Tag Archives: rape

WIN FREE E-BOOK!

Guess which of my novels these headlines apply to and win a free copy of my latest Special Crimes Team novel, Twisted Minds!

PaperCover

–Woman eats people!

–Terrorists take over White House!

–After 30 years woman discovers true identity!

–Runaway kid battles pedophile!

–2 women battle racists in small town!

–Women expose police corruption!

–Renegade cops bust serial killer!

–Psychic tracks kidnapped children!

–Raid saves 40 puppies!

–85-year old woman outwits killer!

–20-year old secret rips family apart!

–Women warriors save humanity!

–Girl saves horse from slaughter!

The first ten to send the correct answers–or the most correct answers–to ayawalksfar@gmail.com win a pdf of my latest book, Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team. Winners will be announced on my blog on Labor Day Weekend! Winners will be determined by time and date stamps on emails. ALL decisions final.

HINT: You can find my books at https://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

 

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Twisted Minds: A Book About Our Times

Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team, is now live on Kindle and coming soon as paperback on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Minds-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B074DT74HY

This was a particularly challenging novel to write as the concept first appeared in the winter of 2015. In the spring of 2016, I began the first draft. As the presidential elections heated up, I completed the first draft. With one candidate using hate and open verbal attacks on minorities as his platform, minority communities experienced an upsurge in violence against them.

As a member of a minority community, I found this of personal concern as well as concern for my country. Since that time, my concern has not abated; however, as Sergeant Slowater in Twisted Minds discovers, there is more behind the attacks on minorities than simple hate.

In both my novel and in reality, hate is used to stir up the emotions of a certain segment of the  population to create a groundswell of anger and violence against certain communities in order to distract from the real crimes being committed by the puppeteer orchestrating the rhetoric of hate. In others words, by using hate and religious rhetoric, a central figure creates emotions in certain followers that manifest in violent actions. In the public’s attempt to deal with the violence and other manifestations of hate, the real central issue is obscured.

In most criminal activity, there are certain motivations that appear to hold true over a large crime spectrum. Those motivations are: greed, hate, love, power. Love is normally found in crimes of passion and in revenge crimes, as is hate. Most crimes are based on a hunger for material gain and power over others. These two appear to be conjoined as money does translate to power in our society.

Sergeant Slowater must decide whether these crimes are truly crimes of hate or if there is a dark logic behind them. She must follow a trail of logic, created by twisted minds, to stop the attacks on minority women.

Hate destroys. We see it in novels; we see it in real life. It destroys families, communities, and even the fabric of our nation which has thrived on diversity. Hate destroys the credibility of any religion that wields it; yet, all too frequently, religion is the banner beneath which terrible crimes are committed. In Twisted Minds, Sergeant Slowater and the Special Crimes Team confront that destruction.

Though we may not be Sergeant Slowater, each of us can stand against hate in our society. We must remind each other that not only is diversity good for our country, but diversity is the signature of Creator.

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Birthday Thoughts

sunrise-hope-for-change

On Saturday, July 8th, I will turn 64 years old. Since the age of 14 when I wrote and circulated my first petition to try to effect change for institutionalized young people–myself included–I have used my writing to attempt to bring about positive changes. Shortly after I began circulating that petition at The Hall (the institution where I was incarcerated for being “incorrigible”), I wrote a series of articles for a black-owned and black-run newspaper. The series was entitled “America’s Criminal Disease” and discussed racism as both a crime by the majority and as a disease of the mind. When my articles were accepted by the newspaper, I was asked to come up and meet with some of the staff.

I hiked through a black neighborhood that had suffered the affects of rioting during that summer of riots throughout America. Though I had grown up among the faces of desperate people, it was the first time I had seen that despair morphed into community-wide rage. It made a lasting impression on me.

Being accepted by that all-black staff as a fellow writer, changed me. For the first time in my life, it was confirmed that like those hundreds of books I had read from Carnegie Library, my writing, too, could change lives; could touch people.

Between the petition and the articles, I found a sense of purpose–the use of words to bring about change. I had discovered the direction I wanted my life to take.

But it wasn’t as easy nor as simple as making that discovery. Shortly after my several petitions to the The Hall’s administration resulted in changes to some long-standing rules, I was forced by the administration to leave The Hall and– unknown to me at the time–any chance I had at gaining a college education.

I was shipped off to a worse institution and my caseworker threatened to place me in a hard-core reformatory. I ran. Education doesn’t happen for kids who live in precarious and not-quite-legal places. I finally wound up marrying and having a child in order to have a stable place to live. Too bad I married a man who wanted to use me as a broodmare to have children to sell on the black market. Needless to say, that marriage didn’t last, but his threats of violence toward my daughter continued until I left the state.

Without friends or family to help with a young child, and no real options for childcare, I wound up working at jobs “under the table”; jobs that paid cash, but paid nothing into the future for me. Whenever I saw a way that I might make more money, I picked up and moved. Not an easy life. A life that sometimes wound me up living in a vehicle parked on a street in some nameless city. Several times, after completing a GED, I started taking college courses. Each time life reared up with a heavy hand and slapped me winding. I’d pick up and start somewhere new. All this time I struggled with my sexual orientation; and, consequently, made some very bad choices in men.

The only thing I held onto during those times of despair was my writing. I continued to use my craft to pen articles, poems, stories. Many were published in small magazines, small press book releases, and other journals. Writing kept me going when nothing else could; it gave me purpose; it gave me hope.

Somewhere along the line, I finally  accepted my sexual orientation. Then in my thirties, I met the woman who became my best friend, my life partner, and my wife.  It was then that my writing came into its maturity.

Since that time, I have written fourteen books. Mystery, literary, paranormal, and one inspirational tome.  Each book has brought me emails and reviews that tell me how my work has entertained, enlightened, encouraged, and empowered others–especially women.

Within each novel, I have represented real people with real issues in our modern society. I have talked about laws that need to be changed, and attitudes that need to be overcome among our people. In novels, I can present facts in such a way that people can more easily keep an open mind as they read and consider.

In Sketch of a Murder, I talk about a justice system that doesn’t give justice to women and children abused by men who can buy their way out of punishment. (Spoiler: justice does prevail in the end). In Street Harvest, I present the very real situation of street kids becoming prey to human traffickers. In Old Woman Gone, I touch on how society views older women and I touch on accepting one’s own spirituality. In Backlash, I point out that the law in many states allow rapists to demand access to children born to their rape victims, thus continuing a cycle of abuse and fear for the victim. In Death by Dog, I tackle a horror of dog fighting.

Even though I present these issues, if one is of a mind to find solutions (as well as enjoy an excellent story), during the course of each story I present ways each of us can help change these situations.

My literary novels always parallel reality while telling a triumphant story of a person who simply refuses to quit, to give up. In those pages, I shout the truth that the only time we fail is when we give up.

Words are powerful. During the many hours I spent among books as a child; during the dark days of the summer of riots, when Watts and so many other cities went up in flames; during those lonely times I spent in solitary confinement for inciting other kids to sign petitions and to stand up for themselves, I learned just how powerful words can be. I learned that words can change lives. (I also learned that those in power fear the words of others and the power for change that those words wield). From those lessons learned came a lifelong commitment to use my words to draw others into my world; to show them a different side of life, and to empower them to become better human beings.

My birthday wish is this: I hope that I have been able to entertain, enlighten, encourage, and empower you with my words. If I have brought you a smile, an uplifted heart, a feeling that someone understands what you are going through, then the years of my life have brought forth good fruit.

If you take nothing else from my writing, take this thought:

creators-child

 

 

 

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#NewYear–New Challenges

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January 1, 2017—the birth of a new year. Each year is an opportunity to live up to our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams. Looking back on the past year we can evaluate what did we do right; what did we do wrong; what can we improve upon?
It’s not a time to judge; but a time to contemplate. It’s not a time to regret; but a time to plan.
All of us face many challenges in this coming year—personal, political, business. In order to be effective, we need to focus and to strategize.
For me, I will be attending to the political climate much more closely than in past years. (To find out more: https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan )It’s not to say that I ignored the bones of our country before, but I impacted it more with my work than with my direct involvement. I truly thought my days of protests, marches, and petitions had been passed to the younger generation; and they were doing fairly well with it. I can no longer absent myself from more direct involvement; however that might manifest.
My novels will continue to reflect the issues that women and girls face on a daily basis while entertaining women with great stories of action, adventure, and mystery with a touch of romance. In some ways, my politics intersect with my writing seamlessly as both are based on enlightening, encouraging, and empowering women and girls. I have spent a lifetime in this struggle; and, it’s a good struggle—one of which I am proud.
The schedule for publishing this year is a bit more lax; instead of putting out four books as I have done for the past few years, I will be releasing three books during 2017.
–The first book will be Attack! I have re-titled this book and it is now Attack on Freedom! In many ways, this is a timely novel; a political thriller with a scary premise—a president that intends to become a dictator.
President Anne Marie Xavier faces the most critical challenge of any president since the beginning of the nation. She must stop rampant terrorism while protecting the citizens from a power-hungry adversary who will stop at nothing.
–The second book is the long awaited Ariel Ascending, Book 3, Vampire War trilogy, the final book in this series.
Serena Longer must take the murdered Matriarch Belora’s position as the Matriarch of the North America Region while her daughter, not-quite-13-year-old Ariel, has to ascend to the position of First Councilwoman of the North America Region. Not since the Time of Hunting has such a young huvam held such a difficult position among the vampires.
While Ariel attempts to adjust to her exponentially growing Powers and deal with Serena’s overprotectiveness of her only biological child, Matriarch Helena Outerridge increases her guerilla attacks on Ariel’s People.
As bodies pile up, Ariel becomes increasingly determined to stop the aggressors—ancient vampires with incredible Power and their allies, Weres and witches. In a desperate attempt to crush her foes, Ariel takes four other young women with developing Powers to search for the perpetrators. Unless they find a way to overcome their enemies, they may not survive to return home.
–The third book on my 2017 schedule is Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team series. This is the sixth book in this series—all books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read in any order or as stand-alones
Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team face a series of rapidly escalating crimes that begin with the vandalism of a Muslim women’s center. At the scene of each crime a Manifesto is left. Other than the Manifesto and the obvious signs of hate, the victims of the crimes appear to be randomly chosen.
Was this the work of a hate group or a single perpetrator? As the victim pool ripples larger, Sergeant Slowater and her team desperately race time before more victims are claimed.
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No one can tell the future. Though we may carefully plan our days, we cannot control all of the variables and will often wind up in places we never dreamed of being. As I face this year, I find that both scary and exhilarating.
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During this time of upheaval and change—both good and bad and neither–we are all presented with the opportunity to become more than what we are; to step beyond our own limitations; to be the person we’ve always wanted to become. I’m ready to learn and grow. Are you?
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear; it is the going ahead in the face of fear. Whether you fears are of the personal, political, or business variety, forge ahead. You can’t start a fire, if you don’t light a match.
Best wishes for a year of growth.
Aya

My literary novels focus on personal growth.
Good Intentions: Bev Ransom has a secret. Her mother has one too. No secret can remain in the dark forever. Their lives are about to be shattered by the secrets they harbor.
https://www.amazon.com/Good-Intentions-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00OLZYKPQ

Hard Road Home: The Story of a Young Girl’s Triumph: Cas Redner lost her beloved grandfather. Shortly afterwards, she lost her mother to addiction and bad men. Caught in the broken child welfare system, Cas opts for life on her own. But for young girls, freedom comes with a high price. Ultimately, the only things holding Cas together are the teachings of her Native American grandmother.
https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Road-Home-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00TLCRUFQ

Beyond the Silence: A Woman’s Journey to Freedom: In order to find herself, Barb Hensen must sacrifice everything in her life, including her child. But, she doesn’t have much choice. If she doesn’t leave, someone will die.
https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8

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Scarier than #Halloween and Zombies!

Not all horror involves zombies and the undead. When you pick up one of my mysteries you will embark upon a journey that will horrify, terrify, and, ultimately, uplift you.

  1. Sketch of a Murder: When the legal system fails women and children, The Avenger dispenses a unique brand of justice. Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must stop the Avenger before an innocent man dies!
    In the real world, true horror occurs every day with the failure of our legal system to protect children from sexual abuse; and the failure of that same legal system to provide justice to women who have been sexually assaulted. All too frequently what happens is the child is told to stop telling lies and the women are interrogated as if they committed a crime by being assaulted.
    https://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

  2. Street Harvest: A group of dedicated people frantically search for human traffickers targeting street kids in this fast-paced novel.
    In the real world
    of our modern-day United States, a child goes missing every 40 SECONDS! As a transient population, street kids are at the highest risk to go missing and become a victim of human trafficking. And, LGBTQ youth are particularly at-risk since they comprise over 40% of the street kid population.
    Children as young as six-years-old are raped, sodomized, tortured, and sometimes murdered in snuff films for the ‘entertainment’ of perverted men, usually Caucasians. Other children are shipped overseas to brothels for the perverted pleasures of men who fly in from industrialized nations to partake of that which is illegal in their own countries.
    https://www.amazon.com/Street-Harvest-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KVREDIC

  3. Backlash: Success can be deadly…if you’re a woman. The clock begins ticking with the abduction of successful attorney, Eleanor Delaney. Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must piece together a puzzle that began thirteen years ago.
    In the real world successful women, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, are targeted for harassment that ranges from insinuations to verbal/emotional attacks, and sometimes to physical assaults. As an ordinary woman, I understand some of what such women endur for I, too,–like every woman–live each day never knowing if I will be harassed, sexually assaulted or physically attacked.
    Rape is a reality that overshadows women from birth to death. One in three women will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18. No woman is safe whether she is on a college campus, working in an office, riding mass transit, broke down on a lonely road, or sleeping in her own home. There is no greater horror than to live with the knowledge that you never know when you might become a victim.
    https://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Special-Crimes-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B00W7UJAWA
    kdpcover

  4. Death by Dog: When savaged bodies begin piling up, Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must stop dog fighters who are turning dogs into deadly weapons.
    In the real world,
    #dog is man’s best friend, but man is often a dog’s worst enemy. Ghandi is credited with saying, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Here in the United States dog fighting is a thriving so-called ‘sport’. Dogs whose only crime is to be bought, raised, or sold to dog fighters will live a life in cages, beaten, starved, and set upon by larger dogs all in the name of ‘entertaining’ men.
    Like domestic violence and rape, dog fighting crosses all socio-economic strata. At a dog fight you can find a doctor, a lawyer, a judge, an athlete, or the CEO of a large corporation right alongside of all types of criminals, drug dealers, and wanna-be gangstas.
    https://www.amazon.com/Death-Dog-Crime-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B01B5NXY4E
    dbdcover1

NOTE: Set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, ALL books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read as STAND-ALONES. Grab your copy today!

  1. Run or Die: Jaz Wheeler never realized that farming could be hazardous to her health until six men issued the ultimatum: run or die!
    In the real world, there is nothing more horrifying, more frightening than to be attacked because of the color of your skin or because of your sexual orientation, and to know that those who are charged with serving and protecting you may be some of the very ones assaulting you. Not knowing if you will survive to see another sunrise, with nowhere to run, with no place to hide, and with no one to turn to, you face death truly alone.
    Run or Die is a work of fiction based on fact. Sadly, racism and homophobia are alive and deadly here in our country. The current hate-mongering election is feeding the flames of violence that could burn up all of us.
    https://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A
    ecoverrord
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Five #Books That Scare Me!

sunrise-hope-for-change
There are some books much more terrifying than the scariest haunted house or even Stephen King’s imagination.

  1. What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry Emanuel
    https://www.amazon.com/About-Climate-Change-Boston-Review/dp/B009Z3TXRY
    I don’t know of any scarier subject than climate change. In those two words the future of earth and its inhabitants are held hostage.
    In this book, Emanuel begins by saying: “Scientific research has solidified the idea that human-induced climate change presents significant risks to our descendants, and the understanding of key elements of those risks. For example, the acidification of the oceans by increased input of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is now viewed as among the most significant threats posed by our ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels. But even while science has reached a strong consensus that climate is indeed changing, that the change is caused mostly by us, and that it poses important risks, public recognition of and concern about these risks has diminished (emphasis is mine; not Emanuel’s), particularly in the United States.”
    To me—this is truly scary stuff! Image a few decades from now when your grandchildren are raising their children; image that just getting enough drinkable water is a near impossibility; image that crops are so scarce that millions starve to death…. Scary, huh? Stephen King, let’s see you top that!

  2. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
    https://www.amazon.com/Am-Malala-Stood-Education-Taliban-ebook/dp/B00CH3DBNQ
    In the first few pages of her book Malala says, “…I’d imagine that on the way home a terrorist might jump out and shoot me….” She goes on to say, “I wasn’t scared, but I had started making sure the gate was locked at night and asking God what happens when you die. I told my best friend, Moniba everything.”
    Imagine the constant fear of living in the shadow of such a threat! How hard your heart would pound at every slight noise, every rustle of the underbrush, every strange human that walked toward you.
    Malala, a Pakistani teen, was shot in the head by the Taliban while on a school bus en route to her home simply because she wanted an education. This is flat out horrifying. I can’t imagine the terror she must have lived through, and yet she emerged a strong young woman who campaigns relentlessly for educational opportunities for girls.
    What is truly beyond scary and right into terrifying, however, is that violence toward girls who want to obtain an education is not uncommon in our modern world.

  3. The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice by Kathryn Bolkovac
    https://www.amazon.com/Whistleblower-Trafficking-Military-Contractors-Justice-ebook/dp/B004CYERM2
    I can’t describe the horror within the pages of this book as well as the author’s book description: “When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training provided sounded the first alarm bell, but once she arrived in Sarajevo, she found out that things were a lot worse. At great risk to her personal safety, she began to unravel the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and their connections to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was demoted, felt threatened with bodily harm, was fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness—bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, finally exposing them for what they had done. This is her story and the story of the women she helped achieve justice for.
    At first read, you don’t want to believe that these words could be true. I want to assure—they are true. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that thrives not only in war torn countries, but in industrialized nations, such as the United States. I know.
    My research when I wrote Street Harvest, (https://www.amazon.com/Street-Harvest-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KVREDIC) included discussions with Washington State Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit (MUPU) helped me grasp the widespread cancer of human trafficking. Here in the United States where we supposedly value children, a child goes missing every FORTY SECONDS. Many of these kids wind up on the streets.
    Street kids, transient and untracked, are particularly high risk for becoming victims of forced prostitution, export to overseas brothels, and victims of death porn where are children are filmed as they are murdered while being sexually abused. Children as young as six years old are at risk. My book is fiction based on factual research.
    Kathryn Bolkovac’s book is factual; and, it is a very scary reality. I have never seen a horror flick that made my heart pound as hard or caused fear to dry out my mouth so thoroughly as what the reality of human trafficking does.

  4. The 51% Minority (How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It) by Lis Wiehl
    https://www.amazon.com/51%25-Minority-Women-Still-Equal-ebook/dp/B000SEICC6
    The Introduction of this book begins with a dinner conversation where there was discussion of civil rights, the Supreme Court and other current events. The author writes, “…then a gentleman seated to my right, a successful gay professional, said something that alarmed me. ‘I certainly wouldn’t want to be a woman today,’ he told the table. ‘It’s a no-win situation. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t with every single decision, and your body is a political playground. At least as a gay man, I know where I stand. As a woman, you’re stuck in some weird societal purgatory.’
    ‘Yeah,’ another man agreed. ‘Isn’t it strange that women are fifty-one percent of the population and still get the short end of the stick on almost every front?’”
    In my upcoming thriller, Attack!, I quote research I did on Theodore Roosevelt. In the late 1800s, he wrote his thesis for Harvard on the rights of women. It was his contention that women should have absolute equality in marriage and not even be expected to assume their husbands’ names. In other writings, he maintained that women should have the right to vote, the right to hold property, the right to work at any profession and to receive equal pay for equal work.
    We have won the right to vote and the right not to assume our husbands’ names; however, Latina women continue to earn fifty-six cents to a white man’s dollar for performing the exact same job while black women earn sixty-seven cents and white women earn seventy-four cents and every woman grows up under the certainty one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. We know that we must live a hyper-vigilant life if we are to reduce the odds. We can never let our guard down in public; never relax and get a little tipsy; never daydream our way home from work after dark; and even in our own homes, we must remain aware of the potential to become a victim of domestic violence or home-invading rapists.
    How is that for heart-thundering suspense? For never knowing from what quarter the attack might come? Horror writers—eat your heart out! You can’t write fiction as terrifying as this reality.

  5. Beyond the Silence, A Woman’s Journey to Freedom by Aya Walksfar
    https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8
    What would you do if your child was suddenly ripped away from you? Taken as hostage to force you back into a situation of certain torture, violence and blood? How much fear would slice through your guts, freeze your innards?
    Beyond the Silence is fact cloaked in fiction. Based on the lives of real women who have fought back, survived, and triumphed, this book enters the dark world of cultural and familial abuse; childhood sexual molestation by religious persons and family members; domestic violence and forced BDSM during marital rape. How does a girl grow up or a woman survive a culture that preaches females are second class human beings? How does a woman overcome the propaganda that makes her feel crazy for believing her own reality?
    These subjects are the elephants that sit at Sunday dinner around the family tables all across America. These are the elephants that eat at the tables of rich and poor; black, white, Native American and every other race. These are the elephants that have no regard for which religion you follow, which nationality you proclaim, or which region of the country in which you are born.
    The fact is: No woman is safe. She is not safe on the streets, on the job, on public transportation, in her school, on a university campus, or in her home. Regardless if she is seven years old or seventy-eight years old, she is at risk every single day.
    And that is the scary reality of being a woman in America today. Haunted houses simply cannot compete with that kind of scary.
    books-doorway-to-bigger-world
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Hashtags

manydroplets
As an author, my work is motivated by passion. I care deeply about every novel that I have written. I feel strongly that I have a gift that must not be wasted.
Journey you make
Consequently, while my work entertains, it also tackles some difficult subjects. This can, of course, be more easily seen in my literary and mystery novels, but it even occurs in my vampire trilogy and my YA novel, Black Wind.
(http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK)

What does that have to do with hashtags? Hashtags highlight an important point in a subject so that it is more searchable on the internet and, therefore, can be more easily located by readers. There is a hashtag that sums up the major motivation behind all of my work: #WomensLivesMatter

As I was thinking about that hashtag and how it relates to my writing, I began to realize that there is a second hashtag that is every bit as important: #LGBTQLivesMatter

It is only recently that I began considering what hashtags relate to my writing. It was the advent of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter–coupled with the insistence of writing coaches that hashtags are important to authors–that finally helped me realize how important hashtags really are in this web-connected world. I began considering what the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter meant to me. The longer I thought about this hashtag, the more similarities I discovered between the occurrences that birthed that particular hashtag and the events that motivated my work. Let me start at the beginning.

I write to entertain, but I also write to empower women. Why do women need to be empowered?

Women grow up knowing that we are never safe: not on the street, not on college campuses, not in high schools; and not even in their churches. We realize that we face potential violence toward us whenever we do those ordinary things such as riding the subway, walking down the street, having a drink in a bar; and even in our own homes in bed asleep.
We are at risk for being beaten, raped, and murdered simply because we are women. The least dangerous thing that happens to us is being verbally harassed, but even that can turn deadly in the blink of an eye.

We are not safe from teachers, preachers, strangers, friends, lovers, or even family members from the time we are small children. And, all too frequently, we are not safe from the very ones society has placed in power over us; and policemen are all too likely to be a part of the problem, right down to actually beating, raping and murdering us.
There is simply no telling when or from where the attacks might come.

This situation has gone on for so long and has been so prevalent in our society that it has become normalized. Girls are warned about what they must do to lessen the risk of being attacked: don’t provoke them, don’t talk back, go along with whatever they are asking of you, don’t complain, be careful of what you wear, watch out for how you present yourself including how you walk, don’t go to certain places, never be alone as there is some safety in numbers sometimes, and if you are attacked, don’t fight back because they might kill you.
Of course, none of those things really work because the woman is not the perpetrator of the crime against them. We are the victim.

In order to break this cycle of victimization, the situations need to be brought to light. We cannot overcome that which we cannot name.

Just as women have experienced this level of potential violence all of our lives–consciously or subconsciously–black Americans also experience this level of violence. Simply take out the word woman and insert the word black in the above descriptions. And, as it is with women, it is with black Americans: they are warned not to provoke their attackers, to be careful where they go and when they go, to watch what they wear, and so on. Yet, as it is with women, it is with black Americans—there is nothing they can do to prevent those attacks upon them because they are not the perpetrators; they are the victims.

Women must measure the potential threat from all males in all situations. For black Americans, law enforcement officers have become a large, and very visible, part of the problem of violence against them.

A problem that is named is a problem more likely to be fought and overcome. Because the violence against black Americans has been coming, increasingly, from law enforcement officers, it has become important to name the issue: the issue is the casual and deadly violence with which police officers are confronting black Americans. Hence the need for a hashtag that refutes the police officers’ casual use of deadly force: #BlackLivesMatter

The more I considered the violence against women, the more I realized how the violence against black Americans contains strong similarities.

  1. Both situations occur with such regularity that they have become “normalized” and therefore, a nearly invisible part of society.
  2. Victim blaming occurs in both situations.
  3. These situations are not going to improve until certain conditions are met.

The conditions needed to resolve both situations are very simple, yet quite difficult to put into place. Think of these conditions as an arc, or an arch, beneath which justice and safety lie for all citizens.

A. Accountability: the perpetrators must be held to strict standards of accountability to the victim and to society.
B. Responsibility: the perpetrators must be given the absolute personal responsibility for their own actions against the victim, regardless of such irrelevant issues as what the victim was wearing, how the victim spoke, and so on.
C. Consequences: the perpetrators must face serious consequences that truly fit the crime they committed. For example, murder should result in very long prison terms, at the least, and should most often result in life in prison since the victim’s life has been cut short. Rapists should not be free to rape again and again and again.

Currently, perpetrators are not held accountable for the damage to people’s lives, and for the deaths they cause. They are not forced to stand responsible for their own actions. Excuses are presented to explain their behavior which then mitigates their personal responsibility; things like what the victim wore, how the victim spoke to them, why was the victim walking alone on the street at that hour (because they have a right to be there?), why was the victim standing on that corner.

In the case of law enforcement officers, there is the additional responsibility they assume when they begin wearing a uniform: they assume the responsibility to de-escalate situations so that the least amount of violence occurs.

And the perpetrators all too often do not face consequences commiserate with their actions. Rapists are given hand slaps and set free even when found guilty (after all who would think of ‘ruining’ a young man’s life when he is such a great athlete, regardless of the fact that he negatively impacted a woman’s entire life?) Law enforcement officers walk away from killings with a few weeks administrative leave and a bogus investigation into their crimes.

Our country does not face the greatest threat from outside terrorists. The greatest, most grave threat to our nation is the threat of home grown terrorists be they maniacs hiding behind religion or murderers hiding behind badges.

A good friend of mine, who also happens to be a very intelligent woman, pointed out that many people seem to demand that every Muslim who is not a terrorist should apologize for and condemn every terrorist who murders in the name of the Muslim religion while at the same time we do not hold police officers to that standard of behavior. For some reason, we don’t demand that all police officers apologize for and condemn every terrorist who hides behind the blue line and a badge.

Muslim civilians are not responsible for what others who claim that religion do. It would be like saying that all white Christians be held responsible for the actions of the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Church! However, when police officers take the oath to serve and to protect, they are accepting the responsibility to protect civilians against all threats, even if that threat comes from one of their own. Even moreso if that threat originates from one of their own.

It is time to demand that our police officers live up to that responsibility, or find new vocations. If there is a bad cop out there who pulls a gun on a civilian in a situation that does not call for that measure of violence, then it is up to the good cops to stop that cop before he murders a civilian; before he rapes a woman; before he beats up a queer.

To those entrusted with great power, rests great responsibility.

Yes, all lives do matter and that includes the lives of police officers. There are police officers—wonderful people who uphold the law and whom I greatly admire; people I am honored to call my friends—and I fear for their safety out there on the mean streets; however, until certain groups are no longer targeted, we must keep bringing to the public awareness that these groups are being targeted: women, LGBTQ people, and black Americans.

#BlackLivesMatter #WomensLivesMatter #LGBTQLivesMatter

As grave as these matters are, I am an eternal optimist. In every novel I write, the good/the light within people always triumphs. I believe our country will overcome this dark night and the sun of a beautiful day will one day shine upon all of us.
NoMatterHowLong

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