Free download days: Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 1st and 2nd.

They’re here! And ALL THREE BOOKS will be available for free downloads. Click on the book title icons on the right on Monday and Tuesday to get you straight to Amazon.

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Download this free app to turn your computer, tablet, or smartphone into a Kindle reader. (Then you can downloads hundreds more books to read!)

What could be a better gift than three free books from yours truly?

legshaverI can think of a lot worse gifts. For example, this: an electric leg shaver.
Why is this a bad gift? Well, likely not for most people, but trust me–do NOT give this to a pre-teen, because then everyone in her family will KNOW that she has legs hairy enough to star in Planet of the Apes, and it’ll take her about 30 years to finally live it down.

(Not that I’m still dealing with feelings of humiliation, but my therapist did say it’s good to get these things out in the open.)


Why didn’t you do anything to stop him?

“Why didn’t you do anything to stop him?”

That’s what people frequently asked my father. He immigrated to America in the 1950s, and had a subtle yet clear German accent.  “Why didn’t you stop Hitler when you noticed he was ruining everything? He completely changed Germany, and you did nothing about it!”

My dad would answer, calmly and rationally (even though some of those who asked were hardly calm or rational in their verbal attacks). “First, I was born in 1931, so I wasn’t too influential in the politics of the 1930s and 1940s. Second, what could we have done?”

That question has weighed heavily on my mind these past few years as I’ve watched facets of our government morph into something I don’t recognize as America anymore.

Now, this is NOT an Obama-is-Hitler post. But the questions asked of my father have been clanking around in my mind for some time now. “Why aren’t we doing something?”

I won’t go into details of what worries me in our government (except to whine that the ironically named Affordable Care Act isn’t affordable, doesn’t care, and is completely an act; and that the impending immigration reform via executive order [read: tyrannical mandate] would infuriate my immigrant parents who jumped through all kinds of hoops to come to America legally).

But I won’t be surprised when, in years from now, our children ask the same question: “Why didn’t you stop him when you noticed he was ruining everything? He completely changed America, and you did nothing about it!”


Don’t worry; my baby girl wasn’t traumatized for too long.

Now I freely admit that not everything about Obama is bad. No one is wholly evil (even Darth Vader had a few soft spots).

Personally, we have benefited immensely from the Income Based Repayment program for student loan payments, signed into law by Obama in 2009. Without that, we’d be living in a cardboard box right now, while a huge chunk of our income went to pay off our student loans. I’m grateful for this program and pray that it lasts.

My father, too, was grateful for the Autobahn and Volkswagen, initiatives of Hitler to help the common man. And in many ways, Hitler was a man of morality. He never smoked or drank alcohol, and instituted a “Fast day” where citizens fasted for a meal and were encouraged to give the food they didn’t eat to the poor. Hitler increased education, reduced unemployment, rebuilt Germany’s infrastructure, and—contrary to popular belief and internet memes—relaxed Germany’s gun laws so that more citizens could be armed and even purchase guns at younger ages (the Jews, however, he disarmed, unsurprisingly).

In 2004, my dad was asked to speak to the fourth graders at a local school, and he told them that, “Hitler was a very convincing and inspiring speaker, and he could convert many of his listeners to his ideologies.  . . . Depression, unemployment, and poverty were rampant, and he wanted to turn things around.” And he did.

And that’s when Germans decided he wasn’t such a bad chap . . . until things started to shift.

And that’s when it was too late. Germany was becoming a country unrecognizable to its citizens. Within just twelve years, he changed everything, while Germans stared in disbelief wondering what just happened.

I worry that it’s happening here, too. The Constitution was established to keep our borders safe so that citizens could live their lives as their consciences dictated. But we’ve been drifting away from that for some time now, and considering historically that no republic has lasted intact longer than 200 years, I suppose it’s time for us to implode. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

I’m definitely no politician, primarily because I feel my heart rate increase, along with my blood pressure, when I read what’s changing in our country. How the Constitution is disregarded. How the Supreme Court overreaches. How states’ wishes and votes are overturned by judges not even in their states. And how the president can do just about anything he wishes through an executive order, while Congress bickers and does nothing.

When Ronald Reagan said, “The scariest sentence in the English language is, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,’” he was prophetic.

It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.
~Thomas Paine

My father told the fourth graders: “At Hitler’s rallies the masses shouted, ‘Leader, command; we follow you!’ With this shout, Germans surrendered their reasoning power and forgot to think for themselves. Later we found out that actors with loud voices were interspersed in the crowd, and at the right moments they shouted this cry and the crowd repeated it.”

Are we all just going along with the crowd as well? Because a few well-placed voices are shouting that it’s ok to follow blindly, to let Common Core decide our children’s education, or that the wife of the president can declare how many calories my kids eat at lunch?

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.
~President James Madison

We have no excuse for doing nothing about the abridgement of freedoms we’re experiencing. Again, from my dad: “How was it that Hitler had such tight control over the whole nation? The answer lies with the Gestapo, or State Secret Police. Midnight visitors might show up and take that person in ‘protective custody,’ and they wound up in a nearby concentration camp. Smart people knew how to keep silent.”

We’re smart people (perhaps) and we don’t have to keep silent. We don’t have a Gestapo (but we do have an IRS, which Tea Party members would be happy to tell you about).

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
~Patrick Henry

But we do have social media, we have forums, we have ways to complain and protest—many more than we had in the 1960s when they really knew how to protest—yet nothing’s improving. Political parties squabble uselessly, and we citizens suffer for it. Those who hold religious and moral values are increasingly persecuted for not embracing behaviors we deem against the will of God. And despite our public protests on social media, we’re losing.

If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.
~Samuel Adams

So how do we do prevent our country’s ruin? What would Samuel Adams do? Thomas Jefferson? I’m sincerely asking for ideas.

I also ask this since I can’t ask my father, who’s still alive at age 83, but whose mind is gone because of Alzheimer’s. Back when George Bush declared war on Iraq, Dad wrote a letter to the editor of his local newspaper stating his concerns about the action, and also wrote to the White House. He was proud of the response he received from Washington, and that his letter was published in the paper, but was discouraged that we still went to war. Twice.

Repeatedly he told me as I was growing up that we had to speak up when we thought something wasn’t right in our country. “We didn’t have that possibility in Germany, but we do in America.”

He was so proud to be an American citizen. He served in the Army, always voted, wrote many letters to politicians, and had the phone numbers for Oren Hatch’s office and the White House on his phone list. And he called them!

dad confused

Dad, and his classic, “Oh, brother . . .” look of dismay.

Later, he amended his answer when people asked him why he didn’t do anything about Hitler. “I was a child in WWII, but as an adult I make sure my opinion is heard. I became an American citizen because I love this country and believe in the pursuit of freedom for everyone. What are YOU doing to make sure this country remains free?” 

Strange as this sounds, I’m glad Dad’s awareness and memory is impaired. He’d be dismayed to see how we’ve strayed from the Constitution he dutifully studied. He’d be wringing his hands in worry that history was repeating itself, trusting a man who thought much more of himself than he should, and took upon him much more power than was ever intended.

Most of all, I still hear him saying, “Why didn’t you do anything to stop him?”

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
~Abraham Lincoln

People tend to trust whoever sets themselves up as the authorities, but at some point each person needs to look at what’s claimed and test it. Is the sunset really pink, or is it more of an orange? What do you see?

Did the government deserve her trust? They acted as if they already had it, Mahrree thought cynically. As if they could just take it, not earn it. And no one was questioning that, were they? They collect our trust as easily as they collect our taxes. We wanted them to succeed so we trust them blindly. Foolishly. And they’re using that. If people stop arguing, stop thinking, and are just willing to take—to trust—whatever the authority dishes out, they’ll accept just about anything— 
~The Forest at the Edge of the World (book 1)


Free downloads for Christmas! (And yes, book 4 is coming . . .)

I know I’ve been quiet, but I’ve been working. Now that one of my jobs is over, I’ve got time to be noisy again. (My apologies in advance.)

duck dynasty

Really, America–we can do better than this for Christmas. Such as . . . free books!

I’m excited to announce that FREE KINDLE DOWNLOADS are coming back, just in time for Christmas shopping. So you can give a friend/loved one/sort-of-tolerated relative THREE books for FREE . . . and they’ll never, ever know the great deal you got.
(Unless they happen to come to my blog, read some past posts, put two and seven together and think, “Hey, wait a minute . . . !” Then they won’t feel so badly that their gift to you was a Duck Dynasty Chia Pet Head.)

I’ll post the dates for the free downloads here within the next couple of days.

As for more good news, Book 4: Falcon in the Barn, IS COMING! It should be ready early spring 2015. I’m back to editing, and once my beta readers give me the green light (green . . . green . . . my mind’s on green. Sorry, but I can’t seem to stop looking at Willie’s green beard. Think that’s what’d it look like after a week of no bathing?) Anyway, Book 4 will be out in a few months, and I’ll release it with another free book promotion.

Merry Christmas, and pass the ranch dressing, because Willie’s beard is giving me a craving for salad. GIVE FREE BOOKS INSTEAD!

The best Christmas idea in years

Normally I don’t pitch products on my website, but this time I’m making an exception, because this is a truly clever idea (one that makes you think, Daggum, why didn’t I come up with this?), and because I was asked to contribute to it.

Santa’s Red Letter is a marvelous service created by my neighbors (Craig’s an uber- talented graphic designer). How cool would it be to receive a customized letter, with a gold signature, from Santa himself?

Yeah, great idea, isn’t it? (You’re saying, Daggum! in your head, aren’t you?)

The best part is, the receivers of these letters won’t know it came from you and will be amazed to receive a lush, gorgeous message from the North Pole complete with their names and even a few personalized details.

Actually, the very best part is that $1 from each letter goes to the Toys for Tots program, so not only can you send a piece of magic for Christmas, but a needy child gets a bit of magic as well.

Toys For Tots

My neighbors and my children’s friends, the Stapleys, teaching their kids to buy presents for others. Seriously, how cute are they?

So why do I care? Because this year the Stapleys tasked me to write up the letters, and I’ll tell you, mentally putting myself in the very ample pants of Santa was quite the experience. I chanted in my head, “I’m a fat old elf, and I’m happy to write to this sweet little girl . . .” or “I’m a jolly old elf pretty ticked off with James in Centerville . . .”

Nice LettersThere are two categories of letters you can choose from. Red Letters are for Nice children and adults, and even groups. We came up with 14 different kinds, for a variety of situations. For example, how fun would it be for a school or church group to receive a letter from Santa thanking them for completing a Secret Santa project?

I also thought about kids who sincerely try to do something good this season, and how delighted they’d be to realize that Santa noticed:

And if you have a child asking for a hard-to-get item this year (that maybe not even Santa might be able to find)? We came up with a letter for that, too:

And then . . .

Naughty LettersAnd then, I had the delicious delight to think about, What if Santa was pretty disappointed with a child or—even better—an adult? We came up with seven Black Letters (cue the ominous music), and yes, as I penned these, I thought about people I knew who deserved a tsk-tsking from Santa. Here’s my favorite: Seriously, my Hall of Shame letter still makes me chuckle, and surely you know of adults who really deserves to find this in their mailboxes!

There are also letters for kids who have far too many items on their wish lists, kids who have been treading in Naughty territory and need a nudging back to the Nice side, and even congratulatory and surprise letters for adults.

No, I’m not getting any kickbacks from this website, but I do get a kick thinking about kids and adults who’ll have a fun shock from receiving a letter from Santa.
And I get an even larger kick that last year the Stapleys spent well over $200 on Toys for Tots from this project.

This Christmas, let’s make that donation even larger.
So send someone a letter (each is only $11.95). Amaze your friends and family.
Have a blast.
And start having a Merry Christmas!


What if Santa Wrote Back?