Aya Walksfar, Author

Hard hitting, in-the-news murder mysteries


I love to read. Of course I would love to read…after all, I am a writer. What I love even more than reading is to share stories.

Give you a little background:

Both my mother and grandmother were oral storytellers. I spent hours at their feet listening as they transported all of us to another time and place.

At age fourteen, I had my first brush with being published. A well-respected newspaper in my area accepted my heavily researched, five part series on racism in America. At age eighteen, a different well-respected newspaper published my researched, six part series on the child welfare system.

Since then I have written articles, short stories, poems, non-fiction self-help manuals, an award-winning literary novel (Good Intentions), and two internationally-selling crime fiction books (Sketch of a Murder and Street Harvest).

What does this have to do with you?

December 1 I will launch a brand new enterprise: a monthly newsletter. In this newsletter I will share special offers, announcements of upcoming events and books, inspirational images; and stories, poetry, character back stories, the motivation behind writing some of my novels, and glimpses into my personal journey as a writer.

I invite you to share in this new enterprise. Simply go to the book image beneath the heading JUST FOR YOU NEWSLETTER and click. Enter your email address and follow the steps to opt-in to my newsletter. Once you’ve signed up, you will receive a PDF of Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team series. This offer is only good from NOW through the month of December! Sign up now and get your FREE PDF of Sketch of a Murder!

Opt-in and enjoy the benefits of JUST FOR YOU NEWSLETTER.  Remember, you have to enter your email address for the newsletter. Entering your email address to follow my blog will not put you on the newsletter mailing list.

If you already follow my blog, be sure to get on the mailing list for JUST FOR YOU NEWSLETTER! I don’t want you to miss out on some good deals and wonderful content.

If you haven’t already joined my blog, NOW would be a great time to do so! Just CLICK and FOLLOW!

To see all my books, go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

To learn more about my characters, check out Pinterest.  http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar


Grandma’s Lessons


As Thanksgiving draws closer, I am even more than normally aware of those things for which I am grateful. One of them was, and still is, my grandmother. Grandma had a third grade education which allowed her limited reading and writing skills. Today we’d call her semi-literate or functionally illiterate due to the limitations. She was one of the people responsible for my love of learning, of reading and writing. She was also one of my greatest teachers.

Mom finally moved all of us out of the poor part of the city and out to the country. For me this was great, but with Mom working full time Grandma had to walk to work in whatever weather Pennsylvania threw her way. The restaurant where she worked as a dishwasher for ten plus hours every evening was two miles from her home. She walked both to and from her job.

My grandmother wasn’t a saint, though. One time her boss Big Gary, the owner of the restaurant where she worked, came into the kitchen on a real tear. He’d lost quite a sum of money at a poker game in the backroom. His son Little Gary, the cook, got a verbal blast first, then the waitresses who were gathering up the plates to serve were cursed. He swung his angry red face toward Grandma.

At the time, Grandma was in her late sixties while Big Gary wasn’t far on the down side of forty. When the first words out of his mouth were abusive, Grandma turned to the sink, picked up an iron skillet–big iron skillet–and brandished it as she walked with slow intent toward her boss. In a calm voice she said, “You will not speak to me in such a manner. You will leave this kitchen right now.”

Big Gary paled a bit, but tried to bluff. “You wouldn’t dare hit me.”

Grandma walked another step toward him. “I never threaten.”

Whatever he saw in Grandma’s black-brown eyes caused him to whirl around and hurry from the kitchen. Not one person moved during this entire exchange. When he disappeared through the swinging doors, they turned and stared at Grandma, waiting. Perhaps, they thought she’d break down in tears of remorse, or fear for her job.

Grandma quietly removed the apron from around her waist. “Little Gary, please inform your father that I quit.” She picked up her coat and purse and left.

She was about a half mile down the dark, rural road when Little Gary idled up next to her. “Please, let me take you home.”

She bent down and leaned on the sill of the open window. “You don’t need to do that.”

“Please, Dad said to take you home. And… and I’d like to.”

She pursed her lips and gave a brusque downward jerk of her chin and climbed into the car.

The next day, Big Gary sent a dozen red roses and a card with an apology. “Please, come back to work.”

Grandma tossed the card in the trash, but saw no reason not to enjoy the roses.

The following day, Big Gary’s wife arrived in the afternoon with a box of expensive chocolates and more roses–yellow this time. Grandma invited her in for coffee and they chatted, mostly about interior decorating–one of Grandma’s passions. Big Gary’s wife loved Grandma’s ideas and asked her, “When all this hoopla is over, may I send a car and have you brought to my home? I’d like to hire you for a consultation.”

Grandma said, “There is no hoopla. I quit. I will not be spoken to or treated in such a manner. And, yes, we can arrange a time for me to look at your home.”

“I want to apologize for what happened…” Big Gary’s wife started to say.

Grandma interrupted, “You have no reason to apologize. You have done nothing wrong. It is your husband who wronged me.”

The following day, Big Gary arrived. Box of chocolates, another dozen roses–pink– and a bonus check in an envelope. He apologized and arranged for his son to pick up my grandmother for work and to bring her home at night.

And, so until Grandma retired from the restaurant, she had a ride to and from work and Big Gary had learned a valuable lesson. He never arrived in the kitchen when Grandma was present to yell at anyone.

One of the things I am most grateful for are the lessons–such as the ones I learned from this incident–that Grandma taught me. She never preached at me; it was the way she lived that taught the lessons.

What are you grateful for? Please, share!

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Holidays are difficult–whether you celebrate them or choose to ignore them; whether you love them or dread them.  Stress is high, fuses are short, and even the happy anticipation of seeing those you love can feel overwhelming. And, of course, there are people coming and going and traffic snarls and …. you understand because you’ve felt it, too.

Here are five ways to beat the blahs:

  1. That good book you’ve been wanting to read? Give yourself permission to take 15 minutes every day and simply sit somewhere quiet and enjoy your reading time. You’ll feel refreshed and better able to tackle all the holiday rush. Hey, have a cup of tea, hot chocolate or coffee while you read.

  2. Some feelings just can’t be shared, not even with our bestie. Journal! You can use an ordinary tablet, a journal complete with fancy cover, or your laptop. Take fifteen minutes every evening and get all those feelings of frustration, worry, and excitement down on paper. Or on the screen. These jottings are only for your eyes. Do not share them or you will become self-conscious and journaling will lose its effectiveness for you.

  3. Tension gathers in our muscles and in our stomachs. It creates aches and pains, and upset GI tracks. Exercise. Oh, I know… exercise is what you beat yourself into. Me, too. However, not this time. Let the exercise be any physical activity that makes you feel relaxed. This can be stretches, treadmills, slow walks, jogging around the neighborhood, getting all those old weed stalks out of the flower beds, or power walking around the mall. You don’t have to assign a great deal of time; fifteen minutes will do at whatever time of day works best for you.

  4. Take Vitamin B Complex. Stress, both good and bad, can use up Vitamin B Complex in your system. Vitamin B Complex helps battle stress. That’s why it gets used up, but we usually don’t get enough through our diets to make up for the extra needs around the holidays. You don’t even need fifteen minutes to do this one! (ONLY do this if you have no allergies to Vitamin B or your doctor does not discourage the use of Vitamin B. This is a suggestion of what might work; not medical advice or diagnosis!)

  5. Every morning, or evening–your choice–write down five things you are grateful for. Try not to use the same five every day. You need to consider all the things that are positive in your life.

Some of the ones I am grateful for are: my health. I don’t have the absolute best health, but there are many who are much worse off than me. My work: My work is writing. It also happens to be my passion. For many years, responsibilities precluded me from concentrating on my writing. I am very grateful that I can spend time on it now. My dog: I am grateful for my dog. She brings a smile to my face and is there when I’m down. My home: I am grateful that I have a home and enough to eat. Some people don’t. My spouse: I am grateful that I have a spouse who encourages me in my endeavors. These are a few examples.

I am certain you have many things in your life for which to be grateful. Take those daily lists and put them in a manila envelope and put them somewhere safe. Whenever you’re feeling super stressed, cranky, or down, take them out and read them out loud to YOURSELF. It’ll give you a wonderful boost.

I chose fifteen minute increments of time to recommend as this is a chunk of time that is long enough to help, but short enough not to become impossible to set aside for just yourself.

Enjoy the holiday preparations and all the anticipation, but remember to take fifteen minutes every day to dedicate to you; to de-stressing. Remember, if you are stressed you cannot enjoy the moment. You deserve to take care of yourself.

Looking for a good read? Check out Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team

Sketch of a Murderebook 7 30 2014 http://amzn.to/1yopc2k

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Three days ago, last Saturday, I participated in Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue’s Holiday Bazaar. I planned to dash off a quick blog post about the experience as soon as I could access my computer at home. After some thought, I decided I wanted to take time to think about the bazaar and to write something real about the experience. Today I sat down at my computer and wrote.

As a local author, I had rented vendor space and a table from Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue for their Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, October 25th. Since my wife, Deva, and I didn’t want to make the long trip from Darrington, Washington to Tenino, Washington on the day of the bazaar, we stayed overnight at the Motel 6 in Tumwater that allowed pets. Nothing fancy, but the young lady at the front desk was friendly and the room clean.

Our older German Shepherd dog, Katrina, has been afflicted with Sundowner’s–a symptom of dementia–for some months now which is why she couldn’t be boarded like our other three GSDs. The change in routine and being so near the freeway, kept her awake and anxious most of the night; Deva graciously took care of the dog while I slept. Pixie and Mindy slept well, except when Katrina’s panting woke them.

Saturday dawned with scattered clouds. After feeding the dogs, Deva and I loaded Mindy, Pixie and Katrina into the backseat of the truck and headed to Tenino for the CCR Holiday Bazaar. On the way, we looked for a restaurant for breakfast. Nothing turned up until we hit Tenino and found Scotty’s ‘50’s style diner. Holiday bazaar 007 The coffee was hot and plentiful, the water glasses stayed full and the food tasted great. Replete we made the last couple of miles to Cross Creek.

Weeks earlier, we had been involved in an alpaca rescue operation initiated by my 76-year-old sister, Lois. loisDeva had found CCR and Shari Bond and Jackie Glover had trailered to the rescue of 48 alpacas whose 84-year-old owner had died. Now, as we drove in we spied one of the alpacas, Leonardo, in the front paddock. The older male had been so starved down and loaded with parasites by the time Lois became involved in their care, that there had been talk of having to put him down. Shari and Jackie had worked a miracle. The poor old guy was walking without stiffness or pain; had put on a few pounds and seemed quite content. The four elderly female alpacas, Lady Jane among them, had settled into their forever home with CCR. They looked so content standing in the field with the other “girls”.

We parked and unloaded books and flyers. I set up my table–situated between Detricks’ Farm and Chicken Coop display of delicious and unique jams, jellies and pickles, Holiday bazaar 012and a table of beautiful handmade jewelry–while Deva made sure our dogs were comfortable.

A little later on, four spinners arrived, set up and began a spinning demonstration turning alpaca fiber into yarn. Holiday bazaar 015The wonderful smell of citrus and apples and cinnamon drifted through the building from the cider set to warming on the back table.

Throughout the day, people wandered in and meandered from table to table. I met and chatted with many readers. We talked about different authors, the different styles of writing and books we loved.

Dorothy Royce, a 90-year-old from California, visited with me for quite a while. What an interesting woman! When I learned she’d had a recent birthday, I autographed and gave her a copy of Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, of my Special Crimes Team series. Since she’d never had a Kindle, I fired mine up and showed her how to make the text bigger and some of the other features. The device was so lightweight that she had no problem holding it–she sometimes had trouble holding larger books while she read–and the built-in stand of my Kindle cover delighted her.

All day long, folks came by and talked for a while, tossed their name and addresses in the Giveaway jar for a chance to win my latest mystery, Run or Die, and purchased books.     Holiday bazaar 023  (Tracy Redmon and Aya)

Holiday bazaar 009  (Christine Rose and Aya)

About halfway through the day, Deva brought out our Papillons, Mindy and Pixie, who immediately became people-magnets, charming everyone who glanced their way.

It was nearly closing time for the bazaar when Diane Vasarkovy stopped to chat. We talked murder mysteries for a while then we segued into talking about her own writing project: the story of Wolf Haven International. Here is part of the introduction to the work-in-progress:  “We think it’s important to show how ordinary people, with a passion, even without knowledge or resources, can make a tremendous difference in the world.  Magic can happen to people who follow their inner knowing…..Canis Lupus (the wolf) and other wild canines are in crisis in North American wild lands. In competition for habitat with human encroachment, they are unfortunately still seen as vermin by resource hungry people who can’t see the larger picture of our total eco-system. We now have proof that wolves change eco-systems for the better….”

Diane left with the first two books of the Special Crimes Team series, and I was left with a deep respect for her project.

At the end of the day, we packed up the remaining books and flyers and put the dogs back in the truck. A light rain fell as we left CCR. For the next few days, I thought about what I had learned during the bazaar.

  1. I learned that readers are delighted to share ideas about the books they read and love; and it gave me new perspectives on books that I’d read.

  2. I learned that connecting with readers recharged my “creative batteries” and renewed my determination to write the very best books possible; to honor the unwritten contract between reader and author: to write an entertaining story.

  3. I learned how very interesting these readers are; how many are involved in important projects such as alpaca rescue and writing the history of Wolf Haven, International.

  4. I learned, once again, how honored I am that readers invite me into their homes, into their lives. When readers open my novels and enter the fictional worlds that I create, they give me the most precious thing they have: their time.

I have designated November as my Attitude of Gratitude Month to My Readers. Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team, EBOOK is FREE on AMAZON from NOVEMBER 1 through NOVEMBER 5.

Grab your free ebook copy of Sketch of a Murder. Go to: http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

Or use the Short link: amzn.to/1tBgqhx

Sketch of a Murderebook 7 30 2014

For my listeners, the first ten fans who agree to write reviews on Amazon and Audible will receive a FREE download of the audiobook Sketch of a Murder DURING the month of NOVEMBER. Get your coupon code now! Email Aya at ayawalksfar@gmail.com In the subject line write “Will review audiobook for free download”

ALL of my books are available as print books. http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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1.  Become part of something great that will last for decades and bring positive changes to thousands of lives.

2.  Do something that will make you feel great. There is nothing as good as feeling that I have participated in a project that will have positive ripple effects for many years to come.

Unity Church in Lynnwood DSC01692

It isn’t often that ordinary people have the opportunity to become part of something truly great. I was gifted such an opportunity this past Saturday.

Barb Keogan, the administrator of the Unity Church in Lynnwood, made me aware that Tanzania needs a children’s hospital. Now, most of the time when I hear something like that I know there is nothing I can do that will affect the situation. It’s too big; costs too much; is too far away. In short, it’s frustrating and depressing; however, in the same breath that Barb told me about the situation, she presented a way for me to make a difference.

The Unity Church in Lynnwood is holding an auction on October 25, 2014, at the church. The money raised will help them send a Humanitarian Outreach Team to Tanzania to labor (literally) in the building of a birthing center. They will partner with the International Health Partners of Tanzania headed by Mary Ellen Kitundu, President, Dr. Denny Lofstrom, Vice-President, and his wife, Paula Lofstrom.

If you would like to attend the auction purchase your tickets NOW! Tickets MUST be purchased by October 18, 2014! You can purchase the tickets by going to the Unity Church in Lynnwood 16727 Alderwood Mall Parkway or call 425-741-7172. Tickets cost $35. Silent Auction opens at 6 p.m. Live auction follows.

To learn more about this project go to   http://www.ihptz.org/Zinga_Project.htm

This project will eventually encompass a Maternity Complex and Hostel, an Orphanage (for children whose mothers die in childbirth–not uncommon in Tanzania), a Pediatric Ward, a Laboratory, a Birthing Center and Neonatal Nursery, an Xray, a Maternal Child Health Center and a Laundry.

For those of us in the United States, a laundry may seem rather mundane; however, in places such as Zinga, a laundry is essential! In the words of IHPTZ:  “No hospital can function without a Laundry. Lots of small hospitals or dispensaries wash clothes by hand on a cement slab outside. Some even hang the laundry on bushes or trees. We feel that a laundry with hot water and good facilities is essential for the prevention of the transferring of infections especially with newborns and children.”

For a variety of reasons, volunteering in #Tanzania is not an option for me, so I asked Barb if donating some autographed novels for the auction would be helpful. She said yes and so…..

We met at Barb’s house on Saturday afternoon for a lovely homemade meatloaf dinner. As we waited for dinner to finish cooking, we visited. I took the opportunity to ask Barb a few questions about her church.

I asked: “Why is your church doing this outreach work?”

Barb said: “Our philosophy behind outreach is to do something to help make someone else’s life better.”

I asked: “Do you do other outreach projects?”

Barb said: “We ‘adopted two schools’ in Everett, members of our church help at food banks, and volunteer at a number of other places.”

Always curious about motivations (after all I am a #crimefiction author!) I asked: “Does your church take these opportunities to evangelize?”

Barb said: “Our church respects other religions. Someone else’s religion is as important as ours. We don’t evangelize.”

After dinner, I sat down with Barb and autographed six #murder #mystery novels to donate to the auction on the 25th of October.



Though I cannot change the entire world, I cannot stop the crazy wars, I cannot rescue all the animals and people who need to be rescued—I CAN do this small thing. I can weigh in on the side of positive change. I can become a small part of a great vision. If every person did one small thing to make our world a better place for all people and all living creatures, how great would be the changes we would wrought!

Come and be a part of positive change! Join Barb and the Unity Church in Lynnwood in helping to build a Birthing Center in Zinga, Tanzania! Buy your tickets NOW at the Unity Church in Lynnwood 16727 Alderwood Mall Parkway or call 425-741-7172. Tickets cost $35.

If you can’t attend the auction, you can donate money to the Humanitarian Outreach Team. Call Barb at 425-741-7172 to find out how.

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To purchase your copy of the books I donated for the auction go to:  http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar






Books shaped my life, both as a child and now as an author. Girls have had to struggle with the restricted abilities and often uselessness of female characters–all too often Manic Pixie Dream Girls whose only function was to be there to help the boy achieve his destiny; the blonde bimbo to show how really smart the guy was; the damsel in distress so the hero could do his heroics.

This history is why I read YA novels, among many other kinds of genres. I search for novels that show women and girls as being the rescuers, the heros, the do-ers that change their worlds. I look for novels that young girls can read and come away from feeling good about themselves, having their imaginations fired up with all the things that girls CAN DO!

I am pleased to have found two more such books. These YA books are interesting reads regardless of the reader’s age.

Angelbound by Christina Bauer


Myla Lewis, quasi-demon, has all the problems many eighteen-year-olds have: overprotective–single–mom, finish school, talk older friend into helping her sneak into the Arena. There’s a big difference though: she lives in Purgatory. She’s a gladiator–a woman who fights evil human souls to total destruction, hers or theirs. She has to win in order to stop evil human souls from transitioning into Heaven where they would do the King of Hell’s bidding and cause chaos.

The voice of Myla was well done and pulled me quickly into the story. I couldn’t help but cheer the little demon on. Right from the first, it was skillfully brought out that Myla’s mom was harboring secrets. Devastating secrets.

What could be worse than the chaos of Purgatory where the ghouls rule under the King of Hell’s banner and make life perilous for all other creatures? Myla is about to find out.

Don’t want to do a spoiler by accident, so suffice it to say this is a mystery with a bit of romance and a lot of fantasy.

Myla is definitely on my list of strong female characters. YA novel, but I rate this as suitable for plain vanilla adults. A four star read.


The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker


Sixteen-year-old Mattie Hathaway, a foster child, has a slight problem: she sees ghosts. Not friendly Casper, but kids with bullet holes in their heads. Not even her best friend, Meg, realizes this. And, Mattie is determined that no one will know; after all, she feels enough like a weirdo as it is. She’s decided that ignoring the ghosts is the best way to force them to leave her alone.

She doesn’t know how wrong she is! When her foster sister, Sally, turns up dead with a bullet hole in the forehead, Mattie pushes aside her feelings about ghosts and opens herself to them. Can she find Sally’s body so that her foster sister can be laid to rest?

A read that quickly pulls you in and moves along. In the face of incredible odds, Mattie battles the hidden evil that is killing children. Will she win? Will she survive, or is she slated to be one of those children drifting around with a bullet hole in her head?

Mattie is a well-developed strong female character that is easy to like and to root for. YA novel but I rate this as suitable for plain vanilla adults, too. A four star read.




where you are bloom imagequote

1.  Does she make things happen? Does she make choices–good and bad–that move the story forward? Will her choices make a difference? A #strongfemalecharacter doesn’t wait for others to act; she is willing and able to act. She doesn’t wait to be rescued; and, she often rescues others.

In Street Harvest, Jaimie Wolfwalker, defies the police to rescue children from human traffickers.  (Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team)

2.  Does she demonstrate intelligence?

#PatriciaBriggs’ character, Mercy Thompson, is a skinwalker coyote and a mechanic in the human world. Her opponents, and even allies, are werewolves, vampires and the fae–all of who are many times stronger than Mercy. She compensates by using intelligence and courage to prevail.

3.  Does she show passion about something other than some “hottie” or some “sex on a stick” guy? Is she willing to face great odds because she believes strongly in something? (justice, protecting the weak, and so on)

Jaz Wheeler (Run or Die) is determined to remain on Hopewell Farm in spite of the six men who are just as determined to chase her away, or to kill her.

4.  Does she possess traits that the reader can relate to and that makes the reader care about the character? Is she a loyal friend,  compassionate, intelligent, tenacious, strong-willed, fearless? This does not mean she isn’t flawed. The best characters show traits that we can admire, but also traits that we find less admirable–such as suspicious, stubborn, has a temper. People don’t relate well to perfection because we aren’t perfect, and can never be.

Sergeant Nita Slowater (Sketch of a Murder,Book 1, Special Crimes Team) has a quick temper that landed her in the #SpecialCrimesTeam when she punched out a reporter. Her temper flared because the reporter was implicated in her best  friend’s murder. (temper vs loyalty)

5.  Is she resourceful? When faced with stronger opponents, greater force either mental or physical, greater resources–such as the bad guy owns the town– can she figure out a way to survive; to defeat her opponents?

In #SuzanneCollins, Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen faces incredible odds, yet she finds ways to overcome those odds and not only survive, but to defeat her opponents.

6.  Does she change over time? A strong character will grow and change during the course of a story.

Sergeant Nita Slowater starts out with a prejudice against reporters and FBI agents. Over the course of the story she comes to understand that not all reporters are willing to get a story at any cost and not all FBI agents turn traitor.

Basically, a strong female character will demonstrate many of the same traits as a strong woman in real life:

  1. She considers who she is and what she wants for herself. She honors her instincts. She sets goals for herself.

  2. She shares her ideas and thoughts, regardless of what others think. She stands up for herself and others. She meets challenges and does not wait for others to act.

  3. She is willing to learn and to teach. She is confident in her own abilities.

  4. A strong woman will bloom wherever she finds herself.

Do you enjoy reading stories with strong female characters? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear!

Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team, http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team, http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

Run or Die http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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Words are powerful. We ingest words like air, almost unconsciously. And, like air they wend their way deep inside of us, carried into our brains just like oxygen.

What happens if you are a young girl and all the words that feed your brain tell you things like:

1.  Girls can’t do science (check out my pinterest board about #GREATWOMEN


2.  Girls should have babies and stay at home  (IF this is what a woman wants then it is an appropriate career, and a tough one. But, not all women want to have children–in our overcrowded world–and many want to have a career outside of the home.  #womenshould do whatever their talents and desires lead them to do)

3.  Girls can’t be athletes  (Girls, and women, can be and do whatever they choose. There are many outstanding #womenathletes )

4.  Girls don’t do math (I refer the reader to my pinterest board GREAT WOMEN)

5.  Only lesbians want to be independent women (This one is too silly to even answer)

6.  Lesbians are women who are too ugly to find a man (Personally, I think Portia is very stunning. Ask #ellendegenres I bet she would agree)

7.  “There is no such thing as rape” (This statement shows that there are people who are dangerously ill-informed, or there is no such thing as a brain among the people who say this!)

8.  “Rape is just a snuggle with a struggle” (on a t-shirt that was being sold in a mall in the Phillipines!) (This one is extremely dangerous and goes along with “there is no such thing as rape”. Until we understand that rape is violent assault with the same objective as a perp tying up and beating another person–which is to control and terrorize that person– we will not be able to understand the full extent of this horrendous crime. That the perp uses sex–what is normally considered a tool of intimacy–to control and terrorize is part of what makes this crime so devastating. )

9.  If you would use a little makeup, you’d be pretty (and if you don’t use makeup, obviously you are ugly) (Cosmetics are a huge industry and it behooves that industry to spend billions of dollars every year to convince women of this fallacy. This is pretty egotistical. These people are claiming that they know what beauty is better than Creator/God/Goddess and they are willing to help the Dieties/Diety make their creations beautiful! YOU are BEAUTIFUL just as you are!)

10.  Honey, you’d look so much nicer if you lost a few pounds (translation: if you don’t loose a few pounds, you’re el blimpo) (Women and girls come in all shapes and sizes. All of them are beautiful. The only time a person should worry about their weight is if it is adversely affecting their health, by THEIR standards.)

11.  Women are weaker than men; they can’t fight back (hmm, there are undoubtedly a few men out there who wish they hadn’t believed that one!)

12.  #Feminists are women who hate men (how about Feminists are women who want the best for women and men?)

These 12 statements are why we need to have novels which paint a true picture of the diversity, the strength and the courage of women. Girls, and women, need to hear positives; need to see role models of women who confront all sorts of evils and obstacles and triumph on television, in songs and in novels.  There are many wonderful pinterest boards about #remarkablewomen

We do not need more Manic Pixie Dream Girls who only exist to help the boy fulfill his destiny! We do not need more damsels in distress feeding the idea that girls and women are helpless without a man/boy to rescue them. Women, and girls, often rescue others and this needs to be celebrated in literature.

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I have known many remarkable women in my life, starting with my mother and grandmother. Grandmother was a spiritual woman who reached out and touched lives; my mother rescued animals. As an author, I write about remarkable women.

These past few months, I have had the privilege to work with three women much like my grandmother and my mother: my adopted sister, Lois, a very spiritual Native American woman; and Shari Bond and Jackie Glover of Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue. Lois was friends with an 84-year-old man, Walter, who had 58 alpacas when he went into the hospital. Since Walter didn’t have any family close-by, Lois became his patient advocate as well as cooking him meals as he couldn’t always eat the hospital food, and taking over the care of his 58 alpacas. At 76-years old, my sister is a tiny woman, barely five-foot tall and weighing around a hundred pounds. loisThe schedule she took on was grueling.

One afternoon when my wife, Deva, and I had gone to Sedro Woolley to visit Lois we finally realized the extent of the project she had taken upon herself:

Walter was not coming home. Ever. His alpacas had not been sheared in two years; DSC01136(note the excessively heavy fiber on this animal. Poor animal had no way to cool off and the excess fiber hid the fact that they had been starving) they had not been getting enough to eat; and they had several other health issues. And they all needed rehomed ASAP! As Lois researched finding homes she met despair. The alpaca industry in the United States was in a many-years-long slump; alpacas flooded the market; there were no homes available. Several people suggested that she load the animals up and truck them to auction to be sold off as dog food on the hoof. DSC01105 (note the bare pasture. All that grew there was inedible weeds) Other people suggested that she have all of the animals euthanized. My sister was devastated. And exhausted from months of caring for the animals and months of running back and forth to help feed and take care of her friend, Walter.

Lois was so busy giving that she forgot to ask others for help. Fortunately, when Deva understood the overwhelming scope of the project, she volunteered to help with the animals. That night, Deva went online and found the Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue.  http://www.facebook.com/foralpacas  She immediately contacted Shari Bond. Shari quickly responded. So began Deva and my months’ long journey in helping Lois and the alpacas.

At first, Walter’s son–a grown man who lives out of state–blocked all attempts to rehome the alpacas, mistakenly believing that each animal was worth thousands of dollars. Lois finally found a way around that. First big hurdle in the way of rehoming the alpacas had been crossed!

The next issue: the alpacas, which had been badly neglected and starved until my sister took over their care, and some had health issues, could not be transported before they were sheared or the combination of poor condition and heat while un-sheared could kill them.

Anyone who meets Lois recognizes the goodness within her. Andre, who had been friends with Walter and knew Lois stepped in and paid for the shearing. 140525_0001  (these wonderful men knew Lois and came to help. Andre paid for the shearing–in blue shirt–as well as physically helped during the shearing. Note the gentleness of the man kneeling on the floor, comforting the baby alpaca during its first shearing) 140525_0009One more hurdle crossed!

If you have ever tried to place even one animal in an ethical manner, you know that the long process of finding potential homes, screening potential adopters and finalizing the adoption can take weeks. With an animal species that is over-abundant this process can take months of hard work.

Shari and her business partner, Jackie Glover, began the process of finding suitable placements. Some of those who came forward–good people wanting to help–didn’t know anything about alpacas and their needs. Many had inappropriate fencing, such as barbed wire; others wanted to run alpacas and inappropriate livestock together which can result in the alpacas being seriously injured. Others simply didn’t know what they would be getting into until Shari and Jackie explained about the needs and requirements for alpacas. The pool of potential homes shrunk quickly.  DSC01109

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

Working herself into exhaustion and with limited income of her own, Lois searched for ways to pay people to help with the physical care of the animals; pay vet bills, and buy good hay. None of which comes cheap. She found some help she could afford by having garage sales and selling other items.

Deva and I began purchasing good hay from Dayville Hay in Snohomish and transporting it to the ranch. A small item off Lois’ list.

Next hurdle….

Intact male alpacas, unless they are intended for breeding purposes, are trouble. They argue and sometimes injure each other, and, in general, are more difficult to manage. In a poor alpaca economy intact males were definitely not a moving item. Gelding would cost $200 per animal. There was no money for gelding.

Shari and Jackie, got busy. They contacted Chuckanut Vet Hospital in Mount Vernon and found a compassionate vet who offered his services for the price of the supplies needed for each gelding. With 18 males the cost was still significant. Shari and Jackie got busy fundraising.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…..

Walter died. The ranch, which had been up for sale, now faced either a quick sale or a foreclosure. The animals had to be moved, and moved soon!

The gelding took place, but people who wanted alpacas were still scarce. One alpaca, Sammi, died after the gelding from pneumonia.

The alpacas were down to mere days before they had to be vacated.

Commitments made months earlier, before their involvement with these alpacas, claimed large portions of Shari and Jackie’s time. Tensions rose. Two of the placed alpacas literally dropped dead in their new home. All placements had to be put on hold until a necropsy could determine why these alpacas died.

The clock ticked inexorably forward, greedily consuming the hours, the days left.

The necropsy exposed disturbing medical facts. Blood tests had to be performed on all the alpacas at the ranch. Again, Shari contracted with the vet and Oregon State University to have blood drawn and tested. Days ticked by as we waited for the results.

Finally, the results green flagged the rehoming project. Another hurdle faced and overcome!DSC01128  (I only have photos of the alpacas before shearing. Isn’t this one a beauty?)

At last, we were down to eleven males and six females. But we only had days left. Shari and Jackie hustled. They shuffled the alpacas at their ranch, and at foster placements. They found new foster homes. And they decided that the three elderly (18-year-old) females would come home to live with them for the remainder of their lives. Lady Jane and her two cronies would not have to move ever again.

Shari and Jackie’s truck couldn’t haul their large trailer full of alpacas a hundred and fifty miles.

The hard deadline of Monday evening loomed ahead of us. Deva phoned Shari and volunteered to use our diesel truck to pull the large trailer.

Friday came. Deva finished work, went to a physical therapy appointment, we filled our cooler with juices and waters, and started south to pick up the big trailer at Cross Creek Ranch.

Friday night, Interstate 5 traffic between Darrington, Washington and Tenino, Washington sucks rotten lemons! We finally arrived and hooked up the trailer. Last minute discussions about meeting times concluded, we headed home.

Meanwhile back at the ranch….

The 13-year-old male, Leonardo, who had been a bag of walking bones, went down and wouldn’t stand up. Frantic phone calls ensued. Shari arranged an emergency call to the vet to see Leonardo.

Saturday morning. We arrive at the ranch. Leonardo is down in the pasture. Shari, Deva and I go over to see him. He finally gets up, one hind foot not touching the ground, back legs trembly weak, spine hunched in pain, eyes sunk from dehydration. It looks like we’ll lose Leonardo. A pall hangs over us as we wait with Lois for the vet to arrive.

The vet arrives. Checks Leonardo’s heart, lungs, gut sounds. Stands up and gives us the news: Leonardo can be saved!

A shot of Banamine for pain and instructions to Shari for rehydration, thiamine shots, internal parasite eradication, pain management and further care. Great news, but now we have to regroup.

Santiago DSC01121 (lush grass outside the fence next to the busy road shows how barren the pasture is), one of the eleven males, cannot be with the other males as he attacks them. The plan had been for Shari to haul Santiago on her smaller trailer while Deva hauled the other ten males on the large trailer. Now, Leonardo needs to be hauled on the smaller trailer.

It wouldn’t be so difficult, but Shari had months ago arranged for a gelding clinic at OSU for fifteen alpacas that she committed to hauling to the clinic. They have to arrive early morning on Tuesday. She has to pick them up at various locations around the state, and get them there. She had planned to use Sunday and Monday to gather the alpacas. Now, she had to adjust her extremely tight schedule. Leonardo needed her help.

Deva and Shari decided on a plan: Leonardo would ride in Shari’s trailer and Deva would haul the other nine males. Sunday Shari would return to pick up Santiago and Deva would haul the six females.

Night had fallen by the time, Deva drove into Centralia and the home for the last of the five males on the trailer. Shari, Jackie and a man with a headlamp met us at the driveway and directed us into a dark pasture. In an adjoining pasture, horses pressed against the fence, curious about the commotion in the field next to them. We unloaded the animals and headed out, leaving Shari and Jackie still talking to the man about the alpacas.

One in the morning, we arrived home. Our dogs tell us just what they think about our hauling in so late at night. I wonder as I toss and turn how Shari and Jackie do this day after day. How do they drive for hours on traffic clogged roads, deal with sick, neglected and sometimes brutalized animals; and drop into bed only to do it again and again? I can’t help but admire them.

Sunday morning arrived with brilliant blue skies and a friendly sun smiling upon us. Shari phoned. Leonardo had not pooped yet that morning. She could not leave until he did. Leonardo had been so dehydrated that one of the concerns was that his intestines would be clogged and that he could bloat. Pooping was an important medical sign…for better or for worse. Finally, Leonardo pooped, and we all rejoiced! Funny how something like that can bring such happiness.

Accidents all over the place on I-5 between Tenino and Bow, Washington, but Shari finally drove in through the ranch gates. Great news as she steps from her truck: Leonardo is doing well, eating, drinking, relaxing in the sun with his new bud next door.

The six females ran into the big trailer like they knew they were heading some place good. Shari haltered and led Santiago into her trailer. Good-byes were said. Lois, after caring for the alpacas for so long had a few tears in her eyes, but they were happy tears. The animals were finally safe.

If you would like to donate to a wonderful cause and help animals that desperately need you, contact Shari Bond at Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue.

FRIEND the alpacas! https://www.facebook.com/foralpacas

For VENDOR space at the Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue Bazaar contact Shari at ccar.crosscreek@gmail.com

Or, attend the bazaar, enjoy touring the rescue ranch while drinking cider and munching homemade treats! 10:00-4:00pm, Saturday, October 25th, 4225 Military Rd SE, Tenino, WA

To learn more about these wonderful people and their adorable rescued alpacas, go to http://www.crosscreekalpacarescue.org

A few more photos (pre-shearing. For more recent photos, visit Shari Bond’s facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/foralpacas) DSC01149  Many of these animals had been award-winning fiber producers.    DSC01120  Franz, the last baby born before the rescue.                                           DSC01107 Note the uncomfortably thick fiber on this poor animal. And the weather was in the 80 to 90 degree range!

DSC01108  They need YOUR help! Will you help them? If you can help in any way–providing a permanent home, providing foster care, sending the money to feed one of them for six months or a year–please do so! Contact Shari Bond  ccar.crosscreek@gmail.com

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As an author, I have learned many things. Here are five of them:

  1. The Reader is the most important person in a book’s life.woman reading

  2. Next to readers, the most important people in the creation of a novel are Beta Readers. chefThey cut out all the parts that need to be trimmed.

  3. Characters backtalk and talk back.

ExecutionerAnd sometimes, get a little rowdy if they think I’m not listening!

  1. There is a good use for sleepless nights!

  2. I now have an excuse for excessive reading.


Photos are courtesy of these fine photographers: Woman Reading a Book: David Castillo Dominici; Executioner Superhero with Axe: Vectorolie ; Smiling Chef Holding a Knife: imagerymajestic

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