The Roll Out

I’ve been extremely busy with a new job, move, and basically new life.

But I wanted to let my readers know that I am planning to put out my novelette, The Rocky Retreat, and my novella, Behind the Stone House, before Christmas. Since the novelette is fairly short, it will only be in eBook format, and will be available at the usual online venues: Amazon, B&N, BAM, Walmart, The Tattered Cover Bookstore, etc. Behind the Stone House will be available in both print and eBook form.

To give you an idea of these storylines, I’ve dropped the blurbs below.

The Rocky Retreat (Political Satire/Humor)

Environmentalist Callie and her best friend go on a save-the-wetlands-and-wildlife retreat in a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. During those four days, Callie and her friend encounter much more than altitude, jagged peaks, sparkling rivers, and welcoming townspeople. On the contrary, adversaries of all stripes litter their vacation with protest clashes, chemically-laden products, and dangerous weapons. While Callie and her friend fight for the survival of the wetlands and wildlife, will they survive the retreat?

Behind the Stone House (Women’s Fiction/Suspense)

Grieving widow Gabrielle discovers her deceased husband’s cousin Jordan is homeless. While navigating through her painful loss, she feels compelled to help him. But amid her good intentions stands a belligerent homeless man hunting down Jordan for a past wrong. Gabrielle swallows her fear and focuses on aiding Jordan, giving her a new purpose in life. But will she take that new purpose too far?

Updates on publishing dates will follow in the coming weeks!

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Are You An Empath? Take the Test!

Friends, do you believe you’re an empath? How much of an empath do you think you are? This quiz comes from a coach, who works with people, who have survived the abuse of narcissists. She obtained the quiz from a Judith Orloff book on empathy.

Record your “yes” or “no” answers on a sheet of notebook paper.

Empath Questions:

  1. Have you been labeled too sensitive, shy, or introverted?

2. Do you frequently get overwhelmed or anxious?

3. Do arguments or yelling make you feel ill or uncomfortable?

4. Do you often feel like you don’t fit in?

5. Do you feel drained by crowds and need alone time to revive yourself?

6. Are you over stimulated by noise, odors, or nonstop talkers?

7. Do you have chemical sensitivities or you can’t tolerate scratchy clothes?

8. Do you prefer taking your own car to places, so you can leave early, if you need to?

9. Do you overeat to cope with stress?

10. Are you afraid of becoming suffocated by an intimate relationship?

11. Do you startle easily?

12. Do you react strongly to caffeine or medications?

13. Do you have a low pain threshold?

14. Do you tend to back off in large crowds?

15. Do you absorb other people’s stress, emotions, or symptoms as if they were your own?

16. Do you feel overwhelmed by multi-tasking and prefer doing one thing at a time?

17. Do you replenish yourself in nature?

18. Do you need a long time to recuperate after being with difficult people or energy vampires?

19. Do you feel better in small cities or the country than in larger cities?

20. Do you prefer one-to-one interactions or small groups, rather than larger gatherings?

Four categories for what level of an empath you are:

If you said “yes” to 1-5 questions, you are partially an empath.

If you said “yes” to 6-10 questions, you have moderate empathic tendencies.

If you said “yes” to 11-15 questions, you have strong empathic tendencies.

If you said “yes” to more than 15, you are a full-blown empath!

I came out 14 or 15 (I have “sometimes” on one of the questions). Share your results, if you’d like!

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All the Life on Earth

For Earth Day, I’m sharing the above icon of Christ creating the animals on Earth, and also this story of St. Gerasimus taken from the online book, Saints and the Animals that Served Them. The link is here. It’s my favorite story of a Saint and the precious animal he took care of and the mutual respect and love they had for each other.

Excerpt:

Saint Gerasimus was born in Lycia (Anatolia, Turkey) in the fifth century. Even as a child he lived as a Christian, doing as he thought God would want him to. Because of his love for fasting, vigil and prayer, he was blessed by God with heavenly gifts. He healed the physical sickness and the souls of those who came to him with faith. A special gift was his loving authority over wild beasts.

After becoming a monk in the Egyptian Desert Thebaid, Saint Gerasimus founded a monastic community of seventy men in the desert east of Jericho, not far from the river Jordan – the river in which St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The monks of his monastery lived a very simple life. They slept on reed mats, had cells with no doors (so they did not have the luxury of privacy) and kept silence. They drank only water, and ate dates and bread.

Saint Gerasimus taught the monks to live a holy life, and also to work by making baskets. Their prayerful life helped the monks to help others.

One day Saint Gerasimus was taking a walk along the Jordan when he heard a loud roar and saw a lion in great pain because of a large splinter in its paw. Saint Gerasimus felt very sorry for the lion. Crossing himself, he went cautiously over to the animal, took its huge paw gently in his hand, and removed the splinter. The lion did not return to its cave but meekly followed Saint Gerasimus back to the monastery. A loving and trusting relationship grew between them. The other monks were amazed by the lion’s acceptance of a peaceful life and a diet of bread and vegetables, and by the animal’s devotion to Saint Gerasimus, who was now the abbot of the monastery.

The abbot gave the lion a duty. Each time the community’s donkey went to pasture by the Jordan, the lion went along and guarded it. The donkey was assigned to bring back water to the monastery. One day while the lion was sleeping, the donkey was stolen by a passing trader. The lion, with its head hanging low, returned to the monastery alone. The brothers decided that the lion had failed in keeping its monastery diet, and had eaten the donkey. As punishment the lion had to take over the donkey’s duty, and was required to go to the Jordan and carry back water from the river to the monastery in a saddlepack with four earthen jars.

Time passed, until one day the trader came to the place where he’d stolen the donkey. The lion recognized the donkey following behind the trader, and let out a loud roar that scared the thief away. Then the lion took the donkey as well as some camels tied together with it back to Saint Gerasimus’ cell. Knocking on the wall of the cell with its tail, the lion presented the donkey and camels.

The monks realized they had misjudged the lion, and as a way of acknowledging the lion’s honesty and willingness to do the humble work of carrying water, Saint Gerasimus gave the animal a special name: Jordanes.

Saint Gerasimus continued as abbot of the monastery. He also attended the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 451. There, with Saint Euthymius, he was a champion of the Orthodox faith and defended it against the Monophysite heresy.

In the years that followed, Jordanes stayed in the wilderness, coming once a week to bow before Saint Gerasimus as a sign of obedience and devotion. One day, Jordanes came as usual but could not find the monk. A loud roar came forth from the animal’s throat—a roar of what seemed to be anger and grief. The monks sadly led Jordanes to the newly-departed saint’s grave. Letting out a final roar of grief at losing Gerasimus, the lion lay down and died. The year was 475.

The monastery founded by Saint Gerasimus still exists on the southern side of the Jordan valley and contains many icons depicting his holy life.

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Works cited

Zebrun, Christine Kaniuk. Saints and the Animals that Served Them. The Department of Christian Education, 2015.