#CoverReveal #NewRelease: “The Alternative” by S.Burke @pursoot My new #Thriller #Anthology. #RRBC #premium_indie #IARTG Now Available for PRE-ORDER.

 Hello, and welcome to the Cover Reveal of my New Thriller Anthology

“The Alternative”

The ALTERNATIVE BANNER HEADLINE FOR COVER REVEAL BEST

The Alternative

The Alternative
by S.Burke

Available to Pre-Order NOW.
Release Date:  Monday June 18th 2018
Mystery> Thriller & Suspense > Anthology.

It is such an exciting time for an author when releasing a new book! I would be remiss in not sharing my heartfelt thanks to the marvelous people who gave of their time so readily to beta read my latest book. Their valuable insights helped me enormously when crafting “The Alternative”

At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for “The Alternative” my latest Thriller Anthology.   “The Alternative ” is due for release on June 18th.

It is NOW available for Pre-Order

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement.   Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khalessi

Presenting “The Alternative” A Thriller Anthology.

“The Alternative”

THE ALTERNATIVE COVER IN HIGH RESOLUTION BEST

BLURB:

The Alternative.

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

An excerpt from Chapter 1. Picasso.

February 1990.

The tall man stretched his arms and flexed his long artistic fingers. He stood back to gain a different perspective of his latest work of art. He’d spent a great deal of time sketching his outline and was well satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps this one would be the perfection he craved above all else.

His other efforts were upstairs in the gallery, and while they were far from his lofty imaginings, they each represented another step forward toward his ultimate goal. He knew this exhibition would prompt worldwide interest, that was a given. His reputation was on the line. That at least was something he valued.

He grunted and moved the newest piece into the workroom. The more difficult application of his talent needed to begin.

***

 NEW YORK JULY 2015

Meredith keyed in her code, shouldered the door open and dropped her briefcase onto the polished boards of the entry. Working on autopilot, she flicked on the light and bent to collect the mail from the floor; throwing it onto the small bureau without bothering to check the sender. She shrugged off her coat and draped it over the arm of the sofa. Too damned weary to be bothered with any external interruptions tonight, she removed the home phone from its cradle and headed to the kitchen to fix enough coffee to sustain the long evening ahead, deliberately ignoring the well-stocked bar. She was well aware that she’d need every bit of concentration she could muster. She removed the Glock from her handbag, and out of habit, she placed it on the coffee table next to the perpetually full ashtray.

Her head was already pounding and she rubbed at her tense neck muscles until her fingers ached. Relief from the unresolved tension still hovered … just out of reach. She held her breath for a moment, stilling her impatience. If all went to plan, this thing would be finally ended. If justice existed at all, it would go well. All the years she’d worked to bring what was the only course left open to herself and the others to completion was coming. ‘Soon now’, was her daily mantra. But the darker visions still danced vividly in her mind’s eye and tormented her rare sleeping hours … it had been that way for almost twenty-five years.

The memory haunted her, dark and unforgivingly brutal. It replayed in clear and explicit detail every time she was forced to reflect on it … and its aftermath.

***

THE ALTERNATIVE IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

“The Alternative” on AMAZON.COM

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

Thank you so much for joining me here today. Your support is very much appreciated.

I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Look Back in ANGER … Move Forward with DREAD. A brief exploration of me. #RRBC #RWISA #IARTG

BANNER LOOK BACK IN ANGER

 “The best predictor for future behavior is past behavior.”

Have you read and heard that statement as often as I have?

More importantly however, is, do you recognize and believe it?

Has your past behavior resounded through time to continuously affect the way you respond to life, right here and right now?

Mine certainly has.

I’ve headed this post “Look Back in ANGER … Move Forward with Dread.”

Therein lay my challenge to myself.

Make no mistake, I have held onto the fierce anger I learned to feel before I was taught to write my own name.

It has raged inside me forever, or so it seems.

It is relentless, soul consuming and unapologetic in its efforts to deny me peace of mind.

I have loathed it … and I have nurtured it.

For it has become comfortingly familiar to me, much like an old friend that I recognize, and in that recognition I’ve invited it to re-visit me over-and-over, and over again.

I seek answers within the rage, knowing in advance, that there are none to find. For I know from whence that rage stems.

I rail against it, I abhor it … I recognize the damage that it offers my future self, and in an instant I deny that recognition.

For I have sought comfort in the unrelenting familiarity I find within these boundaries I have set myself.

The anger, helplessness and utter frustration that I’ve recognized and clung to, have not enriched my existence.

Nor have those raging reactions and emotions enriched the existence of those that have loved me in spite of it.

It is not only for myself, but, for them, that this morass of soul devouring rage has to change.

I can NOT go backward in time and alter the situations that crafted my rage.

I can NOT undo the damage that life’s fickle hand has dealt me.

I can NOT forget or forgive those that perpetrated their evil betrayal on an unsuspecting child.

But … I CAN learn to reshape that rage into a renewed sense of purpose.

I CAN learn to channel that sense of purpose into a passion that spurs me on to do better.

I  CAN permit myself to love those that love me … and do so unconditionally.

I CAN allow myself to again trust in my own judgment.

Until, ultimately, I CAN move forward into a future unclouded by dread.

Yes, it will be difficult, and, Yes, it will present me with challenges.

But the rewards of attaining this freedom from rage  will enable me to pursue personal goals I’ve long wanted to acheive.

It will grant me the permission to feel pleasure in its final accomplishment.

Now THAT is the future I want. THAT is the future I’ll aim for.

That gives me reason to smile.

 

 

 

 

All About The #RRBC Sponsors Blog Hop! Meet Jan Sikes @rijanjks “The Convict and the Rose.”

RRBC HOP JAN SIKES BANNER

Hello and Welcome to the first ever ALL ABOUT THE SPONSORS BLOG HOP!  These kind members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC) donated their support during the 2017 conference, in the way of gift card and Kindle e-book donations for our Gift Basket Raffle. They supported us and now we are showing our support of them by pushing their book(s).  

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed and after reading it, leave a review.  There are several books on tour today, so please visit the HOP’S main page to follow along.  

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the HOP’S main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!
RRBC HOP The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes (2)

Award winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.
When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.
How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.
Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.
Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.
In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.
Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.
The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

My Review of “The Convict and the Rose”

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. This book is one of them.

I have read and reviewed Flowers and Stone and was delighted to do both. The book lingered in my memory long after I completed reading.

Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. Flowers and Stone was one … and The Convict and The Rose has captured me again.

This journey towards growth and a deeper understanding is one very special reading experience.

The anguished struggle of two-fallible, and all too human people as life hands out its own deranged sense of justice is at times painful to read.

This book provoked anger, sadness and a deep sense of empathy in me. It in turn delighted me, and made me cry, and then continued to invade my senses long after the ending.

There is a depth of love between these two damaged souls that defies the limitations of time.

The drug abuse is a road many of us have taken in times of the darkest despair, the struggle to overcome it and move clearly distant is an epic one, as is the final understanding of the violent reactions of Luke to his imprisonment.

Life knocked these valiant people to the ground again and again.  BUT they didn’t stay down for the count.

It takes guts to do that … and to keep right on doing it …

We are permitted to glimpse inside their darkness and anguish …and grow with them as the love and faith that they share takes them from that darkness and into the warmth and the light.

A wonderful, moving and intensely memorable story of love!

The Convict and The Rose on Amazon.com

Contact Jan Sikes via:Email:  rijan21@gmail.com

Twitter:  @rijanjks

Facebook:  Author Jan Sikes Books

Blog/Websites:

Award Winning Author Jan Sikes

Writing & Music

Author:

This blog hop sponsored by:  4WillsPublishing
 Thank you so much for joining me here today! Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.

 

Book Review “The Convict and the Rose” By author Jan Sikes. #RRBC @rijanjks #RWISA #Inspirational Biographical Fiction.

Welcome to my second Book Review of 2018.

RRBC HOP The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes (2)

The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes.

Please meet Jan Sikes!

BIO PIC JAN SIKES

From the Author

Writing this book was a challenge since I wasn’t personally present in prison. However, I researched endlessly to come with accurate information and details to write each scene.

Since this is a true story, it is super important to me that the facts be correct. I enjoyed doing the research, because that meant digging through boxes of letters, volumes of writings and remembering stories I was told.

During this research, I ran across some song lyrics that I’d never seen before. I’d never heard Rick Sikes sing them or mention them, but they were so powerful, I knew I had to get someone to put music to them. That person turned out to be Jamie Richards and the day we went into the studio was pure magic. He completely captured the emotion in the song, Forty Foot High.

This book is the sequel to my first book, Flowers and Stone.

The 3rd Book “Home at Last” is now available.

 

BOOK COVER THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE JAN SIKES

BLURB

Award winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.

When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.

How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.

Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.

Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.

In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.
Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.

The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

MY REVIEW: Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. This book is one of them.

I have read and reviewed Flowers and Stone and was delighted to do both. The book lingered in my memory long after I completed reading.

Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. Flowers and Stone was one … and The Convict and The Rose has captured me again.

This journey towards growth and a deeper understanding is one very special reading experience.

The anguished struggle of two-fallible, and all too human people as life hands out its own deranged sense of justice is at times painful to read.

This book provoked anger, sadness and a deep sense of empathy in me. It in turn delighted me, and made me cry, and then continued to invade my senses long after the ending.

There is a depth of love between these two damaged souls that defies the limitations of time.

The drug abuse is a road many of us have taken in times of the darkest despair, the struggle to overcome it and move clearly distant is an epic one, as is the final understanding of the violent reactions of Luke to his imprisonment.

Life knocked these valiant people to the ground again and again.  BUT they didn’t stay down for the count.

It takes guts to do that … and to keep right on doing it …

We are permitted to glimpse inside their darkness and anguish …and grow with them as the love and faith that they share takes them from that darkness and into the warmth and the light.

A wonderful, moving and intensely memorable story of love!

The Convict and The Rose on Amazon.com

Book 1. Flowers and Stone on Amazon.com

Book 3. Home at Last on Amazon.com

Contact via:

Email:  rijan21@gmail.com

Twitter:  @rijanjks

Facebook:  Author Jan Sikes Books

Blog/Websites:

Award Winning Author Jan Sikes

Writing & Music

BOOK REVIEW: “Into Autumn: A Story of Survival” (Four Seasons Book 1.) By Larry Landgraf #RRBC #IAN1 #IARTG @riverrmann

 

BOOK REVIEW BANNER LARRY LANDGRAF BEST

Hello and welcome all to my FIRST Book Review for 2018. “INTO AUTUMN” A Story of Survival (Four Seasons) BOOK 1.

Firstly, let’s meet author Larry Landgraf.

BOOK REVIEW BIO LARRY LANDGRAF

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Larry Landgraf was born and raised on the Guadalupe River Delta on the Texas Gulf Coast.
After four years of college, Larry spent 20+ years as a commercial fisherman. When that ended he became a general contractor for another 20+ years. He wrote his first book in 1986 in an attempt to save his commercial fishing career. The book and the career failed. After retiring from the contracting business due to a death defying accident, he wrote his second book in 2012 “How to be a Smart SOB Like Me”.

Still he didn’t consider himself an author. He awoke one morning in January 2015 with a story in his head. He sat down at the computer and began to write this story. Next thing he knew, he had written 300 pages. After an extensive re-write and editing, “Into Autumn – A Story of Survival” was published in September 2015. This is his third book, but debut novel. “Into Autumn” was re-published in January of 2017.

As he left some things hanging in “Into Autumn” he had to write a sequel. “Into Spring – The Next Generation” came out in January 2017. It made “finalist” in the Independent Author’s Network (IAN1) 2017 Book of the Year contest. Larry then came up with the idea of a Four Seasons series. “Into Winter” hit the shelves in September of 2017. “Into Summer” is next and is planned for 2018, but before that, another screenplay is in the works as well as turning his “Tales From the Riverside” blog into a book. Larry finally considers himself an author, but you decide for yourself.

Larry still lives on the Guadalupe River Delta…in the swamp. He writes, tends his fruit orchard and his large garden. He enjoys fishing with Ellen, his significant other, traveling and living in the country where he resides.

Update >>> Hurricane Harvey hit Larry dead center. You won’t believe what happened. His home is okay, but the story is unbelievable. Read it on his blog: http://intoautumn.com/?p=562 <<<

You can find much more about Larry at his website, Pinterest or one of the many author websites his books and story are listed. “How to be a Smart SOB Like Me” is his autobiography which will paint you an extensive picture of him. This book was re-published in 2017.

Many people have said “Into Autumn” would make a good movie, so he took it upon himself to write the screenplay. “A Tempest in Texas” is his rendition of that script. It came out in April 2017 and is available on Amazon as well. The gist of “Into Autumn” in an afternoon read. In May of 2017, “A Tempest in Texas” has made the semi-finals in the Los Angeles Cine-Fest screenwriting festival. Shortly thereafter, it made “finalist” in the Influx Magazine Festival. In October it made “finalist” in the New York Screenwriting Festival and as of the end of the month, it is in the hands of two producers in California.

If you would like to take a closer look at Larry and his works, you should visit his website   WEBSITE

BOOK REVIEW JANUARY 2018 INTO AUTUMN COVER

BOOK BLURB

What would you do to survive?

Lars lives alone in the Texas countryside as the economy collapses and his world becomes a dystopian nightmare. Joined by ‘city gal’ outsider, Eileen, he and his neighbors band together in their “Peaceful Valley.”

Utilities are cut off, grocery stores close, gas stations close, and there is shooting in the neighborhood.

Could you survive?

Lars, Eileen, and the neighbors struggle with tough decisions while fending off predatory invasions in an increasingly violent and lethal world.

Could you protect yourself from deadly force?

Richard Tucker and his two grown sons have been thorns in Lars’s side for years. The boys raid his garden, root cellar, and smokehouse regularly. As times descend further into chaos, Lars fears the boys may harm Eileen should she get caught off-guard. Lars’s best friend, Reggie, has an easy solution. Will Lars go along with Reggie’s plan?
My REVIEW  5 Star … A highly enjoyable and informative reading experience! Larry Landgraf has a new fan!FIVE STARS

We all bring our own history along for the ride when we read. Because of that history, I was eager to begin INTO AUTUMN. The premise caught my attention, the book held that attention throughout.  Other reviewers have remarked that they found the details of survival techniques a little overwhelming. I loved them. A books purpose is to entertain or inform depending on genre … This book does both and does it very well.

Author Larry Landgraf has created highly visual characters, they are very human and as such multi-faceted. The book begs the question ‘Just how far would we go in this same situation.’ Would we be prepared to do whatever it takes to survive?

The author had a clear empathy for nature and an understanding of what drives a person on to survive against overwhelming odds. I found it touched a nerve with me. I found myself nodding in understanding and not a little sadness as these believable characters journeyed on.

I look forward to reading the other books in this series. Author Larry Landgraf has a new fan!

Larry Landgraf on TWITTER

PURCHASE INTO AUTUMN on AMAZON.COM

Author website.

Christmas on the streets. The truest meaning of Christmas. Christmas morning 1966: 2:00 A.M. #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1

BEAUTIFUL BABY DOLL FOR BLOG CHRISTMAS 2017

Thank you for joining me. Whenever the darkness of our crazy old world threatens to overwhelm me I remember the times when the wonderful spirits of good people who saught only to give joy with no expectation of return enriched my life. I share this precious miracle with you each year that I am able. My Christmas gift to all those that may despair or have lost faith in the belief that most human beings are intrinsically good.

CHRISTMAS MORNING 1966: 2:00 AM.

The Christmas season is the harshest of all when you live on the streets.

On ANY streets … In ANY town.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago.

It was not a ‘miracle’ of biblical proportions, yet for us, it was a miracle that we would hold in our memories forever, to be taken out and looked at whenever life grew harsher.

I have taken the chapter from my memoir, and I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding.

I am smiling through my tears as I remember…..

 “Faint Echoes of Laughter” Book 2 of the “Standing Tall & Fighting Back.” Series. Non-Fiction. Memoir.

Chapter 7

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood wasn’t good.

Christmas out here meant different things to each of us I guess.

My memories of Christmas’s past were all bad. Even last year when I’d been on the streets alone for barely a month had bad stuff attached to it, yet it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the ones I had lived with back in the home I called ‘hell central’.

I asked Baby Jenny to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some leftover decorations to put up in the ‘palace’ to lighten the mood up a little.

He gave me a thoughtful nod, and said he’d “see what he could do.”

He spoke to Jenny…”I swear you get prettier every day, Jenny. Don’t let Sassy here teach you any bad habits.”

Jenny grinned at him too shy to respond.

I kept my mouth shut except for a “Gee thanks … Big Mike”

He smiled and wandered off, and we headed back up to the palace. We spent a lot of time outdoors during the heat of the summer. The cooler breezes from the water were good. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful.

When a week had passed and we hadn’t seen Big Mike we figured that he had forgotten. It was disappointing, but he didn’t owe us anything; and after all, he had helped us out with Momma and other stuff like wood for the fire in winter, so we didn’t really expect the decorations, we just hoped for them.

Jenny was extra quiet. I wondered if she would ever be able to talk about why she was here. I didn’t ask her. I hadn’t discussed my background with any of them, even Jamie. So I understood that it was not open for general discussion.

Christmas Eve dawned fiery red. It was going to be a very, very, hot day according to the radio forecasts, with a cool southerly change expected later in the evening.

We all headed up to Hyde Park very early and took a Christmas bath in our favorite fountain. At least the palace wouldn’t stink quite so badly for Christmas day.

It was tempting to just jump in the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.

Sydney Harbor wasn’t the safest place to swim. We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a swim in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around because it was Christmas Eve.

The sky began to look dark and threatening early in the afternoon. The southerly buster was heading up the coast rapidly. We were all unusually quiet and sitting around outside in the shade of the container when we heard the sound of vehicles heading toward the Palace.

We headed around the front to see who had arrived and watched in stunned amazement as Big Mike and two of the other guys whose names I can’t recall, began unloading boxes of stuff from their cars and placing it in the shaded opening of our tin home.

Big Mike looked uncomfortable; if possible, he was even gruffer than usual. “You lot need feeding up, so we brought you some stuff.”

We were all too stunned to say much at all, these hard men were all smiling and a little red-faced. I swear if they could have, that they would have scuffed their shoes in the dirt like little kids with embarrassment.

Big Mike shook Jamie’s hand and accepted the ‘thank you’ from him.

I was speechless which wasn’t a common occurrence, I just grinned like mad and gave the guys a hurried “Thanks.”

They were the unlikeliest Angels you would ever see, sweaty and dirty after a long hot day’s work, the sight of them unloading the Christmas goodies and punching one another in the arm in a gesture common amongst males remains etched starkly in my memory.

Big Mike reached into the front seat of his car and pulled out a parcel that was wrapped up in Christmas paper, with bright ribbons attached. He walked over and handed it to Baby Jenny.

She looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“The women picked this out for ya, little one.” Big Mike said.

Jenny still wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead and open it, Jenny,” Jamie said.

“Um, later. Later. Okay?” she replied looking very unsure of herself.

She looked at the men, and gave them one of her sweet smiles, “Don’t matter what it is. I never had a present before, so…Um…Yeah, thanks, thanks a lot.”

The men seemed to understand that she needed to be alone when she opened it.

As for the rest of us, we tore into those presents and boxes like there was no tomorrow…squealing in delighted surprise with everything we found.

There was more food than any of us had ever seen.

Tinned Hams, fresh pineapples, cherries, and plums. Cooked Turkey and Cranberry sauce …with all the trimmings. Fifteen red t-shirts all large sizes. Paper plates, and plastic knives and forks, a can-opener. A Cooler packed with ice, a radio, and spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of Coke.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio; it was bigger and put out a better sound than the small transistor we had been using, we sat drinking the beer and singing our version of Christmas carols, none of them repeatable. Trust me.

Jenny sat on her sleeping place; she was a little tipsy as well having been allowed one-half of a small bottle of beer. We glanced at her as she picked up her present and watched the look on her face as she unwrapped it.

It was a baby doll, all soft and dressed in bonnet and booties with a pretty pink knitted dress. “Just what we needed, another fuckin’ mouth to feed,” she said…but the smile on her face could have lit up the entire city.

We were fed, content, and a little overwhelmed and unsure at the kindness of these people.

Typically, we questioned the motive behind it. We all wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, they had done it for no motive other than the wish to make this Christmas a good place for us to be. It was an alien experience but a welcome one.

We had only sampled a little of the huge amount of food, deciding to save the rest for Christmas Day

That night we were all tipsy. Strangely quiet as we bedded down for the night. I think we were all a little overwhelmed by the generosity of these men.

It was around 2.00 am Christmas morning I guess when I felt something was wrong. Whatever the something was, it wouldn’t let me sleep. I couldn’t place it immediately. It was a strange sense of something missing, and it troubled me.

Jamie was on watch; I climbed over the others and hunkered down next to him. Jamie smiled at me and said, “You too hey, Sassy?”

“Yeah, I guess–what is it? Something’s different.”

We sat a while just listening. Then Jamie said, “Oh shit! It’s Jenny, she’s not crying!”

My heart was in my mouth. Jamie grabbed the torch and we played it across the others, several of them were already awake, and wondering what the hell was happening. Jenny had cried herself to sleep every night since she’d come to this place. It was a sound we all tried not to hear. She couldn’t be comforted, we weren’t permitted that close. She’d been here for two years now. Jenny was around eight-years-old.

Jenny lay on her side, sound asleep with both arms wrapped around that doll so tight there was no space between them.

That was the first time I had cried in a very, very, long time. I glanced at the others, without exception we were all affected the same way. No one wanted to look at anyone else, shit we were supposed to be the toughest kids on the block! Hell, we were the only kids on the block. That Christmas was the first real day of Jenny’s childhood. From then on, Christmas became Jenny’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you that a miraculous change came over her. That she was instantly transformed. In a make-believe world, she’d be outside singing all the hits from ‘The Sound of Music’ and wearing a pretty new dress and shoes.  But this is the real world, and the changes took place over time.

Jenny named her doll, Francine.

The greatest change of all; was that, from that night, for all the years that Baby Jenny remained in our world, she never cried herself to sleep again.

***

Many years have passed since that long ago Christmas Eve. My darling Jenny has gone.

So many of my Christmas Eves’ over time have been special ones. But the one I recall with tears of happiness on my face, and a smile in my heart … is this one.

Jenny lost her battle with life in September of 2008.

The doll Francine was buried with her.

Thank you for being here. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, serene and joyous Christmas, no matter where on this planet you’re from.

Faint Echoes of Laughter here on Amazon.com

KOALA CHRISTMAS

 

When Anxiety Whispers. Have we forgotten how to be human? #Living with stress. #RRBC #PTSD #STRESS

ANXIETY WHISPERS

When Anxiety Whispers.

We all hear those dark whispers, those paralyzing moments of anxiety. It comes with the territory of living in a society set on fast forward when the pace of everyday life becomes so frantic, so overwhelming, that we begin of necessity to sacrifice something intrinsic and necessary within us.
The days we live now are filled with the marvelous inventions of the internet, but has the pace of our knowledge grown beyond our capacity to understand its repercussions?

I make full use of everything available to me and, yes, I am grateful for the brilliant minds that opened my small world up to so much more than I’ve ever dreamed of. I acknowledge that connectivity, I understand that we are living in an age where no one need be isolated, those folks too shy or encumbered by ill health either physical or mental to be able to connect with others of our species by interacting on a personal level now have an outlet, a way of joining in on life’s conversations.

I get that we are privileged; I understand and accept that this is indeed an amazing transition from an age where television was a new invention, and not every home had the telephone available.
But … my concern is this … we are human, we are warm-blooded creatures, we need contact with others of our species the way a seedling needs rain. We are becoming isolated but not insulated from the world we now live in.

Has our humanity diminished as we shut ourselves inside our gated communities, or triple lock the doors of our homes? Where bars on the windows are commonplace, and we alarm our houses and insert surveillance cameras’ just so we can grab a few hours sleep at night. We live in fear of those that would take our cars, our electrical equipment, our goods and chattels, fear of the dark figures possibly armed that may invade our only safe haven.

But what of the fear of stolen identity?

My anxiety stems from my growing awareness, an awareness of a disconnection, a step back from human to human interaction. I witness every day the people around me, with earplugs firmly in place and concentration and awareness of their immediate environment depleted, where they check an app on their iPhone to discover if the weather will be sunny or if rain is on its way. They can no longer remember if indeed they ever knew what it is to look simply look at the sky and have long forgotten the smell of rain pending on the wind.
They scurry by with heads down and absolute focus on their cellphone, they walk out into oncoming traffic, surprised and annoyed when someone in a car suddenly blares the horn.
The price we pay for our new world is enormous. Those anxious whispers catch the unprepared and inexperienced traveler and hurtle them full throttle into sleepless nights and stress-filled days.
Those of us that delude ourselves that our world is malleable to our wishes, those that struggle on despite the imprisoning chains of our existence, these are the people that at times pay the highest penalty of all.
For we begin to lose sight of the precious moments as we battle each day. We forget what the dream was to begin with, as we attempt to manipulate life to fit our own agendas.
Where did the days disappear to, when did the nights become just another stretch of time to endure?

When was the last time you laughed with the simple delight of living? Did those you love hear you tell them that you loved them today?

Are you so busy working, traveling each day to a place that you’ve grown to detest, to find that one precious moment in time to just take a deep breath and be quiet within yourself?

Did you notice the seasons changing? How did the summer end and the leaves begin to turn golden, without you witnessing and rejoicing in that precious life-cycle?

When did your child grow to be so tall? When did your friends stop calling? When was the last time you all got together and caught up on sweet memories for just a brief while? Don’t you miss that shared laughter? Don’t you miss those hugs of acknowledgement or concern?

The dark whispers grow darker with no light to stop them.

The feelings of being unable to deal with the task of just surviving each day grow large and ever darker as those anxious whispers spiral out of control.

When did you begin to need a drink each night in order to relax in your own home?

When did just one or two drinks cease to create the resultant deep breaths that you crave?

When did your iPhone replace a face-to-face conversation? How is it that your partner has now gray in their hair? How did that happen without you witnessing the transition?

We stand to lose far more of our dreams as our world grows more frantic.

When does it stop? Do we have the capacity to alter that state of being?

I embrace the technology but my concern grows for the generation now coming.
Will all the Science Fiction writer’s be proven right? Will our growing super-technology deplete what we have always valued in each other, to a point where the word human is only recognized as a label to pinpoint what planet we came from?

If we can but step back one pace, make a time and a space and a place to recall how it once was, and value that memory. If we can scent the wind and feel the rain on our faces again. If we can stop by at a friend’s home simply to say “Hi, I’ve missed you, how are you today?”

If we can turn off the television, the laptop, the Ipad and the iPhone for just an hour each day, and sit together again at the dining table and make eye contact and heart contact once more.

If we can treasure those brief moments together of fellowship and connection, then perhaps those anxiety whispers will still.

We’ll render them useless as we reclaim the dreams … and our lives.

Make the time, take the time, make those anxiety whispers lessen as we recreate briefly a world where human touch, and the simple joy of companionship is again treasured.

It would only take a brief moment of your time. Surely, that’s not too much to ask.

Is it?