Monday, December 5, 2022

Surely God Sent This Writer to Me, and YOU, at This Time in the World - Sweet Baby by Sharon Sala...



Dedication

I wrote this book for all the children

 who needed a Sweet Baby, but didn’t have one.

 I will say a prayer each night for the children

 who cry and no one hears.

 I will say a prayer each night for the children

 who wake up hungry and go to bed the same way.

 I will say a prayer each night for the children

 who are missing, and for those who are lost.

 I will say a prayer each night for the children

 who suffer alone because

 they have no one who cares.

 I will say a prayer each night for the children

 that no one loves. 

I will say a prayer for the children.

 I will say a prayer each night, 

because when no one else is listening, 

God still hears. 



Prologue 

Rural Arkansas, 1973 

A rooster tail of dust billowed behind the bright yellow school bus as it rumbled down the Arkansas back roads, returning the children of Calico Rock to their homes. It was dry for September. The narrow, two-lane road on which the bus was traveling was bordered on both sides with an abundance of dust-covered greens. Old trees, tall and angular, struggled for space among new growth in the constant act of taking root. On the ground beneath, bushes and scrub brush flourished, hanging on to their place in the mountains with fierce persistence. The sky was pale, a blue so light it almost seemed white, and the sun beaming down on the roof of the bus sweltered the children inside like so many beans in a can. 

Sweat ran out of their hair and down their faces as they chattered away. They didn’t care that it was hot, because it was Friday, and they were going home. But though the noise level inside the bus was high, there was the occasional child, like six-year-old Victoria Lancaster, who sat alone in her seat, quietly contemplating the day’s events and longing for the first sight of home. Last night had been a first for young Tory in more ways than one. She and seven other little girls had spent the night at Mary Ellen Wiggins’ slumber party. For Tory, it was the first time in her life that she’d slept somewhere other than beneath her mother’s roof—and without her dolly, Sweet Baby. And she hadn’t cried. Not even once. 

As the bus began to brake, she looked up. The Broyles brothers were getting off. That meant she would be next. Her mouth pursed as she thought back to last night. She couldn’t wait to tell her mommy about Mary Ellen’s party. Roasting wieners and marshmallows and then telling ghost stories after the house was dark had been scary—but so much fun. Mommy would be so proud of her for not asking to go home. The bus hit a bump, and Tory clutched at the brown paper sack in her lap. It held yesterday’s dirty school clothes, as well as her nightgown. There was a ketchup stain on her dress and marshmallow on the front of her gown, but she wasn’t too worried. Mommy never yelled at her for things like that. 

In fact, Mommy hardly ever yelled at all, and when she did, she was usually yelling at Ollie. She sighed, remembering a time in their life when Ollie hadn’t lived with them and wishing it could be that way again. Ollie was always teasing her about being a momma’s baby. When she got home, she would show him. She’d spent the whole night away from home. Babies couldn’t do that! Right in the middle of planning what she would say to Ollie, a voice suddenly shrieked in her ear. “Tory’s got a boyfriend. Tory’s got a boyfriend.” Tory turned in her seat and stuck out her tongue, glaring angrily at the boy behind her. It was that stupid old Arthur Beckham. After less than six weeks of first grade, she’d already figured out that the older boys got, the dumber they became. When he laughed in her face, she spun back in her seat, red-faced and a little bit shocked by her own temerity. When she got to be a fourth-grader, she wouldn’t pick on little kids like Arthur did, of that she was certain. Once more the bus began to slow. Tory glanced out the window as the brakes locked, then squeaked. When she saw the familiar rooftop of her home, she grabbed hold of the seat in front of her for balance, then stood. Arthur Beckham made a face at her as she passed down the aisle, but she was too anxious to get home to give him another thought. 

As she stepped off the bus, an errant wind lifted the hem of her dress, but she didn’t care. The moment her feet hit the dirt, she began to run. An orange-and-black butterfly fluttered just ahead of her, riding the wind current with delicate ease, and it almost seemed as if they were racing. The fantasy caught in her mind, and she shifted into an all-out stride. The afternoon sun caught and then held in the tangles of her long, blond hair. Had anyone been around to notice, they might have imagined they’d seen a halo above her head. But it was the end of the day, and had one been inclined to consider her an angel, she would have been a grubby one at best. There was a skinned spot on her knee, a smudge from lunch on the front of her dress, and her shoes and anklets wore a light coating of dust as her little legs churned, making short work of the distance to the house. The brown paper bag she held clutched in one fist was torn at the top and about to give way, but it didn’t matter now. She was almost there. Just as Tory’s feet hit the front steps, the butterfly darted off to the left. She laughed aloud, calling out to her mother as she grabbed the screen door and yanked. 

“Mommy! Mommy! I’m home! You should have seen me! I was racing a butterfly and—” She froze as the echo of her own voice moved from room to empty room, drifting like a bad memory that wouldn’t go away. A draft of hot air came from somewhere before her, shifting the hem of her dress and pushing the fabric against her bare legs. Tory took a step farther, then another, and another, unaware when the brown paper bag she’d been holding fell from her fingers and onto the floor. Everything was gone, from the faded blue curtains on the windows to the furniture that had been sitting on the floors. Her heart skipped a beat. Even though her eyes were seeing the truth, her heart would not accept it. 

“Mommy?” She cocked her head, listening for the familiar sound of her mother’s voice, but all she heard was the faint grinding of gears as the school bus climbed the hill on the road beyond. She called out again, her voice trembling. “Mommy? Mommy? I’m home.” The silence beyond the sound of her voice was insidious, amplifying the call of a bird in the tree outside the kitchen window. Somewhere within the house she heard a cricket chirp, and her heart leaped. Mommy hated crickets in the house. Any minute she would come racing into the room to get rid of it. She turned toward the doorway, her big blue eyes tear-filled and horror-stricken. But nothing moved, and no one came. She called again. 

“Mommy… where are you?” All she could hear was the thunder of her heartbeat, drowning out the sound of her own voice. She ran toward her bedroom, the only sanctuary she knew. If she crawled onto her bed and cuddled Sweet Baby, Mommy would surely come home. But it was as vacant as the rest of the house. And as she stood in the doorway, she started to shake. Sweat broke out across her forehead, beading on her upper lip. 

Her little bed—the one with the pale pink spread—was missing. Even worse, Sweet Baby was nowhere to be found. Near hysteria, she began turning in a circle, her fingers knotting into tiny fists as she began to chant, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” as if saying the word enough times would make her mother appear. Frantic, her gaze moved to the open closet door. Everything, including her new Sunday school shoes, was missing. Gone! Everything and everyone was gone! She began to circle the four small rooms in the clapboard house, racing in and then out again as her hysteria grew, shouting her mother’s name over and over until there was nothing left of Tory Lancaster but a scream. 

The sound of a car going by on the road beyond sent her running to the doorway, but when it went past without a sign of slowing down, she backed up in sudden fear. Alone! She was alone! It was only after she’d backed herself into a corner of the room that she stopped, her eyes wide and staring, her expression blank. Tears were drying on her cheeks as she slowly sank into a squatting position, her gaze fixed on the door. The afternoon turned into dusk, dusk into night, but Tory Lancaster never moved. She was waiting—waiting for Mommy to come home.

~~~


There has been so much happening, mostly caused by MAGA republicans that, sometimes, you can't find your place--trying to consider just what could happen next and when will it stop. For me and for millions across the nation, we were shocked when the Supreme Court ruled against the medical issue of allowing abortion.  Nobody wants to abort a child, but there is medical issues and, even, financial issues... Do you have a child as a single mother who already has three children and can't afford another? My Mom did, but what I remember most about my mother is that she was always working... 

My mother was carrying me when my father was killed in a mine accident. While I am here to tell my story, I also know that, in talking with many women who have found it necessary for parents, if there are two, to both work because of an inability to meet basic needs for the family. My Mom died when she was 72 and had worked her entire life, almost 24-7, to take care of us... 

Now, once again I faced someone close who was pro-life, (no matter what) while I was pro-choice. She again stated her opinion, while I, once again, was caught in the emotional flashbacks that comes with incest... I started to cry and said that, it wasn't about abortion for me--that I had always felt this way (since I was old enough to consider the issue). For me, it was about the failure of the church recognizing and working to deal with the sexual abuse of children from early age on through life! Adding, sometimes, a child should not be allowed to be where they are to live after birth... Pro-life decisions, once made, seem to be the only thing that counts...there is no further concern for the children, even for basic needs... And there is no further proactive concern to ensure that children are given a good home... free of exposure to many issues too adult for them to be listening to or, worse, experiencing...



Then once again, MAGA republicans bring it up purely to make it into a political issue...while, little girls and many others in this type of situation are forced to not only survive being sexually abused, but then are placed into the public eye as abortion issues are used, again, politically, rather than to allow such intimate medical issues to be handled within the family-doctor environment...ONLY!

Sala begins her book, Sweet Baby by establishing that something has happened in the life of 6-year-old Victoria Lancaster as she returns home from a sleep-over with girlfriends from school. There is no sign of her mother and all of the furniture and more--Sweet Baby--is gone... And that Tory was left alone, not knowing what had happened... We also learn that Tory was in an out of foster homes through to becoming an adult, which starts right at Chapter 1...

Victoria has become a photojournalist and travels to many areas, dependent upon the subject to be covered in her article. She has also become involved with Brett Hooker, a former cop who decided to get off the streets and now is an investigator for the DA Office. He is very much in love with Victoria... And, for now, is willing to take her exactly as she was... an very independent woman who has a job which requires that she leaves and comes based upon her job.

Or was she?

Tory still had flashes of the past that bothered her, such as storms. Readers will be privy to her dreams and will learn much about what actually happened to Tory... In many ways this is a mystery, quite suspenseful as we learn through her dreams more and more as we read. And yet, it is the solid loving partner she has found that has allowed her to begin to wonder...and, even, desire to discover what really happened in her past.

For most of the first part of the book, I was in tears--a cathartic time, perhaps, for me as well as for some other readers who have a Deep Awareness, perhaps, that they should not have experienced what they did at an early age, and yet have memories of that period of their life. Certainly the start of the "me-too" movement has revealed just how broadly this child corruption has spread across the world.

Concern for today's children and the realization that this is becoming worse rather than better, for many of our children... is, unfortunately, quite often headline topics to be used politically for, it appears, power and control over, especially, women...

Sala uses the strong tie of love to allow Tory to begin to face that part of her early life that had been forgotten. Tory had grown strong and independent to the world around her, while she suffered internally, believing that she was not worthy to be loved. Her adult solution was to accept life as it came to her, but leave it as she wished--striving to keep control of her emotions so that she could deal with anything and anyone that may cause her fear or pain...

So after empathic or sympathic tears are shed at first, readers are then allowed to watch and realize that love, indeed, can help to heal all wounds... It may be through other people, or, like me, it can be through a sure knowledge that God, indeed, loves all of us and wishes no harm to come to us, even though it may happen. 

“Ruthie… forgive… didn’t mean…  Tory froze. Ruthie? She tried to breathe and heard herself choking instead. Ruthie? Brett was talking to her now, telling her that she was going to be all right. Ruthie? An image flashed in her mind, an image of a woman with pretty brown hair and laughing eyes, a woman who smelled like roses and soap and who made up her own special songs to sing her little girl to sleep. "Hush little Tory, don’t say a word. Mommy’s gonna buy you a honeybird." A tear ran down the side of Tory’s nose. Honeybird. Hummingbird. Sometimes, when you’re only four, one word is as good as another. The room was beginning to spin. She grabbed Brett, desperately holding on...


Somehow, Sala brings sanity out of chaos, light out of darkness, love out of hate. God surely has given this writer a gift that has alreadt been awarded through awards and recognition... But, to the single reader, we are pulled into an embrace of safety and caring,  where she is able to show that, although there is pain, there is also a way to escape that memory and replace it with new ones that are full of joy, contentment, and a feeling of security that might have been missing for some of her readers. She gives us a gift of love...an awareness through her dedication, on through to the final word she writes, that this writer is here to grant us...the right to love ourselves...and others... Surely, God's love is shared through her words... And we thank you, Sharon...




We Never Remember days, only Moments*

God Bless,

Gabbie


*Quote

Personal Thoughts This Color

Friday, December 2, 2022

Open Memoir - About Working.- Having a Professional Career -- Shattered--Emotionally Damaged: Living With Job Burnout..


Yeah, right, getting coffee, picking up suits from the cleaners...  that is "really" what every secretary wants to do--NOT! Did I ever tell you I was a professional secretary and belonged to The National Secretaries Association, which no longer exists these days due to technological changes...

Most changes occur for the good, but, often not for the employees and professionals who may have been affected at that time. (one of the hardest parts for me was being asked to lie about putting calls through to people... it was irritating mostly because I knew that most of the time, the individual didn't want to deal with the caller and so I had to "cover" for him or her...)

For one main reason! Time

This issue holds true even in today's world. But, bottom line for the majority of staff employees, their bosses know little about actual time involved in doing those small or large jobs that need to be done. For instance, say you've just been assigned to a busy top-level leader of the institution...

I'm going to use two provosts (academic leaders titles equivalent to vice-president...

! And, unless you are supervisor, like myself, who was promoted internally or actually took the time to learn about what their staff actually does, they fail miserably as bosses!


Sooo, of course, I began by looking back into earlier years of my life when I was a secretary--first as secretary to the Assistant Director of Personnel, then Secretary to the Director...On to Secretary to the University Provost, and then to Secretary to the Vice President for Academic Affairs at West Virginia University. BTW, Provost and Vice-President are similar in level. The VP titles came in when more vice presidents were being added and so they were all appointed as VPs.

In Personnel, while my first job was primarily as Records Clerk, I was also Secretary to S. Thomas Serpento when he was Assistant Director... TJ Wall, the director and Bettie Tucker, his secretary left about the same time. Mr. Wall retired and Bettie joined her husband in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Serpento moved into the Director position, as well as I also moving into the Director's Secretary's job...

I really enjoyed being a secretary, even though, with all of the technological advances over the years, the position of secretary ultimately was eliminated. However, during my time in Personnel, I started reading the director's mail, and noticed a routine  mailing from the Bureau of National Affairs...and so I began to become acquainted with the close relationship of the government and the university.... Reading and highlighting for the Director all applicable issues that should be considered at WVU.

Moving into the President's office was interesting. Provost Robert F. Munn, (which was then the only position reporting to the University President) was also the Director of our Libraries. He was a quiet man and so I was a little unsure of myself. The one thing I remember most is when I first started, I would be working, greeting him, "Good Morning... and he would come past my desk and directly into his office... Not a word... Well, that happened a little too often for me, so 
I remember I stopped speaking and would be filing or typing with my back turned... At some point, he started saying Good Morning... I was...relieved... and  was gratified when, as he gave up the Provost position to return to the Libraries, he offered me a job there... I was...honored... 


As Dr. Munn was deciding to leave the position of Provost, I also was asked to consider moving into a position as Secretary to Jay Barton, who was Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Trish, his secretary, was the one who approached me, and I can't quite remember how, but all of a sudden I was working for Dr. Barton, Trish had gone home to England, and Dr. Munn had moved back full-time as Director of Libraries.

Being secretary for Dr. Barton was probably the most demanding secretarial position I had. He was a very active administrator and just keeping his calendar was an ongoing endeavor to fit all who needed to see him into any given day. I had always been an individual who arrived early to work, and soon, Dr. Barton realized that I was there...so from about 7:30 to 8:30 AM, he would dictate ( I remember I had scored from 80 to 100 wpm on shorthand tests) but I knew he was moving faster than that... His dictation not only included letters to be prepared, but also the meetings he needed scheduled, travel to be arranged and anything else. It was nothing for him to dictate enough in that one hour to keep me busy the entire week. 

Soon I had to learn how to deal with this individual... He truly had NO idea...nor did he care to know, how much time was involved in doing what he needed me to do. 

How was I able to keep him happy? By little white lies... He would ask about something, such as did you talk to so-and-so... I would routinely say he was out of the office...and then I would call when he was in his next meeting and get the appointment scheduled... or whatever was urgent at the moment... I truly don't know how other secretaries handled an extremely heavy workload. But, having already learned how to cover for bosses, as they needed, I also learned how to cover for myself... Right or wrong, I did what I had to do to manage my time as efficiently as possible.

And so it was that another job was waiting when Dr. Barton was leaving to assume the presidency of Alaska University... I feel confident in saying that Dr. Barton was very instrumental in having a new office created for the instructional arm of the university... It was to that office, I was next asked to apply... for a position in a newly created Office of Facilities Analysis and Utilization. William J. Campbell was named to lead this small unit. There were two technical positions and one secretary. I had moved into a technical position and was responsible for all classroom scheduling, including all meetings, that occurred on campus... 

It was the first time I began to see a clearer career path for myself, moving out of the clerical classification.

I started working on July 17, 1963, and moved  through the above positions into the early 70s... The one major advantage I had was that Mr. Campbell had come to WVU from the University of Maryland and he knew the job I would be doing. In fact, he had created the process by which it would be happning on the WVU Campus... I was now totally responding to the offices of the deans and their department chairs as I worked to ensure each semester of classes would be in a space that was required...

President Harlow was president of the university in my earliest years. His presidency was by direct contact to each of his subordinates, and it was a strict line for most... Except for me. My job dealt with the instructional program and I would be working directly with that individual to make final decisions on those matters. In turn, the Provost/VP delegated some basic issues to the deans heading up the many programs taught at the university...

While the entire facilities group was under another VP and in line authority, my boss reported to him.  Additionally, at that time, the Health Sciences VP wanted to participate into centralized classroom management, so I also reported to his office regarding all things related to the Health Sciences programs...

I worked fine for many years under that broader reporting role ...until...I...didn't... A new hierarchy was to come, which created not only more work, but poorer and tighter communication lines...

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Recognizing World Aids Day - Remembering My Friend, Joseph Michael Fortney - Author of One Man's Madness: Living With Aids

 




When you have the privilege to work with an author to "create" the book he wanted to leave his family, his friends, and the world of AIDS Victims, You tend not to forget that wonderful, unusual experience. I worked with Joseph as the person behind the scenes who does everything necessary to get many different poems together and in a format for publishing. For those interested in reading more of his poems, here's a link to one that includes a copy of the book cover and one of his poems... Searching on his name will bring up all that I've shared, including my Foreword, also in poetic form. 

On this World Aids Day, I'm helping to spread the word that there has been much improvement in stopping the spread of AIDS. But it has not been deleted as a killer of, now, millions. Joe writes about how he first met the killer which ultimately took his life.

Violated

I awoke one morning
no longer being naive
and quickly became wiser.

For you see,
I was violanted.

But I, too, had to understand,
Against all efforts to keep this from happening,
I was silently violated. . .without warning!

Then, as if someone tossed a bomb at me,
and during the aftermath,
I was changed forever.

I did not ask for this,
No one does.
But this is one violater who doesn't care
as he reaps his way into my soul
and setles in to torment me so.

So now I fight harder than before
and I'm now trying to keep him at bay...
For you see, I don't want to be just another victim
or a number on a slab

I've always wanted to leave a legacy
of who I was,
But now
I'm fighting harder to see to it
I was strong and gave my all.

To show my family that I became something
and also for myself.

I want to make my mark in this world
and "not be forgotten."

~~~

After having gone through years of another pandemic, Covid, I think I and, perhaps, many others, will find much in Joe's words as he shared how he just wished he could be touched...seen...

A Gentle Touch

Since I've become infected, I've lost the most valued feeling anyone could lose
and that's intimacy
There's no longer the huma touch of love.

Sure the verbal reassurances is there,
but not to be touched anymore by your partner
is the greatest pain one can feel.

It's partly due to fear
And I'm not sure of the other.

But I always thought pure intimacy was unconditional, 
even having the knowledge of hou you can and cannot
become as I am now.

I truly yearn for the stroking of my body
and caressing my soul...

I'm not really complaining,
only letting others know how we feel,
Loved, yet, alone.

I'm still the same,
warm and truly deserving of a gentle touch,
and the intimacy I once felt.

Wosh I could turn back the hands of time 
to have that again and not just a memory...

Am I asking for too much?

I realize there are changes
but does this have to be one?

I hold love and intimacy so dear,
so why does this have to be taken from me?

~~~

And then a plea, perhaps feeling his time is short...

Hey Mister Man


Hey Mister Man
Can you help me,
I've fallen and I'm so tired?

Hey Mister Man
Can you carry me,
would I be too much of a burden for you?

Hey Mister Man
Can you help, so I can walk by your side,
instead of laying in your arms?

Hey Mister Man
Can You?

~~~





I believe God is continuing to teach and train and help people learn how to solve the many mysteries of science and those diseases that arrive on earth... Just as he has done to continue to move toward, one day, the total elimination of the AIDS Virus... I hope this day, you may consider how you may participate in this endeavor...  Look for my more thoughts on this soon....

God Bless

Gabbie


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Every Reasonable Doubt - First in Series - By Pamela Samuels Young!

 




One of the advantages of being on Facebook or other sites where you are surrounded by writers, is that you're bound to pick up a free book from time to time! And, guess what, as of today, this book, Every Reasonable Doubt is still free, so I recommend you take a hop over to Amazon, because you will enjoy this one!


The brain is a funny thing. Sometimes it’ll just go numb for no apparent reason. Like when you’re in the middle of a conversation and whatever you were about to say just tumbles out of your head. That’s exactly what happened when I heard the jury’s verdict. My brain went totally numb. “Congratulations, counselor,” beamed David Winslow, my ever-arrogant second chair and a fellow associate at O’Reilly & Finney. He was smiling just like Howdy Doody. “Think this verdict’ll get us a
multimillion dollar book deal?” he whispered. I took exception to his use of the word “us” since he’d been nothing but a pain during the entire trial, and shook his extended hand anyway. I could smell the stale scent of the three double lattes he consumed each morning before eight. 
Turning away, I gripped the edge of the plaintiff’s table and tried to steady myself. I’d just won the biggest verdict of my career and I felt faint. The entire courtroom was one big, beige blur. The judge was speaking now, but I didn’t hear a word he was saying. I was buzzed from a strong blast of adrenalin, but trying hard to play it cool. As if juries handed me five-million-dollar verdicts every day. 
I suddenly remembered my client, Roland Hayes, standing next to me. He was gasping for air like an elderly asthmatic. The verdict obviously meant a whole lot more to him than it did to me. He’d be set for life. I pulled out his chair and motioned for him to sit. When I saw the jury rise, I assumed we were done. I sloppily stuffed papers into my Coach briefcase, hugged Roland for the second time, and watched as he ran off into the arms of his ecstatic wife. 
David, meantime, was flashing our despondent opposing counsel a gloating smile. As we headed out of the courtroom, a gang of reporters rushed toward us, nearly knocking us back inside. “Vernetta Henderson,” somebody shouted, “the jury’s five-million-dollar verdict is a pretty hefty award in a single-plaintiff race discrimination case. How do you feel?” 
I looked to my left and saw that the question came from the skinny blonde with the bad split ends from Channel 7. Before I could answer, another reporter hurled a question my way. “Ms. Henderson, why do you think the jury went so heavy on the punitives?” Because my client worked for a bunch of racist yahoos. I squeezed through the crowd, chin forward, shoulders erect, ignoring them. Just like they did on Law & Order. 
I looked over at David. His thin lips were tightly pursed. No one had bothered to stick a microphone in his face and he was pissed. When we reached the elevators, we found the down button blocked by a fortress of reporters. The hot, gleaming lights from a small TV camera nearly blinded me and somebody’s microphone kept nudging me in the back of the head. “Ms. Henderson, were you surprised at the verdict?” yelled a voice from the rear. I brushed passed the inquisitive mob, determined to ignore them. 
“No questions for now,” I said finally, as David and I escaped toward the stairwell. “We’ll talk to the media later this afternoon.”
~~~

Right from the first page, I was thrown back into the first sign, to me, that I was in trouble... It was a flashback where I was the facilities representative in a meeting with representatives of all vice-presidents of West Virginia University... I don't remember what I was talking about, but all of a sudden, my mind went blank. I still don't know how long everybody sat waiting for my next words... At some point, I began presenting my message again and the meeting went on.
I asked one of the women with whom I routinely worked and felt comfortable to open the topic. "Was it really noticeable when I stopped in the middle of a sentence?" She, I knew, was being kind, when she responded that it wasn't too bad... But, as anybody would have been, I was both embarassed, and frustrated that it had happened in front of one of the most important groups I could be meeting with: Those who led the direction for facilities planning and management for each related office across the campus. I had attended many other meetings with them, and many more with deans and directors of those administrators to whom space was allocated for their educational and other campus programs. I'd been interacting in this position for many years, but one thing had changed. A new Assistant Vice-President position had been created, and I had been told that I should not, as in the past, continue to work with the academic administrators. Yet, that was impossible given my overall job responsibilities. (more on another page...)

Vernetta Henderson, on the other hand, was driven to her mind stopping because she had just won a difficult and important racial discrimination case that would help her client, who had become disabled, be able to live comfortably for the rest of his life. Perhaps, it was difficult for her to react when her legal partner for the case, who had done little of the work which led to the successful verdict... Again, I flashbacked onto those who had also acted in the same vein, yet had no real concern that they actually were not effectively doing their jobs...

Needless to say, Vernetta received recognition within her office, which was great, since she hoped to one day become partner. Her boss was supportive and had assured her that she would be able to expand upon her present role into other areas of law. What she didn't imagine, however, was that it would happen immediately after the win of her present case!

She had several concerns, first, that her husband was pushing her to not work so many hours...and to work with him to start a family. Second, it was a murder case, for which she had no significant training or experience. And, finally, she did not have a good relationship with the other lawyer who was known for her criminal legal expertise and high-profile cases.

In fact, not only had the client asked for Neddy McClain, the other lawyer, she was fine not having another lawyer, until she learned that Vernetta had just won another high-dollar case... What was really bad, however, was that the leader of the company had made a big news splash about having a top-notched Black Women's team for a high-profile Black female client, who was being accused of murdering her husband... All the women had a right to be offended they were being used purely for the firm's publicity!

The husband, who some would say actually deserved being dead. He was an egotistic, womanizer who did not know what the word monogamy meant!  

Soon the normal activities for murder cases were underway, but it certainly was not the smooth sailing that would normally happen with a big-name law firm. Especially when the client seemed to evade the truth whenever she could get away with it...

One bright spot was a character named Special, who was the best friend to Vernetta... As Vernetta admitted, and I had to agree, just seeing her and hearing the outlandish guidance she would be giving made her, and me, smile... But the tension between Netty and Vernetta was palpable right from the start and reminded me that, oftentimes, women do not appreciate it when another has also moved upward in rank within the same company... For my own background, I had heard the gossip that I must have "slept" my way out of the clerical role to move upward... The only thing you can do is ignore that type of situation... However, Vernetta realized that she had to work with Netty, whether she liked it or not... And the ups and downs of not only the case investigation began, but also the ups and downs of the interactive communications between all those involved was, as mentioned earlier, quite extraordinary... especially when the news reporters honed in on the "dream team" not being such a dream... Netty quickly began to act on her own, as she would for handling a case, while Vernetta knew that if she allowed that to happen, she would not be able to learn as well as participate as she needed to in this important case.

As all great legal thrillers are, readers are kept guessing what and who was doing what and when. But slowly Vernetta was picking up on many details that would affect the outcome of the case. And awareness that a lot of lying was going on by many!

I admit that I watched with a great deal of interest as Vernetta had to deal with her husband wanting more of her time, especially when he heard that, right after the completion of a big case, she was now going into another highly visible and time-consuming murder defense... All the way through, I was wondering if their marriage was going to make it... 

This was an interesting first book in a series. One reader commented that the first was ok but the next was going to be great... Well, I was fascinated by the first book and no doubt will be heading for the next in series! So many great books, So Little Time! LOL! But I think you'll enjoy this one. The characters are well developed and readers will be drawn to each as the story moves forward... Do check it out while it's free and enjoy!



God Bless

Gabbie

Friday, November 25, 2022

Sharon Sala Responds to School Mass Shooting in Novel, The Next Best Day - A Beautiful God Incident in Less Than 400 Pages...

 

"When in God's Name, will we do what we all know needs to be done!?" asks our President as he speaks to America after still another school mass shooting which occurred recently in Texas... 

And then the video above goes on to share that the governor, the past president and a congressman were heading for the national NRA convention where there would never be, if that group has its way, that the ban of military-style automatic guns and, more, a registration of guns in America, for instance, will never take place. All those things that republicans continue to refuse to even consider talking about and negotiating to bring about REAL responses to the horrendous reputation for America being the only country that "hosts" mass shootings!

And the video goes on to say that those suffering from so many deaths are tired of hearing "we will be thinking and praying for you..." THAT IS JUST NOT AN ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE ANYMORE... Yet those of us who want gun reform know that unless the republican party is zapped into a major change--perhaps one that is based upon God's Judgment of those who refuse to stop the flood of dead children down the river of republican stubborness and selfish concern for themselves and power... We have no words that can be given to those with unforgettable and unforgivable hate that has encircled those in power of the party... 

And, once again, a writer takes up her pen to spotlight the pain and suffering and the real inability to put such trauma aside and return to a former life that has been so drastically changed... Sala has done an excellent job of placing this last horror and many others school shootings into each reader's memory--a memory that will stand strong as the nation, and each of us, are fighting to force A STOP TO KILLING CHILDREN, just by being willing to acknowledge that the proliferation of so many guns, available anywhere and everywhere...MUST be accepted as the PROBLEM to be solved!

What the hell am I supposed
 to be learning from all this crap?


 
The silence within the walls was broken only by the sounds of weeping. Boyd French cleared his throat and continued, and so did the slide show, as he move on to the recognition of each of the twelve students who’d been wounded, and then the last picture was one of Katie. 

“All of you…those who were not wounded, and those who were…those who we lost, and those who were saved, are heroes because you did everything right. It was the stranger who did everything wrong. But in the midst of all the tragedy, first-grade teacher Katie McGrath shielded two of her students with her body, took the bullets meant for them, and saved their lives, and for that we come today to also honor Miss McGrath. Katie, would you please come forward?” 

Katie stood, her knees shaking. And as she began walking toward the podium, everyone in the gym began chanting her name. “Katie! Katie! Katie! Katie!” Boyd held up his hand, then pulled a plaque from a shelf beneath the sound system. “Katie, on behalf of the Albuquerque public school system and Saguaro Elementary, it is my honor to present this award. It reads: ‘To Katie McGrath, for courage, bravery, and sacrifice in the line of fire.’” He handed it to Katie, who was visibly overwhelmed as she clutched it to her. 

“Are you okay to say a few words?” he whispered. She nodded, then moved to the microphone and took a deep, shaky breath. “Thank you. This is unexpected, and such an honor. But it feels strange to accept an award for doing the same thing every other teacher here was doing that day. We were all putting ourselves between your children and the danger they were in. Every year, your children, who you entrust to our care, become ours for a little while each day. We work hard to make sure they are learning what matters. 

“Some days we want to wring their necks. Some days we are so proud of them for how hard they try. And every day we love them. Enough to die for them, which is what happened here. I don’t know why I’m still here, but all I can assume is that I am supposed to be. Again, thank you for this recognition, and thank you for the hundreds of letters and well-wishes that were sent to me.” 

The audience gave her a standing ovation as she walked back to her chair, wiping tears as she went. The principal ended the program with a final announcement. “Earlier this morning, we unveiled five wooden benches on the playground. Each bench has a name etched on it to commemorate a precious life that was lost here. Yes, the names will be reminders of our tragedy, but as time passes, the benches will also come to represent a place to rest from the innocence of play, and for teachers to sit while they watch over your children on the playgrounds. 

We will not forget. 

“Now, this concludes our program. Students, unless your parents are here, you will return to your classes. Parents, if you wish to take your children home with you at this time, they will be excused. Just notify their teachers before you leave with them. And…Katie, I think your class is going back to their room with their parents and teacher in hope that you will stop by to visit with them before you leave...”

~~~


Sala's main character is a school teacher in a small town school and is beloved by her students. In fact, when the shooting started, you could tell, just as many brave souls are doing across the nation, that this school teacher was prepared and willing to strive to save all of her children, even to the point where she might be killed in acting to do so. 

Katie McGrath, the teacher and main character, was looking forward to being married in her near future. One of the important reasons she was so happy was that she was, in addition to gaining a husband, she was also gaining a family... Katie had been a foster kid and by 12 realized that there were few, if any, people who really cared about her...Her attitude started to reflect what was surely a defense mechanism against being hurt...again...


Once she graduated from high school in Chicago and left the foster care system, she knew exactly what she was going to do. She wanted to be a teacher, and with the help of a couple of grants and working two jobs for four years, she put herself through college. 
Coming to Albuquerque to teach, which was where she was now, was also where she met Mark Roman. He was a farm boy from Kansas who had a junior position in a CPA firm, while Katie taught at Saguaro Elementary. Now, three years later, here they were, ready to take that next step in their relationship, and she couldn’t be happier. She was just getting out of the shower when she got a text from Lila Reece, a fellow teacher who’d become her best friend, and today, her maid of honor. It was a “good morning, good luck, see you at the chapel” kind of message, but it brought reality to the day. 
It was time to get moving. After breakfast, Katie loaded up her things, made a quick trip to her hairdresser, then hurried off to the chapel to meet Lila. Lila was short, blond, and curvy—the opposite of Katie, who was tall with dark shoulder-length hair and the metabolism Lila longed for. When Katie pulled up in the parking lot, Lila helped carry in the dress and everything that went with it. “I love your hair!” Lila said, eyeing the smooth, silky strands as they headed inside. 
Katie smiled. “Thanks. This style works really well with the veil,” she said. They spent the next couple of hours getting ready in one of the dressing rooms, laughing and talking. Gordy Thurman, Mark’s best man, arrived early, too, and popped in to give her a thumbs-up. “Hey, Katie, you look beautiful. So do you, Lila,” he said. 
“Thanks,” Katie said. “Is Mark here yet?” “Not yet, but we both know Mark Roman is never going to be the early bird. He’ll be here soon,” Gordy said, then waved and went to find the men’s dressing room. The wedding chapel was a popular venue, even though the wedding wasn’t going to be a large one. Just Katie and Mark. A maid of honor and a best man…and fifty guests.

And that young woman, who once had a chip on her shoulder, and who had opened up her heart for love, finally...was left at the altar, or at least at the church...

Lila reached for Katie with both arms and pulled her up and then hugged her so hard. “I’m so sorry, Katie. I’m stunned. I can’t believe he just—” 
Katie pushed Lila away and took a deep breath. “I should have known. I should have known. I have never been enough,” she mumbled. “God give me strength.” Then she tore off the veil, tossed it aside, yanked up the front of her skirt with both hands so she wouldn’t trip, and strode out of the dressing room.
~~~

Her only salvation was to continue working, teaching her little children, knowing that they loved her, they never thought to lie, but openly expressed all that they wanted to share with their loved ones and that, included, their teacher... She would get over this latest rejection...

And then just as she was thinking that it couldn't get worse, she was still happily discussing whose turn it was to lead her class to the lunch room, and as they walked, she heard shooting. Quickly turning the children around, she moved toward the nearest classroom, which, thankfully, was her best friend's room, who immediately unlocked the door and let the children move through the door. It was then that Katie saw that two of her children were still in the hall. They were crying; one boy had fallen and the other was trying to help him. Another teacher came up beside her to help... Only to be shot. Katie did not think, concerned only for her two students, she fell on top of them and lay there as she began to feel the shots that entered the back of her body...

It was not hard for me to realize what would come next for Katie. Though the tragedy might be different for Katie and me, I knew that she would be going into PTSD... and it didn't take long before it began...right after she had been recognized as one of the heroes that day...

He offered her his elbow, and she slipped her hand beneath it. Together, they made their way through the exodus of guests. 
They were about halfway there when Katie realized where they were and immediately looked down. When she did, she stumbled and would have fallen if the principal hadn’t caught her. 
“I’m sorry,” Katie said. “I just realized where we were. It took me off guard.” 
“I don’t know what you mean,” Boyd said. Katie shuddered and started walking, almost at a run, as if to get away from the area, and Boyd hurried to catch up. 
“That’s where Coach Lincoln was shot. We were running,” Katie said. 
“Oh my,” Carl said. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.” 
Katie shook her head. “It’s not your fault. Everything in this building triggers a memory now. It is what it is.” 
And then they were at the door to her room. 
“I can take it from here,” she said. “What’s the substitute teacher’s name?” 
“Um…Abby King,” he said. “Thank you,” Katie said. She took a deep breath and knocked, then pushed the door ajar. There were parents lined up against the walls, and a short, thirty-something woman wearing a yellow smock and purple pants standing beside the desk. She had a turned-up nose, pink hair, and a pencil stuck behind her ear. She looked like a living, breathing fairy. How absolutely perfect, Katie thought, and then smiled. 
“May I come in?” Abby King turned and opened her arms wide like she was going to hug her. “Yes! Yes! Welcome back!” Abby said. 
Katie waved at the parents and barely got the door closed behind her before she was engulfed. Twenty familiar little faces were turned up to her. Hands were touching and petting, and all of them were talking at once. And then she saw Alejandro and Kieran pushing their way through the crowd, and they were crying. When they got to her, they just wrapped their arms around her legs and held on. 
Abby King immediately took control of the situation. “Children, let’s give Miss Katie a little room, okay? You will all get a chance to talk to her personally. Each of you find your spot on the floor in the reading circle, and Miss Katie can sit in the teacher chair, okay? Parents can listen in, but I think today is for Miss Katie and her class.” 
At that point, Katie put her purse and the award aside and dropped to her knees, hugging the boys to her. “We thought you died,” Alejandro said. “I’m sorry I fell down. You came back for us.” Kieran nodded. “You sure can run fast, Miss Katie. Thank you for coming back.” 
Katie knew if she cried now, everyone in the room would be in tears. “Of course I went back to get you both, and Alejandro…everyone falls down. It’s the getting back up that matters. And we all got up and ran, didn’t we? And we’re safe now. Okay?”
“Okay,” they echoed, and then hugged her again. 
“We heard you tell us not to talk and not to move, and we did just what you said,” Kieran whispered. 
“I’m so proud of you for following orders. It was important, wasn’t it?” she said. 
Alejandro nodded, then reached up and patted her cheek. “You said you loved us. Just like Mama says when she tucks me in at night.” 
Katie’s eyes welled. “And I do love you. All of you. You are so precious to me. Now. Let’s go find our place in the reading circle, okay?”

And then something wonderful happened. A wonderful writer, with both sympathy and empathy, brought the characters and readers all into one closed circle of sharing. Sharon Sala knew by page 36 of a novel that held 399 pages, that all of us were totally involved in a reality where little childrens and adults can be murdered by somebody who has been incited to hate... And to act on that hate...

And she then began to weave a story, recognizing the trauma experienced by both the characters and we readers who have experienced that reality on today's news--of one mass shooting after another. Sala wrote exactly what we readers needed to see. We saw, first, the aftermath of a school shooting, and the dreams that left her main character, waking, frightened, and running--running, trying to get away from the shooter. While at the same time, being afraid for her students... And like I did, finally, Katie realized that she could not stay in a place where so much had happened that she could just not, in any way, forget and...get over...

The 300+ pages of the  last part of the story is what I remembered after finishing the book. This author has a wonderful ability to create charactrs who we can easily think of as our neighbors, or our friends made while working... Her writing becomes smooth, a lovely flow of quietly moving forward from what cannot be forgotten, yet, in a most beautiful way allow a new life, far grander than could be imagined, to begin.


“Yes, they do, Billy, and thank you for letting me wander about in here. It was such a pleasure to meet you.” 
“The pleasure was mine,” he said, and then took an object from beneath the counter and set it before her. “I would be honored if you would accept this little gift from me to you. The figurine sitting at her dresser reminded me a bit of you. While it is within a globe, it is not a snow globe. It is a music box. If you wind it up, it plays ‘Clair de Lune,’ which is one of my favorite music-box tunes. I don’t know who it belonged to, and you don’t know who you belonged to, and it’s quite charming, as are you. I wanted you to have your own antique. 
I have cleared it and blessed it, so there are no lingering entities attached…but who knows? It may be the trigger to an antiques addiction of your own.” Katie’s eyes welled. Tears rolled before she could stop them, and then she couldn’t get her emotions under control. “I don’t know… Nobody ever… Oh my God…thank you. You have no idea how treasured this will be.” 
Billy wrapped the music box in layer after layer of tissue, then boxed it up and slipped it into a gift bag. “Your joy is my joy,” Billy said. “Enjoy. And if the music box quits playing, bring it in. I know how to fix them.” 
“Yes…oh my…thank you,” Katie said, blinking back tears. She carried the bag clutched to her breasts as if it was a newborn as she left the store. Billy Arnold hadn’t just given her a gift. He had acknowledged her existence. Katie’s real identity was a mystery, as was the original owner of this music box. They’d both been lost by fate and time until Billy had become their intermediary. Billy had cared enough to give Katie her own antique, and the music box was no longer lost. She felt grounded by another woman’s history—a woman she would never know. 
She drove away, still blinking back tears. She was too full…spilling over from the love she’d been given. She’d been acknowledged. She felt seen. She drove until she found an empty parking lot, then pulled in and parked before she realized it was a church. She sat for a few minutes, trying to pull herself together and wondering at the irony of ending up here at this moment. Katie’d quit talking to God years ago because she didn’t think He was listening. She would pray for a family. She’d pray to be removed from one bad foster home to another. She’d prayed to be rescued…somehow…in any way He saw fit. But it never happened. And the broken broken child she was believed God could neither see nor hear her because she did not matter. 
Now, when the most wonderful thing had just happened to her, she found herself here. She laughed, but in it were the sounds of anger and disbelief. “What am I supposed to do here?” she cried. “Bow down at Your feet when You left mine bare? Join a church and listen to a man I don’t know start telling me how I’m supposed to live? If You’ve been following the shit show that has been my life, what about it do You expect me to thank You for?” She closed her eyes and leaned back against the seat, choking on sobs...

A lovely story by Sharon Sala will, if you allow it, grace your heart and home with a presence that, often, many of us feel will never come to us...and, yet, at the perfect time, it seems, brings us back into a very real awareness that God is indeed watching us and that he does have a plan, even though it may take years before the life unfolds before us, as if, it was always meant to be... That is a gift that Sala has given to me and, I hope, to you...

For when we see the hate right now in America, incited purely for a show of power as opposed to any real feeling except selfishness... We must find solace. For me, it was reading The Next Best Day. A truly memorable book of God's Love and His Plan...



God Bless,

Gabbie

spotlighting Memorable Quotes