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Happy Book Birthday to Ashley Fontainne & Janelle Taylor’s New Release, OPERATION DFC
We’re thrilled to announce the release of Ashley Fontainne & Janelle Taylor’s Operation DFC today! To help celebrate, we are asking our readers if you can please pretty please pick up a copy at Amazon and come back and tell us how you liked it or leave a review at Amazon? And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this page. Good luck!
Congratulations, Ashley & Janelle, on your espionage military thriller new release, Operation DFC!
Arriving in Thailand for my first black-op, Operation DFC, as part of an elite team ready to act on recent intel that over a thousand men and/or their remains are still behind enemy lines, Bangkok is our last stopping point before slipping into Vietnam and extracting as many American prisoners as possible.
For me, this is personal. From 1971 to 1973, I was a POW; and now, ten years later, I work for the CIA under the fake identity of John Sims, Field Expert for Crop World, an international firm run by the agency.
While in my hotel room, the unthinkable happens. Bangkok may end up being my greatest challenge as my courage, patriotism, and honor are on the line, and I find myself in the toughest physical and mental battle of my life, wondering if Operation DFC will be my first, and last, covert mission.
Release Date: December 10, 2022
Publisher: Georgia Girl Press
Paperback: 979-8366909396; 360 pages; $15.99; Kindle $5.99
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3BKSodF You can also purchase at these retailers: https://books2read.com/u/mg1pBq Book Excerpt:
Rescuing American soldiers out of grimy pits in Vietnam is my life’s mission, yet I’m fully aware it is also a sensitive issue for both governments. Bartering for their return costs money, and the source of the rescue funds and the intent of the mission are both unknown to the American public. They will remain a secret until someone with a higher paygrade releases the information.
No one wants to endanger this crucial operation with loose talk or create an uprising against the VC that could lead to another invasion. If anyone outside the circle of trusted players learns what we are attempting, it will create a stink bigger than Watergate or the Pentagon Papers. Worse, leaked knowledge of our covert op could blast the whole deal to smithereens, and those brave, broken men might never taste freedom again. They would vanish permanently, just as I could have a decade ago if someone hadn’t risked his life to liberate me.
I will not let that happen.
The soldiers, and their loved ones, deserve better.
Pulling out the next piece of paper, irritation rushes over me as I read the typewritten words:
When WM meets with RL and supplies the code, RL will then give LAT/LONG coordinates to the exchange location near Paracel Islands to WM, who will return to BK and page team leader, RD, at 202-555-1717, and send LAT/LONG intel. Ocean transport of the rescued cargo will begin the journey, and the cargo ship, Triumph, which contains the physical funds, will head to location. Exchange of cargo and funds will take place on board.
“What the hell? Now we’re giving these monsters cash? Why did they tattoo the banking code on me? Why did the plan suddenly change this late in the game? I’m bypassing Carter and giving info straight to RedDog? I don’t like this. Not at all.”
On instinct, I re-read it twice, imprinting RedDog’s pager number before flicking the lighter. The ashes flutter to the floor. Rubbing the remains out with my foot, irritation morphs into anger at this last-minute shift of important details.
Reaching inside the bag again, my fingers touch a familiar object—the grip of a pistol. Before I can make sense of why a firearm was provided and how I can sneak it on the plane without getting arrested, burning pain shoots up from my palm and straight to my brain. Dropping the gun, I look at my hand, noticing several tiny needle pricks in the palm milliseconds before my vision blurs.
The room spins as my throat locks up.
Collapsing to my knees, I gasp for air, wondering what kind of poison courses through my veins as a vortex of dizziness overtakes my mind, followed by ebony darkness.
About the Authors
Award-winning and International bestselling author, Ashley Fontainne, has written over 25 books, including the short thriller, Number Seventy-Five, which took home the BRONZE medal in fiction/suspense at the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. The paranormal thriller entitled The Lie won the GOLD medal in the 2013 Illumination Book Awards for fiction/suspense. An indie film based on this book, entitled Foreseen, is currently available on video-on-demand. Ruined Wings is about a young woman’s descent into drug addiction and is currently a short film. The movie is free to watch and share with others in hopes of starting a positive dialogue regarding addiction. https://ruinedwings.com/Fatal Agreements won the 2019 Independent Audio Awards for best female narrator, Andrea Emmes. Connect with Ashley to learn more about all her works: Website: https://ashleyfontainne.net Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.fontainne/
Janelle Taylor has 9 NY Times Bestsellers and many awards along with over 65 million copies in print worldwide, plus ebooks. She is known as one of the “pioneers of the romance industry,” and one of the “legends of romance.” She is also listed on the Top 100 most famous Georgians. She has won many awards for her books.Follow Janelle on Twitter @TaylorJanelle6 and Facebook. Check her out on Amazon Author Pages: https://www.amazon.com/author/janelletaylor Make sure to visit her official website https://www.janelletaylor.com/ to learn more about all her amazing titles!
Ashley Fontainne and Janelle Taylor are giving away two Kindle copies of Operation DFC!
Terms & Conditions:
By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one copy of Operation DFC.
This giveaway ends midnight December 15.
Winner will be contacted via email on December 16.
Winner has 48 hours to reply.Good luck everyone!
ENTER TO WIN! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Character Interview: Helena Montgomery from Barry Wilker’s debut novel, The Lapone Sisters
Name of Character: Helena Montgomery
Book Title: The Lapone Sisters
Profession: Full-time bank teller, part-time blues singer
City and State: Nashville, Tennessee
We’re thrilled to have here today Helena Montgomery from Barry Wilker’s new coming-of-age and thought-provoking novel, The Lapone Sisters. In her late twenties, Helena is an acquaintance of the sisters working full-time as a bank teller and moonlighting at a local club two nights a week singing the blues. Like the sisters, she has lived in Nashville, Tennessee her entire life.
It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so much for this interview, Helena. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
Barry did a spectacular job envisioning my image and personality and all my interactions with the different characters. From my debut appearance to my final curtain, he described perfectly my life and metamorphosis over the six months of the novel. Let’s just say when you first meet me, I am a hot mess. Without giving anything away, by the end of his story, you will know the real me. Once you see me in action you’ll understand completely.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
Listen, if he gave me any more color I’d be one of those giant billboards on Sunset Boulevard. Portrayed any differently I definitely wouldn’t be the Helena you’ll want to meet and befriend.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
The ability to learn the strength and empowerment I now own.
For sure it’s the Helena you first meet. Nobody was a hotter mess than that girl.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
That’s hard. I would have loved it to be a young Raquel Welch. Somebody current? With the right make-up, Ana de Armas, for sure.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Positively! YES! Johnny. I love that man more than I can say. He’s handsome, kind, way smart, thoughtful . . . stop, right? I’ll make somebody gag.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
There’s a cataclysmic situation that jettisons the storyline and all of our lives. It turns into possibly the worst and the best of times for me. Oh, I wish I could tell you the details without spoiling the entire story! But I can’t. You’ll have to see for yourself.
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
I think it would have to be Tanya Simplestone. She’s too perfect. Okay, without giving too much away, she bested me at a certain point. There’s not one thing I’ve liked about her since then. It’s her fault I . . . oh, let’s not get into that. Next question?
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
I love the ending. I honestly wish it could continue into a sequel. I want to find out more about my life and what happens in the lives of all my friends.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?
Keep me the way I am. I love my life just the way he made it this time.
Thank you for this interview, Helena. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
I sincerely hope we will meet again. Thank you for this opportunity!
About the Author:
Barry Wilker spent forty-three years working as an interior designer for a myriad of clients across the United States. Retirement has provided him time to assemble all the fragments of wild imagination into this, his first novel. He lived for a number of years in the Los Angeles area and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
About the book:
Celebrated Interior designer and Nashville native Barry Wilker enters the ranks of published novelists with the release of his debut novel, The Lapone Sisters. Published by Simon and Schuster publishing partner Archway Publishing, The Lapone Sisters is now available nationwide.
A smart, seamless coming-of-age novel centered on the lives of three sisters. The Lapone Sisters is a thoughtful and thought-provoking tale that unfolds against a backdrop of a simpler time and place. In The Lapone Sisters, Wilker introduces the dazzling-and decidedly different-Lapone Sisters. Schmellda, Sorina and Esmerelda. Wildly disparate, wholly entertaining, and mesmerizingly comical, these three sisters are swept up in a whirlwind of adventure when each begins to chart a course towards discovering purpose, meaning, and direction.
About The Lapone Sisters: In the summer of 1976, three exceedingly different sisters launch a journey like no other when each begins the task of uncovering her individual course in the world. Schmellda, the eldest daughter, is a frumpy, self-appointed mother hen cautiously setting out on her own for the first time in her life. Middle sister Sorina, is a stunning – and – stuttering – beauty tentatively venturing out in search of her dreams. Bold youngest sister Esmerelda is an outspoken, sharp-tongued, unfiltered fireball ready to catapult for the nest.
Born to loving parents who provided a safe and nurturing environment, Schmellda, Sorina, and Esmerelda could not be more different – but when the sisters are swept up in an unimaginable spiral of events that will change their lives forever, they’ll discover more about themselves, and each other, than they ever dreamed possible.
The girls compete and commiserate. They take road trips and take chances. They get makeovers and they make waves. They grow and bloom and blossom. They change and yet they stay the same. They follow their hearts. They even fall in love. Over the months of the fateful, yet blissful summer, the sisters cross paths, cross wits, and come across an unbelievable menagerie of misfits, loners, losers and dreamers, making for an adventure like no other. For these three sisters, life will never be the same.
A smart, sweeping, and sensational story, The Lapone Sisters invites readers to come along on an unforgettable journey. Novelist Barry Wilker delivers a confident and captivating debut novel that delivers a powerful – and powerfully hopeful – message about following one’s heart without fear. Much more that a tale of three sisters, The Lapone Sisters is a beautifully rendered tale that celebrates taking chances, embracing individuality, innocence, redemption, and the unmistakable power of love. Resplendent with charm, peppered with wry humor, and replete with a richly drawn cast of characters destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned, The Lapone Sisters is delightful.
The Lapone Sisters is available for purchase at Amazon.com and all other online retailers.
Read the First Chapter of The Urban Boys by K.N. Smith
Title: THE URBAN BOYS: DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES BOOK 1
Author: K.N. Smith
Publisher: Two Petals Publishing
Genre: YA Action Adventure / YA Thriller / Urban Fantasy / Mystery / Thriller
Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.
“A captivating and poetic tale of mystery, fantasy, and reality tied together by action!” 5-stars, Lars Jackson, Amazon Customer
A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.
“Brilliantly crafted and written!” – Megan King, Indie Book Reviewers
“An energetic adventure debut with stellar action sequences. Smith’s writing is intelligent and often lyrical. Her exuberant prose never fails to dazzle.” – Kirkus Media
“Author K.N. Smith uses her mastery of the written word to weave an entrancing, yet powerful tale of adventure that keeps you turning pages in an unquenchable desire to find out what happens next.” – Publishers Daily Reviews
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Two Petals Publishing
Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0989474757; 340 pages; $12.95; E-Book, $2.99
Available for Purchase in Paperback & Kindle at www.books2read.com/knsmith.
Twenty Years Later
THE COMMUNITY OF DANVILLE HEIGHTS offers the scenic route to a carefully crafted universe. Casts of shadows cool and soothe, beckoning the weary, comforting their plight. Explosions of color captivate, blanketing the land. A peaceful valley filled with families disinterested in city life, its combination of natural resources and quaint charm enchant those fortunate enough to dwell within.
Nature expressed itself always, as seen in a swirling butterfly as it dipped toward a crimson landing pad. It meandered along clean streets where comfortable homes with large porches seemed to have been plucked from the pages of a country interiors magazine.
Sunlight showered a dwelling with pale mint and creamy white paint, warming the sun porch and a shallow saucer of water left for visiting birds.
The butterfly swooped to examine embellished mailboxes, flapping its orange wings as though it were clapping for the winner. One of the mailboxes read: Parker Residence.
A bike lay sideways in the yard.
In this town, folks enjoy ripe tomatoes, fragrant peaches, and loads of neighborly warmth. People were glad to see each other, or at least they understood the politeness of saying hello. After all, a warm smile that’s always on the menu is reassuring indeed.
Across the way, the morning sun seeped into the bedroom of Kinsu Yamada, an athletic teenager named after an uncle from Japan. I’m so tired. It’s time to get up, but I’d rather be dreaming about what’s her name from sixth period. The girl with the short hair. Dang, what is her name anyway?
Getting up now offered a downside, like chancing a nap in the middle of class. Because his sore muscles needed a stretch, the option of dreaming quickly disappeared, so he reached for the headphones on his nightstand.
“Let’s see, how did that beat go?” He sifted through rhythms floating in his mind, like the masterpiece he had laid down yesterday. One, two, dat, boom. Yeah, that’s it right there! Only the beat master could do that.
He pushed the blankets aside, then reached across his bed. Where’s my tablet? He felt around until his fingers slid across cool metal. “In you go, headphones.”
He fired up one of his own tracks. The pulse of the beat brought him to life, but it wasn’t complete. New sounds were destined to mingle with the melody. I love this software. “Alright, FastBeats, let’s go.”
Kinsu opened the dashboard. Black and white keys made interesting noises. He wove drum and guitar effects into his tracks, dragging and dropping them into perfect position. Ooh, nice!
With the track finished, a quick scroll through a beat making contest announcement boosted his confidence. I’m sure I can win this one. When is it? A few weeks from now? No problem. I got this!
Time was moving. He plugged the headphones into his phone. A shuffled playlist spilled into his ears. Kinsu rolled out of bed to look outside. The beat throbbed in his head. A bird flew by the window as the blinds sliced through the view of a picture-perfect morning in Danville Heights.
A solid rocking chair made of real wood stood in the corner of the porch. It had beautiful grain and curves, just the way Mrs. Perkins remembered from her childhood. At seventy-five, she rocked almost daily, usually late at night, and like today, early in the morning before the sun peeked through sprawling trees.
She moved across her porch to adjust the hanging pots lined with moss, swaying in the soft wind. “Don’t you look lovely?” Mrs. Perkins stroked the dark purple geraniums, gifted to her by an acquaintance. “Such a rare color. So beautiful.”
She reached up to untangle a stubborn chain on one of the pots, which had caused it to lean sideways. Much better, she thought, after a few yanks.
A quiet town near the small city of Sandry Lake, Danville Heights was just the kind of place she liked. Small community feel. Occasions to get to know residents. Moments to find out their business. Just the way she liked it.
As she admired her flowers, something special met the morning. When the sun had appeared, sparkling dew evaporated from tall blades of grass, retracting the moisture so refreshing to the blades. Drying out right before her eyes, each blade had a story to tell emerging into the new day. So many stories. Much like the ones Mrs. Perkins had in memory.
She knew a lot about the history of Danville Heights. But it was clear to her—some secrets were not to be revealed. The trick? Imitating the blades’ mastery of secrecy throughout the decades.
She gripped the arms of the rocking chair, lowering herself, landing on a striped pillow. So comfortable. So nice and quiet.
She looked to the sky and smiled.
The motion of the rocking chair was part of the puzzle of the day’s awakening. Boys were slowly rolling out of bed, and the coffee was on, the rich aroma wafting through the houses. All of it made for a smooth transition from night to day without interruption of normal events.
A few streets over, Chase Freeman, a junior at Danville Heights High School, had fallen in love with his pillow. But he could hear Diane, his older sister, moving around the house. She had been raising him since their single mother passed away two years ago from breast cancer. They were doing their best to make it from semester to semester.
Diane was definitely in charge. She kept the house in order doing what her mother would have done. “Lasagna tonight, loaded baked potatoes tomorr—” She saw her reflection in the computer monitor as she zoomed around a corner. “Let me check my grades on the portal.”
She removed a small laundry basket from beneath her arm, setting it on the floor. With her knee on the desk chair, she logged-in to her online college courses to review the rankings. “B+? I was hoping for an A.” She searched for the message icon and tapped the keys. Dear Professor, I’d like to discuss this assignment during office hours…
As Chase entered his junior year, she gave her all to keep him focused. A challenging job for a young woman, but it appeared to be working so far.
Chase loved to sleep, but it wasn’t meant to be this morning. If he was going to catch a ride with Diane, he had to get up… now.
With her grades reviewed, she was on the move. Diane passed his room while putting away the laundry. “Chase, you must not want a ride today.” She could sense his fancy for feet dragging.
Chase jumped to the floor, suspending his covers in one hand. “Okay, okay, I’m up, see?” Tossing the blankets aside, he grabbed a silver bat from the corner of his room. Step up to the plate. He perfected his swing in the mirror. Nothing can stop this player. One more season after this year, then I’ll be an outfielder in college.
Diane was still in the hallway. “No, I don’t see anything. Get moving. I have to work at the café this morning.”
Chase swung one more time. “I am up.”
He bid farewell to his warm sanctuary. His deep brown skin glistened in the sunlight. A banner above the door with a quote from Babe Ruth caught his eye— ‘Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.’
Often amused with her brother, Diane smiled as she gave her final warning, “You’d better be, or you’re walking, mister.”
There was no sign of the sun in the not so distant town of Sandry Lake. Considering the height of the east side buildings which should have received a golden kiss by now, this seemed odd.
Didn’t the rooftops feel lonely awaiting the moment to greet the sun’s fresh rays?
Usually, there was plenty of action on the road, but today the mood was low. A dark contrast to the bonds being made in Danville Heights, where the sun appeared to believe it had a multitude of friends on which to rely for the next stretch of time.
About The Author
K.N. Smith, winner of the “Best of” in the category of “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards, is an author and passionate advocate of literacy and arts programs throughout the world. Her lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist and grind through action-adventure and urban fantasy in edge-of-your-seat narratives. K.N. has over twenty-five years’ experience in communications and creative design as an award-winning consultant. Reading is still her foremost hobby. K.N. inspires people of all ages to reach their highest potential in their creative, educational, and life pursuits.
Her latest book is the YA Action Adventure/YA Thriller/Urban Fantasy/Mystery/Thriller DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES (The Urban Boys Book 1).
You can visit her website at www.KNSmith.com or connect with her on Facebook.
First Chapter: Moon Deeds: Star Children Saga Book 1 by Palmer Pickering
Title: MOON DEEDS: STAR CHILDREN SAGA BOOK ONE
Author: Palmer Pickering
Publisher: Mythology Press
Genre: Adult Fantasy/Science-Fiction
“The path to power is cloaked in shadows, so if you avoid all the shadows, you’ll never learn anything.”
It’s 2090: the last outpost of freedom is the moon, the best defense against technology is magic, and the only hope for humankind rests in the hands of the Star Children.
Twins Cassidy and Torr must save Earth from a ruthless enemy at a time when the only force more powerful than alien technology is magic. Moon Deeds launches the siblings’ journey across the galaxy, where they must learn their power as the Star Children, claim their shamanic heritage, and battle dark forces that threaten humankind.
The Star Children Saga follows Cassidy and Torr as they slowly awaken to their destiny as the twin Star Children, born every millennium to reconnect with the source of all life. They come to discover the sheer enormity of their task: to find our ancestors on a lost planet across the galaxy and save humanity from a spiraling descent into darkness. The powers they must wield to accomplish this task are truly frightening and put at risk everything they love.
Come along with twenty-year-old twins Cassidy and Torr, who inherited deeds to land parcels on the moon. They want to use their moon deeds to get off Earth and escape a brutal dictatorship. But first they must unlock their shaman powers.
A rollicking yet poignant adventure in the not too distant future, when we have colonized the moon and nearly lost Earth to a dictatorship. Only the shamans remain free, plus the lucky ones who escaped to the moon.
Join the adventure! An addictive space opera, science-fantasy series.
Release Date: May 25, 2019
Publisher: Mythology Press
Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1732568808; 598 pages; $21.99; E-Book, $.99; Audiobook, FREE.
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt13Js_M-P4
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3rQteFx
West San Jose, California, Western Free States, planet Earth
July 8, 2090
Cassidy stood in the backyard, staring up at the sky and listening to the music of the stars. The Shaman’s Shield of gray clouds loomed far overhead, covering the sky in a thick, impenetrable roof, and casting a gloomy pall over everything. Ever since the Shaman’s Shield had appeared three years ago, she had not seen the stars nor heard their music. But today the thin, ethereal strains wove through the neighborhood noise. The music was faint, but it was there.
It had been louder when she was a child, before Grandma Leann had shielded her. Cassidy had thought everyone could hear the music, a constant background noise of such poignant sweetness that sometimes it was painful to listen to. But she had realized over time that others did not hear it. Or perhaps they heard it subconsciously, or in their dreams, because sometimes she heard an echo of it when musicians played their instruments or choirs sang. Cassidy had tried to replicate the sound, studying violin as a child, then piano, but neither instrument captured the elusive tones.
The only one who understood was her twin brother, Torr. They had shared a room as children, and she used to sing to him.
“I recognize that song,” he had said one time in the middle of the night. She had been sitting up in bed humming the tune that was streaming through her head. Torr had awoken from a deep sleep and sat upright, staring at her. “I heard it in my dream.”
“You heard me humming,” she corrected him.
“No,” Torr said stubbornly. “The golden people were singing to me. Their song said you and I have to find them. We have to follow their voices.” Torr closed his eyes and sang the melody more truly than she ever had, picking out parts of the multi-layered harmony she had never captured before. And he added something resembling words that she did not understand, but which made her cry.
In the morning he had remembered the dream, but he could not remember the song. For days afterwards he had tried to get her to sing it back to him, but she could not get the melody quite right, and she did not know the strange language. Then when Grandma Leann laid the blanket of silence over her, the song stopped. As time passed, Cassidy forgot the tune she had always hummed. She could only recall hints of it, like wisps of clouds that slipped away as she tried to grab them.
Now the sky was singing to her again. The melody came to her, carried on the wind as though from a distant mountaintop. She was filled with joy to hear it, though the song was more mournful than she recalled. She still could not understand the words, but she remembered what Torr had told her that night in their attic bedroom, that the two of them had to follow the golden people’s voices and find them. She did not know who they were, or where they were, but they were still out there singing to her. Calling to her. Waiting.
About the Author
Palmer Pickering has been writing fiction since she was eight. She received her BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University, with concentrations in Religion and Race Relations.
She currently works in Silicon Valley in the gaming industry and high tech. In addition, Palmer holds a certificate in Chinese Acupressure, is a certified solar panel installer, and studied Tibetan Buddhism with the 14th Dalai Lama.
She lives and writes in the magical redwood forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.
Her latest book is the scifi fantasy for adults, Moon Deeds: Star Children Saga Book One.
You can visit her website at www.MythologyPress.com or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: THEY CALLED HIM MARVIN BY ROGER STARK
Title: THEY CALLED HIM MARVIN
Author: Roger Stark
Publisher: Silver Star Publishing
Genre: Historical Romance / WWII / Family Saga
18-year-old Pvt Dean Sherman goes to church with a friend in Salt Lake City. He meets 16-year-old Connie that will become his wife. After Pearl Harbor Dean applies for pilot training and is accepted. Dean joins Connie’s Mormon Church and they secretly become engaged.
By the time Dean has commissioned a pilot, Connie is 18 and they marry and are together for a year and a half before he ships out as an Airplane Commander of a B-29. Connie is pregnant with their son, Marvin.
A Japanese family is introduced, the Kyoshis. She is an important member of the Community Council he is a builder of water guns used in fighting fires and is the neighborhood fire captain. A son Reo will go off to war and train as a fighter pilot. 12-year-old Son Riku has a reappearing role in the story concerning the B-29’s bombing of Japan. They also have 6-year-old twin sisters that are sent to Hiroshima early in the story for their safety.
The crew of 44-69966 arrives in India after a month of flying. Letters start arriving for Connie. Discussion of the B-29s development of strategic purposes is explained.
In Japan Reo Kyoshi goes off to war and the Firebombing of Tokyo occurs. 15 Square miles burned down to the sidewalks. 100,000 casualties and a million people homeless. The Kyoshi survive the conflagration but lose their home.
Marvin is born. Dean returns to duty and his plane is transferred to the Marianna Islands in the Pacific. Some 67 love letters are exchanged between Dean and Connie.
Dean’s plane is shot down over Nagoya Japan, the crew is captured and sent to Tokai Army Headquarters. Connie keeps writing letters that cannot be delivered. She has no idea he is in a Japanese prison.
Prison conditions are horrible, beatings and interrogations constant. Connie receives the war department telegram listing Dean as MIA.
A sham trial is conducted the crew is found guilty and their sentence is carried out the next day.
Almost 50 years later, Dean comes to Connie in a dream/vision and confirms his love for her and that they will yet have a life together.
Release Date: September 1, 2021
Publisher: Silver Star Publishing
Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0578855288; 333 pages; $17.43; E-Book, $2.99
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3Lv4sD3
18 January 1941, The Story Begins
Stanley Carter started all this.
He was just a kid, a student at South High in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A Mormon boy, as many in the region are, and member of South’s ROTC program. In fact, the student commander of the Army ROTC at South. His duties occasionally took him to the Fort Douglas Army Base a couple of miles east of the city.
Entry to the Base included the obligatory stop at the guard house, a box of a place parting the road at the Fort entrance. Bookended by road barriers normally open and standing at attention during the daylight hours, on foot visitors such as the bus riding Stanley Carter were invited to enter the building and make themselves known.
On this particular Saturday afternoon he presented his credentials to one Private Dean Harold Sherman, Military Policeman.
Stan handed Dean his papers, with the greeting, “Hello Private
Sherman how are you doing today.”
The Army blouse complete with stark white name tags and chevrons of rank prominently displayed make such identifications easy.
Dean studied Stan’s papers and without looking up, asked, “So Stanley, are you heir to the Carter’s Little Liver Pills fortune?’
The question humored Stan, “That would be nice, but no such luck. I am just a high school kid with definitely not rich parents.”
“How about you Private Sherman?”
“Me? I am just a Montana ranch hand that came here for Basic Training and am now OJT with the Military Police.”
“Your new to these parts then?”
“Been here a couple of months.”
“Do you know anyone in Salt Lake?”
“Other than military buddies, not a soul.”
“Well you know me now.”
“Yeah, I guess I do know one person from Salt Lake now.”
Stan wandered off to fulfill his post duties but he couldn’t stop thinking about the affable Military Policeman. After completing his errands, Stan went looking for Dean and was glad to find him still on duty, shuffling papers in the guard house.
“So Dean, I have been thinking.” Stan said.
‘“You probably shouldn’t do too much of that.” kidded Dean.
“Your right, it gets me in trouble all the time. Dean, I want to help you with your problem of not knowing any one in Salt Lake.”
“What exactly do you have in mind?”
“Tomorrow I am going to my girlfriends house, come with me, she would love to meet you and then you will know two people here.”
His Sunday, non-duty day, social calendar incredibly bare, Dean answered, “I could be talked into that.”
“We are going to meet up at church and then go to her house.”
So there was that thing Mormon’s are known to do, veil an invitation to attend church so that it seems entirely harmless.
By the end of church the following day, Dean would actually know three people from Salt Lake City. This because Stan’s girlfriend, Carol Woffinden, happened to be the best friend of Constance Avilla Baldwin, who also just happened to attend the same Waterloo Ward of the Mormon Church, who also didn’t have a boy friend, and who was also more than happy to make a visitor feel welcome.
Dean innocently walked into all of this.
Mormons have a special interest in non Mormons, or Gentiles as they call them. You see, a Mormon is never far from, or without, his missionary zeal. If you’re not a Mormon and your going to hang out with a Mormon for very long, you’re going to get zealed. For Dean Harold Sherman, it was to be a life altering dose of zealing.
The Backstory of the Main Players
12 March 1922 was back before.
Back before he joined the Army or flew airplanes or fell in love with a girl named Constance.
12 March 1922 was the day Dean Harold Sherman drew his first breath, kicking and screaming into consciousness as the newborn do. A man child, born to William Fred Sherman and Kathreen Williams Sherman in the city of Lewistown in the County of Fergus, in the state of Montana, USA. He was not born at home as his five siblings were, complications made the hospital a more prudent choice.
Soon enough he would see the Gilt Edge family ranch and soon enough realize his family of origin had issues and that life comes with challenges. But understand, the only misgivings he ever voiced about his start in the world was his middle name. The moniker came at the absolute insistence of his father, no discussion required, a common approach for Bill, so even though it met with healthy resistance from his mother, the name was given.
Dean whole heartedly agreed with his mother.
Connie would tell their grandchildren, in an effort to help them understand the grandfather they never knew, that Dean often said, “I am no more a “Harold” than I am a horse or a cow or a chicken, the “H” in Dean H. Sherman should stand for “Happy” that is a middle name I could live with.”
31 March 1925 On this day Constance Avilla Baldwin, was born to a mother with the exact same name, Constance Avilla Baldwin who’s husband was Claude Leslie Baldwin in the City of Salt Lake, in the County of Salt Lake, in the State of Utah, USA.
The doctor after the fact, no doubt went home from his shift thinking it was a typical delivery, but Constance was not a typical baby. She did not cry. At least she did not cry the way most babies cry.
She did make crying noises, but often they were like a gentle, haunting, tonal wail, delivered in sustained notes that approached the sound of an ancient saxophone.
Dispersed in her wailings were occasional small musical interludes, several note melodic moments, often triads. She would start at the root of a chord and move to the third and then to the fifth, perfectly pitched. On rare occasions of extreme displeasure she would also add the seventh or the octave.
This lead her mother to brag she was the “baby that came out singing.” Often she would add her prediction, “She is going to be an entertainer.”
In truth, Mother was right. After coming out singing, Constance never stopped. She became a soprano in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and entertained in Community Theater venues throughout the Salt Lake Valley for much of her life.
28 June 1939
On this date, the Very Long Range (Heavy) Bomber, the B-29 Superfortress, was born in the city of Washington, in the District of Columbia, in the State of Maryland, USA. The conception was a result of intensifying world hostilities and a modest effort of the American military to be prepared for what might be coming.
This baby was a big one. Ninety nine feet long. Wingspan 141 feet, weight (empty) 65 tons. Notably she had thousands of miles of wire, over 55,000 parts and was held together by a million rivets. She was designed to do one thing, fly over an ocean and bomb an enemy.
It was a premature birth.
The B-29 jumped a couple of engineering generations. Design never got all that far ahead of production. So blatant were the problems that the final step in producing a brand new B-29 became sending it to a modification center, in an effort to repair the many flaws actually flying the plane revealed.
The first deployment of B-29s was in the China-Burma-India Theater, five of the early arrivals fell out of the sky while doing no more than flying. No one realized they weren’t designed to fly in India’s 120 degree heat. Hundreds of other flaws were found in this same trial and error way, causing planes to be lost, and crews to be lost.
Engine fires were a special problem. The fire suppression systems were simply inadequate and worked less than twenty percent of the time. Quite unfortunately, wings failed quickly, folding in half soon after an engine caught fire.
In the end, the B-29 obliterated Japan’s major cities, burning them down to the sidewalks by firebombing. The 29s blocked navigation in their harbors by mining, and forced the Japanese unconditional surrender by dropping two atomic bombs on it’s citizens.
Back to January 1941
Army life isn’t like normal life.
It can take some getting used to.
However, every buck private thrown into a barracks full of shavetails quickly understands the normal goings on. It is a gaggle of Army man-boys, not quite soldiers, not long from their mothers’ apron strings, thrown together by luck of the draw, absent of reason, as is the Army way.
For Dean Harold Sherman, age 18, lately of Gilt Edge, Montana, newly assigned to Fort Douglas, it was indeed a new building, new barracks mates, but with his history of military service, he realized it was also the same old, same old.
Same old two story, wooden frame barracks, complete with Army green roof. Same old Army issue bunks, barely passable for sleeping, equipped with the same old foot lockers, veterans themselves of many soldier users. Same old pungent barracks fragrance, the stench of cleanliness that hangs in the place, the residue of a thousand soldiers mopping the Army tile floor. The same cream color walls colored by paint the Army must have bought by the trainload. The same old disappearance of self, absorbed by a 48 man organism, without a face and only the name of Company B. Personal privacy replaced with a dozen porcelain toilets, arrayed in the open, perfectly aligned and fastidiously cleaned awaiting the public conduct of personal business.
Like every US Army barracks, the building was filled with the harvest of America’s families, one half of the nations most valuable commodity, the male members of the next generation. These American boys were rowdy, reckless, full of wonder and curiosity. They sought adventure, with bravado, patriotism, and testosterone. They were volunteers to a man. They came to the army in the years before World War II. They didn’t need to wait. Some were men of oversized destiny, charter members of the “Greatest Generation.”
At that moment, they were blind to their future greatness, to the tremendous challenges they would rise to meet. Right now, however, they were mostly concerned with the present and if duty and time allowed, the consumption of alcohol and the meeting of girls.
Dean was well prepared for this world.
He had come to the Army by way of the National Guard unit based in Lewistown, Montana. He joined up in November of 1938 at age 15. He participated in summer camps and week long winter tours until his high school graduation in 1940. In the fall of that year he enlisted in the Regular Army.
Dean liked the Army, but he sometimes missed Gilt Edge. Located in central Montana, it was more a ghost mining community than anything else. Sitting like a boulder that rolled off the east edge of the Rockies and landed on the Great Plains, Gilt Edge is one of those places you don’t get to without some determined effort.
The large and bustling Sherman Ranch, run over an ex-gold mine, was at the end of a long meandering gravel road that forked off the tar road leading to Lewistown. The sprinkling of families that lived on the road were tough people. They had to be. Dean’s father was famous for stating that “the farther up the road you go the tougher people get.” Always making a point that the listener knew his ranch was the last one on the road.
Dean was born over in Lewistown, the Fergus County seat. He graduated from the County’s high school, where he was a bit of a track star, in the class of 1940. By all accounts he was handsome, as the Montana Shermans tend to be, and never very far from a grin. Slightly built at five foot ten and one hundred forty five pounds, he felt keenly eager to establish his place in the world.
He had an extraordinary maturity, no doubt in part derived from being the man of the house as his mother wandered through three marriages. He was elevated to part time confidant, parent and care giver forcing him to be “grown up” at a young age.
He held a great determination, of unknown origin, to live his life well. A certain sense of foreordination abode in him, that he had been selected to experience an extraordinary life, that he had great “doings” inside of him.
In this assumption he was correct. What he did not realize was that he only had 1575 days of life left. Fifty two and one half months, four years and some change.
19 January 1941, The Meeting
Dean’s first visit to a Mormon church “left a mark.”
Stan’s girlfriend, Carol, immediately asked her best friend Connie to join their threesome. Few men have been smitten as Dean Sherman was on that day.
Those first few moments of introduction ventured toward the unearthly. Their initial eye contact held for them an intimacy neither had heretofore experienced. They didn’t feel like strangers, they felt an odd curiosity about one another, as if they had come upon some lost part of themselves.
Dean would later describe the moment saying it felt like time was suspended. That they busied themselves getting acquainted, conversing, laughing, celebrating their new friendship, in a very lengthy conversation that had the flavor of two old friends reuniting rather than two strangers in a chance first encounter.
His recollection of the experience disputed the fact that there were no words spoken and the moment lasted but a few seconds.
In his days in Gilt Edge, Dean had a lot of girls that were friends. But he never had one he could describe in the one word, girlfriend. No one ever “clicked” for him. This particular Sunday, in this Church service, he felt himself “clicking” all over a girl that was a total stranger.
The church service was conducted by a gentleman who very much reminded Dean of his father and lead his mind back to Gilt Edge, wondering if Bill had gotten drunk last night. If he had, a very unpleasant day was likely in the offing. He had quit calling William F. Sherman “Father” long ago, a few months after his mother married him for the second time. It was her third try at marriage, and none of them seemed to work out very well.
He never could reconcile that. His mother was funny, warm, loving, all a son could hope for in a mother, but her choices in men fell to tragedy. Her misguided loyalty and sense of duty kept her bound to relationships that did not deserve her effort. Maybe, she was just terrified of being alone, worried about how to provide for her children. It was beyond his understanding but it saddened him.
When Dean wasn’t being smitten by Connie he was being smitten by the sermon presented in the service. Delivered by a Brother Wilson, a man of unusually large stature, meticulously groomed, his penetrating eyes were near lethal even for those in the back of the chapel.
His message began, “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” Dean liked that idea, he didn’t know much about God but liked that God might offer his support to his eventual marriage.
”It is our most cherished earthly relationship.” He drove the point home by saying, “Like the Lord, we have been commanded to love our spouse with all our heart.”
This message was a new perspective, loving a spouse with all of one’s “heart.” He had seen marriage and family done another way. His father had married four times, twice to his mother, and his mother had married and divorced three times, creating a hodgepodge family dynamic full of hurt, uncertainty, distrust and many other things that fell short of the image this Brother was presenting. Dean had determined long before to do marriage differently than his parents.
There had to be a better way.
Perhaps this Brother Wilson knew the secret.
* * *
After services the evening followed Stan’s plan to go to Carol’s house, except after gaining permission from Carol, Dean invited Connie to join them. A pleasant evening of chatter and monopoly ended with Dean walking Connie the few Salt Lake City style blocks home. Home to a house at 467 Sherman Avenue. That was the beginning of a thousand jokes about how Dean Sherman found the love of his life on Sherman Avenue.
Dean snuck in an invitation to an upcoming dance at South High that Carol had mentioned, just in case he wanted to see Connie again. He did want to see Connie again, absolutely, he wanted to see her again, the fact of the matter being, he didn’t want to ever stop seeing her.
Spring 1941, A Romance Blooms
That was the beginning of several months of mostly double dating with Carol and Stan, going to school dances, and to the movies, and such. There were also some church parties, and quite often Dean would ring the door bell on Mutual night (Mormon mid-week youth services) so he could go with me to Mutual. Sometime he borrowed a car and picked Carol and I up after school and drove us home. (Connie’s family history.)
Dean became a very proficient car borrower. His MP work put him in contact with lots of cars and their owners. He especially liked the guys going on tdy or temporary duty assignment. If they weren’t taking their cars Dean offered to watch after and take care of their vehicle while they were gone. Who better than an officer of the law to protect one’s motorized investment.
The new relationship was not without problems. Connie’s parents were more than concerned that their very young daughter was dating a soldier. Connie understood and would sheepishly report, in the understatement of the month, “at that time service men had a rather bad reputation.”
Dean countered with an afternoon visit to the Baldwin household, not to see Connie, but to visit with Mother Baldwin.
He visited … to get acquainted and try to assure mother that he was a nice fellow, and not to worry that her daughter was going out with a soldier. He wanted her and my father to know that he would take good care of me.
Dean must have done a good job, but it probably didn’t hurt that Papa Baldwin had already had a dream in which he saw himself baptizing Dean into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
Connie’s third person description ends with:
After that it was alright that she went with him.
1 June 1941, Mechanics School
Their first test of separation came seven months after they had started dating. Dean had signed up for Airplane Mechanic School and was ordered to Canute Field, Rental, Illinois. Dean came in the afternoon to Connie’s house to say his goodbyes.
I wouldn’t kiss him goodbye. After a while Dean left and as I watched him walk up the street and disappear around the corner to catch the bus, all at once I knew I loved him and wished with all my heart I had given him that kiss.
Dean was a good and vigilant letter writer during his six months at Canute, keeping Connie up to date with his progress. One of the fringe benefits of mechanics school was that there were a lot of airplanes sitting around after the work day ended. One of the instructors was also a pilot and Dean charmed him into enough lessons that he became a proficient pilot. He racked up many hours of flying time “testing” the work of the mechanics in training.
Dean was convinced the planes needed a lot of “testing.”
9 November 1941, The Return to SLC
Upon graduation from Airplane Mechanic School Dean returned to Salt Lake City, but now assigned to the Salt Lake Air Base.
These were wonderful months for Dean and I. We went to school dances and the Tuesday night dances at the Coconut Grove. Coconut Grove was a huge beautiful romantic dance hall in downtown Salt Lake City, every Tuesday night was waltz night. Every other dance was a waltz, it was wonderful. We went to the movies often, and again he picked me up as often as possible after school, whenever he could borrow a car. We went uptown on the bus a lot of the times too. Dean was with our family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that year, there was a picnic in the canyon in the spring one afternoon, too.
6 December 1941, The Proposal
Across all lives, there are days and then there are DAYS. For Connie and Dean, 6 December 1941, was such a day. Of course it was the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the changes that would bring into their lives, but for this one more day, they were free of that reality. They set off on a quiet, intimate walk in Liberty Park.
This December Saturday, the weather Gods looked kindly on these young lovers. It was a windless, bright sunny day, surprisingly warm for Salt Lake. They wandered as they most often did, to the south end of the island in Liberty Park Pond, to a rock they considered their own private place to be together.
To be together and alone.
And so it was fitting that young Dean Sherman slid down onto his right knee, took Connie’s hand and asked if she would please become his wife.
This turn of events startled Connie, it was beyond her expectations. And while she knew Dean wanted her to say yes, she could not. Not because she did not love him, she had realized that the day she refused to kiss him goodby on his way to mechanic school but because of her fear for her parents reaction.
“Connie your much too young for such a commitment,” spoken firmly in her Mother’s voice was all that was going on in her sixteen year old brain. It was hard for her to argue with the point, love or no love, she knew she was still the age of a girl, not a woman.
Dean was persistent without being obnoxious. Over the coming weeks he continued to ask and on New Years Day, 1942 the negotiations were completed with Connie accepting a wrist watch as a secret engagement present.
December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor
The motivations for Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor were centered on gaining the resources and harbors found throughout the Pacific and Asian areas. Japan had already sent a million soldiers to invade China in 1937. They considered the British and American Navies the only deterrents to domination of the Pacific area.
They fully expected a “blue water war,” one conducted far from their homeland. A war waged by their Navy that relied heavily on their superior battleships and aircraft carriers that were weaponized with excellent pilots and planes of war. The initial goal of the attack on Pearl Harbor was to annihilate the American Navy threat. They came very close but not close enough.
Japan as a nation and as a people looked at life and war much differently than Americans. They had barely pulled themselves out of the feudal age, they disdained personal freedom and rising within the social classes. They were an obedient, compliant people. The Japanese were convinced that by way of being the Land of the Rising Sun they were blessed and favored above all other people of the earth, and that their Emperor, was blessed with communications from the Gods.
Add the development of an Army and Navy Command that was outside of civilian control, responsible only to the Emperor, a command free to make decisions based on military objectives without the input or considerations of parliament or the citizens of the nation and you get Pearl Harbor.
Ten hours after the surprise attack the Prime Minister of Japan, Tojo Hideki gave a national address carried over the radio throughout the nation:
I am resolved to dedicate myself, body and soul, to the country, and to set at ease the August mind of our sovereign. And I believe that everyone of you, my fellow countrymen, will not care for your life but gladly share in the honor to make of yourself His Majesty’s humble shield.
The key to victory lies in a “faith in victory.” For 2600 years since it was founded, our Empire has never known a defeat. This record alone is enough to produce a conviction in our ability to crush any enemy no matter how strong. Let us pledge ourselves that we will never stain our glorious history, but will go forward …
And so Japan went forward, racing towards their first defeat, blind to the destruction they were about to bring on themselves. Each citizen striving to be a home front soldier embracing their calling as a personal humble shield of the Emperor. And for those that would become soldiers, there was no greater honor, no greater achievement than giving your life honorably for this grand cause. With the contrary rule also true, there was no greater disgrace than surrender.
8 December 1941, War!
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
These famous words of President Roosevelt delivered to Congress and the American people the day after the Pearl Harbor attack are recognizable to nearly every American. They served as a preamble to the declaration of war with Japan.
If it was going to be a war of Gods, the Americans had their own ideas about just whose side Deity might be on: With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.
The Americans made a decision early on, that this war would only end with unconditional surrender, there would be no negotiations, no repeating the Armistice of World War I.
With the declaration, the Air Corp immediately needed pilots and lowered the entrance to pilot training from college grads only to qualification by test.
It was a test Dean passed easily.
28 December 1941, Baptism
A baptismal font is a strange place. Something like a bathing spa in a walk in closet. And when Dean descended down the tile steps wearing a baggy one piece baptismal gown that had been worn a hundred times before, by a hundred people making this commitment he reached to grab the hand of Papa Baldwin who was waiting for him in the water.
It was a simple ceremony and a straight forward commitment, consummated by prayer and culminated by the act of being immersed in the water and brought forth a new person, raised from being buried as was the Christ.
Participation announced one’s commitment to take the name of Christ upon themselves, there by to be numbered among His disciples, to live a life that reflected the fact that this disciple always remembered Him and earnestly strove to keep His commandments.
It is not a one way promise. The ordinance creates a covenant with
God. A covenant, in that if one keeps his sacred vows and lives by them, Heavenly Father promises the Holy Ghost, through, the ordinance of confirmation, as a constant companion.
It is a strange religion, these are peculiar people, but Dean began developing a belief, a personal testimony or witness, the very first Sunday when he went with Stan Carter to church and met Connie.
22 May 1942 to 6 February 1943, Becoming a Pilot
Making a pilot out of a soldier was no small thing. Lots of ground school, lots of flying, even more testing, and at the end of a training module, the regular failure of one third of the class of candidates. Instructors evaluated the surviving students and made recommendations for their next level of training. Orders would be cut accordingly.
The heavily testosterone laden were herded into fighter pilot training. The cool headed tended to be “Big Plane” candidates. It was solely at the digression of the Army. No soldier input required. Dean made no secret he was interested the the biggest of the big, the B-29. He could, however, only hope for that assignment.
Dean’s training gauntlet was accomplished in a baby step tour of California. Pilot Preflight in Santa Anna, Pilot Primary in Tulare, Basic Pilot in Merced. It culminated in Douglas, Arizona with Pilot Advanced Training. The reward was his commission as an 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corp.
While at Merced, Dean had mailed Connie an engagement ring. Their intention to marry no longer needed to be kept secret, Connie was turning eighteen and coming of age. Their hope and plan was that upon his commission on 6 February, Dean would receive leave and he would hurry to Salt Lake to be married. Of course the Army Air Corp had other plans and Dean was immediately posted to Victorville Army Airbase in California.
The Army wanted him to help train bombardiers. AT-11s were the planes used in Bombardier training and Dean was assigned to be what was labelled an “approach pilot.” He flew the plane around while an instructor tried to train a new Bombardier.
AT-11s were known as Twin Beeches in the civilian world. It was a rather long lived twin engine product of Beech Aircraft Corporation. It was a “tail dragger” and featured a unique twin tail fin configuration. The Army used them to train, navigators, bombardiers, gunners, and photo recon operators. They even served as light bombers in the China Burma India (CBI) Theater of the war.
Dean was granted leave without warning near the end of April 1943. Dean borrowed a car, called Connie to warn her to make what preparations she could and started driving up the future route of Interstate 15 to Salt Lake City.
30 April 1943, A Date in the Temple
30 April 1943, 2nd Lt Dean Harold Sherman married Constance Avilla Baldwin, who was one month older than eighteen in the Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It was the beginning of their eternal family unit.
They enjoyed a hastily arranged reception thrown together by Mother Baldwin on the 3rd of May and made their way back to California.
Dean had rented a cabin in Wrightwood, a mountain resort area in the San Bernardino Mountains for them. It was a community of summer homes that were largely being rented to service men and their wives during the war effort.
As lovely a place as Wrightwood was, we only lived there for five and one half weeks. On 14 June we moved to a motel in the small town of Adelanto, California right on the Mohave Desert. The reason for the move being that it was much closer to Victorville Air Base, and so much better for Dean. After sometimes having to fly into the wee hour of the night, it was too hard for Dean to stay awake on the long ride home through the canyon to Wrightwood, in the still borrowed car.
During the time in California Dean took me on several trips to Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Hollywood and Long Beach, to name a few of the places. He also took me to visit Uncle Paul Williams in Los Angeles (a brother to his mother.) On one of the visits to Hollywood, Dean bought a pair of swim-fins and he always had a great time swimming with them when we were at the lakes and seashore. He was an excellent swimmer.
Dean took me for a couple of rides in an AT-11 while stationed at Victorville. He frightened me to death almost when he put the airplane on automatic pilot and then walked to the back of the plane and sat down.
Dean was rather inclined to being adventurous and a bit of a dare devil at times. His Air Force buddies said he could fly so low he could go under the telephone wires, missing both them and the ground. Surely he didn’t really do that though.
About the Author
I am, by my admission, a reluctant writer. But some stories demand to be told. When we hear them, we must pick up our pen, lest we forget and the stories are lost.
Six years ago, in a quiet conversation with my friend Marvin, I learned the tragic story his father, a WW2 B-29 Airplane Commander, shot down over Nagoya, Japan just months before the end of the war.
The telling of the story that evening by this half orphan was so moving and full of emotion, it compelled me to ask if I could write the story. The result was They Called Him Marvin.
My life has been profoundly touched in so many ways by being part of documenting this sacred story. I pray that we never forget, as a people, the depth of sacrifice that was made by ordinary people like Marvin and his father and mother on our behalf.
My career as an addiction counselor (CDP) lead me to write “The Waterfall Concept; A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery,” and co-author “Reclaiming Your Addicted Brain.”
My next project is already underway, a memoir of growing in SW Washington called “Life on a Sorta Farm.” My wife of 49 years, Susan, and I still live in that area.
We raised seven children and have eleven grandchildren. We love to travel and see the sites and cultures of the world. I still get on my bicycle whenever I can.
You can visit Roger’s website at https://theycalledhimmarvin.com/ or connect with him on Facebook or Instagram.
In the Spotlight: Awakening the Avatar Within by Darren Starwynn
Title: AWAKENING THE AVATAR WITHIN: A Roadmap for Uncovering Your Superpowers, Upgrading Your Body and Uplifting Humanity
Author: Darren Starwynn
Publisher: Desert Heart Press
Genre: Spiritual Awakening/Meditation/Energy Healing/Personal Development
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Dr. Darren Starwynn has had a long career as acupuncturist, inventor, writer, healer and teacher, integrating therapeutic systems from around the world. He has written four groundbreaking books, led hundreds of workshops and seminars, invented several vibrational devices used worldwide and helped develop advanced mind-body healing systems.
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“These days, there seems to be an endless stream of books and Internet sites about healing and consciousness, Darren’s book Invoke the Avatar Within stands out like a bright beacon of light. Darren has done something new and different, very necessary in these destructive times on our planet Earth. He has provided a practical roadmap for evolving both our minds and physical bodies to a higher level of consciousness and vitality through the principles of epigenetics and spiritual alchemy. He has convincingly shown a way that people can become Avatars, and how awakened Avatars can join forces to literally change this world. Today, in the compromised political and public domains, it is truly difficult to name any heroes, Darren’s work is indeed champion.” -Jon Whale. PhD., author of The Catalyst of Power, scientist and inventor
“In his latest book, Awakening the Avatar Within, Darren Starwynn manages to describe the current problems, and the solutions for all of humanity in clear and easy prose, and makes it easy to follow his guidance in how to recognize and develop the Avatar you already are. In addition, you can feel an energy transmission that emanates from the very pages of the book. This book is chock-full of intriguing information along with easy-to-follow guided practices, all designed to awaken your remembrance of who you really are.” -Vidya Frazier, Author of The Ascension Lightworker Guide & Awakening to the Fifth Dimension
“In Invoke the Avatar Within You, Darren Starwynn, O.M.D., offers a practical and pertinent guide to how to be a “practicing evolutionary”, and help heal our own lives, along with humanity’s traumas. As the boundaries between the physical and metaphysical become more porous, Darren helps awakening souls guide others through this evolutionary passage – so that heaven becomes a practice instead of a destination.” — Steve Bhaerman, aka Swami Beyondananda, Comedian, Uncommontator and co-author of Spontaneous Evolution with Bruce Lipton
“Awakening the Avatar Within guides the reader through practical steps of a deep inner awakening of their highest self, helping tap into pure consciousness, your own healing transmission and the ability to transcend old habits and patterns that have kept us stuck as mind/limiting self.” —Shannon Kassoff, Yoga Teacher, Master Reiki Teacher
Release Date: September 15, 2021
Publisher: Desert Heart Press
Soft Cover: ISBN: 0578251426; 348 pages; $19.99; E-Book, $7.99
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/awakening-the-avatar-within-darren-starwynn/1140269384?ean=9780578251424
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Awakening-Avatar-Within-Darren-Starwynn/9780578251424m
There is now a rapidly growing movement of people who recognize that the awakening of human consciousness is the ultimate solution to our personal and planetary problems. They recognize the truth that there is one common denominator to all the environmental, social, political, economic and health crises facing the human race now. That common denominator is the part of the human mind denying our true, divine self – the universal consciousness of Love and oneness.
This book is a roadmap to an extraordinary transformative process few people even believe is possible. Each of its chapters contains consciousness-awakening messages combined with transmissions of higher light energy. Receiving these transmissions and working with the guided practices offered will support you in realizing your true identity as an Avatar. The word Avatar is derived from the Sanskrit word avatara, which means “descent,” meaning the Divine coming down into material expression.
You probably know some people who radiate spiritual light in powerful and charismatic ways. Many are drawn to follow them, and they tend to be spiritual teachers, ministers or other kinds of leaders. You may wonder “I’m not one of those, how could I be an Avatar?” The truth is, there are many different ways Avatars show up and not all are in public view. I can assure you that you have your own “job description” for how you beautifully express divinity. Chapter 17 – Your Job Description as a Lightworker will help you identify it.
Living as an Avatar becomes real as you go through the physiological process of upgrading your body to be able to hold a higher frequency of energy and consciousness. From that place, you will discover you have real superpowers you can develop and share to help heal, bless and uplift others. And, have a lot of fun in the process!
These extraordinary transformations are possible because we are living through a wave of rapid planetary ascension of consciousness affecting all life. This is part of vast cycles of consciousness that have been documented in the ancient Vedas from India, traditional Mayan cosmology and other sources. The doors to awakened consciousness are now wide open, much more so than ever before in recent human history. In fact, our greatest impediment to taking advantage of this extraordinary opportunity is simply believing we can’t.
We are already moving through this ascension into greater light, and nothing can stop it. What is variable is how much suffering there needs to be during this transition time. This is where modern Avatars shine. We have powerful abilities to heal ourselves and reduce the suffering of others. We do this by helping accelerate the grounding of higher light in our bodies, our psyches, our societies, our arts, our institutions and our sciences.
There are so many good people working toward the healing and upliftment of humanity in all those areas. Yet without the major shift of consciousness Avatars help bring, our collective experience is likely to look like one step forward, one step backward. That’s not enough for humanity to make it through this time without increasing destruction.
Each of us is caught up in this ascension of consciousness, and our experience of it can range from blissful to deeply disturbing. A great analogy is riding a surfboard on large ocean waves. When surfers have good balance and skill, the experience of riding big waves is exhilarating and joyful.
If they lose their balance and “wipe out,” they can quickly find themselves crushed under a wall of water and gasping for breath.
In a similar way, when we trustingly allow the rapidly elevating energies of consciousness ascension to carry us, it is a high, joyful experience – the greatest ride of your life. Yet when we fearfully deny and resist this profound shift in consciousness, it can and often does feel scary and overwhelming.
The information, perspectives and practical methods presented in this book come from my own lifetime journey of learning, research, self-healing, helping heal others, meditation, facing my shadow self, teaching and direct spiritual experience. Rather than place a bio about me at the beginning of the book, I have woven my personal story throughout various chapters within it.
If you’re like many people on the path of self-healing, you may have consulted with a succession of healers, therapists, doctors, holistic practitioners, clergy, gurus or self-help books, and yet still have times when you feel a deep sense of trauma or disconnect within your being. And yet there is a mighty divine current flowing through you 24-7 that can free you from all bondage and give you the power to help free the rest of the human race. This is the missing link that can bring you what you have really been looking for through all that searching.
You can access more of this divine current through the process of becoming Christed. Christing refers to a process through which your mind, body, nervous system and genetics are literally rewired to operate at higher frequencies of love, intelligence and creative power.
These are attributes of what is often called God or Divine source, and as an Avatar, your job is learning to practically express them in your everyday life. In this case, the term Christing has a similar meaning to the words “maturing,” “evolving,” or other terms that describe a process of fulfilling one’s greater potential. The oft-prophesied second coming of Christ is not about one superstar person making a grand appearance. The second coming is happening as huge numbers of people become Christed, and through the immense field of love and power that generates, we are able to effectively rebuild our world.
Section Two of this book is titled Quantum Healing and gives you practical guidance in developing your Avatar healing abilities. As will be explained in Chapter 13, you are in holographic inter-connection with all life. This means there is no real separation between you, everyone else and the entire Universe. Therefore you can be a catalyst of healing for people thousands of miles away. Due to the holographic principle, there is essentially no difference between healing yourself and helping heal the planet – it all happens together. It’s just a matter of your intention and focus.
The phrase, I AM Avatar, is a supremely powerful affirmation and mantra of your highest truth. When you say I AM Avatar, you identify yourself as an expression of the pure love, power and wisdom of the Universe. You accept responsibility for being a vital part of the solution at this critical time. To some people, saying I AM Avatar or I AM the Christ may sound like a radical, conceited or even insane thing to say. Yet claiming I AM Avatar is the pre-eminent key to the fulfillment of your personal purpose, healing and self-realization.
The following passage from the beloved Indian scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, expresses the purpose of an Avatar well. The word Dharma in this quote means fulfilling your true purpose and living in tune with the laws of nature.
“Whenever dharma declines and the purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth. I am born in every age to protect the good, to destroy evil, and to reestablish dharma.”
According to this phrase, we are certainly living in a time where Avatars are needed – lots of us.
I’m calling upon you to trust your own inner knowing and not settle for anything less than this highest and clearest truth that a vital part of you already knows. If you have ever felt that there was a bigger picture for fulfilling your life potential, or a more expansive way you could contribute to the welfare of the human race, now is the time to step up. It is my sincere wish that the message, practices and vibrational transmission of this book act as a touchstone to help awaken you to a greater truth of who you really are. The tools you will gain here can empower you to free yourself from your own inner struggles and contradictions, and recognize the divine energy transmission that is already flowing through you. The ultimate solution is right here to all the things that may have made you feel discouraged, frustrated or afraid.
Dogma–Free Understanding of Avatar, Christ, Buddha and Lightworker
The word Christ has a similar meaning as Avatar. It is derived from the Greek word Kristos which means the anointed one, referring to a human being who is expressing divine Presence. Christ is an innate quality of the true, higher self of human beings. Therefore, I use both terms Avatar and Christ interchangeably throughout this book. The term Christ is not used here in a religious, Christian context. The term Buddha, which means “awakened one” in the Pali language, also has a similar meaning. All of these terms describe the experience of being an awakened Avatar in human form, independent of any religious affiliations or beliefs.
A more contemporary word to describe those stepping up to heal and serve through higher consciousness is Lightworker. There are already many millions of people acting as Lightworkers on our planet now, and that is one of the main reasons that so many natural and human-caused disasters have been averted or lessened from how severe they could have been. If you are a Lightworker or moving into being one, Chapter 17 will help you identify the characteristic ways you offer your love and service.
Two of the most famous Avatars, Jesus the Christ and Gautama the Buddha, were not always awake. They had to go through a process of becoming aware of the illusions they lived in, taking back their power and awakening themselves to their true nature. They were able to break free of the profound amnesia most of us fall into when we grow up in human bodies. Yet they are no more Avatar than you are. It’s just that they accomplished their awakening to a greater degree, and so can act as our helpful big brothers. This same opportunity is in front of you now.
How Can Avatars Help Uplift the World?
Avatars are creators, and intuitively grasp a profound truth: what we see as “the world” is not any certain way. It is really what we believe it to be and make it to be. Realizing this truth is a major step in awakening our consciousness and knowing who we really are. Less awakened people generally see the world helplessly, in a fear-based way. Avatars learn to hold the vision of the world they choose to live in, manifesting their vision by focusing their love, consciousness and actions upon it. This means that each person living as an Avatar becomes a beacon of light helping illuminate the path for others.
This form of focus has unlimited potency, especially as large numbers of us develop our superpowers and focus together. See Chapter 4 to learn more about your superpowers.
I have witnessed many remarkable examples of the power of Avatars when we focus our light together. As a striking example, in fall of 2019 some of the worst wildfires in recorded history were raging throughout eastern Australia. Prior to the start of these wildfires Australia had been gripped by record heat and more than two years of continuous drought. By November of that year a state of catastrophic fire danger was declared in Sydney and other parts of New South Wales. By January, 2020 over 46 million acres were burning in various Australian states and territories, destroying thousands of homes and wiping out entire species of animals and plants.
In mid-January, 2020 I received a series of emails calling on me to participate in two scheduled times of global meditation to benefit Australia. Participants were requested to take a few minutes two days in a row to visualize heavy rains falling all over the fire-stricken parts of the country. It was suggested in the email that we visualize people standing out in the rain celebrating and giving thanks. I participated in these group meditations, feeling the power of people all over the world focusing their prayers.
Rain started falling within two days after these global meditations. The first rainfall in late January started putting out the fires. Then, between February 6th and 10th 154 inches of rain fell throughout the fire-stricken areas of Australia, putting out most of the fires. It was the heaviest rainfall recorded in Australia in 30 years.
I have heard about or witnessed many experiences like that. Another one happened at the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill back in April of 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. Considered to be one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history, over 210 million gallons of petroleum was discharged into the Gulf with severe toxic effects on human and marine life. Scientists and engineers tried many methods to cap the deep underwater well without success over a five-month period.
On the weekend of September 18 – 19 of 2010 I was participating in a spiritual healing retreat in Tucson, Arizona led by Dr. Zhi Gang Sha, a teacher of advanced spiritual healing methods. At one point on Saturday the 18th one of the retreat participants suggested that I ask Dr. Sha if our group could somehow help mitigate the Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster. I did go up to him during a break and explained the situation. Dr. Sha had not heard about it since he apparently didn’t listen to the news. But he acknowledged the situation and agreed to “see what he and our group energy could do.” The next day, Sunday the 19th, I was checking the news and learned that a team of engineers had finally succeeded at capping and containing the oil spill.
Was this just an interesting co-incidence? Or could it have been a manifestation of the power of focused intention? I am open to the latter explanation because I have personally experienced or heard about many such extraordinary healings and reprieves from negative or disastrous situations throughout my life. Awakening Avatars can participate in a level of causality hard to explain through most of our sciences, yet can clearly be experienced. The science of Quantum physics has been catching up to being able to explain the power of consciousness to create reality, and you will find several explanations of quantum phenomena throughout this book.
Why Trauma Matters and Why Healing Trauma is an Essential Part of the Solution
Trauma is a big deal for the human race now. While about 8 – 12 million people in the United States are medically diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, almost all of the rest of us deal with what I call “low-grade PTSD.” It has become our new normal to feel stressed out in various ways due to economic pressures, isolation, family breakdowns, exposure to toxins and living in highly polarized societies.
Ironically, all of this easily recognizable stress is exacerbated by the mass ascension of consciousness we are part of. As our consciousness expands, we are becoming more empathic, literally feeling more of the pain of the world. Many of our own conveniently buried psychic burdens and unresolved past trauma are also coming up to the surface of our minds much more quickly than we can often process. These are reasons why so much of the traditional psychotherapies and holistic healing arts only ease part of people’s distress these days.
As mentioned above, Lightworkers are Avatars who specialize in helping others heal by awakening to their true nature. This is the highest and most effective form of healing. It truly frees people from their past mental and emotional programming and allows them to step up to being part of the solution themselves. Section Two of this book is full of valuable guidance for healers and specific healing methods.
Opening to your Avatar Energy Transmission
As you go through the process of becoming Christed, you become familiar with the specific ways divine consciousness expresses through you. I call this your unique energy transmission. This is a stream of pure vibrational energy emanating from your highest spiritual source that flows through you and blesses others in profound ways. This is the essence of you. It is also what makes you most effective at whatever you are called to do in your life.
Why do I say that your energy transmission is unique? Think of the human race as a huge symphony orchestra. Each musician in the orchestra has her own part to play that differs from most of the other player’s parts, although some players share the same part and play in sections. When each player in the symphony plays her part clearly and accurately an amazing, beautiful composite musical sound is created. This is the way it is with us. Our energy transmission is the part we are given to play in the grand symphony of the human race. Our highest key to success, effectiveness and fulfillment in every aspect of our life is identifying our unique energy transmission and cultivating our body’s ability to hold and emanate it.
The specific abilities your transmission gives you can be called your superpowers. These are the ways you express genius in your life. Yes, that’s right, genius. Genius refers to people who have opened up to allow their transmission to freely express though them. There is great, unlimited power in this. We have seen how a handful of people in touch with their genius have transformed the human race through science, technology, the expressive arts, furthering of human rights, spiritual awakening and much more. You are now called to be one of them. Why? Because you can! And, also because the world surely needs that special ability you are perfectly suited to offer.
The reason this book, and others like it are needed is that most of us who are Avatars in human form are on the latter part of a long journey in which we have been exploring the human experience. During this “long strange trip” we have experienced all manner of high and low vibratory experiences, from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair. We have repeatedly acted out the roles of both perpetrator and victim. Many of these experiences have created lasting energy imprints upon the ultra-sensitive inner membranes of our subconscious minds. By now, that has created quite a bewildering burden that can cloud our hearts and obscure our sight. I often use the Sanskrit word samskara, or the English terms “energetic gunk,” conditioning or “residoo-doo” to refer to this complex psychic burden that is at the root of most chronic pain, disease, anxiety and depression.
One factor that has made this burden even heavier is the tendency for some self-serving individuals and organizations to take advantage of others by programming their minds with messages and images designed to manipulate them into giving their divine power away. These individuals have been all too happy to take this power for their own personal gain. You will learn how to put a stop to that in this book.
Human beings are energy transceivers. This means that that we are constantly sharing energy vibrations with others – sending and receiving. This includes those close to us and those a world apart. The current Earth condition in which close to 8 billion people are sharing vibrations that are frequently stressed and fear-based has created a kaleidoscopic mass hallucination in which we have largely lost touch with who we really are. No wonder things often seem so bizarre.
The great news is that there are simple, effective methods for clearing your inner space so you can not only remember that you are an Avatar, but also embody that pure, high vibration of love in your everyday, physical experience. This makes you a powerful part of the solution whether you are engaging as an activist or living a quiet, contemplative life – or anything in between.
As I write these words our human family is living through a new set of experiences that very few of us ever expected. Fallout from the COVID-19 virus epidemic put the brakes on much of human activity through much of 2020 and 2021, and at the time of this writing is still adversely affecting much of the world economy. As is usually the case, those who are richer and more privileged are coping relatively well and even thriving, while the poor face increasingly devastating consequences.
There are almost endless beliefs and theories about what this epidemic is, where it came from, why it is happening and what the solution could be to get the human race back on track. People hunger to know – when will things go back to normal so we can get on with our lives?
My firm belief is that things will never go back to what we considered normal, and that’s a great blessing. We have been living on Planet Earth in ways that have become increasingly unsustainable, and as a result are facing a myriad of escalating consequences. To put it simply, we just can’t keep living the way we’ve been living. The issues surrounding COVID, and pressing social issues filling the news headlines daily have pushed an even more crucial truth to the background of most people’s awareness – and that is the environmental reckoning we are facing now. Ninety-seven percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities, and the majority emphatically state that this poses critical threats to human wellbeing and even survival.
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a well-known sci-fi movie that was released in two versions in 1951 and 2008. The story is about an alien with God-like powers who comes to Earth to tell the human race that our self-destructive ways are not only endangering ourselves but other worlds as well, and that we must change our ways or be stopped. In case you have not seen the movie I recommend it and will not spoil it by disclosing more.
Although our current situation is not the same as the plot of that movie the underlying truth – the urgent need for rapid, fundamental change – is accurate.
It would make sense for scientists, governments, churches and all concerned people to come together to mobilize our best resources to resolve the pressing crises facing humanity. Yet there is deep division among people, not only about what the best approach is but even what the most fundamental facts are about our situation. This extreme polarization has hamstringed the kind of massive, unified action and mobilization that is so needed now.
This book offers a radical perspective on some of the most effective solutions to these challenges of our individual and global situation. I will demonstrate that it is through our consciousness that we have collectively created our current situation, and it is through the unlimited power of awakened consciousness that we can save the human race and our Earth from destruction, while simultaneously ascending into a way of living we may have only dreamed of as conscious, joyful sovereigns.
About the Author
Dr. Darren Starwynn has been aware of the Quantum Field of consciousness since childhood, traveling to India to study with a spiritual master during his teenage years. Since then Darren has had a long career as acupuncturist, medical device developer, writer, healer and teacher, integrating therapeutic systems from around the world. He has written four groundbreaking books, led hundreds of workshops and seminars and invented several vibrational devices used worldwide. Darren’s workshops and retreats weave laughter and playfulness with profound personal healing and transformation.
Thousands of people have been directly or indirectly touched by Darren’s offerings, and he has inspired many colleagues to expand the scope of their work to include energy medicine and consciousness-based healing systems. His work integrates vibrational energy medicine with multi-dimensional quantum healing to help people rapidly release old trauma, pain and limitations to their self-expression.
Darren serves as a Reverend through the Lightworker Ministry, empowering healers and Lightworkers to live as Avatars and participate in the currently unfolding planetary ascension of consciousness. He is a graduate of the Tri-State Institute of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and received a doctorate in Chinese Medicine in 1995 through the National Academy of Advanced Asian Medicine. He has been ordained as a Knight through the Sacred Medical Order of the Knights of Hope, a branch of the historical Knights Hospitaler from Europe.
Darren also loves playing and composing music, hiking, writing and dancing.
His latest book is Awakening the Avatar Within.
Visit his website at www.drstarwynn.com.
You can connect with him at Twitter or Facebook.
 See Chapter 17 for distinction between the terms Avatar and Lightworker
 Chapter 13 provides details of the remarkable practice of engaging in planetary healing
 Attributed to the ancient Avatar Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita
Awaken to Tarot: Be Your Own Guide with Astrology by Karen La Puma
Title: AWAKEN TO TAROT: BE YOUR OWN GUIDE WITH ASTROLOGY, NUMBERS AND THE TREE OF LIFE
Author: Karen La Puma
Publisher: Soul Source Publishing
The Tarot is a visual system that reveals both our True Nature and our obstacles. Introducing a new Tarot deck, made with digital collage. Through pictures, symbols, meanings, questions, processes, Kabbalah, key words, and affirmations, you can learn to:
- Find ways to reflect your inner guidance.
- Explore the magical journey of evolution
- Blend Astrology, Numerology, and the Tree of Life with the Tarot
- Discover the power and implications of the symbols of Tarot
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Publisher: SoulSource Publishing
Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1878203106; 420 pages; $24.95; Kindle Unlimited FREE
Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
Karen La Puma is the Author of a series of books called A Toolkit for Awakening, which are based on the Goddess Warrior on the Hero’s Journey. She is a motivational, intuitive, and spiritual counselor in private practice in the Bay Area since 1979. She is a teacher, astrologer, hypnotherapist, reiki master, inspirational speaker, and creative storyteller with a potent and timely message to empower your life.
Her latest book is Awaken to Tarot: Be Your Own Guide with Astrology, Numbers and the Tree of Life.
Visit her website at www.soul-source.org or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
In the Bookish Spotlight: Spirituality for Badasses by J. Stewart Dixon
Title: SPIRITUALITY FOR BADASSES
Author: J. Stewart Dixon
Publisher: PIE Publishing
Genre: Spirituality / Self-Help / Humor
J. Stewart Dixon, award-winning, best-selling humor and self-help author of Spirituality for Badasses has a bone to pick with conventional therapy and pharmaceutical companies concerning our collective bounce back and healing from the stress, anxiety and depression of Covid-19.
Asserts Mr. Dixon in the introduction to his book: “So you see…I really do get it. I used to be depressed, anxious, too smart for my own good, opinionated and unhappy…a real loveless, badass-hole. But now I’m just a spiritual badass. Spirituality removed the hole. I transformed. I changed. I grew up. I learned some hard lessons. And I did all this without ever losing my cool, integrity, smarts, libido, sense of humor or soul. And that’s just what this book is going to help you do. “
Kirkus Reviews – the prestigious book review media outlet wrote this about the book: “A motivational work blazes a spiritual path for those who consider themselves too cool for such things. A jokey yet earnest and useful guide to enlightenment for badass readers.”
On a whirl-wind virtual tour of radio station and podcast interviews J. Stewart Dixon has been offering his “calm island in the middle of the hurricane” solution to eager hosts such as celebrity chef Pete Evans from Perth, Australia and sportscaster i-Heart radio-DJ Ken Broo from Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s about noticing that part of you, which hasn’t changed your whole life. If you can notice and nurture this inner badass part, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its’ ability to heal, help and restore.”
Mr. Dixon knows first-hand about finding an inner badass, as he suffered from years of depression during his early adulthood. “I didn’t throw myself into spirituality to become a saint or a purist– I did it because I was hurting and in pain. I did drugs and alcohol. I tried therapy and Prozac. None of it worked. I was dragged kicking and screaming into spirituality and mindfulness practices and what I found was that, lo’ and behold, this sh%# works.”
A common question Mr. Dixon receives is, of course – Why all the swear words and humor? “I love the title Spirituality for Badasses because it instantly disarms any preconceived notions about spirituality and renders it friendly, approachable and down-to-earth. I think many of us are burned out by absolute truths, cures and opinions right now. So– I’m simply offering an alternative non-pharmaceutical “cure” that worked for me. As a bonus, I’ve thrown in some humor, and to keep it real, a few swear words.”
Mr. Dixon’s background as an engineer and business owner has also shaped his opinion about spirituality and mental health. “As an engineer most of my adult life, I’ve been hired to reduce complex systems into bite-sized, manageable portions. In Spirituality for Badasses I do the same: Mental health and spirituality is, to say the least, complex. I spent decades sifting through and integrating it, and what I came up with – which I’m proud of and grateful for today- was a process that worked both for myself and the thousands of readers who are now finding their own inner badasses.”
“In his new book, Spirituality for Badasses, J.Stewart Dixon has written an irreverent, exuberant, free-wheeling, stream-of-consciousness saga that chronicles the spiritual journey in ways that are unique, humorous, challenging and a hell of a lot of fun. Gone are the heavy-handed, esoteric pontifications so often included in books about “living like a spiritual warrior” and, instead, J. focuses more on de-mystifying this eternal quest by successfully normalizing its ordinariness. So, buckle up and be prepared for a wild ride that’s readable, accessible and eminently relatable. Two enthusiastic thumbs up! Highly recommended!”
-Chuck Hillig, Licensed Psychotherapist, Spiritual Teacher& Author of Enlightenment for Beginners, The Way IT Is, Seeds for the Soul, Looking for God, and The Magic King
“Spirituality for Badasses is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior for the rebels among us who are tired of sickly-sweet approaches to spirituality and have a sincere need to laugh out loud on the regular. J. Stewart Dixon is a true original … He’s your irreverent, potty-mouthed best friend and big brother, but don’t let the humor fool you: the teachings offered here are profoundly liberating, important pointers to awakened awareness. Dixon teaches us all to en-LIGHTEN-UP with his special blend of hilarious, profound, crazy-ass wisdom.”
-Erin Reese, M.S., Spiritual Counselor & Teacher & Author of Truth Seeker: A Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Liberation & The Adventures of Bindi Girl: Diving Deep Into the Heart of India
“Accessible. Compulsive. Irreverent. Fun. Practical- All the while lacking nothing in richness or depth. Take an adventure with J – a spiritual guide that comes off more Han Solo than Obi Wan Kenobi on the surface – as you journey along with the R-rated spiritual everyman with a lizard draped over his shoulders on a path that winds inside and out, through valleys and up mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, as you make your way toward becoming more your badass true aware self. This book is rich!”
-Zac Cannon, Pastor
Release Date: January 21, 2021
Publisher: PIE Publishing / Awakening Resource Center, LLC;
Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0-9858579-9-8; 329 pages; $15.99; E-Book, $5.99
Book Website: www.spiritualityforbadasses.com
About the Author
J. Stewart’s new book,Spirituality for Badasses, blossomed out of J. Stewart’s life as a spiritual seeker, finder and coach/teacher. He teaches based on his direct experience, twenty-nine years of interaction with numerous nonduality-advaita-zen-unorthodox teachers, his ongoing education / certification in modern mindfulness and a degree in communications / engineering from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. He makes his home in Virginia.
Visit his website at http://www.spiritualityforbadasses.com or connect with him on Facebook.
Book Excerpt Exclusive: Your Mid-Career GPS: Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next by John Neral @john_neral #bookexcerpt
Our exclusive book excerpt for today is from John Neral’s new book, Your Mid-Career GPS – Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next.
Are you considering a career change but doubt yourself or get easily overwhelmed by the entire process?
Are you a mid-career professional ready to level-up, but unsure of what steps to take?
What if there was an easy and supportive way to plan your next career destination?
Your Mid-Career GPS will guide you to create your own professional roadmap so you can find the job you love or love the job have. John Neral, Certified Professional Coach, will help you strategically position yourself in the marketplace while teaching you how to leverage your unique skills from a place of value and service for any organization.
Learn how to prepare, position, and promote yourself as you create a tactical and strategic plan by building Your Mid-Career GPS. Let this book be your guide to answer many of the current questions you have about creating your next advancement opportunity.
My career path has been messy. It’s had its share of ups, downs, spirals, and turns. There were incredible moments of joy, along with sheer frustration, pain, and stress. I’ve worked with some of the most memorable and incredibly talented people you could imagine. I’ve also worked with a few people who weren’t my favorites, but I have learned a ton from them and will always be grateful. And I’ve learned this is very common.
In Herminia Ibarra’s Harvard Business Review article, “Reinventing Your Career in the Time of Coronavirus,” Ibarra states, “Even in happier times, career change is never a perfectly linear process. It’s a necessarily messy journey of exploration – and to do it right, you have to experiment with, test, and learn about a range of possible selves.”
Reinventing your career isn’t new. We’ve been doing this as long as there has been “work.” But the pandemic made us pause, reflect, and consider what’s next for us professionally, perhaps a little more than during pre-pandemic times. That’s why you need a plan to help you get wherever you are going professionally, and it’s why I believe having a GPS is vital to your success.
Your career path is defined by particular moments where you’ve fought for whatever you wanted – be it a promotion, more responsibility, increase compensation, or more time with family. It’s during these moments when you are entirely committed and engaged in achieving the goals you’ve promised yourself and you are not going to settle. And while the outcome is important, you can’t overlook the steps you took to get there. Yet, sometimes, when people hit mid-career, they forget what those steps were.
You’re reading this book because you are feeling stuck in your career or feeling undervalued. You know you are capable of more. It has been years since you graduated high school or college, and you are easily overwhelmed by all of the things you think you need to do. And while you know you should get your résumé updated, the problem is you can’t find it, or it’s been years since you’ve written one. You believe you should be more engaged on LinkedIn but don’t know how to do that. You say you aren’t good at networking and interviewing, yet you know these things are integral to your success. Your thinking is continually putting you in a deficit, rather than focusing on what you are good at and taking a realistic inventory of where you can improve. You lie awake at night worrying about how you will navigate this career transition, and at times, it’s too much. It’s one of the many things keeping you up at night.
If you attended college, I’m willing to bet there was a time when everything flowed. You moved through the process. You enrolled, got accepted, took your courses, and four years later, exited with a degree, and hopefully, a job. You thought you had it all figured out. You knew what to do and were getting acclimated to that thing we call “adulting.”
Now, you may feel far removed from that time. Your strategic career plans may have derailed a bit, leaving you feeling alone, perhaps a bit shameful, and beating yourself up because you believe you should have figured this all out by now. You fear being perceived as irresponsible for not liking your job or wanting a change, but you don’t want to settle. You haven’t come this far to settle. You refuse to let go of your dreams.
What if you made a decision that you were going to welcome all of the new opportunities coming your way? Reading this book is one of the first things you will do to helping you build Your Mid-Career GPS, and it’s a great place to start.
It can be challenging to make a change mid-career. I know because I did it on several occasions. Many people doubted or questioned my career moves and gave me a reason to think I was foolish. It’s time to quiet the noise and get clear about what you want. Making a career change is just a circumstance. Your thoughts around an upcoming career change are an opportunity for you to hear what’s going on inside your head and decide how to help you take action.
This change for you is personal and may look very different from other mid-career professionals’ changes. For example, you may be seeking an internal promotion because you have spent several years at a company, have done great work, and value loyalty, so you want to stay and see if there is still room for you to grow.
You may have all the information you need to know that there isn’t a path upward for you at your current organization. Thus, you are looking to leverage your talents and expertise, take them to a new organization, seek a new and perhaps, more exciting title, and increase your salary. You want to work somewhere you feel more valued.
You may be looking to do something completely different. Navigating a career pivot can undoubtedly be exciting, but may cause tons of questions about whether or not such an opportunity is possible.
People struggle with SHOWing UP when they are fearful of the outcome. We are accustomed to ruminating on potential outcomes, only to waste energy about how things will play out, ultimately holding ourselves back from going after what we want. People often ask me how they can get out of their way. The answer is all about how you want to SHOW UP.
Throughout this book, you will notice that I always write SHOW UP in capital letters. My first book, “SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career,” uses SHOW UP as an acronym for these strategies: Set Ground Rules, Have Intentional Conversations, Own Where You Are, Welcome New Opportunities, Use Your Genius, and Protect and Promote Your Brand. As you read this book and see this reference, I hope you will think of SHOWing UP in the context of these six specific strategies, what they mean for you and your career, and reflect your mindset and actions toward SHOWing UP. There is a section devoted to SHOWing UP later in the book.
For this book, I will use the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) definition that a mid-career professional is someone with more than 10 years of professional experience. You will reach certain guideposts or mile markers that distinguish the early, middle, and later stages of your career. You have experience. You have achieved some level of success in your work, you’ve been recognized, and perhaps earned a promotion or two. You are more focused and confident about the work you do and don’t want to do. Identifying as a mid-career professional is also a reflection of your mindset.
In my mind, you are a mid-career professional when you identify as being in the “middle” part of your career. I agree with OPM’s definition but I also see where some people like to divide their careers into thirds. After graduation, be it high school or college, you could easily have 39-45 years of gainful employment. That means you would define each third based on every 13-15 years. Typically, the majority of my clients fall in that 32-50 age range.
Whether or not you identify as a mid-career professional, the strategies outlined in this book will help you create your career GPS so you can take steps to help you reach whatever professional destination is next for you.
Mid-career professionals may find themselves in a constant battle between maintaining the status quo and doing something they’ve always dreamed of doing. While they are proud of their accomplishments, there is also a part of them that regrets not obtaining the level of success or recognition they thought they would’ve achieved by now. Maybe they’ve lost sight of how amazing they truly are. If this sounds like you, keep reading.
Additionally, by the time mid-career has happened, you’ve experienced a lot of life events. You may be married or divorced. You may have been in several long-term relationships or trying to figure out what a relationship looks like for you. You have certain hobbies but often struggle with finding time to do them because of your job and family pressures. You may have aging parents and struggle with the difficult shift of being their primary caregiver. I know only too well how difficult and emotionally wrenching that can be. Yet, you get up every morning, put on a happy face, and do the best work you can because that is the kind of person you are.
The clients I work with are heart-centered professionals and leaders. Their default is always to put everyone first, sacrificing their needs for the sake of a project or a dear colleague who needs their help. They struggle to find what work-life balance looks like for them. They know they want it, but they are not sure how to obtain it. Additionally, you find yourself in an energetic battle to keep your tank full. Because you are always giving to others and your employer, you run the risk of burning out at a moment’s notice, as your tank seems to always be on or close to empty.
In this book, I will ask you to define certain moments of your career. One of the most defining moments in my career happened in my 11th year as a middle school mathematics teacher. I loved where I was working, the people I was working with, and I certainly had a fantastic time with the students I got to teach every year. One day, as I was beginning to teach a lesson on multiplying fractions, I looked at 25 students’ faces staring back at me, and the voice in my head said, “You can’t do this anymore.” It was as if that voice came out of nowhere, but it was loud, and I needed to listen to it. I felt happy. I enjoyed what I was doing. But I wasn’t satisfied knowing that this could be it for the rest of my career. I wasn’t ready to settle. As I continued to deliver the lesson, I gave myself permission to question what I was doing with my career and why I wanted more from it. Have you ever had one of those moments?
What transpired over the next few months was an opportunity to honestly evaluate where my career was going and what I wanted. I had a fantastic consulting relationship with a Fortune 500 company along with a successful tutoring business outside of my teaching duties. I was learning that I wanted to shift my focus from teaching students to working with teachers. This would look like some kind of administrative position or an opportunity to level up, but I was unsure of what that was.
I talked to my closest friends and colleagues and told them I was considering making a significant career change. I had my résumé professionally written. I updated my LinkedIn profile. I started networking, looking for jobs, and sharpening my interviewing skills. And then the rejections came.
I got to several last-round interviews for a handful of positions that I not only wanted but also believed I would’ve been great at, only to learn I wasn’t the selected candidate. If someone were kind enough to give me some honest feedback, I would hear things like, “You made it a difficult decision for us, but we went with someone who had more experience.” These are comforting words amid disappointment and perhaps something you also have experienced recently.
My opportunity to make such a change came three years later, when I was 40. I accepted a position as a Professional Development Specialist for the District of Columbia Public Schools. In this role, I would work with and supervise 21 instructional coaches across 13 middle schools. I was going to help teachers be better teachers. I got the job I wanted and a fantastic opportunity to stretch and grow. While the job came with an advanced title, it also came with a pay cut. I relocated from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., for a professional and personal opportunity. My husband and I had been dating long distance for two years, and because he was happy with his job, I decided I would be the one to make a move since I was looking for a new job. Yes, you could say I made a move for love, but it was not only for the love of my husband but also for the love of my career. Relocating wasn’t part of my plan, but it was a welcomed detour and new destination for my Mid-Career GPS.
That move over 10 years ago accelerated my career. It gave me opportunities I would have never had if I decided to stay in my previous position. I had an opportunity to work as an administrator in a larger and high-profile district. From there, I went to go work at the State Superintendent’s Office. From that position, I leveled up to take a job at an educational nonprofit as a Training and Staffing Director. And then, I took an even bigger leap into entrepreneurship. I have never regretted any of these moves, and I continue to have an exciting career. I get to go to work every day. I get to coach amazing clients and help them figure out what’s next for them professionally by helping them create their mid-career roadmap to find a job they love or love the job they have. I’ve launched two podcasts. The first is called #SHOWUP2020 and highlighted everyday people who do extraordinary things because of how they choose to SHOW UP. My second podcast is “The Mid-Career GPS Podcast,” and it’s an extension of this book. You can listen to it wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take some time to talk about a defining and universal moment in all of our careers. That is the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on us both personally and professionally. Together, we saw a record number of people unemployed due to the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center in an article titled, “Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession,” Rakesh Kochhar writes, “The COVID-19 outbreak and the economic downturn it engendered swelled the ranks of unemployed Americans by more than 14 million, from 6.2 million in February to 20.5 million in May 2020. As a result, the U.S. unemployment rate shot up from 3.8% in February – among the lowest on record in the post-World War II era – to 13.0% in May. That rate was the era’s second-highest, trailing only the level reached in April (14.4%).”
We saw industries brought to their knees because life as we knew it had changed. People stopped traveling and staying in hotels. People stopped going to restaurants and instead learned how to cook. While food delivery services saw an uptick, we must acknowledge that many small businesses and restaurants closed because of the pandemic.
Millions of people were either furloughed or laid off. When 2020 began, many companies were positioned to have their best year. Their strategic plans, dreams, and goals quickly changed by late spring when COVID-19 didn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
And with increased vaccinations and a potential return to “normal” on the horizon, it will take years, if not decades, for us to recover from the personal, professional, financial, and mental health impact this pandemic has had.
As an executive and career transition coach, I share this with you because I spent the majority of 2020 working with my clients about what their career roadmap would look like. Just like you, things changed for them. And while 2020 certainly gave us time to reflect and consider, it also hit our savings accounts and checkbooks; affected our mental health, families, and relationships; and caused moments of intense isolation. We missed milestone events and celebrations. Where possible, the majority of the workforce transitioned to a virtual platform, and running out to get your coffee in the morning or midday wasn’t something you were typically doing anymore. Gone were the casual, in-person conversations you had with dear friends and colleagues. Gone were the moments when you would stop by someone’s office and see if they could take a walk or grab a cup of coffee with you. Now, your dining room table or favorite chair has been turned into your home office or classroom.
2020, in my opinion, will go down as one of the most challenging years for us professionally. Whether you had a job for the entire year or didn’t, it took a toll on you. While you were grateful to have a job and a steady paycheck, I know many people who experienced a form of survival guilt and were hesitant to complain about something at work because they had a job and people they knew did not. You may still be unemployed as a result of the pandemic, and I hope the information in this book not only provides you with relevant and tactical strategies to help you navigate and create your mid-career roadmap, but also gives you some inspiration and motivation. Let me ask you this: How would you SHOW UP if you knew your value was non-negotiable? As you go through this book, I hope you will find an answer to that question.
How would you SHOW UP if you knew your value was non-negotiable?
My book will help you create Your Mid-Career GPS to create a plan to get you from where you are to wherever “Point B” is for you. In this book, I’m leveraging my coach training and experience to help you explore and consider all of the options you have in front of you by asking questions to help you reflect and decide on a course of action you see as best for you. By the end of this book, you are going to have a plan, a roadmap, a GPS to help you chart a path to whatever is next for you professionally. You have an opportunity to go after what you want – this isn’t an opportunity for you to settle. Lastly, I have no judgment on any client’s decision regarding their career path because I know they are making the best decision for them. This means that I have no personal stake or agenda in how a client reaches their best conclusion. My role is to facilitate the process of helping them get there. Let this book be a guide or a resource to help you create Your Mid-Career GPS.
Throughout this book, you will see a combination of information, both from my experience and experts in various fields, along with coaching questions designed to help you think, reflect, and explore the actions you want to take. They all combine to help you create a step-by-step roadmap, or a personal career GPS, to navigate whatever is next for your career. The ultimate goal is for you to increase your overall job satisfaction, know your value and worth, and be happier than you have ever been professionally.
Periodically, I will share my background and experiences that have helped shape these tips and strategies while supporting that information with research and additional expert information. Some topics in this book are virtually impossible to capture all of the information you may need or question. That is where Google is best. Do not hesitate to put the book down and search for things on Google that have piqued your interest or are not answered in this book.
This book will walk you through four specific stages to help you build Your Mid-Career GPS. In the Prepare section, you will explore your current career situation, along with your attitudes, strengths, and value to help you identify any move you want to make. In the Position section, you will look at best practices for writing your résumé, optimizing your LinkedIn profile, and creating your “Unique Professional Value Statement.” Once you have prepared and positioned, the next step is to promote who you are and what you do. In the Promote section, we will talk about building your networking and interviewing skills. More importantly, you will learn how to tell your story from a place of value and service, so you can get people interested in who you are and what you do, rather than just finding you interesting. The last section is an updated version of my #SHOWUP6Strategies. It was important for me to revisit these strategies because of what we experienced in 2020. I’ve updated these strategies through a lens of helping mid-career professionals SHOW UP to find the best ways they can make an impact and increase their job satisfaction.
Roadmaps are not created overnight. As you navigate the information in this book, you may find yourself taking detours and visiting various topics of interest to you right now. For example, if you pick up this book and have an interview tomorrow, I strongly suggest you immediately jump to the interview section and read it. However, I hope you will move sequentially through these sections. It will help you gain greater insight into the kind of work I do with my clients in helping them create their Mid-Career GPS over several months of working together.
As I say on my podcast, it’s time to start building Your Mid-Career GPS. Let’s get started!
John Neral, MA, CPC reawakens, energizes, galvanizes, and innovates the mind think of employees, corporations, associations, and systems. A celebrated executive/career and professional development coach and in-demand, mindset-shifting public speaker, John’s professional walk included a 25-year career in education and a longstanding corporate consultant for Fortune 500 giant, Casio America, Inc. He now leads John Neral Coaching, LLC, one of the most progressive, mindset-shifting professional and organizational coaching and public speaking firms in the U.S. He is the author of Your Mid-Career GPS – Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next and SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career and the host of “The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.”
As a Master Practitioner in the Energy Leadership Index, John’s experience has made him an impactful and valuable coach to his one-on-one and group coaching clients and organizations. With Energy Leadership™, John identifies where people perform at their optimal levels and when they are under stress. Combining the Energy Leadership™ principles, a client’s workplace strengths, and their “unique professional value,” John helps his clients create their career GPS so they can take action toward achieving their professional and personal goals.
A former church organ prodigy, John is an avid traveler–having sojourned to 5 of the 7 continents, a professional bowler and the winner of a Professional Bowlers’ Association Regional Title (2010), and a game-show fan, having appeared on previous episodes of GSN’s Chain Reaction and Make My Day. John is happily married and lives with his spouse and their rescue cat, Amy Farrah Meowler (named after the Big Bang Theory character), in the heart of Washington DC’s Dulles Technology Corridor, Tysons Corner, VA.
You can visit his website at https://johnneral.com or follow him at Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
Book Review: Frazier, the Very Special Cat by Faye Rapoport DesPres
Frazier, the Very Special Cat is a sweet, heart-warming story for young children! It teaches love for animals, counting, the senses, and encourages discussion and problem-solving.
Frazier is a stray blond tabby not doing very well on his own, but things get worse when he gets hurt. Fortunately, the author is able to trap him and bring him to the vet. Now, all he needs is a permanent happy home…but who will want to take a chance on a one-eyed cat? Not to despair, for a fully happy ending awaits this sweet kitty!
Frazier, the Very Special Cat is Book 3 in the Stray Cat Stories series, and it is the perfect tale to read at bedtime or discuss with an adult in a home or school environment. The rhythm and repetition make it a fun read-aloud picture book. A charming addition to any child’s cat bookshelf!
The book is available in Kindle, paperback and hardcover. Find out more and get your copy on Amazon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Faye Rapoport DesPres is the author of the memoir-in-essays Message From a Blue Jay (Buddhapuss Ink, 2014) and the Stray Cat Stories Children’s Books Series (Writer’s Coffee Bar Press). She earned her MFA at the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College and has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. A life-long advocate for animals, wildlife, and the environment, Faye donates a portion of the proceeds from her children’s books to non-profit animal rescue organizations. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Jean-Paul Des Pres, and their rescued cats.
Connect with Faye on the Web:
Follow the author on Amazon and receive updates of her new books in this series.