Saturday, 31 December 2011

Yes - No - Maybe - What Say You?

The Simplicity of Brain Surgery, Life, Death & All Else

By Pandora Poikilos

Many moons ago, I sat with Pixel and sort clarity. The late night scene that enveloped us was more than peaceful. It was by his swimming pool, the moonlight streamed its light on the garden. We sipped our coffees and we were engrossed in our own thoughts about how life would turn out for each of us. He was embroiled in a bitter relationship. I was conflicted between work, my recent diagnosis and life in general.

We talked about other things as well. I don't remember these. But I do remember what he said about relationships in general, "It's like making a sales call. Every time you knock on someone's door, you won't get a yes. But instead of standing outside someone's door wondering why they said no, keep knocking until you get a yes." Truer words have never been spoken.

Death - Pixel and I have been friends for more than a decade and on Christmas Eve, his grandmother passed away. She and I had never had long, elaborate conversations for the simple reason she spoke no English and I spoke no Chinese. But we had simple, meaningful translated conversations about each other's health and well-being. And for as long as I remember, every time I was at his house, she was there always with a meal ready to be served. The last time I saw her, I was about to hit rock bottom and I was crushed. She offered me food and said if you don't eat and do not take care of yourself, nothing will be fixed. Yes, I was devastated at the news of her death especially when I wasn't able to attend the funeral. No, her death wasn't a painful one. Maybe, God needed her more and there was some reason for it all but a wee bit of me still hurts.

Dollars & Cents - When I first wanted to self-publish my short stories in November, I unknowingly got off on the wrong foot with someone else and I was told this, "You will see how much you make off Amazon. I guess you do not understand how things work." The end result of this conversation was that I self-published both my novels, the blog directories and two short stories on Amazon. And this person was absolutely right, I was way off my sales target. You see I didn't sell 10 books or 100 books, I sold more than 70,000 ebooks in December 2011. Icing on the cake - Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out made it to #1 on the Kindle Top 100 and Frequent Traveller made it to #10.

In the last two years, I have gotten comfortable on a monthly budget of $300, sometimes less. Between medical bills, daily expenses and a few knick knacks there isn't much left but I'm able to get what I need and that's enough. The money I receive from Amazon for my December sales will make way for many months of "fixed" income as I have no plans of increasing my monthly budget any time soon. Yes, the task of self-publishing is more than daunting. No, I have no regrets about self-publishing. Maybe, I'll be able to get more than two novels out this year. Fingers crossed.

Family - Of all the things that happened this year, the best was this. I got to spend a day with my father's brother, also my Godfather over the Christmas week. It has been years since we've seen each other. Even longer since we've spoken. Yes, there were cards and letters as I was growing up. But geographical distance and life got in the way and all of this stopped for the longest time. Our meetings in between were short and somewhat rushed. This time, it felt longer and it was needed. As he was on his way to see me, the first thing he said was, "Please don't misunderstand the lack of communication." We talked. We ate. We laughed. We watched tv. We exchanged gifts. And I got the best present in more than twenty years. Pictures of my father's grave.

I was three when he passed away. My mum and I were another country visiting her relatives when we got word that he had had a heart attack when sending my brother to school. She left to make funeral arrangements. I was left with relatives until she came back. I never made it back to see him. So many questions. So much that was left unsaid. And then over this Christmas, I got to see his grave. After more than twenty years, I had another piece of him with me. Yes, I definitely want to make a trip to see him. No, I can't do it any time soon with my shunt issues and I'll definitely have to consider an alternative route to flying. Maybe, just maybe, all of this will work out.

Of everything that has happened this year, why did I get fixated on these three things? Death is certain. Family is necessary. Determination and hard work gets you through, even when someone else says a task cannot be done.

Ever so often people tell me you've had brain surgery so there must be something wrong with you. Yes, there's plenty wrong with me. I have a tube in my head to prove it. But I'm still here. And God's not done with me yet. I'm pretty sure I'm a masterpiece in the making just as you are.

Life will always find a way to hit the pause button whether you're ready for it or not. This doesn't reduce the quality of the masterpiece, it just makes it better. It's easy to become swallowed by the complexities of a "no" and the uncertainty of a "maybe" than to stay focused and keep working towards a "yes". That's life. And we're all guilty of it.

Keep it simple. Keep moving forward. Yes. No. Maybe. You're the only one who can make a difference in your life. Love and light. Happy New Year.

Friday, 30 December 2011

A Letter To My Brother

Author Unknown

Dear Patrick,

I was then an only child
who had everything I could ever want. But even a pretty,
spoiled and rich kid could get lonely once in a while
so when Mom told me that she was pregnant,
I was ecstatic.

I imagined how wonderful you would be
and how we'd always be together
and how much you would look like me.
So, when you were born, I looked at your tiny hands and feet
and marveled at how beautiful you were.
We took you home and I showed you proudly to my friends.
They would touch you and sometimes pinch you,
but you never reacted.
When you were five months old,
some things began to bother Mom.
You seemed so unmoving and numb,
and your cry sounded odd -- almost like a kitten's.

So we brought you to many doctors.
The thirteenth doctor who looked at you quietly said
you have the "cry du chat" (pronounced kree-do-sha) syndrome,
'cry of the cat' in French.
When I asked what that meant,
he looked at me with pity and softly said,
"Your brother will never walk nor talk."
The doctor told us that it is a condition
that afflicts one in 50,000 babies,
rendering victims severely retarded.
Mom was shocked and I was furious.
I thought it was unfair. When we went home,
Mom took you in her armsand cried.
I looked at you and realized that word will get around
that you're not normal.
So to hold on to my popularity,
I did the unthinkable ... I disowned you.
Mom and Dad didn't know but
I steeled myself not to love you as you grew.

Mom and Dad showered you with love
and attention and that made me bitter.
And as the years passed,
that bitterness turned to anger, and then hate.
Mom never gave up on you.
She knew she had to do it for your sake.
Every time she put your toys down,
you'd roll instead of crawl.
I watched her heart break every time she took away your toys
and strapped your tummy with foam so you couldn't roll.
You'd struggle and you'd cry in that pitiful way,
the cry of the kitten. But she still didn't give up.
And then one day,
you defied what all your doctors said -- you crawled.
When Mom saw this, she knew that you would eventually walk.
So when you were still crawling at age four,
she'd put you on the grass with only your diapers
on knowing that you hate the feel of the grass your skin.
Then she'd leave you there.
I would sometimes watch from the window
and smile at your discomfort.
You would crawl to the sidewalk and Mom would put you back.
Again and again, Mom repeated this on the lawn.
Until one day,
Mom saw you pull yourself up and toddle off the grass
as fast as your little legs could carry you.
Laughing and crying, she shouted for Dad and I to come.
Dad hugged you crying openly.
I watched from my bedroom window this heartbreaking scene.
Over the years, Mom taught you to speak, read and write.
From then on, I would sometimes see you walk outside,
smell the flowers, marvel at the birds, or just smile at no one.
I began to see the beauty of the world around me,
the simplicity of life and the wonders of this world,
through your eyes.
It was then that I realized that you were my brother
and no matter how much I tried to hate you, I couldn't,
because I had grown to love you.
During the next few days,
we again became acquainted with each other.
I would buy you toys and give you all the love that
a sister could ever give to her brother.
And you would reward me by smiling and hugging me.

But I guess, you were never really meant for us.
On your tenth birthday, you felt severe headaches.
The doctor's diagnosis -- leukemia.Mom gasped and Dad held her,
while I fought hard to keep my tears from falling.
At that moment, I loved you all the more.
I couldn't even bear to leave your side.
Then the doctors told us that your only hope was
to have a bonemarrow transplant.
You became the subject of a nationwide donor search.
When at last we found the right match, you were too sick,
and the doctor reluctantly ruled out the operations.
Since then, you underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

Even at the end, you continued to pursue life.
Just a month before you died,
you made me draw up a list of things you wanted to do
when you got out of the hospital.
Two days after the list was completed,
you asked the doctors to send you home.
There, we ate ice cream and cake, run across the grass,
flew kites, went fishing, took pictures of one another
and let the balloons fly.

I remember the last conversation that we had.
You said that if you die, and if I need of help,
I could send you a note to heaven
by tying it on the string any a balloon and letting it fly.
When you said this, I started crying. Then you hugged me.
Then again, for the last time, you got sick.
That last night, you asked for water,
a back rub, a cuddle.
Finally, you went into seizure with tears streaming down your face.
Later, at the hospital,
you struggled to talk but the words wouldn't come..
I know what you wanted to say.
"I hear you," I whispered.
And for the last time, I said,
"I'll always love you and I will never forget you.
Don't be afraid. You'll soon be with God in heaven."

Then, with my tears flowing freely,
I watched the bravest boy
that I had ever known finally stop breathing.
Dad, Mom and I cried until
I felt as if there were no more tears left.
Patrick was finally gone, leaving us behind.

From then on, you were my source of inspiration.
You showed me how to love life and live life to the fullest.
With your simplicity and honesty,
you showed me a world full of love and caring.
And you made me realize
that the most important thing in this life is
to continue loving without asking
why or how and without setting any limit.
Thank you, my little brother, for all these.

Your Sister

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Orangeberry Book Tours - Aynoit Ashor

Warning: This novella contains explicit scenes of human trafficking, sexual abuse and child abuse.

This short novel (novella) follows a daughter on her quest for the truth and a mother who wants to keep her safe by any means necessary. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who will say, I wish I would've?

She only has loving memories of her beloved G-Pa and can't understand why her mom calls him "devil". On her eighteenth birthday she goes on a quest for the truth, without her mom's knowledge. While visiting her G-Pa she discovers her dark family secrets.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Contemporary Women
Rating - R (Sexual Abuse)

Connect with Aynoit Ashor on Twitter & Facebook
Check out where this author will be talking about her latest release!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Mid-Winter's Eve

(Update on 5th January - Winner is Kelly A)

To stand a chance to win
$5 gift card

(Additionally, recommend an author to Orangeberry Phoenix 
and you receive a $100 Amazon gift card or cash. More details HERE)

Feel free to
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Leave me a comment so I'll know who you are
and I can return the favour.

If you haven't got your copy,
here's another goodie for you.

Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Genre Blogging, Fiction (Books)
Rating PG-13
Coupon code None needed. This book is FREE

This Giveaway Hop is organised by two very Blog-A-Licious blogs, 
I Am A Reader Not A Writer & Oasis for YA
and there are loads of giveaways happening 
so do come join us and check out the other 250++ participating blogs HERE

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Beyond Mommy Dearest

By Paula Renaye 

On a recent VH1's Tough Love Miami, Steve Ward and his mother Joann helped his dating boot camp girls face their "mommy issues." I found this episode particularly interesting since I am both a daughter and a mother of daughters and have had to face my own issues on both sides of that coin--and neither is pretty.
Watching this episode was tough for me for a variety of reasons. The assignment for the girls was this: Write a letter to your mom telling her how she has affected your love life. Ouch! 

The Hardline Self Help Handbook has many paths down this trail so I had done similar exercises with the same end goal of getting to the bottom line of reality--mine and hers--and making peace with it. But tonight as I listened, not as the daughter who had been damaged but as the mother who had passed it on, it made me wish my daughters would write their own unpleasant letters to me because I don't want them going through their lives with "mother" baggage hanging over their heads as long as I did.

As horrible as this is to admit, there was a time--a very long time--that I believed I couldn't really live my life until my mother was no longer living hers. It's an awful thing to have to own, but it's also very true. Well, let's clarify exactly what part is "true." 

It was true that I felt what I felt and believed what I did. However, it wasn't even remotely true that her death was going to magically make the problems that I blamed her for go away. And believe me, it didn't--neither will writing a letter. But what writing a letter will do is help you face your own truths--the ones you know about and the ones you've been pretending you don't. 

The great thing is, while getting your truth out in the open may not be pleasant--and it may even be really ugly as mine was--there's a huge relief once it's done. It's kind of like digging at that splinter in your finger--it hurts while you're doing it, but once you're free of it, that constant jab no longer has power over you, you can see it for what it is and you can start to heal. 

Now, be aware that writing a letter or otherwise confronting a parent is not a magic bullet that will instantly fix anything--it won't. In fact, if your mom is still in denial about her own pain, she might automatically react to defend herself, explaining why you shouldn't feel what you feel, and crush your new-found courage in the process. At least that's what happened to me every time I tried it--and when I repeated the pattern with my own children.

Remember, you didn't come up with your own wounds by accident, and your mom could still be protecting herself from a version of the same pain. You can't expect to get understanding and validation of your pain from the very person you blame for creating it. Unless your mom has done her own work, odds are that her own fragile self-concept will demand that she convince you that you have no reason to feel as you do, so just be careful if you choose to go there.

The good news is your parents may have helped create your baggage, but you are the only one who controls whether you keep dragging it around with you. The even better news is that you don't need their permission, approval, validation or even awareness to make the decision. 

If you're still holding on to old wounds, don't pass along those old patterns and pain to your children. Make a vow right now to stop that family tradition and start a new one--giving yourself what you've spent your whole life waiting to get from others.

* * * *
Paula Renaye is tough love motivational speaker, certified professional coach and author of the multi-award-winning self-empowerment guide, The Hardline Self Help Handbook. Hardline is available in paperback and just about every ebook format out there (Kindle, Nook, Apple, Mobi, etc.). Also, for a limited time, the Tweet-able Tough Love Quotes ebook is still available for FREE from  and iTunes so get it now!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Little Things Like Roses

By Steve Brunkhorst

If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I'd be picking roses for a lifetime. - Swedish Proverb 

Mary had her own special kind of joy, and she knew exactly how to spread it around. She lifted children from loneliness into laughter, love, and belonging.

Each time she found a new home for a child, she gave the family one of her little homemade paper roses. It had become a tradition for her, and the families didn't ever forget it.

One evening, Mary was hosting a meeting for a group of new adoptive parents. Several families that she had served years earlier were also present. The new parents were able to gain support and learn from those who had been adoptive parents in the past.

One of the new fathers stood up to introduce himself. But before he spoke, he reached into his coat pocket and held up a faded, red paper rose. Then he explained.

"Twenty years ago today, I felt alone and worthless. I felt like I didn't deserve to have the things that others have. I was sure that my problems were my fault. I didn't know the talents inside me or what was possible for me. I realize now that I just didn't know all my options.

Then Mary brought two wonderful people into my life. They taught me what it was like to feel loved. They proved to me that I was special, and that God loved me for who I was. They not only loved me unconditionally. They opened a world of possibilities that I didn't know existed. My new parents told me, "Reach for your dreams!"

I did, and today I'm proud to be giving that chance to a child who started out just like me. My mother gave me this little rose. By now, all of you know where she got it so long ago.

This rose reminds me of the beautiful new lease on life that I was given. Mary sent me a new rose just yesterday. And my new rose symbolizes a new spring, a beautiful new beginning for my own little girl. It reminds me to show her what unconditional love is, and to teach her to reach for her own beautiful dreams.
Thank you, Mary, for the special little things like roses that tie our lives together. And thank you for all you've done for me and so many families over the years!"

One brief event can send our spirits soaring or leave us in quiet to ponder a new beginning. Yet it is also the very small things, like Mary's roses, that tie together the meaningful things.

One question, small yet powerful, can shift our minds into a tack sharp focus that can turn our lives around. We realize insights and solutions that previously evaded our grasp.

Are you looking for a special kind of significance, a special purpose that you can't quite reach? Take a look at your "roses", the little things that are all yours—things that make your heart sing. What are they? How can you share them with someone?

Everyone has a special joy that they can share in a unique way. There are new possibilities—new options.
Allow yourself to be with these questions. When the answers become clear, you'll find that your "roses" can make a difference. They can bring joy—even a new beginning—to you and many other people.

Share a "special rose" with someone today!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Who Are You Trying to Convince, Me or You?

By Paula Renaye

In my work, I come across a lot of people who are emotionally where I used to be—miserable, living a lie and swearing it isn’t so. In the past few days, three women have stood out as beautiful snapshots of the pain and fear that I stayed trapped in for so long.

They think they’re putting on a good front, will tell you how happy they are and rattle off a well-honed list of reasons why. Of course, people who are truly happy generally don’t feel compelled to provide supporting evidence of it, they just are. So when someone starts detailing the situations that prove they’re happy, I can’t help but ask, "Who are you trying to convince, me or you?"

The answer, of course, is both. When the lies we’ve told ourselves start slipping, we need outside reinforcement to keep them in place. Getting others to agree with our version of reality gives us permission to avoid facing the real truth—and the possibility of it changing our lives—for a little while longer.

However, you can’t live indefinitely in that place of pretending you have what you want and fearing what will happen if you admit you don’t. At some point there will be a reckoning.

It’s a special hell being stuck in that limbo between yearning for wings to set you free and being terrified of losing what’s keeping you trapped.

That deep desire to let the real you come out and dance naked in front of the whole world, not caring what anyone thinks is at war with the indescribable fear of what will happen if you do.

If you acknowledge your true nature and desires and set them free, will life as you know it shatter right before your very eyes and leave you utterly alone and unloved?

Who can take that chance? Who can stand here and say, yes, I’m willing to risk losing everything that has defined me? Who can say I’m willing to finally let me be me and live authentically and congruently no matter what the cost? Who can do that? Who will do that?

We must all do that.

Until we are willing to be honest with ourselves and honor who we truly are and what we want, we can never really be happy. We can only list the reasons we think we should be and then pretend they’re true.

Just as the caterpillar must be willing to allow everything that made it a caterpillar to be dissolved away into goo so that it can be transformed into a glorious butterfly; we too must allow ourselves to be deconstructed so we can be rebuilt authentically without the illusions, delusions and limitations of our past.

There is no other way.

And all you have to do is be willing to let go of the very things you are arguing so hard to keep—those things you think should make you happy. All you have to do is be willing to allow your own transformation. All you have to do is get out of your own way.

It’s time. May these quotes inspire you to step into your chrysalis. It’s the only way to find your wings…and live your joy!

* * * *
The Hardline Self Help Handbook is now on sale through and Barnes and Noble. There's also a special 30% discount coupon code for the ebook on If you've had enough of the same old stuff and are ready to set your compass on happy, here's your chance. Hardline is a lifeline--get yours now and get one for a friend too! 

FREE CONFERENCE CALL: Ever wanted to ask me  a question and chat for a while? Here's your chance! This Thursday, December 15, 7 pm US Central Time (GMT - 6 hrs) (1 am London), I'll  cut to the chase and give you the straight scoop. Call (760) 984-1000 (USA) and enter access code: 355122#. It's totally FREE! You pay only your own normal phone minutes or long distance charges that you would if you called a friend. Let's chat!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Strange, Different But Miraculous

Author Unknown

On a December night in Chicago, a little girl climbed onto her father's lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, asked in children's curiosity, yet it had a heart-rending effect on Robert May.

"Daddy," four-year old Barbara asked, "Why isn't my Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?"

Bob May stole a glance across his shabby two room apartment. On a couch lay his young wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years she had been bedridden; for two years, all Bob's income and smaller savings had gone to pay for treatments and medicines.

The terrible ordeal already had shattered two adult lives. Now Bob suddenly realized the happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. As he ran his fingers through Barbara's hair, he prayed for some satisfactory answer to her question.

Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be "different." As a child he had been weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears. Later at Dartmouth, from which he was graduated in 1926, Bob May was so small that he was always being mistaken for someone's little brother.

Nor was his adult life much happier. Unlike many of his classmates who floated from college into plush jobs, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. Now at 33, Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad.

Although Bob did not know it at the time, the answer he gave the tousled haired child on his lap was to bring him to fame and fortune. It was also to bring joy to countless thousands of children like his own Barbara. On that December night in the shabby Chicago apartment, Bob cradled his little girl's head against his shoulder and began to tell a story.

"Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy.

Rudolph, Bob explained, was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified too.

Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity.

"Well," continued Bob, "one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixon ready for their yearly trip around the world. The entire reindeer community assembled to cheer these great heroes on their way. But a terrible fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick he wouldn't be able to find any chimney.

Suddenly Rudolph appeared, his red nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the harness and climbed in.

They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain and fog, snow and sleet; nothing bothered Rudolph, for his bright nose penetrated the mist like a beacon.

And so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day and from that Christmas, Rudolph has been living serenely and happy."

Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father finished. Every night she begged him to repeat the tale until finally Bob could rattle it off in his sleep. Then, at Christmas time he decided to make the story into a poem like "The Night Before Christmas" and prepare it in bookish form illustrated with pictures, for Barbara's personal gift. Night after night, Bob worked on the verses after Barbara had gone to bed for he was determined his daughter should have a worthwhile gift, even though he could not afford to buy one.

Then as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck.

Evelyn May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as chief comfort. Yet, despite his grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet, now lonely apartment, and worked on "Rudolph" with tears in his eyes.

Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning, Bob was asked to an employee's holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to go, but his office associates insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the poem and read it to the crowd. First the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then they became silent, and at the end, broke into spontaneous applause. That was in 1938.

By Christmas of 1947, some 6 million copies of the booklet had been given away or sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely distributed books in the world. The demand for Rudolph sponsored products, increased so much in variety and number that educators and historians predicted Rudolph would come to occupy a permanent place in the Christmas legend.

Friday, 23 December 2011

I Am Your Mother, Daughter, Sister, Wife & Friend

What would you do if this were your mother, sister, wife, daughter or friend? 

Excerpts from an article by Ahdaf Soueif
Sourced from The Guardian UK

The woman is young, and slim, and fair. She lies on her back surrounded by four soldiers, two of whom are dragging her by the arms raised above her head. She's unresisting – maybe she's fainted; we can't tell because we can't see her face. She's wearing blue jeans and trainers. But her top half is bare: we can see her torso, her tummy, her blue bra, her bare delicate arms. Surrounding this top half, forming a kind of black halo around it, is the abaya, the robe she was wearing that has been ripped off and that tells us that she was wearing a hijab.

The military has shot protesters, and thrown rocks, Molotov cocktails, china embossed with official parliament insignia, chairs, cupboards, filing-cabinets, glass panes and fireworks. They've dragged people into parliament and into the Cabinet Office and beaten and electrocuted them – my two nieces were beaten like this.

They beat up a newly elected young member of parliament, jeering: "Let parliament protect you, you son of … ". They took a distinguished older lady who's become known for giving food to the protesters and slapped her repeatedly about the face till she had to beg and apologise. They killed 10 people, injured more than 200, and they dragged the unconscious young woman in the blue jeans – with her upper half stripped – through the streets.

The message is: everything you rose up against is here, is worse. Don't put your hopes in the revolution or parliament. We are the regime and we're back.
What they are not taking into account is that everybody's grown up – the weapon of shame can no longer be used against women. When they subjected young women to virginity tests one of them got up and sued them. Every young woman they've brutalized recently has given video testimony and is totally committed to continuing the struggle against them.
The young woman in the blue jeans has chosen so far to retain her privacy. But her image has already become icon. As the tortured face of Khaled Said broke any credibility the ministry of the interior might have had, so the young woman in the blue jeans has destroyed the military's reputation.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Orangeberry Book Tours - Ashley Dawn

Revenge is sweet…unless you are on the receiving end of it. 

“Do you know of anyone who would want…you dead?” 

 Officer Daniel Jenkins was no stranger to the dangers his job posed but usually he knew who was trying to kill him. Being stalked was a completely different ball game, and he wasn’t sure there were any rules… 

 “…I need you.” 

 Terrified didn’t even begin to describe how Kami felt with the stalker targeting her. As an FBI agent you were trained to handle stressful situations, but being the victim put the whole process in a different light. 

 As the killer gets closer, so do Kami and Daniel, but will they live long enough to see their love bloom? Only God can save them from this unknown killer… 

 Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Christian Romantic Suspense
Rating - PG

Connect with Ashley Dawn on Twitter & Facebook
Check out where this author will be talking about her latest release!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

People Tell You Who They Are - Believe Them!

By Paula Renaye

Maya Angelou had it right. When people show you who they are, you better believe them. So why don't we? Why do we believe the words we want to hear and ignore the cold, hard facts in front of our eyes that say otherwise? In short, because it's easier. We'd rather believe that people are the way we want them to be instead of how they actually are, because if we admit the truth, we know we'll have to face doing something about it. 

One of Rebound Guy's favorite phrases was, "You can make your mouth say anything you want; it's what you do that counts." Believe me when I say that I should have paid closer attention to his wise words! But, if I had, I couldn't have continued my self-deception and the relationship would have been over. Since to me that equaled death, I deliberately only heard what I wanted to, ignored or excused his behavior and methodically made myself insane. And, as unpleasant as it is to admit, what I was saying and doing didn't remotely match either! 

Yes, it's true that actions speak louder than words, but unless both our actions and words are telling the same story, we aren't being honest--especially with ourselves. It comes back to what I talk about a lot--congruency, making sure your thoughts, words and actions match. For example, you may say that you want to have an intimate, fulfilling, committed relationship, but the things you do--such as being distant, not calling, disappearing, not wanting to be pinned down about future commitments, still getting daily emails of new matches from dating sites, etc.--tells a wildly different story.

In my own case, after coming out of a 25-year marriage that was a house of untrustworthy cards from the beginning, I leaped immediately into an even shakier situation with Rebound Guy. Because I'd been hurt so badly in my marriage, I swore I never wanted to do that again; I just wanted a committed relationship with a life partner. Rebound Guy didn't want to get married either and said he wanted a committed relationship too.
On the surface, we were saying we wanted the same things. In reality, we were both big fat liars.  

My definition of a committed relationship was exactly the same as marriage in my head sans the state certificate. His definition meant two people hanging out when it was convenient for him. Situations that even remotely hinted at a marriage-like arrangement--or the feeling that some woman (mother) was trying to control him--sent him into a tailspin and he acted out accordingly, which sent me into a tailspin, which triggered me…you get the idea.

We may have both been saying the same words, but we definitely did not want the same things, and it kept us in a constant struggle, trying to get each other to comply with the unspoken versions of what we really wanted.

We're always showing others who we really are--and they are showing us--whether we realize it or not. So, start paying attention to what is being said and what is being done--by others and yourself. Be willing to let yourself see how things really are rather than how you would like them to be. If things feel "off," there's a reason and you need to deal with it. 

Be honest with yourself about what you really want and come clean about it--even if it means others aren't going to like it. It's the only way you'll ever be truly happy. 

* * * *
Paula Renaye is tough love motivational speaker, certified professional coach and author of the multi-award-winning self-empowerment guide, The Hardline Self Help Handbook, which is on sale for the holidays now at most retailers. Her Tweet-able Tough Love Quotes book is available free for a limited time. Visit for more information and tips.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Orangeberry Book Tours - Rosie Cochran

Sandra Ford is at the wrong place at the wrong time. She doesn't see a murder. She just hears it. Convincing the police that the murder is more than just a figment of her imagination seems like an impossible task. That impossibility fades in comparison to the unbelievable nightmare Sandra soon finds herself in. Suddenly the police believe someone was killed—and Sandra is the prime suspect!

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Christian Suspense
Rating - PG

Connect with Rosie Cochran on Twitter & Facebook
Check out where this author will be talking about her latest release!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Birthday Cake Rematch

By Rev. Raymond Nolan

Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the half-century mark is a time of celebration, even if we don't really feel like celebrating.

While serving as a pastor in a small Maine church, my congregation saw fit to take time to celebrate my fifty years of life with a surprise party following Sunday service.

Although I'm the type of person who doesn't like surprises or bringing attention to myself, I do admit it was a very enjoyable party and it was nice to see my friends and family together at the same time.

After the singing of the traditional "Happy Birthday" song, it was time for me to extinguish the fifty blazing candles in one breath. This would have been an easy task except for the fact that when I bent over the cake to blow out the candles, I had forgotten I was wearing a necktie and almost set my tie on fire.

I jerked my head back avoiding the potential mishap, but in doing so I only blew out half the candles. On the second try I put my necktie over my shoulder and finished the task. It was a funny scene that brought a great deal of laughter to family and friend alike, but I always felt a little depressed that I never blew out all the candles at once.

I recently turned sixty and when my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said, "Methyl, I don't want a party, friends, or presents. All I want is a birthday cake with sixty candles. I've been waiting ten years for a rematch with that birthday cake and this time I'm going to do what I couldn't do ten years ago."

Methyl thought the request was a bit strange, but she did indeed give me a cake with sixty candles on my birthday.

As my wife lit the candles, one-by-one, I knew that this birthday would be different. With this rematch I felt like a formerly beaten boxer who was given a chance of redemption after a previous humiliating defeat. Victory would soon be mine at last.

However, when the time for redemption came, victory was not mine to embrace. With one hard blow that would have easily extinguished one hundred candles, I was only able to blow out fifty-seven.

Sadly, in the length of time that it took for my wife to light all sixty candles, three of them burned out. Ten years earlier I was defeated by a necktie. On this rematch it was time that was the culprit that denied me the righting of a previous wrong ten years earlier.

Once again God had the last laugh... and I have a very humorous story to share for yet another ten years.

However, I do want one more rematch. If God allows me to live another ten years to my seventieth birthday, I do intend to blow out all seventy candles on my birthday cake. Next time, however, we are going to buy longer candles. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

I Know I Can

By Maxine Wright

Recently I had the privilege of spending a few days with both of my daughters and four grandchildren. The older I get, the more I cherish the times we have together and when things become hectic, as they are bound too with three families together, I remind myself of this precious fleeting time.

During the visit, we all went roller-skating. My job was to watch Jeremy, eleven months old, while the others showed their expertise on the rink floor. Before long I realized that I had another duty - keeping myself from having a heart attack while watching my oldest grandson, Joshua, learn to skate.

Joshua is a very determined, independent eight year old, who is already very much a perfectionist. He met this new challenge in the same way. He allowed his aunt to help him for about one turn around the rink and then he struck out on his own. I cannot describe to you how hard he tried. He did not realize that skating did not require picking your feet up in the same manner as walking does.

Therefore, as he went around the rink, his arms were flapping; his legs very rubbery looking and his entire body seem to have come unglued. Then he would fall; maybe sprawl is a better word to describe his collapse on the floor. He would hit that floor so hard and I held my breath waiting to see what parts of his body would be left on the floor when he got up. Every time he fell, he would fight to get back up as fast as he could, ready to start again. He did this repeatedly. As I watched him, I hurt. He would smash his nose, bend his arms back behind him, not to mention the danger of the other skaters whizzing by him as he lay on the floor struggling to get back up.

There was nothing I could do but pray he would not get hurt as I watched him battle around that rink time after time.

He would not quit or slow up. When he would stumble in for a quick rest, I would ask him if he was ok. He would look at me with those big puppy dog brown eyes and say, "Yes, Mimi; this is fun. Am I doing good, Mimi?" I would smile and say "yes" and off he would go looking like a circus clown doing somersaults in his falling act.

As I watched Joshua, I realized that we do the same thing throughout life. We all have dreams and goals we try to achieve in our lives. We start out all excited, believing that we can conquer any problem or any obstacle that comes our way. Then we get knocked down. We get back up, dust ourselves off and start again. Next thing we know, we are kissing the ground again and we find it a little harder to get up. We start again but with less enthusiasm and zeal. The next time we fall, it is very easy to just stay down. Some of us get back up but then we sit down not bothering to try again. We find it easier to quit than to keep trying and continue getting bumped and bruised in the progress. Some give up on a dream just when success is in sight.

Joshua came flying into the stands and said "Mimi I need a drink." As we were getting a drink, he skated around on the carpeted area of the rink. Suddenly he was not picking his feet up as much. He was pushing off, shifting his weight from one foot to another and lo and behold, he was actually skating. His arms were more still and his whole body seem to come back together. I was so proud. I squealed, "Joshua that is it. You are really skating." He looked at me a little puzzled and said, "I know Mimi. I have been skating all night."

That is when I realized his secret of success. Joshua did not know that he was not skating like every one else. He was doing the best he knew how to do and was putting a 100% of himself into his efforts. He never knew that he did not look like the others or that he was not an expert. It did not matter to him. He just kept working hard and his efforts paid off. Soon he was going around the rink like a pro making it look so easy to the ones watching him.

Joshua taught me two important lessons that night. The obvious lesson is to keep trying, keep getting up and never quit. Never say never and have the confidence that you can do anything if you work hard enough. 

The other lesson was not as obvious but was probably the most important to learn. Keep your eyes on your goals and not on the people or circumstances around you. Joshua was concentrating so hard that he did not see the other smooth skaters around him. He had his mind's eye set on what he wanted to do, therefore that is what he saw himself doing. He never saw the stumbling or awkwardness that others may have seen. He did not care what he looked like to others; he only cared about finishing the task. How many times do we quit a task because we think we look foolish to others?

We left that night with a very happy camper. We did our share of ranting, raving and praising but Joshua needed no one's approval. He knew he had done his best, had been determined to learn and had refused to quit. He was satisfied with himself. That made him happy! Now isn't that a great lesson to learn? I know it was for this Mimi.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

God, Speak To Me

Author Unknown

The man whispered, "God, speak to me"
And a meadowlark sang.
But the man did not hear.

So the man yelled "God, speak to me"
And the thunder & lightning rolled across the sky.
But the man did not listen.

The man looked around and said, "God, let me see you."
And a star shined brightly.
But the man did not see.

And, the man shouted, "God, show me a miracle"
And a life was born.
But the man did not notice.

So, the man cried out in despair, "Touch me, God, and let me know you are here"
Whereupon, God reached down and touched the man.
But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

I found this to be a great reminder that God is always around us in the little and simple things that we take for granted.. even in our electronic age... so I would like to add one more: 

The man cried "God, I need your help"
And an e-mail arrived reaching out with good news and encouragement.
But the man deleted it and continued crying...

Friday, 16 December 2011

You Are My Sunshine

Author Unknown

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They found out that the new baby was going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in Mommy's tummy. He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.

The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. In time, the labour pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three minutes, then every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labour. Would a C-section be required?

Finally, after a long struggle, Michael's little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition. With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The paediatrician had to tell the parents, "There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst."

Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial lot. They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby but now they found themselves having to plan for a funeral. Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister.

"I want to sing to her," he kept saying.

Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over. Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. Karen made up her mind, though. She would take Michael whether they liked it or not! If he didn't see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversized scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket.

But the head nurse recognised him as a child and bellowed, "Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed."

The mother in Karen rose up strong, and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!" Karen towed Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live.

After a moment, he began to sing. In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray..." Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond.

The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady. "Keep on singing, Michael," encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes. "You never know, dear, how much I love you, Please don't take my sunshine away-" As Michael sang to his sister, the baby's ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten's purr. "Keep on singing, sweetheart!"

"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms..."

Michael's little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to sweep over her.

"Keep on singing, Michael." Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed.

"You are my sunshine my only Sunshine. Please don't take my sunshine away..."

The next, day... the very next day... the little girl was well enough to go home! Woman's Day Magazine called it "The Miracle of a Brother's Song." The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God's love!

Never give up on the people you love. Love is so incredibly powerful. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

They Are Singing Your Song

By Alan Cohen 

When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.

When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child's song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song.

Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person's bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life.

To the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.

You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn't. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well.

You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you'll find your way home.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A Gift For You?

(Update on 20th December - Winner is Mark G)

To stand a chance to win
$5 gift card

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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

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Dealightfully Frugal

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My Soul Slippers

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Pretty All True

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Rediscovering Domesticity

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Blognostics - Poetry


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