Life is an endless series of transitions

As 2020 looms just hours away, I consider how nothing stays stationary in life.

And that can be an unavoidable double-edged sword.

Your life is good. Everything is just as you want it. Then one day, your car needs repairs. You have a fight with your spouse. Maybe you lose your job, or a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

In nature, nothing can remain stationary.  Air, water, blood–all stagnate if not allowed to circulate.

Same is true with our lives.

I’m grateful that this year I suffered no personal loss of loved ones and instead acquired many more new friends! But my heart aches for those whose lives have been visited by grief and sadness this year, and I hope they can move forward, at their own pace, into a more accepting viewpoint of their circumstances.

May 2020, with whatever changes it brings, be kind to you.

I just wanted to urge my handful of readers not to grasp too tightly to the present, because it will be the past soon enough, and one of the surest things in life is that everything is in a constant state of transition.

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The Cloud with the Golden Lining; Reflecting on 2019

At the beginning of each new year, I often wonder what the headlines will be. I also wonder what changes with come about in my own life.

I started 2019 with the determination to free myself of anti-depressants, which, if you’ve been following my story, led me to crash miserably in April with awful withdrawals and anxiety beginning in April.

It wasn’t until about June I began to feel somewhat “normal” again, and I decided what I needed was to meet new people and make new friends. Most of the friends I have made were due to jobs I’ve had, and now that Dave and I don’t work anymore, my social life was dwindling. So I joined 3 groups and in so doing, met some incredibly wonderful people! In no particular order, the groups are:

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I checked out “social women’s groups” on Meetup.com, and discovered the Hagerstown Friendship Circle, created by the lovely lady on the right in the above photo. She was new to the area and wanted to meet people, so I joined and although I haven’t attended all every event and activity, I’m happy to have met and befriended the ladies in this group!

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Last summer it occurred to me I was finally old enough to join the Red Hat Society! I searched online for a local chapter, and when I couldn’t find one, I called the RHS Headquarters, who told me if I joined, I could search their site for local chapters.

So that’s what I did.

Turns out a new chapter was just forming in Williamsport, a nearby town. This welcoming group of ladies were another much-needed shot in the arm, so to speak. I even volunteered to be the Secretary! Red Hatters traditionally wear purple, which works out for me since I LOVE purple and have LOTS of it in my wardrobe!

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Last but certainly not least, there’s SGI !

A concerned distant cousin, upon seeing the state I was in earlier this year, declared, “I’m going to find you a local chanting group!”

OK, I thought. Whatever THAT means….

True to her word, she got me in contact with Kathy (far right, on the floor in above photo), a member of this Nichiren Buddhist organization. Having only a slight familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism, I had never heard of Nichiren and SGI, and was curious.

I attending a chanting session, and it was unlike anything I’d experienced before. They meet in members’ homes, and only about 5-6 members attended my first time. I didn’t sense any cultish “weirdness,” just genuine friendliness and sincerity. I kept going to meetings and officially joined SGI in August, which officially, technically, makes me a Nichiren Buddhist! But the great thing about Nichiren Buddhism is, I don’t have to sacrifice my spiritual eclecticism! I’ve always seen the commonalities in belief systems and I see chanting as simply another form of prayer.

So 2019 didn’t quite go as expected; in fact, it went BETTER than expected! My life is clearly as cyclical as lunar phases. The difficult times, hellish as they can be, always leave me stronger and happier than before, and this year the dark cloud’s lining wasn’t silver; it was pure gold.

 

Meet Crime Thriller Novelist Dwayne Clayden!

wolfmanCanadian author Dwayne Clayden gleans inspiration for his crime novels from over 40 years as a police officer and paramedic in Calgary, Alberta. Read his interview below!

  1. Your first novel, Crisis Point, introduces Calgary police officer Brad Coulter. How much does this main character mirror his creator, Dwayne Clayden?

The premise of the Brad Coulter series was, “What could my career have looked like if I stayed a police officer.” The options were unlimited. So in the early drafts of Crisis Point, there was a lot of me, and situations I had been in. As I attended writing classes, and learned the craft of fiction writing, an interesting thing happened. Brad stopped being me and became Brad Coulter, his own character. There were times I felt that Brad was leading the story, that he knew where the plot was headed. I was there to write the words. In the second two novels, Brad is very much his own person.

 

2. Crisis Point was a finalist in the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award. Do you anticipate entering more competitions?

This year I will enter the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards in the best novel category. There are so many awesome Canadian writers that I will up against some incredible competition. But who knows, I think Wolfman is Back is a great novel.

 

3. Congratulations on the November 7 release of your third novel, Wolfman is Back. What can we expect for Brad Coulter in future installments?

The response from readers has been overwhelming. They love Brad and the series. While I was writing Wolfman, I received emails and texts from readers wanting to know when Wolfman would be released. Immediately after it was released, I received more emails wanting to know when Brad Coulter 4 would be out. The pressure is on to get writing! I have started novel 4. The working title is Sniper. As long as readers want more of Brad, I’ll keep writing. I have general ideas for at least ten more.

I am editing a novel in a new series, Speargrass-Opioid. This novel takes place in Montana and deals with the Opioid crisis in Great Falls and a fictional Indian Reserve. (US terminology) or First Nation  (Canadian Terminology).

4. You also speak at writers’ conferences about police, medical and paramedic procedures. What do you enjoy most about sharing your wisdom and experience on these subjects?

I love speaking to groups or at conferences. As a paramedic I spoke at EMS conferences across North America. I’m at ease in front of a group and very passionate about both careers. TV and Movies get so much wrong in police procedurals, so I wanted to present what really happens. To me, the interesting thing is both careers were very exciting (some of the time) and the embellishment on TV and movies isn’t usually needed. In my talks, I focus on the relationship between partners in both police and EMS. You are with your partner ten hours or more, and over time you know a lot about each other, including the buttons to push. And boy do you push them!

The main reason I give these talks, is because if you are a writer, and you don’t have police or paramedic experience, your only reference is what you have seen on TV or movies, or read. So you might think that is the way it really is, so that’s what you write.

A couple of examples from my talks would be the TV detectives about to execute a search warrant wearing a ballistic vest and carrying a pistol. They enter the house before the completely armored SWAT who have long guns and practice every day for this type of entry. The other eye rolling TV theme is that the police rush in the front door, and the criminal rushes out the back door. Its like the police have no clue there is another exit! Actually, being at the back can be great, the suspect literally runs into your arms and you get the arrest. After a talk I gave, an author came up and said he needed to change part of a chapter, because he had the suspect run out the back door with no police to apprehend him.

Paramedic procedures are seldom shown on TV or movies. I have paramedics as characters in my novels and you read about what they do on the scene, on the way to the hospital, and what happens in the hospital. There’s not enough space here to talk about what TV hospital shows get wrong!

Although I do yell at the TV when a medical procedure is shown wrong, especially when it is dangerous. A prime example is the inaccurate use of an EpiPen for allergic reactions. Hundreds of thousands of people have them, and they may administer the drug based on what they saw on TV, and that could have serious consequences. Another is breathing into a brown paper bag for someone hyperventilating.  That practice has been out of medicine for a decade or more. Depriving someone of oxygen and ‘rebreathing their expired air’ can be very dangerous.

 

 

Meet Author Craig DiLouie!

Craig DiLouie is a Canadian author who writes in multiple genres; horror,  historical thriller and scifi/fantasy.  In this interview, we discuss his series Crash Dive.

1.      Your series, Crash Dive , is set in the Pacific theater of World War II. What about this era appeals to you that you chose to write about it?

 

Thank you for having me as a guest at your blog, Peni! Crash Dive is a military historical fiction series set in the Pacific during WW2, chronicling the adventures of a young naval officer as he fights in and works his way up the ranks of the submarines. Think Horatio Hornblower in a submarine, and you get the picture.

 

The story idea came together around three things. First was a read of Captain Bill Ruhe’s excellent memoir of submarine warfare; when I was done, I finally understand why boys love submarines, and fell in love myself. Second was a desire to portray the war realistically, not like the predominantly antiseptic, overly dramatized films of the period. I wanted to do a Das Boot in the Pacific, which led me to read a dozen books and numerous technical manuals to try to portray exactly what it was like to sail and fight in these amazing machines. Third was I wanted to tell a series of simple “man in a hole”-plot action stories with real grit and technical realism. The result is a series about heroism and a young man rising up to discover himself and be the best he can be, but also about how submarines and sub warfare worked, and its horrors and difficulties.

 

2.      How would you define your writing style?

 

Fast pace, deep point of view, and rich in detail and grit. I really wanted readers to get into the head of Charlie Harrison, our hero, and experience what it was really like to fight in submarines in the Pacific in WW2.

 

3.      Will there be any more additions to the Crash Dive series? If not, what plans do you have for future novels?

 

The series completed with the last episode, Over The Hill, which brought Charlie to Japan’s surrender and the end of the war. Right now, readers can get the series in six Kindle or paperback books, or get the whole series omnibus for Kindle for a discounted price, as well as an audiobook omnibus narrated by the great RC Bray.

 

After Crash Dive, I moved on to start my next WW2 series called Armor, which follows the crew of a Sherman tank from North Africa to Berlin. Readers will get the same likeable characters, compelling action, historical and technical detail, and unflinching horrors of war they’d come to expect from Crash Dive. The five-part series launches in January 2020.