As writers and artists we have unique opportunities to change the world.
Check out my article in Night Owl Reviews about the win-win opportunities of social activism.
As writers and artists we have unique opportunities to change the world.
Check out my article in Night Owl Reviews about the win-win opportunities of social activism.
Cave of Secrets coming Jan 27th. 3rd volume in the NIGHT ANGELS CHRONICLES.
Get ready for Cave of Secrets, the third volume in the NIGHT ANGELS CHRONICLES.
A demon force is taking over Oak Haven and people are dying in horrific ways. Somewhere beneath the city of Los Angeles lies the hidden chamber and the Secrets to the Origins of Life. If only Sera can find it, maybe she can stop the violence. She needs her dad to help her and she’s certain he’s still alive. But in order to find him, Sera must make a pact with her nemesis, Fabian Gore.
Peter, the Night Angels, has vowed to love and protect Sera, but even he can’t help her in this task. Nor can Jimmy, the human whom she knows she can trust. Only the “girl with the crazy eyes” can lead Sera to her father. Without her dad and the secrets he holds, Sera doesn’t think she can go any further.
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I am teaching English online to kids and adults in China. This is proving to be an enlightening experience and my students are delightful. I love nothing more than finding out about a new culture and meeting new people. Funny how the differences remind us how much we are the same.
Lately, we have discussed the air pollution in China, as some of my students have been kept home from school because of it. Another one of my adult students works in waste management in Beijing and described the challenges of dealing with this problem.
Being able to communicate one-on-one with people in another country, one where the United States seems to have increasingly hostile relations, brings a deeper level of understanding. Now, I read that Americans’ feelings of good will towards Russians has dropped by 30%. It’s important to remember that we, the people of any nation, are all the same. Nothing has changed from day to the next, from one year to the next, from one administration to the next, in who we are. We all want to live a peaceful life, have a roof over our heads and take care of our families. It is the governments, the media, the corporations, the special interest groups with their own agendas, that create these widening gulfs of misunderstanding and manipulate emotions and play on fears.
Now we have new buzzwords, within the United States, polarizing groups of people, more and more. We lump people together inside a prison of words, and think we have the right to keep them there. Then, the other side fires back with its own prison of words. And before we know it, the words are so deeply embedded on our consciousness, we don’t even remember how they got there or why. The story gets repeated and embellished, always from one point of view. The other side retaliates. The words become violence, somehow justified because we no longer look at our opponents as people just like us. They are something dangerous and worthy of extermination–or at least worth of being taught a serious lesson.
Such as those “fly-over” states, spoken of with such disdain. It seems that highly educated pundits now find it okay to openly label country folk stupid. How stupid is that? Surely one of the most basic rules you learn in college when doing research is not to make sweeping generalized statements about an entire group of people? Mind you, the country folk do the same. despising the city folk for their privilege and education.
Amazing… the word stupid was banned in my family. One of the best things my parents taught me was to be very careful about using a word like that, because using it could well prove my own stupidity. Be sure of your facts. Don’t generalize. Calling people who are somehow different from you stupid (or any other negative term) only shows your own ignorance. And fear.
In fact, the whole flinging of nasty comments across borders is just plain, well… stupid. And that means it could well grow into something dangerous. For everyone.
Read the latest on the NIGHT ANGLES CHRONICLES…
I saw Dr. Strange and I loved it. It’s making a lot of money around the world so I guess a lot of other people loved it and I’m not surprised. It takes us back to the spiritual, reminds us how little we know about the universe and how unwilling or unable most of us are to try and find out. Not through science and traditional learning, but through spiritual practice. Through the denial of the physical and the training of the spirit and the mind.
I loved the library in the movie, and Dr. Strange ‘s insatiable appetite for learning. One of the books he took out of the library was The Key of Solomon, a book of deep magic. I sat forward in my seat in amazement because what is inside of that book is important to the NIGHT ANGELS CHRONICLES.
Remember that as Sera’s father, Theo, tells her, coordinates…
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“Conservemas la Naturaleza y aseguremos la Vida al Mundo.”
~ Eugenia Alvarez Elizondo, teacher in the Maleku school.
Maleku school children, their teacher, Eugenia Alvarez Elizondo, and Daniel Spreen Wilson
On July 6, 2016 I landed in Liberia, intent on staying near Lake Arenal for three months, maybe longer. It’s now September and the time has flown by. I am returning to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks and then, I will probably come back. I haven’t quite had enough of this beautiful place yet.
During my time here, I’ve had the joy of conducting the My World Project with Maleku youth on the Reserva Indigena Maleku. There are only about six hundred Maleku left in Costa Rica. They have been rounded up and given land on which to live. Meanwhile, much of the land they used to call home has been cleared in order to create pastures and fields. Many Maleku are now farmers. The Maleku can no longer build their traditional homes, since the palms they used have become endangered. Kind of ironic. The Maleku are not the ones who caused the plants and animals to become endangered. Yet, they are the ones whose lives have been changed forever because of it. Now they must live in cement houses that do not “breathe.”
Everywhere I go I meet people who offer to help with My World Project. And I have people contacting me who want to do it in other places around the world. So, day by day, this community is growing.
As happened in the Sahara Desert, I had no idea when I got to Arenal how I would make this project work. But I have always found if you open yourself to possibilities, they will find you. Sure enough, I met a great guy, Daniel Spreen Wilson, who founded La Reserva Forest Foundation. This great nonprofit has taken upon itself to help reforest the Maleku Indigenous Reserve, allowing native animals, such as the Mantled Howler Monkeys, sloths, reptiles, amphibians and tropical birds to once again live in their natural habitat.
Daniel has been here for thirty-three years and speaks fluent Spanish. So I was very thankful to have his help. Together we traversed the bumpy road from Lake Arenal to the reserve. We met with the teachers in three schools. So far, we have been to the first school to do the program and we go to the others over the next week.
From Africa to the Americas and beyond, what are children telling us with this project? Well, they are telling us that they love their natural world. They love their lakes and rivers, mountains, forests, deserts and oceans. They love their plants and animals. They love their families and their traditions. They love peace. They are interested to share their ideas with other children around the world who feel the same.
What they don’t want is the continued destruction of their worlds by outside forces. Not only is their natural world being destroyed but so is their spiritual world, meaning their traditional ways of life. And the drug culture that is now so prevalent in the United States is slowly but surely invading their lives as well. These are not just clichés to be switched off because we have heard them a thousand times. These children do not know the meaning of a cliché. This is the world they live in. This is what is happening to them. These are their real day-to-day struggles. These children see very clearly, without anyone having to tell them how express it, that their worlds are being destroyed.
Perhaps we should listen more to our children.
Check out this guest post on “A Young Adult Dreamer” blog. There is also a giveaway!
In Book of Angels, Sera has her first encounter with the Queen, who is imprisoned in the Life Box in Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Desert. Sera must travel to the monastery with Peter and Blanca to check on the Queen.
The excerpt in this blog post tells about Sera’s encounter with the Queen.
Here is the first review of Book of Angels, by Suze Lavender:
Ever since Sera found her father’s mysterious key her life has been turbulent. It’s the only thing he left her and she’s guarding it with her life. The Night Angels manage to save her when nobody else could, but there is a price. Sera is no longer a regular teenage girl with friend and boyfriend problems. Now, she has responsibilities, she has to learn how to control her impulses and she’s only just started her mission to find out what the key can do.
Sera’s nemesis is in control of her brother Salem. Sera finds out they’re now on opposite sides of the same battle, but there are also issues they have to work on together. An ancient Queen wants to escape and someone’s helping her. She should remain confined, because if she’s…
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Book of Angels, volume two in the NIGHT ANGELS CHRONICLES, opens with Sera’s Turning. In order for her to survive, she is given the blood of the five Night Angels and she becomes one with them and sees their terrible pasts. This gives Sera her first real understanding of who they are.
Blanca is the NIGHT ANGEL who Sera feels hates her and wants her dead. In Key of Mystery, Sera thought that Blanca must be Peter’s girlfriend, but she finds out this isn’t so. Their relationship goes back hundreds of years. Sera still doesn’t find out what happened all those years ago, that will have to wait for another book. But this is what she does now know:
Here is an excerpt from the time when Sera, Peter and Blanca are about to embark on their journey to St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Desert. Blanca doesn’t want to take Sera and an argument ensues, during which Sera discovers some important things about Blanca’s character and the bond between the Night Angels:
Blanca groaned impatiently. “Why must we take her?”
“Be quiet,” said Peter with a growl.
I was desperate to stall for time. I didn’t care if it made Blanca angry. “What I want to know it, am I going to have to listen to you two fight the whole time? Because it’s fucking boring. How do you even keep it going for hundreds of years?”
Peter pretended surprise. “Fight? Us? Perhaps on occasion, like everyone, but never on a mission.”
“We’re on a mission and you’re fighting.” I raised my eyebrows. “Hello?”
“Shut up,” said Blanca, adjusting her sword on her back.
“Whatever,” I said.
“Whatever,” Blanca mimicked. And under her breath, she said, “Ignorant Oak Haven bimbo.”
I had literally taken off into the air to attack Blanca, but Peter grabbed me and slammed me back onto the ground.
Blanca folded her arms, chin raised triumphantly. “See that?” She walked right up to me, while Peter restrained me. “Let’s get one thing straight, baby. I don’t like you. I don’t trust you. I don’t want you here.”
“That’s three things.,” I said through gritted teeth.
One corner of Blanca’s mouth turned up slightly. And then she laughed. Peter let me go, and I glared at him. I didn’t know which one of them made me angrier.
“An irritating little thing, isn’t she?” said Blanca.
Peter grinned. “Yes, she is.”
Blanca turned back to me. “Peter and I might have our problems. But we trust each other. And we have each other’s back. We have fought together for hundreds of years. When we’re on a mission, we put our differences aside. I’m willing to do the same with you. Think you can reciprocate?”
I just stared at her, saying nothing. I hated her so much.
Peter reached toward me. I flinched, but he put his hand on my arm gently and I calmed down. “Maybe you don’t like Blanca’s rough ways, but she’s telling you something important. When you’re in battle, there’s no one better than Blanca to have at your side. Do you understand?”
“No, I don’t!” I jerked away from him resentfully. “Why should I? This is all crazy! But still, I’m trying. And what do I get for it? I get made fun of, insulted. By everybody! You treat me like dirt, Blanca, and I’m supposed to take it?”
“Pretty much, yes,” she said. “You’re the runt of the litter. You have to pay your dues.”
“Okay,” said Peter. “Can we do this? Can we all agree to put our differences behind us while on this dangerous mission?” We nodded. “Great. Now, humans would call what we are doing teleportation. As I said, we call it the Passage. You are a denizen, Sera. This means you know yourself on a molecular level. You will easily navigate the Passage.”
I sighed. “If you say so. I’m ready, let’s get this over with.”
The next thing I knew, I had leapt into the air with the two of them, my mind on St. Catherine’s Monastery, and I found myself hurtling through the Passage, horribly aware of every atom in my body and the indomitable forces of the universe that were trying to pull me apart.
Painting by Theodor Aman
These elections and the associated conventions have taken our country so far down into the murky waters of greed, lies and hypocrisy, I am hard pressed to see how we could sink any lower.
The American people, like the team players that we are, hop on the bandwagon and are carried along by the speeches and fanfare. If you believe one view, then Trump is the good guy. If you believe the other view, then Hillary is the good woman.
Finally, we have reached that wonderful fairytale world, where good and evil are clearly defined and we know what we are fighting for.
There is a bogey-man and it is, most definitely, the other side.
Watching these elections on television, I keep remembering the Iraq War, delcared in 2003.
Everyone now seems to admit that it was a terrible “mistake.” The intelligence information was all wrong.
Oops. Oh, well!
Words fail me as I watch the insanity of this election and how easily we have fallen into it. As easily as we fell into the Iraq War.
John Tirman, the principal research scientist at MIT Center for International Studies has said that an average figure “suggests roughly 700,000” Iraqis died in the Iraq War. That figure does not include deaths among the millions of displaced Iraqis, which accounted for 20% of the population. Those statistics were repressed by the media. What we saw on television wasn’t anything like what was really happening.
When war was declared, no one dared to question the Shock and Awe campaign. I was president of InsideOUT Writers at that time. I sent out an email to my contacts saying that weapons of mass destruction was surely a lie and this war was a disaster. I wish I could find that email and review it now. It seemed so clear. I thought surely the majority of people in my mostly liberal circle would agree with me.
Much to my surprise, I was bombarded by vitriolic responses. I was labeled unpatriotic. I was told to keep my thoughts to myself at such a sensitive time, when we should show a united front and support for our leaders.
Now we know the truth. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein did not present a threat to the United States of America.
The decisions made in 2003 are directly responsible for the bloodbath in Syria, which is now spreading up through Turkey and into Europe. Those decisions are directly responsible for the rise of ISIS, and for the rise of terrorism in general.
Yet, no one is taking responsiblity. No one is standing trial for these crimes. The terroists are the evil ones, who somehow rose out of hell all on their own, without any provocation. We are pure in our righteous indignation.
If journalists do not toe the line and report what they are supposed to report, they are blacklisted.
Carne Ross, once known as “Mr. Iraq’ by the UN, was a senior British official and a leading figure in sanctions against Iraq. He has since apologised for that stance. In an interview with The Guardian, he said, “We would control access to the foreign secretary as a form of reward to journalists. If they were critical we would not give them the goodies of trips around the world. We would feed them factoids of sanitized intelligence, or we’d freeze them out.”
The public is quite used to being fed water-down or even made-up stories and accepting them. Slightly varied versions might be given to appeal to different segments, but the underlying story is the same. I think by now everyone knows that this is what happens. But, somehow, it just doesn’t matter. If the story appeals to us, we will believe it.
When all of our recent presidents are photographed together, there are both Bushs smiling along with the others.
The Iraq War is only one of many lies and manipulations. Why aren’t the American people demanding that our leaders speak the truth? Silence on the part of our leaders is collusion. Bush should be tried for this crime, as should a silent Senate. We as a nation should bow our heads in horror that we stood by.
But no ones does this. It would cause unrest. It would make us look weak and vulernable to our enemies. And so, we perpetuate the lies and manipulation. As a result, the world becomes more unstable and dangerous–the very results we fear will happen if we admit the truth.
NO LEADER IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA GOT INTO A POSITION OF POWER BY TELLING THE TRUTH.
If you want to see things in a negative light, you vote for Trump. And if you want to see things in a positive light, you vote for Clinton. It’s okay, the marketing experts know how to appeal to consumers so that they think they are getting a different product. It is slightly different, but it is made by the same manufacturer. Give Americans the story they want; make them feel the way they want to feel and they will faithfully line the pockets of the rich and powerful, whether they be Republican or Democrat.
It doesn’t matter which one wins.
In fact, Clinton might well prove to be a greater mass murderer than Trump. In her 2008 bid for president she threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran with nuclear weapons. That is only one example of her eagerness to kill. We have yet to see.
Obama was a classy guy. And Michelle was super classy. People who like classy are going to miss them. I liked that Michelle included in her speech about slaves building the White House. It helped me see this fact in a new light. I had never imagined how incredible it must be for her and her daughters to wake up every day in the White House.
It made me think about the greater truth that this nation was built upon genocide, slavery and dishonesty. It was not built on the premise that “all men are created equal.” Slavery, genocide and dishonesty continue to this day. I never learned any of this in school. I never heard the statistics. I wasn’t given any tests on these subjects. I was never asked what it might mean to stand up against the lies of my own govnerment.
Democrat and Republican are two sides of the same coin.
“The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.” John Pilger
If the cost is 1 trillion, you better believe the profit for defense companies who are building and selling these weapons is at least double that. As always, war is big business. Making money is the American ideal.
Nothing has changed since the Iraq War of 2003 began. Nothing will change as long as humans are so easily bought for a dollar.
As Kurt Vonnegut so aptly said, “War is now a form of TV entertainment, and what made the First World War so particularly entertaining were two American inventions, the barbed wire and the machine gun.”
And now, we have the presidential election. One one side the police. On the other side the disenfranchized. Yet, wasn’t it Hillary Clinton who, in her 2008 bid for president labelled certain children as “super-predators.” Her words, “We can talk about how they became that way. But first, we have to bring them to heel.”
The Republican and Democartic conventions were carefully orchestrated. Like a sitcom, the audience laughed and clapped as instructed. It held up the appropriate signs that had been handed out ahead of time.
The world watches our hypocritical displays in disgust but without surprise.
Hillary Clinton is not a better choice than Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton represents the status quo, the way it has always been, the entrenched establishment. Donald Trump is unpredictable. I think he has some kind of wild idea that he can make independent decisions. But then, he isn’t a career politician.
Whoever wins, the polarization of the people of the United States will continue to escalate. With each faction believing the other is evil.
No president ever got to that position without selling themselves to the highest bidder. At that level of power, there is no more room for the ideal. There is no more room for kindness or generosity or understanding. There is only a slicker facade and an emptier soul.
Where are the mainstream journalists asking the question of why? Where are the journalists probing the build-up of American troops around the world, in aggression against Russia, China, not to mention the Middle East?
A map should be on display so we can see exactly how many American troops, how many nuclear warheads, how many military aircraft and ships are amassed on borders far from our own. And it should be compared to how many Russian troops and Chinese troops are amassed on borders far from their own.
Is it not imperative to have this information? Is it not imperative to know what is really happening?
Perhaps such information in front of our faces will help us to see how the United States, thanks to its own fundamentalist history as a Christian nation, has the dangerous idea that its “values,” must be embraced by all nations and all people. Even if it is done by force. As the Messiah will come back on his white horse and run all the infidels through with the sword–his Christian army beside him–so, too, the United States of America will lead the world as its Messiah, bringing to heel all who do not bow to our God-given rule.
Americans are fed just enough information to make us believe we are free to decide the fate of our nation and of ourselves.
We can “like” something. We can sign a petition. We can demonstrate. We can vote. We can publicly trash a politician or make jokes about them. It makes us feel as if we, as ordinary citizens, are influencers on this global stage. But we are just “liking” our way into World War Three. In fact, there are plenty of people in plenty of countries who would tell you a world war has already begun.
We are too distracted by the media lies to understand this.
Freedom of speech is a scam. But it doesn’t matter. As long as we are presented with a spectacle, we will watch it.
The more we can debate and take sides, the more we will be duped into thinking our involvement matters. It is clear with this election that people are being expected to take a side. As if by doing so, we are all doing our part. We are all making a commitment to either bring about change or to uphold the status quo.
It is all lies.
Nothing has changed since the Iraq War of 2003 began.
Nothing will change as long as humans are ruled by selish greed and are so easily bought by the highest bidder.
Nothing will change as long as humans are ruled by fear and are so easily intimidated by those in power.
Nothing will change as long humans are ruled by self-deceit and are so easily manipulated for the sake of entertainment.
We are not right (whoever “we” may be), and everyone else is not wrong (whoever “everyone else” may be).
In 1917, David Loyd George, the British Prime Minister, said of World War One, “If people knew the truth, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.”
Some have said it is a lack of education. It is not. Our leaders are educated and they are the ones who send us to war.
Almost 7,000,000 Russians died in the “Great War.” The estimated total number of people killed is 20,000,000.
Yet we continue to glorify war and elevate our nation as if we have some God-given right to kill.
Here is one of many powerful statements Kurt Vonnegut made about war, “Perhaps when we remember war, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.”
There is no bogey-man onto which we can turn our hatred. There is no scapegoat to blame. The bogey-man is inside each of us.
It is called human nature.
And until we change the nature of humanity, nothing else will change.
In Book of Angels, readers find out more about who the Night Angels really are…and their terrible histories.
Here Marek tells his story to Sera, after a lesson in sword-fighting. It isn’t a pretty tale, be prepared…. The images it brings to mind are horrific. But the stories need to be told…the truth must be revealed.
Marek drew close to me, so that I saw the fine sheen of sweat on his brow, still fresh from our practice. As usual, his expression was neutral but his eyes were cold and hard, the look I had seen in Peter’s eyes so many times when he remembered his past and the humans who had inhabited it.
“One night I overheard my master’s drunken conversation with his wife. The next morning he was going to send me to the Coptic priests at Abu Gerbe to be castrated.”
I shook my head and…
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