Overcoming the Fear Factor in a Dangerous World

Barbed Wire

Courtesy of FreeImages by ilco

 

It seems the world is more dangerous than it’s ever been. ISIS is beheading and burning people. Boko Haram has been busy kidnapping school girls. In fact, the Middle East seems as if it’s about to explode. We are warned of the threat of nuclear expansion to ominous and to unstable countries. Then there’s Ebola, not always in the news, but still destroying lives.

 
As far as America’s own national security we keep hearing disturbing things. Internal threats and homegrown terrorists. Protests that turn into riots. Porous borders. Our system of banking on the verge of total collapse.

 

Even in our own city, village, or neighborhood we face drive-by shootings, muggings, and even something as unthinkable as the sex-slave trade going on in the seedy part of town, or the not so seedy part of town.

 

What should we do? Some are stocking up on food, firearms, and ammunition, as well as subscribing to survivalist magazines. Those with the means, install high tech security systems. Others simply isolate themselves behind barred windows and multi-locked doors. They have become afraid. Fear is dominating their lives.

 
What is fear? You might say that it’s an emotion. I’d disagree. Fear itself is not a feeling. It is a spiritual force. And even the most intellectual, scientific, psychological- minded people know that on a visceral level. If you were in an airplane with severe engine trouble and someone in the next seat said, “The fear in here is so thick you can almost touch it,” you’d agree. The same would be true if you happened to be in a bank during an armed robbery. The fear would be palpable.

 
Though fear is a force, it can and does affect our emotions and in many instances can cripple individual lives. Yet many have absolutely no anxiety about the threats of this world. These are believers who have moved past fear and into the Lord’s promise of peace, protection, and blessing

 

Hebrews 13: 5a-6 [NASB] ~ for He Himself has said, I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU; NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.” So that we confidently say, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?

 
When I look at this Scripture I see what the Lord has said, but there’s another part. I see that we are supposed to say something. I’m supposed to say: The Lord helps me and I’m not afraid of what man can do on this earth to me. It plainly tells me to say that. Not only to read it, no just think it, but to say it aloud.

 
What we say, shapes our feelings, especially what we say about ourselves. If I ever catch myself saying about some event, perhaps on the news, “That’s so scary.” I immediately say to myself out loud, “Quit that fear talk.”

 
In fact, I talk to the news reports. I even point a finger at the TV and shake it. I really do, and as a recovering news junkie, it makes them less powerful in my life. If there’s a report on the news about anxiety on the increase in the nation as well as an increase in pill popping to cope with it, I say, “Not in my house! Not in my life!” But that wasn’t always so. At one point, a few years ago, I had great anxiety. Things were going hay-wire in my life and I found I could not cope with the destructive actions of some people in my life. But I literally talked myself out of that situation. Words have power, after all. I began saying words of power and faith. Of course the words I choose to say come from the Bible. If God said the words first, there’s more power in them than in something I make up on the spur of the moment.

 
Another very practical thing to combat fear is to realize is that fear is the anticipation of something bad happening. In actual fact, that feared thing rarely comes to pass in the individual’s life. Another practical tactic to combat fear is to laugh a little. Laughter dispels fear. Doctors tell us deep belly-laughs releases marvelous feeling endorphins. So, go to a comedic movie, or play a tape of an old one on your TV. Do something, anything that will make you laugh which will in turn decrease your anxiety and fear. And that’s the key. Don’t be passive and let fear overtake you. Combat it.

Flower, White and Pink Rose

Courtesy of FreeImages by BeverlyLR

 


Gotham, Awash In Snow Again ~ hopefully for the last time this year

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On the first day of Spring NYC had yet another snow storm, albeit, this one a minor one, only three to four inches. But it came down steadily and it stuck. So, the Department of Sanitation had to get its trucks out sanding and salting once again. This after a series of horrendous snow storms this winder.

By morning the city had the roads cleared. They are real good at that, real good. With all the traffic on Avenue U (a busy thoroughfare), thankfully by morning the pavement was clear.

 

 

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Jailhouse Hooch ~ a recipe

Oranges

Courtesy of FreeImages by Gabriel77

 

Nancy W. came to my mind today. I knew her many years ago, when I was a single working girl living in Miami. (Trust me, a looong time ago.) She was a loyal member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). She’s passed now, and I suppose I could use her last name, but I won’t.

Nancy W. was a blue blood, truly. Her ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Her family is in the social register. I went to several open AA meetings (open to non-alcoholics) with Nancy. That was in the 1970s and members came to evening meetings from work dressed in polyester pantsuits, or well worn-in dungarees, depending upon the type of job. This was south Florida, so some came in shorts, some in short-shorts. Nancy wore a pleated skirt, white or pastel blouse, and pearls.

Nancy told me about the highlight of one of her trips to Manhattan (NYC). She accompanied her chic socialite friend to an AA meeting in the East Village. Both women always sat in the front row when they’d been in boarding school, and they did so at this meeting. They didn’t want to miss anything. Her friend was decked out in a fur coat (animals lovers, please don’t judge). It was a small meeting place, and the meeting had already begun when an obviously inebriated man walked, or careened in. The only seat left was in the front row, right next to the lady in the fur coat. The speaker kept on with his story about getting sober. All of a sudden the drunk threw up on the floor smack-dab front of the podium and in close proximity to Nancy and her friend. The speaker didn’t miss a beat, kept on talking. Nancy and her friend sat there unfazed while someone rushed forward with a mop. Another member guided the drunken man to the back to feed him some strong coffee. When retelling this story, Nancy remarked, “That man is a drunk, just like me.”

Nancy was one to write down recipes. While watching a TV morning or afternoon show, if a celebrity demonstrated how to make something scrumptious, she would write the recipe down on the back of a stray envelope or a piece of scrap paper. One evening, Nancy attended an AA meeting where the now long-sober speaker had once done time in prison. He gave the recipe for jailhouse hooch and, naturally, Nancy grabbed a piece of paper out of her handbag and wrote it down. While joking one day, she showed the “recipe” to me and I wrote it down. Here it is…

Jail House Hooch a/k/a Pruno

1. Take one empty paint can, wash well. [Note: Nancy copied this recipe in the 1970s. I have on good authority that inmates use huge Ziploc baggies now.]

Courtesy of FreeImages by loungefrog

Courtesy of FreeImages by loungefrog

2. Combine in the can 10 peeled oranges and one 8 oz can of fruit cocktail (stockpiled from lunches or filched from the kitchen). Mash well. Add 16 oz of tap water, mix, and reseal can (or baggie). Wrap can in a towel and store in a warm place hidden from the guards. Let sit 48 hours.

3. Open the can (baggie). The mixture should have ballooned and there should be a smell of fermentation. That would be true in wineries, in this case it’s more like rotten fruit. Add 50 cubes of white sugar,  5 tsp (or 5 packets) of Heinz Ketchup, must be Heinz. Mix to stir ketchup through and to dissolve sugar. Put the cover back on the can and seal. Wrap it up in the towel again and store in a warm place (if you used a baggie, run it under hot water for 30 min.) and be sure to keep it away from the guards, but a place that is accessible so you can let gases out. Don’t want to be cleaning this stuff off the walls.

4. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape.

5. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape, place it near a heat source (oven or radiator) for half an hour (or run the baggie under hot water) to keep the fermentation going.

6. Twenty-four hours later, let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.

7. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.

8. The next day open the can, fish out the rotten fruit and the yukky mold. Strain the liquid carefully through a wire, mesh strainer. And it’s ready to drink.

Does it taste like Scotch, bourbon, Irish Whiskey, or brandy? In a word, NO! It tastes like a mixture of rot-gut and gasoline, and only gives a measly, minor buzz. It’s more sickening than inebriating, but it does, in fact, inebriate somewhat.

Here’s a spiritual thought. You might consider asking for Last Rites before drinking Jailhouse Hooch

Coourtesy of FreeImages by KodakGold

Coourtesy of FreeImages by KodakGold


Personal Branding ~ A Must For Authors

Nike, Boca Raton

 

A few of the authors in my American Christian Fiction Writers North East Zone Group have been kicking around topics such as taglines and platform. This made me think of personal branding. In today’s world, is an author a brand? I think, yes!

 

 

Moi 2In the marketplace, it’s human beings who call to us and the heartbeat of social media is human beings. Like it or not, your readers are also your fans.  The author must have a loyal following.

Writers might argue (and so might some readers) that the story is alive. It’s the book that need the following. However, it’s the author who has the real heartbeat. And heartbeat is important. It’s the human factor that attracts in marketing. You can’t just throw a book at someone. You have to engage them.

 

 

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When I interview writers on my blog, I often ask them to send a “personal” photo that’s related to one of the answers in the interview. This would be a photo other than their book cover and their head shot. And I try to ask at least one interview question about their lives in general that would lend itself to providing that photo. Quite often the interview answers come back to me without that personal photo. It’s my contention that authors become much more interesting if they allow readers a peek into their lives. Almost everything in our lives contributes to our writing, so there has to be a myriad of small things we can share with readers that don’t fall into the “too much info” category.

 

Harmful Intent 2Taglines are important. I’ve got two of them.

  • Literature that reads like pulp fiction
  • I like my bad guys really, really bad; and my good guys smarter and better

I think authors need at least one. The tag line should be at the top of their web page and blog. They should mention it frequently in marketing.

 

 

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I often include photos of myself with animals because I love critters and because they’re featured in several of my whodunits.

Writing is personal and the author’s image online should also be personal, without becoming too intimate. Authors shouldn’t cross that too much information line. There’s something amazing about being able to master language and write 80K, 90K or 120K words and have those words come out in the form of an exciting novel. Authors are not no-talent reality show personalities.  So, while in marketing, we want to come across as totally human, we must do that without disclosing the most private parts of our lives to the public.


HARMFUL INTENT’s Valentine’s Promo, Done Well!!

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#7 in Kindle Store – Private Investigators

#10 in Kindle Store – Women Sleuths

 

Hope everyone who selected the novel enjoys reading it.


HARMFUL INTENT ~ Get It Free Valentine’s Weekend

Harmful Intent, FramedAre you a mystery reader with a definite romantic streak? Then HARMFUL INTENT is the perfect Valentine’s Day read for you. ~~FREE Valentine’s Day Weekend, Friday, February 13th thru Sunday, February 15th!!!

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered.As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself. – Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy,sophisticated themes presented tastefully. An added bonus is a sweet and funny senior romance between charming and quirky secondary characters.

—Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully

—A charming senior-love story between secondary, quirky characters

Purchase HARMFUL INTENT in Kindle format at Amazon.


Crime Fiction: How Much Romance? How Much Grit? What About the Christian Market?

She's Mine on sale for 99 2/18/15

She’s Mine on sale for 99 2/18/15

The very talented writer Tammy Doherty and moi have been gal-pals almost since we met online (more years ago than we’d like to admit) in the Northeast Zone Group of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). One of the things we’ve always done is kick around questions and idea. So, we decided, for Valentine’s Day, we’d like to put our usual ramblings into a blog article about how much romance and grit is too much in crime fiction, and what’s going on in the Christian crime fic market.

Free for Valentine's Day weekend

Free for Valentine’s Day weekend

Nike: I think in murder mysteries, thrillers, and romantic suspense getting the mix of romance and grit right is essential. In traditional murder mysteries, detective stories, and starker crime fiction, romance should be secondary to the mystery. The chase for the killer should be the main thing. When you get over into cozies, that’s a different thing, IMO. There can be a fair amount of romance, but of a gentle kind. In romantic suspense, the reader expects quite a bit of romance. I’m launching into a contemporary detective story series where the police procedure has to be right, and the investigation is the thing. Yet romance is there nudging its way in. HARMFUL INTENT, is the first in what I hope is a long “couples” series. Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels, private investigator and Deputy Sheriff Dawson Hughes solve a murder in Abilene, Texas. In the second novel, happenstance brings Ronnie and Dawson to solve a missing child case on the east coast. Later books in the series will have a different couple’s detective team.
Tammy: I agree with you, Nike. In a traditional murder mystery or suspense thriller, the crime must control the spotlight. But even in those stories, interaction between characters is what makes the story enjoyable to read. With Romantic Suspense, the very definition of the genre demands more than just interaction. At least two main characters must become romantically involved. Often, the suspense plot is what draws them together yet this isn’t enough. For the “romance” part of the title to apply, the hero and heroine must not only be drawn to each other but there must also be a genuine attraction worthy of long-term involvement. In other words, they need to fall in love. My new romantic suspener, gives them a common challenge to overcome. Still, once the suspense plot is resolved if there isn’t real romance and love remaining, the title fails. Later books in this series will feature other residents of Naultag, MA, the setting for SHE’S MINE, characters who will find love while facing and overcoming suspenseful conflicts. The key is in the balance: too little suspense and it’s just plain romance; too suspense will turn away the romance reader. So how much is too much grittiness?

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Nike: I’m so glad you brought up grittiness. I was just thinking about that. I like realistic mysteries and detective stories. There’s nothing more disheartening than to read a story where the author hasn’t got a clue about police procedure and everything is pristine. To my mind, if there’s a murder scene depicted, it doesn’t have to be gory, but there has to be some grit, or I won’t believe it. Cozy mysteries are a different animal, they should be light on grit. In my novels, I like to rough up my main characters. I did that in my historical mystery series to several of my heroes and heroines. In HARMFUL INTENT, Ronnie practically gets the stuffing knocked out of her by one of the villains. She and Dawson will get worked over in book two. My novels have lots of action, twists and turns, romance, and some humor. My intent is that they will clearly depict good vs. evil, and yet uplift. I do have some grit, but I don’t write noir. I’d like to think I write grit with grace.

Tammy: Grit with grace, I like that! I’ve been toying with a tag-line for my writing and what I’ve come up with so far is “suspense you can fall in love with” or “romance that keeps you in suspense.” I think the second one sums it up best. In romantic suspense, the grit needs to be there but cannot overshadow the romance. I like romantic suspense with believable police and EMS procedural aspects, but because it’s romance there’s some leeway for literary license. In SHE’S MINE, I did the research to make sure all my fire scenes are accurate for this region. For example, my characters call for an ambulance not “a bus” as they might in a NYC. Bad things happen to Caitlin and Sean in this novel, what gets them through it all is the romance. The story is lighter than a straight mystery novel without being unrealistic or “fluff.” I like the interplay between your main characters but they’re still keeping it on the professional side. My characters delve into the romance aspect right away with the suspense being one of the obstacles to their happily-ever-after.
What I’m finding very interesting is the increase of crime/mystery fiction in the Christian market, particularly with the rise of Indie publishing. How people juxtapose their faith with the grittiness of this world makes for wide-open storytelling possibilities.
Nike: That’s a great line and it describes your work: “romance that keeps you in suspense.” You write romantic suspense. The romance is major in your stories, no doubt about it, but so is the suspense. That line says it. I also couldn’t decide between two tag lines, so I kept them both. I use the short one mostly, but do pop the longer one out now and then: “literature that reads like pulp fiction” also “I like my bad guys really bad, and my good guys smarter and better.”

What I’m noticing is more Christian men writing and what they’re writing is crime fiction and action-adventure. These are the two genres I like to read. Mostly the male writers such as Mark Young (who had a career as a police officer) get the police procedure right, and then there’s J. Mark Bertrand’s outstanding Roland March detective series. There are also women who are getting details about fire arms and fight scenes right. I’m proud to say, I’m thought to be one of them. I’m a research fanatic. I spend hours researching firearms and other weapons, tactics for a fight scene, and police procedure out in the field. But I’m not the only female Christian author writing technically correct gritty scenes. Luana Erlich (who leans more toward espionage) does this, so does Virginia Tenery. Tammy, you do, and there are others as well.

Celtic Cross now FREE

Celtic Cross now FREE

Since you are my guest, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that your outstanding western suspense novel CELTIC CROSS is going FREE this weekend and will be FREE from then on in.

Heart, Scroll