Friday, February 28, 2014

#Literary Blessing: 4 Star Review of Elsa. #history #fiction #Aspegers #Ohio


Literary Blessings


Welcome back. This week flew by so fast for me. As I look back to see where I have been and what small blessings were bestowed upon me I have a few to chose from but I will only post about one here.

This week I was delighted to receive another review on my book, Elsa. Elsa is the first book in the Secret Heritage series. It was released on January 17 of this year through Mountain Springs House. Here's the blurb and link:

All Elsa Garrett wants in life is to be Franklin's wife. He's asked her father for her hand and knows he has permission to ask her. Yet when and how would her boyfriend with Asperger's Syndrome ask the question? When Franklin has a diabetic seizure all hope seems lost once Elsa learns Franklin can no longer marry her due to an obscure law in Ohio relating to his seizure. With the help of Franklin's parents, Elsa has a plan. But will it work? Lost in a society that doesn't understand Franklin or why she would ever choose to be with him, Elsa comes face to face with death, destruction, and misfortune as she tries to clear her boyfriend's name. With each step towards progress Elsa falls two steps behind. One simple task shifts her entire life towards a direction she could have never imagined. Alone, pregnant, and without her Franklin, is despair all she has to look forward to in her new life, or will fate finally bring them together? http://amzn.to/GADXKE

And here's the review I received.

What was your blessing this week?


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mesolithic #Ireland - The Legends: Fomorians, People of the Dann and Werewolves #Irish #history #celtic #culture

The last time we visited upon Ireland she had been attached to Europe and was an inhospitable place to live. After the glaciers retreated the sea levels rose and Ireland became an island. Ireland drifted to her current position.

Mesolithic Ireland
The Mesolithic period in Ireland lasted from 8000 to 4500 B.C. and is commonly known as the Middle Stone Age. Ireland was the last place in Western Europe that humans occupied because it had not been previously accessible. The Irish landscape wasn't full of forest but had thick patches of hazel scrubs and lakes that would eventually become bogs.

The Fomorians

Irish legend claims the first inhabitants of the Emerald Isle were sea fearing, black haired, black skinned Fomorians. The Fomorians came to Ireland via the south and settled along the coastline. They often depicted as monsters or demons. The Lebor Gabála Érenn (aka: Book of Invasions), a collection of poems and prose that recalls every invasion in Irish history,  describes the most ancient of Irish inhabitants as "crowds of abominable giants and monsters." The Fomorians were giants with different numbers of eyes and extremities. The descriptions of these monsters varied. Some had one arm, or one leg, or one eye or any other genetic abnormalities.
The most famous of the Fomorian leaders was Balor of the Evil Eye.

Balor of the Evil Eye
King Balor lived on Tory Island. He was the son of Buarainech and Cethlenn. King Balor had an eye
Public Domain
in the middle of his forehead and another one directly behind it on the back of his head.  In Irish Mythology he is considered the god of death and destruction. He is also the King of the Fomorians. According to Irish mythology he was spying on some druids one day when some of their potion spilled into his eye. The aftereffect of the potion made his eye appear threatening anyone who happen to stare upon it. He was known as Balor of the Evil Eye after that incident. Balor once looked upon the small islands off the coast of Scotland. The islands disappeared after that. Neither giants nor gods could save themselves from the destruction that Balor's eye brought upon them.  Balor kept his eye closed unless he was in battle. It took four attendants to hold down his eyelid.
A druid prophecized that Balor would be killed by his own grandson. At the time he only had one child, a daughter named Ethnea Ni Bhaloir. Balor locked his daughter away in an impregnable tower with twelve matrons. She grew to become a very beautiful young woman who was eventually rescued by Cian, a Tuatha Dé. We'll talk more about the Tuatha Dé in another post. Balor was killed by their son,  Lug mac Ethlend. You can read about Balor's defeat at Magic and Mythology.

The Fomorians and the Tuatha de Danann
The Tuatha de Danann were a tribe that settled in Northern Ireland close to the Fomorians. They were described in the Battles at Mag Tuired as:

"On northern islands of the earth there were tribes of the goddess Dana and  there they comprehended knowledge, magic, knowledge of druids, charms and other secrets, while didn't surpass skillful people from all over the world. In four cities they comprehended knowledge, secret knowledge, devil craft - Faliase and Goriase, Muriase and Findiase. From Falias they brought Lia Fal that was then in Tara. He screamed under each king who could rule Ireland. From Gorias they brought a spear which Lug owned. Nothing could resist it or before the one in which hand it was.
From Findias they brought Nuada sword. It was necessary to take out it from a fighting sheath as anybody couldn't evade from it, and it was  truly irresistible. From Murias they brought Dagd's copper. Never happened so that people  leave it hungry …
… it was possible for tribes of the goddess Danu to make peace with Fomorians, and Balor, the grandson of Netab, gave His daughter  Etne to Kean, to son of Dian Kekht. She gave birth to a  wonderful child, and there was it Lugh. The Tribes of the Goddess Dana came on a set of the ships that force to take away Ireland from Fir Bolg. They burned the ships at Cork Belgatan which now is named as  Konnemara Land, that not in their will was to recede to them. Ashes and a smoke descending from the ships, shrouded  near lands and the sky. Since then people consider that the Tribes of the  Goddess Danu came from smoky clouds". 

According the Irish mythology the Fomorians were excellent farmers and breeders. They taught the Tuatha de Danann how to properly milk cows and how to till, sow and reap a harvest. They two tribes shared many resources and would breed with one another. The result of the mixed marriages created Faoladh otherwise known as werewolves.

The Faoladh
Unlike other European werewolves, Irish werewolves were not considered monsters. An Irish werewolf's predatory habits resembled those of wolves and occasionally raided local sheep or cattle herds. They never harmed humans. If a werewolf was attacked or surprised in wolf form they would run away and revert back to their human form. After they reverted to their human form the evidence of what they had done in wolf form would remain on their body. If they were injured as a wolf that injury would remain even if they were in human form.
The Irish werewolf was a creature of good that protected children, wounded humans, and anyone who was lost. They were often recruited by Irish kings during times of war.

Public Domain
Spanish Invasion
The Fomorians and the Tuatha de Danann both possessed magical abilities. The tribe of giants were said to be able to hear any sound carried by the wind. They could manipulate large bodies of water, clear away a fog and stop a storm. Between 1700-700 BC the Fomorians and Tuatha de Danann joined forces to fight an invasion of the Sons of Mile Spanish. Together they withstood three to five invasion attempts.

Extinction
According to legend, some three hundred years after the Great Flood a new people, known as the Partholonians, arrived in Ireland. The Fomorians once again defended their island against invaders but this time they would not live to tell their tales. Author John Huddlestone Wynne (1743-1788) stated in his 1784 book A Compleat History of Ireland, from the Earliest Accounts to the Present, about the extinction of the Fomorians, “And thus, say they, was Ireland first inhabited. — But unhappily a certain band, of the stock of Nimrod, whom they termed Fomorians, or giants, arriving amongst them, attempted to subdue the country; after many desperate engagements they were at last routed by the Partholanians, and far the greater part of them destroyed on one decisive day. But the dead carcasses of these Fofmorians being denied burial, it is said the stench occasioned a plague which presently swept off the victors and left the land uninhabited." 

Giant's Causeway 
 Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland. Hexagonal basalts.
Wikipedia
The Fomorians have left their mark not only on Irish mythology but on the Irish landscape. The Giant's Causeway, located on the northern coast of Ireland, is said to have been constructed by the Fomorian Fionn mac Cumhaill. Fion was challenged by a Scottish giant by the name of Benandonner to create a causeway on the North Channel so the two could meet. After Fionn finished the causeway and realized Benandonner was bigger than he was, his wife, Oonagh, disguised him as a baby then tucked him away in a cradle. When Benandonner saw the size of the baby, he deduced Fionn must be a giant among giants. He ran back to Scotland, destroying the causeway behind him so Fionn could not follow.

Did the Fomorians Exist?
That is the question many scientists have asked over the centuries and has yet to be answered. Christian Irish scholars had once believed the Fomorians were either descended from Cain or from Shem. The theory that they are descended from Cain does not work because none of Cain's descendants survived the flood. As for the Fomorians being descended from Shem that wouldn't explain the history of the giant race in Ireland before the Great Flood.
In 1913, Professor Grafton Elliot Smith deduced the Fomorians were Iberians who had travelled to Ireland from North Africa.  He proposed they either came from Liberia or Africa and were stone masons who were taken to Europe.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Express Yourself: What does #StarTrek and #GameofThrones have in common? #writing #movies #bestseller


Express Yourself Blog Hop
"Allison Bruning in Lights"



I'm a late comer to this weekly blog hop. I ran across this blog hop from one of the blogs I visited upon this morning from a blog I was reading on Bloglovin' this morning. I fell in love with the idea. As an author and screenwriter I want my readers to know more about me and I love getting to know other writers. I decided to sign up for the weekly blog hop.

This week I was asked "If you could be in any movie or TV show, as yourself, what would you chose, and what could you bring to the table?" Wow, that's a hard question to answer. I'm so use of creating the stories or working behind the scenes. When I was younger I use to dream that I was Commander Riker's long lost sister on Star Trek:TNG. I even wrote a short story in Middle School with the plot line that evolved in High School to a screenplay. I was obsessed. LOL! In fact, I'm glad I was because that storyline has become the building blocks for a Sci-Fi series I am working on called Mystique.

But which show would I be on now? I would have to answer Game of Thrones. I would be one of Daenerys' best friends and top advisors. What can I say? I'm a sucker for dragons. I would be a great advisor to the queen. I'm smart. I would be loyal to her and offer her wise advice. The road to the throne can be hard for any woman but there is great treasures to be gleaned in any journey that you struggle with.










Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Progressive Era America: Eugenics

Progressive Era America: Eugenics

What Do You Mean I Can't Marry Him?



        Elsa stared silently towards Juliette in shock. Can’t marry her? “Why would you forbid our union when you have welcomed me into your home and your family?”
Juliette answered, “If there were some other way I would not hesitate to support my son in his decision. I want you as my daughter. I already love you as if you were my own.”
“Then why take this from him?”
“It’s not me, Elsa. Ohio Law forbids any person who has epilepsy, is a drunkard, an imbecile, or insane from obtaining a marriage license or marrying.”
“But Franklin is none of those.”
“It doesn’t matter, Elsa. When he applies for the marriage license the county clerk will ask him, under oath, to testify he does not suffer from epilepsy, is not a drunkard, imbecile, or insane. He can’t lie to the courts about that.”



Today's topic of discussion is a touchy one and it might disturb some of my readers to know that before Nazi Germany practiced Eugenics it had long been established in the United States as the norm. What is Eugenics? Webster's Dictionary defines eugenics as "a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed." The term was first used in 1883 but the science had been in practiced long before that. 

Progressive Era Americans did not view eugenics as a science but instead viewed it as a means to preserving the dominant group. The American Eugenics Movement originated with noted English scientist Sir Francis Galton. After reading Charles Darwin's theory of evolution Sir Galton concluded human could direct their own evolutionary development through selective breeding. In 1883, Sir Galton named his theory Eugenics. The Eugenic Movement quickly spread throughout the world. 


Early followers of the Eugenic Movement believed Nordic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon peoples were the superior race. They supported anti-miscegenation laws and strict immigration laws.

The Eugenics Movement was well established in the United States by the time Nazi Germany had
A Nazi propaganda poster showing the United Staes as their ally. 
established their own Eugenic laws. In fact, they were inspired by the American Eugenic Movement. During the 1930's California had created literature to promote eugenics and sterilization. They sent the material overseas to German medical doctors. The Rockfeller Foundation aided Germany in developing their eugenic programs, including the one Josef Mengele established before he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

In 1934, California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe; after returning from German, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized; bragged to a colleague "You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people."

Anti-Miscegenation Laws

 Anti-miscegenation laws are laws that criminalize interracial marriages. Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Wisconsin are the only states that have never had an anti-miscegenation law. The following eleven states repealed their anti-miscegenation laws before 1887: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington. Anti - miscegenation laws were overturned in 1967 with Loving vs Virginia. You can learn more about Anti-miscegenation laws here. http://www.tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/blackhistory/pdfs/Miscegenation%20laws.pdf


Sterilization Laws
Another set of Eugenic laws that were common in the United States were the sterilization laws. A Sterilization law forces a certain population to become sterile for face imprisonment. In the United States these populations included the disabled,"immoral", and poor. The first serious attempt in the United States to pass a sterilization law was proposed by Gordon Lincecum, a famed Texas biologist and physician in 1849. He proposed a bill in Wisconsin that would forcibly sterilize the mentally ill and other less desirables. The bill never came to a vote. A little over fifty years later, Michigan passed a sterilization law but it was vetoed by the governor.

The first state sterilization law was passed in 1907 by Indiana. Although the law was passed it wasn't a new practice for Indiana. Indiana wardens had been practicing sterilization on male inmates since 1899. Hundreds of male prisoners had been given a vasectomy from 1899 to 1907. Indiana's 1907 sterilization law focused on forcibly sterilizing rapists, confirmed criminals, and the mentally handicapped housed within state facilities. In 1909, Governor Thomas R. Marshall, halted the law when he threatened to pull funding to any institution who enacted the law. The law was repealed in 1921 when the Indiana Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional because of due process. Six years later, Indiana passed a new sterilization law. This time the law only targeted the mentally ill that were housed in the state facilities. Indiana's sterilization law was repealed in 1974. Approximately 2, 500 people were in state custody were sterilized.

Eugenic Laws

Laws throughout the United States were passed to enforce the eugenic beliefs. Although Ohio did pass a law forbidding epileptics, drunks and mentally handicapped people from marriage it never passed a sterilization law. The state had hoped by separating the feeble groups from the main population it would make Ohio families stronger.

An American Eugenics poster from the early 20th century
Eugenics were widely accepted by Americans and the academic community. Population groups targeted by the Eugenic Laws included the mentally disabled; alcoholics; epileptics; people who were blind, deaf or disabled; poor people on welfare; criminals; women deemed promiscuous; and child of rape victims. Thirty-three states practiced eugenics. Most of their victims came from the mental institutions and prisons. At first the eugenics only targeted the mentally ill but as the years passed their list grew to include the other sub groups. It was not uncommon for a poor African American woman to give birth in the hospital only to be sterilized soon after. The doctor would tell her that her appendix needed to be removed and they would have to operate. She would consent to that only to wake up to find she could no longer bear children. 

It is estimated 65,000 Americans were victims of the forced sterilization. ABC News reported in 2011, of the 33 states who had sterilization programs only seven have issued a public apology to the victims or acknowledgement of the program. The suggested compensation for each sterilization crime has been established to be between $20,000 to $50,000 per living victim. Most of these victims have died but their families still face the agony and grief that was done to their family member by their state government.

Eugenics are alive and well. There is a current movement in the United States to enact sterilization laws against pedophiles and rapists. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

#Author Spotlight: Aya Walksfar Exposes Human Trafficking


My guest for today is author Aya Walksfar. Aya brings to the Author's Spotlight today the second book of her Special Crimes Team series, Street Harvest. Street Harvest takes the members of the Special Crimes Team into the world of human trafficking.

IN THE WORDS OF AYA WALKSFAR

There are few things more terrifying than a missing child, yet in the United States a child goes missing every 40 seconds. Many are never reported as missing. They become the street kids who hang on the corner, stealing food from the local supermarket, panhandling and selling their bodies for one night of a warm bed and food in their stomachs.
Other children who vanish have families who grieve them, miss them, and may never see them alive again. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar per year business and many of the lives that it consumes are children who have gone missing.
I have known some of these children, have worked with them on the streets of Seattle, have taken a few of them into my home. Some have run away from abusive families; some are seeking adventure and instead find terror, abuse and drugs; some are kicked out because they are lesbian or gay, transgender or bisexual. One thing they all have in common: they are at high risk to become prey for sexual predators.
Street Harvest presents the story behind the headlines. Through the fictional account of a case, I hope to enlighten others to the reality. We are the only ones who can change that reality, but we can’t change what we don’t know about.  I want to encourage people to see themselves in Auntie El’s outstretched hand, in Jaimie Wolfwalker’s determination to find the children, in the dedication of the police to bring those children safely home.
This is the reality: children disappear and are never seen again.

AN EPILOGUE FROM REALITY

A child is missing when it falls off the “normal radar,” such as the school or foster care system, or when a parent or guardian no longer knows where that child is, and law enforcement cannot locate that child.
In the United States, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention estimates that a child goes missing every 40 seconds. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that roughly 2,000 children in the United States go missing every day, a country that professes to love its children and to take care of them.
In the State of Washington alone, the Missing Children Clearinghouse estimates that over 20,000 children per year go missing. According to Washington State Missing Children “Dozens of children go missing from Washington State and most of them don’t get an Amber Alert.” Also, in Washington State as of December 2013, there are over 354 children still on the Missing Children’s List after five to ten years of being gone.
A child goes missing for a variety of reasons.
1. Runaway: these children leave home oftentimes due to intolerable abuse. Without skills, education
or money, these children fall easy prey to prostitution, sexual predation, pornography, and human trafficking.
2. Thrown Away: these children are kicked out of their homes for a variety of reasons; many are thrown away because they are LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) children. Born different, discarded young.
According to Zack Ford in an article posted by thinkprogress.org and dated July 12, 2012, as many as 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT.
All street children are at risk for exploitation through prostitution, sexual tourism, pornography, human trafficking.
3. Human Trafficking:
The State of Washington is a good example of what law enforcement faces in trying to halt human trafficking. According to a report from the State of Washington's Task Force against Trafficking of Persons reports, “our state is a hotbed for the recruitment, transportation, and sale of people for labor. The report indicates several factors make Washington prone to human trafficking:
International border with Canada
Abundance of ports
Vast rural areas
Dependency on agricultural workers
Seattle is part of a trafficking circuit that can include Honolulu, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Portland, Vancouver (Clark County), Yakima, and Canada.
The report also notes that trafficking has occurred in 18 Washington State counties.
Victims range from "mail-order" brides to sex workers to domestic workers and children.
Local victims have come as far as Russia, the Philippines, China, and Mexico.
There are a number of destinations for children taken by human traffickers:
a. Sexual Tourism, which occurs in many different countries and for which countries import kidnapped children to satisfy the demand. This demand is frequently due to the perverted appetites of men from developed countries; brothels, and street prostitution.
b. Pornography, which includes a wide range of films—in some of which the child is murdered for sexual gratification of the potential audience; audiotapes, and still photographs. An article in Wikipedia from the report “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children” states that child pornography is a multi-billion dollar per year industry.
c. Body Parts. We hate to consider it, but children are harvested for body parts. According to a report by Missing Children International: “The world we live in is no stranger to one of the biggest reasons many of our children disappear without a trace. Many children are abducted and sold for body parts throughout the United States, Central America, South America, and Europe. The Internet has become one of the greatest sources of business and the organized underground business is one of the most successful businesses anywhere in the world.”
d. Contemporary slavery, which includes sweatshops, field labor, servant type labor, and many other positions as slaves.
e. Breeding, yes this is exactly what it sounds like and includes forced marriages, sometimes of preteens.
4. Abduction: Approximately 58,000 children a year in the United States are abducted. According to a Q13Fox.com article in which Shellee Hale, Founder of Camandago, a private investigations firm that focuses on missing persons: “Unless a witness sees a child being taken, police cannot give the resources and attention of a kidnapping. Many of these kids vanished without a trace. Even high-profile cases are still unsolved with no leads. But as we’ve seen over and over again, it’s not impossible for these missing kids to resurface after months or even years.” (This is an excerpt. For the full article, please go to Q13Fox.com.) Children are kidnapped for a number of reasons:
Ransom: a child is taken to extract a set amount of money or favor from the parent or guardian.
Sexual Predation: a child is taken, raped, sometimes tortured, sometimes murdered.
Illegal Adoptions
5. Custodial Disputes: The non-custodial parent disappears with the child; sometimes, neither is ever again located.
6. Non-Stranger Abduction: this could be an aunt, uncle, other relative, or a boyfriend/girlfriend of the parent, a babysitter, anyone who is known to the child. These kidnappers often feel they are “in love with the child,” or that “they love the child more than the parent does.” This can be sexual or non-sexual relationships.
7. Murder: accidental or intentional
Key findings: Washington State Attorney General: 2006 Child Abduction Murder Study
The use of pornography by killers as a trigger to murder has increased.
In 74 percent of the missing children homicide cases studied, the child murder victim was female and the average age was 11 years old.
In 44 percent of the cases studied, the victims and killers were strangers, but in 42 percent of the cases, the victims and killers were friends or acquaintances.
Only about 14 percent of the cases studied involved parents or intimates killing the child.
Almost two-thirds of the killers in these cases have prior arrests for violent crimes, with slightly more than half of those prior crimes committed against children.
The primary motive for the child abduction killer in the cases studied was sexual assault.
In nearly 60 percent of the cases studied, more than two hours passed between the time someone realized the child was missing and the time police were notified.
In 76 percent of the missing children homicide cases studied, the child was dead within three hours of the abduction–and in 88.5 percent of the cases the child was dead within 24 hours.
I write novels, fictional accounts of situations. What you have read here is REALITY. A missing child is a child in grave danger. What are we, in the United States, going to do about our missing children?
Remember:
40% of street children are LGBT
In the United States on any given day over 2,000 children will go missing.
Human traffickers prey on children.
Street children are among the missing children, and are at grave risk.
It is up to us to FIND the children, and to bring them safely home.

STREET HARVEST BY AYA WALKSFAR

What do the bodies of two young children have in common with the murders of two adult men? 
Eleanor Hasting, a black bookstore owner and child advocate, knows these killings are linked. How can she convince Lieutenant Michael Williams, head of the Special Crimes Team? Someone is abducting street children and their bodies are showing up sexually abused and manually strangled. 
Psychic and member of Missing Children's Rescue, Jaimie Wolfwalker, is prepared to do whatever it takes to locate and rescue the missing street children. The law be damned. Jaimie's attitude and methods place her on a collision course with Sergeant Nita Slowater, second-in-command of the Special Crimes Team. 
Four dedicated people struggle to come to terms with each other in their desperate search for clues. Every day brings more missing children, more young bodies. Can they stop the monsters before another child disappears? http://amzn.to/1fsZR0f



WHO IS AYA WALKSFAR?

Aya's illiterate grandfather and nearly-illiterate grandmother conspired to teach her to read and write by age six, and succeeded with the help of a Carnegie librarian.
Since then writing has been Aya's all-consuming passion. "Words give us wings to soar above our circumstances, no matter how violent or poverty-stricken," Aya says. "I became a writer because I want to share the magic of words."
Once the novel is published, she makes a commitment to her readers: “I have created women and men
you will never forget; people you will laugh and cry with. I will appreciate and listen to your feedback, both positive and critical. I appreciate you, my reader.”
Aya draws from a vast array of experiences. She has represented people in committee hearings in front of members of the House of Representatives of California; she has lived on the road and eaten at soup kitchens; she has farmed, been a mechanic, worked in construction, been a waitress; she has been a personal guard for children who were under threats of violence.
Aya graduated from the University of Washington’s Writer’s Course. For a number of years she worked as a counselor and studied human nature.
Aya is passionate about changing the image of women in the media. "It is time for women to read about strong women who positively impact their worlds; who are the rescuers, rather than being the ones who must be rescued. This is why I write books with strong female characters, and strong, caring male characters."
Aya currently lives in the shadows of the Pacific Northwest mountains. She and her wife, Deva, own a 12-acre wildlife/wild bird habitat. When she isn’t writing, Aya loves to read, hike, work with her German Shepherd dogs, tend the land, ride her motorcycle, and spend time with her family and friends.
In 2013, Aya published three books:
Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team: Misfits and Loners, this team has to stop The Avenger’s murder spree.
Good Intentions, winner of Alice B. Reader Award 2002: Bev Ransom has a secret; so does the rest of her family.

Dead Men and Cats, novella: What do dead men and dead cats have in common



Saturday, February 22, 2014

#Author Spotlight: A New Feature For All Authors



Welcome to a new section on my blog. Every weekend I will be presenting you authors talking about their new releases. You'll never know who might show up in the spotlight. If you would like to be spotted please email me allisonbruning@gmail.com. I will be posting spotlights every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's my plan to have three authors per week. Authors: If you are spotted be sure to grab your badge and post it on your blog or website with a link to your spotlight. Here's the badge.


Join me tomorrow as I feature Aya Walksfar and her new book, Street Harvest (Special Crimes Team: Book 2)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Celebrate the Small Stuff #blessings #Valentine'sDay

Celebrate the Small Things
Blog Hop

I recently came across this blog hop while I was reading some of my favorite blogs. Sometimes we can get so dragged down by the negatives in our life that we forget the acknowledge, let alone celebrate, the small blessings in our lives. Authors have always been sensitive and that's why it's very important for us to focus on the positives. When we focus on the negatives of our lives we damper our own creative energy. We can create our own writing block. I want to thank the owner of Scribblings of an Aspiring Author for creating this weekly blog hop.



This week my small blessing was a delayed Valentine's Day date. My husband and I were unable to go out on a date for Valentine's Day due to the weather. We had a mini date yesterday. We ordered Chinese for dinner and had Baskin Robbins for dessert. It was so wonderful! 

What was a small blessing you had this week?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

#Ireland Through Time: Glacial Ireland

Public Domain

The Emerald Isle Through Time: 

Glacial Ireland

Welcome to my series The Emerald Isle Through Time. Ireland has been occupied since 8000 BC and her people have a rich, vibrant cultural heritage that has been threatened many times through a series of invasions. Cultural changes often occur when one society interacts with another. This has been true for the Irish people. This series will explore those cultural changes and how they affected the native Irish people.

The beautiful picture to the left is a familiar image to most people. It was taken by NASA and shows the why Ireland is commonly referred to as the Emerald Isle. Yet Ireland wasn't always an island.

The Pleistocene Epoch, most commonly know as the Last Ice Age, lasted from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago. During this time, Ireland was attached to the European continent. Before the Ice Age, Ireland shared a lush landscape full of tall mountains and forests with Great Britain. Great Britain was attached to France. Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens dwelt in the area around 40,000 - 30,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found evidence of their habitation in Scotland and Wales but not in Ireland, although the two islands were connected on the mainland. The two species probably hunted in the Irish area. The first mammals to settle in Ireland was around 48,000 years ago. Ireland had plenty of wildlife to offer. Remains of the Arctic lemming, giant deer, reindeer and brown bear from 32,000 years ago have been found in Ireland. There is evidence of the Mammoth roaming the Irish countryside but the giant elephant had disappeared from the area before humans arrived.

Humans and most of the wildlife left the area when the glaciers arrived from Scandinavia around 30,000 years ago. Ice sheets more than 9,800 feet thick pulverized the mountains and reshaped the landscape. Ireland laid under glacial ice for most of the Ice Age.
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlkik/ihm/ancient.htm

A warmer climate appeared in Europe from 17,500 and 12,000 years ago and the glaciers began to retreat. Ireland's landscape was drastically changed by the glaciers and we owe it's modern shape to this process. Here is a map that shows how Ireland's landscape changed.

Public Domain

After the glaciers retreated the sea levels rose so dramatically that part of the Irish coast was flooded. The Irish and North Seas were created. Ireland was left as an Arctic desert or tundra. It's landscape was comprised of badly drained areas with thousands of shallow lakes (3-20 feet deep). As the climate warmed plants would grow along the side of these lakes. When they died they would fall into the lake and the process would repeat. Layers upon layers of plants would stack upon each other. These lakes eventually became the bogs that would later be used by the Irish as a fuel source.

Between 17,500 and 12,000 years ago humans returned to the area from Southern France yet did not settled in Ireland. Humans did not settle in Ireland but they might have used the land as a fishing location. Archaeologists have uncovered a site daring to 13,000 years ago on the eastern side of the Irish Sea that indicates humans in the area were consuming a marine diet.

The landscape was constantly changing as the climate warmed. The new river pattern in Ireland was unlike anything it had ever experienced before. The seas continued to rise at an alarming rate. The sea bridge that connected Ireland and England eventually sunk into the sea around 12,000 years ago.  The rising sea levels eventually broke the bond that held Ireland in place 9,500 years ago.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Progressive Era #America: #Mentalhealthawareness and discrimination #Aspergers #asylum

Mental Health Discrimination

   
Jeb,” Gideon said, taking the doctor by the arm. Doctor Riley lifted his gaze to meet Gideon’s. “What do you plan to do about my son?”
“Meaning?”
“He’s had a seizure.”
“Yes.”
“He’s already fragile. Will the seizure make his condition worse?”
“Only time can tell.” Gideon lowered his hand, turned his gaze to Franklin and stared. Doctor Riley stepped towards the brown-haired, green-eyed, English-descent man. “Gideon.” Gideon turned his attention to the doctor. “Perhaps it would be best to…”
“…you can stop there, Jeb. Juliette and I told you years ago why we left Upper Sandusky. I will not have the same discussion with you about Franklin I had with both our families. He’s an intelligent boy.”
“I’m not suggesting he isn’t.”
“Franklin will do well to stay where he is. I’ve given him a place at the machine shop designing more inventions. He loves his new office and is doing well overseeing the workers on the floor.”
“Gideon, when are you going to accept Franklin will never be able to run your store? He doesn’t have the social skills to do so. He needs help.”
“He has help,” Juliette answered. The men looked to her. “Franklin has all the help he needs to be successful in life. He doesn’t belong behind an institution’s wall. He’s a mechanical genius, Jeb. He loves tinkering with machines and playing mathematical games. God created our son for a purpose. If we place him within the institution he cannot live a successful and productive life. You’ve been a good friend. I pray the trust we have placed in you will not be forfeited.”

The Progressive Era in the United States occurred from 1890 -1929 and was a movement that began by the children of Civil War veterans. The Progressives wanted to change society from the strict Victorian culture to a more progressive one that would eliminate corruption and inequality. The Progressive Era saw many changes, such as women gaining the right to vote, that have defined a cultural shift in American society. This wasn't the first time Americans had tried to change the Victorian culture. The first Progressive moment, known as the First Reform Era, occurred a few years before the Civil War. It's purpose was reform the treatment of the mentally ill and prisoners. They also wanted to reform working conditions. The reformation was halted when the United States entered the Civil War. The second movement, known as the Progressive Era, began during the Reconstruction Period.

Anthropologically speaking, society is defined as "groups of people who directly or indirectly interact with each other.  People in human societies also generally perceive that their society is distinct from other societies in terms of shared traditions and expectations." Anyone who does not accept the norms of their given society, norms being defined as what is normal for a person to say or do in the that given society, is often viewed as an outcast.  For example,  a person with Aspergers Syndrome does not understand social cues and so when they interact with someone in public they will not act "normal". They will be seen as "being off" or an outcast. Aspergers was not discovered until the 1950's and was not widely known about until the 90's. Before the 1950's anyone who had Aspergers would more than likely find themselves institutionalized because they were deemed mentally ill. Society didn't know how to deal with people who were different than they were so they would lock them away in asylums.

Asylums

The mentally ill have been in society since the beginning of time. Islamic mentally ill had been wonderfully cared for by their people far longer then European society. Europeans did not start to take care of the mentally ill until the Middle Ages when some of the mentally ill population were placed privately in small houses. These houses, and later on asylums, were places where once a person was admitted they rarely saw the light of day and were the victims of many injustices. Living conditions were deplorable and many atrocities occurred with their walls. They were a place where society could get rid of the less desirable and forget about them. 

The asylum was supposed to be a place where a mentally ill patient could live for a brief time while receiving the psychiatric help they needed the most. Once they were well they could return to society. Their release was dependent upon a network of psychological professionals who determined whether or not the patient was stable enough to return to society. It sounded like a good idea but sometimes it went terribly wrong. During the Progressive Era the population of the mentally ill in asylums drastically rose. The following chart is from John R. Sutton's 1991 article, The Political Economy of Madness: The Expansion of Asylum in Progressive America in The American Societal Review.

There are four factors that lead to the growth of asylums.

1) Although madness had been medically defined at the beginning of the 19th century it could still be used to place someone in an asylum who was poor, trouble for their family, homeless or had a physical disability.

2) The science of psychiatry was in a weak state. Asylums often times didn't have access to research and their techniques were mainly to create discipline instead of effective methods to help the patient. Instead the patient was subjected to work and discipline procedures that made it easier for the administration to do their work.

3)  The medical profession was changing. Asylum administrators continued to operate the asylum as a place of confinement while new psychiatric professionals institutionalize  the mentally ill in order to help them.

4) Voluntary organizations, such as the National Association for the Protection of the Insane and Prevention of Insanity, advocated reform while working closely with medical professions who were directly involved with asylums.

The American society during the Progressive Era movement often feared with they didn't understand. The thought of being sent to an asylum was a fate worse than death. The living conditions were deplorable and there were many instances where those committed to the asylum were abused by their guards. Not everyone who was committed to the asylum needed to be there. It was a place of horrors rather healthcare.

In the passage at the top of this blog Franklin, who would have been labeled as having Aspergers Syndrome if this was a modern story, may be  institutionalized by his family doctor even though he doesn't need to be there. Why? People fear Franklin because they don't understand him. Fear has driven a lot myths about those who suffer from mental disorders and it is these myths that have harmed those have mental disorders. One of the long held myths about those who have Aspergers Syndrome is "that anyone who has this disorder is highly prone to violence. They are a threat to our society because they do not have feelings nor empathy."

This myth is false. People with Aspergers Syndrome have feelings they just don't always show them. They may appear mean because they don't know empathy but they can learn. One thing about people with Aspergers Syndrome that might surprise you to know is that these people are some of the most caring, loving and sensitive souls you will ever meet. Society is scared of people with Aspergers Syndrome and this is what drives people to discriminate against them.



Friday, February 14, 2014

#Valentine'sDay Giveaway Announced



Congratulations to the following people. Please contact me at allisonbruning@gmail.com for your prize.

The winner is................Courtney Daisy



The winner is................Alex Cavanaugh
The winner is................LD Jordan














Thursday, February 13, 2014

#Free Valentine #book #contest

LAST CALL.........


Today's the last day to enter into my Valentine's Day Book Giveaway. I will announce the winners of Calico, Elsa and Reflections tomorrow on my blog. You still have time to enter. All you have to do is leave me a comment below. Any comment. Be nice and have fun. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

PreWriting: Using Syd Field's Paradigm To Create a #Bestseller #IamWriting #author

An Author's Best Friend: Syd Field's Paradigm


It's been awhile since I wrote about prewriting. I've introduced you to using a story arc and three act structure. This week I want to show you how you can put these two together into a simple format that works well with novels and screenplays.

Syd Field was highly respected in the film industry for teaching the world that screenwriting is a craft. He spent years analyzing screenplays and devised a formula that when used properly helps the screenwriter to create a blockbuster hit. In fact, many of the movies who use his paradigm have gone on to do very well in the theaters. So why am I telling you about a screenwriting technique when you want to write a novel? Because you can use his paradigm to create a bestselling novel.

WARNING: You can only do this if you have already compiled your three act structure and your story arc. If you haven't done so then please go back to the *story arc* and *three act structure* then return to this step. 

Step 1: Print off this worksheet. You will need it. http://www.sydfield.com/paradigm.pdf

Grab a pencil and let's take a look at that chart. You will always want to work in pencil when you are plotting your story on a paradigm because you will make changes.


Did you notice that your worksheet is split off into three acts? Since you already know what is going to happen in each act it should be easy to think of your story in each section. Don't write anything yet. We're going to go through this worksheet step by step. We will be working from top to bottom, left to right.

Step 2) In the top box you will want to write a sentence (ONLY ONE) that explains where your protagonist's life is at the start of your story. This is their normal life. Their beginning. The exposition part of your story.

Step 3) Now right below that we want to place the inciting incident. The inciting incident is what happens to the character that disrupts their world. We talk a little bit about this event in my posting about the story arc. You should by now what the inciting incident for your story is. Remember:  The inciting incident will create a problem for your character that can not be easily solved and the antagonist will always confront the protagonist in their efforts to gain what they need to solve the problem.

Step 4) Now that we have identified our inciting incident it's time to enter the conflict stage of our story arc. This will start in ACT 1 and not come to a conclusion until the top of ACT 3. Let's talk about plot points for a moment. Readers love plot twists and these are the places to put those.

Plot Point one occurs towards the end of ACT 1. It is the first plot twist of your story. This is the point of no return for your protagonist and is the true starting point of their journey. It is here where they leave their old world behind and set off on their adventure. At the end of their journey they will have a new beginning because the journey will change them. So you need to decide what that one event is that will send your character on his or her way. Once you know what that is write it down in ONE sentence at the bottom of ACT 1.

Step 5) The longest part of your novel will be ACT 2 and is often time the hardest part to write. You want to keep your audience actively engaged with your story. In order to do so you need make certain your every challenge your protagonist faces increases in difficulty. Draw the pinch lines shown in this graphic onto your paradigm. You will be writing a sentence at each step below.


The Pinch points will break up your Act 2 conflict into easier to read sections. It is here you will throw a wrench in your protagonist's plans. These are your plot twists. So if you count them you will in essence have five major plot twists in your story. Use them wisely. If your protagonist's goal changes at any one of these points then you will have to start you story over.

Step 6: Pinch 1 
By now the reader clearly knows who your protagonist and antagonist are. The protagonist has a plan to overcome their adversary but we haven't had much of conflict between them since the 1st plot point. Pinch Point 1 is the place where you want to remind the reader that there is an opposing force out there. You want to create an event where the reader and the protagonist are reminded of their struggle. Both pinch and plot points are great for plot twist. Just make certain that they don't completely change your protagonist's goal. If you need a reminder of what your protagonist wants and how it conflicts with the antagonist goals go ahead and write them down. I keep mine next to me while I'm writing so I don't stray too far. Your twist could be a betrayal, the character's path has been cut off, anything. As long as the character's goal never changes. So go ahead and make life a little harder for your protagonist. Make sure it is an obstacle that was harder than Plot Point 1.

Step 7: The Midpoint
You're protagonist has made it to the halfway point of their journey and the stakes have been getting harder for them. Two things should happen at this point of your story.
1) The protagonist should be forced to face their flaws. This could be done in several different ways but it must have the same effect. Usually the protagonist is confronted by the antagonist. The protagonist must come to the realization that they CANNOT continue in their quest without correcting their flaws.
It's a very emotional part of the story.
2) The protagonist breaks down. Their perceived world is shattered and their true essence is exposed. They are venerable and they hate it. But they decide to change for the better so they can defeat the antagonist.

Step 8: Pinch 2
We're getting closer to the climax. The stakes have raised higher and your protagonist is really struggling to meet his or her goal. Just when we are busy watching the protagonist overcome their flaws we are once again reminded of the antagonist. The antagonist will throw the strongest obstacle the protagonist has yet to face at this point. It's another great place for a plot twist.

Step 9: Plot Point 2
You've come along way since the reader was first introduced to your character.
We're finally at the end of Act 2. It's time for another plot twist. Your antagonist is going to create an even harder obstacle for your protagonist but the protagonist will not defeat them. Instead, they will recognize how he or she can ultimately defeat the antagonist after they overcome the obstacle.

Step 10: The Climax
This is where the final battle happens between your protagonist and antagonist. It is the hardest battle your protagonist has ever faced in their life but they are determined to defeat the antagonist. Readers usually do not like to read tragedies so you will need the protagonist to defeat the antagonist once and for all. You don't have to kill the antagonist but you do have to have something happen to him or her in order for the reader to know the entire ordeal is over. You will want to think about this part very carefully because if you plan for your book to be part of a series you don't want to kill the antagonist unless you plan to bring him or her back from the dead.

Step 11: Resolution
We've finally made it to Act 3. The battle is over but the protagonist still has some minor obstacles to face. You generally want three obstacles for them to face in Act 3 as they make their way to their new beginning. Make certain to tie up any loose ends that you have created with your supporting characters. The obstacles you create should be lessening. This is the place of the story where the reader gains closure. Make it a good one and don't leave them hanging.

Step 12: New Beginning
This is the lower box on Act 3. Your protagonist's life has changed and they can never go back to where they started their journey. Sure it may be the same house or the same town but they have changed from the experience. You want to show the readers how the character's world has changed and what their new life looks like. This doesn't need to be too long. Just long enough that your readers feel they can leave the character in a safe place. The world is well and your character life is at new normal.


GREAT JOB ON CREATING YOUR PARADIGM. YOU WILL WANT TO KEEP THIS AS WE WILL BE REFERRING BACK TO IT NEXT TIME WHEN WE EXPLORE THE HERO'S JOURNEY. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

#FREE book. Turn Back Time This Valentine's Day. #kindle #IamReading #love #history

CONTEST!!!
It's almost time announce the winners. You only have until Thursday to enter into my contest for a free book. All you have to do is leave a comment on any of the Valentine Day's contest posting on my blog. Look for the heart graphic like the one posted here. Winners are announced on Friday. 

Today's question: 



If you could turn back time who would you want to date and why?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

#Conspiracy? Who is the real @JohnWilkesBooth? #kindle #History

NEW RELEASE!!!


History teaches us that after John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln the famed actor was killed at Garrett's Barn in Virginia. Yet there is conflicting evidence that may prove otherwise. Nate Orlowek doesn't believe Wilkes died in the barn that day. If Nate Orlowek is right then we might have to rewrite history. So who died in the barn if it wasn't John Wilkes Booth?http://amzn.to/M1PNQY

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Valentine's Day CONTEST Oh, You Like Me! #Free #IAmReading #author #history #series

CONTEST!!!


Today's contest entry is going to be a bit different. Instead of writing a response all you have to do is go the links posted below, like my Facebook pages and then place a comment below that you have done so. Everyone who comments will be automatically entered into the drawing to win of my books. Winners are announced on Valentine's Day.

Here are the pages:





GOOD LUCK!

Friday, February 7, 2014

#VALENTINE'S DAY CONTEST: Win a #free book.

VALENTINE'S DAY CONTEST

Do you want to win a free copy of Calico, Elsa or Reflections? All you have to do is read the post and comment below to be automatically entered. Each day I will post a new story or a question. Just add to the story or answer the question in the comment section. Come back each day to see what is new. The contest will run until Feb. 13. Winners are announced on Valentine's Day. 
Good Luck!


If you could go anywhere and in any time to meet the man or woman of your dreams where would you go?

Who would you date and what would the two of you do?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Romantic Snow In #contest #IAmWriting #Valentines



VALENTINE'S DAY CONTEST


It's been a horrible winter this year. 

If you were snowed in with your loved one what would you do to make it more romantic?




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Win a #Free #book. Valentine's Day Contest.

CONTEST!!!
Want to win a copy of Calico, Elsa or Reflections? Just read the blog and answer the writing prompt in the comments below to be automatically entered in the drawing. Winners will be announced on Valentine's Day. 


Reflections: Poems and Essays was a very personal writing experience for me. It includes historical essays but also poems that came from deep within my heart. 

Today's prompt: What's the most romantic experience you have ever had?

The waters of time never lie. Wisdom drifts down through the ages for all who dare to listen. History teaches us through honesty. Are you bold enough to hear the truth? Reflections: Poems and Essays wraps you in the untold stories of the past. Sit next to the waters of time and listen to the wisdom of the past. What if John Wilkes Booth hadn't been killed at Garret's barn? Who are the Shawnee? Why did the Cherokee accuse Sequoyah of witchcraft? These stories and more await you within this inspiring book. http://amzn.to/1lYik4M


#IWSG: Don't Let The Shame Monster Steal Your #Writing Thunder. @J_CameronLive



DON'T LET THE SHAME MONSTER STEAL YOUR WRITING THUNDER!



Shame. It's something every artist has. You've probably felt it when you were trying to create something. It's that little voice in your head that tells you not to pour your heart out in your writing because your work might hurt someone. So after you write something you just delete it. I'm infamous for stuff like that. It's hard for me to push through certain topics in my writing because I have an automatic writer's block that yells "Stop! Don't write that!" And what do I do? I stop writing. I don't go any deeper because I don't want to hurt someone. 

I've been working "The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity" by Julia Cameron every morning and came across this passage yesterday that really spoke to me.

"Many blocked people are actually very powerful creative personalities who have been made to feel guilty about their own strengths and gifts. Without being acknowledged, they are often used as batteries by their families and friends, who feel free to use their creative energies and disparage them. With these blocked artists strive to break free of their dysfunctional systems, they are often urged to be sensible when such advice is not appropriate for them. Made to feel guilty for their talents, they often hide their own light under a bushel for fear of hurting others. Instead, they hurt themselves."

I know what it means for someone to steal your creative energies. My mom always stole mine only to replace it with negatives. It took me a very long time to accept that I am a talented creative artist and that's ok. I broke away from my mom and others who were sucking my creative energies and surrounded myself with those who appreciated my abilities. I've thrived but I still have to face with the inner shame that I created out of the negative surroundings that I was raised in.  

It's hard to pour my heart and soul into a character who mirrors my own life or has to deal with issue  have. I've learned to push past the shame that lies inside me and when I do I find there is a cathartic release for me. A way of working through my personal issues. I still have moments when the inner shame is so large that it hinders my writing. There's are a few stories I have been holding onto that I want to write but am ashamed to even try. I won't throw them away because I know they need to be written. I plan to start working on them for a 2015 release. As a creative artists I can't allow shame to stop me from being the best writer I can be. I just need to push onward and have faith that I can write the story the way it needs to be written. 

Don't let others steal your creative energy. Don't let your personal shame stop you. JUST KEEP WRITING. Your inner artist will thank you for it. 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

CONTEST!!! #summer #love.

CONTEST!!!!


Savannah always hated summer because it was that time of the year where she was expected to help her grandparents on the farm. But this year was different. This year she meet Chandler. Chandler made everyday on the farm a joy. Last night, the farm hand asked her out on a date. 

The door bell rang and Savannah raced down the stairs in her new sundress. 

Now it's your turn................