Racism & Civil Rights

Posted by Maryann on January 16, 2017 |

When I was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 60s, I was so sure that by the time the year 2000 rolled around, there would be no need for activist groups to still be fighting for equality.


While things are certainly better on many levels than they were back then, we are far from treating each other as equal. There are still far too many white people who view people of color as somehow less and cling to the old standard of “them vs us.”

Not that I lay the blame totally on one side of the issue. There are plenty of black folks who are as bigoted as white folks and cling to their old standards that “all white people are enemies.”

This is an issue I explored in depth in my Seasons Mystery Series, introducing Sarah and Angel, two Dallas Homicide Detectives who struggle with their own attitudes about race in the midst of an uproar over police racial profiling in Open Season. There are no easy answers for them, as there are no easy answers for us today, but they are willing to talk to each other and willing to see it from the other viewpoint.

Which takes me back to the 60s and my awakening.

Before college and getting involved in the activist group I joined as an offshoot of a sociology class, I didn’t even know I was prejudiced. Having grown up in an all-white neighborhood, I had never seen a black person to be prejudiced against. Being poor and having a father from the south, made me the victim of some other people’s prejudice, so at least I knew what that felt like, but I never looked askance at anyone I met.

My father was a great role model in that regard. He never met a person who could not be a friend, and he respected everyone until they did something to lose that respect. I never heard him use a racial or cultural slur, and there were no offensive jokes at the house.

The sociology professor was very involved in the Civil Rights Movement and invited members of the class to meet at a coffee shop after class to talk about what we – in Michigan – could do to help. None of us were in a position to go to the south to march, but there were plenty of things to do in Detroit. We protested in neighborhoods where black families were not able to buy a home. We wrote letters to city and state government officials to support anti-discrimination laws. And we got brave enough to tell our peers when we found a word or a joke offensive.

That was the hardest part for me, as I think it is for many of us. We don’t want to risk losing a friend. We don’t want to take the chance of making someone angry enough to perhaps slug us. And we don’t want to create a stunned silence in the middle of a party.

Like so many other activists, I was, and still am, inspired by the life and messages of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I admired him so much for his non-violent approach to fighting for justice, and I want to honor him again today on his special day. If he were alive I would send him a note, thanking him for awakening a new heart in this white woman.

And now I’d like to share a few of MLK’s most popular quotes:

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 

(More on AL.com)

Did you already know why the banks are closed and there is no mail delivery? Have you been involved in civil rights? Did you grow up in a bigoted family? How have you changed since childhood? Anything you would like to share about your experiences with other cultures and other races?

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A Criminal Mind

Posted by Maryann on January 13, 2017 |

First Some Fun to Get Friday Started

This morning I was listening to This is Criminal, a podcast that has fascinating accounts of criminal cases. Well, fascinating to someone like me who has always been intrigued by murder and mayhem and the people who seem to do that with impunity, which is why I write about those people and their crimes.

The killer in Doubletake is a psychopath, as is the killer in Stalking Season, the second book in the Seasons Series. However, the killer in Open Season is not. He feels remorse for what he does.

When first developing those characters some years ago, I interviewed a criminal psychologist several times, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done any extensive research on the topic of psychopaths and what makes them. The podcast I listened today had an interview with Professor Robert Hare, a criminal psychologist, and the creator of the PCL-R, a psychological assessment tool for diagnosing psychopathy.

Psychopathy, which is sometimes used synonymously with sociopathy, is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior. A few of the criteria from Hare’s list of twenty are: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning/manipulative, lack of remorse, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, and unwillingness to accept responsibility for actions.

While we may associate psychopathy with serial killers and other dangerous criminals, the degree of psychopathy can vary – much like the spectrum of Autism – from a score of 5 to 40. And many of those in the low to middle range, do not go on to become violent criminals. In an article by Tom Chivers at The Telegraph, I found this interesting quote from neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.

“It’s because many people in the population have high levels of psychopathy – about 1 per cent. But not all of them become criminals. In fact many of them, because of their glibness and charm and willingness to ride roughshod over the people in their way, become quite successful. They become CEOs, professional athletes, soldiers. These people are revered for their courage and their straight talk and their willingness to crush obstacles in their way. Merely having psychopathy doesn’t tell us that a person will go off and commit a crime.”

Other than becoming president of the United States. Ooops, did I really say that? Of course being president isn’t a crime, but I think he who shall forever remain nameless on my blog, fits many of those criteria.

Okay, moving on.

Friday Funnies

“I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been. Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be prepared to receive a ton of s**t!” Sir William Golding

Late one night a burglar broke into a house and while he was sneaking around he heard a voice say, “Jesús is watching you.” He looked around and saw nothing. He kept on creeping and again heard, “Jesús is watching you.”

In a dark corner, he saw a cage with a parrot inside. The burglar asked the parrot, “Was it you who said Jesús is watching me” The parrot replied, “Yes.”

Relieved, the burglar asked, “What is your name?” The parrot said, “Clarence.”

The burglar said, “That’s a stupid name for a parrot. What idiot named you Clarence?”

The parrot answered, “The same idiot that named the rottweiler Jesús.”

One day a duck walks in a store and ask the manager if they sell grapes. The manager says, “No, we don’t sell grapes.” The duck goes home and comes back the next day and asks the same question. The manager says the same thing again, “No, we do not sell grapes.” The duck goes home, comes back the next day, and asks the manager if they sell grapes. This time the manager says, “No, we don’t sell grapes! If you ask one more time, I will nail your beak to the floor!” The duck goes home. It comes back the next day and asks the manager if he has any nails. The manager says, “No, I don’t have any nails.” The duck says, “Okay, good. Do you sell grapes?”

(Last two jokes courtesy of the Laugh Factory)

That’s all for me, folks. Share a joke if you care to, and do let me know which one you like best. I thought the Golding one was quite clever. When a friend sent it to me via e-mail, I thought it was a serious quote until the punchline.

Do you share my interest in the criminal mind? Speaking of which, do you like the television show Criminal Minds? Other than the really gory scenes, I do like the exploration of the crimes and the interplay between the characters. It is one show I have really missed since I have not been able to watch very much television for almost a year.

Have a great weekend.

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Look Out For the Bear

Posted by Maryann on January 10, 2017 |

This story by Slim Randles put me in mind of a deer-hunting experience that my husband and I had one Autumn early in our marriage. We were both avid archers at the time, but we only had one bow and one quiver for arrows. I don’t even remember why that was as we both eventually had bows, and I don’t recall why we decided to split up with me taking the bow and the quiver, leaving him with just a few arrows. 

Not long after my husband settled against the trunk of an ancient oak, he saw a large buck enter the clearing, not more than 50 feet from him. 

No bow. Just a handful of arrows. What was he to do?

Telling the story later, my husband always chuckled when he said he considered tossing the arrows like darts.

And later thinking about the moment, I was glad that the buck got away to live another day. I always figured it was meant to be.

I invite you to have a cup of coffee and a sweet roll and enjoy Slim’s story. 

“’Bout time to hit the woods, boys, ya think?”

Steve, our tall cowboy-type on philosophical duty this morning at the world dilemma think tank, sipped and smiled.

“Yessir,” he said. “Nothing makes a day go by faster than a good bow hunt in the woods.”

Herb looked up at this. Herb is our veteran bow hunter and local champion archer. He can arch with the best of them.

“I didn’t know you were a bow-hunter, Steve …” Herb said.

“Oh sure I am. You know how it is, Herb. Stalking silently along on winter trails, taking one slow step after another in search of prey. Man oh man! Nothing like it.”

It was Doc’s turn. “It’s winter, Steve. What do you hunt this time of year?”


“Around here?”

“Absolutely. You see, the way I do it is simplicity itself, boys. I go stalking silently along the trails over by Miller Pond … you know the ones. Then I wait until a bear comes down the trail towards me and WHAM! Bear meat on the table.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?” asked Loretta as she topped off our coffee mugs.

“Of course it is, Darlin’,” he said. “That’s what makes it fun.”

“But Steve … there hasn’t been a bear in these parts for a hundred years,” Doc said.

“You are right, yes you certainly are,” Steve said.

“And if we did have a bear season, it would be closed by now. Any bear left around here would go to ground.”

“Now that does make it more of a challenge, Doc. But you see, that’s why I enjoy bear hunting so much.”

We waited.

“Hunting for bear, around here, in winter means lots of hunting but no shooting. So that saves me having to skin the thing and saves me having to practice with the bow and lose arrows and all that stuff. In fact, I have it worked out so I didn’t even have to own a bow or arrows for my hunts.”

He grinned. “Just think of all the money and bother I saved by being a winter-time archery bear hunter.”

Cowboy logic is sometimes scary.


Listen to the Home Country gang (even Windy Wilson) on www.homecountryshow.com

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It has some of the best of his offerings through the years.

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Friday Fun & Writing Tips

Posted by Maryann on January 6, 2017 |

These questions were sent to me by a friend via e-mail, and I thought they were very clever. Put me in mind of comedians George Carlin and Steven Wright, who both gave/give us things to think about with their humor. They were also favorites of mine and my husband’s, and we spent many an evening laughing, smiling and nodding as we listened to the stand-up routines. 

Why do some supermarkets make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front?

Why do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke?

Why do banks leave vault doors open and then chain the pens to the counters?

Why do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in our driveways and put our useless junk in the garage?

Why can’t women put on mascara with their mouth closed?

Why don’t you ever see the headline ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?

Why is ‘abbreviated’ such a long word?

Why is it that doctors and attorneys call what they do ‘practice’?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavoring, and dish-washing liquid made with real lemons?

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?

Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?

Writing Wisdom

The following excerpt is taken from a new book by Donald Maass, a literary agent as well as a writer and contributor to the wonderful blog, Writer Unboxed. His book is, The Emotional Craft of Fiction; How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface  and it is a terrific complement to his other books on writing. If you are not familiar with Writer Unboxed, I highly recommend you check out the blog for tips on all aspects of writing, as well as inspiration to lift you up when you are sagging under doubt. We all do sag now and then. And I highly recommend the books by Donald.

“In life, what we feel moment by moment matters greatly to us but little to others. To us, our days are full of high drama, ups, downs, and stomach-plunging swings. Naturally you don’t expect others to take your feelings as seriously as you do, yet on the page you’re asking readers to do just that: to be rapt and fascinated by your characters’ every tiny mood swing.

“That won’t be the case until you make the emotional minutia of your characters’ lives worth your readers’ time. A monotonous pattern of action-reaction will not do that. It’s what I call churning, or the recycling of feelings that readers have already felt. It’s easy stuff to skim. To get readers fully engaged in emotional minutia requires, again, catching readers by surprise.

“When characters struggle with their feelings, readers must referee. They seek to resolve characters’ inner conflicts. They render judgments. The same is true when characters feel the unexpected. Readers hold an instant inner debate, one of which they are largely unaware but which nevertheless causes them to assess. Would I feel like that too? That assessment is the effect you are going for.”

That’s it for me for the weekend. I have a busy one ahead with rehearsals for the play I am in on both Saturday and Sunday. In between, I’d like to find some time to color in my new coloring books and maybe watch a movie. We’ll see.

Do you have plans for the weekend? Are you intrigued by Donald’s new book? Did you like the quips? I thought the one about cat food was funny. I’m sure my cats would love to have mouse-flavored cat food.

Take care and be happy….

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A New Year

Posted by Maryann on January 4, 2017 |

Did you make any resolutions? This one works for me.

When I read the following offering from Slim Randles to start the New Year, I had to smile. I can relate to Doc. In fact, for probably the last 10 years I have hardly ever stayed up to the midnight hour on New Year’s Eve, preferring to go to bed at my usual time, and waking up the next morning with a sense of expectancy and excitement for what was coming.

It always felt like starting over.

Getting a new slate; a new blank journal; and a new beginning.

I didn’t get my wish for no more Ramsay Hunt Syndrome when I woke up on New Year’s Day, but I am going to do my best to keep pushing him into the background. Read more…

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Happy New Year

Posted by Maryann on December 31, 2016 |


Heading into the end of 2016, I say good riddance. It has not been my favorite year with my unwanted guest, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, who just doesn’t seem to want to leave. My wish upon a jillion candles is to go to bed tonight and wake up in 2017 with no more neuropathy.

Along with a regime of meds that help calm the very angry nerves in my head, it has helped the last few months of this year to have things I can do to distract myself from the pain. So I am making a list of things I can look forward to in 2017.

  • Playing on stage again at the Main Street Theatre in Sulphur Springs and working with an amazing young director, Triston Pullen. We are doing String of Pearls, a drama in the style of theatre I really enjoy. It is written by  Michele Lowe for a cast of four women to play 27 characters. Our production will have more players, but we all will fill multiple roles. I am really looking forward to challenging myself to assume different personas in the same show.

The story revolves around a strand of pearls that have been given, lost, stolen and nearly lost over a span of 35 years. Beth, the central character, wants her granddaughter, Amy, to have the pearls for her upcoming wedding, but the pearls cannot be found. I get to play the Beth of today, but other actors will play her in other time periods as the story explores how the pearls were first given and all the ways they touched the lives of mothers, sisters, and friends through the years.

In addition to working with Triston, I was intrigued by the story, even before I knew the premise, because the first short story I ever had published in Lady’s Circle magazine was called A String of Pearls. The story-line is nothing like that of the play, but the coincidence of two stories that center on pearls made me smile. The short story has been reissued as Making it Home and is available for only .99 cents for most electronic readers.

  • Finishing the history book I’ve been working on with the Winnsboro Historian, Bill Jones.

We wrote the Images of America: Winnsboro book that was released by Arcadia Publishing in 2013, and at the time I wanted to compile his newspaper columns into a book. Bill has written for local publications since the mid 90s, so there is a wealth of material to sift through and organize. The good news is that we are well into the book, and I should finish by the end of this month.

The bad news is – at least for my stress level – is that I have to have my editing workshop for S&H Publishing done by the end of this month, too. I thought since the online workshop was not scheduled until June, I could start working on it after sending the history book to the editor mid-January. However, I just received a message from the editor that the material needs to start getting to them sooner. So…. I am going to be one busy lady until the end of this month, and I may not be blogging very much.

What are your goals for 2017? Will you ring in the New Year with friends and family? I am celebrating with one of my sons, and we will salute with some really good Kentucky bourbon whiskey.

My wish for you for the New Year is health and happiness.

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It’s a Street Party

Posted by Maryann on December 29, 2016 |

The week between the holidays gets a bit chaotic for many people, myself included, so I am letting Slim Randles entertain you today with an essay. Jasper and Sarah and all the people in this make-believe world do remind me a bit of folks in my small town. Somehow they are more willing to act on impulse to help out, kind of like Jasper. I think it’s because we don’t live in the same kind of anonymity that people experience in big cities. There is an upside to everyone knowing your business.

I have a plethora of Christmas cookies, so I will share a few with you. (Don’t you just love the word “plethora?” I do and a plethora of cookies is a good thing. 

My daughter-in-law brought some yummy snowball cookies to our Christmas gathering. Enjoy….

It began the way most miracles do: by accident or the hand of God, take your pick.
It might have been the weather, at least partly. For December, the day had been almost balmy and warm. You know, sweaters instead of heavy coats. No mittens in sight.

Then there were Christmas lights on the stores, and that little bunch of Girl Scouts out raising money in front of the Read Me Now bookstore. Jasper Blankenship was inside going through the books to fortify his cabin’s library for winter and sat, listening with a smile to the girls as they laughed and waited for customers that weren’t really coming along too briskly.

“It’s a shame there aren’t more people out today for those girls,” said Sarah McKinley, behind the counter. Jasper nodded and paid for his books, then walked out to the truck. He stopped and thought for a while, then brought out his violin, rosined the bow, and walked over to the sidewalk next to the girls.

“You girls like fiddle music?” he asked.

“Sure do.”

And Jasper began playing fiddle tunes.

Carla Martinez was driving down the street, headed for the Soup ‘R Market when she saw the Girl Scouts dancing with each other to Jasper’s music in front of their table. Before he’d had time to finish that tune, she’d returned with her guitar and joined the fun.

Jim Albertson, the elementary school principal, showed up with a harmonica, and he wasn’t bad at it.

Dud got out his accordion and was able to at least do the bass buttons as accompaniment.

By this time, it was getting dark, and several people turned headlights on the area in front of the bookstore. Older people had joined the Girl Scouts dancing in the streets, and Delbert Chin, from the Chinese restaurant across the street, sent one of his girls out with a huge pot of coffee and paper cups.

The party was on.

It lasted until the cars headlights began to wear down the batteries, but during its brief lifetime, the street dance and mid-winter party cast a blessing on us all.

It must have been the weather.
Brought to you by “The Complete Cowboy’s Bucket List” by Slim Randles. Check it out at LPDpress.com

Slim Randles writes the syndicated newspaper column, Home Country, which is also a BOOK and a new RADIO SHOW. If you like his offerings here, you will enjoy his books and his radio show.

Do you live in a big city, or small town? Have you experienced the difference?

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The Day After Christmas

Posted by Maryann on December 27, 2016 |

Do you normally honor Boxing Day? I had not even been aware of it when I was a child, but as a young adult I learned that some traditions call for boxing up gently used clothes and toys the day after Christmas and putting them out for those less fortunate. Some churches have bins for collecting food, as well, and those are distributed to the needy.

Boxing Day has never been widely celebrated in some parts of Europe or the United States, but it is a national holiday in the UK and Ireland. It is also widely celebrated in Hong Kong, Australia and other Commonwealth nations. In the Victorian era servants would have the day after Christmas off to celebrate with their families, after serving the gentry on Christmas Day.

December 26th is also the feast day of Saint Stephen, the patron saint of horses, which is why Boxing Day has been associated with horse racing and fox hunting, especially in Ireland. While fox hunting has been banned since 2004, avid horsemen and women have found ways to enjoy the sport on Boxing Day, within the limitations of the law.

That is something I did not know. About the fox hunting on December 26th, I mean. I wonder if my horse would like to go chase a fox?

Something else I did not know is that older Boxing Day traditions have given way to consumerism, with the day after Christmas becoming a huge shopping day. Too bad. Like Black Friday shopping mania, this is one tradition I will not adopt.

This year, I spent my Boxing Day saying goodbye to my son and his family who were here from Austin for Christmas, and later picking up my cat from the animal hospital where he had been for several days. After we got home, there were several hours of time on the sofa with him curled in my lap. He was happy to be home, but his kitty companions were not thrilled with how he smelled and avoided him.

In years past, the following is how the Miller family operated the day after Christmas. The excerpt is from a humorous column I wrote for many years for a Dallas suburban newspaper.

The day after Christmas was usually one of the best and one of the worst days of the year for our family. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, I’m not sure it does to me either. But let me try to explain. It was the best because:

There were now 364 more shopping days until Christmas.

All the build up for the Big Day was finally over, and the noise level in the house had dropped about 20 decibels.

I didn’t have to cook since we had all those leftovers from Christmas dinner.

The kids would decide they liked each other after all, and we could go the whole day without a fight – maybe.

The kids would invite me to color with them, or play a game, and we could share some really good times together – as long as they let me win now and then.

But every coin has its flip side, and the other side of this day was trying to decide who would clean up the mess. Who would get to spend the next four days sorting through the thousand-and-one little pieces of games, toys, and puzzles that in less than one day managed to get tossed together from one end of the house to another?

On Christmas day, nobody seemed to care about the mess, but the day after, the house was filled with moaning and wailing and the sounds of blood-letting and bones breaking …

Who would dig through the 22 bags of trash to find the instructions for assembling the model airplane, because, for once in his life, a kid cleaned up after himself and threw them away with the wrapping paper? (Since that same kid would think nothing of digging through the neighbors’ trash to see if they threw away anything he could put to good use, maybe I could pawn that job off on him.)

Who would accept the challenge of figuring out what to do with all the unidentifiable things we received as gifts, such as the strange looking thing from Aunt Mildred that could either be a doily or a dishrag.

The gadget from Uncle Willie that favors a Chinese puzzle, but could actually be his eccentric approach to the can opener.

The game that takes an IQ of at least 300 just to open the box.

The funny little knitted things from Aunt Lucy that are either thumb-less mittens or toe warmers.

I could have called them all personally to thank them for the gifts, and hope that somewhere in the conversation they will mention what they are. But that would have taken some of the fun out of lazy summer afternoons when we’d drag this stuff out again and play a new game called “What on Earth is It?”

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and a relaxing day-after. Do leave a comment and let me know if you did anything for Boxing Day. Or if you plan to do anything even a few days late. I will box a number of things up to donate to our local food pantry at a church that supports the needs in our community. 

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A Holiday Wish

Posted by Maryann on December 24, 2016 |

The following is part of a Christmas letter that singer/songwriter George Gagliardi sends to friends and relatives every year. Not the same letter, of course, but his annual musing on Christmas is always spirit-filled and uplifting. This year, he shares some of his personal challenges from 2015 in the first part of the letter, which I won’t share for obvious reasons, but the second part of the letter just begs to be read by many people. George has given me permission to post that part.

Every Christmas is different but is it really? Is it more a question of our perspective on how we feel about Christmas in any given year or does really change from year to year?

Let’s tackle the basics – throwing out the gifts, the gatherings, the great parties and going to be with family what do we have left. Well, first off, it’s about somebody’s birthday, ostensibly. This somebody was reputed to be the Savior of the world and his name was Jesus. His coming was such a big deal that a whole multitude of angels were hired for the occasion and the lowliest (the shepherds) and most noble (Wise men) were let in on the celebration. It wasn’t much of a place to be born, if you’re supposed to be a King – a stable with smelly, dirty animals.

However, there was a star in the sky that was so bright it could be seen for miles and miles and miles. That’s the basics right – if you’re one who considers himself a believer in Jesus Christ. If not, then your version of Christmas is your version of Christmas and I wouldn’t presume to change your mind about such things in a single letter – not that I could. But if you’re a Christ-follower then what I’ve stated is more or less the basics when it comes to what Christmas is.

Okay, what about that story has changed? … that’s right, nothing. It’s timeless, it’s God-blessed, it’s forever and it’s what makes Christmas, Christmas.

So, for me, I’m going to do my darnedest to hang to on to that, to let the Spirit of that envelope me, even while I may bemoan the fact that this is not way I would have preferred to feel at Christmas. And believe me, I don’t begrudge anyone who honestly is disappointed in the way they’re feeling at Christmas as compared to past Yuletide celebrations.

But let’s all try and not lose sight of the fact that Christmas will always be Christmas as long we remember the story and what the story means and why it’s still worth singing about and sharing. In the meantime … cry if you need to, wish hard if you need to and even moan a bit even if you need to. It’s okay – at least to my mind – but let’s each and all of us hold on fast to the hope – a hope for peace and joy rooted in the forever truth that on that first Christmas “A Savior was born – Christ the Lord.”

What does Christmas, or Hanukkah, or any of the winter solstice holidays you celebrate mean to you? For me, it is always a real heart-to-heart connection to the God who made us and the families we have created. I could not imagine Christmas without gathering with my kids and grand-kids. All the years we lived in Omaha, Nebraska, my husband and I would make the trip back to Texas to be with family. It was his favorite time of the year, and he loved every part of it, from the church celebrations, to the traditional Miller Lasagna Dinner, and especially finding just the perfect gifts for each member of the family.

So, as George said, I will cry because I need to. But I will also smile when I can and let my heart be filled with the spirit of the season. And I hope you have many smiles as you celebrate your Holiday.

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Book Review & Great Gifts

Posted by Maryann on December 23, 2016 |

If you are looking for some last minute gifts for the readers on your Holiday gift list check out the books featured on Joan Reeves Slingwords blog.  Books make great gifts – I know I love to get books – and it is so easy now to read on electronic devices that the story  goes every where with you.

All of the e-books are priced low, most of them 99 cents to $2.99, and there are links on Joan’s blog for downloading the books for any device, with instructions for how do do that. I really liked having the instructions right there, as I am so challenged when it comes to electronics.

You can snag a copy of my new book, One Perfect Love, while you are at the blog.


Now I want to introduce you to another new book that is a perfect story of love for the holidays.

★•**•.★ New Release Tour & #Giveaway ★•**•.★

A Beautiful Stranger
by Donna Fasano
Series: Family First, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 10, 2016
Hosted by: Book Partners In Crime Promotions

When Sean Hudson arrives to claim his new daughter, he discovers the adoption hinges on the impossible. Unless he finds a wife immediately, the tiny orphan will be snatched away from him forever. But before Sean can abandon hope, a beautiful stranger proposes a surprising solution—marriage.

Sean swears the love in his heart is only for his soon-to-be daughter. And that is perfect for Nicki Willis, whose restless spirit yearns to have a family for just a while. But the tenderness of Sean’s touch soothes Nicki’s fears as well as little Sona’s. Now Nicki aches to become a family forever… and she refuses to believe she can’t make this dream come true.


The author had me when Nicki says to Sean, “If all you need is a wife, then I’d be happy to marry you.” 

This is at the end of the first chapter, when the two characters have just met and something has compelled Sean to tell her about the problems he’s having with the adoption.

I liked these characters right away, which is a must for me to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. I mean, would a woman really make that offer? But it works in the story, and the way the couple maneuver their way from there is an engaging read that I enjoyed very much.

This is a sweet, romantic story. Desperation brought them together, but love keeps them together.

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Meet the author:

USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women’s fiction books that have sold 4 million copies worldwide. Her books have won numerous awards and have been published in nearly 2 dozen languages.

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