Raindrops on Roses

tortoiseXbabyThe news is daunting these days, but then–when isn’t the news daunting? The news thrives on being daunting, and as much as I believe a voting American has a duty to remain well informed about current affairs, I also believe the media has abdicated any sense of balance in favor of spewing a constant stream of ratings bait. 

tigerThe bad news is not the whole story, though. Homelessness nationally is trending down, and among vets it’s way down (36 to 50 percent, depending on the definition used). For the first time in a hundred years, the Galapagos Island turtles are having babies–hundreds of them–that survive to hatch. 

Or how ’bout this: The North American bison, brown pelican, and humpback whale have all been brought back from the brink of extinction. The Siberian tiger population has grown to ten times its all time low, and the California condor–down to 22 known individuals in 1982–now numbers in the several hundreds, half of them wild. 

bisonSo, yes we have problems, and there’s much to worry about and work on, but we’re also capable of relentless determination, ingenuity, and resilience. And lo, yonder comes the holiday season, and I’m here to say, there’s a lot to celebrate. 

I get to watch Rudolph, and see my fave squeeze, the Bumble, put the star on the tree. 

Eggnog–one glass, with a dash of nutmeg. 

bumble-rudolph.jpg-5520The first snow flurries. 

Gifts in the mail–my sister sent me flannel sheets! 

The peace on earth in January, when we no longer have to listen to Those Songs… you know the ones I mean. Do not say their names, or you will condemn us all to earworms. 

Days off, even they’re not off. When most everybody else is not in the office, even if I AM in the office, it’s half way to a holiday. 

So, yes, we need to solve our problems, but we also need to rejoice and recall our successes, because those are real and important too. 

Heard any good news lately? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Axel–The Jaded Gentlemen, Book III. 



Yours Gratefully….

grisAt a time when the air is full of uncertainty, heartache, disappointment, and anger, this I know: I am grateful. 

Grateful to have the necessities of life–food, clothing, shelter from the elements as winter closes in, reasonably priced medication for chronic conditions, and a lot of general good health otherwise.

Grateful for basics that will contribute to a long life expectancy: clean air, water,HahnXcherry and food; meaningful work; physical safety from most crime; access to medical services when I need them.

Grateful for basic civil rights: the right to vote, to equal protection under the law, to privacy, to freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, and other legal protections.

Grateful for my family, all of whom are accounted for, in reasonable health, and on good terms with each other. 

Grateful for literacy, and for a society that values literacy. 

Grateful for a life where creative self-expression forms a part of my every day, and even a large part of my livelihood.dick

Grateful for my friends, who tend to ask little and give much, and to give me the space I need to be happy, among other gifts.  

Grateful for technology that connects me to knowledge, wisdom, entertainment, and PEOPLE, that I couldn’t otherwise be in touch with. 

Grateful for my beasts, past and present, who give me much comfort and joy in their simple companionship.

SweetestXScoundrelGrateful for the natural world, in all its ever-changing loveliness and challenge. I wilt if I’m away from the countryside for too long, and I delight in the places only lightly touched by human hands.  

Grateful for little things–polarfleece; amaryllis flowers; organic certified-humane brown eggs; a new Elizabeth Hoyt historical (comes out on Tuesday!), kittens, snow flurries, and much more.

What are you grateful for? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amazon gift card.  

But on the other hoof…

Mane Man 003I love horses. Always have. From the time I was old enough to hold a crayon, the only thing I’ve attempted to draw (with no success whatso) is a horse. The first book my parents gave me for Christmas was mostly pictures of pony breeds. As a teenager, I was happiest on the back of a horse. When I was hogtied in the Slough of Despond in my mid-thirties, horses towed me back onto solid ground. 

So when, a couple years ago, some very good horse friends called and said, “We found the very best horse for you. Come take a test ride!” I–who HATE to fly–was on the next puddlejumper. 


He was handsome, he was kind. He had no ambitions beyond mine, he was lovable, huggable.. and he was in Florida. By the time I got him home to Maryland, we were in the dedda-winter. The barn I’d found was an hour away, I couldn’t click with a trainer, couldn’t get to see my pony very often, couldn’t ride enough to feel any sense of returning fitness. 

It just wasn’t working–for me or for him. When I told my daughter this, she asked if maybe Dante would be happy with her for a while, and in another year or so, I could try to re-establish my horse girl creds. Well… you do what’s best for the horse. Always, no matter what. They put their trust in us, and that’s the end of the discussion, as far as I’m concerned. I sent him west, and he came off the trailer three-legged, head-bobbing, lame.

dante-heather-rainbow-206x300He’d been injured in transit–though try proving that–and thus needed a long layup. My brother came to the rescue, making a bunk for Dante in Sante Fe, though Dante speaks dressage, and my brother’s more of a trail-riding, gallop across the high desert, kinda guy. Dante gradually regained his soundness, but at this point, he was 2000 miles from home. Getting him back to Maryland would have been astronomically expensive, and for all I know, he might have ended up re-injured. 

I let him go. Friends and friends and friends helped me out, and the upshot is my boy now has a forever home at a lovely facility that does both therapeutic and abled riding. He’ll be OK, in other words, while I’m left to wonder why I let one of the most surefire sources of happiness DanteXawayXin my life slip through my fingers. I simply didn’t put forth the effort to make it work when I had the chance.

Worse, I might not ever put forth that effort again. I hope not–but when I look back on 2015, and see me driving in Scotland, checking out a M.Litt program, and publishing like a house afire… I also see Dante, moseying down the trail, and the rider on his broad and comfy back will never be me.

Have you had to let go, move on, take a pass, or comfort yourself with hope for another try another day?  To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of What A Lady Needs for Christmas, wherein our hero was named Dante. For reasons.   

Dream Big

Facts and FiguresI’m indebted to my daughter for coining what I think of as our family motto. “Dream BIG–It could happen.” She came up with this exhortation when she was about eleven years old, and new to the world of horse shows. She and her first horse, a venerable Crabbet Arabian trotting past his quarter-century birthday, garnered a national award in the discipline of dressage. 

dante-heather-rainbow-206x300To be eleven years old, winning national recognition for any accomplishment is a big deal, though not for the recognition. The take away for Beloved Offspring was that hard work, team work, luck, and persistence could result in enormous dreams coming true. Not every dream, not every time, but some dreams…some really, really big dreams. She had waited years for that horse, and spent hour after hour riding in all kinds of weather, showing in all kinds of weather, and try-try-again-ing against much more mature and experienced competitors. 

Dream BIG–it could happen. With this thought in the back of my mind, I’ll move on to describe a third significant moment from 2015.

GraceXatXEileanXDonanI scheduled my first 2015 trip to Scotland hoping to meet two personal goals. First, I wanted to hear Dougie MacLean perform live. More on that another time, but the concert was wonderful. Second, I wanted to begin investigating the possibility of earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from a Scottish University–or an M.Litt, as they call it.

This is a Big Dream. I haven’t had a Big Dream for quite a while. Becoming a published author, oddly enough, was not a big dream. I wrote twenty books without any aspiration to become published, and only tossed my hat in that ring because my family kept bugging me. Then too, pitching an editor wasn’t much effort, and the first editor I pitched offered me a contract.

my fair isle jammiesBut to spend a year doing nothing but rambling around Scotland and writing? That’s a huge, enormous, gigantic dream. It will not come true though, if I never take steps to make it so. I’ve been all over the internet researching programs, and I have some idea what I’d focus on for my year of writing. I found a university in central Scotland that seemed to have a lot of what I wanted, emailed the appropriate professor, and ended up having a lovely conversation with him that only made me more hopeful that some day, I can be among the program’s students.

Daniel final PEACH coverAnd so I moved closer to making a dream come true. The meeting clarified what my next steps need to be, what hurdles might be higher than I thought, which ones more tedious or daunting. This dream will be exorbitantly expensive, but I also think it could be endlessly rewarding. I love to write, I love Scotland–it could happen, right?

And best of all, while I was chatting up the professor I learned something wonderful: The school has a PhD program in creative writing, which gives me an even bigger dream to ponder.  

Are you nurturing a dream, however grand or modest? Are there first steps you can take toward making the dream come true? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Daniel’s True Desire. 

Driving Miss Grace

photo (9)To continue my discussion of Wows and Wonderfuls for 2015…

Scotland has more scenery than you can imagine. As one person put it, a postcard out every window. Imagine a place the size of South Carolina that includes palm trees, reindeer, hundreds of islands, the largest neolithic henge in Europe, the best preserved neolithic village in Europe, northern lights, the Willow Tea Rooms, hairy coos, TABLET, nearly 200 whisky distilleries, castle and kilts (of course!)… and top notch public transportation.

The Scottish Crannog Center

The Scottish Crannog Center

Here’s the catch, though. Scotland also has the Highlands, which remain some of the least populous terrain in any developed country. The English got around to building a few roads through the Highlands in the 18th century to facilitate troop movements, and that was pretty much the last major infrastructure initiative in the northwestern half of Scotland.

The top notch public transportation is the sunny side of a situation that can require driving forty miles around a loch that’s

Castle Jamie... I mean DOUNE.

Castle Jamie… I mean DOUNE.

one mile across; and that road, she is QUITE scenic and might be one lane in places.

This is why I count among my major accomplishments in 2015, DRIVING IN SCOTLAND–all by myself. I started off as a co-pilot to a travelin’ buddy who knew what she doing behind a Scottish wheel. When we reached the MacBoondocks, she let me have a turn. Eventually, I solo’d, rented my own vehicle, and even tooled around in Perth, a city of 50,000.

Orkney - Ring of Brodgar

Orkney – Ring of Brodgar

“So you drove in Scotland. What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that for an American, you are sitting on the passenger side of the vehicle, and you are piloting that car down the wrong side of the highway. When you pull out of the parking lot at major attractions, you will see signs in six languages admonishing all and sundry to “KEEP LEFT.”

train_1618801cDrivers in Scotland apparently come in more than six languages. Wheee! Add to this the fact that in much of the country, the road signs are in two languages, and your American brain takes a while to figure out which one is English.

And guardrails? Guardrails are for countries in need of tort law reform and single payer health care systems. In Scotland, you will see the occasional guard rail, but you’re morel likely to see sheep on the highway.Then there are the roundabouts… sheep on skye

Yes, I count driving in Scotland as an accomplishment, in part because I want to live there someday, and to see all there is to see, driving is a necessary skill. In a small way, it’s like learning the language so I can talk to the locals. 

Daniel final PEACH coverI tackled this challenge in what I think were planned, manageable, safe steps, but maybe you’ve set some challenges in the past year that required more of a leap of faith. I’d like to hear about both approaches to challenges met and bested in 2015, and to one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Daniel’s True Desire.

And if you’d like to join me for 2016’s adventure in Scotland, click here for more  information on Scotland with Grace (and hairy coos, kilts, and castles)!  




All Together Now

blog fall colorsThe days grow shorter, the leaves come down, the temperatures drop, and I’m already thinking in terms reviewing 2015 for lessons learned and memories to save. This was not an easy year for me–too many deadlines, more than a few disappointments, even disappointments I have to honestly label as betrayals. 

And the issue with a betrayal isn’t (usually) that somebody has abused my trust. Some people do that. It’s the lingering sense that I’m not smart enough to see the Undertoads hopping in my direction. I’m STILL not smart enough to see the Undertoads coming, gorsethough I’ve certainly thinned their ranks as the years have gone by. Undertoads are the thorns on the flowers of life. Their lies steal stuff–money, property, time–but they also steal trust and self-confidence, and for that, I hope the cosmic scales weigh them heavily. 

But 2015 has also been a terrific year. I’ve published a lot of material I’m proud of (some of it on this blog!), I’ve maintained dear friendships, my loved ones are mostly thriving, and my health is in many ways quite good. More significantly, my dreams are in tact, and that’s an enormous sign of a life on the right track. 

EdinburghMontageSeveral experiences are topping my current list of Wow! for 2015, about which I’ll be blogging in the weeks to come. The first was being in Edinburgh last spring during a solar eclipse. With my nose in a book or a manuscript, and me having an allergy to what passes for news these days, my awareness of the coming event was vague. Eclipses happen, seen a few partials, the light gets funny…. they move on. 

But this one was nearly a full eclipse. The entire outline of the moon was visible passing in front of the sun, and it so happened this occurred in the middle of a lovely, sunny morning. EVERYBODY went outside, stood around, chatted, and watched (indirectly if they were prudent) what was going on intell stories the heavens. Business stopped, gossip stopped, deadlines were pushed aside. 

The light became beautiful, ethereal clouds drifted past, making the outline of the moon even more observable, people got quiet. Many pictures were taken, but for once, the selfie-angle photo was aimed away from the self. Magic was in the air, along with a sense of “I’ll remember this when I’m old and feeling un-special.”

For a few minutes, nobody was grouchy, nobody was unappreciated, nobody was worried about the afternoon’s presentation. To a small and benevolent degree, the Daniel final PEACH coverindividual isolation we glorify as privacy and “personal autonomy” was muted in shared wonder.

That was my first morning of a trip that had many moments of wonder, but it was also a Big Deal. Everywhere I looked, I saw strangers… and I didn’t. I saw people, regular, hard-working, heart-hoping, people, just like me, and it was good. 

The Undertoad took a kick in the tail, too, and that was also a fine thing. 

Have you started your year end retrospection yet? Any Wow’s or Wonderfuls to share? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Daniel’s True Desire, which is one of those accomplishments this year I’m proud of. 


Falling Out of Love

blog fall colorsFall is my FAVORITE season. Love the cooler weather, the better sleep, the winter coats on my cats, the absence of house flies and ‘skeetos… Oh, I LOVE FALL!!!

BUT part of the challenge of being a writer is to wrap my imagination around perspectives foreign to my own. Not everyone loves fall. Some people just about go into hibernation at the end of summer, if not outright mourning. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a thing, the lock-step schedule imposed by having school age children is another thing. In some parts of the country, hurricane season is a very big thing and on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, people woke up to more than dusting of snow this weekend. 

blog pansies in snowIf I must write a character who doesn’t like to see summer end, I’ll do that more convincingly if I can rummage around inside my own experience, and find places where–to be honest–I don’t love EVERYTHING about fall. I haven’t always hated EVERYTHING about exercise. Good dark chocolate is NOT the answer to world peace. 

So here are a few things about fall that I’m not so keen on: 

The yard flowers mostly die, dead. Yes, the pansies can last a little longer, but other than that… buh-bye happy yard until spring. 

The bugs go away, but when the cornfields come down, the mice start looking for winter quarters. I’m OK with house guests I can neither see nor hear, but the cats and the mice… there’s evidence of an inter-species conflict occasionally, you know? 

Chapped lips. blog marquette

On the truly cold days, those first five miles of the drive into town.

The potty seat in an old farmhouse, which I’m telling you friends and neighbors, has an ability to conserve COLD, contrary to the dictates of all known physics. 

The impact of colder weather on the homeless. Like a lot of small communities, where I live has a “cold weather” shelter that has limited capacity and is only opeblog furry kittyn from November to March. Lower temperatures mean caloric needs go up, which means more money spent on food, and yet, we’re weeks away from a safe place for these people to sleep. When I climb into bed each night, I’m well aware that one out of eight of our homeless are veterans, and many of them do not want to be on the street.

So yes, I love fall! But. For a writer, in that space between “I love” and “but” a lot of character credibility, plot depth, and reader resonance can germinate. The other direction works just as well. I do NOT like summer’s heat and bugs, but oh, I love the flowers! Love hearing the birds caroling at 5 a.m. through my open windows and doors.

CIDS coverWhat about you? Where are your buts? Love the pumpkin spice, but not so much the dark nights? Can’t stand the cold but really do enjoy a baking day? Never thought you’d have anything good to say about winter, but….?

To one commenter, I’ll send a copy of Christmas In Duke Street, in which my character Gervaise Stoneleigh, is no fan of the holidays AT ALL, but he loves a woman who celebrates Yuletide with a passion–for him!



Remember Who You Are, Grace

scotland screenYou would not believe how complicated refreshing the look and organization of a website is. An entire team is working, working, working on my website, buffing everything from the magical code I will never comprehend, to the organization of the material, to the visuals that decorate a graceburrowes.com web page.  

This exercise has yielded some surprising insights, about the books, but also about ME. As we’re working through what connects all of the books and stories, what images fit for each sub-genre, I have to think about why I write what I do. Why my heroes talk to their horses, why so photo (9)many of my books are set in the countryside, the gardens, the conservatories and parks…

Of all the settings a writer can choose, why do I go back to those, regardless of whether we’re in the Victorian Highlands, contemporary Maryland, or Regency England? 

morningI know part of what sustains me, what feeds my soul, is being close to mother nature and animals, and to the people who share those affinities. I hadn’t realized why.

When I was an adolescent, emerging from childhood into those fraught teen years, my parents were absolutely overwhelmed with the five children older than me, and the rambunctious boy coming along behind me. I found a refuge on my godparents’ farm, where instead of being an easily overlooked sub-sub-sub-sub-middle child, I was valued for myself.

I was one of the “big kids,” rather than an awkward sixth in line, and on the farm I was expected to work hard and make a contribution… which I did. I also had endless, enormous fun, much of it on tdante-heather-rainbow-206x300he back of a horse.

Fast forward to my mid-thirties, seven years into single-parenting. I was sick with an auto-immune disorder, exhausted, lonely and bowed under by a constant diet of child abuse cases. I recall my little daughter standing beside my bed one Saturday morning, waiting patiently for me to GET UP. I didn’t care if I ever got up again, but I cared very much about her. “When was the last time you were happy?” I asked myself. 

The answer came back: “When I was a teenager on a horse, half my lifetime ago.”  I got a horse. I got back to the barn, to the fresh air, to what keeps me sane. I’m not talking about a casual affection for pretty horses, either.Mane Man 003

An example: I recall a riding lesson that went just awfully. My usually lovely horse had turned up stubborn and contrary. He would not listen to me!  My instructor was bumfuzzled because there didn’t appear to be any reason for all this contention between horse and rider.

We agreed to give up and try again another day, then I–who “never” cry except at romance novels–started to cry… not about the riding, but about the heroin-addicted parent I’d interviewed the day before, who’d been responsible for his four-year-old’s death. Got off and hugged the hell out of my horse for taking care of me, even when I’d been riding like a tantruming idiot.

andy beanThere’s a reason Thomas and Matthew first show their gallantry in the stables, Tremaine proposes in a sheep byre, Penelope and Levi’s first kiss is among the fluffy rabbits, Westhaven’s only ally in courtship is old Pericles, and Noah and Thea become a couple only when she keeps a vigil with him all night in the barn.  

I know where my home is, I know who my people are. Some of them are four-legged people, and parts of my home are losing their leaves about now, but from these foundations, I can believe in happily ever afters, and in the power of love. When I can write that belief into my stories, straight up from the roots that sustain me, you get some of my best work.    wool and thorns tight crop

Where is your home, who are your people? To one commenter, I’ll send a copy of The Virtuoso, another story about somebody who healed his heart by taking refuge in the countryside. 


Manure My Dad Says

blog duke and duchess goyaIn many regards, my models for the duke and duchess of Moreland are my parents, a couple now married more than seventy years. They are still best friend, still sharing their own household into their nineties, though with a lot of help. Along the way, both parents have shared the occasional gem of wisdom, and I’ve hoarded those jewels up, and admired them often.

One comment my dad has often made has been a particularly frequent comfort. “You never know when you’re winning.” By this he means, the occasional set back, defeat, outright humiliation even, could be the kindest blog duke and duchess of cambridgeturn life could do you. As a young person, such guidance seems ridiculous. If we don’t get the job of our dreams, we’re devastated, and sure in our miserable bones the employer has made the wrong choice. 

The person we fell for so hard dumps us after the third date, when we… you know. That date. Then… nothing. 

But my dad backed up his aphorisms with stories. He, for example, wanted to be a dairy farmer, for all he’d been raised mostly on Long Island and along the Philadelphia Main Line. What he knew about dairy cows was next to nothing, but that fresh air, hard work, contributing to the fooblog beautiful dairy farmd supply… for reasons I can’t fathom, that was his dream. 

He got a job on one of those long, shiny silver milk trucks, going from farm to farm to collect the milk for the dairy cooperative. This was the first step in his grand scheme to buy an interest in a cow, then a cow, blog dairy truckthen two cows that he could breed. At the end of five years, he’d own a small herd, rented out to the best farmer in the valley, and be on his way as a dairy tycoon. 

You gotta admire the guy’s vision. 

A few weeks into the job, Himself was probably pondering his vision a little too hard, because he forgot to connect the truck’s drain hose to the holding tank at the diary. Two days worth of milk for multiple farms went right into the dirt, and Dad lost his job, as well as any prayer of a good reference for a similar work. 

blog muddy bootsHe was devastated. Wrecked, ruined. Dreams in tatters. Nothing to start over with. The Big Black Moment at the age of eighteen, memories of a childhood spent enduring the Depression turning black to desperate.

All was lost… until into this youthful miasma of hopelessness came Dad’s Uncle John, who’d taken an interest in Dad (and my grandma) when grandma had divorced my grandfather. Uncle John had noticed about Dad what Dad hadn’t noticed about himself. 

The same intellect that could chart a path from penniless to dairy tycoon, could chart a course through college. At a time when only seven percent of the population had a college degree (circa 1938), Uncle John realized that Dad had those intellectual chops and more to spare. 

Dad loved college, thrived in an academic environment, found an excellent scientific mentor, and over the course of time ended up in an endowed research chair at a major university. His field of expertise was…dairy science. He supported a family of nine on a blog happy cowprofessor’s salary, had great fun, traveled all over the world, inspired graduate students from many countries, and has more than 400 publications to his name. 

Best of all, he never once got whacked in the face with a cow tail covered in manure, all because his dream did not come true. 

I hold my father’s example close on the days when it seems our country will never find its balance, or a loved Oxe eye daisies at Aldbury Nowers in Hertfordshireone will never find hers. Dark nights can yield bright dawns, hard struggles can bring enduring wisdom, and closed doors can result in open minds. I don’t have to see those dawns or have both hands on the wisdom to know my dad was right: We don’t know when we’re winning, so marching forward in good faith and with as much honesty and kindness as we can muster will always be a good choice.

When did you think you were losing, only find out later–sometimes much later–you were headed for a better path? To one commenter, I’ll send a copy of Christmas in Duke Street, which releases October 15. 


Play It Where It Labels


blog old couple holding handsAn editor I heard speaking at a conference once told the roomful of writers she wouldn’t buy a manuscript unless the magic words were on the page somewhere. “I love you,” was mandatory in her book, a sina qua non of the genre. 

I agree, and I don’t. I don’t agree that HEARING the words matters that much. My companion animals never say them to me, babies can’t say them, many adults have no powers of speech, and yet, the ability of these wordless souls to love and make others feel loved is beyond question. 

blog Sign I love youTurns out, the words are important for the character speaking or thinking them. When we’re beset by emotion, our minds rabbiting around with feeling, our hearts full, putting a label on the feeling reduces our sense of stress and calms our brains. This is especially true of negative emotions, which can ricochet around inside of us for days. 

I see this in the courtroom, when therapists who work with upset children are asked to testify. One of the basic questions put the therapist is, “What are your therapeutic goals for this child?” The answer, inevitably, includes something like, “Caleb is working on saying what he feels.”

blog old man and dogThis does not mean working on getting him to admit he doesn’t like his mom’s nasty boyfriend–that will come much later–but rather, simply saying, “I feel angry,” or, “I feel hopeless.” Just giving the mind a word to describe the feelings calms down the mental riot the emotions generate. Brain scans confirm what the child can tell you: Being able to name what you feel helps you control your emotions, rather than be controlled by them. 

blog pup and kittenThink about all the material on the internet intended to sway our emotions, to lure us to click, comment, sign the petition, speak out, do this, get up on our hind legs, don’t stand for that… How often are we invited to stop, think about what we feel, and stay with it long enough to find an accurate name for it?

No wonder a hero or heroine can take 343 pages to realize, “This is love.”  But when they do recognize their sentiments as the real deal, we can almost see them become calmer, more resolute, clear-eyed people in our mind’s eye. The same transformation blog girl and horsetakes place when somebody, in the midst of great upheaval, can say, “I feel betrayed,” or, “I feel powerless.”

A few words, a big impact, a start on moving past those uncomfortable sentiments. And “just keep swimming” as a strategy? Erm… maybe not. Trying to ignore or repress negative emotions can make those brain scans go truly haywire. That’s why the character who pats the hero’s hand and reminds him, “It could always be worse. You mustn’t over-react, put it behind you…” is often in cahoots with the villain.

Name what’s in your heart. It matters.

Have you ever had an “Aha!” moment when you came up with the right label for feelings that had been plaguing you? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of “Matthew–The Jaded Gentlmen, Book II.”