“Mommy” Promises To My Dog

To Phil,

I promise I will love you and care for you always.

I promise I will never dump you at a shelter when you get old.

I promise to give you at least 147 kisses a day and just as many snuggles.

I promise to comfort you during thunderstorms and never leave you alone on the Fourth of July.

I promise to always roll down the car window at least halfway so you can stick your head out, no matter how hot or cold it is (unless it’s raining. I know how much you hate to get wet).

I promise to give you my sundae bowl when I am finished so you can lick it clean (as long as it isn’t chocolate).

I promise to never get stingy with the amount of peanut butter I smear on your bone.

I promise to always add a little table food to your meals because I know how much you love steak.

When we’re on a walk, I promise to let you sniff as many trees and bushes as you want, but I will pull you away when you start sniffing other dogs’ butts. (I know that’s how you guys roll, but it’s really gross.)

I promise to replace old and worn blankies with new blankies because I know how much you love your blankies.

I promise you an endless supply of tennis balls.

I promise to be an advocate for pit bulls because you’re a pit bull and you’re awesome.

I promise I will weigh all potential dating partners with you in mind because the woman of my dreams will love you as much as I do. (That is a requirement and is non-negotiable.)

Lastly, when it’s your time, I promise I will not make you endure unnecessary pain and suffering because I’m not strong enough to let you go. I will kiss you goodbye and keep close to my heart the memories you leave behind…..

And never will I forget the day I brought you home from the shelter…the day you rescued me.

phil cuddle   phil 8 phil bed 4 phil blanikie phil in a blanket phil sleeping

When looking for a pet, please consider adopting from a shelter. There are millions of wonderful animals looking for a home. Most of the puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. For more information on puppy mills, please visit the Thepuppymillproject.org. Thank you.

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Never…Stop…Writing

I’m currently working on my third book. My first book, Her Name, was released last year. My second book, Loving Again, will be out this November.

I have a tentative title for my new book. The beginning of the story is set and the last scene has already been written. What I don’t have is a middle. I don’t yet know the words that will fill the pages from 27-103. The bones of my story lack any meat.

Knowing how the story ends should make the book that much easier to write because the path couldn’t get anymore clearer. I am writing towards something. The signs are all pointing specifically to one place with precise directions– turn left, then right, then left again. But instead of driving straight to my destination, I’m making unnecessary U-turns.

Writing is hard, but it doesn’t have to be this hard and I know that.

I also know the first draft is only for me. I’m supposed to get the words out first and edit later. I’m not supposed to go back and rewrite scenes.

Move forward. Keep going. Don’t stop writing.

If something is unclear about the plot or character development is weak, make a note and highlight it. I can get back to it later, but whatever I do I’m not supposed to stop writing.

NeverStopWriting.

Yet, I’ve been staring at blank pages for months now, lucky to get a couple dozen scenes written that most likely will be long gone once the final draft is completed.

Where I had planned a first draft to be finished by Aug 1 (not gonna happen), I am now clinging to the hope that it will be completed by the time Loving Again is released.

I have numerous works-in-progress, unfinished stories, sitting in a desk drawer beside me. I don’t remember the specific reasons that made me stop writing each of those stories, but I assume self-doubt took over me, as it is trying to do now. I do recall many moments of poring over a story and questioning whether I had anything left in me to write. I still have those thoughts and I’ve only completed two books, and they were novellas.

My writing journey has only begun and already I’m hanging myself over the cliff, pressuring myself with the stressful worries of “Will I make it?”

My passion is writing. It’s always been writing. I know I will never stop, just as I know I will complete my third book and absolutely fall in love with it, and then wonder what all the fuss was about.

What I’m experiencing now is a tiny detour, and as frustrated as I may feel, I know this diversion will make me more appreciative of the moment I finally reach my destination, filled with sweet gratification.

All I have to do is NeverStopWriting.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Anne Montgomery: A Light in the Desert.

I’m delighted to introduce you to my author friend Anne Montgomery. Anne is visiting today with her new release A Light in the Desert, an intriguing Soft Thriller novel I think you’ll enjoy.

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a pregnant teenager who bears an odd facial deformity, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

EXCERPT
Most of the two hundred and forty-eight passengers on the Sunset Limited were asleep when David Flowers – weaving slightly as the sleeper car rattled along at fifty miles-per-hour – moved along the passageway en route to the bathroom. At the end of the car he saw Mitchell Bates, a twenty-year Amtrak veteran.

“Don’t forget to get me up when we get to Palm Springs,” the passenger said. “Don’t wanna sleep through my stop.”

“Don’t worry about a thing,” Bates responded, smiling. “That’s what they pay me for.”

Two cars back, Kelly sat wide awake, fingers cupped around her eyes, the outside edges of her hands pressed tightly to the window. She could see the moonlit desert careening by, the scattered mountains black against a star-filled night sky. She felt the gentle rolling of the car: a strangely pleasant feeling. A sense of calm surrounded her, maybe because, for the first time since her father died, there were other people who cared about her. Kelly glanced over at Miranda, still engrossed in a two-month-old, dog-eared issue of Glamour Magazine. Had her mother ever had a friend?

Up in the cab, the engineer watched as the massive headlight bathed the track ahead in bright white light. He’d been on this run hundreds of times. A curve that would lead the train onto a trestle that spanned one of the deeper washes between Phoenix and L.A. was just ahead. The headlight blazed – a star shooting in the darkness – wrapping the track in light as harsh as any clear desert day.

But the damage was under the rails where no light could penetrate.

****

Ramm was driving on the dirt road that would take him back to the cabin. That edgy, too-much-caffeine feeling gripped him again. He should be on the train, the one protecting Kelly. Had he made a mistake contacting the watchers, which meant he had put himself in play again? The community in which he’d worked for so many years was relatively small and there was always the possibility that word had spread about the debacle in Jerusalem. By contacting the watchers, he might have put himself in jeopardy, which could also bring harm to those around him.

Ramm’s head began to pound, the migraine accompanied by a hazy aura. His psychological state was fluctuating. How long could he stay ahead of the problem without medication? What if he blacked out again? What if he was hospitalized and people started checking on him?

Feeling impotent, powerless, Ramm jammed on the breaks. The truck skidded to a stop on the soft shoulder where blacktop and dirt merged at the turnoff. He rubbed his face hard then gripped the steering wheel. When he looked up and peered through the windshield, Ramm blinked several times, confused.

There, in the night sky before him, floating in a spectral light, was Kelly’s face. Ramm squinted, shutting his eyes tight, then looked again. The ghostly image was still there, hovering before him, her troubled visage beckoning him to follow. She merged
with paintings and sculptures – the mother of Jesus in all her quiet grief, the face of Mary on the shimmering white marble of Michelangelo’s St. Peter’s Pieta, on Raphael’s Madonna del Granduca, her desolate melancholy depicted by Masaccio, Veneziano, and countless other artists through time.

Ramm painfully unclenched his hands from around the steering wheel. The suddenness of the bright light caught him off guard. His first reaction was to grab for the loaded Glock he kept under the front seat, but when the glare splashed past him, followed by the steady beat of the passing railcars, he relaxed.

Then, an unexpected wave of heat engulfed Ramm, and he pushed open the cab door and stepped out, breathing deeply, trying to clear his head. The noise hit him like a blow, shattering the desert calm, causing Ramm to reflexively drop to the ground. He lay there listening to the calamitous groaning, a ghastly noise that washed over him like a rogue wave.

To read more from A Light in the Desert please click a vendor’s name:
Sarah Book PublishingAmazonBarnes & Noble

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

In Praise of eBooks

In Praise of eBooks

by Author Carol Browne

 As a voracious book reader, I have lived my life believing in the superiority of the printed book; then my beta-reader kindly gave me her Kindle. Once I had figured out how to use it (three weeks well spent), my perspective underwent a sea change.

When I bought my first eBook and saw it download to my Kindle, it was a magical moment. I was also delighted to discover the device doubles as a flash drive.

There’s something amazing about travelling around with an entire library of books at your disposal and in these days of multi-tasking, being able to read, eat and drink at the same time in total comfort is most welcome. To someone like me on a low income, the availability of cheap or free eBooks is a blessing too.

From an eco-friendly point of view, no trees are cut down to make eBooks. Digital publishing also allows more authors to put their work before the reading public, often publishing great work that traditional publishers have rejected because they aren’t commercial enough.

I once assumed the device itself would be a distraction but, if you’re an avid bookworm, the body of an e-reader is no more of an intrusion than the body of a paperback; no more of a hindrance to your enjoyment than a screen is when you are watching a good movie.

Many will disagree. A teenage friend of mine prefers printed books because he likes the act of turning the pages. For me, the Kindle’s page-turning function is quicker and easier. Plus, you can say good-bye to the exasperation of having your bookmark fall out and not being able to remember where you were up to.

Meanwhile, another friend of mine is changing her opinion about eBooks. While moving to a smaller house, she regretted her vast collection of paperbacks that would have to be accommodated in less space—and then discovered many of them were mouldy and infested with mites. Yuk. She’ll be buying her first Kindle soon!

There is still a place for printed books in my home. I have about a dozen I will always cherish, but these books belong to an exclusive club. It’s unlikely I’ll be adding new members.

Unless they’re written by me, of course.

Disenchanted by Leigh Goff

Disenchanted’s Bewitching Main Character, Sophie Goodchild
by Leigh Goff

Sophie Goodchild is a sixteen-year-old half-witch and the star of my new release Disenchanted from Mirror World Publishing. She lives with her eccentric aunt in the small town of Wethersfield, Connecticut—the sight of the first American Witch Trials. Sophie is descended from a powerful black witch, but struggles with her erratic white magic. All the while she is forced to deal with a nasty group of full-blooded witches known as the Glitterati. These evil beings love to make Sophie feel like she is less than they are.

Sophie is a natural beauty with long, unruly waves of sable-colored hair, dark blue sapphire eyes, and heart-shaped pillowy lips. More importantly, she is beautiful on the inside, although she hides it well behind her impatience and impetuousness, which makes her easy to relate to.

Those heart-strong characteristics are what lead Sophie into trouble and, since she is ruled by her heart, she’s always finds trouble. She is fiercely loyal, determined, and fearless and there is nothing she wouldn’t do or sacrifice for the ones she loves. That hold even more true when she learns of the true love curse her ancestor cast on the Mather family.

Things become more dangerous for the beautiful half-witch when Judge Mather, a descendant of the man who condemned Sophie’s ancestor to hang, learns his son has fallen hard for her. The mysterious, handsome young man recently returned to Wethersfield. His sexy British accent and face that could melt a black witch’s heart, sweep Sophie off her feet. Dark secrets come to light and impossible choices are made as Sophie sacrifices everything, including her soul, to save her true love.

Here is a brief intro to my novel that appeals to people of all ages. I hope you like it, too.

Disenchanted
A forbidden love. A dark curse. An impossible choice…

Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, sixteen-year-old Sophie is struggling to hide her awkwardly emerging magic, but that’s the least of her worries. When a dangerous thief tries to steal her mysterious heirloom necklace, she is rescued by the one person she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. He carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. She will have to uncover dark secrets from both of their families’ wicked pasts and risk everything, including her soul to save them from a witch’s true love curse, but it will take much more than that.

Buy Links:
Mirror World PublishingAmazon

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

How Much Do You Like Drinking Clean Water?

I have read that giving up meat just one day a week carries the same beneficial effect on the environment as not driving your car for one month. One month! Such an easy way to decrease one’s carbon footprint on our planet!

When I made the conscious decision to give up meat, I had no idea the detrimental impact raising livestock had on the environment. I stopped eating meat because I wanted to partake in a more compassionate diet, to assure that no living-being had to die just so I could eat.

But now, I’m learning that I may be doing more than just sparing the lives of precious animals from a cruelly-inhumane death, I may also have a hand in helping to save the environment. The meat industry is wreaking havoc on our water supply (ask Californians how fun it is being strapped for water). One-third of the world’s fresh water supply is used for the production of livestock.* It takes twenty-four hundred gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef,** and the average American eats around 270 lbs of meat a year.*

Also, a typical US farm produces over 500 million tons of manure every year.** Runoffs of animals waste is the leading cause of pollution to our lakes and rivers.**

It isn’t surprising that when answering questions about water-saving advice over California’s historic drought, the State’s Governor, Jerry Brown, answered, “If you ask me, I think we should be eating veggie burgers.”

Statistics are showing that the Governor may be on to something.

How hard is it to give up meat for one day? I don’t know, how much do you like drinking clean water?

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Please Note: Raising animals for dairy consumption also uses a lot of natural resources. I am not a vegan, but am gradually reducing my dairy intake. I haven’t bought cow’s milk in over three years (almond milk rocks!). The point of this blog is to show that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference if everyone does a little something. This blog is NOT meant  to put anyone down for what they eat.

But, if you can make a little change, please do it, because we are all in this together. We all need a healthy Earth. Except for the Aliens. You have your own planet. Stay there.

*Science.time.com

**Peta

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

There’s Help Out There

I was watching a movie with friends. The movie we were watching revolved around a highly-oppressed minority group of people living amidst a society filled with extreme violence and chaos. A scene unfolded as a visibly desperate man – who had fought every adversary he met as bravely as he could, whose mind had endured as much emotional suffering as it could possibly bear, and a man whose body had experienced pain it could no longer withstand – walked down a gravel street carrying a canister of gasoline. He stopped suddenly, poured the gasoline over his body and set himself on fire.

A young woman sitting beside me asked, “Why’d he kill himself?”

“Because he’s a coward and that’s what cowards do,” her boyfriend, sitting on the other side of her, replied.

This exchange took place more than a year ago, but I haven’t forgotten it, and probably never will. The tone that young man uttered his incredibly insensitive words lacked any hint of empathy or compassion. He made the ignorant statement unaware of the plight of those around him. He wasn’t close enough friends with every single person in that room to know their struggles, their downfalls, or to witness the quandary of their weakest moment.

He exemplified none of the human values (compassion, kindness, tolerance ) necessary to be a decent loving human being. I remember being angry when that young man said what he had said, but I didn’t say anything because I believe those who boast loudly and talk boldly, do so to hide their own weaknesses. I swallowed my dissent that night, and instead of challenging his words, I looked at the young man with sympathetic pity in my heart because maybe he was struggling a battle so deep and profound that he needed to appear stronger than he felt.

Maybe the young and confident man was putting on an act.

Or, maybe he was just an insensitive jerk.

But that night I chose to give the young man the benefit of the doubt, and I hope he made no one in that room feel like a coward if they were struggling to overcome their own weighted hopelessness.

According to Veterans Today, the annual suicide rate for veterans is 29.5 per 100,000 veterans. This suicide rate is 50% higher compared to people who never served in the military. If this young man knew of this statistic, I wonder if he would still have boldly stated that people who kill themselves were cowards.

I don’t know, but I do know that men and women who serve our country and protect our freedom are not cowards – no matter how their life ends, and the same applies to everyone else who loses their life to suicide.

Be tolerant. Be compassionate. Life is uncertain. Life is unpredictable. Life is uncontrollable.

There’s help for those who need it. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

Note: I do not own this picture. If it infringes on any copyright I will take it down.