What If I’m Not Who I Think I Am?


This post is by Joe Stephens




Anyone who has read the Jason Bourne books or seen the movies knows that Jason Bourne isn’t his real name. He was originally David Webb, but he was re-programmed into a killing machine with a new name. Things start to get wacky when his real self starts leaking through. And by wacky, I mean lots of people try to kill him, but he kills them first.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m more like Jason Bourne than I would like to admit. I don’t mean I secretly have a different name than I was born with and that I’m a government agent. I just mean that sometimes I worry that I am, like Bourne, walking around doing my normal everyday life things thinking that I’m one person but everybody else sees me completely differently. What if I have a false understanding of how the world sees me?

I may be wandering into an esoteric (and by esoteric I mean boring and unintelligible) animals, dogs, domesticated, pets, adorable, cute, muzzle, sleep, soil, stones, outdoorsarea, but this issue comes to my mind occasionally, and I tend to overthink things, so I thought I’d put the earworm in your mind and let it drive you crazy for a while. What if you think the world sees you the way you do, but in reality, their view of you is completely different? How would it feel to discover that?

Here’s what I’m talking about. I’m a teacher. I like to think that my kids all love me as girl, woman, brunette, hair, fashion, room, mirrormuch as I love them. But the reality is that some of them love me, some of them like me, some of them are indifferent to me, and still others have a barely concealed antipathy for me. I am aware of this fact intellectually. After all, no teacher is liked by every student. But from time to time I am confronted by it when that antipathy comes to the surface. When it does, I worry that I have a completely false idea of how I’m seen by my students and colleagues. That the people who are kind to me are being nice not because I deserve it but because they are too benevolent to tell me the truth—that I am, in reality, incompetent and weird. I keep wondering at what point, someone’s going to tire of the charade and come clean.

man, guy, face, smile, frown, happy, sad, mad, hair, eyes, mouth, nose, ears, peopleIt feels like there’s a book in this concept. Probably there have been many. The story of someone who spent his entire life believing something about himself, only to get to the end and learn that it’s all been a lie. That he wasn’t the positive force that he’d always believed himself to be, but instead was a pitiable fool to whom everyone had just been being kind. Doesn’t really sound like a fun book, especially if it turns out to be the blurb on the back of my autobiography. I hope it won’t be, but I can’t help fearing that it will. That’s just how my brain seems to work.

So, I guess the question is, if you have a completely skewed understanding of how you are seen in the world, would you rather know or would you rather live in blissful ignorance?

sunrise cover option 7Joe’s newest book,Dawn of Grace, just debuted on June 9. It’s available on Amazon.

ITS Cover ArtCheck out his third book, In The Shadow on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at his debut book, Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at his second book, Kisses and Lies on Amazon


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Summer Strawberries by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

I love to eat them year round, not just during the hottest months. When my late husband Bill was alive, he would buy them fresh, rinse them in cold water, remove stems, slice into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife, then sprinkle with sugar and serve warm over ready-made angel food cakes. When two strokes left him partially paralyzed, most of the work involved in preparing this sweet treat fell to me. To my amazement, with only one hand, he was still able to slice the strawberries and add the sugar. The first few times, I couldn’t help wondering if some of the red was blood, but he didn’t appear to be bleeding, and the dessert didn’t taste bloody.

After my husband died, I continued buying fresh strawberries and shortcake and preparing them the way Bill liked them because this made me feel closer to him. In the following poem from my collection, That’s Life, I illustrate this. Click this link to hear me read it.


The Art of Eating Strawberries



I eat them the way you like them,

feel close to you when I rinse them in cold water,

remove stems, tear into bite-sized pieces,

add sugar, let sit in the refrigerator,

heat in the microwave over shortcake,

so sweet, so warm,

wish you were here to enjoy them,

but you’ve gone to a better place

so I must eat strawberries alone.


Then I discovered whole all natural strawberries from Schwann. They’re already in bite-size pieces, so they don’t have to be sliced. They’re pretty sugary, as they are, and I don’t need the extra calories in angel food shortcake. Now I just put some in a bowl to thaw overnight, and they make a great breakfast treat. I think Bill would have approved. You can read more about other foods Bill liked and my cooking disasters in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Do you have a favorite summertime fruit? How do you like to eat it: plain, with vanilla ice cream perhaps?


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Posted in Creativity, family, Memories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Careful What You Wish For!

Gayle_signing photoThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Earlier this year I set a personal goal to increase my freelance writing endeavors. It is my desire to be a fulltime freelancer and to write and publish my own books. More freelance opportunities have come my way in the past month, and in September, I’ll be writing five more articles for another different publication. My dream is slowly become a reality.

During the past 18 months, I’ve been writing features on many Wyoming Vietnam War veterans. Each month I turn in three articles for Our Town Casper magazine and a pet column for the River Press newspaper in Montana.  For the past year, some of my children’s works have been serialized in the kids’ section of our local paper, including a 13-week stint this summer; another may be published later this year, and several times a year I write stories for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric News). From that association, this year I gleaned five additional articles for another publication produced by the developers of WREN called Advancement, three in the spring and two which are due the end of this week. And, in September I’ll be working on five articles for Crossroads, an annual publication for the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Chamber of Commerce; I’ve been blessed to write for them each year for the past three years. The connections I’ve made through these various endeavors have been fruitful, and I am grateful.

Meadowlark Story_CIFor years I tried queries to various magazines, spending time reviewing the Writer’s Market Guide, crafting query letters and proposals, and waiting for responses. I was able to get a few stories in a magazine called Creation Illustrated over a three-year period, but not much else. Fortunately, once I proved deadline-oriented and writing-focused to the producers of WREN, then along came Crossroads and Advancement. And, once I started with Our Town Casper with a few free articles, they slowly gave me more assignments to where I now write steadily for them. I let one component of that publication go earlier this year due to the busyness from the other publications, which pay better. After September, however, I will likely go back to looking for additional work with better pay as well, even though it will likely mean queries again. I hope to find outlets for writing about nature, national parks, and pets. Those are my passions and I would greatly enjoy finding more opportunities to write about these topics.

That might happen without a query, at least to one magazine. A friend who has been successful in her writing career has introduced me via email to a natural resource magazine editor. I’m sending some of my writing clips her way this week with hopes that next year she’ll hire me for some assignments (the last issue of this year is full).

Sage Finds Friends circleI would also love to syndicate my pet column and see my children’s works serialized in other children’s newspaper sections and/or magazines. I believe my works for kids teach valuable lessons that many children would benefit from while enjoying an engaging pet story.

In addition to the articles, I have several manuscripts in progress. I’m finding it difficult to carve out time for my book writing, at least on a consistent basis. A few weekends ago I was able to be at the cabin and not have deadlines staring me in the face, so I put in several hours during the two days I spent at the property. That was quite helpful, but I had hoped to give at least an hour a day during this past week as well – that didn’t happen (but I did get a new cover created for my children’s story Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest!). Hopefully, this coming weekend, while visiting my parents, I’ll be able to spend a few hours at least on one of the WIPs.

IMG_5751If I didn’t have the day job… well, I’d likely be homeless (or maybe just living at my cabin without electricity or running water)! It’s hard to live in the “land between,” juggling the day job with the writing work. At times, I wonder how I can continue juggling. But, I’m just not yet ready to let go of the steady paycheck. I hope one day to take a leap of faith, fulfill my dream, and move into a life of fulltime writing. Perhaps the cards will land right next year to see the dream become a reality.

As August concludes and September dawns, as my deadlines approach and new opportunities step from the shadows, my gratitude overflows and my anticipation grows. Here’s to wishes – and dreams – coming true!

How about you? Where are you in your writing life and where do you hope to be in the near (or distant) future?


Gayle_CHS booktable34Gayle M. Irwin is the author of seven inspirational dog books for children and adults and she’s working on two more stories for children, this time about cats. She is also a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as to Memories from Maple Street U.S.A.: Pawprints on My Heart, released last month by Sundown Press. Gayle writes for Our Town Casper magazine, Wyoming Rural Electric News (WREN), the Casper Journal, the Casper Star Tribune, and Crossroads. She has also been published in Creation Illustrated and other other publications and continues to seek freelance opportunities because she loves to tell stories! She also enjoys helping pet rescue organizations. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

BookCoverPreview_Codys Cabin_Aug 2016.do   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   SageBigAdventureFront-small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Walking_FrontCover_small   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Pawprints Book  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Spirit of America book

Posted in Creative writing, Freelance writing, unique, Writing, writing challenges, Writing for Money | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Law Enforcement Confrontations – Reality v. Fiction

Sarah M. Chenby Sarah M. Chen

At the Sisters in Crime / LA chapter meeting last month, we had a speaker I’ve met a couple times over the last four years. FBI Special Agent Tom Leighton spoke at a meeting in 2014 and he also was on the faculty of the biennial Crime Writers Conference which Sisters in Crime / LA and Mystery Writers of America – SoCal chapter put on jointly. Special Agent Tom Leighton provides investigative support to FBI investigations as well as teaches crisis negotiations. Today he talked about law enforcement confrontations and that what we see in the movies and on television can lead to misconceptions about law enforcement shootings.

It’s a very timely topic considering the widespread violence, questionable police shootings, and protests in this country over the past year, especially the past few months. It’s extremely troubling and gut-wrenching to see these videos, yet I believe it’s important to hear from both sides. I have close friends who are cops and I know this is an extremely difficult time for them.

Agent Tom Leighton started off by saying that even the simplest law enforcement interaction is extremely complicated, especially shootings. We all feel competent to pass judgement on a video of a shooting, including police officers themselves.

Movies and television perpetuate certain myths about shootings. Everything is exaggerated with Hollywood. It’s entertainment. In reality, when people are shot, there is not enough energy in one bullet to knock them off their feet, yet when we see films like “Dirty Harry,” the bad guy is blown backwards and off their feet with one bullet.


When you’re shot, you don’t always feel pain. For example, President Reagan never even knew he was shot. He felt a little pain but not until someone saw blood, did people realize he’d been hit. They were headed home but instead, he was rushed to the hospital and luckily, his life was saved. The body is an amazing machine.

Leighton then discussed the biggest shootout between law enforcement and criminals in US history. It’s the 1986 FBI Miami shootout that took place in Dade County. Matix and Platt were two bank robbers who were responsible for a string of violent bank robberies across Florida. This shootout is the most famous and the most studied shootout in law enforcement circles. It led to more powerful handguns in the FBI because even though the agents outnumbered the suspects 4 to 1, they were outgunned by Matix and Platt, two killers who were looking for a fight. These guys weren’t your average “bad guys.” An individual who doesn’t care about survival is the toughest to negotiate with. These two, despite being surrounded by agent vehicles and shot multiple times, managed to kill and critically injure several agents. Semiautomatic weapons are now standard with law enforcement because of this shootout.


By Kguirnela at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3708368

Leighton said it’s quicker to act than react. The average person can move 21 feet with a knife before your brain registers what’s happening. An officer only has a few seconds to make a critical and life-altering decision. Today, most police officers never even shoot their guns. The chances they will actually strike their target are 13-20%. Time is a big issue. Sometimes, the police officer doesn’t know if their bullets are penetrating because the threat is not stopping, they keep advancing. Officers are trained to “shoot until the threat stops.” Sometimes when an officer shoots, the target spins away and a bullet strikes them in the back. Now it looks like the officer has shot them in the back.

These are all things I think about as I watch the horrifying videos and violent protests on the news. I know it will be a long time before cities like Milwaukee and Baton Rouge can heal after the senseless violence they endured. It’s not something that will work out overnight and these are issues that have plagued our society for decades. But it’s my hope (and granted, an overly simplistic and perhaps naive one) that the community and respective police departments and city leaders can eventually come together and learn from one another or at least make small steps toward this.


Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. Her crime fiction short stories have been accepted for publication online and in various anthologies, including All Due Respect, Plan B, Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, Out of the Gutter, Betty Fedora, and, Dead Guns Press. Cleaning Up Finn is her first book available now with All Due Respect Books. www.sarahmchen.com


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A visceral image!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Life comes with all sorts of highs and lows. Sometimes it’s powerful words that affect you but at other times an image alone can punch you in the gut and bring forth profound emotion.

I had a change to my usual weekly timetable of grandchild minding this past week to accommodate a 400 mile round trip. Sadly, this wasn’t to a wedding like I recently blogged about here on the Wranglers blog but instead it was to go to a family funeral. Living at a distance from both my own and my husband’s siblings and cousins means a bit of travel at such times.

Bill, the man who died, was a genuinely lovely person who touched everyone he met with his kindness and his quiet personality. When he spoke to you, you were the centre of his full attention and always the beneficiary of his positive, cheery focus. Bill was my husband’s female cousin’s husband so it tended, over the decades to be mostly at family gatherings that our paths crossed. Bill was a dedicated Christian and a lifelong elder of his local church but that wasn’t the only faith of his that I’d like to mention today.

2010-09-29_189x189px_Yellow_Box_with_SNP_logoHe was also a dedicated and committed Scottish nationalist for decades. Being a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) back in the 1960s and 1970s was quite unusual in Scotland and it took courage and determination to break free of the stranglehold of the ruling political parties—the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties of the day. Bill was really proud of being Scottish and immensely proud of his country: Scotland becoming an independent country being a lifelong goal of his.

In September 2014, Scotland went to the election booths to decide in a political referendum if we wanted the country to become independent, or if we wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Only days before that election Bill and his wife came to me for a brief visit since Bill had business to attend to in the Aberdeen area (not far from where I live). Most of our conversation was a catch up of family matters: the recent wedding of my niece which we’d all attended and the forthcoming wedding of my nephew to which we were all invited. However, while my husband caught up with more family matters with his cousin, I chatted to Bill about our common goal of Scottish independence. It was a memorable conversation because he hadn’t realised that I had also been voting for the SNP party since the mid 1970s.

Sadly, the results of that referendum of September 2014 were a little short of what it will take for Scotland to break free and become independent from the rest of the United Kingdom. Bill was gutted with that 2014  referendum result, as were all of the 44.65% of people like me around Scotland who voted in that referendum FOR an independent country—the turnout to the voting stations unprecedented at 84.6% of eligible voters. A huge surge had been made towards independence but not quite enough.

When I attended Bill’s funeral two days ago, I entered his small local Church of Scotland. Bill’s coffin was placed in the very narrow entrance hall bedecked with beautiful flowers, an instant reminder of why I was there. The service was perfect, the local minister’s knowledge and memories of Bill being intensely personal. I didn’t cry during the service, although I was very moved by the minister’s eulogy.

When we exited the church to progress to the nearest Crematorium for a further service of committal the hearse was parked at the foot of the short flight of entrance steps.

The coffin sat in the vehicle draped with a Saltire flag.


That was when I broke down.

Bill didn’t quite make it to see his lifelong goal of Scottish independence happen but, I vow that when it does, I will toast Bill and people like him who kept the faith for decades. The groundswell of support for Scottish independence has risen since September 2014 and continues to rise.

In my current writing, I’m covering a time of intense upheaval in northern Britannia, the land area that eventually became what we now name Scotland. The desire to remain free of the Ancient Roman Empire when the late iron age tribes were invaded by thousands of Roman soldiers back in AD 84 is a documented fact. Their faith to remain free of Ancient Roman influences was strong, their determination to retain their own customs and religious practices ongoing for a few hundred years and evident in recurrent skirmishes with the legions of ancient Rome which were mentioned in Ancient Roman military historical documents and by Roman writers like Cornelius Tacitus.

I’ve never read references to any sort of image that might have meant ‘freedom’ to my late iron age tribal characters (Celts) but it’s something I’m currently pondering over. Authorial licence might just allow me to invent some visible image like the Saltire flag of the Scottish independence movement.

I wonder if you could suggest a ‘freedom’ image when the era of AD 84 is more than a thousand years before the Hollywood ‘Braveheart’ period.

Has any particular flag or iconic image had the same sort of visceral impact on you?

Have a lovely weekend, whatever you may be doing. 

(p.s. I’m hoping that my next post in a couple of weeks will be written in California, U.S. since I’ve a wedding to attend over there. Look forward to some travel info from Nevada, Utah and Pasadena.)

CFS words

Nancy Jardine finds all historical eras totally fascinating: research a delightful procrastination! Her week is taken up with grandchild-minding, gardening, reading, writing and blogging. Catching up with historical programmes or TV series and watching the news is a luxury – as are social events with friends and family but she does a creative job to squeeze them in.

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:   http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; and various other ebook stores.

3 mysteries new TE

Contemporary Romantic Mysteries





TTG x1000Historical Time Travel for the TEEN market.


Posted in emotions, images, Scotland, unique | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments



Kate 2Kate Wyland

We put down my last horse three weeks ago. Glory (officially Fallen Queen) was 31, mostly blind from cataracts, had Cushings disease and arthritis. I hadn’t ridden her for the past two years because her blindness caused her to stumble and, with her arthritis, I couldn’t take a chance on her falling. As long as she was in a familiar place her lack of sight hadn’t seemed to bother her too much until recently. Then things changed.

A couple of months ago, she somehow hurt herself in her stall, cutting her upper eyelid, and injuring her hip and front leg. Presumably she got tangled in a fence when rolling and had a hard time getting free. We had to have the vet out for her eye, but the other stuff healed quickly. She became jumpy and nervous after that, not understanding why she hurt and what had happened. Then the wonderful worker who had fed, and cleaned the stalls at her stable for years suddenly quit, and the owner had a hard time finding someone to replace him. The frequently changing new cleaners, who weren’t necessarily horse people, scared her and she became more and more nervous, jumping at the slightest sound. Moving her would have only made her worse. It didn’t seem fair to let her continue this way and we reluctantly made the final decision, one which our vet had recommended over a year ago.

I bought Glory 19 years ago when she was 12. She was a wonderfully trained Third Level dressage horse that would be a schoolmaster to help me learn more about higher level skills. With horses, either the rider or the horse should know more. Two tyros are not likely to do well. In this case, she knew about dressage and would make it easier for me to advance. My trainer fell in love with her during a test ride and confirmed my already positive opinion.

glory 3

However, when I got her home I discovered she was very different from any horse I’d ever dealt with. I was used to high-strung, hot horses, but I’d never encountered a horse that was terrified of the world. Under saddle, she was perfect. On the ground, she was ready to panic at the slightest thing. She also was afraid of other horses, which I thought was really weird. It took some research and time to figure out what was going on with her.

Glory was a Thoroughbred destined for racing. She was sent to the track but was not successful. (She was too timid to challenge other horses.) She then was bred as a two-year old, had a foal, and was sold to a hunter-jumper barn. There she was trained for riding (racing TBs know little more than go, turn and stop), but wasn’t successful as a hunter-jumper. (Presumably because of her fear of other horses.) After that she went to a dressage barn and found her niche. Dressage horses compete by themselves. Because she was so good under saddle, a woman who was dealing with fear issues bought her but it wasn’t good match long-term. That’s when I got her and took on her prolems.

Like most Thoroughbred mares, Glory was hyper-sensitive to touch and her environment. Unfortunately, her previous owners had not paid much attention to that, trying to force her to behave like a laid-back warmblood. She hated being curried and brushed hard and their answer had been to carry a whip to correct her when she objected. That only made her more uptight. If something else happened while she was in this state, she’d blow up. And she developed the habit of pulling back, trying to break the rope, when she panicked.

She also had been through a variety of trainers, at least one of whom favored harsh methods. It turned out her good behavior under saddle was partly a result of fear. If she made a mistake, she would start shaking or even get a nose bleed. She obviously expected to be punished. (Though to be fair, what she considered punishment, other horses might not even notice.)

All this made for a rocky start for the two of us. I was used to confident horses who were willing to try and wanted to please. She was afraid to try anything different and wanted to be asked to do things in exactly the way she was used to. Given I was learning, that wasn’t a bad trait—if she didn’t get so upset when I didn’t get it right.


glory 2-1


Several times I was tempted to give up on her and find an easier horse, but I’m stubborn and persisted. I bought the softest brushes and curries I could find and used them gently. We worked with a trainer on her pulling back and made good improvement. (Unfortunately, that’s habit that rarely goes away entirely.) She gradually got used to my other horses and found her place in the herd. In fact, in later years she took over the “protector” role.

It took years and lots of work, including alternative energy methods, to get her to really trust me. Eventually, she did accept that she had home and was not going to be sent away again. We learned to work together under saddle and she was a delight to ride. She remained a powerful, athletic horse with spectacular gaits, up until the Cushings hit.

I miss my Glory girl, and hope she’s been reunited with Portia and Koko beyond the rainbow bridge. A piece of my heart goes with her.



Forewarning Cover

Healing is her life. Will it be her death?


Wyoming Cover - 4x6 - #2.

Wyoming Escape
Two dead bodies. One dirty cop.
Is she next?


Cover - Images - 2.

 Images – A Love Story
She’s learned to hide from life.
Should she hide from him?


Connect with Kate Wyland:
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/katewyland
Website : http://katewyland.com


Posted in Animals, Death, Friends, Grief, Horses, Memories, Sayin goodbye, unique | 19 Comments

Imagine It

your Profile PhotoThis post by Jennifer Flaten

For as much as I read, I am not that good at writing descriptive passages myself.

Actually, that applies to telling stories too, I can see the picture in my head, but getting words out is hard.

Here is a perfect example, in sixth grade a male friend of mine confessed he had a crush on one of my friends. I said I would talk to my friend and let her know that he liked her. So on the bus that night I told Tori that Chris liked her.

Her first question “what is he like”

Okay I could see exactly what Chris looked like in my head; but my answer? “Well, he’s wearing a red coat”.

She gave me a disgusted look and said “That’s not what I meant”. Yes, I suppose it wasn’t. Too bad she couldn’t see my mental image.

I still struggle with that to this day, for characters I am writing about I can see them clearly in my head, but I just can’t seem to get that to translate onto the paper.

Is describing characters easy for you or do you struggle like me?

Browse my jewelry on Dragon and Butterfly


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Remembering the birth of the Nuclear Age

1-Mike Staton

Written by Mike Staton.

Two dates in August seventy-one years ago.

The sixth and the ninth of August 1945. Not many people alive today were also alive back then. Those old enough to remember are at least in their late 70s or in their 80s. The rest of us… we only knew the dates through newsreel footage, brittle newspaper or magazine headlines or books on World War II.

Two bombs dropped from B-29 bomb bays, two Japanese cities leveled.

Seven decades later, historians still debate the number of dead and wounded as a result of President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bombs. The best estimates: 150,000 killed and wounded in Hiroshima, 75,000 in Nagasaki. The experts say those numbers are overly conservative. But how can you really know… when the great fires raging in the cities consumed many bodies.

Mushroom Cloud over Hiroshima

The telltale mushroom cloud rises above the city of Hiroshima, Japan.

Back in the day we used to debate whether or not those two bombs should have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’ve heard some say that detonating a bomb off the coast of Japan would have spurred them to surrender. Leaflets dropped all over Japan would have read: “See what we can do to your cities.”

Yet I’ve read the historical accounts. How the fight-to-bitter-end faction of generals tried a coup d’état to prevent the emperor from accepting the terms of surrender. Those diehard military men from the Ministry of War and the Imperial Guard were willng to accept a rain of atomic bombs rather than undergo the humiliation of surrender. And I know the U.S. was preparing to invade the Japanese mainland, an offensive that could cost as many as 750,000 American casualties and three times as many Japanese.

So I do understand Truman’s decision to drop the bombs. And no doubt Truman meant the bombing missions as a warning to future adversaries. We did it twice… we could do it again if attacked. A brutal mission delivered by American leaders hardened by four years of brutal war against Imperial Japan, Mussolini, and the Nazis.

Hiroshima's peace park

Modern Hiroshima has a peace park.

Back in the early 1980s I read a science fiction book that offers up an alternate world where the United States actually invaded mainland Japan. Written by Alfred Coppel, the novel’s titled The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan. Coppel presumes a what-if. Suppose the Trinity atomic bomb test in New Mexico had failed and Truman had to order the invasion to proceed. It was a riveting book, and brought home just how devastating an invasion of the Japanese homeland would have been. Yes, we would have prevailed, but at great cost.

Baby-boomers like me can remember the nuclear attack alerts that took place in school. Sometimes we took cover under our desks. Other times we were allowed to rush home. Things got scary in the fall of 1962 – the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was nine years old, a few weeks from turning 10. Mom and dad went out and got war supplies – nonperishable canned goods, etc. – in case the Russians attacked us. It was weird seeing the stacks of canned goods lined up against the hallway walls in our Rialto, California, home.

Thankfully, those days are passed. While the world is still a dangerous place with Putin rattling his saber and terrorists hatching plots, it’s not like the 1950s and 1960s when our bombers flew constantly in the air and our missile silos were on 24-hour alert.


Want to know what an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have cost? Read this book.

We and Russia still have thousands of nuclear weapons. Other countries are nuclear powers as well – United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, Israel and possibly North Korea. Online sources say 16,300 nuclear weapons in all. It remains a very dangerous world, just remember that. A miscalculation like what happened to start World War I, and mushroom clouds can bloom all over the world. Remember Carl Sagan and his Nuclear Winter scenario? Not a world I want to live in, if by chance I’m not turned to ash.

# # #

Get out of your reading rut. It’s time to try something new. My suggestion? Fantasy. Three fantastic novels — The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. I’m the author. They’re available at the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Posted in unique | 23 Comments

Of J. C. Penney, Robert Redford, and a Return to Civilized Dining






Posted by Kathy Waller


Writing this post won’t be easy.

ernestandkathy9 (2)

Ernest pinning down left arm

Sixteen pounds of Ernest lies across my right forearm, pinning it to the arm of the recliner. He’s on his side, positioned so he can turn his head and, with a moonstruck expression, gaze upside-down  into my eyes and/or reach across to pat my chest. At present, he’s making biscuits on my upper arm and, head thrown back, pushing with his chin at the mouse, which will soon fall to the floor. It doesn’t matter. With my arm weighed down, my fingers are the only movable part of that appendage, and they’re typing as fast as my brain can make up words. The mouse is purely decorative. I’m surprised to have gotten a whole paragraph down.

Well, no, not really surprised. We do this all the time. I say, “We’ve talked about this. You can’t lie on my arm when I’m using the laptop. So move.” He turns his head, gives me the coy But-I-wuv-you look, and thinks something like, Not on your old lady’s corset cover. I’ll move when I’m good and ready.

He’s good and ready when David brings bacon and eggs, or, rather, bacon and egg. David, bless him, has been providing chair service since I started chemo. I spent six months eating mostly Rice Krispies, because they tasted like what they were; David spent the same six months eating fruit and vegetables and ravioli out of cans, and Pita Pockets out of the freezer. I felt bad about letting him eat such shabby  meals until I realized he likes them. He’s just been polite enough (for twelve years) not to mention he prefers tinned pears to fresh.

Ernest is polite enough to raise himself up off my arm when I jiggle it sufficiently, but then he lies back down. While I eat, he watches and waits for crumbs to fall. If I were eating a biscuit, a muffin–anything that tends to shed–he would be crawling across me, snuffling my shirt. An iota of carbohydrate is enough to justify trawling.

English: Robert Redford in Barefoot in the Park

English: Robert Redford in Barefoot in the Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Public domain.

Crumbs don’t fall. After David removes the tray, Ernest removes himself to the back of the recliner, above my head. That’s his new favorite place. Stationed there, he can sleep, pat my head, run his claws through my hair, occasionally kick me with a strong hind leg.

I slept late this morning, caught up in a dream I still can’t shake. I was sitting on a bench outside a new J. C. Penney store, waiting for a train (the tracks ran right by the front door), and Robert Redford, who had performed at the grand opening, was sitting beside me. The actress who had appeared with him sat on my other side. The actress said something to Redford about the skit they’d just performed, and he shot back a deadpan response.

Up to that point, I’d been pretending they weren’t there, as is polite when one finds oneself sitting between celebrities one doesn’t know personally,  but his response was so funny that I clapped my hands over my face and guffawed. The actress said something else, and this time his reply was even funnier than before, and I guffawed even louder.

It was a dream, so whatever happened next made no sense. I did wonder how J. C. Penney managed to talk Robert Redford into opening a store. As to why I dreamed about Penney’s: Yesterday David told me that after a thirty-year hiatus, the company is again selling appliances. I have no idea why I dreamed the store doubled as a depot. I don’t know why I dreamed about Robert Redford, either. But who needs a reason?

English: J. C. Penney Building (Newberg, Orego...

English: J. C. Penney Building (Newberg, Oregon), USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Public domain.


After a brief pause, we return, my laptop and I in the recliner, Ernest on the chair back above my head. I’ve just been through the dry run for my first radiation treatment tomorrow. The most recent PET scan showed cancer in one lymph node, but no evidence of metastasis from it. Lesions are gone from the lungs. At this time, only the positive node will be treated. I was once told to anticipate results from all diagnostic tests would be better than expected. These results were exactly that. Peace of mind is no longer an option, but my expectations remain high.

Infusions continue, but the evil drug, the one officially classified as chemotherapy, was withdrawn nine weeks ago. Until it was stopped, I had no idea how rotten the previous months had been. Still, the side-effects I experienced were relatively mild–the side-effect of a positive attitude, perhaps. I feel better now, stronger, more interested in pushing a cart through the grocery store.

I’m not interested in cooking. Several weeks ago I made half a pot roast–I wore out after preparing the carrots, so David had to deal with the potatoes and onions–that turned out to be simply wretched. Last week I bought a chicken whose disposition is still hypothetical. The doctor told me radiation will probably make me feel very tired. I’ll wait to see what happens before taking back the kitchen.

But at some point, I’ll have to do the right thing. I’ll return to cooking. David and I will return to civilized dining. And deprived of chair service, Ernest will continue cutting off circulation to my fingers, making biscuits on my arm, running his claws through my hair, and kicking me with his strong hind leg–but with no hope at all of crumbs.

DSCN1843 (2)


Kathy Waller blogs at Telling the Truth, Mainly
and at Austin Mystery Writers.
Her short stories appear in Mysterical-E
and in Austin Mystery Writers’
crime fiction anthology, MOW cover - amazon pix
She is working on a mystery novel.

Posted in animal behavior, animal stories, Animals, cancer, Cats, Cooking, Health, unique, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments


Gayle_CHS booktable34This post by Gayle M. Irwin

On Saturday, I participated in the annual Community Appreciation event hosted by the Casper Humane Society (CHS). I joined about 20 other vendors in the CHS’s parking lot as we attempted to sell our wares. Jewelry, candles, clothing, household do-dads, gardening gadgets, and my books of course! graced the area. The shelter staff gave tours of the facility and promoted pet adoption, and food stuffs could be purchased for a minimal price. All this to thank the community for its support of a pet sheltering organization that has been part of the Casper, Wyoming area for nearly 60 years, and to remind residents that the group still needs support as it houses and cares for nearly 45 dogs and puppies and close to 90 cats and kittens. With Wyoming’s economy in the toilet due to the energy bust last year, not only are dogs and cats in need of new homes, but smaller animals like guinea pigs have also been taken in by the CHS, awaiting compassionate, loving human companions.

dog adoption

As most of you know, pet rescue is one of my passions, if not my highest one. I participated last year in the Community Appreciation event and was happy to do so again this year. Although I didn’t sell a truck load of books, I experienced decent sales, and was happy to sell several of the new Pawprints on my Heart books published last month by Sundown Press – having a new product is always a positive, especially when seeing readers and buyers of previous works. And, of course, the title of this short story collection was appropriate for this particular audience.

doeAfter the event, I joined my husband and our dog Mary at our cabin. The property is only 20 minutes from our home in town, so it’s an easy, fairly fast drive, even though I go from 5,200 feet in elevation to more than 8,000. Greg grilled our dinner and then I sat under some lodgepole pines and soaked in the quiet (the CHS event had music all day, so combined with talking to many people, the solace of Casper Mountain and our wooded acreage was very much welcomed!). I observed several mule deer during the course of the evening, including a doe with twins. Later, a large-racked buck (I saw at least 4 points on each side) sauntered through, and earlier, just prior to my arrival, a yearling doe greeted me on our access road (she’s the only one I got a picture of – the camera was in the car as I drove in but not beside me under the lodgepole; I’ll need to remember to have that with me no matter where I’m at on the property!).

As I watched the deer graze then sashay away, as I listened to the stillness of the woodland, and as I reflected upon a week that turned out to be a bit trying and tiring, I expressed appreciation to the Creator for many things, including the ability to help the CHS (I will be donating a percentage of my book sales back to the organization); the opportunity to engage new readers; the solace of my forested sanctuary; and the beauty in simplicity and nature, such as those fawns with their mamma and the majesty of the 4-point buck.

bird on branchWhen we are bombarded by difficulties, there are various pathways to choose, including anger, bitterness, and depression. Those are the easy roads. The toughest, yet most rewarding, I believe is to, instead, choose gratitude and forgiveness. There is always something for which to express, or at least reflect upon, appreciation. Here are some of the things for which I’m grateful this week:

  1. In light of the death of a friend’s father, I’m grateful to have been able to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday a few weeks ago, and I’m also grateful that, though my mother was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago, she is doing wonderfully well, having lost more than 30 pounds and kept her sugar levels in good control.
  2. In light of the natural disasters, such as wildfire and floods, my home and my cabin remain in tact.
  3. In light of the violence in our country, around the world, and even in my own community, my family is safe.
  4. In light of an aunt being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, my immediate family remains comparatively healthy.
  5. In light of the distressing economic situation in Wyoming, I have a job, my freelance writing career remains strong, and my husband has work relatively often. We live paycheck to paycheck, but, for now, we indeed have paychecks.
  6. In light of so many homeless people, my family is not, and should the political climate remain unhealthy and unsteady and the economy in Wyoming continue to tank to where Greg and I significantly lose income and therefore, our house, we are blessed with land and a small cabin which are completely paid for and in which we can reside if necessary.

I have many blessings, and I am grateful!

butterfly on trunkAdmittedly, I am prone to negativity and depression, envy and fear. After attending a very inspiring conference last week, I am re-filled, re-energized, and re-focused. I purchased a book by one of the speakers, renowned leadership guru John Maxwell; the book is called “Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters.” I’ve purposed myself to live that way, to not let negativity and worry consume me. I vow to live a more confident, purpose-filled life, and to be grateful for what I do have and not focus on what I don’t have. And, if I can change some of the “what I don’t haves,” through application, instruction, and inspiration, I will strive to do so. But, in the meantime, I commit to remember my blessings and to focus on my purpose and my passion, and anticipate seeing what amazing roads may lie behind the horizon.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

What are you grateful for today?



Gayle M. Irwin is an author and freelance writer who enjoys helping pet rescue organizations. She has written seven inspirational dog books for children and adults, and she is a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is also a contributor to Memories from Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart, published last month by Sundown Press. Additionally, she writes for a variety of magazines and newspapers and speaks in schools, at libraries, and for faith-based organizations. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small  Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Spirit of America book   Pawprints Book


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