Policing the Police

usa-1120579_1280UPDATE: see end of this essay for my updated remarks after learning new information….

Few things are black and white, unless you’re talking about racism. In regard to gun violence and police shootings, there are solid arguments on either side of this contentious issue which tells me once again that the truth is most often found in the middle and that extremism of any kind is both dangerous and counterproductive.

Right out of the chute, let me say that I know there are good cops out there. In fact, I believe that MOST cops are honorable, compassionate people who really do believe they are there to protect and serve.

Having said that, I have a bone to pick with those good cops. In this sense, “good” is not just a noun–a person, place or thing; but a VERB–it shows action, and a state of being. In my mind, good cops no longer have any right to complain about how they are lumped into the same some with rogue or corrupt or trigger-happy cops. They lost that right within the echo of their own silence. The police is still an old-school frat; a good-old-boy network with a thick blue line, and police officers cross this line under pain of death or at the very least ostracization and the loss of a career. But ultimately, these are squad-car-1209719_1920choices that speak to integrity and character, and those lofty ideals should never be dismissed, and indeed, we find ourselves in the environment we do because too many have chosen a career or paycheck over those principles. If good cops begin to mobilize and speak out, then police departments nationwide would move in the direction we need to go. In this case, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. It would take time and dedication, but the end result would place us back in a position of peace and trust between police and the communities they serve. There is no other way. The tumors of racism and self-serving authorities have to be cut out and discarded if we have any hope of reaching those better angels of our nature.

In tandem with the policing issues, are the gun-control issues. Just as a trigger-happy, racist cop has no right to hold a position as an officer of the law, citizens who pose a threat to the public at large, constitution-1486010_1280also have no business obtaining guns as easily as they do. The Second Amendment–let’s be clear–was intended as a way for citizens to defend the state, not themselves or their property. It was written during a time when the country was young, and the arms they had the right to bear were muskets, not AK-47’s. They were not anarchists, set on fighting their own government.

Things have changed. The United States has evolved into a different entity than it was when the framers of the Constitution set those words down.

Moreover, the President is the Commander in Chief of those militias, should they be called on. There is plenty of material to educate yourself with, and I encourage you to seek them out. Here are a few to get you started.






All that aside, if I feel I need a firearm to hunt for food, or protect myself, my property, or my family, I will have one. Or two. This isn’t me, enjoying a Second Amendment right. This is me, making a decision. That’s all. Having a personal firearm for those reasons is not part of the argument, as far as I’m concerned.

But all these petulant, authoritarian white men who walk around Walmart with their M-16’s–this is an gun-523052_1920aberration of both law and what this country was founded upon. Who needs an automatic weapon in the grocery store? What are they afraid of? Marauding melons? A bathmat blitzkrieg? And how are other members of our citizenry to feel safe when any person with one of those guns, feels he has a right to start shooting, as he sees fit? As such, i am not a proponent of open-carry, as if we are living in the Wild Wild West. And yes, there will always be those who carry firearms concealed, but at least they know they have to hide it and are less likely to use the gun, if they know it’s against the law. That acts as a deterrent for cavalier treatment of a weapon that can take a human life. And proper legislation further protects us from so many of those guns falling into the wrong hands. Once it’s accepted for everyone to walk around with guns strapped to their person, it’s that much easier to think that using that gun is also acceptable.

Regardless, I will not patronize any establishment that allows customers to parade around with guns.

This same I’m-in-charge-because-I-have-the-gun mentality leads to the sort of god-complex we are now seeing with such frequency in some of our police officers. The unfettered, unregulated ability to take the life of another human being can easily slip into a sense that you can pull that trigger by fiat, and that’s why training and education are so crucial to this situation. Keeping the guns out of the hands of terrorists and emotionally troubled and the mentally ill is only one segment in the plurality, but one that is a necessary first step in addressing the problem, notwithstanding the abject and egregious failure of Republican legislators who refuse to do so.

Another important segment of this issue, is making certain that The Dark Blue are not above the law, and are not performing their duties from a position of racism, fear or the inability to handle a crucial part of their jobs.


The recent Tulsa shooting of Terence Crutcher by Officer Betty Shelby is almost certainly a case of murder. The video shows that Mr. Crutcher was not being combative or aggressive, and in fact, was blue-light-1675687_1920merely a motorist whose car had broken down. That’s when police should have rendered assistance, not fired a bullet. Protect and serve. PROTECT AND SERVE. What’s so hard about that concept these days, that officers have forgotten what their job is? A badge should never afford you a free pass when taking the life of another human being. While I was gratified that the officer in question was arrested for manslaughter, I have little faith that she will be found guilty and made to pay for her crime, as officers in these cases seldom are.

The police shooting in Charlotte is a bit murkier in the fact-department, but still smacks of police corruption and another trigger-happy cop with poor training.

My wife and I have been watching that video taken by Mrs. Scott, often stopping it and playing it slowly, frame by frame. The more I watched it, the more I felt that things just didn’t add up and certainly didn’t jive with what the police and other city authorities were reporting. Perhaps releasing the police video would help clear up some of these questions, perhaps not, but they should be released, and not doing so, only exacerbates the sense that police are corrupt and untrustworthy. Until some clarity can be offered, nothing is clear. In watching the video released by Mrs. Scott, I had lots of questions and concerns.

First, the police officers weren’t there to confront Mr. Scott, but to serve a warrant on someone else. Yet somehow, they were suddenly hyperfocused on him, as he sat in the car, waiting for his child to be dropped off from school, while his wife ran in the house to get her phone charger. Somehow, officers were all over his car treating him like a bank robber they had been chasing, and never took the opportunities to deescalate, or give Mr. Scott a chance. His wife told the police he had a TBI and had just taken his medication. It just seemed like the cops were determined to kill this man no matter what.

Also, since the first police vehicle was unmarked, it’s possible Mr. Scott thought he was being robbed or carjacked, or maybe he just didn’t know what was going on, at all. He was on medication that caused confusion, after all, which the cops were told quite loudly by Mrs. Scott as she approached the scene with her cell phone recording; they apparently ignored her.

By the time the second police vehicle arrived, Mr. Scott was probably afraid HE WOULD BE SHOT and didn’t want to get out of the car. UNDERSTANDABLE– look what happened.

Additionally, both police vehicles were far too close to Mr. Scott’s vehicle for cops to have safe and nonviolent options.

Also, before and just after the marked police SUV arrives on scene, (and I have yet to hear anyone else point this out) the cop in the red shirt is lounging nonchalantly at the side of Mr. Scott’s truck, with no gun drawn and no sign in his body language that there was any danger– and he was standing right there, able to see in the cab of the truck. If there was some issue of concern for the other police officers, they could have stepped back and spoken to Mrs. Scott, and cleared up any confusion. Instead, cops went directly into lethal force mode.

Then, after Mr. Scott was shot, he was lying on the ground in an inexplicable position that didn’t make much sense. How did his body get way back there, when dash cam and another police body camera reportedly showed he was obviously confused, and stepping backward AWAY from officers when he was shot?

Then, in the initial frames when cops were cuffing the dying Mr. Scott, there is no sign of the gun on the pavement. Then, the gun is reportedly (and if you look closely, visibly) being guarded by the cop in the red shirt, mostly hidden by that officer’s left foot, behind and to the right of Mr. Scott’s body; then the alleged gun appears in a different spot perhaps 4 to 6 feet away from its original location, directly in the  foreground near Mr. Scott’s feet.

Evidence like that is never to be moved at a crime scene, so how come the alleged gun suddenly appeared and then ended up in a second location seconds later?police-275875_1920

Also, it was a terrible decision for city officials to dispatch police in riot gear and the National Guard. This in no way showed they heard, understood or sympathized with what the people were protesting. Add to that, the police decided not to release the video from dash cam and body cams just makes them look like they’re hiding something. It’s entirely plausible that the gun was planted to cover up a bad shooting–this has been documented as a method used by police in order to protect themselves from responsibility. Some officers carry an extra unregistered gun for just that purpose.

This is not the first, and sadly, it seems, won’t be the last time another person of color will die at the hands of overzealous, untrained, careless and racist cops. When will the good cops speak out? When will our Republican legislators pass the reforms needed to stop this trend? When will voters do their civic duty and cast a vote against this sort of corruption?

Ihandgun-231696_1920 cling to the hope that at some point, those with power will step up and say no. No more. Until then, more innocent people will die, and more corrupt authorities will enjoy their positions of power.


UPDATE: since i wrote this blog, two more videos were released by police. It cleared up several things for me. First, Mr. Scott wasn’t in that white pickup, he was in the white SUV to the left of that. (Still doesn’t explain the red-shirt cop being so cavalier when Scott was supposed to be wielding a gun). The other elements i might mention fall away in favor of this very clear impression: Mr. Scott was murdered by police.

He was not being aggressive, he was walking backwards toward the officers, as commanded, and them BAM BAM BAM BAM.

No matter how police might try to spin it, there was no legitimate reason to shoot him. I have ZERO faith that the officer who pulled that trigger four time will face justice. Like all the others, if charged and tried at all, he will not pay for his crime. I’d love to be proved wrong on this, but i don’t expect to.




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'I'm having trouble sleeping. Here's why. I need to say this. And I need you all to hear it and share it. People. Please educate yourselves. Please. This election is no longer about politics. No longer about left and right or republican or democrat. It's about the people. The people who are running for the highest office in the land and the people who will be voting for them. If Trump is elected, you will no longer have to worry about the economy or equality or the minimum wage or your right to bear arms or justice system reform or immigration or gang violence or gun laws or climate change. You won't have to worry about these things because they will be rendered moot. They will no longer matter. Do you hear me? They won't matter at all. Because trump will behave as he always does and he'll piss off the wrong dictator who will then annihilate us with Nukes or biological or chemical weapons and the world as we know it will be gone. Forget the zombie apocalypse. Think #trumpocalypse. The only way you can stop this is to vote for Hillary. Even if you don't like her. Even if you think she's crooked. Is your opinion of her more important than the very survival of the human race? Make no mistake. That's what we're staring down the barrel of. I have so many more books to write, so much more love to give, laughter to share. So please don't cast your vote for ending us all. You can always get your type of candidate next time. For now, let's just save ourselves from Armageddon, shall we?'

Posted this last month on Facebook, and it’s still true, and bears posting again.

I’m having trouble sleeping. Here’s why. I need to say this. And I need you all to hear it and share it.
People. Please educate yourselves. Please. This election is no longer about politics. No longer about left and right or republican or democrat. It’s about the people. The people who are running for the highest office in the land and the people who will be voting for them. If Trump is elected, you will no longer have to worry about the economy or equality or the minimum wage or your right to bear arms or justice system reform or immigration or gang violence or gun laws or climate change. You won’t have to worry about these things because they will be rendered moot. They will no longer matter. Do you hear me? They won’t matter at all. Because trump will behave as he always does and he’ll piss off the wrong dictator who will then annihilate us with Nukes or biological or chemical weapons and the world as we know it will be gone. Forget the zombie apocalypse. Think #trumpocalypse. The only way you can stop this is to vote for Hillary. Even if you don’t like her. Even if you think she’s crooked. Is your opinion of her more important than the very survival of the human race? Make no mistake. That’s what we’re staring down the barrel of. I have so many more books to write, so much more love to give, laughter to share. So please don’t cast your vote for ending us all. You can always get your type of candidate next time. For now, let’s just save ourselves from Armageddon, shall we?


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Medical Mystery Tour

thinker-1294493_1920I have had the strangest developments, lately, with my health. After recovering around 75% of my adrenal health after a year and a half of intensive work on my adrenal exhaustion, and after going into and now being in full-fledged menopause, i now have a mystery on my hands.

First, I have been taking synthroid/levothyroxine (T4) and liothyronine (T3) for 16 years, since diagnosis of Grave’s Disease, and ablation of my thyroid with Radioactive Iodine (RAI). This procedure renders the thyroid gland DEAD, and the thyroid medication then normalizes the subsequent hypothyroidism that results from the dead thyroid.(NOTE: T3 is made from T4 in the body, but some people don’t convert the T4 to T3, and I was one of them. I did fine on T3 for all these years.)

Recently, I started having the symptoms of too much T3, and so i stopped taking it and felt much better. I assumed that meant i no longer needed the T3, and suspected, since it coincided with my adrenal recovery, that my adrenals needed the extra help from the T3, but when they got stronger, no longer needed it. Fine.

Now. I have suffered severe allergies for the last three years, to include a daily sinus headache, sometimes to the point of incapacitation. (I was tested at an allergy clinic and the results showed i was allergic to almost every tree pollen and grass. I never had allergies before, and there is a direct correlation between adrenal exhaustion and severe allergies, among other things). In the last few weeks, however, my allergy symptoms have almost disappeared, easter-1238348_640along with the headaches, but here’s the weird part. While this relief of allergy symptoms came on the heels of increasingly recovering adrenals, it also happened after missing quite a few doses of my thyroid medication (T4). I found an article that said there was a direct connection with allergies and synthroid/levothyroxine, and that patients with this reaction should switch to one of several other types of T4 replacement meds. So i wondered if maybe my allergies had been caused by the synthroid/levothyroxine. Just to test this, i took my T4 and the allergies reappeared. I stopped taking it a few days and the allergies disappeared. So i stopped taking it for 5 days, allergies went away. Started it again, allergies came back. Stopped taking it 7 days, same thing. So this testing, though anecdotal, does seem to indicate there’s something to the allergy/T4 connection.I know this is anecdotal, on my part, but still. It’s significant. That’s not even the weird part, yet.

When you get RAI, the thyroid gland is DEAD. It no longer functions. It does not produce T4. Therefore, missing a dose of your thyroid meds will give you symptoms and eventually, those  symptoms will worsen. But in all those times i went that many days without the T4, i actually felt better BEYOND just he relief from allergies. I felt almost normal again. I had none of those low T4 symptoms and in fact felt better without it in general. Now tell me, how is it possible that I can feel BETTER (the allergy issue aside) when my dead thyroid is not being treated with replacement meds for the T3?

I tried to look up the information–can a dead thyroid, perhaps, reanimate? Did my thyroid only get  PARTIALLY destroyed, but this was masked by the adrenal exhaustion, and when that got better, the thyroid gland recovered in some way? It’s baffling. I don’t understand how i can feel better when i DON’T take my meds, since the body REQUIRES he hormones the thyroid makes, and as in the past, missing only one dose was felt immediately with those low T4 symptoms.

It’s also perhaps important to note that adrenals, thyroid and menopause are all hormonally-related things.

An additional bit of mystery, which may or may not be connected: While on my program to heal my shake-677437_1920adrenals i took a wide range of supplements to strengthen them, and then worried that since there were grasses in the shake i was drinking, it was affecting my allergies, so i stopped taking the shakes, and felt better all the way across the board, so guessed my adrenals didn’t need all that anymore, and/or some of what i was taking might have conflicted with something else i was taking–who knows? But now, i am just getting regular exercise, continuing to eat as much organic as possible, staying away from sugar and alcohol and processed food, drinking lots of distilled water, along with a bottle of water once or twice a day with pink Himalayan sea salt (for adrenal function).

If any of you out there have any insight on this, I’d appreciate a note. I’m getting an appointment soon and will discuss with caregiver, but I’m just curious if anyone else has ever experienced anything like this.

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Run the Risk (Excerpt)

Excerpt from Run the Risk


After the death of her estranged father, a beleaguered attorney named Sierra Kipling returns to her hometown of Shamrock Cove, Rhode Island, having inherited his bar, The Risk. A much-younger town doctor, Kelsi Belmar, doesn’t know quite what to think of this 50-year-old prodigal daughter, but she intends to find out.

2} Kelsi

boardwalk The door had been left open to let in an Atlantic breeze. Welcomed, in the bar that had no air conditioning.

The low-riding sunlight dimmed, and I turned. The light had been cut by the shadow in the doorway.

As she stepped in, the first thing I noticed was she had a cat on her shoulder. Not a tattoo of a cat. A real cat. It seemed to be holding on easily with its feet, balanced by its tail wrapped around her head, the tip of it stroking her eyebrow.

Then I focused on her. I usually notice the woman first, and not whatever she’s carrying. But hell. There was a Siamese cat on her shoulder.

SierraKipling_RuntheRiskEven with the stern, slightly pissed-off expression on her face, she was beautiful. I’m not usually attracted to older women. And didn’t usually go for redheads. I was not a fan of freckles. But this one. She was like a fine wine. Just like the burgundy color of the tresses falling about her shoulders.

The black pinstriped pantsuit didn’t wear her, as it did with other women. She wore it. Shiny black boots clicked along the wooden floor as she advanced, her eyes making a thorough perusal of the place. I tried not to stare at her chest. Cleavage for days; graced by a teasing silver amulet dangling between her breasts.

The brown leather satchel she carried completed the picture of a no-nonsense woman who knew what she was about.

Then I realized. She must be the lawyer who was handling the final arrangements. Somehow I had expected some sweaty bald man with a beer gut and a gold watch. Not a gorgeous older woman with a cat perched on her shoulder.

She fixed vivid blue eyes on me, gave me the once-over, and then stopped a few feet in front of me, barely outside the usual personal space people adhere to. Just enough to be intimidating. To some people.

“Are you the manager?”

I chuckled. “No. Just a customer.”

She looked around at the only other person in the bar. The bartender, Quinn. A twenty-something young man with long red hair and a goatee, wiping the bar that looked already clean.

“The only customer?” she said smartly.

“It’s not happy hour yet.”

“Oh, and then that second person will fill the coffers, I suppose.”

I gave her my best eyebrow lift. Chick had a sharp tongue. I liked that.

“Sierra Kipling,” she said, by way of introduction.

“Sierra Kipling?” I parroted, knowing the name well, but never having a current face to put with it.

“Thorn is—was—my father.”

I’d seen pictures of her. The wall behind the bar was lined with them, but they were all of Sierra as a child. Except for a few. That child was all grown up, now. “So you’re not the attorney?”

“I am an attorney, yes. But I suppose not the attorney.”

Interesting. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

The sentiment seemed to make her uncomfortable. She countered with, “And you are?”

young-woman-1371899_1920“Kelsi Belmar.” I extended my hand, and she looked down at, took it almost begrudgingly. A quick shake, but firm; not limp like a fish, the way most women shake hands. Businesslike. The Siamese reached down and tried to bat my hand away.

“Is that cat surgically attached?”

“Somewhat.” She placed her satchel on the table and a poof of dust danced through the lightbeams. The cat jumped down on the worn leather and laid down. I’d never seen a cat just hang around a human. It acted more like a dog.

“What’s his name?”


I felt myself smile. “How do you keep Me-Too from running off?”

“I don’t. He just stays with me. He always has.”

“What sorcery is this?”

A grin. I’d cracked the stern barrier already. I checked out her necklace again, pretending not to be looking at those copious mounds of flesh mashed together and positioned perfectly in the purple V-neck blouse. When I looked up she was regarding me with unabashed haughtiness.

“Finished ogling the girls?”

I looked away on a grin. “Can’t expect me not to look at the display case.”

“So, that’s how you are.”



“Batting for the other team? Yes. Proudly. What about you?”

“None of your business.” She stood and moved toward the bar.

That would be a yes, I decided.

Quinn Murphy was laying out a lemon, slicing it for the drinks he hoped to be making, soon. That was going to be a crap-shoot right now. Since Thorn Kipling kicked the bucket, business had fallen away. I wondered where everyone was going to get their drink on, now. The liquor store and back home? The liquor store and to dangle their legs off some pier? I also wondered what was going to happen to The Risk, now that old Thorny was gone. I didn’t see Ms. Sierra Kipling running the place. She looked like she’d sooner perform an appendectomy on herself with a spoon. She’d probably take her leave as soon as the funeral was over.

But she was here in this bar for a reason. Maybe just curious to see what her old man had built while she was off in the Big Apple. Maybe she was going to sell the place. Probably Thorny had left it to her. I took a sip of my Yacht Club birch beer, my thumb rubbing the iconic anchor on the label. It was a local brand, and less sweet than most commercial sodas. If you’re going to drink sweet sodas, it was always healthier to just go for regular sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup.

In a moment, Sierra returned, took a seat beside her satchel. Me-Too had stayed right there on the table, waiting on her, his eyes following her to the bar and back. She removed the umbrella from her Amaretto sour and took a sip, sighed, and leaned back in the chair.

“Long drive?”

She nodded, pressing her fingertips on the small napkin, to soak up the condensation from her rocks glass.

“So, what do you do that allows you to hang around in an empty bar in the middle of the day?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m on call almost twenty-four-seven.”

Now her eyebrow quirked. “For what?”


She looked me up and down. “Locksmith?”


She tried again. “Cable tech?”

“Wrong again.”

“I give. What?”


“You’re a doctor?”

“I’ll try not to be offended by your shock and awe.”

She shrugged. “You look too young to be a doctor, that’s all.”

“I’m thirty-five, thank you very much.” And how old was she? Forty-something? Maybe older, if I considered the slight crow’s feet at the corner of her eyes. She looked good for that age-group.

She had another sip of her drink. Pulled the cherry from the plastic sword floating in the brown liquid, popped it in her mouth, chewing. A drop of red juice glistened on her lower lip. I had to quell an urge to lick it off.

“Where do you do this doctoring?”

“The clinic, here in town.”

She was eyeing the band-aid on my finger. Probably wondering if that was the extent of my healing skills.

“I thought Doctor McGinnis ran that?”

“He retired five years ago. He’s like a hundred years old. I came here to do a residency, and decided to stay.”

Both eyebrows jumped up, then. “Why in the world would you do that?”

“Because it’s a pretty fucking awesome little town, that’s why.” It came out a little more caustic than I intended.

“No need to get your knickers in a twist.”

“It’s obvious you didn’t want to come back here.”

Her face softened. “I’m sorry…I just…never mind. It just isn’t my cup of tea.”

“You prefer the big city?”

She seemed to consider her answer for a beat longer than was natural for someone who loved the city.

“It’s where I went to Law school,” she answered.

“New York?”

“No, Syracuse.”

“You with a firm up there?”

“Not anymore.”

Cryptic. And just a little bitter. I’d have to break out my shovel. “Where are you practicing now?”

“I’m not.”

“A fancy law degree, and you’re not even using it?”

“Apparently not. I’m between jobs.”

“Maybe you could hang a shingle here for a while.” The Risk: Pub & Legal Services. Had a nice ring to it. Sort of like that Kathy Bates show, Harry’s Law. Except law and drinks, rather than law and shoes.

“Oh, I don’t think so.”

My chair creaked as I leaned back, stretched out, my fingers laced over my head. “Why not? Even small town people need legal services. Just like they need a doctor.”

She said nothing. Probably her way of ending a conversation she did not want to have. Did they teach that in law school?

“Is there a hotel you can recommend?”

“More than you’d think. We get lots of tourists. But Thorny lived in the apartment upstairs. No reason why you couldn’t stay up there.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“Don’t you have to deal with his stuff, anyway?”

She hadn’t thought of that. I could tell. Her eyes went to the ceiling. Like she’d heard chains rattling.

“I have an extra key,” I prodded.

“Why do you have an extra key?”

“Because he trusted me.” I stood. “Bring your drink, I’ll take you up.”

A deep breath later, she was on her feet, the Amaretto sour in one hand, the satchel in another, and Me-Too on her shoulder.

I led her along the bar to the door leading upstairs.

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Announcing Countdown Deals!

I will be offering book deals on a rotating basis. Right now, the Rain Falls Countdown Deal is underway. Get each book in the series for 99 cents for this week only. [ends July 5th] Just click the Countdown Deals link in the menu bar of my page for the most current one.{Click image}




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New Museletter is out!

The new Museletter is out! I’ve done something different with it, and it also includes an excerpt from museletter_screenshot 24-Jun-16 18.44Melissa Walker-Baeli’s Work in Progress. Check it out, and let me know what you think! (those on my mailing list have been sent an email)

If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please let me know, through the contact box on this site. Otherwise, you can get the Museletter when I post it on my Facebook page.

If you prefer, just send me a PM, with your email address and your location. And if you’d like to include your profession/vocation, give me that, too. I’m always looking for those with certain experiences, expertise, and knowledge. I like to have consultants.


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New Harbor Witches: Keepers hits top TEN on Amazon

New Harbor Witches: Keepers is now officially a top ten ‪#‎bestseller‬ {happy dance}
I have always been so proud of this book, and the second in the series, Ravens, even though it had yet to get a good foothold in the market, because it’s in such a specific niche category. I do believe it has universal appeal, however, and maybe this increased visibility will help those readers find it.

My next project is likely to be book three of that series, as a matter of fact. Been toying with it a bit, and it’s pulling at me a bit stronger than the other next-in-series projects.

Here’s the After Words from Keepers:

After Words


This book was a complete departure for me, but not surprising, as I always try to challenge myself as a writer, expand my literary horizons. I’ve never even read a book about witches, but had always enjoyed TV programs about them. I did, however, always find myself saying, “that was cool but I wouldn’t do it that way” or “that would be so much better if it had some foundation in logic and genetics.” I wanted to toy with the concept that witches could be not so much magical beings, but evolved beings. Evolution and adaptation being what they are, I figured it wasn’t so far-fetched if I approached the subject from a stance that witches were merely more-evolved humans. I also liked the idea of explaining many supernatural-seeming things in the collective consciousness by way of the presence of real witches.

Any story, for me, always begins with a what-if. For this book, I asked, What if things are not exactly what they seem? What if witches do exist, but they are not able to do everything depicted in popular media? What if historical events could even be explained by the presence of witches? What if I could intertwine that history with the story I wanted to tell? The brainstorming that ensued was rather epic, and that’s when I saw the potential for this series.

And as always, I also wanted to explore more of universal human nature, more of what makes us who we are. The decisions we make, and why. The often gray areas that exist between right and wrong. The perennial battle between good and evil, and how the human spirit can always rise above.

But first, I had to introduce the main characters and provide a foundation for all the events to come.
I hope I did that with Keepers..

ScreenHunter_764 18-Jun-16 13.08



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Pooly Fall is now #1 bestseller!

Woo hoo!  Pooly Fall is now a #1 bestseller in its category on Amazon!
Thanks to all my readers for making it so.

Pooly Fall (Cross Pollination series #1)




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Drive-by Marketing? Really?

Refe_54dbc2e9f1034_16318077309_f8e94d7569_oA commenter on one of the sites I market to, objected to my promotions, (and I responded as forthrightly as I could)>.

COMMENTER: I am seeing “Attachment Unavailable This attachment may have been removed or the perso who shared it may not have permission to share it with you” on both is post and the immediately preceeding two previous by Kelli Jae Baeil.
Thefirst post by Kelli Jae Baeil, smells like drive-by marketing. -Three- posts following that promo post, each of which consists entirely of “Attachment Unavailable” makes it look even more like drive-by exploitation.

I wrote the rant below earlier this morning, as a general reaction to a drive-by boxed set of books volumes 2-5 with no mention of volume 1, beign promoted for special pricing which expired more than a month ago! (I responded pointedly to that, and then wrote the more general rant..)

About “drive-by” marketing: (speaking for myself..)

1. Yes, [the group members] read science fiction and fantasy, watch films and movies and listen to podcasts of SF/F, play SF/F games, attend to SF/F conventions, work on SF/F conventions, and can be interested in hearing about new books, new movies, new games, podcasts, etc.

2. HOWEVER–there are thousands of new SF/F stories published every years. There are myriad new games and new game modules, lots of films and TV shows, lots of podcasts, lots of conventions.

Promos which don’t provide any information of “why should anyone be interested in this product?” and consist of a picture and pricing (even when not out of date as in “buy during this special promo time and get it cheap!”), are NOT prepossessing marketing and not the sort of thing which tends to prompt people to play follow the link for more information, or to buy.

3. “Drive-by marketing” involve someone posting a link the way frogs leave sperm anywhere there might be a frog egg to fertilize. Among other things, it’s bad manners. If someone wants others to seriously consider looking at products, show enough respect for forums being marketed in, to at least pretend to be friendly and interested in the forum…
Perhaps I could ad “if you don’t you come off as or as a relative of, a mansplainer!”

Kelli Jae Baeli: (to COMMENTER): –I’m sorry you are having trouble with the link attached to the promotional sign for my New Harbor Witches books. The link works perfectly for myself and everyone else i have asked. I even tested this one again, to be sure. So that issue must be on your end.

I don’t normally post more than one promotion/announcement at a time. The signs I posted in a clump, are all related–as shown in the text on the signs, this book is crossover fiction, that includes characters from several of my other books, in one storyline. So I felt readers needed a convenient way to locate those other books. The signs I posted were created with love and care, and contains all the information a reader needs; it provides an embedded link to my site which gives more information, and that page has links out to the location on Amazon to buy the book if you find it interesting. It’s merely a streamlined approach that accomplishes the goal, addresses the needs of readers, and my own time management, while allowing me to get back to the actual writing.

bagheadwriter This was never intended as “drive-by marketing.” I resent being lumped into a criminal sum by your implication. As an Indie Author and Publisher, it’s the nature of the beast to post in numerous places as quickly as possible–not because I don’t care about my readers or potential readers (indeed I do! They are the reason I’ve had 17 bestsellers), but because I am competing with thousands of other writers, and don’t have the resources that traditional publishers do. My business consists of TWO employees–me, and my wife. There’s only so much of me to go around. I do the work of about 12 people, and I work 100 hour weeks. (I had a very long day yesterday; I didn’t get into bed until 6 this morning). I’m an author, editor, publisher, business manager, financial planner and accountant, researcher, constant student of all facets of writing and marketing and publishing; I’m a strategist, publicist, book cover designer, typographic specialist, webmaster–just to name a few (and that doesn’t even take into account that I have a personal life, personal business, and a spouse I also want to spend time with).

I do all this hard work because I’m an author and I love to write, and over the last 27 years, have built a career on the substantiated belief that readers want to see what I am offering as a member of the creative community.

The marketing of books (among other things, in other locations) requires notifying HUNDREDS of computer-whippedgroups at the same time, and as an Indie Author/Publisher, I have to find ways to get the book out there for my readers in a timely, informative, convenient way, while also keeping in mind the time constraints I have.

As far as engagement, if anyone asks me a question, makes a comment, I always respond, and am happy to do so. But as I’m sure you can appreciate, there’s only so much of me to go around. If I engaged every group regularly, which I’d love to be able to do, that would mean I had no time to actually write the books. And which group do I choose to engage with? How do I decide which one deserves my attention, when the list numbers in the hundreds? Therefore, I must engage when someone engages ME. And it’s ultimately ABOUT THE BOOKS and ABOUT THE READERS. Marketing is just the necessary evil to get an Indie Author’s work into the hands of readers.

But let me stress this point: your denigrating, blanket assumptions are profoundly unfair to me and to all independent writers. I would ask you: how do you think readers find books? Marketing. How do you think authors get that book into the hands of readers who are interested? Marketing. It’s a symbiotic relationship. One method includes posting to groups with members who read in the genres we write, and that present themselves as places to promote books. I hope you will keep all this in mind when you make assumptions about the character and intent of authors who publicize their work.

I haven’t heard from any admins on this site that I am doing anything wrong, and if they felt my actions were contrary to the parameters of the group, I would happily comply. It’s that simple. I only want to offer my work to those who are interested.


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Weird reflection video

Okay this might not interest anyone but us, but we were trying to take a nap and noticed ‪#‎weirdness‬ on the ceiling…a strange, undulating reflection that looked like a miniature lightning storm in a teeny cloud. After a bit, Noodle jumped on my chest and interrupted the filming. Apologies for profanity. LOL.

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Pooly Fall released in digital

CP1_PoolyFall_frcvr13Jun2016_KDP_300xJust ordered the print proof for Pooly Fall (Cross-Pollination #1). The digital copy is already at #3 on Amazon–a bestseller! It’s available NOW. Go to https://www.amazon.com/Pooly-Fall-Cross-Pollin…/…/B01GZWBJBA
Below, is the After Words for Pooly Fall.

After Words

Most of my followers/readers know that I have been in recovery from Adrenal Exhaustion since returning from New Zealand in January, 2015. This has had a detrimental effect on my productivity, and on the day-to-day composition quality of my work. Writing well has become much more difficult. But I keep trudging away, trying not to think about how my usual write-a-book-every-two-to-four-months is not currently part of the paradigm; though I will continue to strive toward that schedule as my health improves. And it has been improving lately; the intense brain fog, severe headaches and fatigue are much more manageable now, and I hope this will eventually lead me back to the agenda I used to have.

Another stumbling block has been how this has affected my enjoyment of the actual writing process. When enthusiasm takes a nap, that’s when discipline steps in. My love of writing is usurped only by my inherent need to write; it is my strongest identity marker. I can only hope that will win out in the end.

Still another obstacle, has been my personal experience with moving into full-fledged menopause. Amid hot flashes, more insomnia, and irritability, I’ve also found that my libido is comatose, and that does not bode well for someone who is notorious for writing rather detailed sex scenes in most of her books. I’ve had to steer those steamy encounters toward more poetic intimacies, rather than play-by-play descriptions of the act.

It occurs to me that maybe the problem is also partially due to the fact that there are only so many ways to describe sexual activity, and a limited cadre of vocabulary to accomplish the task. I’ve written so much of it, that each new sex scene struggles with sounding like some other one I’d written before.

Regardless, I’ve had such a hard time conjuring up any interest in writing about something I have little desire to do myself. I know it must disappoint my wife (who has been a trooper about it) but I fear it might also disappoint some of my readers. Still, all I can do is my best to deliver a quality story that keeps you turning pages, and hope that elaborate sex scenes won’t be missed so much, that it will adversely affect my reader-base.

It bears mentioning that as I get older, I also feel a need to focus on still deeper aspects of what it is to be a woman, a writer, and more pointedly, a human being—and that perspective will necessarily carry over into the characters I put on the page. Sexual activity has never been one of those facets I thought was more important than others. Balance is the key aspect of my existence these days, and that’s what I’ve been seeking in my writing as well.

To that end, I had to give some thought to where I would be taking these series characters, as they, too, mature and move into other stages of their lives. And I didn’t want to fall prey to the usual trajectory of series characters and plots becoming stale. Thus, I am always looking for changes that will breathe new life into the characters and the challenges they face.

One of those changes is the introduction of this new series of tweener books called the Cross-Pollination series, which will gather certain characters from my books into one storyline like this one. I hope it will serve as an hors-d’oeuvre; an interesting segue between the next books in any given series, while providing my readers with a little taste of those literary people they like the best, since it’s impossible for me to write four books at a time, and inevitably, I have to choose just one.

I’m sure other authors have had this idea, although I’ve had trouble finding many examples, so at least this type of book isn’t saturating the market. I like being a pioneer. Jenny Bhatt said it best: “The best fiction, for me, is that which supersedes genre distinctions and stands apart as a unique hybrid.” That’s what I try to do with all my books.

It’s also what I’m doing with my new imprint, Prismatic Literati Press. It’s diverse, inclusive fiction for all orientations. I have readers from many different demographics, and psychographics, and I want to deliver quality fiction to all of them, based not on where they live, who they love, or how much money they make, but on what their emotional needs are for the books they read.

Although I almost always have gay and lesbian characters, I seem to have entrenched myself quite naturally in books that are always nestled in the adventure genre, regardless of the other genre-elements they might possess. My goal is always a tight, logical, quick, unpredictable plot filled with challenges to flawed and loveable characters. It seems to be the core nature of the stories I tell.

In relation to Pooly Fall in particular, I am launching a new idea in marketing strategy, problem-solving, and evolution as a writer. Crossover fiction has several definitions, only one of which applies to this new series. “A crossover is the placement of two or more otherwise discrete fictional characters, settings, or universes into the context of a single story.” I haven’t read any authors who’ve done this. My wife mentioned that Jayne Ann Krentz does this in her books.

An additional quick glance at Wikipedia reveals:

“In literature, some authors also engage in crossovers by including characters from different novels they have written in one particular volume; L. Frank Baum did this regularly, and Michael Moorcock frequently uses this device – particularly in his Eternal Champion series of novels, which establish a vast ‘multiverse’ populated by numerous different characters, many of whom appear in different novels and even different genres. Kim Newman is another author who frequently uses this device, as does Stephen King. The works of James Branch Cabell, J.D. Salinger, William Faulkner, Margaret Laurence, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, Mordecai Richler, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov also ‘crossover’ with each other, linking different characters and settings together over a number of different works. Author Rick Riordan publishes multiple book series featuring gods of ancient civilizations in the modern day, which have had two crossovers and three references to other series.”

I’m not sure how often it’s been done in niche-markets like lesbian fiction, which has been my primary category and reader-base, but perhaps it matters little. The point is, that’s where my body of work is moving since I began doing series fiction, and I didn’t want it to be like most other series fiction.

But for me, it is more than characters merely crossing over like a cameo appearance in our favorite shows. I think of this Cross-Pollination series as Tweener books, special editions, like TV programs do when they air Christmas specials not related to the overarching storyline of all the books; except these Cross-Pollination books of mine will be related, and serve to set up the individual storylines of the next book in each series.

That aside, my biggest obstacle is which series book I will focus on next. Ultimately, it has to be the one that pulls me the strongest, regardless of which one readers might want to see first.

I am still working intermittently on Frequent Crier Miles, a trilogy that I want to spend more time than usual on, and I do want to finish the standalone novella, Saturation Point, which has been patiently waiting so long for me; and want to do it in one fell-swoop before moving on to the next series book.

It remains to be seen which story and characters will pull the hardest on me. Ultimately, an author must write what speaks the loudest to be written.

Thank you all for your continued support, and for reading. I’ll do my best to keep you entertained, rattle your cage a little, and provide hours of meaningful communion.

Kelli Jae Baeli

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Teeny Weenie Man (Free Download)

Thanks for visiting. My short story, Teeny Weenie Man can be downloaded for free directly from Kindle Unlimited, or below, you will find the links to download it from here in the format of your choice. Enjoy!






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A Toxic Person

toxicpeopleThis is precisely the thing I am living right now. I needed this reminder to hold my head high, knowing that what any toxic person might say or do to impugn me, I can choose courage and integrity, that I have the truth on my side, and that thinking, discerning people will understand that. ‪#‎TruthWins‬

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Don’t Make me Unfriend You

unfriendkeyWhen you blend your professional and personal life on Facebook, there will inevitably be instances where the two collide, and not in a good way. Some people might like your writing and be big fans who buy all your books, while they simultaneously make snarky comments to personal posts you make, regarding, say political issues–even when they are not, themselves, properly informed of the issues and the ramifications thereof. If they can’t see the forest for the trees, perhaps it’s time to stop venturing blindly into territory for which they have no map.

The hateful rhetoric in our political milieu, inflicted upon us by those like Trump and Cruz, seems to be bleeding over into the populace and should neither be encouraged, nor tolerated. This goes to the heart of what we, as fair-minded, conscientious Americans, wish to eliminate from the social discourse.

What’s an Indie Author to do?

For myself, I would rather maintain my integrity than book sales, otherwise, I just fall into the category of “sell-out,” also known as bought-and-paid-for.

So, fair-warning to those who enjoy starting arguments and spreading lies, basing their arguments on erroneous information, and generally creating an environment of vitriolic conflict, absent of thoughtful, respectful debate. You are all entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to lie and poke sharp sticks at everyone who does not agree with you. I will speak my mind, and if you decide you no longer want to be on my friends list or support my career, so be it.

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We the People, Saying NO

Negativity. It’s not just a mindset anymore, now it’s a natural result of watching national election events. I’m talking about the negativity that arises naturally from watching the masses trail along the demi-gods like lemmings, believing the most obvious and outrageous lies, with no compunction about checking the facts on their own.

The hatred, the vitriol, the dirty-dealing, right under everyone’s noses while no one ever gets held accountable.

Maybe it’s more accurately disillusionment; but that word doesn’t seem strong enough. But it disgusts me. I see so much potential for us to have a peaceful, loving, integrity-filled world, but the process is so corrupt, that even the politicians who want to make meaningful changes, like Obama and Hillary, are constantly fighting this corruption just to get the simplest things done.

We the People. We’re the ones who have to speak. We’re the ones who have to say NO, this is not who we are. We’re the ones who have to make ourselves heard loud and clear, by casting a vote for democracy, even if it’s less than perfect, at least it’s not a theocracy, as the GOP would like it to be.

#Vote #ImWithHer



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Building Character

NT2BuildingCharacter_promosign2016 amazonprintKindlelogo

ScreenHunter_483 Mar. 14 13.35 ScreenHunter_482 Mar. 14 13.35 ScreenHunter_481 Mar. 14 13.34 ScreenHunter_480 Mar. 14 13.34 amazonprintKindlelogo

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The Trump Hypothesis

How did this happen? How did a man like Donald Trump find himself in the running for the highest office in the land? The inevitability of this quagmire is predicated on the nature of 459164_v1the man himself.

Initially, I believe he just enjoyed the attention he was getting. No surprise for a megalomaniac and narcissist. His usual bloviating in the realm of politics just happened to strike a nerve with the appropriately marginalized hate-mongers, and the situation grew exponentially like a virus. The more his ego was stroked, the more he got drawn into the vortex of the political   process. Inexorably, he was swept into sea of egomaniacal quid pro quo until the inevitable day arrived when he had to fish or cut bait. His hunger for approval had by then become so ravenous for the attention, that he’d become convinced of the proposition of himself as a viable candidate with something valuable to offer.

Howard Gardner, the respected researcher and developmental psychologist at Harvard, called Trump a “textbook narcissist.” And he’s not the only one.

In fact, he fits the profile so well that clinical psychologist George Simon told Vanity Fair, “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops.” This puts Trump in the same category as a number of infamous dictators like Muammar Gaddafi, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Saddam Hussein. And although there are narcissists out there who entertain us, innovate, or create great art, when a narcissist is given immense power over people’s lives, they can behave much differently. From <http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/a-neuroscientist-explains-trump-has-a-mental-disorder-that-makes-him-a-dangerous-world-leader/>

Asked what, if Mr. Trump were their patient, they would “work on” with him, several of the therapists laughed. “I’d be shocked if he walked in my door,” said Behary. “Most narcissists don’t seek treatment unless there’s someone threatening to take something away from them. There’d have to be some kind of meaningful consequence for him to come in.” Simon concurred but added, “There is help available, but it doesn’t look like the help people are used to. It’s not insight-oriented psychotherapy, because narcissists already have insight. They’re aware; the problem is, they don’t care. They know how you’d like them to act; the problem is, they’ve got a different set of rules. The kind of approach that can have some impact is confrontational. It confronts distorted thinking and behavior patterns in the here-and-now moment when the narcissists are doing their thing…”From <http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/donald-trump-narcissism-therapists>

With horror, I say that Adolf Hitler was also diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality FB_IMG_1453723204420Disorder. Others in the group include Saddam Hussein, Jim Jones, Ted Bundy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Joseph Mengele, Joseph Stalin.

In a 1990 interview for Vanity Fair, Trump’s ex-wife Ivana said that “from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed.” And later, Trump even verified this statement as true.

Anyone familiar with Mein Kampf, and the many speeches of Hitler, will be familiar with this quote:

“Any further immigration of non-Germans must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since August 2, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich immediately.” (Adolf Hitler). From <http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/25points.htm>

 Sound familiar?
JqbGFuVTrump’s statements about Mexican Immigrants being rapists and murderers, belies what the facts are. A grand majority of immigrants are peace-loving and law-abiding. His insistence that Muslims should be banned from the U.S., and that there should be a registry of Muslims, has done more than insult an entire religion, but it has played into the hands of ISIS, which featured the Donald in their recruitment video, just as predicted.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders cites the main features of narcissism thus: “grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one’s superiority; a lack of empathy.”

Yet, there are still groups of people who want a person like that to be the leader of the free world.

Recall Trump’s disgusting imitation of a disabled reporter?trumpmimicdisabledreporter

To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it’s antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That’s what he’s doing.” From <http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/donald-trump-narcissism-therapists>

We all recall the personal attack on Fox news channel anchor, Megyn Kelly, when he suggested her questions were out of line because she was on her period. He called a supreme court justice a “goat-fucking child molester.” He stated the John McCain was not a war hero, simply because he got captured and became a POW. He said Iowans had brain damage, when Ben Carson was polling ahead of him, there. The insults are relentless and characterized by Trump’s usual lack of a filter.

Narcissists are also quick to take credit for everything, if they feel it will elevate their status.

Narcissistic managers “lead with the main purpose of receiving personal credit or glory. When things go wrong or they make mistakes, they deny or distort information and ‘rewrite history’ in order to avoid getting blamed.” From <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201510/does-donald-trump-have-narcissistic-personality-disorder>

Trump took credit for Ford moving it’s Mexico plants back to the U.S. But,

In a statement to the Detroit Morning News, Ford confirms that Trump’s claim is false. “[A] spokeswoman confirmed Monday the automaker is not canceling its significant new investments in Mexico,” the paper reported. From <http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/10/26/3715936/trump-takes-credit-for-major-accomplishment-based-on-info-from-random-twitter-user-hilarity-ensues/>

In a tweet…Mr. Trump expressed all-capital-letters incredulity that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is “to launch large-scale deportation raids.” He not only said it was “about time” for the operation, but began his tweet by saying “Wow, because of the pressure put on by me …” From <http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/24/donald-trump-takes-credit-homeland-securitys-plann/>

When ABC severed It’s association with a New Hampshire newspaper, Trump took credit for that too, tweeting, “I am pleased to announce that I had the Union Leader removed from the upcoming debate.” From <http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-takes-credit-for-ending-abcs-debate-partnership/article/2580088>

<“When I hit Hillary and Bill last week—but I did the right thing—but they start saying, ‘Bernie Sanders is surging, an amazing thing is happening.’ I did that. I did it,” Trump told his audience, adding, “This guy Bernie Sanders, give me a break. They say he’s a socialist, some would say he’s a communist.”> From <http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-01-24/trump-takes-credit-for-sanders-rise-against-clinton>
There, you have an example of two different features of NPD, in one quote.

Trump…said his rhetoric condemning the Iranian regime played an integral part in securing the release of four U.S. prisoners.  “So I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might have had something to do with it,” Trump said at the South Carolina Tea Party Convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C. <From <http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/gop-primaries/266172-trump-takes-credit-for-iran-prisoner-release>

There are many more examples, and in fact, every time Trump speaks to reporters or to a crowd, he makes another statement of how great he is, and how he is responsible for things that other people get done.

Trump supporters are fond of saying that one reason they like him is he is not a politician. But in order to be a political leader, one must have a genuine understanding of how our political system works, and moreover, what the office of the president entails. It is also, in my considered opinion, crucial for a POTUS to be at their core a person of integrity, compassion, possessing a genuine need to help others and make the world a better place. Trump has shown no such understanding and in fact has never once delineated the specifics of his platform; the particulars of what he has to offer to the office and the nation. That’s because he hasn’t got a platform other than egomania, bullying and hatred.

6809e4bd0b10fbc91af08ff6aa1168631058beb5414be1dc1094124224528df8_1The presidency is neither a circus, nor a card game. Not performance art. Yet every speaking opportunity for Trump is a stage for his alarming, hateful rhetoric, awash with racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. His, is an ill-advised stand-up routine that plays to the lowest common denominator of human discourse. He doesn’t give speeches so much as he delivers a series of epithets, disjointed, nonsensical and non sequitur in every way. Obnoxious, repugnant one liners, which only serve to divide, bully, and belittle.

Trump is now at the helm of a runaway train of nuclear devices, and the only way he can be stopped is by the voters keeping him out.

Meanwhile our nation desperately needs another president who will continue the positive changes in spite of GOP obstructionism; a president who will continue to right the wrongs that the Bush administration caused.

If, in conjunction with the zealotry of the tea party, and the aforementioned obstructionist legislature, an inept, Naziesque person like Trump is allowed to gain the office of president, we would be perilously close to World War III in no time at all, since one of the most important qualifications of the president is diplomacy. Trump’s tongue, which is hinged in the middle and loose at both ends, would inevitably say the very thing that would incite some already-volatile leader to press a button that will mean devastation and war. Without hyperbole, I can say I believe America as we know it would be over.

Perhaps the most disheartening, the most disgusting of all, is the prevalence  of hate and intolerance and egocentrism present in the Trump electorate – that there are still such atavistic barbarians about, and more terrifying still, that they vote. Our free election society comes with its own tragic downside, and this election cycle is an amplified example of that downward spiral. Will the American voters be complicit in this feckless contempt for American sensibility? Will the more progressive and thoughtful and intelligent among us step up and speak with their vote? Time will tell.

But meanwhile, I wring my hands, shake my head and wonder what happened to the inherent goodness of human beings.

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Tropes, Motifs and Being Meta

old-book-and-magnifying-glassTropes, in one definition, are “devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.” There are many types, but one, in the subcategory of devices, we see quite frequently in crime shows on TV or in mystery books. There is a crime, and an investigation, and the first suspect is never the true suspect. That also gets into the Red Herring territory. For myself, I have always tried not to rely on tropes, simply because I don’t ever want the reader to easily predict what will happen. But I do have tropes of my own, which have begun to appear in my stories, and I’m okay with that, because I created them myself. Tropes like female characters, tropes like putting my characters through a specific type of hell before I allow them to come out the victor. Tropes, even, like allowing the good guys (or girls, as it were) to win in the end, and seeing the bad guys (or girls) get what’s coming to them.

Defined as, “a distinctive feature or dominant idea in an artistic or literary composition,”
Or “any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Through its repetition, a motif can help produce other narrative (or literary) aspects such as theme or mood.”

Motifs are as wide and varied as the authors who produce them. My motifs are no exception. Some of my motifs are:

  • The badness of men
  • The strength of women
  • The value of a trusted friend
  • The value of a good relationship
  • The omnipresent nature of Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Sometimes, having characters who are writers or detectives can also be construed as motifs. But then I also have meta-tropes and meta-motifs, like the frequent appearance of French doors, fireplaces, cabins in the woods or mountains, erotica, coffee, being an HSP, using eCigs, etc.

Now that I have a body of work created, I’ve realized that it’s an ongoing challenge, to continue to come up with something new, when the common caveat that “it’s all been done before” keeps hovering about. At first I thought I might be losing my creativity, but when you’ve rustic-living-room-with-stone-fireplace-and-fireplace-mantel-i_g-ISp9spu5h8dsls0000000000-CAkhgused all the obvious or naturally occurring things, you have to dig deeper. You have to meet some new people, read some more books by other authors, and have some new experiences. But there’s also quite a lot of author-preference involved, no matter how many times you hear a writer deny that there is anything of themselves in their books. It’s rare that a writer will create everything from a new seed. Most authors are hard-pressed to avoid their own likes, dislikes, beliefs, agendas, and passions, when crafting characters, plots, and motifs.

I always smile when I came across the Bougainvillea Dean Koontz uses whenever he describes what the environment looks like. I suspect Mr. Koontz had a few of those plants scattered about his own home and property, and maybe when he gazed out the window of his office, that’s what he saw first, and that familiar item found its way repeatedly into his work quite naturally. Perhaps he noticed it, and just kept doing it, as a running gag, or perhaps he never noticed he did that at all.

I did a quick search and found this, so will share, even though it veers off the main subjects a bit:

Hotel-Bougainvillea-Santo-Domingo11Q #1: I just read the advance proof of THE HUSBAND. Wow! INTENSITY moved fast, VELOCITY was fast, but this is a rocket. Fantastic! I adore Mitch. And Holly is a fabulous role-model. All the beautiful references to nature. Do you really know so much about flowers and trees? Will you re-do my yard? —Carmen, Connecticut

DEAN KOONTZ: Thanks for the effusive review, Carmen. Your check is in the mail. I’ve been interested in landscape design for at least thirty years. When we landscaped our current home, we had to import 240 trees, large and small, because the land was bare. Gerda and I visited nurseries and selected each specimen, which probably sounds insufferably boring to some folks, but we had a great time. I’m particularly familiar with Pacific Coast and Southwest plants. Last year I received a letter from a guy—let’s call him Grump—who said he was sick of encountering bougainvillea in so many of my novels. Bougainvillea is a vine with showy, colorful flowers, cascades of dazzling flowers. We don’t have any bougainvillea at our place because it grows faster than weeds and is very difficult to keep under control, but I enjoy it on other people’s properties. Grump said the word bougainvillea and the thought of it repelled him every time he encountered it. “By God,” he said, “if you don’t stop using it in your novels, I’ll stop reading them.” After advising him to seek psychiatric care, I looked over the manuscript of THE HUSBAND, discovered I hadn’t yet used the word bougainvillea, and at once added it to Chapter 23.

Read more: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/617431/#ixzz3xGMTPUNT

(In reference to the incident cited later in this essay, Maybe i should have added a few more blank pages before i put In Absentia back up.)

Either way, every author is guilty of infusing his/her work with personal details.

I also literally and literarily, run out of things to choose from, after so many novels. Like brandedgenericnames, locations, cars, plots, occupations, plot devices, etc. Partly, that’s due to my own stylistic preferences. I’ve never been a generalities writer, so while I also believe in an economy of words when providing details and descriptions, I also believe I am able to do that because I am so specific about certain things. There are some compelling reasons for this specificity, which I detailed in my essay, Distracting Fiction: Brands Vs. Generic (http://kellijaebaeli.com/distracting-fiction-brand-vs-generic/) But suffice to say, I believe that what type of car a person drives is a method of character elucidation, likewise, what foods and beverages they like, how they dress, how they make love, who they respect or detest, when they reach their limit, what they cherish, what occupation they choose–all these particulars are methods to provide insight into that character and give the reader a fuller picture of who they really are.

As for the meta aspects, I really enjoy finding the layers of meaning, the connective tissue between people and those they love, their fears and hopes and dreams, their weaknesses and strengths, their inciting motivations.

As an illustration of meta, from the humor files, we find “An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar. The bartender turns to them, takes one look, and says, “What is this – some kind of joke?” That too, is meta. Another one I enjoy is, “What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?” or “I hope one day to live in a world where a chicken can cross the road, without having its motives questioned.”

7-droste-effectMeta is a relatively new term being bandied about these days, but it does have layers of meaning. like The Droste effect—”known as mise en abyme in art—is the effect of a picture appearing within itself, in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear. The appearance is recursive: the smaller version contains an even smaller version of the picture, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size. It is a visual example of a strange loop, a self-referential system of instancing which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry.”

This is what i think of as Visual-Meta.

Anyway, I believe meta originated with the Internet search engines (the underlying subcategories of things, or unseen information beneath the obvious subject) and things the-selfish-gene-0192860925-like categories of genres on Amazon ( SIDENOTE: I have a continual problem with categories as my work is never neatly in one category, and it’s not accurate to place it there, solely). But just like the term “meme” originated with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, when he spoke of the nature of genes, meta had become more than its original definition. Dawkins coined the term in his book, The Selfish Gene way back in 1976. It was “a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena.” The concept, again in an ironic, meta way, EVOLVED, until now it is also not only “(of a creative work) referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential,” but it is blended with meta and irony.

I have thus had writer-characters name their books the same as a title of my own; I have given my cat’s names to their cats, I have used irony and references that reflect my own experiences, and braided them together with the meta elements, as in writing about Cuddle Clonescharacters who are writing about writing.

A writer-character talking about character development is also meta, because it is in a book about a character, and the author is developing the character by showing them developing a character. This subject has also blended into a form of soapboxing, wherein I speak my own truth, through the mouths of the characters, even while i explore mindsets that i have absolutely no affiliation with. Some forays into this contrary aspect have been difficult and even painful to write, but we must honor the material, even when it isn’t easy. Regardless, I always try to teach the reader something. I always try to examine sometimes uncomfortable subjects, when I feel they need more airtime.

One of my favorite meta-moments in my own work, was in In Absentia, the second book in the Rain Falls series. The two main characters are authors, and I titled one of the chapters Writer’s Block, and then left that page blank and moved on to the next chapter. How_to_Beat_Writers_Block_for_Content_MarketersThis was meta, plus irony, plus humor. Unfortunately, like a rubber band, this stretch snapped back and I got flogged by my own attempt to be clever, because several readers complained to Amazon that that there was a blank page in my book. Amazon even jerked the book down for a few days, until I contacted them to explain, and then they put it back up. But it didn’t give me writer’s block. (See Adventures in Indie Publishing, Incident #227: http://kellijaebaeli.com/adventures-indie-publishing-incident-227/)

Also, in Rain Falls, I had the Tegan Lowry character working on a book titled, Saturation HeatbooksPoint, and that’s an actual book I’m working on; further, I am flirting with the idea of putting Tegan Lowry on it as the co-author, and even including her author bio along with mine, using her backstory from the book. Very meta.

James Patterson did a version of this, when he springboarded off his TV character in Castle, who is a writer. He offered real books supposedly written by Richard Castle, even though Richard Castle was a fictional character who wrote books.

The meta-thing has been around since Primordial Ooze, but it has had different names– general ones, like irony–but those monikers never quite pinpointed the nuance of what meta is. Like, you go to the store and buy a trash can, they put it in a bag. You take it home, remove it from the bag, and then put the bag in the trash can.

And naturally, I just had a tangent-thought: It occurred to me that it might be problematic to actually throw away a trash can. The garbage collectors would probably never pick it up. They’d just leave it on the curb. That too, is meta.

In the first of my AKA Investigations series, I wrote a scene wherein Jobeth O’Brien gets hired for her first job, because another patron noticed her reading a book about investigations. That’s a multi-layered-meta, because a few readers complained that this PIbrunobookwas not realistic, even contrived, but the irony there was that this really happened to me, back when I was flirting with the idea of becoming a private investigator. This also moves into the area of truthiness and the irony of fiction that has to seem like truth, but not too true, or it won’t seem real. Basically, writers sometimes have to alter the truth to make something seem true, but then, by augmenting it to allow for human psychology, they, in effect, render it a lie. I wrote several essays about that, too. Like, Stranger Fiction, Reviews & Truthiness (http://kellijaebaeli.com/stranger-fiction-reviews-truthiness/) and The Truth of Fiction (http://kellijaebaeli.com/the-truth-of-fiction/)

I have also mentioned characters from other books in another one. That may not be so much meta as it is what I call Cross-pollination in fiction.

Anyway, I have a great deal of meta in my work, but I often have trouble remembering it until I come across it again, because being meta, is itself, META.

All of this chicanery is quite a lot of fun, and a prerequisite, I believe, for any author, who necessarily spends quite a lot of time in her own head, and in isolation. We are not just entertaining the reader when we write, we are entertaining ourselves.


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Full-Contact Leaf-Blowing

fallenmannequinSore today. Took a fall while leaf-blowing on the back patio yesterday. My foot slid out of my nurse’s clog, (yes I know, not outside yard-working shoes, but hey, they’re insanely comfortable) and I bent my ankle over, then fell, landing on my opposite knee, and both hands on the patio stones. The leaf blower landed in the pond. My knee, my foot/ankle, both wrists and even my left shoulder joint (a recurring issue) were screwed.

(It’s funny, how something like that happens so fast, you sort of wake up on the ground and have to use your memory to figure out what just happened).

The first thing I did, of course, was look around to see if any of the neighbors had seen me. No adult wants to be seen falling down. I resisted the urge to jump up and do a gymnastics stance, with my arms in the air, in anticipation of those score cards going up.
9.8….9.5…4.2 (there’s always one bastard in the judge’s pool).

I think it’s quite funny when adults fall down, but the degree of humor is predicated on whether or not it’s me or someone else doing the falling.

Melissa turned around from raking and saw me sitting there, as though I had just inexplicably sat down–perhaps suddenly exhausted from standing about holding the little leaf blower. Then I looked up at her and said, “I fell.”

She came rushing over and checked me out, and I said, “Go unplug the leaf blower, beforegreenworks-24072-12-amp-variable-speed-electric-mulcher-blower-vac we have an electrical fire and ruin it.” She did, and came back to help me up, and inside and then ordered me to the sofa so she could apply ice packs on the offended parts while i caught up on Rachel Maddow recordings.

It made me feel old. It’s not as though I fell from the roof of the house. I just fell from the deck, one step down to the patio. I mean, TODDLERS fall down all the time, and even if they cry, they don’t really get hurt. I suspect (and hope) it has something to do with the laws of inertia, or the size of the falling object, and it’s weight (no wisecracks). Perhaps Lisa Stafford and her science-mind can WEIGH IN on this one.

With a bit more thought, I realized Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as, *An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.* I suppose I was the unbalanced force, but I acted upon myself. But then, Newton’s Second Law of motion is *all objects free fall at the same rate regardless of their mass.* So that would mean if a toddler didn’t get hurt, I shouldn’t either. I’m rationalizing myself into a very embarrassing corner, here.

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Venetian Blinds

VenetianBlinds30Nov2015frcoverPRINT_220xA collection of short fiction by bestselling, genre-hopping indie author, Kelli Jae Baeli, which are, as the author says in her Before Words, “some funny, some strange, some serious, and some even flirt with the Dark Side (where, social media tells me, they have cookies).” She adds, “Populating these stories are an unusual alien; a ghost, Captain Kirk; Beowulf’s spoofy illegitimate warrior-daughter, a violence victim; a stiff, oblivious couple; an estranged daughter; a vengeful girl, a confused young woman; murderous offspring; a frustrated female rookie cop…” None have a common thread or common genre, but all are snippets of the style of writing Baeli has become known for, whether in niche-market or mainstream books: unique, interesting, entertaining and clever. ~Lesbian Literati



Before Words i
Teeny Weenie Man 1
Author’s Note on Teeny Weeny Man 37
Chickens Come Home 41
The Ghost & Captain Kirk 47
Therefore, I Am 55
Becoming A Statistic 83
Burn Her to the Ground 93
House Of Escher 101
Snick Snock 111
True Blue Colors 115


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