Tag Archives: Native American

Some Things Need Said

First day of your life
As a writer, a lesbian, and a woman, it is time for me to say a few things. As those of you who have read my novels, visited my Facebook pages or even just read my blog know everything I write has the underlying motivation of empowering women and girls. I address those issues that affect women and girls on a daily basis.
With the elections looming closer every day, I find myself compelled to weigh in with what I have seen and heard and think. What many of you may not realize is that simply being an out lesbian has cost me an education, my home, everything that I had worked for years to acquire. I have been fired for being a lesbian. I have endured harassment on my job for being a lesbian. And, I know without a doubt, if Trump is elected I will lose more. I will once again live in an environment where violence against those who are different is either ignored or in some cases actually encouraged.

I am not the only lesbian to have lost things and people that matter to us simply for the crime of being a lesbian. I have known women who have lost their children. In the repressive and violent environment that Trump would encourage as president–has already encouraged through his campaign of hate–all of the civil rights gains that we have made will be negated. It is for that, as well as for many other reasons, that I am compelled to speak out.

I have heard people say they might abstain from casting a vote because they like neither candidate. Rest assured that NO DECISION is a DECISION BY DEFAULT. Others say they will vote for a party that has no standing in this current election. That is the same as making NO DECISION–you are making a decision for a major political candidate by deciding on that action. When you do cast your vote, I want you to remember those people you know–those people are lesbian, gay, those people who are female, those people who are Muslim or some other minority religion, those people who are of a different race or ethnic background than you. Ask yourself: what will my vote mean for them as well as for me? Will it bring about peace? Will my vote count for securing civil rights for ALL Americans? Or only for the privileged few?

Trump has made it abundantly clear that he considers anyone who is not white, male, heterosexual, and Christian to be inferior. He has made statements that make it clear that he does not believe anyone different than himself deserves to have their rights, and their well-being, protected.

YET, when we look at the natural world we can see one grand truth:
diversity (2)

If you are a woman, or if you have a daughter, mother, aunt, sister or wife, here is what Trump thinks about women. To one reporter’s question do you consider women to be human beings, Trump’s response was: I would have to consider that on a case-by-case basis. Some people might try to excuse this statement by saying he was only joking, but such a statement is not a joking matter, especially for a candidate for the highest office of our country.

He has threatened multiple times to deport millions of people and has led the American people to wrongfully assume that such deportation of “illegal aliens” would help the economy and provide more jobs. In reality, the jobs that illegal immigrants hold are the meanest, the lowest paid, and the hardest jobs such as migrant workers in the fields. There are plenty of those jobs for the asking; all you have to do is apply. What such deportation will mean to our economy is that farmers, especially the larger farmers who depend on migrant, and yes on illegal immigrants, will lose crops due to a lack of workers. Though I do not approve of such exploitation of illegal immigrants, the fact remains that they a necessary labor pool. Deportation will inevitably harm our economy. (Much moreso than say meeting the basic needs of those workers!)

He wants to ban people of a specific religion from immigrating to our country. Yet, this nation was founded by men and women seeking to avoid religious persecution. Remember, not all sects or practices of Christianity were tolerated in the Old World.

Even forgetting the beginnings of the United States, let’s examine refugee impact on one American city, St. Louis, Missouri. During the Bosnia war, thousands of refugees fled their homeland and some of them came to America. Over twenty-two thousand of those refugees who came to America landed eventually in St. Louis. At the time, St. Louis was a “dying city”.

The results of the flux of Bosnia immigrants into St. Louis, according to a 2012 Saint Louis University paper titled “The Economic Impact of Immigration in St. Louis” resurrected that city. (Please note that the immigrants they are speaking of were mostly Muslims)

They (the refugees) revitalized parts of South St. Louis City and South St. Louis County by moving into older neighborhoods, opening businesses and rehabbing housing. Bosnians opened many thriving small businesses including bakeries, butcher shops, coffee shops, construction and heating and cooling companies, insurance companies and a truck-driving institute, and continue to be a key source of high skilled production work. To read the entire article go to: http://fusion.net/story/238682/the-miracle-of-little-bosnia/

According to Trump poor people are poor because they are genetically coded not to succeed; they are doomed to remain poor for the rest of their lives. This statement came from a man that some people would vote into the presidency because they believe he is a good businessman. Good business people know that hard work and determination frequently overrides the circumstances under which a successful person is born.

While I am on the subject of Trump’s so-called business acumen–Trump has bankrupted a number of his own companies. (And some folks want him to run the business of our country?!) One interesting business deal which he instigated was with the Scottish government. He promised the Scottish government that he would build and run a golf resort in Scotland that would employ 600 people, yet the resort foundered. At no time did he employ more than 300 people on that project and even that was temporary. He blamed his own failure on the fact that the Scottish government refused to FORCE a citizen of Scotland to sell his property to Trump. When Trump sued the Scottish government, they allowed the suit and subsequently, Trump, of course, lost the suit.

He has proposed building a wall between Mexico and the United States. Drugs come through tunnels (some of the best engineered tunnels in the world, by the way) to the United States more often than across the border. What makes him think that illegal immigrants would not also come through those tunnels if he builds a wall? A costly wall. A wall that mimics the futile wall that once divided Germany. Surely, the Berlin Wall is not so far in the past that we have forgotten it.

He has shown blatant disrespect toward women. Such disrespect of the more than half of our population does not bode well for women’s rights and freedoms.

And, he’s lied about charitable giving. According to the Washington Post, there’s no record of Trump donating any of his own money to charity in the last five years.
“Not a single one of those donations was actually a personal gift of Trump’s own money,” the Post reported. “Many of the gifts that Trump cited to prove his generosity were free rounds of golf, given away by his courses for charity auctions and raffles.”
Specifically, Trump listed nearly 3,000 rounds of golf as charitable gifts, even though some of the golf passes were given to his business clients and wealthy celebrities. As the Post explained, the donations list “reveals how Trump has demonstrated less of the soaring, world-changing ambitions in his philanthropy than many other billionaires. Instead, his giving appears narrowly tied to his business and, now, his political interests. Read the entire article at: http://www.salon.com/2016/04/16/the_charity_double_standard_partner/

Everyone can undoubtedly agree that the First Lady is an important asset to the president. Every president that we have had, so far, has proven that to be true. The First Ladies are nearly as well known and are definitely judged by the world community. With this in mind, what do you think the impression of our nation will be if we have a First Lady who plagiarized another First Lady’s speech? Trump’s wife did just that. She plagiarized the speech of First Lady Michelle Obama. Such a move indicates two things: she could not think on her own and she had very poor advice from her advisers. First Ladies have a delicate and important job to do for our country. They need to be widely read, intelligent, perceptive, and able to think on their own. (And that is just a few of the attributes they must have)

Trump’s campaign has been based on divisive, racist, misogynistic and plain hateful rhetoric to the point that England debated whether or not to allow him into their country.

For the past months I have heard many negative things said or written about Hilliary Clinton. What is not so widely known and spoken about are the many good works she has performed out of the glow of the limelight. I learned about some of those endeavors from a video on this site: https://www.facebook.com/TheDaily.BuzzOnline/videos/1062989120456530/ I learned that Hilliary has championed women and girls worldwide from Northern Ireland to North Thailand to Senegal to the United States. She was the driving force behind the passage of laws against human trafficking. And all of this from a woman who as a little girl once wrote to NASA and said she wanted to be an astronaut. NASA’s reply was: girls can not become astronauts.

For years, Republicans have used taxpayer money—thousands upon thousands of dollars—in a witch hunt against Hilliary Clinton. After wasting all of that money—money that could have been better used for the American people—they FAILED to prove any wrongdoing by Hilliary.

Even the latest so-called scandal that claimed she had sent classified information over unsecured email servers has been proven false. She did not send classified information over unsecured servers. Likewise, she was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Benghazi affair.

People who value family should rally to Hilliary Clinton. In spite of everything, she stuck with her husband when many women, myself included, would have felt she was justified in leaving him. Hilliary has proven her commitment to family.

Whether you like Hilliary or not, if you are a woman or an LGBT person, or if you care about the civil rights of ALL Americans, be aware that during the upcoming presidential term three Supreme Court justices will be appointed. This will greatly impact the civil liberties of ALL Americans! For women, for those who have children, for minority people, for lesbian and gay couples, and for all LGBT people, this should be an enormous consideration before voting.

Change (2)
Will you be an agent for positive change?

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It’s Really Up To Each of Us

creator's child

Like many authors, I tackle everyday issues in my work–everything from dog fighting, hate crimes, serial killers, human trafficking of children to LGBT rights. All of these issues are close to my heart. I love dogs; I believe we all have a responsibility to stop human trafficking; I have worked with street kids; and I have spent a lifetime fighting for human rights in one way or another–the first time at the age of fourteen.

Like many lesbians, I had hoped that marriage equality would pave the way for acceptance of LGBT rights–not special privileges as some seem to believe–just human rights enjoyed by any heterosexual person. Unfortunately, the fight for LGBT rights is not over.

Why should this concern my readers?

The words of Martin Niemoller, (1892-1984) a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken foe of Hitler, and consequently spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camp, say it more eloquently than I can:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

For those living in the beautiful state of Washington where #HumanRights is more widely accepted than some states this may seem like a dead issue. I truly wish it were, but the advent of I-1515 places grave doubt that the fight for human rights for LGBT people, even in Washington state, is over.

According to The Atlantic in January, 2016:
“Twenty-eight. That’s the number of states where it’s not against the law to discriminate against a gay person who’s looking for an apartment, applying for a job, or buying something from a store. Five more states have protections, but with exceptions: New York, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin don’t forbid discrimination against transgender people, for example, and Massachusetts and Utah don’t protect all LGBT people in all situations in which discrimination might arise. The federal government does not protect against this kind of discrimination, either, except in limited cases. Although Democrats have proposed legislation that would change that, the chances of it successfully sliding through a Republican Congress in an election year seem slim.
The irony of gay marriage becoming legal in the United States is that it has made discrimination against LBGT people easier. For example: Many newlywed couples may be asking their employers for spousal benefits for the first time. Depending on where they live, it may or may not be illegal for that employer to respond by firing them—something that happened in a number of states in 2015.”

(see full article http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/lgbt-discrimination-protection-states-religion/422730/)

Conservatives are using the #FirstAmendment to attack LGBT rights. The First Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;….
While this Amendment originally pertained to establishing places of worship and worshipping without fear of violence, conservatives are using these words to bring back Jim Crow segregation laws that will at first be used against LGBT people.” (emphasis is mine)

Essentially what it boils down to is that I may have the right to marry the one I love, but I may not have the right to take her out to dinner (anyone remember a time when black Americans could not sit in certain restaurants?), or have our photographs taken, or to order a cake to celebrate our anniversary.

Several states have bills to allegedly “protect religious freedom”, but which in reality allows commercial businesses and organizations, including taxpayer funded organizations and governmental workers, to refuse services to LGBT people by simply saying it is against their “sincerely held religious beliefs” to serve certain individuals.
These same people frequently do not adhere to the rest of the tenets of whichever faith they are hiding behind, such as Christianity. If one decides that their “sincerely held religious beliefs”–almost always based on Christianity and the Bible–says they should not serve homosexuals because the Bible condemns homosexuals, then why are these people still divorcing, having sex outside of marriage, wearing cloth made of two different kinds of threads, not closing their businesses on the Sabbath, and so on? Why should they be allowed to cherry-pick which so-called sincere beliefs they have so that they can justify discrimination against a particular group of individuals?

According to Huffington Post, these bills—AKA Religious Freedom Restoration Acts—are popping up all over the place.

“Conservatives are putting forward state-level RFRAs to let people claim religious liberty as a justification for denying services to LGBT people. So you’ve got the evangelical Christian bakery that refuses to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, for example, or the photographer who refuses to provide services to a gay couple. In some cases, these bills are written so broadly that they also allow discrimination against single mothers, interfaith couples and interracial couples.
Seven states have active RFRA bills: Colorado (HB 1180), Hawaii (HB 1160), Iowa (HF 2032, HF 2200, SF 2171), Michigan (SB 4), Mississippi (SB 2093, SB 2822), North Carolina (HB 348, SB 550) and Oklahoma (HB 1371, SB 440, SB 723, SB 898)

As if that is not enough to worry about there are other classes of bills aimed at limiting the freedom of LGBT people.

Marriage-Related Religious Exemption Laws: these bills provide a religiously based exemption regarding same-sex marriage. Some only apply to religious organizations; others apply to commercial and government officials.(our tax dollars hard at work to discriminate against a group of people)

First Amendment Defense Acts — These bills, in essence, allow any person, business or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage. Yes, it’s as sweeping as it sounds. It not only discriminates against LGBT people, but can extend to single mothers and anybody with a sexual relationship outside of marriage. A state-contracted counselor, for example, could deny services to a single mom. Taxpayer-funded adoption agencies could refuse to place children in the homes of same-sex married couples. Government employees could decline to file official forms for gay couples (remember Kim Davis?). Three states have active FADA bills: Hawaii (SB 2164), Illinois (SB 2164) and Oklahoma (SB 440).

Pastor Protection Acts — These let churches refuse to perform marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. The First Amendment already covers this right, but sometimes lawmakers like to pass bills just to send a message. So, we have Pastor Protection Acts. Fourteen states have active PPA bills: Arkansas (HB 236, SB 120), Colorado (HB 1123), Kentucky (HB 17, HB 28), Louisiana (HB 597), Maryland (HB 16), Michigan (HB 4732, HB 4855, HB 4858), Minnesota (SF 2158), Missouri (HJR 97, SJR 39, HB 2000, HB 2040, HB 2730), Mississippi (HB 587, HB 737), New Jersey (AB 1706), Ohio (HB 286), Oklahoma (HB 1371, SB 811), South Carolina (H 4446, H 4508) and Tennessee (HB 2375, SB 2329).

Government-officials-using-your-taxpayer-funds-against-you bills — Some bills let judges and clerks refuse to perform same-sex marriages or issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Four states have active bills like this: Kentucky (HB 17, HB 14), Minnesota (SF 2158), Mississippi (HB 586, HB 1342) and South Carolina (SB 116).

No-wedding-cake-for-non-straight-non-white-heathens bills — These allow businesses to refuse to provide goods or services related to marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. That could mean a frame shop refusing to sell pictures frames that are going to be used for a same-sex wedding, an interracial marriage or an interfaith marriage. Four states have active bills like this: Kentucky (SB 180), Minnesota (SF 2158), Missouri (HJR 97, SJR 39) and Ohio (HB 296).(It isn’t just LGBT people these bills can be used against!)

Other marriage exemption bills — These bills provide yet other kinds of religious exemptions relating to same-sex marriage. Five states have active bills in this category: Kentucky (HB 31), Michigan (HB 4733), Missouri (HB 2754), Oklahoma (HB 1125, HB 1599, SB 478, HJR 1059, SB 973) and South Carolina (H 3022, H 3150, H 4513).

God-Doesn’t-Want-Gay-People-To-Raise-Kids Bills
These let adoption and foster care agencies refuse to provide any services that conflict with their religious beliefs about marriage, such as same-sex couples. This is regardless of what is in the best interests of a child. Three states have pending bills like this: Alabama (HB 158, SB 204), Nebraska (LB 975) and Oklahoma (HJR 1059, HB 2428).

Other Generally Terrible Anti-LGBT Bills
It turns out there are too many categories for all the bills out there, but there’s a few more of note: Two states have bills (AB 1212 in California; SB 210 in South Carolina) that require public universities to provide funds for student organizations, regardless of whether the organization discriminates against LGBT people based on religious beliefs. Three states have bills (HB 325 in Arkansas; HJR 1059 in Oklahoma; and Tennessee’s HB 566, SB 397, HB 1840 and SB 1556) that let health professionals deny services to LGBT people by citing religious objections. And there’s one bill in Oklahoma (SB 1289) that prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination protections, including LGBT protections, that go further than protections at the state level, such as the law proposed by North Carolina.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lgbt-state-bills-discrimination_us_570ff4f2e4b0060ccda2a7a9

Here is something to remember:

In 1933 Hitler began his reign of terror by first targeting the Jewish people. He proclaimed them inferior (and therefore undeserving of the rights of other German citizens) and began a systematic stripping of their rights, beginning with firing them from their jobs and not allowing them access to services enjoyed by the general German public.

July 14, 1933, Hitler began targeting other groups, namely Gypsies and African-Germans. He stripped them of their rights by using some of the same arguments for taking Jewish rights.

October, 1934, Hitler began targeting LGBT people. Again, he stripped this group of people of the German-citizen rights by using the same arguments as he used against Jews, Gypsies and African-Germans.

When a tyrant, whether they clothe themselves in political or religious rhetoric, begins to strip away the rights of any group of citizens then all citizens need to fear for their freedoms.

As a pagan, I am very much in favor of protection of my religious/spiritual practices; however, that does not mean that I should be allowed to engage in discriminating against other citizens. If I am engaged in public commerce–such as running a restaurant, bakery, photography studio, selling books, or any other business—then I need to serve ALL of the public. If I do not want to serve all of the public then I should not be in business.

Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black Americans could not sit at the counter of just any diner. Now, there are certain groups of people who want to bring back those laws of segregation by cloaking them as religious freedom restorations and protections. Segregation is segregation regardless of how you clothe it and regardless of which group of people you target.

If left unchecked, these laws could easily be applied to any group of citizens—
–You are Muslim and it is against my religious beliefs to serve you
–You are black and God said you are inferior and therefore I should not serve you
–You are a single mother or an unmarried couple. God does not permit sex outside of marriage and so I will not serve you.
–You are interfaith or inter-racially married and God does not want us to mix the faiths/races, so I will not serve you.
–You are Native American and therefore a heathen and since you don’t believe in my God, I will not serve you.

Here in the beautiful state of Washington, you can do your part by working against I-1515. Discrimination protects no one’s rights! Discrimination has no place in a free country.
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4 Things You MUST Remember!

Life doesn’t always go according to plan and right on schedule! What can a person do? Whether you are fifteen or fifty-five, here’s a few suggestions from Biker Granny.

  1. Even rivers sometimes get blocked, yet the water simply finds a way over, under, around, or through the obstacle. Be like a river.waterfall 1 waterfalls A waterfall is a river that has found a way over an obstacle. Some do it quietly; some do it with joyous abandon.
  2. Flowers always smile after a rain–they lift their heads and rejoice in the sun. Rejoice in the moment, however, different it is than what you planned. Be like a flower. magnolia bloom
  3. In the face of adversity and difficulty, trees cling and thrive on mountainsides. Strong, tenacious, persistent. Be like a tree. tree in rock
  4. You are a child of Creator, and no matter how many plans fail to bear fruit, you are a wonderful part of creation. And you are worthy. PurposeAndBeauty

To read more of Biker Granny’s Motorcycle Philosophy, pick up your copy today! http://www.amazon.com/Biker-Grannys-Motorcycle-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B019APE7W2
If you’ve read Biker Granny’s Motorcycle Philosophy, please take a moment to review it!

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4 Whys & 4 Hows of #Journaling

worthRemembering

Writing is not for the faint of heart. When words are put on paper, or computer screen, we are opening our minds, our emotions, and our souls to the reader. In journaling, the reader is also the writer and that is what makes journaling a powerful tool in #StressManagement, and in dealing with our daily struggles and triumphs, among many other uses.

There are 4 strong reasons to journal:

1.Express negative emotion safely. Have you ever said something then wanted to take it back, erase it? Once journaling becomes a habit, these unfortunate situations decrease drastically. You write out those hasty, and not so hasty, comments and then take the time to re-read and evaluate them. Should they be said? How could this be said in a more tactful manner? Am I simply venting my frustrations inappropriately?

2.Track progress in a project or toward a goal. In our very busy world it is easy to get sidetracked by an avalanche of things we need to do. Buried beneath this avalanche are those projects we hold closest to our hearts; ones that often get neglected. One way to insure that a project, whether large or small, reaches a successful conclusion is to track the progress of the project. In a journal, you can do that on a daily, or a weekly, basis. It is especially helpful if we sketch out our plans in the journal first, such as build tree house for the children. From that broad goal, you can then write out the steps to accomplish the end result and what materials will be needed. This is simply one way to track progress toward an objective.

3.Think ‘out loud’. We all occasionally need a sounding board, but there are times when the person we normally go to is either inappropriate or unavailable at the time of our need to ‘think out loud’. Thinking out loud is easily accomplished through writing in a journal. You put your thoughts, however rambling, into the journal and then leave them for a few hours. Go back and re-read what you have written. Often new inspirations or simply a new perspective will give you much needed feedback on the issue at hand.
Use these pages to record your emotions; even the ones that seem difficult to share such as the feeling of being vulnerable when you look up at the stars flung across the vast heavens; the heart-stopping joy at seeing the first butterfly of the season; the sadness of seeing a small animal dead along the road; the love for that special person that you haven’t yet found the courage to shout from the rooftops. Record those dreams that seem so out of reach that you fear to share them with anyone.
Use the journal to capture the moment; record the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings evoked as you catch a glimpse of a wild mountain goat in his natural habitat, or see the eagle soar above the raging white waters of a river. Life has a way of obscuring these moments. When we journal we capture the essence, what the moment means to us, more surely than any photograph.
manydroplets
Capture those droplets of life in your journal where you can revisit them from time to time.

4.To record our daily struggles and triumphs; our accomplishments, large and small. One of the easiest things to do is to tell ourselves that we have not ‘accomplished anything today’ (or this week, this month, this year!) All too frequently, the large and small triumphs get washed away on a flood of things we still need to do. Once we lose track of those triumphs, we forget how much we have actually accomplished. By journaling about large and small triumphs, we can use our journal as a tool for positive motivation. Record the fact that you got the kids to all their games on time; that you cooked a wonderful dinner for your significant other; and that you finally got that raise you deserve.
Use your journal to record struggles, self-doubts, and worries. A week or a month later go back and review these things. How were issues resolved? Was that self-doubt something that you needed to analyze and address? Time and again, you will discover that you have made good choices; you have overcome what could have been crippling self-doubts; and you have moved forward in spite of worry and obstacles. This will reinforce the fact that you are a capable person, and it will give you ideas on how to handle similar situations in the future.

There are 4 easy steps in journaling:

1.Choose a journal book that best fits you. A journal can be a spiral bound notebook or a bound and covered book with blank pages. It should at least be the size of a paperback book, but don’t use three ring binders as they don’t feel ‘intimate’ enough for personal thoughts and expression of emotion.

2.Dedicate a specific amount of time for journaling during a quiet period of the day—this can be once a day or once a week. It should be at least once a week as beyond that we forget the important things we want to say in our journals and journaling won’t become a habit.

3.Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or any other grammar boogeyman. Just go with the flow. This is not the final draft of a novel. These words are for your eyes only. Sometimes, the flow-of-consciousness—just allowing yourself to write without any specific purpose or goal—is a great way to discover subconscious thoughts and feelings.

4.Keep your journal somewhere safe from prying eyes. It’s for you, to share parts of it or to not share it at all.

There, you have it–four strong reasons why you should journal, and four easy steps to start your adventure today! Happy writing!

Go to http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK to check out my work.
Sketch of a Murder, the first book of the Special Crimes Team series, is FREE. Go to http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ ALL the books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read out of sequence or as stand-alones.

Just like journaling, reviewing a book is best done in the heat of the moment. So, when you reach that last page, shoot over to wherever you purchased the book–or if it was a gift, shoot over to Amazon or Goodreads–and leave a review. An author will thank you.

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#Reviews: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

REVIEWS: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Your opinion counts—especially with Independent Authors AKA #IndieAuthors—those of us who choose to write and to publish our own work. I read every review I receive, and I take them seriously. What the reader says matters to me.
What is even more important for the reader to understand is that reviews and word-of-mouth can make or break an Indie book. We swim, or drown, in an ocean of books. creeping fog on ocean
Between 600,000 and 1 million new books are published every year. With limited advertising budgets and no large house to create “buzz” for us, we have to depend on rankings, especially rankings on Amazon, to have our books placed far enough toward the top of the queue that readers who are randomly searching–say ‘mystery’–will happen upon our books. Two ways to get good rankings on Amazon is to either sell a lot of books every day and/or amass at least twenty-five 4 and 5 star reviews.
Unfortunately, Indie authors also face the terrible monsters of the deep. Beneath the choppy waters of the ocean of books lurk Review Trolls. Here is a rare photo of a Review Troll, note the wide open mouth getting ready to gobble up a Indie Author: Sea Monster Yawning
Review trolls are people who purchase a book, keep it a day or two and then return the book without reading it. That person can now post an Amazon VERIFIED purchase review. The reviews that trolls publish are always meant to wreck an author’s ratings. Like black hat hackers, review trolls are about unnecessary destruction. Their ratings, however, will pull down the ranking of the book that they attack unless that book has enough 4 and 5 star ratings to successfully counterbalance the trolls’ attacks.
With the challenges involved in getting very busy people to write and post reviews and fending off troll attacks, Indie authors face advertisers who won’t even consider their book for their publications and email blasts unless the book has at least ten 4 and 5 star reviews on AMAZON! They don’t count Barnes and Noble or Smashwords reviews. Everyone knows that advertising is one way to get your book in front of a larger audience. Classic chicken and egg situation. Advertising could result in more reviews, but you can’t advertise with the really good advertisers without ten reviews.
You see, a reader’s opinion really does matter, especially to an Indie author. The next time you finish a book, please consider zipping over to Amazon and quickly posting an honest review.
For me, and for many Indie authors who put in incredibly long hours, we thank you!
AMAZON REVIEW EXCERPTS FROM READERS:
STREET HARVEST (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, SECOND BOOK. ALL BOOKS IN THIS SERIES CAN BE READ OUT OF SEQUENCE) Pat Rummenie says:
Everyone with a social conscience who also loves a good mystery should read this well written book.
OLD WOMAN GONE (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, THIRD BOOK) Amazon Customer says:
The mixture of police procedures and Native American spiritualism are needed to solve the crime and rescue the two women. The author knows the setting well and uses it to enhance the story.
BACKLASH! (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, FOURTH BOOK) Coppercreek says:
I love crime novels, and this really hit the spot.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONG MYSTERY/THRILLER) KtHack8 says:
I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a story about life and finding the will to overcome adversity.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONE MYSTERY/THRILLER) Denise Gayl says:
Thought provoking about the injustices of bigotry and racism, and the ray of sunshine that there are people “out there” willing to accept, love, and help others even though their lifestyles are unlike their own. Well done.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) pwindsinspirations says:
This story brought out emotions in me I had hidden away. I, too, was abused and afraid to tell anyone for fear of only making it worse for myself….. I liked how it took me from despair to triumph and the way the writer brought that about.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) Denise Gayl says:
A very good read. As a mother of 2 girls, the subject matter is a bit difficult at times. But, in the end, it shows that young women pitted against adversity through no fault of their own can come back strong and live good lives. Is thought provoking and makes me realize there is much that needs to be done in this society to help young people thrive.
THIS is why I write! Thank you, Readers! YOU are my inspiration!
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SKETCH OF A MURDER, Special Crimes Team, is FREE. Run over and grab your copy! http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

To view my other titles go to: http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

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Reporters: Truth Tellers Or…?

BeautyWillPersist

Every time that I read headlines in the newspaper, I recall Sergeant Nita Slowater’s feelings about reporters. In Sketch of a Murder the protagonist, Sergeant Nita Slowater, doesn’t like reporters; in fact, she despises them. Her introduction to Dawn Samira, investigative reporter for the Seattle Times, reinforces Nita’s attitude.

Excerpt from Sketch of a Murder:
As they emerged from the car, she spotted a woman standing outside the yellow crime scene tape. A five-foot nothing blonde bomb that was roughly two seconds from explosion, if the hand waving and the foot stomping at the patrol officer told a true tale. Must be the reporter. They always act like the police should fall over their own feet giving them access to crime scenes. Arrogant asses.

After leaving the crime scene, Nita is told by her superior, Lieutenant Michael Williams that she will be the liaison with Dawn. Nita is far from pleased.

Excerpt from Sketch of a Murder:
“I don’t do politics and I don’t play ‘meet-the-press.’” She yanked on the snug lap belt and shifted her body away from him.
He slammed the heel of his hand against the steering wheel. “What’s such a big deal about this, Sergeant Slowater?”
Body stiff, she swung around to face him. “What’s such a big deal? Do you know why I got exiled to SCaT?”
He gave a one-shouldered shrug. “Governor Marleton didn’t think I needed that kind of information at this time.”
“I’ll tell you why—I slugged a fucking reporter and knocked him on his skinny, white ass.”

Still the lieutenant insists that she be Dawn’s contact during the case. Finally, Nita tells the lieutenant why she despises reporters.

Excerpt from Sketch of a Murder:
“I heard an undercover man was found dead when the doors got busted open.”
For a second, she closed her eyes then the images on the back of her lids forced them open again. “Yeah. My best friend, Ed.”
He scratched his jaw, fingers rasping against his five o’clock shadow. “What happened?”
She redirected her attention to the side window, watched the trees and bushes flash past. The memory hit her in the chest like someone hammering on a punching bag.
In the pre-dawn hours of that February morning, a drizzle of cold rain had weaseled its way down the back of her Kevlar vest as she waited for the go command. She’d been in the second wave to spread out through the blackness of the sprawling warehouse. Flashlight beams bounced off of stacks of boxes, pallets of crates. Barrels took up one large, roped off area. She recalled thinking how easy it would be for a sniper to pick them off. Only the first wave had night vision goggles; everyone else was pinpointed with flashlights.
Static nearly made the terse commands coming over her radio unintelligible. No need to answer. The office door loomed ahead of her, its pebbled glass bouncing the light into glittering fragments. The darkness looming all around them gobbled it up like a hungry beast. Head low, she reached over and twisted the knob. Locked.
Her partner, Ricky Day, held his gun in the ready position and tilted his head at the door. She nodded back. He swung in front of the door and kicked. The wooden jamb splintered. The door flew open, slammed against the wall hard enough to crack the glass in the upper half of it.

Even facing straight ahead she could feel the lieutenant stealing quick looks at her. The smells of that day wafted up from her memory. Technicolored pictures in her mind ran on fast-forward in an infinite loop, complete with surround-sound. Over and over. The coppery smell of Ed’s blood. The sour smell of a rookie puking. The echoing of the empty warehouse—empty except for Ed’s body still strapped to a battered wood chair in the main office.
The words clawed their way up her throat. “Those bastards tortured him. Cut out his eyes. Sliced off his lips and tongue and hacked off both ears.”
“Shit!” The curse exploded from him.
Her eyes darted toward him. Staring at his face, she felt the tie between them. Cops. In spite of their differences, they were cops. “Staub printed an exposé the day before—pretty much told them that one of our people was on the inside. No one could prove how he got his information, but the FBI agent working with us disappeared during the raid.” Silence pooled between them. She refocused her gaze on the roadside racing past the side window.
Miles later they ran into Seattle’s normal late afternoon gridlock. Taillights flickered. They coasted to a stop. Heat wavered up from the asphalt and mixed with the ghostly gray wisps of exhaust from the car in front of them.
“Dawn’s not like that.” His words hung in the stuffy air as the car crawled along.
She didn’t look at him. “They’re all like that, sharks without a conscience. All they care about is the blood, and they don’t really care whose blood it is.”

There is a segment of the population who believe that news reporters seek sensationalism rather than reporting objectively, and that such biased reporting negatively affects the information the general public receives about important events.
What do you think? Have you read about events in the newspapers or heard about them on television broadcasts that you feel are biased reports rather than actual reporting of events?
Do you feel that Nita’s attitude about reporters is accurate?

Don’t forget to get your FREE ebook copy of Sketch of a Murder and see if Nita ever finds a way to get along with Dawn.
http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

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STOP! We Need Strong Female Characters

front cover artemis (One of my favorite book covers)
http://www.amazon.com/Artemis-Warriors-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B0158NZ1L6

So here’s a quick questionnaire for filmmakers who’ve created a female character who isn’t a dishrag, a harpy, a McGuffin to be passed around, or a sex toy. Congratulations, you have a Strong Female Character. That’s a great start! But now what? Screenwriters, producers, directors, consider this:”

I decided to compare my books to this standard to see how my strong female characters rate: (also please remember that my protagonists are all female)

1.“After being introduced, does your Strong Female Character then fail to do anything fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot? Anything at all?”

My strong female characters, even the secondary ones, always have a reason for being that is significant to the plot.

2.“If she does accomplish something plot-significant, is it primarily getting raped, beaten, or killed to motivate a male hero? Or deciding to have sex with/not have sex with/agreeing to date/deciding to break up with a male hero? Or nagging a male hero into growing up, or nagging him to stop being so heroic? Basically, does she only exist to service the male hero’s needs, development, or motivations?”

Even though some of my female characters—protagonist or secondary–are raped/beaten/kidnapped it is to advance the plot; not to advance a particular character.
Interactions in life are about the two people who happen to be in the same “story” as the other one. As in Street Harvest when Eleanor Hasting is kidnapped–she is in that position because of her personal beliefs.
I don’t create characters who primarily are there to motivate others. I don’t think life of a strong woman allows for that type of relationship, and all of my women are strong in their own way.

Street Harvest

3.“Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?”

NOT LIKELY!

4.“Is a fundamental point of your plot that your Strong Female Character is the strongest, smartest, meanest, toughest, or most experienced character in the story—until the protagonist arrives?”
Since my protagonists are female, I will answer this in regards to secondary strong female characters: no, the women I write about are complex, capable people who make mistakes, suffer and learn along with the protagonist who also suffers and learns.

5.“…or worse, does he enter the story as a bumbling fuck-up, but spend the whole movie rapidly evolving past her, while she stays entirely static, and even cheers him on? Does your Strong Female Character exist primarily so the protagonist can impress her?”

Dawn Samira, secondary/supporting character to protagonist Sergeant Nita Slowater, would really laugh at this one! Dawn has been called lots of things, but static is not one of them. She is Nita’s biggest cheerleader—as Nita is hers–but they grow together.

6.“It’s nice if she’s hyper-cool, but does she only start off that way so a male hero will look even cooler by comparison when he rescues or surpasses her?”

I love novels where the characters are not so much rescuing each other as they are growing together. These are the types of novels I write. Like in Run or Die when protagonist Jaz Wheeler interacts with supporting character Aretha Hopewell, both women come out better than at the beginning of the book. Learning and growing is a cooperative endeavor.
http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

7.“Is she so strong and capable that she’s never needed rescuing before now, but once the plot kicks into gear, she’s suddenly captured or threatened by the villain, and needs the hero’s intervention? Is breaking down her pride a fundamental part of the story?”

The only pride that gets shattered is the pride of the bad dudes! My protagonists and her supporting characters, kick the bad dudes butts!

8.“Does she disappear entirely for the second half/third act of the film, for any reason other than because she’s doing something significant to the plot (besides being a hostage, or dying)?”

Even my hostage in Old Woman Gone, Grandma Greene at 85 years old does not sit back and wait for rescue. She acts on her own behalf and on the behalf of others.

“If you can honestly answer “no” to every one of these questions, you might actually have a Strong Female Character worthy of the name. Congratulations!”

Yep, I think my female characters rank among the most complex, significant characters in fiction.
To read the entire article from which this standard was copied, go to: (it is well worth the time to read!)

http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/618-were-losing-all-our-strong-female-characters-to-tr/

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