Category Archives: Uncategorized

Brother’s Best Friend by Amy Sanderlin

If you love L.A. Pepper, Elizabeth Stevens, River Alder, or Katie Knight, you will love this book!

Hidden among the titles in my Kindle Unlimited library, I came across this sweet sexy read.

One thing I truly appreciate about Amy’s writing is how she tells the story. Where most authors would make this sex for the sake of sex, Amy hasn’t. The characters are vibrant and real. The relationship between Jessie and each person is unique and heartfelt. There’s history here, among everyone. Just little things that are woven in here and there about each of them and where they’ve gone in life before coming together, here at home, for the summer.

The first encounter happens by a spark that fanned into a wildfire, it was as passionate as it was unexpected, and as all-consuming as it was short-lived. But it’s the consequences of that encounter that give our leading lady pause.

Jessie truly loves her brother, hating how her love life has affected him, and the relationship he once had with a once-best friend, in the past. She doesn’t want to risk his pain again for the sake of her pleasure, and that is a surprising depth to find in a book of this quick-hit genre. I’m truly impressed by this author’s ability to sculpt this story so smoothly and richly.

There are author names we all know in the romance world—Dorothy Garlock, JoAnna Lindsey, DiAnna Steele. I’ve read multiple titles from each of them, novels well into the 90K+ word length, and I can tell you this: The way Amy weaves this story and brings the characters and conflict to life, bringing it from a low whisper to a rich roar before it decrescendos into the final notes, puts them to shame.

I honestly don’t think any of those authors has been able to capture the emotion and range quite like Amy has. This is a short story that is on par with L.A. Pepper.

The Truth Hurts, Wear a Helmet

This was a post from my good friend Ryan S. He posted this originally on Fb in regards to someone who was being belligerent about confederate statues being removed. I copied his post below.

Ten Things to Consider About Statues and Flags from the Confederacy:

– 1 – The Civil War was 100% over slavery. When Lincoln won the election of 1860 with ~39%. Lincoln ran with the intention to prevent the use of slaves in new expansions to the West. South Carolina seceded on 20 Dec 1860. Other states shortly followed and the Confederate States of America were formed

– 2 – The Constitution of the Confederate States of America states in Article 1; Sec. 9. (4) No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

(Other than it’s laws concerning slavery, it’s pretty much the Constitution of the United States of America.)

– 3 – Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America stated in his Cornerstone Speech on 21 March 1861 to explain why they left the Union, “Our new government is founded exactly upon the opposite idea; it’s foundations are laid, it’s corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

– 4 – The Civil War began on 12 April 1861 when Confederate soldiers bombarded a Union outpost in South Carolina (Fort Sumter). It was a literal ambush.

– 5 – On 21 April 1861 publication was made that the secession of the Southern states was a direct act of treason. .

– 6 – The modern day Confederate Flag was adopted as such in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. It’s actually the Battle Flag of Virginia and the 2nd Confederate Navy Jack. It is a small portion of the 2nd and 3rd versions of the Confederate Flag (upper left corner only). The reason for a different battle flag than the actual flag is because it kept getting confused for surrendering, so Union soldiers stopped reacting to white flags being raised to surrender. This 2nd flag became known as the “unstained banner”. Later this was resolved further by adding a “red bar” to the right of the flag (adopted from the flag of France). This third flag became known as the “blood-stained banner”.

– 7 – The majority of Confederate statues throughout the nation were erected during the Civil Rights Movement era. I wonder why that was…

– 8 – We have entire museums dedicated to each and every single one of the battles of the Civil War. We have plaques on buildings that were built by slaves. We have the Lincoln Memorial for fuck’s sake. Why do we need statues to traitors and racists? We don’t. We need them for patriots and heroes. We need them for breakthroughs and advancements.

– 9 – Here are the things Robert E. Lee said in regards to statues:

a – in regards to a statue of himself at the University of Virginia) “As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the country would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment, and of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour,”

b – in regards to a statue of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson) “I do not think it feasible at this time,”

c – in regards to a ceremony for a statue to be erected in the North) “My engagements will not permit me to be present, and I believe if there I could not add anything material to the information existing on the subject. I think it well, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

d – in regards to Lee believing that the South needed to forgive and forget and get on with the business of being Americans: after being shown a memento of the war) “Cut it down and forget it.”

– 10 – The designer of the 2nd Confederate flag known as the Stainless Banner is a point of contention. Some books accredit it to William Miles, William Thompson, or P.G.T. Beauregard. One things remains clear: William Tappan Thompson posted an editorial in The Savannah Morning News championing the Stainless Banner design with the words stating, “As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.” He would later always refer to the Stainless Banner as “The White Man’s Flag”.

This originated as a response to someone being ugly towards someone’s post. That post pertained to Civil War statues. I in turn responded in regards to Civil War. I wrote much of this from memory, and I’m sure there are typos. Feel free to chime in.

Running out of Outlets


Wake up. Eat breakfast. Put my mask on and walk to work in the brisk, early morning sunlight of New Jersey. My shift starts at 07:00. As I walk into the hospital, like every day, I am stopped for a forehead temperature scan and asked if I have any flu-like symptoms before proceeding to the ICU. I gather my one N95 mask for the day, a single hair net, shoe covers if available, a plastic gown and a pair of hospital issued scrubs. I reuse my face shield everyday.

I head down two floors to the makeshift ICU. The entrance is blocked off with heavy-duty construction plastic as an attempt to make the OR and PACU ‘negative-pressure’. [COVID can stay airborne for several hours with aerosolization and the negative pressure means particles will flow into the COVID area, not into other surrounding hallways]. This area is filled people, each crammed…

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Pet Peeves: Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD in Fictional Writing

I should start this by saying that this will be a long post. There isn’t a trigger warning here, but this is going to be a bit of a “come to the campfire” meeting. For those of you in the American south, you’ve heard of this under the name of the “come to Jesus” meeting.

For each of us as writers and readers—some of us are both—there are things we each have that are pet peeves in things we read. There’s one big one for me that I don’t generally talk about, but I will today.

That pet peeve is how I see so many authors write a character who has anxiety, depression, or post traumatic stress. I have several friends with PTSD stemming from abusive relationships, trauma experienced from so many sources—be it crime, bullying, their profession, or being a witness to something they couldn’t forget. I myself have anxiety and depression—those two afflictions being unwanted gifts of chronic pain, but that part isn’t what’s important here. The part that is, is that I have personal experience with how anxiety and depression not only twist the mind, but more importantly, how it affects the body.

The things I see so often in writing for a character with anxiety is that they experience a moment of fear or worry and then it’s over, like a click of the fingers. It doesn’t work like that, neither does depression, or PTSD. There are many, like myself, where the anxiety doesn’t even necessarily come with uncontrolled thoughts or wild worry—most of the time, the mind is easiest part to control. But when an anxiety attack hits, what you experience is a wide range of physiological symptoms—racing heartbeat that commonly also has an unsteady pattern; nerve firings in your muscles that lead to lungs feeling compressed, your hands shaking, even your eyes vibrating—not that you feel your eyes vibrating, but you do notice that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to focus enough to read something no matter how large the print.

Adrenaline floods your system, and you’re left in this heightened state of fight or flight that doesn’t go away until *it* wants to go away. Sometimes that a few minutes, sometimes it’s *hours*–yes HOURS. And when it does finally break, you suffer for it. Headaches, exhaustion, inability to focus or communicate effectively. You almost feel like a zombie. And guess what? “Popping a Xanax” as I’ve seen in so many stories, doesn’t fix it. It might calm you down, but that takes up to 45 minutes to kick in. It’s not immediate.

Depression is a little different. You’d give anything to have that rush of adrenaline when a depressive episode hits because all you feel is listless. The building could fall down around you and you wouldn’t have the energy or drive to move out of the way of danger. The things that mean so much to you—for me that’s writing and reading—you just have no energy at all for. Taking a shower, cooking a meal, making freaking toast, feels like the impossible task. Just getting out of bed to go to the bathroom and come right back to bed after is EXHAUSTING. Most drugs prescribed for depression will help you find a balance, but don’t prevent or even stop the episodes from happening, and they also come with a hell of cornucopia of side effects—from chronic low level nausea to not being able to keep anything down, to gaining 30 or more pounds even when you change nothing at all about your diet at all or change your diet to vegan/gluten-free. The worst part of them all though, are that almost all (90%) antidepressants have a common side effect of suicide thoughts or ideation.

PTSD—that’s its own bag of mixed nuts. And I say that with the greatest respect. Some moments of PTSD can be a dissociative episode where it feels like you’re walking through a dream, completely disconnected from everything around you, and you’re just going through the motions. Other times, your mind can take you back to reliving whatever happened over and over again on a never-ending loop. Some can still do their daily tasks when this happens, others can’t do anything at all. A tap on the shoulder or the slamming of a door can put you into fight mode, the flash of a neon light catching you at the wrong angle or the blaring or a car horn will trigger a memory that you hadn’t thought about in a while—a memory that is more powerful than you are prepared to deal with in the moment. And unlike the movies and TV shows would have you believe, most of the time, you’re not “transported back into that moment”, but those memories do flood your mind until you can think of nothing else.

PTSD never goes away. Let me say that louder for those in the back. It NEVER goes away. You learn to manage your symptoms, you learn to control your mind and your environment, you learn coping mechanisms to keep the episodes you do experience from being so devastating, but it never leaves you. For those of my friends who have support dogs, that dog can sense when their charge is going into a panic attack or a PTSD flare and is trained to help calm them down, to give that person a center balance. For those who don’t have a support animal, their coping mechanisms may look to the neurotypicals (aka “normals”) as being OCD—checking all the locks and windows, looking for points of entry, marking the blind spots and corners covered in shadows.

And, for the record, TRUE OCD is devastating. Much more so than I feel qualified to go into. But I will give you this insight into it. A person with OCD will wash their hands, check the locks, open and close a door multiple times in a row, etc to the detriment of their own personal hygiene, safety, and normal functions of life. If the person stops being able to function normally in society, that is the true definition of OCD. It makes no sense to anyone on the outside looking in, but to that person, if they do not perform whatever task it is, in the exact order it needs to be done, and the exact number of times that they do, there is the belief/fear that something bad will happen—from the house catching fire to someone breaking in to themselves or a family member dying—as a direct result of not performing that task.

The thing I am saying here, and why I’ve offered all of this information, is to please write for accuracy. There is a marked difference between a moment of sadness and depression, a moment of worry and anxiety, learning coping techniques to control your reactions in order to manage your PTSD and actual OCD. Oh, and for the record, some of the most noble professions will have the greatest occurrence of PTSD—ER nurses, firefighters, EMTs, police, federal agents, military personnel—to name a few.

Actors/Actresses, musicians, and entertainers in the spotlight can get PTSD, too. Don’t laugh that off. Instead, think about how you would feel to have every moment of your life under someone else’s microscope, to have people trying to touch you or harass you on the street, break into your home, hack into your accounts, etc. Even for those entertainers like Kate Winslet, Patricia Arquette, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padelecki, Micha Collins, Jason Momoa, Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, and others who are very open to fans approaching them and speak out about loving to meet them—they, too, can experience trauma from overzealous fans or paparazzo. Hell, remember that John Hinkley Jr. shot President Reagan for the sole purpose of getting Jodie Foster to notice him.

A few resources for you all to check out, use, and save. (And yes, these are only a few of what’s available):

– Title: 20 Tweets That Capture What Anxiety Feels Like
— Link:

– Title: What Anxiety Disorders Look Like in Adults
— Link:

– Title: What an Anxiety Attack Really Feels Like
— Link:

– Title: 11 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
— Link:

– Title: Physical Symptoms and Side Effects of Anxiety
— Link:

– Title: YouTube: What Anxiety Feels Like—Living with an Anxiety Disorder
— Link:

– Title: The Effects of Depression on the Body and Physical Health
— Link:

– Title: The Effects of Depression on Your Body
— Link:

– Title: The Link Between Depression and Physical Symptoms
— Link:

– Title: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors
— Link:

– Title: PTSD: Five Effective Coping Strategies
— Link:

– Title: PTSD Service Dogs
— Link:

– Title: NIMH: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
— Link:

– Title: Obsessed Jodie Foster Fan, John Hinkley Jr., Shoots President Reagan
— Link:

To Myself 20 Years Ago

You’re 14 years old. The world around you doesn’t make sense, and I’m fairly certain it’s not supposed to. There are a lot of people who are going to let you down, and not because they want to, or because they’re mean, but simply because they don’t understand you. They don’t know how to talk to you, and that will frustrate them as much as it frustrates you. You will be yelled at. The people closest to you will question everything about you, calling you any number of things as they try to label you, diagnose you.

They will tell you that you have an addiction to a television show or a movie, never understanding that your undivided focus is because you are studying the character, learning what motivates them, what makes them tick. And it won’t matter what you say to those around you, how you try to explain things, they won’t understand because they can’t. You don’t fit inside any of the molds that they had set aside for you, and the older you get, the more those around you will realize that you’ll never measure up to their expectations, and in many ways, that will disappoint them. And yeah, it’ll even turn you mean.

Just remember this: There is nothing wrong with you. Not a single thing.

You were born with a story in your heart and a pen in your hand. You are a writer, and you were always meant to be a writer. Nothing and no one can change that, though I promise you, many will try. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s wrong, or that you can’t be who you want to be. Do you understand how lucky you are? Most people spend their whole lives searching for their passion and never finding it. But you? You were born with your passion singing in the blood in your veins, speaking to you in whispers from longer than you can remember.

You’ll get a job when you’re 15 because you want the independence that your own paycheck will bring you. Oh, but you will hate that job with a passion and every job that comes after. Even the jobs you get that you’re excited about at first will soon grow tiring, their novelty wearing off in weeks or months. You will spend a lifetime inside the customer service and tech support industries, and through those jobs, the only thing you will learn is that you have lost your faith in humanity. Over and over and over again, you will come to realize that people, by and large, just aren’t worth it.

But then, something rather magical happens, and I promise you it has nothing to do with work. You meet other writers. It takes forever, and at first, you don’t know what to make of it because for once your life, you’ve met someone who understands what it’s like to be you. To be a writer. To be born with a fire in your soul and a story in your heart, and the ability to control neither. Nor should you ever. Writing is as important as breathing to you, it always has been and I promise you, it always will be.

The ideas will begin flooding your mind this year, and it won’t ever stop. Trust me, you don’t ever want it stop. You will learn with every story you write. You develop your voice, and become so much better than you ever thought possible. You will study languages and cultures for the sheer enjoyment of doing so, and while you’re doing it, you will realize that you understand some of your most beloved characters all the better for it.

You will see the world around you the way that it could be, seeing the potential it has and all that it has suffered through to get to where it is. You will fumble through one failed relationship after another just trying to find yourself, only to realize that you have always – and will always – connect better with animals than you ever will with people. And you know what? That’s okay. Embrace that. Celebrate it. And whatever you do, don’t ever apologize for being you.

Life is going to throw you some curve balls. You’ll be filled with self-doubt, grief, more anger than you know how to handle, and you’ll spend a good deal of the time confused, too. Because that world you see inside your mind, that one that’s so real you can touch it, taste it – the one you dream about every night when you close your eyes – no one else can see that world. No one else understands it. And you know what? That’s okay, too.

You’ll meet some people who tell you that they’re a writer, too, and that it’s a nice hobby when they have time for it, and you will know in that instant that they will never understand. Writing isn’t a hobby for you and it never will be. Writing isn’t something you “make time for”. You write every second of every day, regardless of whether you have a pen or a computer handy. The rest of the world, that’s what you “make time for”, because in the end, it’s really not that important, and the true writers you meet. The ones who eat sleep and breathe writing – they get it.

Be weird. Make connections where you least expect to find them. Fall in love with a story and get your heart broken. Learn about two brothers who fight back the darkness together and always keep fighting even when it seems impossible, and take that journey with them. Meet a hanyou and fall into his world, and learn the story of a girl who overcame time itself. Stay up late and write until you can’t even see the computer screen anymore. Go on a road trip and write on napkins and the backs of receipts until your hand hurts from it.

But above all else: Always. Keep. Writing.

The Black Mask

You’ve seen it advertised on Facebook, you’ve seen the videos circulating Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media pages. This mask is touted as being the one stop shop for cleaning your pores. Don’t pop the pimple, remove it by using The Black Mask. You can even order your free sample from a link on their Facebook page.


Some think this sounds too good to be true, others roll their eyes and say that there are other masks out there that are similar. For those, who’ve tried it, they swear by it, even getting their male counterparts or friends to try it, usually with rather amusing results, especially when the user simply tries to rip off the mask like a band aid. (Side note: Don’t ever do that with any kind of face mask.)


Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve tried it. Before I tell you if it lives up to the hype or not, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a tom boy – not the rolling in the mud, dirt bike racing, extra in a Gretchen Wilson music video tomboy – just the standard jeans and t-shirt wearing, couldn’t care less about hair and make up kind of tomboy.


My makeup regime consists of a tube of liquid lip gloss from Bath & Body Works, and the occasional application of lotion when my skin gets alligator leather dry. I’ll do a face mask once every 6 months, if I’m lucky, and if I use a facial scrub, I do so in the shower because I’m not going to take the extra time out of my day to stand in front of the mirror and rub something on my face. That’s just not who I am.


After about two months of seeing the same post shared in my newsfeed regarding the black mask, and giggling at the video of the guy making a fuss about it – and silently calling him a wuss – I decided to try. What can it hurt, right? And it’s a free sample, so, it wasn’t like I was out any money for the deal, either. After a few weeks, the little tube arrived in the mail and my other half and I both slapped it on – the sample contains enough for about three applications.


No, I don’t know what my other half thought, because I didn’t ask her, but I will tell you my experience.


The Black Mask glides on smooth – thick – but smooth. It dries in roughly 30 minutes, unless you’re like me and end up with glops in places because you didn’t take the time to smooth it all out and make it a uniform thickness. I did say that I normally don’t care about these things, didn’t I? Any who, when it dries, it freaking dries!


I couldn’t move my face! I actually found that quite hilarious. (I am easily entertained by the oddest things.) Now, when I usually use facial products – soaps, scrubs, masks – peel of or mud – etc, I almost always end up with my skin reddened and irritated over the bridge of my nose, my cheeks, and occasionally my forehead. It happens with everything I’ve used, so I just stopped caring about it and accepted that irritation as a fact of life.


Guess what? I had zero – ZERO – skin irritation with The Black Mask. When I peeled it off – slowly, for those of you who haven’t used peel off masks before – I could feel it cleaning my pores, pulling out the gunk that is invariably in there. Oh – by the way – on the back of the tube, it says that you’re supposed to wash your face before applying it. Yeah, I didn’t see that until after, and as it turns out, you don’t really need to. That stuff cleans hella good! And the best part – no discomfort, no skin irritation, no lasting feeling of something being on your face, and – if you go slow and carefully – you can take it off all in one piece and totally gross people out when send you them a picture of it. I did tell you I was easily amused by odd things, and you’re reading this, so you signed on for this crazy train.


In summary, I highly recommend this product, and coming from someone like me who really couldn’t care less about skin care – that says a lot. Buy it. Try it. Love it. The Black Mask.

Emotions Pt. 2

This article comes in the wake of a conversation with a friend of mine. I should have her guest posting on here as she has a good deal of thought provoking commentary to share as well as personal insight to some of the issues being raised right now in this country politically. I just have to figure out how to turn this thing on for guest posting.

“Emotions Part 2” comes not a redaction or corrective footnote, but rather as a second half to what came first. An epilogue to the prologue, if you will.

As you’ll recall from the original post, Emotions, I spoke about not being as emotionally expressive as most, and more specifically, about not crying at most things, and really only crying for certain movies. And, if you haven’t read the original article, go back and do so. This Pt. 2 will make more sense if you’ve read the first part.

Alas, I digress. The friend I was speaking with is a very talented writer, she’s actually quite well known in some circles, and I highly recommend that you read her works. (They can be found on MediaMiner and Archive of Our Own under the author name “Sueric”.) She had read my post, and remarked that I stated I only cried at movies, and asked if that meant I didn’t cry for books. As a writer and an avid reader, she feels that the written word holds more power, and I do agree with that. I agree with that completely.

Then why did I say I only cried at movies?

Because the difference between an emotional response to movies versus books/written works for me is staggering. With a movie, I might shed a few tears, and then once that scene is over, or the movie has ended, that’s it. The emotion is gone, it’s done, and I’m back to my normal coldhearted self. Books, however, are a different beast entirely.

When I read a book, or series of written works, that provokes an emotional response from me – in this case we’re talking about crying, here – it’s never as simple as a few tears. There’s the buildup of emotion, the way my breath catches in my throat, my heart constricts in my chest, my thoughts still. I feel a tingle run up my spine, I get goosebumps, and the world around me just falls away. I take that emotional ride with the character, falling into their hearts as if I am the character. The tears evoked for me are heavy, they hurt my heart as much as they sting my eyes, they fall down my cheeks, and fall onto the page, or the computer. And where you may only see a few physical tears from me, it is the equivalent of seeing anyone else sitting in the corner bawling as they hold onto the book, or stare at the screen through tear-blurred eyes.

That emotion, those scenes, that feeling I get from the character and the words evoked, stay with me for hours – sometimes, even days. I feel as though I’m seeing the world around me through the eyes of the character I’ve been reading – whether that’s Kagome Higurashi, Gin Zelig, Kurt Drevin, Samantha Izayoi, Saori Senkuro, Hazel Grace Lancaster, Billy Colman, or a whole host of others.

So, after saying all of this, would I say that I cry when I read an emotionally heavy scene in a book? No, because for me crying simply means that I’ve gotten misty eyed and it’s ended as soon as it began. So, no, I don’t cry when I read a story. I become the story, and to me, that’s an incredibly powerful thing – more powerful than “crying” can define. And if you have the power to evoke that kind of a response in your readers – especially me, then my dear, you have a gift unlike any other.

As a footnote: Billy Colman is the protagonist from Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s an old book – 1960’s era publication with a story time set in the 1940s. It’s a good book, and if you haven’t read it, I suggest that you do.