*Kindling Friendship* Mary Hiland

Another cool and cloudy Friday, and we’re out and about shopping for my daughter’s birthday present. We’ve done a bit of research and are jazzed about finding a piece of jewelry, something with a garnet (birthstone for January), something sweet and simple (meaning, “not too expensive”), and head over to JC Penney’s. But what do you know—even though the door cooperates, the security guard informs us that the store does not open for another hour! So we shift modes, and venture over to Fred Meyer’s for groceries, figuring we’ll also see what we can find there for a gift.

And voila! A lovely ring, discounted 10%.

But as we’re driving home, “Look out!!” my husband suddenly yells out the car window.

We are nearly witnesses to a fatal accident as a car stops to let a blind man with a white cane cross busy Commercial Street. With no light or other crossing demarcations, fellow drivers have no clue why the car is stopping, and thus no reason to stop themselves.
Miraculously, the second vehicle spots the man in time, stops, and we continue home, hearts beating a mile a minute.

“I need a cup of tea,” I sigh to myself as the last of the groceries is put away, and my husband slips into his den to regroup.

After a few minutes, the tea kettle whistles,, Ari’s tags jingle, and the doorbell announces the arrival of my guest, author, Mary Hiland.

Me: Oh, Mary, what a welcome treat you are! How nice of you to drop by!

Mary: Thanks for inviting me. I’ve heard that these interviews are really fun.

Me: Aww, that’s so good to hear. Would you like a cup of tea while we chat? Or coffee perhaps?

Mary: I’d love a cup of tea.

Me: And how about a cookie, or maybe a piece of fruit?

Mary: No thanks, I’m trying to cut down on sweets and snacks.

Me: Shall we stay here at the kitchen table? Or would you like a comfy chair in the livingroom?

Mary: If you don’t mind, I really need a comfy chair. I had spine surgery in April, and my spine gets fussy if I sit on a hard chair.

Me: No problem. The sofa is probably the best place for us then. Ah, now that we’re settled, with our lemon-ginger tea, tell me a little about yourself, Mary. What part of the country do you live in?

Mary: I was born, reared, and have lived most of my life in Ohio. I’m originally from Cincinnati and graduated high school there. Then I moved to Columbus to attend the Ohio State University. I lived part time in Charleston, S.C. while my husband was stationed there in the Submarine Service. I’d live down there when he was stateside, and then when he’d go to sea, I’d come back and do another quarter at OSU. This went on until he was done with the Navy.

Me: My, that must have been very challenging. What do you like best and least about living in Ohio?

Mary: Ohio is not a very exciting place to visit, but it’s a wonderful place to live. Our weather is moderate, although we get up to the upper 90’s in the summer, with humidity, which is what I dislike the most, and then we get down into single digits with winds and ice, which I also don’t like, but I’m a winter-lover, so I just bundle up and go on with my day.

Me: You are a hearty soul! Is your writing influenced in any way by where you live?

Mary: So far, my writing has been influenced by the events in my own life.

Me: About your writing process, do you
have a certain time of day you find most productive? Or a special place where you find inspiration?

Mary: My day starts with listening to the newspaper via the phone and drinking tea. After breakfast, I sit in my little recliner with my lap top and deal with all the new emails, answering most and saving some for later. If I have time, I switch over to “My Documents,” and continue writing or editing whatever I’m working on. Then I usually have other things to do and places to go. In the afternoon, I make a cup of decaff tea and write for a couple hours from about 4:00 to 6:00 or so. Then I make myself put away my work, so I can wind down for the evening. I do have an office, but I prefer sitting in my recliner, because my back likes it better.

Me: What got you started writing?

Mary: My beloved aunt wrote paperback fiction for a living, and having seen some of my writing from school, she encouraged me to submit an article for Red Book Magazine. That was back in 1974, when my children were little, and my aunt thought my story would be perfect for the section in that magazine called “A Young Mother’s Story.” Apparently, the editors thought so too, because there it is, in the December issue. And by the way, the publication of that story was the catalyst for my reunion with my best friend from college. She was flipping through the magazine, suddenly sat up, woke up her husband who was napping beside her, and exclaimed, “there’s Mary!.” It was one of the happiest results of being published in a national magazine, right along with the money of course. LOL.

Me: Interesting. And I wonder, why do you write?

Mary: In a word, it’s “therapy.” I have always written letters and kept a diary or a journal. I can express myself better on paper than talking, although I am a former Toastmaster and love to give speeches. I enjoy the challenge of finding just the right word to express a thought, and I love the positive feedback I get from people who read my work.

Me: And now a few more “creative” questions, if you don’t mind, so I can get a better glimpse of you as a person. What kind of fruit or vegetable would you say best expresses your personality?

Mary: I am a clementine. I’m small and sweet but firm. I have a relatively thin skin, and I have many sections.

Me: What do you like to do on a rainy day?

Mary: A rainy day is perfect for reading and writing.

Me: What’s your favorite part of going grocery shopping? What do you think that says about you?

Mary: I like to discover new products. I get bored eating the same old things day after day, week after week. I’m not an adventurous eater, but I like to try new ways of preparing the foods I do like. I am not a foody by any means, but I like to try new recipes or new surprises from the freezer section. I make a list, but I also enjoy impulse buying. It makes me feel not so regimented.

Me: Would you rather vacation at the beach or in the mountains? Why?

Mary: Oh, this is an easy one. I love hiking. In fact, I formed a group of 10 women, half of whom are blind, 19 years ago, and every year since then, we’ve met in October for four days of hiking. But we do not camp. We stay in bed and breakfasts, but we eat our sack lunches sitting on a log in the woods. I love the quiet, the physical exercise, and especially the camaraderie among us. We call it The Hen Hike, and I’m the Mother Hen. LOL

Me: What is your favorite punctuation mark?

Mary: I guess it’s the quotation mark, because I love to insert dialog whenever I can, and when I read, I want there to be lots of dialog to make the writing sparkle.

Me: What role have children played in your life? How about in your writing?

Mary: I have two children, ages 49 and 46. Oh God, did I really admit that? My son has two daughters, and my daughter has three. I’ve mentioned my son and daughter quite a bit in my first book, but they will have a whole chapter in the memoir I’m currently working on. My daughter stars in the story that was published in “Chicken Soup for the Parent’s Soul,” which is about the time we ran in the “Race for the Cure” together. She lives two states away, so I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like. We are very close. My son lives only about ten minutes away, but we mostly get together only for special occasions. I do make a point of inviting each of his girls to lunch, one at a time, so we can have some one on one conversation. My daughter, being the nurturer, has been with me for the three major surgeries I’ve had in the last five years, for which I am eternally grateful. Everyone needs an advocate when they are in the hospital. Sorry, I got off topic for a minute. where were we?

Me: Do you have a favorite fairy tale or children’s story?

Mary: I absolutely love Hans Christian Anderson. To be honest, I can’t think of the stories I read, back when I could see to read, but there was a movie that I saw maybe three times based on his stories and his life. My favorite song is “Inch Worm,” because it talks about not just worrying about “measuring the Marigold,” but appreciating the beauty of the flower.

Me: Oh, it’s gotten so late. I know you need to get back to your busy life, but before you
leave, tell me a little more about your writing, won’t you? And where I might read your work?

Mary: To start with, I have a website called
on which I have a blog. I talk about events in my life, subjects that I’m passionate about or that educate the general public about blindness and people who are blind. I have a wonderful Seeing Eye ® dog, Dora, so she is featured a lot, because she is just so darned smart and cute. I also use it occasionally to promote my book, “The Bumpy road to Assisted Living a Daughter’s Memoir.”
It can be purchased on Amazon either in print or electronically. It can also be found on my book website,
And for those who are blind or visually impaired, it is available on the NLS talking book program, BARD with the DB number of 91261. It’s narrated by Jill Ferris, and I must say she does a great job of capturing the way I would read it myself if I could.
And if you like the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, I’m in the one called “Chicken Soup for the Parent’s Soul.”

Me: Well Mary, this has been most interesting. Thank you so much for visiting with me today. I hope you’ll come visit me again very soon.

Mary: Thank you. It would be an honor and a pleasure. And thanks for the tea.

I hug my guest good-bye and close the door,my hand automatically reaching for the candlelighter on the mantle. I flick the switch, and the wick quickly catches the flame.

Sighing, I draw the Shabbot light toward and around me, wave it outward and away, all the while consciously holding my loved ones, friends and the world in prayer as I whisper:

Blessed are You Beloved One, who enables us to kindle the lamp of Shabbot, the light of friendship,the flame of peace.

And let us all say, Amen.

Mystery Blogger Award, oh my!

Dear Readers,

A few days ago I was surprised and humbled when Krishna
nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. I mean, there I was, virtually dancing with mist and wind in my garden, weaving together my little poems like dandelion chains—and she came singing up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and smiled.What a sweet surprise, thank you, my dear! So here goes:
***Mystery Blogger Award – What is it?
Okoto Enigma is the creator of Mystery Blogger Award. This is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.” – Okoto Enigma
1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
2. List the rules.
3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog. 4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well. 5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
9. Share a link to your best post(s).
10. Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
***3 things about me:
-I never wanted to grow up…and hopefully, I have succeeded.
-I love to sing, to make people laugh, to play with children, to dance in misty rain, to write, to learn, to discover Love Divine wherever I go.
-Compliments, and cats make me nervous.
***Questions from Krishna
1. What makes you feel good?
Any chance to give or receive a good, genuine, hug!

2. How you spend your leisure time?
I am fortunate to be mostly in charge of my own time. Activities I most prefer are: silent reflection; conversation with family/friends; listening andinteracting with Life.

3. Will you love yourself and be kind to yourself from this moment :)? Yes, thanks to the reminder of my sweet friend, Krishna, who continues to inspire me!
***Questions for my Nominees:
1. How has blogging changed your life?
2. What has been your favorite age? Why?
3. If you could be any other kind of living thing, what would you be? 4. What does LOVE mean to you?
5. (possibly quirky question…but I have to ask when I get the chance) What is the purpose of life?
***My Nominees are:
***My Best Post:
Usually the most current, since I seek to express my heart-felt reflections of the moment.
***My Nominees are:
@Love’s Beginning
@Weeping Pines
@Boundless Blessings
@Thinking Listener
***And many, many thanks
Again I wish to thankKrishna http://www.krishnapriya22013.com For her vote of confidence. I hope you will treat yourself to a friendly drop in at her blog, and let yourself glide away on her fresh breeze of inspiration.
***And thank you, thank you!
And to you, my darling readers…thank you, thank you for your continued visits and chats. I just love hearing your thoughts, and knowing that we walk this wondrous path of Life together!


Beyond Words

The heart overflows
with delight, and wonder
brightens the world.

And not a word.
is needed.

The heart overflows
with tears of bliss, and awe
paints the sky.

And not a word
is required.

The heart overflows
with grief, and doubt
hides the horizon in shadow.

And not a word
is possible.

The heart overflows
with trembling,yielding
To the silence of Being.

*Kindling Friendship* Meredith Burton

Ah yes, winter continues into the new year, nearly blowing Salem off the map with high winds yesterday, and holding us captive in today’s dreary, cold, gray stillness. But it’s January 4 once again, and that always brightens my thoughts.

Because what would the world be for me or any other blind reader over the past 210 years if Louis Braille had not been born? Even if humankind had somehow managed to jump past these many decades and managed to find its way from the cumbersome use of tactile alphabet letters to computer speech software, blind folks would still be in a place of darkest night. It’s not just having the words of literature, law and everyday communication in our ears that is so important. It is “owning” the words, you know, being able to use them independently, to know their form and essence, and to manipulate them, arrange them upon the page according to one’s creative whim that makes Braille so critically vital.

And what better way to celebrate literacy and creative writing than to welcome today’s *Kindling Friendship* guest, author Meredith Burton.

Me: Meredith, welcome, how nice of you to drop by!

Meredith: Thank you so much. It’s such an honor to visit your home.

Me: Oh, it’s so chilly out there, may I get you something warm to drink, a cup of tea, or perhaps you’d rather have coffee?

Meredith: That’s so kind of you. Do you have peppermint tea, perhaps, or sweet iced tea would be wonderful.

Me: Peppermint? You bet, it’s one of my favorites. And I have a few tidbits to nibble. How about a cookie or maybe a piece of fruit?

Meredith: Oh my! I have quite the sweet tooth, so a cookie would be most welcome. I am a chocoholic, I must admit.

Me: Well, you’re not the only one. Shall we stay here at the kitchen table? Or would you like a comfy chair in the livingroom?

Meredith: Here at your kitchen table would work beautifully *laughs a bit self-consciously*. I tend to be most comfortable eating at a table. Thank you.

Me: No problem. Okay, I have my own cup of peppermint tea, and the cookies are here, now that we’re settled please tell me a little about yourself. What part of the country do you live in?

Meredith: I live in Lynchburg, Tennessee, a rural community in middle Tennessee not far from the Alabama border. I have lived there all my life. When I was six, my parents sent me to the Tennessee School for the Blind, a residential school in Nashville. It was a difficult decision for them but one that was truly a blessing in disguise.

Me: What do you like best about living there?

Meredith: I love the closeness of the community in Lynchburg. If there is ever a need, people will respond in many ways to make certain that need is met. Everyone gets to know each other, and thus there are many friendships that form.

Me: Are there negative aspects to living there?

Meredith: Sometimes. What I like least is the absence of public transportation. It can cause an inconvenience when I have to depend on family or friends to get me to places I want or need to go, but, thankfully, people are accommodating.
Also, Lynchburg is known as the home of Jack Daniel’s, which makes us fairly well-known. This is a good thing but can be a bit frustrating at times as there are more important aspects of our community that I think should be recognized, like our sense of family and the ways we try to help each other. And, of course, tourism provides good revenue, but the streets are often very crowded, particularly on Saturdays! That can make navigation a bit tricky at times.

Me: That’s very interesting. Is your writing influenced in any way by where you live?

Meredith: Oh, yes! Lynchburg influences my writing, particularly in the scenes where I depict family life. I try to create a sense of community that mirrors the people I have known throughout my life. My novella, Hart Spring, is a story in which I particularly try to capture this spirit. I have no doubt that if someone were threatened by a person with evil intentions, (as a group of people are in that story), the people in Lynchburg would take action just as those in Hart Spring do, *Grinns* although perhaps not as extremely! Ha!

Me: Can you describe your writing process for me? For example, do you have a certain time of day you find most productive? Or a special place where you find inspiration?

Meredith: I would be thrilled to discuss a writing day! I enjoy writing in the evening, probably about 6:00 to 8:00. It depends on how well the writing is going on a particular day. Some days, I get caught up in a piece, and it is hard to stop. Other days, I cannot concentrate.
I draw inspiration from music, particularly classical pieces. My favorite instruments are the violin and cello, although I cannot play them. Violin and cello music makes me relax and helps my mind to focus. I also love certain poetry and passages from the Bible. (Zephaniah 3:17 is my favorite Scripture verse). It thrills my heart to know that the infinite, all-powerful God who spoke the universe into existence loves me enough that he takes the time to sing over me.

Me: Oh, that’s lovely.

Meredith: I also love the Psalms as they are so candid and beautiful. Some of my favorite poets are John Donne, Christina Rossetti and Robert Frost. Frost, in particular, brings the natural world to life for me through his poetry, and this helps me to write more

Me: And what got you started writing, Meredith?

Meredith: I began writing when I was very young, probably seven or eight years old. I had Braille notebooks crammed with short stories, (most of them unfinished), and diary entries as well. But, I never seriously thought of writing as something to pursue as a career until after I graduated college. I began college with a major in music education but was not accepted into their school of music. I changed my major to English as I am passionate about teaching children to love reading as much as I do. Also, I want to teach students
self-expression, and writing is a superb art form to express your thoughts, confusions and curiosities about the world.

Me: Yes, I feel the same way. So what happened?

Meredith: After college, I applied to many schools and went on several interviews. I was never hired as a full-time teacher, although I was blessed to work with a wonderful middle school English teacher on a volunteer basis. I began writing in order to combat feelings of depression and inadequacy I was experiencing. Also, I became aware of the lack of books featuring disabled protagonists in the fantasy genre and wanted to combat this issue. In a Bible study, we were reading from the book of John, and the verse in chapter 6:35 sparked a picture in my head of a fantasy world in which two disabled teenagers must fight against an evil queen. They receive assistance from a magical baker whose food has healing properties. So, I had to write the story down. I have loved writing ever since.

Me:And what keeps you writing?

Meredith: What keeps me writing? Symphony. The symphony of ideas that won’t leave me alone. Realistically, I know that the book industry is a tough, competitive one, and that I will likely never be a bestselling writer. However, in the grand scheme of things, I just hope that one person finds hope in something I have been inspired to write. Idealistic and naive? Probably. But, that is just the way I feel.
Moreover, I want to let people with disabilities know that they have a purpose to fulfill while on this earth. That those of us that the world tends to overlook have a God-given duty to make our voices heard. We were created for a reason, and we must not forget that.

Me: That’s a mighty powerful message you’re conveying, my dear, and I love the creative way you’re doing it. Now a few more “creative” questions, if you don’t mind, so I can get a better glimpse of you as a person. What kind of fruit or vegetable would you say best expresses your personality? Why?

Meredith: Interesting question! I would say a mango best describes my personality. Mangoes have a sweet, rich taste that lingers after you eat them. But, most importantly, mango trees have a solid, long root system. The roots dig into the ground, and the mango trees stand firm. My faith in God keeps me grounded and helps me to face trials I might encounter. Without His help, I would topple.

Me: And would you rather vacation at the beach or in the mountains?

Meredith: I prefer to vacation in the mountains. I love the smell and feel of the brisk mountain air. In the mountains, you feel like you’ve risen above the mundane happenings of the world for a while. And, I love the sounds of mountain streams. They are not as majestic as the ocean’s conversation, but they sound like a kind and cheerful friend.

Me: Do you have a favorite punctuation mark?

Meredith: Ha! Another interesting question. My favorite punctuation mark is the comma. In fact, it is the main area of grammar I had difficulty mastering. But, a comma stands for a brief pause in a sentence. It reminds me to take a quick breath and contemplate the first part of the sentence before moving on. In life, we need to take brief pauses, too and not overlook the gifts around us.

Me: Wonderful, haha, you’re the first person I’ve interviewed to talk so philosophically about punctuation marks. Have children played a role in your life, or in your writing?

Meredith: My, yes! I have two precious nieces, Aliya Davine and Tristyn Layla Burton. I learn so much from them; the importance of curiosity, the need to find joy in every moment, and the blessings of watching them grow and change everyday. Tristyn is ten, and Aliya is seven. I love to include children in my stories. In Hart Spring, the novella I mentioned before, one of my favorite characters is a little girl named Annika. She’s a bit nosy at times and outspoken, but she’s a hero in the story and was a true pleasure to write about. My nieces inspired her character.

Me: What is your favorite fairy tale or children’s story? Why?

Meredith: My favorite fairy tale is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” (the Grimms Brothers version, not Disney’s). As I had to leave home at an early age like Snow White, I was always drawn to this particular fairy tale. I empathized with Snow White’s loneliness and her innocent spirit. Her innocence is taken away, but she still emerges as a strong character. I love how she is welcomed by the dwarfs and how they become surrogate fathers for her. I also love how the story focuses on finding a place to belong in the world.

Me: Oh, I know you need to get back to your busy life, but before you leave, tell me a little more about your writing, won’t you? And where I might read your work?

Meredith: Certainly! I write fantasy novels and fairy tale retellings. While my fairy tale retellings have sprinklings of familiarity, I try to twist the stories around and make you contemplate them from different angles. In my anthology, Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption, for instance, the novella entitled Blind Beauty is a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” but it features a blind Beauty character. I tried to make people realize that you don’t need to physically see to be able to determine the worth of a person. Hart Spring is a retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” set during the time of slavery in a world similar to the American South in the 1850’s. It’s about finding courage and a place to belong even when innocence is lost. This anthology is available in audiobook form as well as Braille and print editions. I am particularly thrilled with this anthology as it was my first attempt at self-publishing, and the stories speak so strongly to my heart. Moreover, the audio edition is brought superbly to life by Becky Doughty, a phenomenal narrator. You can find out more about my writing by visiting my Goodreads page at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4798776

Also, my new novella, The Princess and the Invisible Apple
Tree is out, and, Lord willing, I plan to submit a story entitled Rebekah’s Refuge to a publisher later this year.

Me: Well, Meredith, I have truly enjoyed our time together. I hope you’ll come visit me again very soon.

Meredith: Thank you so much, Joan, I had a wonderful time! It was a pleasure chatting with you. God bless you in all your endeavors, and I hope we chat again soon.

Night seems suddenly very close as I shut the door and reach for my trusty candlelighter. The flame sparks and I bring it carefully to the wick. One deep breath, another, and I begin to feel the day’s dreariness drop, the week’s worries and stresses evaporate. Shabbot is in the light, in the air.

I sigh: Blessed are you, Beloved One, who enables me to kindle the Shabbot lights, the light of friendship and creativity, harmony and peace.

And let us say: Amen.

Musical Mindfulness

My spirit wakes to Mozart
who Dances like a breeze
with finger-piroettes and glides
across piano keys.

If I commune with Mendelssohn,
my syllables are sweet,
and inspiration leads the way
for both my pen and feet.

Dvorak builds our fire at night
to warm our chilly bones
with pathos deep as memory,
ablaze in vivid tones.

And dreaming, rippling waters
of Chopin’s nocturnes flow,
cascading and careening
until the dawn’s first glow.

New Year Blessings

Blue Feet, Bamboo Flute

Lighting the lamp in my heart
Holding a candle in my hands
I pray

May we step in this yearRelated image
With gentle harmony
Smiling at the flowers
Singing with the birds
Dancing with stars
In love
With the Universe

May pearl drops of peace
Shower from the heavens
Upon the human heart
May cascades of love
Flood all of creation
With seamless connection
One life
One love
One Being
Sweet Eternity

Sri Krishna Sharanam Mama

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*Kindling Friendship* Patricia Hubschman

It’s a pleasantly chilly day here in the Willamette Valley, midway between Christmas sparkles and New Year’s Eve fireworks. But gray skies hang overhead like some kind of question waiting to be answered, a question I think I’ll put on hold for now.

Let’s see…my kitchen is cozy with fresh-baked goodies, the tea kettle is cheerily whistling and the coffee is ready to pour. Peacock blue cups and white linen napkins are at hand, and I’m just about ready to greet my guest, author, Patricia Hupschman. I hear Ari’s tags jingle as he jumps to his feet, the bell rings, and I open the door.

Me: Trish, welcome, how nice of you to drop by! Here, let me take your coat…now…may I offer you something hot to drink, tea or coffee, perhaps?

Trish: A cup of tea would be lovely.

Me: And where would you feel most comfortable: here at my kitchen table, or would you like a comfy chair in the livingroom?

Trish: The living room, please. I’m hearing impaired and I do better with conversation in that room.

Me: Okay, let’s sit on the sofa together…now, tell me a little about yourself, please. What part of the country do you live in?

Trish: New York, Long Island

Me: Have you been there long?

Trish: My whole life, 54 years

Me: And what do you like best and least about living there?

Trish: Its too fast paced. People are rude.

Me: Really? That’s too bad.

Trish: Yes, but there are a lot of trees and beaches which is nice

Me: And is your writing influenced in any way by where you live?

Trish: I always set my stories on Long Island

Me: And what about your writing process? For example, do you have a certain time of day you find most productive? Or a special place where you find inspiration?

Trish: I usually write between lunch and dinner. After dinner I read a book. I like to start out composing in my head first, which happens in Walmart and other places.

Me: That’s interesting. Have you always done that?

Trish: I was a shy kid, so I created stories and characters, I guess as friends. This was in 6th and 7th grade

Me: And I wonder, why do you write? I mean, if you could sum it up in a word or in a simple statement, you writing?

Trish: Because I love to. I need to

Me: And now a few more “creative” questions, if you don’t mind, so I can get a better glimpse of you as a person. What kind of fruit or vegetable would you say best expresses your personality? Why?

Trish: Hmmm I don’t know, maybe a strawberry, I’m soft and mushy.

Me: What do you like to do on a rainy day?

Trish: Sleep is my favorite hobby besides writing, but most of my time, rain or shine, is spent on my computer

Me: Would you rather vacation at the beach or in the mountains?

Trish: Oh, I love the Poconos

Me: What is your favorite punctuation mark?

Trish: I have fun with exclamation points

Me: What role have children played in your life? How about in your writing?

Trish: I don’t have any kids, and my characters usually don’t have siblings

Me: Oh, I know you need to get back to your busy life, but before you leave, tell me a little more about your writing, won’t you?

Trish: I just published a Tracy Gayle mystery, the first in a series, a romantic suspense. She’s a Long Island private eye, and my hero is a famous rock musician, Danny Tide. The book is called Stiff Competition Miss America.

Me: What inspired you to write the Tracy Gayle mystery series?

Trish: In 2014, a friend and I saw the rock band Styx at the beach. A few days later I heard that Styx’s tour bus burst into flames in Philadelphia. I tried to find out what happened but nothing solid arose, so I wove my own tale.

Me: That’s very creative. And how did rock musician Danny Tide get into the mix?

Trish: I already had the characters. I created Danny Tide in the late 1990s. He starred in 2 romance novels I wrote. Tracy Gayle came years later for her own set of mystery short stories. I never dreamed I’d bring them together. The idea fell into my lap and the rapport between them was wonderful. They were the best of friends for 3 years before Stiff Competition Miss America –when things really get hot between them

Me: So what brings them together?

Trish: In Stiff Competition Danny’s band Tidalwave is playing the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. All is going smoothly. The judges have picked the 10 semi-finalist, and then suddenly everything comes to a halt. Miss New Jersey is missing. That’s when Danny invites his Long Island private detective friend Tracy Gayle down to Atlantic City to help in finding what happened to the girl. There are 2 assaults and 2 murders in this one. It’s my favorite.

Me: And have you sketched out the rest of the series?

Trish: Oh, sure. The next book is called Ratings Game/Talk Show Queen. It’s about Danny’s second wife, who’s a popular talk show hostess. Somebody’s trying to kill her, by the way, it’s in attempt to boost the ratings of her show. I’m hoping to get this book to DLDBooks around May.

Over the Edge is after that. It’s about Danny’s first wife, who’s a rich socialite now.

I have ideas for future books in the series but this is where I’m at right now. David and Leonore from DLD did an absolutely fabulous job with Stiff Competition Miss America. The book is gorgeous and the price reasonable. The links for it can be found at DLDBooks.com

Me: Well, Trish, I wish you every success on your book, and on the series, as well. Thank you so much for dropping in to chat with me.

Trish: Thank you!

Ari circles around us as I hug my guest good-bye and close the door. With my meager eyesight, it’s hard to discern where the cloudy sky ends, and lengthening shadows begin, but no matter. Shabbot is coming.

The candlelighter comes readily to my hand and I reach toward the candles waiting on the mantle. The air itself seems to be holding its breath, as everything—the candles, the clouds, my own sense of reality—seems to be waiting, poised in questions.

What will the coming year hold for me, for the world? Will humanity find a clearer understanding of Compassion and Justice?

I breathe deeply, once, then again, and the flame ignites, catches on the wick. I draw the light toward myself, circle it round to embrace thoughts of family, friends, the world.

Blessed are You Beloved One, Source of All, Love Divine, Who enables me, and each of us, to kindle this light of Shabbot, of peace, of friendship and love.

And let us say: Amen.

With A Child

everything begins with a child
everything whimsical, breezy or wild
secret imaginings, dreams reconciled

everything begins with a child
in a child’s wake, the world becomes strange
everything whimsical, breezy or wild

meanings ignite as words rearrange
secret imaginings, dreams reconciled
fringes and fingers and face interchange

what I outgrew, I strive to reclaim
everything whimsical, breezy or wild
the candle, the wick, the match and the flame

secret imaginings, dreams reconciled
this child and this moment, my spirit’s new name
everything begins with a child

taken from
Sacred Mandate, Human Response:
Delivering Meaningful Jewish Education to Blind Students

copyright 2009, Joan Myles