Monday, April 22, 2024

The Secret Pianist: Sisters. Traitors. Spies. An Historical Novel by Andie Newton


Both men leaned in, only to back away in shock after reading about the Monsigny performance and their special guest of honor. Smith took his glasses off. “Date and time of Hitler’s whereabouts.” “My God, sir. This is proof we can’t stop now!” Guy smiled broadly. “We have to call the Air Ministry, get a flight in the diary.” Smith shook his head. “Afraid not.” 

Prologue - Somewhere over France 

The pilot had been trained to fly his RAF Whitley over enemy territory at night, memorizing the bends of the French coastline, the railways, and the location of the villages, while trying to avoid German emplacements. He was prepared for almost everything that night except for a change in the weather. Thick clouds blanketed the moon, dangerously concealing the cliffs along the shore and threatening not only the crew’s lives but the fifty special agents he was ordered to drop over Belgium. It didn’t take long before the pilot had flown off course, lost above enemy territory with only a vague idea of where they were when anti-aircraft fire popped against the fuselage. Tink, tink, tink, tink… As the pilot struggled to keep his crew alive and the aircraft steady in the air, he got annoyed with himself for even flying at all. Why was he taking such risks for pigeons? Pigeons indeed. He’d had quite the discussion with his supervisor about the birds before he’d taken off from the airfield at Newmarket. Nobody at the Air Ministry thought messenger pigeons would win the war. Nobody. He’d heard the few pigeons that survived previous missions had flown back with hand-drawn cartoons and personal messages to family, but no hard, usable intelligence. Definitely not information that was worth his life or his crew’s, he’d decided. He shouted to one of the crewmen in the back. “Dump the cargo!” “But we don’t know where we are, sir!” he answered. “We’re turning around,” the pilot said, hands white as chalk gripping the yoke, “and I’m not taking those birds back up again! Dump the bloody things!” A barrage of enemy bullets punched holes in the wing. “Now!” he barked. The crewman pushed the pigeons out of the plane as the enemy fired—all fifty of them, individually packaged in tiny bird boxes with parachutes like agents of war. “Rest in peace, you poor little buggers,” he said as they spiraled toward their doom. 


The story begins in 1944 and the German soldiers have invaded France. As is known, war brings nothing but misery for the citizens in a country--no matter which country it is... We meet the main characters--three sisters who have lost much and have been forced to become seamstresses in a little shop which barely provides for their needs... But it is now night and Gaby has heard noises in the house and hurried downstairs to discover what is happening. It was known widely that the German soldiers would often visit homes, taking anything and everything they wanted. But why had they picked this house? Perhaps they knew there were no men? She shivered at the possible ramifications...

When she discovered that it was only Martine, her sister, she felt both relief and disgust. Martine was just coming from the basement, she was dirty and was hesitant to explain what she was doing. She had to ask, "are you hiding a boy." which could really cause problems. But, no, that was not the case. Even as they stood there looking at each other, an outside noise made them stand rigidly, counting steps, trying to determine how many there were... Two were talking to their neighbor, who was a bossy, nosy French woman, and two were heading to their home...

Both of the sisters now worried, would they search the basement which, of course, had something to hide, even though Gaby didn't know what... And, of course, a search soon began, moving about, one plunking on the piano which Gaby greatly resented. But it was she who thought fast enough, telling them don't forget to check the closet, maybe they needed a coat? Interested in buying one? Explaining that they were seamstresses who used the old coats for patching others which were damaged and could not be replaced due to the rations...

But it was that late visit that was to begin confusion and turmoil for the women who now was seen as being able to provide something that, indeed, a German leader needed... He wanted her to teach his step-daughter how to play the piano!

It was wartime, and while everybody hated the invaders, there were those who were French who either willingly or not were forced to connect in some way with the invading troops. Good French refused. But if somebody was forced into it, they were seen as Bad French... Which could lead to problems in getting the rations that were due them. That was already a problem for the sisters who had, as a firm agreement by the three, chose to share rations with a mother who needed help given her son's health.

Gaby had tried to refuse to teach the little girl, but the Commandant knew of this arrangement and threatened to take it away if Gaby refused his request.

And what was in the basement? Why, it was a pigeon, a carrier pigeon in fact; and it had been thrown out of the plane, but saved by Martine... Of course, Simone's, a sister who was now home from sneaking out to meet her beau, plan was to eat him! But Martine knew that the pigeon was used to spy and was thinking about how to help that happen! And soon that pigeon was flying back to its home...

Bombing had occurred and Martine realized that it had hit where the map that had been attached to the pigeon had designated! The sisters pledged together, they would work with the pigeons whenever they came across one--or went out and captured those locked in by their neighbors--they would become spies!

A loss by Gaby had earlier forced her to reject her schooling, her future in music...But now Gaby was also forced to go to the home of the Commandant where she would teach... If she was seen going into his house, she would forever after be called a bad French...But even there, Gaby was caught in secrets when she realized that the little girl had already been taught in her former life, but is afraid to reveal that...

And as Gaby taught, they would in secret allow the little girl to play what she wanted--hiding when the Commandant was in the house, bound by running scales or picking out the notes one by one...

But now, Gaby was also seeking possible secrets that could be sent out via the pigeons...The sisters had been able to hide a small radio and waited for a message. Beethoven's 5th was the signal!

And among all that, a man fell in love--in love with a woman who had created such a beautiful piece of music that he could not help but fall deeply in love... For Gaby had once created the masterpiece and the music was now being used to prove her identity... and before the book ended, they were to meet! What a beautiful additional plot to the book! And, how I wished that there was really a creation on piano that was later named and published... Sadly, only the love it produced was to remain...

People's lives change during wartime. Not because they want to have them changed, but because, sometimes, those who seek power or those who are greedy or violent... bring it about...

It is impossible to read The Secret Pianist without thinking about what is happening across the world today. Hitler's leadership of the country was quite familiar to what we are watching each day... Putin for instance, a president of Russia who seeks power over more territory and decides to invade Ukraine...

Iran's Hamas attacks a music festival in Israel, but, is really unprepared for fighting against the power of Israel. However, the Prime Minister of Israel, who was already being pressured to vacate his position due to his desire for power, a willingness and seemingly desire for violence, no matter who may be killed... is going beyond what is necessary...

In the United States, under a former president who chose to use violence to stay in office also reflects how war can affect an entire country... when his followers attacked the nation's Capitol to try to stop finalization of the election!

Andie Newton, however, succeeds in centering in on just those who wish to stop the violence and are willing to work behind the scenes to make it happen. Many are doing that today. But Newton's novel, while difficult to read, knowing that people are being killed, starved, and more too horrible to mention, and there are so many mere citizens of a country affected, is a wonderful way to enter into history to see just how, exactly, ideas such as carrier pigeons, can be conceived which are able to stop and, hopefully, prevent a longer war than necessary. Her story is wonderfully developed within a devastating framework. The characters are wonderfully drawn, especially those who are participating as Spies (very hard to determine who is good and bad French) or as Traitors... And, of course, for me, using music as a central role throughout the book deserves Kudos for excellence by the author!

This historical novel has no actual scenes of violence. I can recommend it highly for those who, especially these days, want to learn more about how things can occur behind the scenes. The three sisters are delightful in their different personalities, yet who, through a difficult period, chose to maintain a sisters' promise to not act unless they all agreed. A difficult thing that rarely occurs, but which had to be accepted during such a time of devastation. Again, conceptually, this writer presented us with a novel that has much to share and much to think about! It is highly recommended!


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Guest Book Review Presented by Carl Brookins, Writer - Blessed Are The Dead: A Gabriella Giovanni Mystery by Kristi Belcamino


Chapter 1 - ANOTHER BOYFRIEND PISSED off at me over a dead body. Or in this case, two dead bodies. The silence on the other end of the line confirms it.
Snapping my cell phone shut, I swipe my keycard and hurry in the back door at the newspaper office. The smell of fresh pizza makes my stomach grumble as I pass the cafeteria, but there’s no time to eat. Deadline is looming. I forget about my limping love life—­the clock is ticking. The paper goes to bed in three hours, so I’ve got to hustle.
Entering the newsroom, a jolt of excitement surges through me. It’s that special friction, that palpable energy in the air that is always present close to deadline. Giant windows, black with night, reflect the bustling activity around me. A big-­screen TV with its volume muted dominates one wall, and smaller TVs hang from the ceiling throughout the room, blaring local and national news. The room smells like burned broccoli and musty books but still manages to always feel like home. It’s where I’m meant to be.
“Giovanni, you got seventeen inches,” my editor, Matt Kellogg, hollers. Nobody at the Bay Herald ever calls me Gabriella. In the news business, you are your last name. Luckily, I like mine.
I want more space, but there’s no use arguing. He’s right. It’s sad, but it’s the same old story we’ve all seen before—­big-­living San Francisco businessman up to his Gucci eyeglasses in debt kills his wife, then turns the gun on himself.
The momentum of the newsroom engulfs me, sending adrenaline soaring through my limbs. The space hums like a beehive. Deadline is the one time you can find nearly every metro reporter at a desk. Most are pounding the keyboard, flipping through notebooks, or talking on the phone, getting last-­minute quotes for their stories. Our desks are in gray cubbies with low walls so we can see each other and the rest of the newsroom.
I catch snippets of different conversations floating in the air. Our political reporter is losing patience with someone on the other end of the phone line.
“Now come on. You know that’s a bunch of bullshit,” she says. “We’ve known each other for ten years, Jeff. You never once said it was off the record. You know the game. You know the rules. This isn’t amateur night here.”
Across the room, the sports department erupts in cheers as an Oakland A’s batter hits a home run on the big screen. One of the investigative reporters slams down his phone, stands up, pumps his fists into the air, and yells to no one in particular, “Fuck yeah. Fuck yeah, you motherfucker. I knew I’d catch you in a lie. Now it’s going in the paper, you douche bag.”
Nobody except the reporter right beside him even looks up. He only does so to scratch his chin. I keep walking. A veteran reporter lifts his head. “Thought you had a hot date.” We both like to cook, and I had tantalized him earlier with descriptions of the birthday dinner I was going to make for my boyfriend.
“Murder-­suicide,” I say. He nods and turns back to his computer.
My teeth clench when I see May DuPont, the night police reporter, at the cop reporter’s station, two desks with a stack of police scanners between them.
I try to straighten my skirt and smooth my hair before I get to my desk. It’s useless. It’s been a long day. I’ve already filed two stories for tomorrow’s paper—­a car crash and a brush fire—­and the traces of hiking after firefighters cling to me. My hair smells like smoke, and small bits of grass have adhered to my sandals.
Each morning, I dress nice in an effort to create la bella figura, like my Italian mother taught me. But by the end of the day, this is what I’ve become—­smelly, rumpled, and bedraggled.
May, a waiflike twenty-­four-­year-­old is—­as usual—­dressed in a Brooks Brothers shirt and crisp slacks. A getup she was probably born wearing. She’s an upper-­crust heroin-­chic girl—­pretty much the opposite of me. My boyfriend, Brad, says Sophia Loren’s got nothing on my curves. It sounds great in theory, but the truth is even at my fighting weight, all that extra padding makes me feel like an elephant next to girls like May.
I give her a cursory hello before I log onto my computer. “I’m writing a story you missed about a bank robbery,” she says without looking away from her computer screen. “The editors might put it on the front page. It was a take-­on style.”
“It’s called take-­over,” I say.
May’s fresh from her master’s program in journalism at Berkeley. The gossip in the newsroom is that her dad is sleeping with the executive editor, Susan Evans. I stare at the huge pearl studs in her ears.
Every night, May manages to dig up some crime that slipped by me during my day shift, and she makes damn sure the editors know I missed it. She’s only been at the paper seven weeks, but I already get the feeling she thinks my job is the next rung on her ladder to success.
Her job—­the night cop reporter—­is the lowest beat at any paper. I’ve been there. But I also put in the time to get where I am today—­the day cops reporter. And it involved working long hours for near-­poverty wages at several rinky-­dink newspapers. I didn’t have the luxury of attending grad school, then being snatched up by a big daily paper because my dad’s screwing the editor.
May’s mother is dead, and I’m sorry for that, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to hand over my job. She’s not the only one who’s had to deal with tragedy around here.
“You have black stuff on your forehead,” she says, getting up and heading to the copy desk.
Must be soot from the fire. I’m about to grab my compact mirror when something on the police scanner makes me pause. The crackle of the scanners switching from channel to channel is a comforting sound, like white noise, that usually fades into the background if it’s just routine radio traffic.
This time, the officer’s high-­pitched and out-­of-­breath voice calling in a felony traffic stop alerts me. The scanner frequency shows it’s Berkeley PD. Within a moment, the officer is calling Code 4—­all clear—­so I turn back to my computer. But then I hear something that makes my fingers freeze on the keyboard.
“Rosarito PD says the girl’s eight years old. Mom says she never came home—­” More routine traffic about the felony stop interrupts the dispatcher’s voice.
My stomach is doing loop-­de-­loops as I lean over and try to see which department was talking about the girl. I punch in the frequency for Rosarito PD on the other scanner, but the channel is quiet.
I dial the Rosarito Police Department watch commander—­the sergeant on duty overnight while the main office is closed. No answer. He must be out on the streets patrolling, so I leave a message, saying I heard something about a girl who didn’t come home today.
In my years as a reporter, every instance of a possible missing child has ended up being a misunder- standing. Most times the kid lost track of time or didn’t tell someone he wasn’t coming straight home.
In the silver-­framed photo hidden in my desk drawer, Caterina’s pink lips and dark eyes are surrounded by a halo of black hair. My sister looks solemn, wise, and beautiful, even though she’s only seven. I remember thinking she looked like a bride when I pulled myself up to look into her casket and saw her lying there in the lacy white first-­communion dress and veil she never had a chance to wear.
What I heard on the scanner made my face flush and my insides somersault, but I know it’s rare that a child is kidnapped and killed by a stranger. Every once in a while, I hear something like this on the scanner, and it ends up being nothing. I hope this little girl just forgot to call home. I make the sign of the cross, and May, sitting back down, gives me a snarky look.
The clock shows it’s 9 P.M. I’m running out of time. I got the basic details about the murder-­suicide at the press conference earlier except for the identities of the dead. A source at the morgue slipped me the names, but I’m going to have to get one more off-­the-­record confirmation before Kellogg will let me run with them. I dial homicide detective Lt. Michael Moretti and speak fast before he can protest, reeling off the two names I have.
“If I print them, will I be wrong?”
“You were at the press conference. You heard me. We’re not releasing the names. Sorry, kiddo.”
At twenty-­eight, I’m too old to be his daughter, but he always calls me that. Moretti and I bonded a long time ago on the Italian-­American thing, but his blood pumps blue. He’s been a cop longer than he hasn’t. It took years for him to believe me when I said I’d go to jail rather than give him up as a source.
“I don’t need you to tell me the names.” I try to sound as logical as possible. “I just need to verify them. Besides, you know the Trib is going to run the names.”
I cringed earlier when I saw a reporter from the San Francisco Tribune at the crime scene. When the bigger paper swoops into our territory and scoops us, my editors don’t like it. I hate it.
Moretti makes a guttural sound. “Did you see those gray hairs on my head tonight? About ten are from you. Don’t you have anyone else you can pester?”
I do. I have some crack sources—­cops who call me, and say, “Hey, there’s a dead body in Civic Park, try not to beat the homicide detectives there.”
But this is Moretti’s case.
“Another cop already gave it up,” I say to convince him. “I just need confirmation. How about this? If I have the names right, don’t say anything.”
Silence. I wait a few beats, twirling the phone cord around my fingers.
“Okay, I’m going with it,” I say, bright and cheery. “Thanks. Anything else going on tonight? Heard something about Rosarito.”
He takes a minute to answer. “You didn’t hear this from me.”
“I know, I know.” I roll my eyes even though he can’t see me.
“An eight-­year-­old Rosarito girl didn’t make it to school today —­”
“What?” My stomach gurgles and churns. Sweet Jesus, if Moretti knows about it, this might be the real thing.
“She hasn’t even been gone twenty-­four hours. Too early to say if it’s legit or not. Rosarito PD hasn’t issued an AMBER Alert. They’re waiting to find out if she turns up at grandma’s or a classmate’s house.”
He’s right. It’s probably nothing. But dark memories overwhelm me. I do some deep breathing to try to relax, but my heart is racing. I’ve avoided a story like this so far. I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t know if I will ever be ready.
“Listen, gotta go,” Moretti says. “Remember, you and I didn’t talk tonight. Omerta.”
“Very funny,” I say, but he’s already disconnected. Omerta, an Italian word, refers to the Mafia’s code of silence.
I hang up and dial Kellogg. “Rosarito cops might have a missing kid.”
“Yeah?” He sounds interested. “You got this confirmed?”
“Not yet. Working on it.”
“Get it nailed down.”
I have no sources in the Rosarito Police Department. Because the city lies on the periphery of our paper’s coverage area, we only report unusual or high-­profile crimes that occur there. The watch commander hasn’t called me back, so I punch in the number of the department’s public-­information officer. She works banker’s hours, but if a child is missing, she might be there. No answer.
I dig up an old file of Rosarito cop numbers and find a main number for investigations. Nothing. Only voice mail. Then I try an old reporter’s trick and start dialing numbers, each time changing the last digit of the main number. It works. Although no one picks up, I leave messages for six detectives.
I try the watch commander’s line one more time, then call 911 dispatchers in Rosarito to ask if they can track him down. The dispatcher is in a good mood. “Sure, I’ll send the sergeant a message for you,” he says.
With an eye on the clock, which is nearing ten, I dial Kellogg. “I can’t get anyone from Rosarito to confirm a missing kid. Can’t we go with it anyway, citing an anonymous source? My source is solid.”
“No can do. Evans would kick up a shitstorm.”
Kellogg used to be ballsy. He never cared what senior editors would think or say. That is, until Susan Evans was hired as executive editor two years ago. I heard he was up for the job, but they hired her instead. Ever since, he’s been walking around mopey and fearful like a puppy that was kicked. I miss the old Kellogg.
“It’s late,” he says. “I needed your story half an hour ago. Get cracking, Giovanni. You can track down the missing kid—­if there is one—­tomorrow.”
He’s right about one thing—­it’s past deadline. I stare at the blank screen and try to figure out a lead. If you don’t draw a reader in with that first sentence, you’ve lost him. Editors have drummed this into my head for years. I’ve trained myself to come up with a lead driving back to the office on deadline, but tonight my mind kept wandering to Brad eating his birthday dinner alone. And now, in the back of my mind, much further back than I’m willing to go right now, a little girl’s familiar face peers out at me. I shake the image off and try to concentrate. May’s voice beside me makes it even harder.
“Oh, stop it,” she says. She laughs and fiddles with her silky scarf. “I do not. I’m usually in bed by then. Let me know if you make an arrest tonight. I would love to put it in the paper with your name as the arresting officer. Talk to you soon.”
I close my eyes and tune out her girlish giggle, thinking about the man who killed himself and his wife tonight. And even though it would kick my story to the front page, I leave out the most salient detail about the slaying—­the man was wearing nothing but lipstick and high heels when he offed his wife. My morgue source slipped me this sensational little morsel. Although I know I’ll get in trouble with the editors if I leave it out, and the Trib has it, I can’t do it. As soon as I found out the ­couple had small children, I knew I wouldn’t print it. Those kids are going to have enough to deal with as it is.
I try to imagine the wife’s last moments of terror. The details of her frantic 911 call revealed she was hiding from her husband in a closet. I’m sure she prayed the police would show up and save her, like in the movies. One thing I’ve learned is that the world is rarely like what you see on the silver screen. The most outlandish and nightmarish stories are the ones that happen in real life.
I file the story in the editing queue and hope I’ve scooped the Tribune on the murder-­suicide story, especially by getting the names confirmed. Tomorrow, I’ll try to find out more about the ­couple for a follow-­up story.
When I became a police reporter, I decided that every single person I wrote about deserved more than just their name in the paper when they died. Every time I sit down with a family who has lost a loved one, I give a shit. And they can tell. The shitty part is that I feel like a fraud. Maybe because I’m forging a relationship that is not real. Maybe it’s something else. Even though I really do care—­it still boils down to my trying to get a scoop and a front-­page story.
Sometimes I wonder why anyone grieving would ever talk to someone like me. Maybe they sense the darkness I keep hidden deep inside. Maybe there is something in my eyes that shows I’ve already been to hell and back. I sit on their couches and take notes as they cry into tissues and flip through photo albums of the loved one they lost, sharing intimate memories with me—­a stranger.
Before packing up, I make one last call to the Rosarito watch commander. He doesn’t answer. I grab my sweater and bag. Before I leave, I force myself to turn to May, who looks at me with a little smirk.
Seeing her smarmy look makes me hesitate. Although the thought of writing about a missing child sends waves of panic through me, I also don’t want May to get a scoop based on a tip from my sources.
Unfortunately, I know I need to cover my ass with the editors by giving her a heads-­up.
“Keep an ear out for a missing kid in Rosarito.”
“Another story you missed?”
I stop and narrow my eyes at her. “It’s a tip. From a source. Do you know what those are? They’re what you get when you prove yourself. They take years to develop, so maybe someday you’ll get your own source. Or maybe not. Cops don’t trust just anybody.”
And I don’t trust May as far as I can toss her little waiflike body. The first week she was here, she “forgot” to give me a press release I’d been waiting for all day about a big drug bust by the DEA. It was the final piece I needed to top a story I’d been working on all week. After I left, she wrote up the information from the press release and put her byline on the story instead of mine. When I confronted her, she lied about when the press release had come over the fax. My source later told me he’d sent it earlier in the day, and the time stamp on the release backed him up. When I complained to Kellogg, he simply shrugged and changed the subject.
Tonight, I stare at May for a few seconds and walk away before I completely lose it. I hover nearby as Kellogg reads my story.
Kellogg’s six-­foot-­tall body is scrunched into his cubicle, like a giant brown teddy bear among the dolls at a child’s tea party. I stand beside his desk staring at the pictures taped to the fabric wall of his cubicle: school photos of his two sons, who live with their mother. They go to some fancy private school in Marin County. His ex manages to squeeze every penny she can out of Kellogg, claiming she needs it for the kids. He sleeps on the couch in his one-­bedroom apartment to make sure his boys feel like they have their own bedroom at his place.
I wait, shifting from foot to foot. Finally, he’s done.
“Looks fine. No questions.”
I turn to leave, but he stops me.
“You couldn’t get the missing kid confirmed?”
I shake my head no. When I see the concerned look in his eyes, I wait, wondering if he has something else to say. But he immediately turns to his black-­and-­green screen. He’s onto editing another story.
An odd mixture of frustration and relief flutters through me as I walk to my car. Although I want to avoid writing about a missing kid, my failure tonight amounts to my missing a scoop on what could potentially be a huge story on my beat. And underneath all those emotions, there is also a tiny flicker of worry gnawing at me when I remember the look in Kellogg’s eyes.



By Kristi Belcamino
ISBN: 9780062338914
Released, June 2014 by
William Morrow

Gabriella Giovanni is a young reporter on the West Coast. She’s assigned to the Crime Beat at her workplace, a medium-sized daily newspaper in the California Bay area. Her time is mostly spent chasing law enforcement calls and trying to get background and context from distraught citizens who have just experienced a major calamity.
What her editor and others around her don’t know is that she is driven by a calamitous similar event earlier in her own life. Part of her job, while fending off at least one other reporter who wants her position at the newspaper, is to do careful background on the perpetrators of some heinous crimes. Her fragmented career is also playing havoc with relations with her boyfriend.
It's apparent that author Belcamino knows the landscape in which her protagonist operates. As the novel progresses and Giovanni begins a deeper dive into the background of a man who is probably a serial killer, we begin to see tendrils of the reporter’s back story and possible connections with some of her reporting targets,
The story plays on family and other relationships with skill and logic. The writing is excellent and moves the reader forward through events with precision and heightening tension. The character are well-defined and nicely developed. Giovanni’s growing intimacy with a jailed felon, core of the story, is carefully handled so as to gradually entrap the reader. The Bay Area descriptions are well-placed and serve to enhance the power of the emotional story.
Ultimately, family elements, the pressures of the job, and the power of the incarcerated killer, come together in an overlong but powerful and satisfying climax. The careful talents of this author are on prominent display and I look forward to reading the next book in her series.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Monolin Manny Moreno, Winner of California Heartland Creative Corps Grant, Cover Reveal... Santa Nella Blues... Honor Our Elders!


Tu'i yokoria
Buenos dias
Good morning Thank you. It's raining and will all day. Cleansing the earth. It's cold again. I'll be 69 in a few months.

 "Age is matter over mind, 
but I don't mind because it don't matter." 

A lifetime of experiences mirror in my mind. All the heartaches, all the good times, all the people I've met and known. 

When I wrote The Elder, it was to bring attention to how they get ignored when they can't get around or out. How they have to swallow their pride and dignity to ask for help. How no one calls or visits to check in on them. When I hear people say, 'We honor our elders, it's just a crock of bull. The young don't realize elders, not so much older people, but elders, have libraries of knowledge with them.*

They have much they want to share and pass down. Ask them if they need any help. 

Let this day begin. Let's unwrap this gift. Have a blessed day and with much healing. Jeewi Jeewi Jeewi  Yes! Yes! Yes!


Monolin “Manny” Moreno is of Yaqui-Tarascan descent and an Enrolled Member, of the State Recognized Tribal Group of Texas Band of Yaqui Indians. His Yaqui Ancestry records date back to the late 1600’s. He has four books published: The Bridge is Gone, poetry, and The Elder: A Tribute, remembrance of elders Harry Jack and Barry Beaver Turner--both published by Back40 Publishing, and his book of poems, Longview Road, Sam Aros and son published. His fourth book is Scared – Coming Full Circle published by Eaglespeaker Publishing. It is under revision to be published under new title Scared – The Healing.

Manny’s poems are about the beauty and heartache of growing up in rural Livingston, where his grandparents settled in the early 1900s, and about his rough and crazy decades in Stockton. Readers have admired the plain language, emotional power, and honesty of Moreno’s verse. His poems have appeared in Song of the San Joaquin, Hincha Poesia and Whispering Thunder. He was nominated for the Pushcart Award in 2011 and was Poet of the Month for Moon Tide Press in June 2012.

Moreno is a Sundancer and member of the Black Wolf Honor Society Gourd Clan and Native American Church. He has appeared on Native Voice TV in Santa Clara, KKUP Indian Time Radio in Cupertino and on Channel Ten for Native American Month. Manny has lectured and read his poems in many venues, most recently at Modesto Junior College (Modesto), and the Haggin Museum and Mexican Cultural Center (Stockton).

Manny's newest book, Santa Nella Blues is Created with support and funding from: The Heartland Creative Corps, California Arts Council, Merced United Way, and the Merced County Art Council.

*I was looking for a little bit of music to include with this post. Instead I found this:

I don't need to know more about the situation other than to reread Manny's words above... Here is supposedly a learned group of speakers, who, when done, had a responder. You can tell he is an elder and is well versed in what he is saying... Yet a speaker interrupts. When the elder said he had the floor, he was ignored...well, you can form your own opinions... It is quite clear to all who the childish words were coming from. When we are not allowed to speak as those in older years, we stop sharing our wisdom. When we are told our words are not valid, we stop arguing and know that this individual has closed ears. Manny is my adopted brother. We have bonded over many years, during which I have listened to his words. And I've heard his wisdom, his truth. I agree. Especially now, Citizens of America are no longer being heard... It is, indeed, a crock of bull. And we must use our words to let our anger be known! 

Jesus said that What you do unto the least of these, you do to Me... Have you ever done one thing to help an elder who is NOT related to you? Tell us about it in comments!

Manny is loved and respected across the Nation...
But That Doesn't Buy Bread...
So How Many Have Read His Words of Wisdom...
His earlier books are always available for sale.
Consider Listening to His Wisdom...
Manny Writes to Live. He is Tired... But Keeps on Writing to Live...
How Much Are You Willing to Do Unto Others in Need? He is Embarrassed to Ask for Help
I Ask For HIM!
I've Adopted Manny and Help Him as Much As I Can
In fact, instead of helping all these politicians begging for money, I chose to give it to Manny Instead...
Books, His Art, or Money for Essentials...
Please remember those who, if He were Here,
Jesus Would Produce a Miracle and Feed Manny!
Provide that Miracle for an Elder Today!

"I have to sell books. My Art. Everything is so expensive now. our gas over 5 a gallon. food is outrageous. It is harder at my age to make it with just my social security. forced to find ways to live without all this stress and anxiety. God be with us..."

Please share God's Love to This Neighbor...

My brother is in Heaven with Jesus
Honor someone You have Lost by Sharing

Santa Nella Blues will be available for Sale in June. Watch for Information!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Avi's New Book! By Prolific Children's Author, Carole P. Roman - Henrietta Hedgehog's Prickly Problem! Illustrated by Matteya Arkova!

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else

--Judy Garland 

Henrietta Hedgehog rolled into a tight ball under her quilt. She didn't want to go to school today. Mama Hedgehog stood in the doorway. "Henrietta, stop trying to hide! You are late."

Mrs. Shrew will be mad if I am late," she said with a sniff.  "I don't want to go to school." A big fat tear slid down her cheek. "What happened? I thought you loved school!" Mama said.

"I do love school, Mama. It's just...just... I hate being a hedgehog." "You hate being a hedgehog! That's... that's..." Mama sat on the edge of the bed. "Why?" The other kids make fun of me. They say my spines are scary!" Mama Hedgehog wiped Henrietta's tears away. "They're not scary. You have beautiful quills."

Henrietta looked at herself in the mirror. "I don't know about that, Mama. The kids won't sit close to me because they say they're very sharp. I wish I had a busy tail like a squirrel or soft fur like a ferret. Anything but these pesky things," she sighed. Mama frowned.

Henrietta waited for Mama to leave and then took a paper bag from under her pillow. She shoved it into her backpack...


I've been reading the children's books written by Carole P. Roman for over a decade... and I enjoy each one! In this time when we are even more involved with children and what affects them in school, church, or even at home, it is important to gently but specifically talk about things that bother all of us, from grade school to adult!

Using animal characters often helps to take the child out of this world into a make-believe world where things that make us different in America, can be explored without pinpointing the real differences. In the case of bullying, this may be especially important. I don't think this book is about bullying per se, rather it is a book about getting to know and liking--and loving--ourselves, no matter what we look like...

The minor twist used by Carole in identifying the issue facing Henrietta Hedgehog's prickly problem, was perfect... You see, Henrietta was not liking who she was--a hedgehog that had quills on her body, which, at certain times, would help her against any enemy that might attack another. She knew that if somebody got too close to her, though, they could be hurt, even if she didn't mean to hurt anybody!

What to Do? Henrietta wanted to just not go to school. But her mother wouldn't allow that. So, thinking about those she knew in her class, she remembered that Bella Beaver was somebody she thought looked nice, so she made a mask to wear that made her look just like Bella...

But when she got to school, Bella took one look and thought that Henrietta was making fun of her front teeth, which were Bella's prickly problem for seeing herself as needing to change... Wow! Henrietta soon realized that everybody had something that they didn't like about themselves...and that the others still were willing to be...a prickly hedgehog, a beaver who didn't like her front teeth, a squirrel who doesn't like his "squeaking" voice...and many others who came to talk to Henrietta and tell her that they still liked her, even with her quills!

How about you? Is there anything that you don't like about yourself? Well, think about it and be open to talk about your problem with your mother, or even your teacher... Sometimes, you'll find that the problem you have really isn't prickly at all!


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Thurman L. Faison Presents Be Spiritually Bold! A Personal Favorite for 2024! Thoughts for Open Memoir...


Now I know that some will ask the question; don’t the people need to know not to do wrong and that God doesn’t want them to do evil? Respectfully, I would say, if people don’t know by now the difference between doing right and doing wrong, then centuries of brow beating them has been to no avail; and if continued, will only drag them down deeper and deeper in the pit of despair and condemnation. If men and women have not learned by now to ask God for forgiveness when they have erred or sinned in some way, then we are beating a dead horse. 
Before most people come to church, whatever has caused them personal wounds in conscience has already been addressed privately between themselves and God. They don’t need to be reminded again and again of their errors and mistakes. They usually come to church for comfort and encouragement and for ways of faith and hope for the many problems and concerns of their personal lives and the lives of their loved ones. Some people have beaten themselves up so badly and of course our prime enemy, (you know who that is) has joined in with his accusations as well; that they are so wounded in conscience that they can hardly hold their heads up. Then they go to church and hear negative sermon after negative sermon which only discourages them more. They have been to the whipping post again and again. This is why so many christian people are miserable and are just trying to keep a stiff upper lip to the world around them. 
The better way seems to be the positive way. For example, lets use a current comparison: Which parents do the best job of raising their children; those who raise them in a negative environment or those who raise them in a positive environment? Which children are the happiest; those who are always being rebuked and criticized, or those who are being encouraged and guided with kindness? The facts indicate that the most insecure, unhappy and depressed children come from home environments where love is lowest in its expression, and anger and chastisement are at its highest. 
This is also analogous to the two basic kinds of church environments. 
One environment is always emphasizing the negative passages in the bible and 
another one is emphasizing the positive passages in the bible.* 
Am I saying that we should never emphasize any negative passages in the bible? Of course not, but if this is the steady diet being given to congregations of believers, it is certain that they will be downcast and discouraged most of the time. 
They will barely be able to remember that they are not under the law, but under grace. 
The wounds of the last sermon they heard will have barely begun to heal before the wounds are opened again by a new series of sermons that are just as condemnatory as the last sermon they heard. 
It is a fact that the spirit of the new testament message is more kindly toward human failure than that of the Old Testament. 
When the Pharisees brought the women caught in adultery before Jesus, they immediately referred him to an old testament command. It was commanded by Moses that such women should be stoned. 
Jesus knew that was true, but he refused to apply it to the woman before him, he rather turned the issue back to those who caught the women in her personal transgression, and told them that whoever of them was without sin, let him throw the first stone. Silence fell upon the gathering and forgiveness was given to the woman. 
If we linger on verses that are full of condemnation and rebuke, we will miss the wonder of the new covenant, and forget the fact that we are not under the law, but under grace.

Here is a poem that I wrote which highlights these thoughts. I wrote the poem because I feel there is too much doctrine, and not enough love.

     Too Much Doctrine 
We look for the worst,
Too quick to call one accursed,
The scripture says, we begin,
And immediately harp about one’s sin.
 A verse here, a verse there,
And inevitably we create another scare,
We are so ready to pick up stones,
Feeling justified, blind to our wrongs, 
We rebuke, we condemn, and flat out condescend,
 We are righteous and not of their kin, 
How strong we are in our creeds, 
How weak we are in meeting another’s needs,
 We forget how far from Him we once were, 
So now compassion for others is not even a stir,
 We show the hard side of God,
Ever unleashing the fierce lightening rod, 
We quote it and say, He wrote it,
And we must be faithful and tell it,
Yet buried behind this wall of defense
Is what God has also said since, 
If God is love and condemnation is past
 Because of a sacrifice that will forever last,
 Why can’t we lighten up on other men’s sin
 If we would ever their trust to win
 And show once again the God of all grace,
 Who put everything on the line
 to save the human race 
--Thurman L Faison
*My Emphasis

Isn't it wonderful when you find somebody who thinks the same as you do? Surely there are many on earth that might, but you don't know it, or ever learn of their opinions. At this time in my life, it has become even more important for me... Many of you know that I've been upset regarding how religion, and in particular, christianity has become a part of the political scene, much more than ever before... I was unable to accept that all that was happening was in God's plan... Yet, when you do begin to doubt, in my opinion, you must also consider that you may not be speaking Truth. That you feel you need confirmation. Thurman Faison provided that for me in Be Spiritually Bold!

The book reads like a sermon in many ways. Of course, Faison is a pastor, so that is a natural way of speaking for him. But it is clear that he has done much thinking about what he says, before he says it. So that when Faison tells you to Be Spiritually Bold, he has learned exactly what that meant--before he tells others! 

No, this book is not politically oriented. What it is is a book that tells it like it he has found in his own life. Pointing out that many find it hard to approach God, yet Faison says that is exactly what God wants!
when we dare think of being bold in our approach to God a flood of emotions enters our mind; fear, uncertainty, and that startling voice from our deeper human consciousness which asks the question, “who do you think you are?” There’s the problem: Who do we think we are? I believe the answer to that question begins to unfold when we remember where we came from.

While that is an excerpt from the book, it meant to me a little different that how many people would read the question, "Who do you think you are?" In fact, I had said it to an individual within the past year... After she had accused me of back-stabbing her... I was so shocked, that, for me, I believe it was the first time ever that I had asked that question. Of Anybody? We wonder, especially now in America, how and why people are turning against others in anger, in distrust. I included. Trust has become a problem for me as I grow older. 

But my Trust in God has never faltered. I think that is somewhat based upon my human father having been killed while my mother was carrying me. Not having a father for any type of male support, it was natural for me, when I heard about The Holy Trinity, to quickly understand my role with that concept. God was My Father, Jesus, His Son, was My Friend... and they supernaturally talked to me through His Spirit which resided within me.

I cannot say that I haven't turned away from God a few times during my life; i.e., I didn't want to hear His words, because I knew what they would be. But I always knew that He would not abandon me. I was made in His image and I was His child...

As mentioned in the preface, and supported by the scriptures, we are made in “the image of God.” We are like him. We are also identified in the scriptures as, “the offspring of God,” that is why when we pray, we often say, “Our Father.” We came from him, and we are ‘like him’. Although our lives have been marred by many personal failures and much wrong doing, the fact remains that our being and God’s being are eternally related. Therefore we have the right to approach God, to speak to him and even expect him to respond to our cry.

It is reassuring to know that we alone determine how we will approach God, and with what words we shall express our expectations. No one had ever approached God in exactly the same way with exactly the same words as Elisha. But God honored his request and his faith...

Jesus spotlighted this dimension of faith when he said: “verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” Notice the words, whosoever and whatsoever. There are no restrictions on who may accomplish these things, nor what things can be made to happen. Now I know we are in deep water now, but since Jesus said it, we should not be afraid to repeat it. Not only should we repeat it, we should seek to prove for ourselves the truth of what he has said. That is really what Elisha was doing when, “he smote the waters.” He was seeking to prove for himself the divine possibilities of the use of faith and spiritual authority. Now I know someone reading these words will say; I am not Elisha! No, you are not Elisha, but you are as Jesus said – whosoever. Just to hopefully make this a little clearer, remember, we started this chapter with an emphasis on ‘spiritual succession.’ We talked about someone following another and expecting to have the same authority and power that his predecessor had while he occupied that position. The successor would expect to use his authority and expect no less recognition of that authority when he stepped into the same role. He would look for things to happen for him as had happened for the other. Before completing this chapter, I would like for us to remember that Jesus also said of his followers: “the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do.” Now he said that; and I am only repeating it to bring back to our minds that there is so much more for us to reach for in this thing called spiritual succession.

Faison is talking about the prophet Elisha as he writes (or speaks), but for me, most sermons I heard throughout my life were words from God, presented through another child of God. As a young Christian, I was reading many different books, including The Living Bible which was the Bible I used most at that time. So it was quite easy for me to consider attending a Full Gospel meeting when I was invited, and was anointed, speaking a few words in tongues. Later, as I've shared, it was through another book, Something More, that He poured His love over and through me, taking the step of being baptized in His Holy Spirit.

Later I was to learn that my bold step was being questioned by some. Comments like God doesn't give His gifts any more... or even, probably, Who Does She Think She Is--to claim such a thing happened to her? I share this in the context of this book, because, for whatever reasons, I've been spiritually bold since my early teens--I've been open to God in all ways, maybe not at all times, but deep inside I've always known that God would always take care of me... Many of my chosen songs reflect that willingness to open up to Him.

T he key point that needs to be made from reading this book... We are His Children! And because of that we must, yes, we must, recognize that role as His Child and turn to Him for All That He Has To Give Us! And, in being willing to look boldly toward Him, we can do all things through Him!

Faison goes into reasons why we may not look boldly... Yet... He meets each of us where we are. Just like Jesus does... He is our friend. We can talk to Him about anything and everything. Much more than with anybody else, I have found! Because we can always trust that He loves Us and Wants Us to Know that First...

And then, readers will be introduced into the supernatural aspect of God... What does that mean? Well, remember the story about moving mountains? Do we have the faith to move mountains?

I've shared that I've always had the boldness. but I've been limited, at times, in my faith... Right now, for instance, I've claimed that the 2024 Election for America will be what I think should happen... I've claimed it, I have faith... But is it enough? After all, millions of others have just as much right to be wanting a specific outcome. I know that, perhaps, is not a good example because the impact depends upon my being right--that God is NOT a God of Violence and those of us who seek the future of God in all of His Power and Glory, do not accept that going backwards in our religious lives can be the right way... Nevertheless, I'm claiming that in God's Name, Here in Public. In Faith I Boldly Seek God's Truth and God's Love to rein across the world. I claim that authoritarian leaders who have no empathy for people will not win, that guns will be controlled, that wars will cease. Will you join with me in Boldness and in Faith that God's Love and Truth Will Win in the 2024 Election?!

I wanted you all to know what happened... after I wrote this last paragraph. I was looking for the song Sweet Sweet Spirit, but nothing sounded right... Then I heard His Spirit speak one Word. Promises... I immediately placed it in search--I had not heard the two following songs before... Was this my second confirmation?

I just want to close out this post. This book spoke to me. I believe it will speak to you, if you allow it. I believe Thurman L. Faison speaks of the love of Jesus and this book will help you find his promises... For You...

God Bless


Monday, April 15, 2024

Midnight Tequila: The Midlife Crisis of a Quirky Pharmaceutically-Challenged Harp Player by Suzann Kale


Solange looked around her. She was in her safe bedroom, with its warm peachy-beige walls and reassuring art deco prints. Bunny May had confiscated all the covers and was sleeping, completely intact. The cat’s oblivious snoring gave Solange a sense of well-being. Thank God these things are only dreams, she thought. She stretched, and felt tingling pricks in her head and arms as oxygen moved once again through her system. Now. What to take. Valium was a good choice, and although it wasn’t the prescription of choice in the twenty-first century, she couldn’t knock it. It was Valium that got her through Paul-Michel’s funeral. It was Valium that kept her upright as she walked into the small Lubbock, Texas church. Everyone had watched her. She was the widow, dressed in a black dress Paul-Michel had given her as a gift four years earlier. All eyes on the widow as she sat in the pew, listening to the preacher despite the fog in her head, hoping he might know something useful. No one knew better than Solange how life-saving it was to be able to take a pill and sit there and wait for it to kick in -- knowing, even through her despair, that within forty-five minutes her body would loosen up, the tears would slow down, her lungs would begin the taking in of oxygen again, and her voice would come down off its three-octave tightrope. The problem occurred when the Valium wore off, and her husband was still dead. But finally, at fifty-two, the pharmaceutical industry came up with something that got in your blood and stayed there. Prozac was a gift from God, although Solange grieved the loss of the high. Prozac didn’t make her high. But at least it allowed her to breathe, speak coherently, and practice her forty-seven string Lyon and Healy pedal harp every day, which is what she decided to do for a living after Paul-Michel died. She decided to leave her job as a voice teacher and go out and learn an instrument and get a gig. 

“You’re not euphoric, are you?” Dr. Stone had asked with concern during Solange’s first med check visit after starting the Prozac. Solange realized from the tone of his voice that euphoric was bad, and although she did feel like she was right on the edge of a post-crisis bliss, she knew that to preserve that, she’d have to deny any ounce of euphoria. “Oh, no euphoria,” Solange answered in the overly casual tone she had learned over her younger years of having to feign sanity in order to get the Valium. “I feel alright. Able to work, clean house, drive responsibly.” For good measure, if there was any hesitation from the doctor, “I’m a grandmother, you know.” Men liked to hear that their female patients were now able to clean house. Solange had figured out long ago, back in the days of Elavil, that you have to go to a male doctor because only men will prescribe anything you want if it makes you a better housekeeper and keeps you from shrieking at your husband. Female doctors were much more hip. “Deal with it,” one of them told Solange, and she was right of course, but Solange never went back to her. Solange could only deal with stuff small bits at a time. The stuff itself came at her in larger quantities than she could manage, so there was the discrepancy. What to take, what to take? It was noon-ish. 

Solange had read Tarot cards on the Seer’s Network line until 4:30 a.m. That would be 5:30 on the east coast, which meant no one would call from there any more, and although it was only 2:30 in L.A., the pace still slowed. Still in her nightgown, a burgundy cowlick standing straight up on the back of her shoulder length hair, she staggered over to the harp and began tuning. Soon, harp scales filled her cozy bedroom in her residential corner of Austin, Texas. Bud and LaVinia never seemed to mind, although they had mentioned the midnight vacuuming. After a half-hour of scales, an hour of wedding repertoire, an hour of assisted living repertoire, and a half-hour of glissandos in various keys, she realized once again that while she had been doing this since Paul-Michel had passed away ten years ago, she was still quite awful at it. The decision was made. Coffee and an Ativan. Everything was going to be fine. 

Scene 7: Night Needles Dream: I am taken to a place beneath the earth, underneath everywhere. A place of karma and retribution. Most people are completely unaware that this landscape exists. I had never seen it before; never even conceived of its possibility. But this dream is vivid and detailed. Like I am there, not dreaming. You have to protect yourself. It’s an alternate world, but it manufactures events and situations that affect the waking world. There is daylight there, and it’s barren, lots of desert, but no wind. A man with a drum. A snake. He’s smiling. The events are outside of our control. Yet we only take them on during our vulnerable times. Back on the dirt side of earth, in the big wooden dreamscape house, we’re preparing for the battle. It is to be a major attack. There’s a lot of military equipment. Suddenly the guns begin. It is violent and harsh, as automatic and semiautomatic weapons fire. Bullets fly over our heads. Some of us are killed. We are close to total annihilation. I am tense and upset, but not terrified like I would be if, say, there were cockroaches dripping down. 

She brought her coffee, vitamin C, Prozac, socks, and Unlocking the Door to the Other Side channeled by the Pleideans from another dimension, back to bed with her, along with a cold croissant. Bunny May and the dream journal were there, and she found a pink tasseled Pretty Pony pen under a throw pillow, so she gently sank into the warm illusion of feeling alright. She played the RO RO SO SO OFO OFO game for a while, robe on, robe off, socks on, socks off, overhead fan on, overhead fan off. It was Solange’s organic substitute for hormone replacement therapy, and it worked alright if you didn’t mind going crazy. 

Scene 8: Phantoms and Nightwalkers Dream: An old white van passes us. I’m in a car with Paul-Michel. Suddenly, from the van, a face looks back at me -- his eyes lit as if from a supernatural, malicious source. In the gleaming eyes, a hint of a smile. His eyes get bigger and the glowing more intense. Paul-Michel quickly turned our car to the right, to get away from him, and said, “What was that?” I knew, but I didn’t say anything. Paul-Michel shouldn’t have to have known. One of his favorite things to do was to feed swans. Solange woke up hyperventilating. When she caught her breath and brought some hot coffee back to bed, she  thought about Lighthead-Nettles. The place had killed Paul-Michel. Yes, it was a cancer hospital, a cutting-edge world-leading state-of-the-art hospital that took up umpteen New York City blocks and you couldn’t get parking even while you were dying. Yes, Solange was a New Yorker. Her blood was made of New York blood. But by now she hated the city and was glad to be in Austin. She’d never go back. And after it killed Paul-Michel ten years ago, Solange looked at Lighthead-Nettles not so much as a healing place as a slaughter house. You go in, you get tortured in the most hideous ways, you fight with them about the impending dismemberment of your body and the divvying up of the parts for research and autopsy, and you come out in parts. Walking through the halls at Lighthead-Nettles on the chemo floor, hearing people scream in pain from behind closed doors; seeing people stagger around the halls with burned skin, dragging their drip bags along; the dust, the dirt; the nurses pulling twenty-four hour shifts; the plastic surgical gloves and rubber bands that were used instead of ice blankets for 106 degree fevers. Yes, Paul-Michel had been killed just as viciously in the hospital as if he had been mugged on the street. 

Solange picked up a pen, mindless of its silver pom-pom, and wrote: How can I live? That reminds me: She washed down an Ativan with a long, slow sip of the coffee. She wrote more: Actually, I don’t feel so good myself. 


Did you ever start a book which is so alien, so bizarre from anything that has occurred in your life, so far, and you think this is not my type of book, but you just keep on reading, thinking, ah...what is the point of this book? But then words "the lure of Funky Music" heads a page and you decide to keep on reading, knowing that you now realize just why, many years ago, you decided that you would never want to take pills or drink something to the extent that you would not want to know what had happened--and this book proved that you had made the right decision! But you figure, by now, there has to be more to this book, so you just keep on reading...

Seriously, if you read the subtitle of a book and it says: The Midlife Crisis of a Quirky Pharmaceutically-Challenged Harp Player, and the only words that caught your attention was "harp player," then beware, because you have no idea exactly what a midlife crisis really is! And you might be grateful that you never learn! Especially since your mid-life is in the past... But, darn, Harp Music!

I think of some songs that I'd like to hear on the Harp:


The Lord's Prayer

Ah, beautiful, so you decide to keep on reading about her wild, really wild dreams, and see what she does with her harp... "Scrapple from the Apple"? O...K...
It's jazz even though I'd never heard of the song, but it was pretty cool, though short...

So Solange, our main character goes out, trying to get a job as a harpist... In fact, if you continue reading, like I did, you will see that Solange is really somewhat, shall I say, OBSESSED, with music composition, so much so that everything she does turns into a counting of that activity to music--you know, like if the garbage truck is coming down the street, stopping at each home, there'd be a certain rhythm of the truck stopping and starting, together with the bang, bang, bang of the cans against the moving barrel...stop stop...start...start...bang, bang, OMG, she has me doing it! What fun! I hated counting when I was learning hymns, especially... I wanted to play them as I would sing the song, while my teacher wanted me to count the value of each note...Now I have to ask, just who would be singing this song, while I was playing the piano... Most people at my church were old and sang slowly--they weren't counting the note value, I can tell you!

So, anyway, Solange can't get over the death of her husband from cancer, mainly because she thinks the hospital was at fault... And she would wake up crying in loss once again about who was so good at the slow hand...

But as years went by, only Mile Davis could help her fall asleep, to dream....

Or sometimes just be curious...

So she does Tarot Card readings to bring in needed cash... She uses different names so people calling will never know to whom they are speaking... It's safer that way, don't you think? After all, reading the fortunes for somebody can bring them either sadness or happiness... And, if the latter, they'd want to stick with the "seer" who made them feel great. Or the opposite could also happen. And, no, I've never called for a reading... But I admit I enjoyed reading books about the personalities of different signs and measuring them with potential male friends... LOL

Do you get the idea that I'm writing differently, like, maybe to match what I had just read???

And while waiting for gigs, she continues recording her dreams in a journal, one of which spotlighted Amazing Grace, so she decided to attend her meeting of the spirituality group...which gets too close to issues that Solange was having for her to be spiritually uplifted... Or it could be the pills she took...

And she gets an audition and wows them...

Finally, she gets a gig with others with are also playing the harp....but she doesn't match the timing of the others... only she doesn't realize that it is she who is the problem... Or maybe, it's because the conductor keeps suggesting special practice with him... Practice continues! But I totally understood Solange about how she "felt" how to play the music. Fortunately when I sang, my sister was normally the pianist and she followed me, not the music... See that's why I'm reading further...
After past auditions, she had been able to maintain a quasi-zen emotional state -- that is, pretending it didn’t matter if she got the gig. If the gig was cosmically right, she would get it. And if it was cosmically wrong, she would not get it, and that would be correct in a not-knowing-the-bigger-picture-therefore-it-must-be-God’s-plan way. Like if she didn’t get the gig, it would have been bad to have gotten the gig. Still, at fifty-two, she felt an urgent need to get up each noontime and continue her quest to get the better gig. Solange went downstairs to the kitchen and brought back a saucer of milk and Bunny May’s insulin works...
Many of the songs were those I you like the above, which was actually part of the book's playlist? I've always like the music, but never had heard it by harpists! Cool, right?

Well, after all you have learned about the book, I am positive that you will never think how the book ends! Nor how much you may have found you've enjoyed this quirky harp player when she forgets about anything but her music... 
with maybe a little tequila nearby...

Suzann Kale is an author that you need to at least read once or you won't know what you've missed! And if you are quirky pharmaceutically-challenged, but NOT a harp player, I think you'll totally want to read this one!