table next to you, #e-reader or novel on your lap just waiting for you to open it. You sigh, kick back and open the book. For the first ten pages, it’s great then there’s a misuse of the word “their” when it should have been “there”. You shine it on. No one is perfect. A few pages later, #commas are lacking where commas should be. You are forced to read the sentence three times to make sense of it.
At this point, you may put the book down and never pick up another book written by that author. The best reason to #proofread and #edit is it will increase your earnings.

I have read books that are as bad or worse than the following “interview.” Just for fun see how many mistakes you find in this short piece then leave a comment below.

THE INTERVIEW

Interviewer: As an author, do you have any pet peeves?

Author: No, but I have several dogs.

Interviewer:  Oookay. You said you were thinking of traveling. Are you going to book signings?

Author(shakes head and smiles): No, no. Its my councilor. He told me I needed to fly the coupe for a while. I asked him if I should go to the dessert for a few days, Sunday and Monday. He said, “No, the dessert is too hot. You would be dyeing of heat strokes.” I told him I wanted to insure that I didn’t get too overly hot, so I won’t go to the dessert. It is certainly a factoid that desserts can be very hot.

Interviewer: So where will you go?

Author: I decided I would go further away, up into the mountains. My councilor asked me what I would do all by myself up there, and I told him I wanted to write a nonfiction book about dragons. I figure I can flout my intensive knowledge on the subject. In my book I will explain about all the folderol assimilated with dragons. One piece of folderol that I will talk about is how a young dragon’s voice is in the fortissimo range, so high it actually hurts you’re ears. But, a dragon’s song can be historical, and sometimes, I laugh so hard I can’t hardly catch my breath!

Interviewer: Would you mind if I ask our readers to give us some feedback on your interview?

Author: Oh, I love feedback. I am always looking to improve my writing.

Author leaves. Interviewer shakes head.

According to Nikolas Baron at Grammarly.com they proofread over four hundred freelancer profiles from eight categories for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. They only selected freelancers with four stars and above. At the end of that study, they could correlate earnings to how well a piece of writing had been proofread and edited.
grammarly jpg
Simply said: When your work is proofread and edited you make more money.
To read this entire article go to  http://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check

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4 Lessons From A Child

All too frequently those who are charged with keeping young girls, especially troubled young girls, safe, become the predators that damage them the most.

Hard Road Home Front Cover

A classic example is the foster father who rapes the young girl placed in his home because her home is not a safe place to live. Instead of finding acceptance, safety and an adult to help her understand and overcome her past experiences, she is faced with another rapist/child molester.

The young girl is already feeling as if she is somehow broken; that it is somehow her fault that her father/mother beat her or sexually molested her. Now, another adult is repeating the same crimes against her. This serves to confirm that whatever bad thing has happened, and is happening, to her is her own fault. She brought it upon herself because she acted provocatively; dressed provocatively; said the wrong thing; led him on; asked for it; and any number of incorrect beliefs.

If the girl is “groomed” by the predator–this is often done by pretending to love the victim, giving small gifts, seduction rather than use of force–she may come to believe that no one else will ever understand her the way “he does” and when she is no longer of interest to the predator, she will become depressed and feel heart broken. Some of these young women commit suicide. At the very least, she will never be able to truly realize that she was a victim, rather than a participant, and her chance to heal will suffer.

Unfortunately, in either case–groomed to be a sexual object or raped forcibly–she will then subconsciously act in ways that mark her as a victim. And the cycle repeats itself, over and over.

Even after she ages out of the social services system, these beliefs continue to impact her for the rest of her life. She becomes unable to value herself and so she often fails or drops out of school. Unable to support herself becomes one more pressure that forces her into unhealthy relationships and makes it nearly impossible for her to leave them; she frequently becomes addicted to alcohol and drugs in order to numb her feelings of inadequacy and in the end confirms her own worthlessness; she will sometimes enter the sex trades because she doesn’t believe she has any other value and she doesn’t believe she is intelligent enough for any other type of work. She is the woman who inevitably seeks out domestically violent partners who further degrade her.

She lives what she has been taught over and over by authority figures: her value lies in sexually pleasing and being sexually available. If a person is not sexually interested in her, she believes they would not want to be around her; to be her friend. Her internal motto is: if he/she doesn’t want me sexually, why would he/she want me at all? She is unable to form healthy friendships with either gender as she doesn’t have the self-esteem necessary. Without those healthy relationships, she has no place to learn that she has value that is unrelated to her sexuality.

Many girls die trapped in this cycle of never-ending abuse.

In Hard Road Home I explore the dynamics that place young girls in such an untenable life. If I stopped at that point, it would be a heartbreaking story, although well worth the time to read and understand it. But I go farther and explore how a young girl might find the strength to refuse her victimhood and how that might play out in her future.

It is my hope that when people read Casanita Redner’s story four things will remain with my readers:

  1. This story is based upon facts, though I have fictionalized the account to be able to concentrate on clarifying the message. There are young women who have found the strength to fight free of childhood sexual abuse.
  2. There are ways that adults can help lay a foundation that will allow such a young girl to fight free of her victimhood. In fact, Cas is blessed by these building blocks given to her by her grandfather, her grandmother and other healthy adults that appear in her life.
  3. It is each adult’s responsibility to become aware of this type of victimization and to work in whatever capacity that they can to see that it ends. As an author, writing is the tool I use to assume my part of this responsibility.
  4. If you have been a child victim, know that you are not responsible for the crimes against you; you are worthy of true friendships and healthy relationships; you can break free and build a good life for yourself. Believe in yourself! You are worth it!

To read about recent cases:

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Lawsuit-State-failed-sexually-abused-girl-at-3-5393881.php

“…..The two foster fathers caught abusing the girl received suspended prison sentences – at least initially – after Pierce County judges opted to use a sentencing scheme available to sex offenders who abuse children they’re close to.

Had she not been living with the men, both would have faced years behind bars; instead, they were able to avoid prison time entirely through Washington’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative law.

http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/manuals/SexualOffense/chapter8.pdf

……She was first placed with Jose Miranda and his wife, Juanita. Jose Miranda would later become infamous for the sexual abuse he perpetrated on children during the nine years he was a foster father.The Mirandas were licensed as foster parents even though Juanita Miranda’s own children had been taken from her while she was living in California. Having been convicted of crimes in Washington, Oregon and California, Juanita Miranda also tested positive for opiates while she was pregnant six years before the girl was placed with the couple.

According to the lawsuit, Juanita Miranda was under Department of Corrections supervision for a felony theft when she and her husband were approved as foster parents. Both lied to DSHS on questionnaires meant to prevent convicts, addicts and people too sick to care for children from becoming foster parents….” All material bracketed by these quote marks was taken directly from the Seattle PI article, link above.

Another case, this one in Oregon:

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/12/portland_jury_awards_biggest_s.html

 

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5 REASONS TO NOT ‘#BE #YOURSELF’

somewhere dif Good Intentions

We hear a lot of advice to ‘just be yourself’. As an author, I am frequently admonished to ‘be yourself’ on social media; ‘be yourself’ in your writing; ‘be yourself’ when you meet fans.

That is terrible advice, and here’s why:

  1. Like most vague advice, no one bothers to define ‘be yourself’.
  2. ‘Be yourself’ seems to indicate that you don’t need to improve. Whatever you are, is good enough. What if I don’t want to be just ‘good enough’?
  3. ‘Be yourself’ can lead to stagnation. To what stage/phase of my life does ‘be yourself’ pertain? Should I be the growing up ‘self’? That ‘self’ exuded violence in a violent world. What about the ‘self’ that lived on the road, angry and disillusioned? Throughout a person’s life we have many ‘selves’, many phases of growth.
  4. ‘Be yourself’ can lead to a position of no compromise. If I cling to being myself, I may not be willing to compromise with others when being myself may clash with them being themselves.
  5. ‘Be yourself’ may be great advice when you know who you are, but life is about discovery–the discovery of who I was, who I am and who I am becoming.

People say what they mean by ‘be yourself’ is ‘don’t try to be someone you’re not.’ To me, it is important to ‘try on’ different ways of being. I will always try to be someone I am not because I will always try to grow into someone whom I admire; I will always try to reach out and learn and grow. I can’t ‘be myself’ because I am simply too busy becoming the best that I can be.

I much prefer the advice to ‘be authentic’. Whether in my life or in my writing, I strive for authenticity–for being real. When I write of anger or love, hate or admiration, being hungry or feeling on top of the world, I am sharing an authentic part of myself with my readers.

What does ‘be yourself’ mean to you? Would love to hear!

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COPS: FACISTS OR HEROES?

#COPS: FACISTS OR HEROES?

In a climate of controversy about cops, I continue to write a series in which cops are quite human. Why?

The roots of my decision lie as far back as childhood in a poor neighborhood. Cops didn’t show up in our area with less than two, and usually more. When my grandfather was murdered, no serious investigation ensued. Since that time, I have been harassed, beaten, and when I reported an attempted rape–sneered at by cops.

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I actually had a civil conversation with a cop. I’d broken my leg up on the hill where I farmed. Unfortunately, my vehicle–an old Volkswagen–chose that period of time to break down. A friend drove me to the hospital which was roughly thirty miles away then took me and my unwieldy cast home.

If you’ve ever farmed, or just had animals, you know that minor things like broken legs doesn’t stop your responsibilities. Way too soon, my walking cast wore through and needed replacing. I hitched a ride with a neighbor to the hospital, but she couldn’t wait in town for me. I told her not to worry; I’d hitchhike home.

After two short lifts that spilled me out on a long stretch of hot road without a hint of shade, my leg ached and I felt exhausted from walking with a million tons of plaster on my leg. I wondered if I’d get home that night. At least it was summer. Back then cell phones still belonged to the future–yes, I’m that old–and even if they hadn’t, I would never have been able to afford one. Landlines up on the hill were nonexistent. No one could afford a phone even if the phone company would’ve put the line up!

I’d begun scoping out the fields along the road for a likely spot because I couldn’t drag that heavy cast another step and the sun was maybe an hour away from setting. When the cruiser pulled over a few feet ahead of me the predominant thought was: what the hell have I done now? As far as I knew there was no ordinance against hitchhiking.

The cop strode over, utility belt squeaking. I stood my ground, getting my most belligerent face on.

“Where you going?”

I wanted to tell him it was none of his business, but I didn’t want to wind up in jail for the night like a near neighbor had when she smart mouthed a local cop. I settled for a sullen, “Why?”

“Do you have some ID on you?” His voice didn’t betray any emotion at all.

“Yeah.”

He shuffled his feet. “How’d you break your leg?”

Tired and cranky, and thoroughly sick of the interrogation, I snapped, “If it’s any of your business, I was dancing on a hillside.”

He threw his head back and belted out a laugh. The laughter felt so free and genuine that I found myself chuckling along with him. Finally, he wiped his eyes and gave his head a shake. “I saw you hitchhiking in town a few hours ago. When my shift ended, I thought I’d see if you were still on the road.”

Feeling a bit less combative, I spread my arms. “Yep, here I am–backpack, cast and me.”

“I know a great burger place just up the road. Hungry?”

“I have some granola in my pack.” I certainly didn’t want to confess to being too strapped for cash to buy a hamburger. It felt too embarrassing; like being a kid again and eating mayonnaise sandwiches because we didn’t have the money for anything else.

“If you don’t mind keeping the granola for another meal, I’d like to buy you dinner.”

Eyes squinted, I stared up at him. “I don’t date cops.”

The smile that spread across his lips lit up his eyes. “I don’t date anyone. I’m married to a great woman. I do make friends occasionally, though. What do you say?”

My stomach chose that time to out me loud enough for him to hear. His smile widened. “A hamburger won’t make you one of the enemy.”

I lifted a brow.

“I know how the folks up on the hill view cops.” His smile fell away. “Sometimes, with good reason.” He sighed and looked me in the eye. “How about it? Want to eat dinner with the enemy? Might gather some good intel.”

That evening we became friends and I began the journey of discovering that cops were human. When I moved back east, I lost touch with the man, but never forgot the lesson.

Since that time, I have known both good and bad and mediocre cops. Some want nothing more than to put in their time and retire; some see the world as “us vs. them”. There are those, however, who truly believe that the motto “to serve and to protect” covers every person they meet, regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age or any other artificial division.

These cops are still human; they still make mistakes and bad judgment calls sometimes–sometimes that judgment call is taking too long to pull a gun and they die. These cops work hard, learn constantly, and put their lives on the line every day. They believe in what they do. They try to do it better; to be there for those who need them. Isn’t that the best any of us can do?

So, you see, that is my motivation in writing a series about a team of cops. My characters, like the cops I’ve known as flesh and blood people, aren’t perfect. They struggle to understand themselves, the society they are called to protect and the people they meet every day.

Meet hot tempered Sergeant Nita Slowater in Sketch of a #Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team. See why she drives her superior, Lieutenant Michael Williams–a man known to bend the rules–crazy.

You can check out all the Special Crimes Team books.

Stop by and join the conversation on http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar

Want to meet some fabulous REAL cops? Check out https://www.facebook.com/CopsKindToCritters/timeline

Here’s a cop trying to do the right thing. It’s not easy. http://www.wtae.com/news/pittsburgh-police-chief-defends-antiracism-photo-on-twitter/30510986

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jobarrow/boy-and-cop-hug-at-ferguson-protest#.xs375Q2e9

http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Rank-Expos%C3%A9-American-Policing/dp/1560258551

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9 Symbols of Christmas

A SEA OF XMAS LITES JULIA

9 Symbols of Christmas

Yule–now known as Christmas–once designated a specific period of time, about two months long, from December to January. This period was a time for important feasts, such as the Winter Solstice Festivals. Eventually Yule came to designate a pagan feast lasting twelve days in mid-winter around the time of the Winter Solstice.

The time of Yule historically marked the sun’s rebirth when the longest night of the year (Winter Solstice) gave birth to the beginning of longer days. Norse people considered the sun a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from earth then at Winter Solstice the sun began rolling back closer to earth again. One of the traditions–originally a Nordic tradition–linked to this time period was the yule log.

The yule log symbolized the fire and the light of the sun.  Some people thought that the ashes of the yule log would make a home immune to evil spirits and lightning strikes. The logs could be decorated with evergreen–sacred to the Celts as the tree did not “die” and represented the Eternal aspect of the Divine; and dusted with flour to signify triumph, light and life.

–The yule log was actually an entire tree. The tree was chosen and brought into the house with ceremony. Tradition decreed that the log/tree must be harvested from the householder’s land or given as a gift.

–The large end was put in the fireplace with the rest of the tree sticking out into the house. Some people used a log instead of the entire tree. A bit of last year’s tree–having been carefully stored–was used to get the present yule log to burn.

–Different countries used different types of trees for the yule log.

England: oak                      Scotland: birch

France: cherry                   Devon and Somerset, UK: large bunch of Ash twigs instead of log

Some parts of Ireland: large candle instead of a log and it’s only lit on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night.

In present day: a yule log can be a chocolate sponge cake rolled and layered with cream; chocolate icing and sometimes decorated to look like a bark-covered log.

Or, a piece of log/wood that is planed flat on the bottom and has three holes drilled in it for three candles.

The Norse celebrate the return of the sun–a male deity–with the yule log. Other traditions, such as the Balts, celebrate the return of the sun–a female deity–with many traditions similar to the Norse and involving fire.

According to the Journal of Baltic Tradition, 1994, Winter Solstice celebrations marked the rebirth of the Great Goddess Saule (SOW-lay). Saule means the sun itself. The Great Goddess Saule was regarded as Queen of Heaven and Earth and the Matriarch of the Cosmos.

The Yule Log is not the only tradition to be handed down to modern Christians via pagan rituals.

–During Winter Solstice the Norse Goddess Freya sits at her spinning wheel weaving the fates. The Wheel of Fate symbolizes the cycle of the seasons, the continuity of life–birth, life, death, and rebirth. The wreath once symbolized the Wheel of Fate.

–Trees (now Christmas trees) were brought in to attract and honor tree spirits. The hope was that during the coming warm time the trees would thrive and produce food. Part of attracting these spirits was to sing as a group to guide them to the homes where various foods decorated the tree for them.

–Foods (now Christmas ornaments) decorating indoor trees also symbolized the abundance to come when the sun shed warmth again.  blue xmas ornament

–The five pointed star was put on the tree to symbolize the five elements: earth, air, water, fire, and spirit.

–Bells were rung to drive away the demons that surfaced during the dark and cold time of the year.

–Candles symbolized fire and the light of the sun.

candle in dark

–Evergreens held power over death and held the power to defeat winter demons and had enough tenacity to urge the coming of the sun.

xmas tree star

–Legend says the snowflake was formed from Demeter’s tears when Persephone descended to the Underworld. The flakes have six sides representing the months of her time in the Underworld. Six is also the numerological digit associated with affection. For pagans, snowflakes are the winter symbol for love.

Were you aware of the origins of some of these symbols of Christmas? Do you know any myths attributing different origins to these symbols of Christmas? (Please share!) Be sure to leave a comment.

Photo credits: all-free-downloads.com   Candle: geralt  Ornament: Hans  Tree with star: Paul Barrows    Sea of Christmas lights: Julia

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References:  Wikipedia    Blog.dictionary.com     Shootingforthemoon.com/yuletraditionsandsymbols

Dictionary.com       Journal of Baltic Tradition, issue #2, 1994

Whychristmas.com/customs/yulelog.shtml           Religionfacts.com/neopaganism

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