Tag Archives: authors

Pictorial: Attitude of Gratitude

beauty
Because….
creators-child
No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done….
change-2
Leave behind the strife that fills your soul and …
carrypeace
Remember….
choosetobe
Embrace that which is unique within you because…..
diversity-2
Remember, in many ways, you control your own happiness…
iamhappy
Even when….
light-in-darkness
It is there. Keep foremost in your mind that….
purposeandbeauty
And know that….
noroadsolong
Just….
openheartbeauty2
And always…
rejoice-in-love
For….
thegreatestbeauty

Be sure to sign up for both my blog and my newsletter! The sign up forms are simple, easy, and will open a world of interesting stories, articles, behind-the-scenes-peeks, and freebies.

Share

We Become What We Read

BookWingsSoarJust finished reading a book that at first glance appears to be a fun-to-read, graphic sex, romance novel. On closer inspection, however, the book is revealed to be a #novel that portrays women as weak and childlike and not only embraces but glamorizes some very damaging myths about women and relationships between men and women.

The Synopsis of the Subject Novel: A werebear cub is found in a woman’s house. The child/bear has obviously been abused. The clan leader, a very large, male werebear arrives at the woman’s house and demands that she turn over the child so he can “reunite the child” with the child’s uncle. The woman refuses to turn over the child because when the child heard his uncle’s voice at the door, he peed himself in fear.

The clan leader is so taken with this woman that he “and his bear” (his bear gets a lot of blame in this novel for violent behavior) decide they have to get her to stay at his house though she has said “no thanks” a couple of times already. Using his physical strength, he scoops up the now-changed-back-to-child werebear and starts to leave the woman’s house. When she protests, he tells her that he is taking the child (and she is human and therefore no match for an adult werebear) and if she wants to continue to be with the child to provide nurturing she will have to stay at the clan leader’s house.

For the sake of the child, the woman goes with the clan leader to his house for the clearly expressed purpose of taking care of the child. The next day, the clan leader, without the woman’s consent, has his brother break into her house and gather clothes and other necessities for her to continue staying at the leader’s house. The woman is angry when this fait accompli comes to her attention, but the leader successfully uses “his hot sexiness” to sidetrack her anger. After all, women are unable to continue to focus on complaints or issues if the man uses flattery and attention to distract them.

The leader continues to pressure the woman to have a sexual relationship with him. Though he stops short of forcible rape, he does climb naked into her bed in the guest room without her consent and refuses to leave her bed. Throughout the early part of this book, it is made clear to the reader that the leader intends to relinquish the child to a very possibly abusive male relative simply because “it is what is expected since the child is the only heir to the male”, though this is contraindicated when considering the child’s welfare. However,in order to placate the woman and entice her to remain at the leader’s house, the leader continues to foster her belief that he will assist her in keeping the child with her where the boy can receive the nurturing he needs. (His mom and dad were murdered shortly before all this and the child is only four years old.)

Throughout the novel the clan leader pushes more and more intimate contact–just short of forcible rape–with the woman though she is, at best, unsure, and at worst, makes it clear she wants him to desist. Her “no” is ignored.

Every time she attempts to leave his house, he makes it clear that he won’t allow her to take the child though he knows the child is better off with her. She continues to remain at the house for the child’s sake.

Early on in the book, the clan leader frequently loses control of his temper and begins to change into a werebear with the clear and express purpose of committing violence toward others, including members of his clan and his own brothers, for very minor infractions. Each time this occurs, ONLY the WOMAN can “soothe his savage beast” and thereby halt his violent behavior.This statement bears repeating: She is responsible for stopping his violence.

Eventually, it comes out that if she stays with him it increases her chances of maintaining care and custody of the child. She is prepared to do that; and, of course, over time and exposure she finds the man “hot and too tempting to resist.” At the end, she realizes she can’t live without him and “begs him to claim her”.

The problem with this story is not the graphic sex which is consensual and well within reason as far as roughness, and so forth. No, the problem is that this book puts forth these erroneous statements:

  1. When a woman says “no,” it really means “yes”. All the man has to do is continue to insist that she does what he is telling her to do.

  2. A man’s coercion by using the safety of a child to force a woman into a position she declines to be in, is very acceptable.

  3. A man can continue to ignore and override a woman’s decisions about her own life because the man knows what is best for the woman.

  4. A man is right to keep secrets from a woman if it is, in his estimation, better for her not to know XYZ, even though the XYZ affects her life tremendously.

  5. In stressful situations, women will always faint and need to be carried to bed and tucked in like a child. Also, they will need physical rescuing as they are unable to even use a gun in their own defense.

  6. Women are responsible for keeping men from escalating in their violence toward others. Women must “soothe the savage beast” in order to keep others safe.

  7. There is a happily ever after as long as the man is in charge. He only needs to pretend he is consulting her about her life and only tell her what he believes she should know.

These are myths about relationships, men, women, intimate communications, rape, coercion, use of children to force women to do what a man desires (this all too frequently occurs in divorces!), that need to be shattered beyond repair!

As long as literature, movies, television, and music continue to glamorize these #myths and make the actions they represent seem like the “norm”, unhealthy relationships will continue to thrive. As much as we may not want to admit it, what we watch, read, and listen to, affects our subconscious minds and implants either healthy or unhealthy beliefs.

  1. Healthy relationships respect both parties. Communication is used to facilitate respect.

  2. “No” means no. Stop. Desist. Do not continue. Not wanted. Unless it is a solid, non-coerced “yes” then the answer is “no”.

  3. Children should never be pawns in adult relationships.

  4. Women are NOT responsible for men’s violence. Men are responsible for controlling their own violence.

  5. Each person–be they a woman or a man–have the right to make their own decisions about their own lives. No one knows what is “best” for another person because we are not the one living that person’s life.

As an author, I am not only obligated to write entertaining stories, it is also my responsibility to dissect what I write and to determine its probable impact on others. I have a clear commitment to write stories that bring about positive change and which glamorize healthy relationships.

PleaseReview

Share

Gifts We Are Given

Journey you make
We all have gifts—talents, skills, even personality traits that we’re born with or have developed; usually both. We can choose to use those gifts strictly for personal gain and comfort or we can use those gifts to make a difference, however large or small that difference might be.

I come from #women who made a difference. For example, my grandmother worked in the kitchen of a large, busy restaurant washing dishes and huge pots and pans. It was a grueling, on-her-feet eight to ten hours a night then walk two miles home in the early morning dark since the restaurant closed around 2 a.m. It was the kind of job that could easily depress a person; make them angry and resentful; or just too tired to care about anyone else.
Not my grandmother.

Grandma didn’t tout her #spiritual beliefs. She just quietly lived them. Still it wasn’t surprising when the young cook and his wife brought their sickly newborn to Grandma while she was on her fifteen minute break and asked her to bless the child. Grandma laid aside the half sandwich and the cold glass of water, got up and walked outside with young Pete. She took their baby in her arms and prayed for the child and gave the little girl her blessing. I heard that the child did indeed begin a slow process of physical improvement from the night on.

Grandma was a giver of many blessings; usually in the form of encouragement, common sense counsel, a listening ear, and a caring heart. It didn’t matter if you were family, friend, or a stranger. My mother had a different type of gift. She didn’t care much for most people though she could talk anyone into almost anything. No, Mom’s gift lay with animals. Many of my short stories about animals originate in some incident with my mother. Stories such as the one about a coyote pup’s rescue from cruel men and the story about a horse standing in a farmer’s field starving, all came from instances of my mother’s courage to face down hostile humans and rescue needy animals. Vicious #dogs were my mother’s special gift. Dogs that would rather chew my face off as to look at me would sidle up to my mother and beg for her to touch them.
viciousHumanResponsible

My family didn’t have a lot of money; most days we were fortunate to have enough to eat, yet few days passed that my grandmother or my mother didn’t use their gifts to bring healing to a hurting world. From them I learned that if you have a gift and don’t use it to bring about positive change then you waste a precious resource. No other person will ever have the exact gift that you do. No other person will ever be able to bring about the positive changes that you have the power to create.

Sometimes, it isn’t easy to choose to use your gift for positive change. In my early twenties, I’d published a few short stories, some articles and a handful of poems. At this particular time in my life, I was living in an old milk van converted into a moving house. I made money with a variety of odds jobs that barely kept body and soul together. It was one of the tougher times in my life.

One night a man in a business suit knocked on the back door of my van. I picked up the pipe wrench that I kept handy for unwanted and insistent visitors (of which I’d had a few since I parked in out-of-the-way places and deserted parking lots) and answered the door. Ascertaining that the man meant me no harm, I invited him in for a cup of coffee. He sat on the passenger seat and I sat sideways on the driver’s seat as he laid out a business proposal. A friend of his had read some of my work and had been impressed with my ability with words. He had shown some of that work to this man.

Mr. Suit provided enough evidence to prove that he was indeed a successful businessman. His proposal was that I would write pornographic novels (he owned several adult bookstores and supplied a number of other outlets). He would buy them, paying me a nice advance for each novel, and then—depending on our agreement for that particular book–either the balance of an agreed-upon fee on completion or royalties. I could write under a pen name, if I desired.

At that moment in time, I had a total of ten dollars in my wallet and no job on the horizon. I turned him down. I was given a gift with words and with that gift came the responsibility to use it in a manner that would be, in some way, positive. Whether that emerged from writing an engaging story that allowed people to relax after a stressful day, or whether it emerged from the underlying ‘message’ in my stories, was irrelevant.

Since that evening in my van, there have been other times that I have been homeless, penniless, and jobless, but I have never regretted my decision. Now, many years later, I write books with strong female protagonists who make Superman look like a wuss.

My latest release, Death by Dog, opens with a street kid determined to stop dog fighters.

http://www.amazon.com/Death-Dog-Crime-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B01B5NXY4E

Death by Dog
Chapter 1
When the cold rain stopped that Wednesday, the sun peeked through gray clouds and painted the horizon over Puget Sound in slashes of orange and red. Soda stepped out the door of the First Avenue bookstore as she brushed her thick chestnut hair away from her face. It fell in waves to the middle of her back. She dug a scrunchie out of the pocket of her faded jeans then fisted her hair and tied it so that it fell under the collar of her hoodie.
Mid-March in Seattle, Washington, breathed an early spring chill on the city. She flipped her hood up then zipped the sweatshirt and stuffed her hands in the pockets. Shoulders hunched, she walked briskly south. Before long, she left the restaurants, boutiques and shops that had pulled steel mesh across their entrances for the night and entered an industrial area that had seen better times. Warehouses and abandoned buildings with busted windows hulked in the darkening evening.
The sound of rough male voices drifted across the narrow street. Soda edged into the deeper shadow of a crumbling, brick building; its windows like blinded eyes stared blankly out onto the littered street. Between the black jeans and the navy blue hoodie–pulled close around her pale face and with her white hands stuffed in her pockets–the shadows swallowed her form. Standing perfectly still, she listened as the voices drew closer. Eyes straining, she peered from her spot, trying to make out what swung between the two men.
A few street lamps–not yet vandalized–spilled watery yellow light on the dirty sidewalk and the green dumpster that squatted at the mouth of the alley across from where Soda hid. The men sauntered into the light. Soda squinted her gray-blue eyes. Her heart pounded when she finally realized what they carried.
The body of a large dog hung between them as they made their way to the dumpster. They swung the body back and forth until enough momentum had built and then let go. The animal sailed over the edge of the dumpster and thumped into the trash. They pulled off their gloves and stuffed them in jacket pockets.
The hum of traffic from several streets away sang a muted song, but the men’s voices–harsh and loud–rode over the top of it. The shorter, heavier man dug under his jacket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He lit one and the ember glowed as he inhaled. Grey smoke drifted up toward the circle of lamp light, but disintegrated when a slight breeze puffed off Puget Sound. The breeze smelled of dead fish. “Damn, that was some sick bitch. Shortest fight I’ve ever seen.” Admiration sounded clear in his gravelly voice.
The second man was slightly taller and not quite as heavy as his companion. He accepted a cigarette and lit it. “Short for damn sure. Only thing that bitch,” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder and toward the dumpster, “good for was a trainin’ fight. Can’t believe that other’n; not even two years old, yet. Man, I want me one of them dawgs.” He snorted a laugh.
A shiver ran up Soda’s spine. She pushed against the brick; the cold that seeped through her hoodie felt reassuring.
The shorter man shook his head. “In your dreams.” He finished his smoke then flicked the butt out into the street.
A cramp seized Soda’s calf muscle. Afraid any movement would draw their attention she clamped her teeth and pressed her lips together, willing herself not to move.
“What you think one of them dawg’s worth?” In imitation of the other man, the taller man flicked his cigarette butt out into the street.
For a moment, he seemed to be looking straight at her and Soda thought her heart might stop.
The other man shook his head. “Way outta your league. I heard some of them cost as much as fifty big ones.”
The taller man shifted his attention to his companion and Soda sucked in a silent breath. “If I had me a dawg like that…”
The shorter man guffawed. “You wouldn’t know what to do with it. Them things are the devil’s own dogs. One of them would eat you up, bro. Come on. I’ll buy you a beer.”
They sauntered away into the dark created by busted street lights. Snatches of their words faded until only the hum of the traffic from nearby streets filled the air. A couple of minutes later, a truck roared. Soda shuffled to the edge of the cracked sidewalk and watched as a block north a large, dark colored pick up pulled into the street. She waited until she could no longer see the red of the taillights before she hustled across the potholed asphalt.
Hand on the dumpster side she let her head drop back until she stared up at the faded sky. “Why am I doing this? It’s not going to change anything. She’s dead, or they wouldn’t have thrown her away.” A lump swelled in her throat. She swallowed hard. Taking a deep breath, she pushed her thin shoulders back and straightened up to her full five-foot-five in an effort to steel herself for what she knew lay in the garbage. With an exhale, she clambered up the side of the dumpster. Balanced on the inches-wide lip of cold metal, she stared down as the odor of rotted food wafted up to her. Pale light glinted off black plastic bags of garbage.
The dog had landed on top of several black bags. “You poor dog,” she said as tears quickened in her eyes. She readied to hop off the metal container then stopped. Holding her breath, she leaned forward. A faint movement caught her eyes.
Without hesitation, she dropped into the garbage and waded to the animal. One dark eye blinked slowly up at her. “Poor baby.” She eased down close to the dog. Papers rustled and a puff of something rancid reached her nose. She ignored it. Gently lifting the dog’s head, she scooted her legs underneath and laid the big head on her lap. A whine whispered from the dog. With light fingers, she stroked the dog’s face between gaping wounds. At least, the bleeding had stopped. A pink tongue slowly snaked out and rasped along Soda’s hand.
Even in the faded light from the street lamps, she could tell that the dog’s coat had once been a sable color, a mix of light brown and black hairs. Now a spray of drying and dried blood matted the fur with dark splotches. One of the muscled forelegs had been gashed and the muscle ripped open. The jagged point of bloodied bone jutted out of the skin. The dog had once been a beautiful animal with a well-built body that looked bigger than most German Shepherds that Soda had seen, but it was definitely a German Shepherd. She’d always loved the regal look of German Shepherd dogs.
Another shuddering breath pushed the dog’s ribs up and down. Soda swallowed back her tears as she recalled a lullaby that her mom had sung to her when she was young and had awakened from a bad dream. She petted the dog’s big head and stroked her side as she sang in a quavering, soft voice. Before she’d finished the song, the dog licked her hand once more, looked into Soda’s eyes and breathed her last.
Tears coasted down her cheeks as she wiggled out from under the dog’s head and laid it on a pillow of garbage. She reached out and stroked the still side. “Maybe you’ll see my mom when you cross the Rainbow Bridge, girl.” Jaw clenched, she struggled to her feet. With the sleeve of her hoodie, she scrubbed the tears away.
She had always loved dogs. Had one that had died a month before her mother died of cancer; a little dog shelter mutt, but Soda had loved Cindy. After her mother passed, she was glad that Cindy had died of old age first. She couldn’t have taken care of Cindy while she lived on the streets and she wouldn’t have left her dog alone with her abusive stepfather.
Fists knotted at her sides, she vowed that even though she was only a street kid she’d do something! She didn’t know what, but she would do something to stop those assholes from slaughtering any more dogs.

What gifts do you have? How are you using your gifts? Leave a comment. I would love to hear!
PleaseReview

Share

3 MUST-MAKE #RESOLUTIONS FOR 2016

Usually, my first post of the month is my newsletter, but this is so important that I wanted everyone to have access to it.
New Year’s #resolutions are frequently the baseball bat we use to beat ourselves up throughout the year and most especially towards the end of each year.
PurposeAndBeauty
Even our broken resolutions; our unmet goals. Sometimes, it is to tell us that the goal; the resolution was unreasonable, unattainable, or simply not right for us at that time.
That isn’t to say we should blow off our resolutions or the goals we set. Quite the contrary. It means we should ask ourselves why we didn’t attain that goal or keep that resolution.
Here are the three greatest resolutions everyone needs to make for 2016. These are resolutions that you will want to keep.
1. I will evaluate my own shortcomings, broken resolutions and unmet goals then I will forgive myself for those shortcomings, broken resolutions and unmet goals. I will see those mistakes for what they truly are: lessons that I can grow from, but need not keep beating myself up over.
Mistakes
2. I will celebrate my accomplishments no matter how large or small they may be; and, no matter whether or not they are linked to last year’s goals or resolutions. I will recognize that all of the things I accomplished during the past year is important, whether it was linked to my goals and resolutions or not. Each accomplishment–from the kind words I spoke to an elder to the many books I sold–was part of the waterfall of my year; my life.
manydroplets
3. I will set reasonable goals and resolutions and list the steps to reach each one. I will not set myself up for failure and disappointment. Goals + Small measurable steps to reach them = Success.
no distance too far
With these three resolutions in mind, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!
To keep up with new events and new articles, subscribe to this blog and to the newsletter. Both email subscriptions must be made if you want to receive both the blog notifications and the monthly newsletter. I look forward to having you as part of my 2016 TRIBE!
Run over to http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK to find all of my books.
OR go to https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AyaWalksfar to find my books in epub (NOOK); mobi (Kindle) or as pdf.
ABSOLUTE LAST DAY TO GET #FREE AND DISCOUNTED #EBOOKS!

Share

#READERS HOLD THE KEY

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

katrina leavereview

Share

A Short Reminder

If you are receiving my blog via email, but are not receiving my monthly newsletter, PLEASE let me know immediately and I will manually add your email to the newsletter.
Thanks!

thx 4 being pt of online tribe

Share

85 MILLION CHILDREN ENSLAVED!

According to the Huffington Post, “Kentucky state Sen. Paul Hornback, who is also a tobacco farmer, was quick to write off any concerns that advocates may have about kids — as young as 7 — slaving away in tobacco fields.

“We’re raising a society that’s too soft,” Hornback told Bee. “Children need to experience things.”

Should forced labor as young as age seven, involving health hazards such as “… 12-hour days, no breaks and frequent cases of acute nicotine poisoning–” be part of the childhood experience not only in the United States, but worldwide?

Child labor is a grim reality with over 85 million children worldwide enslaved and forced to labor under horrendous conditions. Human trafficking helps feed the monster of child slavery by stealing children from their homes and streets. The United States is not immune. Children slave in Virginia and Kentucky’s tobacco fields.

My novel, Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team, addresses the plight of stolen children. Now, Axel Blackwell’s Sisters of Sorrow tackles the horror of child labor. When Axel approached me about the possibility of reviewing his work, I let him know that I only post about novels that entertain, enlighten and empower women and girls. He thought I might like the protagonist, Anna Dufresne. His book is well-written and presents an engaging story of how a young girl refuses to give up her dream of freedom. I’ll let him tell you about his new book.

axel blackwellAxel Blackwell, Author: Thank you Aya, for your kind words (review) about my new novel, Sisters of Sorrow, and for your invitation to discuss it here at your blog. You were one of the very first people, outside of my close family, to take an interest in this tale. I greatly appreciate that and am very happy to have the opportunity to share with you and your readers.

You asked how this story came to be… I wonder that myself, sometimes. I have wanted to write this piece for nearly two years, though I knew almost nothing of what would happen beyond the first fifty pages. I started with one scene very clear in my mind: Anna hiding in the shadow of a beached rowboat while the sadistic nuns hunt for her. The Pacific is behind her, the factory is exploding in front of her, and her only hope of survival is to follow the voice of a ghost into the cisterns below a ruined farmhouse. The rest of the tale grew from there, and it turned out to be one wild ride.

Anna’s journey starts with her lowest instincts – self-preservation, at all cost. The extremity of her circumstance has purged much of her humanity. As the story opens, she has been abandoned by her father. She bears an enormous load of guilt related to the death of her mother and infant brother. She is beat-down, terrorized, and traumatized by the cruelty of her guardians and by the brutal machinery she is forced to operate. Nearly all of Anna’s fire has been extinguished.

But that last glowing ember of hope proves to be just enough for Anna to cling to survival. She escapes the looming horrors of the factory only to rediscover her capacity for compassion, empathy, and love – traits that drive her straight back into the dangers she just escaped, and other dangers greater than she had ever imagined.

I didn’t set out to write a girl-power book, but I believe people (female or male) have vast reserves of strength available to them – if their need is powerful enough.  Also, a character who waits around for a strong man to come rescue her isn’t very inspiring.  I hope that this story is empowering and uplifting to whoever reads it. I wanted my readers to identify with Anna, to see her plight through her eyes. She hopes for rescue throughout her story, whether the rescuer be the witch disguised as a nun, or the voice that speaks to her though the walls, or her fellow-refugee Donny.  But in the final defining conflict, when there is no one left to stand between the evil and the innocent, Anna offers her own life to become that rescuer. This is a story of desperation and courage, and the power of the nobler instincts.

Sister of Sorrow bestsofarAs to Anna’s future, many adventures await. Anna still has much to discover about herself, and about the world of the witches and those who hunt them. I plan to write at least two more novels in this series, and likely a novella-length prequel as well.

Thank you again, Aya, for inviting me to your blog. As writers, we create ideas, images, sometimes entire worlds in the minds of our readers. Those creations influence the way our readers interact with the real world. Thank you for the positive and empowering message you present here. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to add my voice to that message.  I love hearing from readers. If anyone has questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at axblackwell@gmail.com Have a wonderful rest of your day 🙂

Axel Blackwell attempts to define reality through fiction and tease truth from tales. Also, he just tells stories. You will often find him in the woods, or on the shore, or sometimes in a book. He lives with his wife and three children near a misty bay in the Pacific Northwest.ocean and sisters of sorrow

To obtain a copy of Sisters of Sorrow, follow this link:

 http://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Sorrow-Axel-Blackwell-ebook/dp/B00VZO2242/

For more current news about child labor–over 27 articles published on April 27, 2015 by the Huffington Post–and how child labor affects the United States and what is being done about child labor go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/child-labor/

To discover what other tough issues my novels tackle, go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

 

 

 

 

Share