America the Beautiful

So I went off Facebook on Thursday. Before I did, I wrote  a post letting people know that  I was turning it off for a while, and that my heart hurt.

It hurt a lot.

I was ashamed to be an American, that’s how much it hurt.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

(Note, from America, by Kathrine Lee Bates, 1914 version)

I wasn’t seeing a lot of good on Facebook. Or a lot of brotherhood. Well… except for people that are just like them. The Paris attacks, we had 24hour coverage of. And I understand that we hold a strong affection for Paris. It’s the city of dreams for many of us. We’ve either gone there, or dreamed of going there. What happened was horrific, and reminded many of 9/11…

But what about all the other tragedies that happened that day? November 13,2015 was a horrible, horrible day in world history. In simple human lives lost. And yet…. I’ve only seen 1 news outlet even touch the fact that only Paris received the heart rending support.

Then the hate began.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

(America, Kathrine Lee Bates, 1914 version.)

People seem to forget that we are “the melting pot”. That we are a nation built (or stolen) on immigration. Ask the Native American’s if the Pilgrims are the hero of their story– or the villain. We have a long history with immigration, and it’s not always pretty.

Why does history matter when we’re dealing with a different enemy? (I actually read this and almost cried at the stupidity). Well, history might not tell us a lot about the current enemy. But it sure shines a light on us. And it’s not the  flattering, Hollywood set lighting either. It is harsh and ugly.

The memes that I’m talking about are basically sheep bleating to keep the wolves away. Only, they’re not keeping out the wolves. If you want to see the numbers break down, then go and check out Scalzi’s post on it here  He says it much better and more concisely than I can.

So, basically, we’re screwing the families. Just like we did to the Jewish immigrants before we stepped into WWII. We turned them away, as did other countries. And their boat had to go back to Germany. We sentenced them to death. Make no mistake about it. Our fear, our sheep mentality, cost people their lives.

And people are ok with making that mistake again. Forget what lady liberty has inscribed:

“Inscription on the Statue of Liberty”

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Author: Emma Lazarus

Just take that and throw it out the window. What we claim to hold dear is not, after all, dear to us. We want to slam our doors to the huddled masses, to people who have left everything behind to try and flee to safety… and people are ok with letting them go back to an enemy we hate. We’re not only ok with it…

We’ll one up it.

Yes, it has been suggested that we keep a “database” on Syrian refugees. Really? Really? Do you want them to sew a gold star onto their clothes as well? Or tattoo a number on their arm? Or maybe we should incarcerate them upon entry into the US because of their ancestry, regardless of if they are innocent. Or Americans. The worst deeds done in recent human history, and some people are not only willing, but eager to repeat them.

Never mind what it says in America:

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

See that. Those ideals we hold so dear…. Talking about the military and MERCY.



Something that is sadly lacking on Facebook right now. And it’s not only the froth that’s coming out on their pages. It’s the bullying that goes on with it. If you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot. All liberals are flighty ditz balls who don’t like the military (to which I say bite me). Ban the Syrians! Let me keep my guns! Go away!

Give me a freaking break.

So I’m taking a break from Facebook. Because it broke my heart.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

(America, by Kathrine Lee Bates, 1914 version)

Hopefully, God will shine his grace on us. Even though we are so undeserving right now. We’ve thrown brotherhood right out the window, and a lot more of what we hold dear. Maybe if the news could just report the actual, you know, news… instead of a candidates views of it, things would get better.

Or you know. If people would get their faces out of Facebook, and actually put a book in their face. Or talked with people. Had an honest debate with no name calling…

Yah. Instead, I’ll be on Twitter. Or with my face in a book.




Character Letters

There are so many ways to get the creative juices flowing, and having your character write a letter is one of them. Yesterday, I woke at 3am with a heavy heart. I miss writing fiction, and my son wants me to try again at the real novel length…. so I wrote a letter to the character of the first novel I ever completed. Yes, I write my imaginary friends letters. Here it is:

Dear Alexandria Draconia, Mistress of the Dragons,

I miss you. I miss having you inside my head, living under my skin and behind my eyes. You were my first, and best, alter ego.

I am dreaming of riding dragons again.

I first “met” you while in college. You proved my instructor wrong, when he said not to even attempt genre, because most in the class couldn’t sustain it. He allowed me to write you, though. Mom loved your story, what was written before she died. And you were with me, grieving as well, when she died my senior year. Writing with you got me through the darkest days I had ever known at that point.

You’ve always been more than a character to me. More than an imaginary friend. It’s been 20 years and more, and still I miss you terribly. Hell, I’m writing a letter to my imaginary super hero.

Yes, super hero. You live in an Epic Fantasy setting, ride dragons and kick ass. But I’ve never been able to go all in for the super heroes. Super Girl is ok, and so is Wonder Woman. But as much as I want to love them, I just can’t.

I have my superhero. She wears trousers, not an ice-skating skirt– because trousers are more practical. She flies– on a dragon. And she carries a sword.

She’s not invulnerable. She kicks ass precisely because she does not commit to battle unless she is willing to die for it.

I need my super hero back.  I’m trying to raise my son the best way I can, but sometimes I get overwhelmed. (Although, I have raised him to believe in & love dragons) Pops is asking me to go through photos, and it’s a heart wrenching job because of why he wants to go through them now.

I was in over my head when I first wrote your story. I had no clue about world building, how to add depth and feeling. My writing style is still kind of sparse, but I’m getting better. I don’t know if I have the skills to do you justice this time around or not… But I do know that if I never try, it will never be written.

I also know a really great editor now, too.

I haven’t written a novel length work to completion in over a decade. I’ve been sprinting lately. But I think it’s time. Don’t you?

I want to ride a dragon, feel the wind in our hair.

I wrote nonfiction and poetry over the summer. I needed to deal with the situation with Dad and my own issues without the veil of fiction. It was very therapeutic– like writing in a journal, with more intent. But now, now I need my Super Hero back. Someone I can believe in, even if she happens to be fictional. When the chips are down, she always come through.



Now, that would be so freeing, even if that’s the only thing that happened. But soon after, I received a (wrong number)  text that read “Congratulations Alex! Call me if you’re up!”  For some reason, I think the universe is telling me something….

Review: Mini Maker Fair @ Barnes and Noble (ALT Title: Princeling Learns to Stand his Ground

So all of this weekend, Barnes and Noble are doing a Maker Fair all across the country. It’s a really cool idea, and when we went yesterday we had a blast. For the most part. The Princeling was REALLY EXCITED because he wants to be an engineer or a scientist when he grows up.

They have 3 different types of things scheduled:

Make Workshop: Demos of products like 3d printers, little bitty robots and such. The Princeling really enjoyed seeing the things that came out of a 3d printer… but none of the patience to do it. It has such small fillaments… and it takes sooo long. But still, very interesting! So we the little robots we saw, that you could program with pens.

Meet the Maker: Umm… we didn’t stay for any of this. Sorry!

Make & Collaborate: This, in theory, was an AWESOME idea! But they forgot one thing… At most commercial stores, when there is a MAKE event (Toys R Us, Home Depot), the event is free… and the kids get to take home the project. I’m not saying that the Itty Bits (small electoral do-hickeys that were super cool!) should go home with kids for free. I understand that they are super expensive. But you know what? Lego has free Make & Takes with Toys R Us. I bet they would have done it for you too.

The staff was great, but a little bit overwhelmed. The reason why is also the reason why Ray almost left before he had accomplished his little Lego Mini-Bionicle. Because really, saw some awesomely bad parenting. Or greedy, pushy kids. Which is the result of bad parenting.

First Rule of Store Events: You need to share, sweetie. This is not your home. This is not your birthday party, or a family event where you are everyone’s #1 Kiddo! And for the dad who thought it was AWESOME that his kid made some electrical doohickey the length of the table… Yah! Awesome! Your kid had all but 9 of the electrical Itty Bits set out. Those 9 had to be shared by 4 other kids. Your kid made something awesome… at the expense of other kids being able to make something awesome. And then to have your kid try to take something from another kid? You were right there, cheering him on. He might be the greatest scientist one day… But if you want him to have friends, too… He needs to learn to share. At least the kids at the Lego table didn’t have their parents with them, cheering their little greedy hearts on…

Which brings us to:

Second Rule of Store Events: Parents need to be with or near their children.  This is not free babysitting so you can go run into the mall, or talk on the phone somewhere far away from your child. My son is 9 and still I stayed near. The only time I was away, was when I went into the Science Fiction and Fantasy section (2 new books! Yay mommy!),  but I still had a line of sight on my kid.

And your kids, too.

The Lego table was very popular. Unfortunately, they were extremely underprepared for the amount of kids. Oh, they had body parts, and heads, and this and that. But only 10 of the cool blue and white things. And with you, dear parents not there, your kids A. Got Pushy and B. Got Greedy.

First with A. If your child looks to be 4 or 5…. where the heck were you? She shouldn’t have been at the table at all. And yes, my son is bigger than her. But she still right shoved him out of her way. What the heck? It was the final straw for him, because there were no cool parts that he needed. 8 of the 10 were being used by one kid.

Ray starts storming out. I appreciate the fellow shopper who was in the aisle with us and didn’t say a word. “But they’re taking everything, and keep pushing me out of the way!”

“Why aren’t you standing your ground?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to push and shove and hurt other little kids!”

“Sweetie, standing your ground is planting your feet and not moving. Besides, you’re taller than all these other kids and have a fantastic reach!”

I decided it was time to stand right behind him, not letting anyone shove him around. Just standing there, being immovable mom.

We ended up going back to the Lego table where the little monsters were learning that they couldn’t take home their creations (ha!). Some of the cool bits started coming back into play, and it was fun again. We saw the ozo bots? and the princeling got to make a track and try that. We went back to the electrical table and he played around some more with those. And little whirlygigs that went up into the sky. It was fun again.

All in all, it was a pretty good experience. People need to be aware that these events are for EVERYONE, though, and not just their special darling. And stay with your kids. Share the even with them, make some memories together.

All in all, I give the event itself 4/5 stars. Would have been 5 stars if there had been an actual Make and Take, which COME ON! Even Toys R Us, the most expensive toy store in the world does every once in a while!

They have an art thing coming up next weekend. Think we might need to see what’s up with that!

barnes and noble 2 barnes and noble stand your

Creation: Finished                                                         Learning to Stand his Ground

Ramblings about Writing….

So. I haven’t written any fiction since I finished my last one, Broken. I’ve written poems, and short nonfiction… but no fiction. At all.

There for a while, after my dad’s  stroke, I felt I needed to strip away that extra layer of protection. Fiction has always been me playing with ideas that bother me. Broken was written because I missed two of my friends dearly, and wanted to feel closer to them. It worked. But when dad had his health scare? I just couldn’t put that barrier up. I needed for it to be me and the words.

Right now I’m at a crossroads. I haven’t written even a poem since… well, since we went camping up in the Santa Cruz mountains. I’ve written letters. I’ve written a few blog posts… but the other stuff? Poetry and non fiction and fiction? Not so much.

Broken needs some work on it, and it will be December before I can ask, very sweetly and nicely, for my favorite editor to help me. I have a response from a publisher on it that tells me what they think I need to fix. And they weren’t wrong. So while my favorite editor pits herself against Nano Wri Mo, I may try to do some of it myself. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll take the characters out to play, write a new story.

I miss my imaginary friends. That sounds silly, but… it’s true. I also miss poems, and making the cards that I posted on Facebook…and writing my little travel stories. So many things, and the only thing holding me back is…


The Princeling will be with his  father tomorrow. All I have planned is to run down and throw stuff on layaway for Christmas. And the library (our library is AWESOME in that it is open on Sunday’s too!). I also have 2 stories that I’ve promised feedback on. I don’t do line edits, but I do pretty decent content editing. And then… well…

I’m going to set my butt in the chair and write.

To the Woman Dating My Ex….

Please know that what I have to say has little to do with jealousy. The man I left is not the man you are dating. That being said, there’s a history between he and I. And when it comes to our son, it informs my decisions. I try to make all my decisions be the best for my son. That’s why I have never bad talked his father to him, or allowed people to do so in The Princeling’s presence. I have always tried to keep that door wide open, so he could have a positive relationship with his father.


You might be the sweetest person in the whole world, the re-incarnation of Mother Teresa, and still I would say: I should have been consulted before my son met you. Period. That should be the end of the story, because really. It’s a fact. But I’ll let you in on a few secrets.

When most people see my son, they see a bright, happy friendly kid. The Princeling can make friends no matter where he goes. He is not shy, my son.

I get to witness the tempest, try to navigate its waters. You see, the Princeling has a neurological condition called Dyspraxia. And while many people look at him and see the surface, or only the bobbles of the motor skills… I get to deal with all of it.

Like the fact that he sobs uncontrollably for twenty minutes after his dad leaves. Don’t believe me? Ask his family. It’s happened over there. He feels, deeply and profoundly… but those feelings are not tempered by a normal neuro child. He has chased after his dad’s car. He has started to jump out of my car when his dad passed us. Poor impulse control, coupled with an emotional base that is not on par with his years. Welcome to dyspraxia.

Then there’s the sensory processing disorder. When things get too loud, he shuts down. He has gone to the ER with what was essentially a panic attack from a movie that was too much for him. I have held him to me, one ear pressed into my chest and the other ear covered by my hand. This is not something that happened to him, something that he learned. A semi-truck or motorcycle going past the house was enough to make him scream as a baby. We’ve learned ways to cope. He also has a weird reaction to pain: sometimes he doesn’t even feel it. And sometimes, no one knows because he will power through and save it for when he gets home. For me to take care of. His safe place. Which is why when he falls, and he will fall, you need to check him over.

Princeling is smart as a whip. I’ve had him tested, so I know. But he has problems getting it out, and doesn’t learn the way most do. Coupled with short term memory loss (please don’t ask him to remember your name), it makes learning a challenge for him. He’s also at the stage where being in that class is making him feel vulnerable, less than other kids. Add to that the fact that his speech is getting sloppy again, and he’s drooling just a bit again. Which leads to more teasing, which he has a hard time coping with. He keeps it all inside.

Yah. It isn’t easy being a dyspraxic.

Go to and poke around. Warren has a lot of great information on the site. Because dyspraxia is a great big grab bag full of wonderful chaos. If you’re going to be around my son, he deserves nothing but your very best effort at understanding him.

It isn’t easy. Even some family members don’t get it.

But that’s ok, with them. Because he has me, and other advocates in the family that have taken the time to learn about dyspraxia and deal with him

But when it’s just the four of you?

You’d better be on board. For his sake.

Because he’s worth it.

When Nightmares Come to Visit

Halloween was my favorite non-Christmas holiday for a long time. I loved decorating my room for it, actually had boxes of Halloween decorations. It was spooky and fun: a night to pretend to be someone other than yourself, and imagining that ghouls and goblins really are around the corner. I was living with my parents, going to Cal State… when I found out that not all Halloween Nightmares end.

I did not celebrate Halloween (other than handing out candy) from the time I was 24 until I was about 38. One year, during that time, I went over to my brother’s house to hand out candy while he and his wife took the boys out trick or treating. That first night started a tradition, a way of raising a toast…

You see… my mother, she who loved the very dry and sometimes tasteless British sense of humor died on Halloween.

That particular Halloween Nightmare— you don’t ever shake. You learn to live with it, but it’s always there. I can’t remember parts of that day– I must have blacked out while picking up a chair and throwing it at a window in the hospital. I remember many friends who helped, who made phone calls and came by the house to hold my hand while I made phone calls. I also remember going to the airport to secure the flights for my sister in Missouri and my brother who at the time was in Arizona.

My friend Jackie drove me. It was a good thing she was there, because I remember wanting to punch Raggedy Ann in the face. Yes, a lady at the ticket counter, dressed as Raggedy Ann gave your good old Wynelda Ann a temper overload. Jackie quietly stepped between us, defused the situation.

When we returned to the house, it was just getting dark. Trick or Treaters were starting to swarm the streets. The neighborhood that I loved, the holiday that I adored… suddenly was way too much. As a group came up, the kids just starting to come up the drive, I told the grown ups “no Candy.”

“No candy? What’s wrong with you?!!” It was someone I knew, someone I’d known since childhood. He probably meant it in a joking matter, but I couldn’t…

“Mom just died.”

I don’t know how he did it. But there were no trick or treaters that night. None.

My soul sister came in from Reno, spent that first Halloween night with me.

After that, I couldn’t get into the spirit of dressing up, of decorating. Halloween lost its appeal for me. Slowly, the boxes of decorations disappeared.

Then came the toast. It was quite a few years after Mom had died. I was watching the house and handing out candy for my brother, Charlie. They came home, and were separating out the candy. “Hey, a Butterfinger! That was mom’s favorite candy bar!” Soon came to find out, she would con me, my dad and Charlie into buying her just one candy bar… sometimes on the same day. She was diabetic, so if we had known… well. If we had known then what we know now, we would have bought her a bag of full size bars.

SItting there, on their living room floor, Charlie, Beth and I held a toast with Butterfingers, to Mom. It’s a ritual, a tradition now. Even when all I did for Halloween was hand out candy, I always made sure that I had a Butterfinger. Sometimes alone, sometimes with family.

And the tradition spread through parts of the family.

After all that, I’m here to tell you… Sometimes nightmares come to visit, and they don’t leave. But you can learn to live with them… and start enjoying what you once loved.

Because I have a child now. He’s 9 years old. I’ve dressed him up and taken him trick or treating, but haven’t decorated beyond the general fall decorations that my dad has. That changed this year. Princeling wanted to decorate. Please mom! Please!

Love the dollar store. Love it! Halloween items were a true BOGO, and we got a bunch. Mostly stuff he chose– a mummy hand, a skull candelabra centerpiece, signs for the yard, big spider and webbing… I tried to steer him away from outright demons and ghouls, because my dad… but he had fun!

But then there’s my 2 items. That’s right. My. Two. Items. I actually found 2 things that I thought were cute. And then they needed to be mine. And they were BOGO, so how could I not? They are black and purple and witchy and sparkly and they had to be mine. I’ve started up my decorating again… Last night, we watched the Dreamworks Scary/Spooky collections on Netflix and laughed our butts off.

This morning, I’ll go over to my neice’s house and raise the toast with Princeling, the niece and her family. We’ll probably also have the toast again tonight with Pappa.

It’s hard to learn to live with your nightmare. Hard to learn to walk everyday with it.

I plan to dance with it tonight. I think Mom would like that

My wish for you is that you give yourself time to learn the steps. It isn’t easy, it isn’t nice.

Living with grief is of like trick or treaters. Sometimes you’ll get a ghoul, and sometimes it will be a princess. But you always have the power to decide which candy you’ll feed your nightmare.

And there will come a time, either soon or in the distant future, where you can dance with your nightmare and celebrate the one you’ve lost. It takes a while.It takes a lot of ugly, messy tears before you can get to the point where you can remember them with joy and not want to ball.

But you’ll get there.

Broadening Horizons: Book Review of Reunited, A Cybil Lewis Story By Nicole Givens Kurtz

So I picked up something to read that I never in a million years would have imagined that I would love.

Reunited-Book Cover-1

Re-United, by Nicole Givens Kurtz. I know! I read a Sci-Fi title! Can you believe it? I haven’t read Sci Fi in too long, mainly because the titles that I picked up way back in the past seemed to sacrifice both character and plot for hard science. Or, you know, they’re all “The future sucks, we’re all going to die!”

But this story had everything that I love… Great story line, kick a** heroine and accessible story telling. I was caught up, and stayed captured for the duration. It’s great read, which means Kurtz doesn’t bounce you out of the story just to tell you how something whizbangcool works.

In a lot of ways, this reminded me of the urban fantasies that I love: Kim Harrison, Anne Bishop… only, you know… more mechanical and less magical. But here’s the thing… It reminded me that I actually started out loving Science Fiction. When I was a teeny bopper all those years ago, I’d check out Heinlein, Card, Herbert… (Never any Asimov, although I don’t know why. )

Oh. And I loved, loved loved the Crystal Singer Series by McCaffrey, though I didn’t read her Pern series until recently (I know, go figure).

Re-United caught that enthusiasm for the future and made it bubble again. Since then, I have checked out  a couple of SciFi titles…

And on pay day, I’m going to have a new Cybil story on my reader.