Tag Archives: gifts

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!
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The Little Angel Who Couldn’t Sing: A Family #Christmas Story

candle in dark Be the Light in the Dark this Holiday Season.
The Little #Angel Who Couldn’t Sing: A #Family Christmas Story
Written by Betty Matney Edited by Aya Walksfar
Little Angel huddled, shivering and sobbing, in the shadow of a large bank of dirty clouds outside of Heaven’s Gate. Gusts of cold north wind tugged at his mud-spattered robe and tangled the feathers of his wings, forcing him to burrow deeper into his hiding place. He knew he should get up and go home, but he couldn’t face his friends. If it didn’t get any colder, he’d sneak home after dark.
Suddenly, he stopped crying and raised his head to listen. Voices drifted across the clouds. He curled into a tighter ball and lay very still. He didn’t want any of the angels to find him.
A deep voice spoke briskly. “I tell you I heard someone crying.”
There was a mumbled response he couldn’t hear very well.
Even closer this time, the deep voice said, “I know how happy everyone is, but I also know crying when I hear it.”
Whoever it was they were nearly at his bank of clouds. He covered his head with his wings and held his breath.
Big feet shuffled to a stop. “What do we have here?”
Little Angel slowly raised his head and peeked over the edge of his wing. His blue eyes popped wide. God Himself stood looking down at him.
Holding his long, gray, wind-tossed hair out of His eyes with one hand, He bent over and held His other hand out to the little angel. “Come out of there, little one.”
He lowered his wing and God pulled him out of his hole. He stood there, robe wrinkled and dirty, gold halo tilted over his right ear, eyes cast down. God knelt on one knee. With a finger under his chin, He lifted his face. “How old are you, little one?”
Little Angel mumbled, “Seven years old, Sir.”
“On the day when joy is almost tearing this old place apart, why are you down here alone and crying?” Gently, He wiped the tears away with the end of the green sash wrapped around His waist.
Little Angel bit his trembling lower lip to keep from crying again.
God twisted His head around and looked up at the other adult angel. “Aren’t all the angels practicing their singing for the performance tonight?”
The other angel looked flustered. “Yes, Sir. They are supposed to be, Sir.”
God turned His kindly eyes on the little angel. “Does that have something to do with why you’re crying?”
Tears filled Little Angel’s eyes as he nodded. “I…I can’t…” He sniffled and wiped his nose with the sleeve of his robe. “I can’t sing!” Tears spilled down his cheeks. “The chorus master said I can’t carry a tune. I should just fly around and hum, but I shouldn’t hum too loud.” He threw his arm across his face and wailed into his sleeve. “I don’t want to just hum! I want to do something important like everyone else!”
God sighed and pushed to His feet. He patted the little angel on the head. “Of course, you do.”
He dropped his arm and stared up at God. God stood there stroking His thick, white beard. Finally, God smiled. He reached over and plucked a few pieces of dirty cloud from the little angel’s red curls. “You go get cleaned up and meet me at the Pearly Gates in an hour.”
As he took off running, God shouted, “And straighten up that halo!”


Little Angel skidded to a halt in front of God, jolting his halo into a tilt over his right ear.
God reached over and straightened it up. “You look much better, except you seemed to have missed a few spots on your face.” God ran a thumb over the little angel’s cheeks.
He giggled. “Those are freckles.”
God smiled. “Ah, so they are.”
Little Angel fidgeted.
God chuckled. “Anxious to find out what you’re doing. Frankly,” God’s Voice got very serious. “I don’t know how we overlooked this task. It is very important.”
He lifted his chin and drew his shoulders back.
“Do you have your sack of stardust?”
He nodded and lifted the small, red velvet sack hanging from the robe’s tie.
God leaned over and whispered in the little angel’s ear.
Little Angel’s wings drooped. “The donkey? That’s a dumb job.”
God frowned. “Remember who the donkey is carrying, but the donkey is small. It is important that he have some help with his burden. Will you help him?”
He looked up at God with wide eyes. “Yes, sir.” Little Angel took off running towards a hole in the clouds that would let him drop to earth quickly. Just as he was diving through, God yelled, “And straighten up that halo!”


Little Angel stood on the side of the road leading to Bethlehem. Overhead a zillion stars shone, but down here it was dark and cold. He shivered and pulled his wings around himself.
From around a curve in the road the sound of hooves clip-clopped along the frozen ground. The small donkey staggered a few steps before he caught himself. A woman, wrapped in a blue cape, rode the small creature while a man with a staff walked beside them. The man walked slowly, now and then patting the donkey’s short neck. “What a brave little beast you are.”
The donkey’s winter coat was long and fuzzy and very black. Patches of white hair that matched the hair on its belly filled its long ears. It was young, not much more than a baby, really. And so tired that sometimes its nose dragged the ground.
As the three drew alongside Little Angel, the donkey stopped. The man rubbed its ears and stood beside it.
Little Angel walked over and placed a hand on its halter. The donkey’s big dark eyes lifted to him and then it groaned. “I don’t know how much longer I can go on.”
“I will help you.” Little Angel took the red sack from his belt and knelt. He dipped his fingertips inside. When he took them out, they shone with silvery powder. He swiftly rubbed all four hooves with the silvery powder. “Take a few steps and see if that helps. Bethlehem is just over that hill.” He pointed towards a small hill in the distance.
The donkey nodded. “I’ll try.” As he stepped forward, he added, “Your halo is crooked.”
He straightened up his halo as the donkey took the first short, slow steps. He twitched his long ears then gave a joyful bray. “My feet don’t hurt!”
Little Angel jogged next to the trotting donkey as it nimbly skirted the frozen puddles along the road. Very soon they reached Bethlehem. Little Angel waited beside the donkey as the man inquired for a room at inn after inn. Every place was full until finally only one inn was left. The man sagged with fatigue as he walked to the last door.
The donkey sighed as the man stood talking to the landlord. “I need something to eat and some water and a place to rest pretty soon. My feet are hurting again.”
Little Angel hugged the donkey. “I’m sure this is the place we are to stop. There’s a stable out back.”
He turned and looked at the woman sitting quietly on the donkey. Body bent with tiredness, she sagged as if she could barely stay seated. He was really glad she hadn’t had to walk. Turning, he gave the donkey another hug. “You are so brave and good,” he whispered to the donkey.
The donkey raised its black nose to Little Angel’s ear. “The woman’s going to have a baby. I didn’t think she could walk very far, so I had to try to keep walking for her.” The donkey sighed. “Did you know about the baby?”
He scratched the donkey’s ear. “Yes, I knew about the baby.”
When the man returned, he led the donkey to the stable behind the inn. He helped the woman off and spread his own cloak over her as she lay down on a pile of straw. After she was settled, he took the donkey into another stall to feed and water the animal before returning to the woman, his wife.
Little Angel sat in the corner of the stall as the donkey ate and then tucked its legs under it and lay down. “Don’t sleep too soundly,” he cautioned. “The celebration will be starting soon.”
He had just finished speaking when a baby cried. He rushed to the wall and peeked through the space between two boards. Eyes wide, he watched as the man wrapped the baby in a warm blanket and laid it in the manger next to where the woman lay. The man stood between the manger and the woman, smiling first at one and then at the other. The woman’s face shone with happiness as she gazed at her husband and then at the Infant Boy.
The donkey stood next to Little Angel, staring through the crack. “She’s had her baby.”
From far away and above them, singing drifted on the air. The donkey looked up. “What’s that?”
A grin stretched Little Angel’s face as he, too, looked up. “Those are the angels singing to the shepherds out in the hills. They are telling them to come to the stable and behold the Child that was born.”
He dropped his eyes to the donkey. “I have to leave now.”
The donkey nodded. “Thank you. I don’t know if I could have made it all this way by myself.”
He gave the donkey a warm hug around its shaggy neck. “Everyone needs help sometimes.”
As he flew upwards, the donkey called, “Hey! Your halo is….”
He raised both hands and straightened his halo as he flew into the night. In the distance, he heard the final chorus and, all alone, Little Angel began to hum. As he flew higher, his humming grew louder until, unable to contain his joy, he burst into song. In a loud, happy voice, and slightly off-key, he added his own heavenly welcome to the Baby lying in the manger.


Though I am not Christian, I post this story every year to honor my friend and Elder Betty Matney who Journeyed to the Other Side years ago. I know she would want to share her story will all of you; and since she Gifted it to me, I will say the words she would say–
Share this story with anyone you choose to share it with; make copies and give them to others, but please give attribution to Betty Matney.
With the holidays upon us, remember that books make GREAT gifts! This year why not give a book that can be read over and over? Biker Granny’s Motorcycle Philosophy is a book your family and friends will read and re-read. You can find the ebook copy at http://www.amazon.com/Biker-Grannys-Motorcycle-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B019APE7W2
And the print book is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Biker-Grannys-Motorcycle-Aya-Walksfar/dp/1505829690
Biker Granny wrap cover

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A GIFT TO MY READERS

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IF ANY OF THESE LINKS DO NOT FUNCTION OR IF THE PRICES AT ANY OF THESE RETAILERS ARE DIFFERENT, PLEASE CONTACT ME WITH RETAILER, LINK USED, PRICE, OR OTHER PROBLEM EXPERIENCED. YOU CAN REACH ME AT ayawalksfar@gmail.com Thanks! Have a GREAT READ!

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Special #Crimes Team #Christmas Plans

In the spirit of #Christmas and the upcoming #holidays, I asked the members of the Special Crimes Team about their plans for the day.christmas_tree_and_fireplace

Lieutenant Williams: has invited Dr. Irene Nelson, FBI, to share #Christmas Day with his artist son, Danny, and him.

Sergeant Nita Slowater: plans a hike in the Mount Baker Wilderness area

Detective Frederick Albert: politely declined to share his plans

Detective Maizie O’Hara: will visit her #family and extended family where there will be a lot of singing, eating and gift giving

Officer Juan Rodriquez: will visit his brother who is currently serving time for murder

Officer Driscoll Mulder: will be hosting a Christmas Day feast for homeless gay and lesbian youths, “and any other homies who wanna show up”.

Ronald Arneau: will spend a quiet day with his mother

What are your plans for Christmas Day? Would love to hear.

Christmas tree and fireplace photo courtesy of: Petr Kratochvil, http://www.all-free-downloads.com

Be sure to fill those stockings with BOOKS!

Visit me at http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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