Everyone Deserves Health Insurance

There’s a video of a heartfelt exchange from The View going viral between former Vice-President Joe Biden and co-host Meghan McCain regarding her father’s, Senator John McCain, brain cancer diagnosis. McCain is suffering from the same cancer that took the life of Biden’s son.

Biden sat beside Meghan, took her hand, and reminded her what a fighter her father is and was hopeful about the new medical innovations that were too late to save his own son.

I felt for Meghan as she broke down because I know how devastating it is to watch a loved one go through a debilitating illness, while struggling to stay hopeful. But as I watched this emotional moment unfold between Biden and McCain I thought about the tax reform bill that Republicans are trying to ram through Congress.

A bill, if passed, will take health insurance away from 13 million people.* Those are not faceless people. Those are real people–people with lives and loved ones and purpose. Yet, Senator McCain voted two weeks ago for a Senate version of the bill that would take insurance away from millions.

With cancer and disease rates as high as they are, we have to assume a good portion of those 13 million people are suffering from something–maybe even the same cancer John McCain has. As McCain receives treatment for his own cancer, will he vote next week for a bill that takes insurance away from millions of people?

It seems so, because he already did, and I think there’s a special hell for people who think they deserve to live while others deserve to die. That’s what happens when sick people no longer have insurance and they can’t afford the treatment that keeps them living – – they die.

Meghan McCain isn’t the only daughter right now crying through sleepless nights while worrying about an ailing father, but at least she can rest assure that her father’s top-of-the-line insurance won’t be yanked from underneath him because of this tax bill. However, thirteen million people won’t be able to say the same thing if this bill passes.

I wish John McCain well. He’s a person with an illness, and I hope he votes to protect other people with illnesses. Please, Senator McCain, don’t be a “I got mine, screw you on getting yours” politician. We have too many of those in Congress as it is.

 

*Source – Congressional Budget Office

 

Health insurance

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trying to Stay Sane During Insane Times

I’ve been working on a story for a while, and for a while I’ve been making some good progress. But lately I’ve been distracted, and the usual culprits of previous distractions–Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram–are innocent in this go-around.

My writing time has been severely hampered because I can’t turn off my television to the everyday breaking news drama of this chaotic and dysfunctional administration that is the Donald Trump presidency.  But what really traps my attention are the constant revelations of the Russian investigation, run by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, that leaves me hopeful that someday (hopefully very soon) justice will prevail.

But until that time, my days are spent stressing over what will come of the country I love because the people in charge are trying to pass policies that will hurt the most vulnerable, while benefiting the most privileged.

A few months ago, the Republicans in Congress made me sweat-out a healthcare vote that would have kicked 30 million people off insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Three Republican senators were the difference between life and death for a lot of sick people because the Republicans had no viable replacement plan to ensure their care.

This is sick, but luckily, they didn’t get the vote.

But late last Friday night, the Senate Republicans had me geeking out and watching CSPAN 2 as they got the votes to pass their tax reform bill that according to independent reports, including the CBO, will knock 13 million people off insurance, and raise taxes for everyone making less than $75,000. The tax plan will also add 1.5 trillion dollars to the deficit, which will segue into rhetoric by the Right to attack Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid (all programs they hate because non-rich people depend on them) to offset the deficit.

This is sick, too.

I’m not a perfect person. I’ve done things I regret, but I would never work to cripple programs that I know benefits children, the disabled, the elderly, veterans, and the working poor. This tax plan, designed to give relief to big corporations and wealthy individuals, at the expense of the middle and working-class, is devastating.

 

The Republicans are trying to play the ‘trickle-down’ theory game again. We saw this movie in 2000 under Bush. It ended badly. Seriously, only Rosemary’s Baby that ends with a woman finding out her newborn baby she thought was dead is actually the spawn of Satan, had a worse ending than the result of Bush economics.

I don’t want to hear Republicans lecture us about why the country’s most wealthy deserve tax breaks first, and why we, the peasants, deserve only what trickles down. Why not give the money to the middle and working-class people first, and then let whatever is left over trickle to the top 1%?

If you haven’t grabbed a poster and stood outside your representative’s office or made phone calls, then you are doing exactly what these incredulous politicians want – nothing.

This plan hasn’t passed yet, and it’s not too late to stop it. But action needs to be taken now. Grab a sign. Make a phone call or two…or fifteen…if that’s what it takes.

But note to self, turn off the TV for a little while and get back to writing. Your sanity and writing career depend on it.

 

insanity

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Don’t Get Us Nuked

I recently got into a tiny argument with my mother about her Xanax prescription. I don’t have my own script. I used to have one and could easily get a new order from my doctor, but I stopped needing the medication daily a few years ago, so I let the prescription expire and never asked for a new one.

My mother used to get 90 pills a month, but now her refills are at 30 and she won’t call her doctor to ask for more. She thinks he will be upset if she tells him she needs more for the month. She also doesn’t want the pharmacist to think she’s taking all of these drugs (as if they care, and I’m sure they’ve seen harder drugs prescribed than .25 mg pills of Xanax).

Surely, if the doctor should ask her why she is feeling so anxious that she needs more pills and she simply responds, “Trump”, the doctor would understand, right? Even if he voted for Trump, the doctor would understand a person’s high anxiety during these fuckingly crazy and terrifying moments when a reckless wacko president taunts another reckless wacko leader of  a country with nuclear weapons.

Yesterday, North Korea shot another missile that is said to be capable of reaching the US. Wonderful. Yes, please, Mr. Trump, keep up your taunts of “Little Rocket Man” and all the other adolescent bullshit you tweet about. I’m sure it makes every American proud knowing that your Twitter feed, filled with calling people losers and American journalists liars, will be archived for all the world to see for many, many years.

The stress is nonstop with this guy. If he’s not making us sweat-out three horrible Republican healthcare bills that would have knocked 30 million people off insurance, he’s starting a nuclear war over Twitter or trying to pass a tax reform bill that the Congressional Budget Office reported would hurt poor Americans the most. Awesome. Let’s take from the poor and give to the rich. Nothing can possibly go wrong with that. (Big f*cking sigh.)

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.  I know. The stock market is up at record levels. Trump ran on deregulation and tax cuts for the rich and big corporations. Wall Street is responding with a lot of love, but how does it help the middle class — the true testament of a strong economy?

In my basement, there is a room we used to call “Jewel”, named after a local grocery store near my house, because it was the place we stored extra supplies of whatever wouldn’t fit in our pantry and cupboards. Recently, I’ve been buying canned foods and cases of water specifically for that room, and I’ve changed the name from “Jewel” to “Trump’s Gonna F*ck Us Room.” Because be prepared. Always be prepared.

I have yelled so many harsh words as Trump’s orange face glistened across my TV screen and have had many imaginary conversations with him that would get me arrested, but at this point I’m tired and if I were standing in front of him all I’d be able to muster would be, “Please don’t get us nuked.”

Wow. What a presidency, and it’s only been eleven months.

 

Nukes

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

Marci Boudreaux and Her Sweet Romance

Sweet Romance at its finest is what Marci Boudreaux promises and delivers with style. Her books receive top marks for drawing readers into the story with well rounded characters and a plot you can’t help but love. Here is a little from Marci’s new release.

Now serving second chances.

Jenna Reid purchased the Stonehill Café to prove to herself that her ex-husband was wrong…that she could make her dreams come true. Three years later, all she has is a crumbling building, no social life, and her bruised pride.

Pride is something Colonel Daniel Maguire lost long ago and isn’t likely to find living in the alley behind the café. He just needs a little time to get on his feet. In the interim, keeping an eye on the overworked café owner gives him a sense of purpose. He has no intentions of making his presence known until he hears the woman screaming late one night.

He rushes into the café but instead of finding her in dire straits, he finds a broken pipe and Jenna—soaking wet and holding a wrench. With her last bit of hope fading, Jenna accepts Daniel’s help to fix up her building, but it doesn’t take long for them to start trying to fix each other.

This Old Café is available at these retailers:
AmazonB&NiBooksKobo

As a teen, Marci Boudreaux skipped over young adult books and jumped right into the world of romance novels. She’s never left. Marci lives with her husband, two kiddos, and their numerous pets. Until recently, she was a freelance writer appearing monthly in a variety of local magazines. She now focuses on writing and her work as a content editor.

Romance is her preferred reading and writing genre because nothing feels better than falling in love with someone new and her husband doesn’t like when she does that in real life.

Learn more about Marci Boudreaux on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

A Penny on the Tracks

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It is a program that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month — 50,000 words in 30 days.  If it sounds insane, that’s because it is, but I’m sure I saw a quote somewhere from Stephen King stating that a writer should be able to finish a first draft in 30 days.

I have never finished a first draft in 30 days — not even a first draft of a 15,000 word short story I recently wrote. That tale took me two months to complete.

 

For four straight years, I have promised myself I’d take part in this challenge, and for the fourth November in a row, I backed out before I even began.  I’m not against pushing myself as a writer. I think this is a great motivator for people to actually finish writing a book because so many books are left unwritten because, well, writing is hard.

So, if this gets writers to stay in their seats and write, great. But I don’t approach writing with a word count. I really hate getting caught up in counting words, which is probably why I have not been motivated to take a shot at this challenge. I shut the word count feature off on my computer so that I can’t see the number as I write.

When I sit down to write, I tell myself, “Alicia, write one good, solid scene.” My hope is that I come up with a page or two of dialogue or prose that either advances the plot or develops the characters, basically anything that moves the story along.

I’m currently writing a book about a teenage girl in the 1950’s called, Annabel. Even if I wanted to compete in this NaNo challenge, I’m too far along in this story (about 250 pages, don’t ask me the word count, because I don’t know) to even attempt to write a thousand-plus words a day. I’m mostly in the “fill-in-the-blanks” part of the writing process.

My YA book, A Penny on the Tracks, will be released tomorrow. It is a 75,000 word novel that took me about a year to complete. I couldn’t tell you how long I had been working on the book before I finally had a first draft completed, but I can tell you there were a ton of revisions. An absolute ton.

But in the end, I came up with a story that I’m very proud of and was totally worth the many frustrating late nights I spent writing it.

Here is an excerpt from my coming-of-age book about life, love, and friendship:

I was making our favorite sandwich—bologna, lettuce, and cheese smeared with mustard and mayo on white bread—when Abbey called for me from the living room.
“Lyssa! Hurry up! Poison’s on!”

The sandwiches lay on the counter amid a mess of open condiment jars and scattered pieces of lettuce and lunch meat. I quickly smashed the top slices of bread onto both sandwiches against the piled-stack of a sloppy mess I had created and hurried into the next room, dropping bits of food as I ran.

Abbey was standing on the couch, shouting out the lyrics we both knew by heart as Brett Michaels’ voice filled the room. I handed her a sandwich, jumped on the couch, and screamed out the chorus to “Talk Dirty to Me.”  I took bites of my sandwich during the guitar solo, and Abbey held her sandwich high in her left hand, as though it were the end of a guitar, and strummed her right hand against the front of her shirt. We banged our heads in unison, hair (and food) flying everywhere.

Abbey’s house had a bigger TV and better food options than bologna and cheese sandwiches, but we never could have done what we were doing right then if we were at her house. Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” came on next, and we both lost our minds.

We dropped what was left of our food onto the table and yelled out the lyrics to our favorite song. Abbey sang the song with more conviction, as though she had a lot more that she didn’t want to take anymore.

The video ended, and we both collapsed onto the couch and finished our lunch. After, I went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple cans of pop from the fridge. Hanging on a magnet, on the side of the refrigerator, was a note from my mom reminding me she was working late that night and that there were frozen dinners in the freezer. At the end of the note she promised a home-cooked meal soon.

Abbey was often envious of the lack of parental supervision at my place, especially when it came to dinner. She was jealous I got to eat whatever I wanted. Even if my mom left dinner for me in the fridge, if I wanted to eat S’mores for supper, I ate S’mores.

“You eat dinner on the couch while watching TV?” Abbey had asked me one day.

“If I feel like it,” I answered.

“You’re so lucky. My mom makes me eat with her at the table, even if my dad isn’t home yet. And I can’t even put my elbows on the table.” 

I ate on the couch while watching TV because my friend didn’t know the loneliness that crept inside a person while eating dinner among empty chairs.

But I had forced a smile. “Yep. I am lucky.”

I walked back into the living room and handed one of the cans to Abbey. Abbey didn’t take it.

“My mom said I drink too much pop.”

“Your mom’s not fucking here.”

Abbey smiled and grabbed the can from my hand. About eight videos later and a sore neck from head banging, Abbey had to go home.

I walked her to the door. “Let’s ride our bikes tomorrow.”

“Where to?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere far.”

“Last time we did that we were almost too tired to ride back,” she reminded me.

“That was because of the wind,” I explained. “It was blowing against us on our way back.”

Abbey considered this. “Okay. If it’s not very windy tomorrow, we’ll ride our bikes far.

 

APennyontheTracks-web
A Penny on the Tracks

 

Let’s Get This Cookbook Party Started!

Let’s Get This Cookbook Party Started
Who doesn’t love the holidays? You get to bond with family and friends, shop till you drop for that perfect gift, decorate the house to your heart’s desire, plan a meal worthy of gracing your table, and attend all those fabulous parties. Wait…hope I didn’t exhaust you already? Yes, we ALL love holidays and celebrations, no matter what time of year they fall, but it can get a little (okay, a lot) overwhelming when it comes time to prepare for those holiday meals and parties when you’re working a full-time job, and taking care of your family’s needs.

How about some relief from the stress and pressure of figuring out what to serve your hungry guests during holiday get-togethers, events, or celebrations?

Cue a holiday-inspired cookbook written by the following thirteen busy authors, of various ages and genres: Carol Browne, HL Carpenter, Sara Daniel, Dominique Eastwick, Leigh Goff, C.D. Hersh, Vonnie Hughes, Alicia Joseph, Emma Lane, Sharon Ledwith, Anne Montgomery, Chris Pavesic, and Sloane Taylor. These wonderful writers have created recipes that will make your life easy and simple when it comes time to prepare tantalizing appetizers, tasty beverages, mouth-watering cookies, and decadent desserts.

The ABCDs of Cooking with Writers is your go-to recipe book for entertaining over the holiday seasons, hosting events, or celebrating that special day. Compiled by Sloane Taylor—a gourmet cook in her own right—and designed by mother-daughter duo HL Carpenter, the included recipes have been tested and approved of by the most finicky family members. Oh, and did I mention that it is FREE?

So why not have your cake and eat it too? Yes, pun intended. You’ve got nothing to lose, and time to gain when you download The ABCDs of Cooking with Writers. There’s a recipe for every holiday, celebration, or event in your life. Give yourself a gift this holiday season with a cookbook from thirteen writers who share their favorite recipes and tips to help relieve the stress in your busy life.

Download your FREE E-Pub cookbook at Smashwords.

Pumpkin Bread and a Story About Shelter Animals.

I love the fall, and I really love shelter animals. So what’s better than hosting an author who wrote a book about shelter animals and has a knock-out recipe for one of my favorite fall treats– pumpkin bread? Absolutely nothing.

by Sharon Ledwith

When we lived in cottage country, we’d visit the local bakery in Baysville, a small, tourist town five minutes south of us. The smell of fresh baking does something to a body. Sometimes it takes you back to when life was simpler. Today, cottage and camping life have changed. Cell phones are getting better reception, and seeing satellite dishes on cottage roofs has become the norm. But sometimes it’s nice to just unplug, and let nature stir your soul.

In my new series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, I uproot a troubled teen with a complicated life—he or she also possesses a psychic ability—and place them in the serene setting of Fairy Falls. These kids then have to deal with the fact that they’re different, and try to fit in, which as you can imagine isn’t that easy. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The following moist and spicy recipe is geared to enjoy with coffee on the dock, snacks around the card table, or a hot cup of tea in a hammock. With a prep time of 15 minutes, and cook time of 50 minutes, this pumpkin bread actually tastes even better the day after it is baked, and the smell of it coming out of the oven may take you back to your favorite tourist bakery shop while vacationing with your family.

Lakeside Pumpkin Bread
1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
⅔ cup water
3 cups white sugar
3½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger in a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake about 50 minutes. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

So while those loaves are baking, and filling your kitchen with the most amazing smells, why not relax on the couch, and visit the small, tourist town of Fairy Falls, starting with Lost and Found, Book #1 of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls? Just don’t forget the bug spray.

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey decides that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well.

Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS
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Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.