Hello, are you out there?

A few weeks after the pandemic was officially declared in the US and many of us went into lockdown, I decided to give an AuthorTube channel a go. It’s basically a YouTube channel aimed toward other authors and curious readers.

I had no aspirations of becoming the next YouTube star or influencer. My reasons for starting a channel were pretty basic. I needed an outlet during this time of isolation, and I wanted to pay it forward by helping aspiring authors.

It’s probably a good thing I had no grand dreams of YouTube stardom, considering my views have been minimal. But to be honest, if someone wants their YouTube channel to rack up views, they have to consistently make new videos. In the beginning I uploaded a new video each week, but it’s been about a month since I posted a new one.

I’ve enjoyed making the videos, and I am not quitting, but I won’t be making another one until I feel there is something I really want to share with other writers or my readers.  Fact is, my writing keeps me pretty busy, and when it comes down to it, that’s my number one priority.

I’m currently work on Book 26 in the Haunting Danielle series, The Ghost and the Witches’ Coven. I normally have more down time between books, but I charged right into this one, which is another reason, no new AuthorTube videos. I’m having fun writing this new book, hope my readers will like it.

I know many of you have been getting back in the world—I see those photos on social media of people with friends or at restaurants.  But I am still living the reclusive life, because of our household’s medical concerns. Hope you are all doing well out there, and if you are getting out in the world again, please be careful and take the necessary precautions. 

“One Nation under God”—what does it mean to you?

The words “under God” were added to our pledge of allegiance in 1954, during the McCarthy red-scare era. The original pledge was written by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892.

So, what do those words, “Under God” in the pledge mean to you?

Does it mean just the God YOU worship? Or is it a generic term, and can mean one of the many gods people might worship? According to Wikipedia there are over 2,000 different gods worshiped around the world today.

Considering our First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” the law of our land states each of us has the right to worship whatever god (or goddess) we may believe in.

Recently there was hullabaloo about the DNC forbidding the second version of the pledge at the convention. That claim was soon disproven when numerous videos were posted showing various people reciting the second version of the pledge, with the God included.

A second claim followed, basically saying, “Well maybe they didn’t forbid people from saying it, but some people at the convention left the ‘under God’ out when they said it!”

I am not going to bother fact checking that second claim, because frankly, why is that a problem? They still said the pledge—the original version—so why would anyone have an issue with that?

Maybe they are atheist, something that is perfectly legal in this country. Maybe they are not hypocrites and don’t want to pledge to something they don’t believe in.

Maybe they believe in a god, but maybe not the god mainstream America believes in, and they feel the verbiage is too unclear—which god?

Maybe they believe in a goddess, not a god, so the verbiage in their mind is inaccurate.

Or maybe their religion forbids them to make such a claim.

For example, in Mathew 6.5 Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”

There very well may be Christians who see this addition of God as turning the pledge into a prayer, which in turn might be a violation of their faith to recite publicly.

My point being, when people complain that there are people trying to take God out of the pledge—or God out of American, whose god are they talking about?

Remember, we have the right to stand proudly and say the Pledge of Allegiance and say “One nation under God”—but we don’t have the right to force others to say it. That is one thing that makes America beautiful, we all have the right to our own faith.

It is not necessary to understand why something is racist, for it to be racist…

I am currently working on Book 25 in my Haunting Danielle series. One segment of the story has to do with race relations in the 1920s in Oregon. The story idea came to me long before the tragic death of George Floyd, and it wasn’t written in response to the current racial tension in our country.

That being said, I want to move the topic for a moment to book reviews. Last year I received what I consider an annoying review on Book 22 in the series, The Ghost and the Halloween Haunt.  At this writing, that particular book has 160 reviews at Amazon with a 4.9 out of a 5-star average.

It was not annoying because the reviewer left me two stars—it was annoying because she said: “Definitely written by an elderly white lady.”

My response to that? WTF? Damn whipper snapper.

Yes, I think I made a blog post about this review before. But you will have to excuse me, us elderly white ladies have memory issues.

The reviewer also wrote: “…is the author afraid to write an inclusive book featuring some people of color? Heck, the author doesn’t even feature a token person of color!”

First, I don’t do token. Personally, I find that offensive. Second, the reviewer has obviously not read the other books in the series. I have had a number of people of color in my books—pivotal characters.  They were not just added to the stories to garner politically correct brownie points.  I get why authors should be more inclusive, yet it has to be natural. My series takes place in Oregon, and the black population of Oregon is 3%.

That being said, it seems I did commit a racial faux pas.

In The Ghost and the Christmas Spirit—one of the books in the series I am most proud of, I did a horrible thing. I did not know it was a horrible thing, and I still don’t really understand.

I described one of my black characters as having skin the color of coffee with a touch of cream. But before you lambast me, understand I saw that no different than an author saying a white person has peaches and cream skin. Personally, I would not use peaches and cream, but not because I see it as racist, but because it is cliché. 

I won’t be removing that bit of description from the book. I think that would be disingenuous. BUT, I will never ever again discuss black skin tone. Ever.  

I am not making this promise because I finally “get” why it is racist. I sincerely do not understand.  I honestly don’t get the difference between that and peaches and cream.  But if my black readers honestly find that type of description offensive, then I will not use it again. My desire is to entertain my readers with my Haunting Danielle series, not offend them. 

And you know what? It is not necessary for me to understand why something is racist for it to be racist. If something makes another person feel bad, why in the world would you want to keep doing it?

Umm….and I would appreciate future reviewers leave off that elderly crap. Seriously.  

Photo: Yes that is me. A photo I took last month. And I confess, I am 65. But elderly??????

*** Edit, I was not clear. It was not so much describing skin color, but using food as a comparison–like peaches and cream.