The holiday season has arrived. You either love it or not. The Canadians are smart and celebrate Thanksgiving in October giving them a little breathing room before Christmas. Here in the U.S., the holidays can become overwhelming, especially if you are the family's chief organizer, cook, decorator, and shopper.
When I was a kid, it didn't seem so hectic. Of course, there were no such things as Black Friday, multi-story malls, online shopping, and all the electronic gizmos that get so much attention now. My go-to shopping centered around the Sears catalog, the five-and-dime store, and the toy department at the local department store. And that didn't start until after we'd finished the turkey and dressing.
Concentrating on one holiday at a time was much simpler, easier, and less stressful. I know this is an old-fashioned mindset, but seeing aisles of twinkling lights, ornaments, and giant Santas competing with Halloween candy clashes with my memories of excitement and anticipation waiting for my folks to finally bring out the boxes of Christmas decorations.
Nonetheless, Christmas will always be special. It was never about being on the run, going to events and such, but spending time with my parents, grandparents, and uncle. Being the only kids, my brother and I grabbed the spotlight on Christmas Eve when we exchanged presents. However, something else stands out in my recollections – tagging along with my mom and dad when they went "visiting."
I recall the absolute joy on the faces of the old folks when we gave them a plate of food and a little inexpensive gift. For some of them, we were their only guests during the holiday season. They were so thrilled. Their joy was contagious; I felt so good! I learned that giving is just as rewarding as receiving, and that's what Christmas is really about.
That lesson has stayed with me and never lost its appeal. I still get the warm fuzzies when I can spread some sunshine in someone else's life.
That was in the back of my mind when I wrote a Christmas book for Patchy and Calico. In Christmas with Patchy and Calico, the lovable dog and cat discover the true spirit of the holiday season.
The two friends find a wealth of chestnuts and receive lots of treats from their human mommy. They share their goodies with all the dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and deer they can find and learn that giving and sharing are just as much fun as receiving presents.
Patchy and Calico's acts of kindness also helped the four-legged detectives track down the mysterious gift snatcher who had stolen all the gifts from under everyone's Christmas trees. The trail leads them to an underground lair where they confront the thief and uncover the bully's secret.
Download the ebook or purchase the print edition to uncover what drove the gift snatcher to do his dastardly deeds. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy reading these humorous stories. I'm sure it will make you smile.
Have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas!!!!
Christmas with Patchy and Calico
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The Elyrian Emergence has been my only foray into the science fiction genre. I chose to tell this story the way I did because of my interest in metaphysics and spiritual psychology. In Metaphysical Minute, I define Metaphysics as “a fluid and wondrous approach that allows you and me to explore the same waters without prejudice or rules and receive from them the substance we need for our individual spiritual growth. Like the ocean, it is forever changing and forever constant. Universal laws always apply, but it is our use of them that changes. It is our use of them that reflects our spiritual growth. Unless we go beyond the physical to find the intimate connection that exists between our state of being and that which we call God, Source, Allah, or simply Creator, we cannot grow in spirit.” [Williamsen, 2006, p. 7]
Although The Elyrian Emergence is science fiction, the psychological struggles of the main characters, Milo, DeLana, Dylan, and Humphrey, are as real as those with which you and I often struggle. The darker forces will always be there in our lives, and conscious choice is required to avoid their influence.
Unfortunately, we can sometimes, in our complacency, fail to understand that good and evil create a balance. The power, the shift in the balance, comes from our choices: choosing good over evil or evil over good.
A Brief Blurb on the Story for You
Located in the Andromeda Galaxy, the planet Galen is unique in that it hosts only one country: Elyria. The principles on which this civilization was founded many centuries ago are demonstrated by the choice of names for the planet and their country. The names have metaphysical meanings, giving them importance beyond simple nomenclature.
Elyria is the only country on the planet of Galen which is in the Andromeda Galaxy. Galen meaning calm and Elyria meaning blessed place demonstrate the foundation upon which this civilization was founded many centuries ago. The inhabitants of Galen escaped from their ancient planet before it imploded as the result of their destructive policies. The mission of the Founders, those who orchestrated the means of escape, was to develop a civilization based on the philosophy of Self-Emergence.
On the surface, it seems to be working until the Karons, the sensitives who monitor the global energies, detect a negative shift in consciousness. The Karons’ visions shake those in charge from their complacency and send them scrambling to curb the decline, which it appears has been engineered by someone with an inordinate amount of power.
The questions this team of people find themselves asking are these: Can we stop this before it’s too late? How could we have not seen how vulnerable we are?
The ultimate question is whether Elyria will wake up and realize that Self-Emergence is a forever journey, one where fear of the mistakes of the ancient planet has no place. It is a journey that does not allow resting on one’s laurels, whether as an individual or a civilization.
When I was around four or five years old, I had a terrifying experience.
My family arrived at my great aunt and uncle's house. After the obligatory hug and kiss to my relatives, I headed for my favorite spot underneath the gigantic tree that shaded their side yard. I didn't get there, though. Instead, I froze in mid-step when an axe tumbled down from one of the limbs. It hovered above the ground, moving up and down like it was waiting to chop me up.
No one believed my tale, but for me, it was a real memory.
It's silly now, but at the time, it was a big deal. That's the closest I've ever come to witnessing a supernatural event. It may not have included an apparition or ghostly figure, but it scared the heck out of me. Needless to say, from that time onward, I kept my distance from the tree.
A few years later, while watching a rerun of The Addams Family, the same scene played out across the TV screen. The infamous axe hung suspended in midair under a tree limb. However, this time, I saw the (supposedly invisible) wires moving it up and down.
Wow, my parents had been right – the whole thing was only a dream. My traumatic experience amounted to nothing more than a false memory implanted in my young mind by a 1960s television show. What an epiphany! I'd figured it out. Sigmund Freud would have been proud of me.
However, fifty-five years after my awe-inspiring insight, I'm still debating the existence of ghosts and mysterious apparitions. Are they real or subliminal ideas programmed in our brains? The existence of spirits has remained a hot topic over the centuries – ever since people began narrating tales around a campfire.
Is There Any Wonder So Many Folks Believe in Ghosts?
We're indoctrinated in spooky stuff from an early age. Halloween, for instance, is an unofficial national holiday.
Halloween's origin dates back to the fifth century BC and the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-in).
The Celts believed the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead opened during Samhain. Ancestors and other spirits were expected to cross over and stir up trouble. To keep the fairies away from their homes, the Celts left offerings outside the village. To prevent the ghosts from kidnapping any living beings, the villagers dressed up in animal skins and heads, disguising themselves as monsters.
I wonder if the first Celt who stuck an animal skull over his head ever realized he was starting a fad that would still be practiced 2500 years later.
After the Romans took control of Britain, they merged the Samhain festival with two of their own. On the last day of October, the celebration of Feralia commemorates the passing of the dead.
The festival of Pomona honors the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Her sacred symbol was the apple. Part of the celebration was to grab hold of a dangling apple without using any hands, hence the origin of bobbing for apples.
Many years later, the early Christians discovered they couldn't stop pagan celebrations, so they replaced them with religious alternatives. To replace the Celtic/Roman festival of the dead, November 1 was designated All Saints Day to honor Christian saints and martyrs, and the night before turned into All Hallows Eve. The rest we already know.
Halloween traditions have changed over the centuries. Thank goodness! We can all be glad that animal hides and heads have been replaced with less graphic costumes, and most folks don't really believe that fairies and spirits come out to play on October 31. (You don't, do you?)
In any case, during its transition from a Druid ritual to a night of fun for the kids, Halloween has picked up a hodge-podge of other traditions from the old world, such as trick-or-treat and jack-o-lanterns.
What I love most about Halloween are the ghost stories. Some of the tales, myths, and legends have survived for eons. Others are more modern and easier to believe. I added A Ghostly Adventure to the Patchy and Calico children's book series a few years ago because everybody loves Halloween. The spooky holiday opened up so many ways the two principal characters could get in trouble. What better adventure could they undertake than to go hunting for a ghost and actually find one?
A clumsy yet adorable turkey buzzard named Elmer crashes his way into Patchy's great ghost hunt and makes life very interesting for the dog and cat. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens.
Anyway, I hope you have a happy Halloween. Be careful out there. Watch out for those stray ghosts or goblins hanging about!
Patchy and Calico's
A Ghostly Adventure
Available from Amazon
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Kindle and Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0175CAORO/
Universal link - http://viewbook.at/pandcghostlyadventure
Targeting Your Potential with a Fearless Attitude
It’s a gift to be able to express oneself poetically. Unfortunately, I was never granted the talent to communicate my feelings, thoughts, and desires through verse. However, I was fortunate enough to know someone who could.
My late husband, Robert, had the gift. Over a span of 50+ years, he penned rhyming poems, free verse, epic tales, and haiku. As a professional pilot, his travels around the world inspired much of his work. From the deserts of Namibia to the mountains of Peru, Bob visited with the native peoples and listened to their tales. Their cultures, traditions, and closeness with the land taught him to see and appreciate the natural world through their eyes. His experiences inspired much of his longer pieces but also instigated his experimentation with haiku.
Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry limited to 17 syllables and divided up into three lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second has seven, and the third has five. This type of poetry is typically written to celebrate nature. The short verses use descriptive language so the reader can see, feel, hear, smell, or taste what the poet is experiencing.
It takes a lot of patience, practice, skill, and talent to master this form of writing, but Bob had all those attributes. His deep appreciation and fascination with nature come to life in his haiku. The simple three-line poems reveal the deep-thinking side of the poet who cherished all aspects of beauty in nature and life.
Robert’s haiku focuses on the seasons and the joy he felt observing the beauty in nature we oftentimes overlook. His collection of verses offers a glimpse into the soul of one who appreciated and loved all the facets of our natural world. His attention to the smallest details allows us to experience the world around us through our senses.
A couple of years ago, I organized his poetry into an ebook called Blossoms in the Snow. Regrettably, it only contains a portion of his poems. Some of his earlier work suffered from water damage, others were so old the ink had faded away, while other pieces just disappeared into thin air. I’m sorry I cannot share all his work; however, I hope you enjoy the ones that remain.
Here are a few of his autumn-themed haiku.
Trees in bright color
Red leaves fall from autumn trees
Sweet sadness of heart
Soft rain falls from skies
With season’s bright yellow leaves
And washes my tears
Sharp scent of wood smoke
Taste of apple on my tongue
Tell me of past days
Black birds with bright eyes
Fly from umber-stubbled fields
Under cold blue skies
Golden sun in cloudless skies
Weaving gentle spells
Dry leaves cover ground
Trees in yellow finery
Fields in shades of brown
Open road beckons
Cool wind blows in face and hair
Wheels sing a sweet song
Wet leaves cover road
Few drops of rain on face shield
Warm arms around me
Available from Amazon
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Universal link - http://viewbook.at/blossomsinthesnow
"Life is like a patchwork quilt. Each patch, each experience, each life is connected
to all the others by the threads that bind them together." — The Book of Metanoia
In my article last month on Second Chances, I mentioned how my original book expanded during the rewrite until I realized I had two novels instead of one. I have to say the generation of The Threads That Bind was a surprise to me. I just felt that there was a legacy in the making in Second Chances, and it simply flowed. The characters in these two books are bound together through three generations by a common thread of paranormal abilities that can empower or destroy. The battle that began with Fredrika (Freddie) Marsh drew all those after her into a final confrontation between those compelled by their gifts to seek power in the outside world and those motivated to use them as tools to increase their inner power.
The first novel was perhaps more action-oriented than the second. I would classify The Threads That Bind as a character-driven novel. I enjoyed both styles, but felt that the shift was necessary. There were times when I was writing about the evil characters in these books that I had to take a break because their personalities were overwhelming me. There were times when I cried with my characters and times when I laughed with them just as I would have if they were literally in the room with me.
When you have an antagonist in one book and yet another in the second, you wonder if you can handle it. Sandy Wolters’ reaction touched my heart. “ I just can't believe that an author has the ability to make a reader revile a character in such a way and then change that emotion to complete and utter compassion.”
I appreciated Alex Canton’s recognition of why I used first person for one of my characters. “The author's use of the first person to handle one of the lead female characters sensitizes the reader to the character's search for a maternal identity. Add the fantastic knowledge of clinical psychology necessary to handle the mechanics of mind reading and dealing with such concepts as "alternate reality vs. virtual reality" and "TRV—technical remote viewing—a path connecting to Jung's collective unconscious." The former makes the whole plot believable.”
Annarita Guarnieri picked up on the psychological aspect of this novel. “And there are the characters, fully and artfully developed, and their interaction that offers to the author the occasion to delve deeply in the workings of the human mind … This is one of those novels that, once read, stay with you forever because the characters are so alive and real, the story so mesmerizing, that it is impossible to forget either.”
Writing both these novels fed my addiction for the high you feel from being so intimate with the thoughts and feelings of your characters, who have become totally real to you. I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did!
Could a carbon copy of you and me exist in another dimension? If so, would we look the same, do the same things, or know and interact with the same people?
On the other hand, would you and I exist yet live different lives where decisions and outcomes vary from what happens here in our world? All those shoulda, coulda, and woulda types of wishes become the new reality, along with a different list of regrets.
Do parallel or alternate universes exist?
I've read conflicting definitions of parallel/alternate realities. Some sources lump the two together as a hypothetical self-contained plane of existence in a different space and time, co-existing with one's own.
However, multi-verse advocates separate the two as different entities. "A parallel universe would be a completely separate universe, possibly containing similar characters or facts, but definitively a separate entity. An alternative universe would likely take place in the same universe, but with altered facts."
While writing House on Bo-Kay Lane, my muse decided to experiment with the multi-universe theory and included an older version of Gerald into the story.
For those unfamiliar with the original Wee People story, Gerald and Vernon are teenagers who accidentally fall into the world of the Wee People and must survive some perilous situations before being allowed to return to their own world.
The adventures continue in the second book when a couple of Wee People far-seers, Alyson and Shelia, stick their noses where they don't belong and wind up in an abandoned house in Gerald and Vernon's neighborhood. The far-seers' mode of transportation is a mirror that turns out to be a gateway to Gerald and Vernon's dimension and a significant artifact from the Wee People's past. Of course, my muse added an additional mystery within the depths of the mirror—the image of a stranger.
After the first chapter, I had no idea where the story was headed. Someone else (my muse) was in charge and writing it. She told my fingers what to type, keeping me in the dark until I was granted the privilege of reading the material. And that's the truth!
When the time came to identify the stranger, I was totally taken by surprise. It's difficult to express the shock I experienced when my muse ended chapter seven with this: Gerald faced the questioning faces and simply stated, "I am the man in the mirror."
I stared at the monitor with my mouth hanging open, thinking, where in the world do I go from here? Naturally, at that point, my muse vanished, leaving me to wait until the following day to find the answer.
That's when the parallel universe plot twist came into play. Amazingly, she picked up the storyline, blended Gerald II's alternate existence in with the rest of the characters, and made sense out of my confusion.
Of course, the twists, turns, adventure, mystery, and surprises continued until the end of the book. I was pretty dazed by that time, but I have to admit, my muse wrote a pretty good tale. If you haven't read it yet, please do and let me know what you think.
Available at Amazon.com
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Amazon Author Page
I am against banning books! I believe no one has the right to tell me what I can or cannot read.
Actually, if a novel with which I’m unfamiliar comes under scrutiny, the negative publicity serves as an open invitation to check it out. I’d have to read it to see what the fuss is all about.
Readers, young and old alike, must have the opportunity to form their individual thoughts on topics such as historical people and events, racial issues, religion, death, gender, or sexuality. There is no “one and only” opinion. Life cannot be censored to suit the views of egocentric bullies.
What really angers me is the latest ploy undertaken by government officials to take this another step into the abyss by passing laws regulating public libraries. In Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas, librarians risk prosecution and possible jail time for providing access to banned books to school-aged readers.
Librarians have become targets of those who believe children or teens shouldn’t have access to books dealing with controversial subjects. It’s sad to think these open-minded role models are being wrongfully accused of misguiding children and promoting pornography. Worse, they’re being punished, even though they’re doing nothing wrong.
PEN America found that attempts to ban or restrict access to books from school and public libraries since 2020 have shattered previous records. In addition, over 80% of the 1,648 books banned from schools in 2021 and 2022 focused on or featured LGBTQ+ characters and people of color.
A Washington Post article reported that just 11 people are responsible for more than 60 percent of book challenges in the 2021-22 school. Some of the serial filers were volunteers representing conservative parents groups such as Moms for Liberty. Most of the complaints targeted books about sexuality because “reading books about LGBTQ people could cause children to alter their sexuality or gender.”
No matter how absurd the reasoning, libraries much conform to the new laws, or else face the consequences. Missouri libraries have begun to remove graphic novels and comics, as well as books about art history, the Holocaust, and photography. Disappearing from the shelves are books such as:
On a brighter note, Illinois is the first state to propose legislation that will punish public institutions that ban books. The bill states that for public libraries, including those in public schools and universities, to remain eligible for grant funding, they must adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights or their own written statement prohibiting the banning of books.
The Library Bill of Rights was first drafted by library director Forrest Spaulding in 1938 to speak out against the “growing intolerance, suppression of free speech and censorship affecting the rights of minorities and individuals.” One year later, the American Library Association adopted the document as a guide for librarians in serving their communities and protecting the rights of all patrons. It has since evolved to include book banning, race and gender discrimination, and exhibit spaces.
Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t stop the complainers. More than 1,200 challenges were compiled by the association in 2022, nearly double the then-record total from 2021. Liberals targeted some books because of racist language (Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). Still, the vast majority of complaints came from conservatives focusing on works written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.
As the hype continues, librarians face increasing pressure to bend to the demands of narrow-minded politicians and parents. However, all is not lost. The American Library Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and more than a dozen other organizations have formed a coalition to fight the nationwide wave of book bans and challenges.
Unite Against Book Bans also includes the publishers Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan, the Authors Guild, and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Their combined resources help community members to draft petitions, develop questionnaires for political candidates, and design graphics for social media.
Libraries provide a safe haven with no strings attached. Everyone is welcome. Knowledgeable and helpful experts are always willing to answer questions and help you find what you want. I hate to see this institution destroyed by ignorance. We all need to support our librarians. Let them know they are still respected and admired and will be forevermore.
Second Chances was my debut novel. A rather long learning curve preceded this effort. I had always loved writing, but I never considered it as a potential career when I was young. The first story I wrote was titled “My Name and I.” This came about when my family moved as I was going into the eighth grade. At that time I was called Dannye Sue. Unfortunately, my new teacher refused to call me by my full name, insisting Dannye was a boy’s name. In turn, I refused to answer the roll call until she finally gave in. It so happened that the high school newspaper ran a short story contest for the eighth grade classes. I couldn’t help myself. I wrote “My Name and I” and won first place. It was published in the following issue!
After that sweetly rewarding experience, I wrote poems as an outlet for my emotions or in answer to requests by others. Later, I wrote a manual on Technical Analysis for brokers in the commodity trading industry and various pieces related to other jobs I had. However, in 1997, I sat down to see if I could write a full length novel. I had always been interested in human psychology and for the nearly two decades prior in metaphysics. So, it was natural that these interests would inform my writing in this major undertaking.
It was so exciting! I would quit in the evening and inform my husband, “You’ll never guess what Darian did?” I very much felt like my characters were writing the book. I managed to make my way to the end of the book. Fortunately, it only took a short while for me to realize how much I had to learn. As soon as life allowed, I sat down to do a rewrite and change the title. As you might imagine, my enthusiasm created a massive tale! Unfortunately, my husband and I were in process of creating a 5 CD audiobook and making plans to move out of state, so I put my novel on the back burner. Just as I thought I was ready to make the move to transform my tale into two novels, my husband had a stroke. I was beginning to think that my future as a writer was cursed!
However, I prevailed and completed my rewrite and edit on Second Chances and on the second half of the tale, The Threads That Bind, which takes place 39 years later.
Below are some of my earlier reviews of Second Chances.
Is there really evil in the world? Yes. It goes by the name of Darian. I want to start out by saying that I am a paranormal junkie. This book, SECOND CHANCES by DANNYE WILLIAMSEN, is so much more than your everyday paranormal read. There are no vampires. There are no werewolves, although there is a wolf, Avatar, with a very interesting back story.
Second Chances has a character, Darian, who is so evil, yet the author found a way to write his story that compels the reader to feel sorrow and sympathy for him. The writing in this book was scintillating!
This is quite simply one of the best paranormal thrillers I have read. Second Chances grips the reader from the outset and carries them along in a huge tide of eloquent, flowing style, intriguing characters, and heart-hammering plot.
Centering around two characters: Darian and Fredrika, Dannye Williamsen's novel is not merely about good versus evil. It examines the complexity of human characteristics and demonstrates that fate and circumstance play their part, too. Both characters have substance. Fredrika represents goodness and has a well-balanced strength. Darian is truly disturbing, yet fascinating. He is bent on destruction, but salvation could be around the corner if only Fredrika is willing to accept his conditions and, indeed, him.
Dark, deep, and filled with protagonists you can both love and hate, feel sorry for and wish they are defeated, this is the one book I don't think will be easily put aside or forgotten. Once you have read it, you still need time to think about it.
Ms. Williamsen brings her characters to life with depth and dimension. Each character is multi-faceted, coming to life on the page. The narration flows so well it is hardly noticed, and the dialogue is realistic. Beautifully edited and presented, the book is easy to get lost in. I did. I was unable to put it down.
Dannye Williamsen presents a classic and terrifying battle between good and evil in Second Chances. Fredrika thinks she is losing her mind as unexplained happenings begin to pile up around her. Darian can't explain why Fredrika is so compelling to him. As the mystery and terror grow and grow, Fredrika and Darian identify and then confront the yin and yang of good and evil. The adversaries learn that every heart holds both good and evil, and none of us are willing to destroy any piece of our own heart. Will Fredrika survive her challenges? Will Darian devolve into pure evil? You'll have to read to the very end to find out. And after turning that last page you'll be reaching for the first page of the sequel, The Threads That Bind.
You can read more reviews at https://www.dannyewilliamsen.com/second-chances.html .
It is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Second-Chances-Dannye-Williamsen/dp/097260586X
I will read forever because it lets me visit in my mind the worlds that I will never be able to see; it helps me put away the stresses of the day and relax into the rhythm of the story before me; it lets me bring to the surface and experience without regrets those feelings I hide away; it lets me re-experience the thrill of first love through someone else's eyes; it keeps my mind juiced so that it will never desert me; it is always there for me even when there's no one else. I will read forever no matter whether it is print or digital because the words will always call to me. ~ A Sassy Scribbler