Pray for empathy…

Many of us can sit at our computers and make posts about how senseless it is for rioters to burn down their own communities. We can play internet researcher and pull up memes comparing peaceful protests to violent protests. We can act superior and more civilized, shaming those who are protesting violently, and wag a finger at them, pointing out that they are in essence the root of the problem.

Yet until we have empathy and can in some way grasp the depth of their despair, their frustration, this cycle of violence—violence perpetrated by all colors—will continue.

Frankly, I don’t see any end to this until the white community—which I am a part of—can take a moment to step out of our skin and try to understand what people of color of are trying to tell us WITHOUT us making some excuse. We need to listen. We never really listen.

You are being disingenuous if you can honestly say that a murder of an impoverished young black girl doesn’t seem as tragic to our society as when a pretty little girl with blond curls and big blue eyes is murdered. 

It is one reason they came up with “Black Lives Matter.” Yet, instead of trying to listen to what they were telling us—trying to get our attention without burning down buildings—we grew incensed and accused them of saying “only black lives matter.”  We refused to listen to what they were trying to tell us. We intentionally twisted their words. We hijacked their phrase and turned it into “Blue Lives Matter.”

And while violence against police is a serious issue, it was NOT what that discussion was about. We hijacked their discussion. We refused to listen to their problem and only wanted to talk about us. 

And when a football player decided to call attention to the problem by a peaceful protest of kneeling during the National Anthem, we did not listen. Again, we got incensed and accused him of disrespecting the military, in spite of the fact we were repeatedly told that that was not what it was about. Even vets came forward and said they had fought for his right to peacefully protest.

But again, we wouldn’t listen. And those incensed made sure the protestor was punished for his audacity.

And what happens when we refuse to listen to a segment of a society? When we change the subject, make excuses, or point out something they did wrong during another time. 

The frustration builds and then something happens, like a public killing of a man by police officers and idiot people go on social media and mock the tragedy, make light of it, or turn the discussion to bad things the blacks have done over the years, instead of focusing on the tragedy at the moment and the societal problem that enabled it to happen.

What happens is people start throwing things. And I imagine there are other factors too, people behind the scene with their own agendas who provoke those already frustrated citizens for their own motives.

Until we embrace some empathy and step out of our own skin and take a moment to truly try and understand what they are telling us without us making this about us or coming up with excuses, this will never end…and if it does, it will not end well.

Why I will continue sheltering in place…

While the states begin opening up, and covid19 cases and deaths continue to rise throughout our country, my husband and I have made the decision to continue sheltering in place, with minimal contact with the outside world.

The other day I went out in the world for the first time in two months—to take our dog to the vet. I wore a mask and was extremely careful, which included jumping in the shower the moment I got home.

We are luckier than most. There is a meme going around on social media that points out how we are all in the same storm, not the same boat. This pandemic has not hurt us financially, and not only do I love my home, I work from home anyway. Plus, if I have to be quarantined with someone, I am glad it is my husband. He is my best friend.

Some might assume our decision to take the wait and see approach before getting out in the world is because we are both over sixty-five, the high risk group.  While that is part of it, even if we were younger and in prime health, we still wouldn’t be getting back to the world quite yet.

Why? Are we paranoid? Wrapped in fear?

No. It’s about my mother. Mom is 92-years old and lives with us. I am her primary caregiver.  Mom tells me she is ready to move on. She has lived a long life but is tired and wants to continue on her adventure and be with my father again. For us, it will admittedly be easier when she moves on. I will no longer have to make her three meals a day, see to her laundry and cleaning of her room, supervise her when she showers, and hire caregivers when we want to take a trip.  

Does that mean if Don and I were healthier and younger we wouldn’t see the need to be so careful for her sake? After all, there were a number of politicians who insisted the older folks will be okay moving on to get the economy going, they have lived their lives. Seems reasonable, right?

Absolutely not.

Aside from the fact I don’t want my mother to die, even if it will mean I won’t be as tied down, from what I have read, dying of covid19 is torturous and excruciating. And those who suffer typically die alone.

Why would I ever be okay with my mother—the woman who I believe is a loving, nurturing and supportive mother—to spend her final hours in unbearable agony? When my mother finally moves on, I pray it is peacefully, in her sleep. Yet, if she does get sick at the end, I want to be by her side, holding her hand, as I did with my father and mother-in-law. I want to be there for her, as she has always been for me.

I can’t imagine anyone would be okay with a parent or someone they love—even a someone who ultimately was ready to pass—to do it in such a torturous and lonely way. I would not even wish that end on someone I dislike.

And for those out there who protest masks—masks that ultimately help protect the vulnerable should you be a silent carrier—you are the lowest of the low in my estimation. But I won’t spend too much of my time ranting over your selfishness, because Karma is a real thing.

Stay safe people. 

Experiencing your book through a narrator…

The other day I finished listening to my new release, the audiobook version of Coulson’s Lessons, narrated by Reagan West. To say I am thrilled with this narrator would be an understatement. I can’t imagine another narrator doing a better job with this series.

Quite honestly, it almost felt I was watching—but in this case listening—to a theatrical performance of my work. In some instances, I actually cried—and not because I was unhappy with what I had written.

I’m anxiously waiting for the fourth book in the series to come out in audiobook. Fortunately, it’s not too long a wait—May 26 for Coulson’s Secret. I would urge those of you who enjoy audiobooks to give this series a try.

Coulson’s Wife, the first book in the Coulson Family Saga, begins during the 1918 pandemic and takes the readers to the 1940s. It’s a bittersweet story of love, friendship and family secrets. 

The series includes five books, eventually bringing readers to relatively current times. It tackles a number of heavy topics: homosexuality, women’s rights, social class, infidelity, rape, sexuality and abuse. But it is also about family, friendship, love, survival and overcoming obstacles. 

For my Lake Havasu friends, I loosely patterned Coulson—the setting for the series—after Lake Havasu City—at least how it was founded.

I will caution those who are offended with sex or cursing in books, they might want to steer clear of this series, especially Coulson’s Lessons. While Lessons is book three in the series, it is actually the first book I wrote in the series, back in the mid-1990s.  It was the first book of fiction I self-published in 2011.  After its release, it grew into a series.

When listening to Coulson’s Lessons, I realized my writing style has evolved over the last twenty-five years. For one thing, I would probably tone the sex scenes down a bit in that one book…lol.  But I still feel strongly about the story, and in many ways, the sex scenes were necessary considering the story I am telling. My mother still claims Coulson’s Lessons (originally Lessons) is still her favorite book.

In some ways, I feel I abandoned my McIntyre books (Anna J. MacIntyre is the pen name I used for the Coulson Family Saga and my Unlocked Hearts series). In 2014 I started the Haunting Danielle series, and since that time, I have written and published 24 Haunting Danielle books, with number 25 slated to be released in August of this year.

The audiobooks have allowed me to rediscover the Coulson Family Saga—which might be a strange thing for an author to say. And it may be a boastful admission, but I love the Coulson series even more now—with Reagan West narrating. In spite of some of the changes I would make if I was to go back and do it again, I am extremely proud of the Coulson Family Saga and the story it told. And if you know anything about the mind of insecure writers, that is saying a whole hell of a lot.

I also feel grateful and blessed.  I have two series now in audiobook. While I am a passionate and committed self-publisher, I did not self-publish my audiobooks. I felt it was beyond my field of expertise, a rather daunting task.  I did initially consider. I signed up for Amazon’s self-publishing platform for audiobooks and began checking out narrators. But I abandoned the process.

Then, to my surprise, Tantor Media contacted me. They wanted to buy the audio rights to my Haunting Danielle series. I think I had something like six books out at the time.  They gave me narrators to consider—and I picked Romy Nordlinger.

One reason I feel blessed—I love my narrators.  Romy Nordlinger totally nails Danielle and so many of the characters that rattle around in my head. In fact, when writing my Haunting Danielle books, Danielle in my head is the Danielle, Romy reads.

I didn’t realize how lucky I was to end up with a narrator I really liked—not until I heard fellow authors bemoan their narrators. Many were disappointed and had deep regrets.  So when the time came for me to select a narrator for Coulson Family Saga, I was somewhat nervous. But I had an idea what elements would be necessary to pull off the series, and I looked for those when listening to the auditions.

While Tantor Media is the publisher of the Haunting Danielle audiobooks, Dreamscape Media is the publisher for the Coulson Family Saga—for which I thank my agent Sarah Hershman and her team, for bringing to me.

Will the Coulson audiobooks be as lucrative as the Haunting Danielle series has been for me? I have no idea. But from an artistic perspective, I’m quite satisfied.