Wingspan: The Sky Is Not The Limit (TTL Series Book 2) by Diane Ryan

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ANOTHER YOUNG MAN is killed in his prime, with so much to live for–(“He was halfway through season two of Game Of Thrones and had just ordered season three from Amazon. Everything pointed to a man who was not planning to die”–ha! Love it!)–and so much to prove, he just can’t move on–until Diane Ryan soars again with the second riveting, electrifying tale in the “Talking to Luke” series. 

Twice in a row, Ryan has knocked me out with a remarkable novel in this world of mediocre books (from the Big House books, from the indie glut). Her stories are vivid, passionate, strange and wondrous, sensuous and totally real. Her southern settings and characters come to life no matter how minor the character – even a pet cat or dog – though after reading Diane Ryan novels, you may never again think of animals as “just” pets. Kobi, Nero, Astrid, all the critters are as real to me as the people, and I have to keep reminding myself the people are mere figments of one woman’s imagination.
The opening pages take us up in the air with Kip, a veteran pilot who knows what he’s doing and loves every minute of it. We’re in good hands with this man, and with the author who’s taking us along for the ride. The prose seems effortless, and Ryan puts us so firmly in the pilot’s POV (Point of View), we feel every hitch and every stomach-turning, then heart-stopping, new glitch. The most chilling thing about this? A real-life news story, and a pilot like Kip, inspired this scene. It isn’t “just” fiction. (If there’s a bright side, the real life story was not a conspiracy gone bad.)
Whether Ryan writes in first person or third, you can count on a singular voice that’s honest and  compelling. Chapter One opens with Kip: “Easy on the yoke, back by degrees, and she levels off–she’s a tight little aircraft, and I’m glad the boss put her in service. I’m the first to take her up with passengers, and I glance around to make sure they’re all happy. Three faces beam back at me, a mother and two half-grown kids, a girl and a boy….They paid more than a hundred bucks for a twenty-minute ride–have to make sure they get their money’s worth. I’ll take them down the beach, let them see their hotel from the air, swing around to open water and hopefully catch a tailwind home.”
Or not.
The electrical system fails. With no warning, the engine sputters and dies.
“… The failures in this fixed-wing–they don’t happen. Not like this. Not one right after the other, totally unrelated malfunctions…this probably won’t end well. The four of us are about to make the six o’clock news–I’m just not sure yet what kind of story it’s going to be.”
Oh Kip!

Chapter Two opens with Tania, and not the way we want to remember her from Book One, with Luke. Their little miracle of a son is suffering symptoms that eerily parallel the lurid details of the preceding scene.

Readers, I urge you to start with Book One canyons-6-3-600x900 (see my review at The Leighgendarium), even though Book Two can stand alone. You’ll miss out on a lot of history and unfolding drama if you don’t first meet the ghost of a Civil War soldier who is too angry, too stubborn, too young to die. Luke haunts the site of his death, an old schoolhouse that’s slated to be razed along with two Confederate artillery bunkers –until Tania, a paranormal researcher with a gift no gadget can rival, detects Luke’s presence.

 54552744_1392321215  And soon she was lost, freefalling, in the very solid, very real arms of this man, her husband, who’d crossed far more than a continent to be with her this way.

 Even if you haven’t already come to know and love Luke and Tania, you will by the end of Chapter Two in Book Two, as their son is airlifted to a hospital emergency room:

… the pitch of the engine noise changed and the earth fell away. Up, up they went, so fast it made her head spin. Below them Luke watched, feet braced apart at shoulder width. Standing exactly how he’d stood the first time she saw him in the viewfinder of her best friend’s video recorder. Except this time he wore leather, not wool. And he was so real–so there–watching them leave, getting smaller and smaller as the helicopter spun toward the skyline and carried them away.

Tania’s “best friend,” the blunt and brutal BFF-from-hell, is the kind of woman who alienates people more often than she endears them to her. Why does Tania put up with Lily? Hang in there, and the generous, brave, valiant side of Lily emerges in scene after scream-worthy scene. Petite and beautiful, tough and agile, Lily takes quite a beating in Book One, physically as well as emotionally. Not until the end of Book Two do we even fathom what this grizzly bear of a girlfriend endures and overcomes. Lesser mortals just give up and never walk again, or die.

The way she talks may set your teeth on edge, but I know a Lily in real life. This one comes with the quiet swish of canes and thump of their rubber tips on carpet. She talks like this:

“How’s the brat?” Lily asked.

“Do you still have that evil cat?”

“What about the ghost stuff? Still messing around with that?”

Careful, Tania. Minefields abound. “No.” That answer seemed safe enough, and it was true. “That ship has sailed.”

“Hmmph,” Lily said again, but this time the inflection was different… “That’s too bad.”

Tania blinked. “What?”

Who would guess that Lily would come up with a reason for Tania to resume her former pastime as a ghost hunter? That ship has sailed, Tania says. No way. Not gonna go there again. No more helping a stuck soul move on to the next world.

From the sound of Lily’s voice, the other shoe was about to drop. And it did. Except it didn’t just drop. Lily took it and threw it down. Stomped it. Smashed it into the dirt with her canes. “He volunteered for …”

Okay, now Tania can’t say no to Lily, but how will she explain to her husband what she’s about to get herself involved in? Ghosts are unpredictable. Even if they mean well, they don’t know their own strengths. In a fit of frustration and rage, they can hurl heavy objects dangerously near whatever mortals may be in the way. As another reviewer said so well, Luke “knows how dangerous spirits can be, even unintentionally. His fierce need to protect his family wars with Tania’s equally fierce need to help a man stranded on the other side… Consequences be damned. I wanted Tania to help this man.”

The conflict between Tania and Luke is exquisite. They’re both equally right, and equally wrong (especially in how they say things), and totally believable. How often do romance novelists *nail* the dynamic between two people so in love they can’t imagine life without each other, until they actually start living together? What we love most about someone often becomes what we hate most about that someone.

The science surrounding Tania’s ghosts is what really ratchets up this paranormal into the realm of the believable:

“Energy in the human body is measurable,” she said. “We generate between ten and one hundred millivolts by the exchange of sodium and potassium through cell membranes, like a battery. Our heart gives off an electrical pulse that causes it to beat. Our brain waves are detectable with modern equipment. What if, in the act of dying, that energy is released? The effects of energy are finite, but energy itself is never destroyed. It just changes form.”


“And what if it changes into something that falls on the extreme end of the spectrum, undetectable by conventional means, but no less real? And taking it one step further, what if something happens during the act of dying that interrupts that transition? Extreme violence. Overwhelming emotion. A good old case of mule-ass stubbornness–who knows. But what if that person’s energy doesn’t quite make it off the spectrum, but lands somewhere between the known range and the unknown…can’t go forward, can’t go back. Stuck. What then? And how long until something else happens that blows them out of the rut and back on track for wherever they need to go?”

Having written the same way about electrical activity in the brain surviving death in my own novel in 1990, it’s no surprise I’d love Tania’s theories and explanations so much. Call me biased. My husband is an electrical engineer specializing in high-frequency power amplifiers, but I don’t even want to know if he’d say Tania’s account of electromagnetic impulses and RF signals in this novel would hold up in real life. Has he ever seen a ghost? No. Have a gazillion southerners from Virginia to New Orleans and beyond seen ghost first-hand? Yes! Anne Hite’s “Ghost on Black Mountain” comes to mind. 51dkegjjmql-_sx318_bo1204203200_ (Hite believes, 100 percent, that she was visited by her grandmother’s ghost the hour of Grandma’s death.)

A little back story may be in order. In “Talking to Luke” we met Tania’s former team member Geoff, who now has his own ghost-hunter cable TV show out west. Tania, tasked with summoning help on behalf of Kip, recalls that her favorite Civil War ghost “was just…stuck, for all those years. So I called my friend Geoff Winchell, and he called a friend of his with some experimental equipment, and they brought it to a common location. It was like a massive EMF pump, and it turbocharged the free energy available in the air. And that allowed our ghost to take the next logical step.”*

*Just not in the direction anyone had intended.

I want to say more about this story — the tension between Tania and her husband, the unfolding clues about the cause of the tragic air crash, the animal rescues, the dialogue, the wit and humor, the splendor of all that is Luke and Tania together, the agony of making decisions that serve one person at the expense of another — it’s such a long list of wonders, I can only say READ THIS BOOK so I don’t have to write a book saying what a great book this is.

bdljrn1i_400x400 A fluffy white tail poked from the base of the drapes, the rest of the dog hidden behind their floor length folds. Kobi fancied himself invisible as long as his face couldn’t be seen, and (Tania) would never shatter that delusion.

And read this review (I’ve included excerpts only, below):

5.0 out of 5 stars Never before has it been so easy to believe in ghosts…and to love them., February 22, 2017  By   ObxFiction

We’re told that once we’re gone, we’re gone. There’s no coming back. That whatever business we left behind, will forever remain unfinished. Wrongs committed against us left without justice. Questions left painfully unanswered. But what if those wrongs were enough to keep us from being gone completely? To mire us in a place of anger and frustration, stuck desperately needing our own answers? And maybe, just maybe, a way out. And what if one person on earth could actually help?

…. Never before has it been so easy to believe in ghosts…and to love them. And if you’ve ever wondered – truly wondered – just what happens in that other dimension, how it happens, if that human energy that makes us who we are really does remain intact somewhere, unchanged and conscious, this author has the answers. Are they hard and fast, proved science? Irrefutable evidence that ghosts are real and here and just waiting to communicate? No. But she damn sure makes it feel that way.

…In Wingspan, we’re not just picking up where we left off with Luke and Tania. We get a funny, sexy, touching look into their lives together. We get to see them deal with near tragedy. And we get to see just what they mean to each other two years down the road, with a child who, by all accounts, and just like his father, has no business existing at all. They have a lovely life together. Until Lily calls, and in true Lily fashion, not only rocks the boat, but damn near sinks it. Who you gonna call? Evidently not Ghostbusters. And Luke is none too happy.

… Seeing Luke and Tania’s near perfect world rocked to it’s core was painful, and left me angry at both of them. But make no mistake, I was filled with just as much empathy for them.

… I love the characters, the detail, the sense of place Ryan masterfully constructs. I love the true human emotion, the interactions, the conflicts and resolutions. At no point did I feel I was reading a “ghost story.” Because nothing felt beyond the realm of possibility. Not one thing. Not one character. Ryan has obviously done extensive research on aviation as well as the paranormal, and no detail has been overlooked. I also appreciate the inclusion of animal rescue. Pilots N Paws is a a wonderful organization and one dear to my heart.

========== SYNOPSIS =========

Former paranormal researcher Tania Porter is no skeptic. More than most, she knows that a truth with no explanation is just as real as any fact with decades of science behind it. Her husband, for example. His physical presence on this earth defies all logical explanation, yet he exists, and so does their child.

But after two years, the reasons for his second chance still elude them. They’ve almost stopped questioning, until someone else’s tragedy lands on Tania’s doorstep. A twenty-minute sightseeing airplane tour goes down and all souls on board are burned to death—a mother and her two children, plus a handsome, charismatic pilot loved by everyone who knew him. This strikes a deep chord with Tania’s best friend Lily, who lost her soulmate to a fiery car crash several years earlier. When unexplained paranormal activity rocks the hangars at the now-defunct Santa Rosa Scenic, Lily knows just who to call. She appeals to Tania for help, and sets off a chain reaction of angst, devastation, and blistering ultimatums that threaten to rip the very bedrock from Tania’s world.

13521098_896116583844770_597508706_n-600x408Preston Leigh (founder of the award-winning “Leighgendarium” site) meets Diane Ryan, aka Rhonda Kay, in Virginia


Diane Ryan is a pseudonym for a very real person living and writing in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. She is married with two grown children and more pets than good sense dictates.

Her heartfelt passion is saving animals. In the past, she has rescued horses and wildlife, but currently focuses on dogs imperiled by cultural indifference toward animals in Appalachian communities. 61FuCVpfmVL._UX250_[1]She is the Executive Director of a 501c3 rescue that regularly transports unwanted dogs from areas of shelter overcrowding to regions of high demand, where No Kill methods are firmly established. She has also worked with Pilots N Paws to rehome rescue-dogs.

For at least the entirety of 2017 (this novel’s year of publication,) 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go directly to animal rescue in Southwest Virginia. The need is very great. If you have purchased this book in print or electronic form, you have played a vital role in the very real lifesaving efforts underway in Appalachian communities to save animal lives. Your contribution is deeply appreciated.   Follow me on Twitter! @DianeRyanRK

Wingspan: The Sky Is Not The Limit. (TTL Series Book 2)

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Confidentially, DON’T READ THIS


This is only a test.

I believe I could publish international secrets in my blog, and they’d be safer here than in the Pentagon’s email servers. Why? Hardly anyone reads my blog, unless I send a link, and even then, without a bribe — e.g., “Look! You’re mentioned here!” — I can safely say that nothing I blog about has ever attracted attention unless I purposely SOUGHT that attention. Even if I post links onTwitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, I’m still confident I could publish CONFIDENTIAL stuff and it’d be hidden in plain sight.

Then again, I don’t usually publish anything negative about the living.

I’m grateful to Vicki in New York, “KoolAidMoms” in Michigan, novelists David Lawlor (Dublin, Ireland), Beth Camp (the West Coast),  John Monk, Carol Ervin, and Diane Ryan  (Virginia, or close enough), and “American novelist/ outlaw traditionalist” Mord McGhee (whereabouts unknown to me, unless I trawl the internet). Thanks for reading me, my friends. If I missed any loyal readers, my apologies – I’m only glancing at recent comments on my blogs.

Why do I bring this up?

Someone believes I posted something that made someone look bad, and that I left “obvious” clues as to who I was talking about. In fact, I was excoriated for it. I’ll apologize for the *way* I say things, but what I said needed to be said, or I’d have “Put Up and Shut Up” like the “good girl” my German forebears expected me to be.

Consultants are paid exorbitant fees for offering the observations, insights, and research that I offer, for free, but it never ceases to amaze me: the more a novelist or a business or a corporation professes to welcome customer feedback or reviews, the more sensitive and defensive the recipient will be if “Be Honest” is offered.

LESSON: Let others suffer. NOTE TO SELF: Never offer constructive criticism, unless it’s couched with the kind of disclaimers I see as a waste of time, at best. (At worst? Nope, not gonna say. Not even here, in the blog that could contain international secrets, and who’d notice?)

If anyone wonders what I’m talking about, specifically, it doesn’t matter. One author yanked his novel down from amazon after I gave it a 3-star review, and 3 means the book is “okay,” not terrible, but the world is full of sensitive, defensive, and militant people.

Therefore, I resume my hermitude. TTFN!








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He won! Science Fiction Fans, your ~VOTES~ counted! P&E polls 2016

Chet Gottfried you totally deserve first place! CONGRATULATIONS!


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The amazing Chet Gottfried, photographer, novelist, short story writer and contributor to Perihelion, shared some of his secrets for capturing incredible, gorgeous, and amazing images of bugs (not the staph kind, but spidery and insecty bugs)in the November 2016 issue of Perihelion. But then – alas – while filming a glider landing, Chet stood too close to its path.  “A wingtip knocked me over and broke several vertebra in my neck   (C2, C5, C6, and C7),” he writes. “C2 means I’m wearing an oversize neck brace; the other ones resulted in some nerve damage to my upper right arm (at first useless) and two fingers. All will be brought to rights. It’s only a question of time (along with the work of some excellent doctors and physical therapists).”

Diane Ryan, you also earned a Top Ten badge on your first published science fiction story!

#10. Space Horses, Diane Ryan, Perihelion SF Magazine, [link][comments]

While I did nominate some of the winners, other people nominated a lot of writers whose short stories premiered in Perihelion, or whose novels were reviewed here. These authors earned high praises from the Perihelion Book Critic:

Standings for Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels

2. Titanborn, Rhett Bruno, Random House Hydra, [link][comments]
7. Into the Horsebutt Nebula, Chet Gottfried, ReAnimus Press, [link][comments]
10. Machinations, Hayley Stone, Hydra/Random House, [link][comments]
11. TreeVolution, Tara Campbell, Lillicat Publishers [comments]

26. CTRL ALT Revolt!, Nick Cole, Castalia House, [link]

And these esteemed authors, though I ran out of time to review these particular novels:

13. Liquid Gambit, Bonnie Milani, Createspace, [link][comments]

20. Ghosts of the Golden Triangle, Mord McGhee

Magazine/e-zine Cover Artwork #2. Daniel Beaudin

fullcover050   12-DEC-2016 On many alien worlds the Earth legend of Santa Claus is eagerly adopted, often with some minor variations to suit the local culture.  Cover by Daniel Beaudin.  [link][comments]

Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Stories

6. Snow Sharks, Mord McGhee, Perihelion SF Magazine, [link][comments]

7. Quantum Rose, Jude-Marie Green, Perihelion, [link]

10. Space Horses, Diane Ryan, Perihelion SF Magazine, [link][comments]

12. An Undiplomatic Incident, Paul R. Hardy, Perihelion SF Magazine, [link]

In other news:

1. The Horror Zine, as always, got the most reader votes, followed by #2. InD’Tale Magazine,  #3. Perihelion




And now, back to my obsolete post

Critters / is once again happy to host the annual P&E Readers Poll. predlogoThe Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll honors print & electronic publications published during 2016. The poll opens Dec. 24 through Jan. 14.  Check back for final results to be posted soon after the poll closes!

The usual #1 finisher has a much wider audience than science fiction does. For sure, she is hard working, passionate, and helpful to writers who aren’t quite there yet, with reams of comments from voters. Rightfully, she has been recognized and honored, every year. FOR A CHANGE, if only this one time, this one year, it would be awesome to see an equally deserving editor claim that honor.

#1 Ezine Editor sam-and-rana  1401

In September, Sam was rushed to E.R. and nearly died of a mysterious bone infection. He spent his seventieth birthday in Rehab, the following weeks in a wheelchair, yet he sounded cheerful and upbeat through all the pain. Now he’s walking again on his own two legs. Despite all the disruptions, the lost time, and the hazards of nature that trap a wizard of a mind in an aging, i.e. physically declining human body, the December issue of “Perihelion” was one of the best ever.

 Just once I’d love to see Sam take FIRST PLACE for his stellar job launching Perihelion Science Fiction ezine, offering it free online, yet paying professionals for fresh, original cover art, comics, short stories, reviews, and nonfiction essays.

~BONUS: Voters are automatically entered into a drawing for prizes from sponsors~ 

Note: your name and email address will be required to vote to prevent fraud. Entries for each category are listed in alphabetical order.  Click on these links: – Fiction Magazine/e-zines page

Cinsearae S. [link][comments]
David Stegora [link]
Don Webb [link]
Jeani Rector [link][comments]
Jessica West [link][comments]
Joanie & Jenni B [link][comments]
Julie Ann Dawson [link]
Michele Dutcher [link]
Sam Bellotto Jr. [link][comments]

To cast your vote, you must type in a legit name and email address (it won’t get sold to scammers!), then prove you’re not a bot by typing a name into a little box. Soon you’ll get an email asking you to verify your vote. It’s worth it. (Your name might even be drawn for a prize!)

You can also take a minute to type a comment next to Sam’s name. E.g.

— I vote Sam Bellotto because of his commitment and passion for writing and his pleasure in sharing good science fiction for free, online…

–a good eye for talent.

–The essence of what a good editor should be.

–Sam is a professional, helpful editor who produces a high quality e zine offering an excellent variety of work.

–Sam Bellotto is not only a great author in his own right, he is an editor with an uncanny eye for the best short stories.

–A consummate professional and multi-talented writer.

–Sam Bellotto rocks

–Bellotto is a professional, thorough and supportive editor with an eye for detail.

–Sam Bellotto has a good eye for the unusual.

— Sam is one of the very few editors who will actually include helpful comments on his rejection letters.

–Sam is definitely a top-notch editor.

–Sam Bellotto has been the best editor I’ve had the pleasure of working with.


— Sam is a marvelous editor. I sent him two mediocre stories and he was patient enough to tell me why they didn’t work. He’s helped me shape stories into publishable, and readable, texts.

–I’ve worked with several editors of online magazines and Sam is, by far, the best editor I’ve worked with. He has a great eye for detail and knows how to help writer cultivate a story. He’s both accepted and denied my stories and I’m better for what he’s done for my work.

–Sam Bellotto is one of the few editors that will actually work with the writer on creating the best possible story for the ezine.

— a great eye for talent. This is a must go-to page every month!
THANK YOU, Critters /, for hosting the annual P&E Readers Poll.

Good luck to all entrants!





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Letitia Carson, freed slave, doesn’t ‘put up and shut’ up in Jane Kirkpatrick’s award-winning historical-fiction novel”A Light in the Wilderness”

A Light in the Wilderness: A Novel by [Kirkpatrick, Jane] A Light in the Wilderness: A Novel by Jane Kirkpatrick brings to life a little-known woman who made history. Earning her freedom and keeping it at a time when  laws prohibited blacks from living in Oregon, Letitia Carson, a freed slave, not only continued to live in Oregon, she became the first black woman to own land in America–and there’s more, lots more. Great story, even greater because it’s a true story, for Black History Month. 15349688_441261402664612_3336141896203014445_nLetitia Carson in Douglas County: The Carsons and the Lavadours, 1868-1886 from Facebook’s Friends of Letitia Carson page.

 SHE COULD BE A VICTIM, or she could fight for the rights only white men enjoyed under 19th Century law. Letitia Carson, a freed slave, decided not to “put up and shut up.”

Her story is all the more remarkable because it really happened. The list of nonfiction books and journals that assisted Kirkpatrick’s understanding of Letitia fill up several pages. A common theme is the Struggle for Civil Rights. There’s Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America; From Slavery to Segregation; “Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory;” “The Brazen Overlanders of 1845;” and more. One of the most poignant titles is “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery.”

“History is the spine of my stories, with characters providing the flesh and blood of life”, Jane Kirkpatrick tells an interviewer in an Afterword to “A Light in the Wilderness.”

Facebook has a “Friends of Letitia Carson” page. It’s full of information that confirms what Kirkpatrick writes about in the novel. E.g. “Here is the latest article about Letitia Carson vs. Greenberry Smith, in 1852-1856. It is being published by the Oregon State Bar Association in their official Journal, the Bulletin. Circulation is 19,000, including all 17,000 lawyers, judges, legal clerks, law professors and other members of the Oregon State Bar:”…/Letitia_C…/Library/Zybach_20161001.pdf

Kirkpatrick says she was taken aback by a reporter who asked “what business did I have writing of Indians when I wasn’t one,” but she didn’t set out to write about an Indian woman. She wrote a story of a Marie Dorion, a strong womanwho happened to be an Indian. “That’s how I approached Letitia’s story, about a strong woman who also happened to be African American,” she adds.

“Ordinary” women like Letitia often show extraordinary courage and strength, not just in the challenges of homesteading in the 1800s American West, but in all aspects of life.

She became the first African American woman to own land in the United States. Her place in history is not well known to most Americans, but historical fiction is a great way to change that. A carefully researched novel like this one brings the past to life and lets us travel another time and place.

“History is the spine of my stories,” Jane Kirkpatrick tells an interviewer in an Afterword to the novel, “with characters providing the flesh and blood of life.”

A Light in the Wilderness won the 2015 WILLA Literary award for Best Original Paperback


Where I as a writer would say “Two men stood arguing in front of the Platte County courthouse,” Kirkpatrick adds concrete details, as if she’d time-traveled the scene: “Men’s voice sliced the air like whips of a field marse, sharp and stinging, The air was heavy as a wet, wool quilt, yet dust billowed around the two men as it did when bulls scraped the earth.” Not only is her prose vivid and illuminating, it’s poetic.

Opinion goes against the man named Davey Carson, but Letitia believes he’s innocent of the charges against him, even when others brush past him, “leaving the Irishman like a shriveled pickle in the bottom of the barrel, no one wanting to touch it.”

Letitia knows the feeling. She knows the rules and shows her papers when asked, “only to endure the sneers and snarls of ‘free black’ as though the word meant stink or worse, a catching kind of poison spread by being present near her breath.”

Letitia counts her blessings, though, not just the offenses against her. “She’d earned money helping birth babies, enough to buy a cow.” She was on her way to Oregon, “where people wanted to join the States as free. She’d be free there too, and without slavery and its uncertainty hovering like a cloud of fevered mosquitoes.” She could try her hand living alone, or “if she married and had children, they’d be born free and no one could ever sell them away from her. What property she had would be hers to keep. Like the cow she owned.”

Her cow is usurped by the disgruntled wife who wants to keep Letitia with her on the Oregon Trail as cheap labor, but Letitia stands up for herself, keeps her milk cow, and even dares to tell her former masters that she would find her own way to Oregon rather than “earn her keep” by serving them along the trail.

A kind Irish immigrant, none other than the unjustly maligned Davey Carson, gives Letitia a housekeeping job. He doesn’t take advantage of her in any way. He wants to offer her more, but it’s illegal for whites to marry blacks. Letitia agrees to a union that is not legally recognized, but loyalty and devotion transcend the law.Letitia Carson´s daughter Martha, son-in-law Narcisse Lavadour and grandson Nelson, circa 1892. Award-winning novelist Jane Kirkpatrick will make several appearances in the area promoting her book about Letitia Carson, “A Light in the Wilderness.” Letitia’s daughter Martha

Just when things are going well, with a newborn baby boy in Oregon, new troubles arise. “Herd’s growing. Garden sendin’ up shoots. We selling butter and cheese and beef this year… Why you want to leave that” in search of gold?” Letitia asks Davey, who wants to join the hoards of men heading to Sutter’s. She’s also “worried about that exclusion law” and what’ll happen to her and the children and the farm if “anyone of color has to leave Oregon,” but Davey doesn’t think anyone will enforce “the crazy law” even if voters do make Oregon a slave state when it joins the Union.

Not only does the exclusion law pass, but so does “a law forbidding persons of color to testify against a white man. If a white neighbor stole something from a colored man, the courts were no recourse.”

Despite all Letitia’s concerns and pleas, Davey rides off in search of gold. Sure enough, two horsemen show up, ordering the “wench” and her “mulatto brats” to leave. You’ll have to read the book (or wade through various history journals) to see if Letitia stays or goes. I’ll leave you with this:

“She was powerless to change the law, but she could change how she defended against it, what stories she told herself, a slave of anger or a free woman. Her children required it. She didn’t know then how much.”

1498931_270201256437295_7001050496383351915_o  photo borrowed from Friends of Letitia Carson  Facebook page
“Now more than ever,” to use a phrase I’ve come to hate, this novel deserves more attention.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, which I’ve had since 2014 but didn’t finish until now due to the eye strain of formatting issues. A clean, readable manuscript gets my attention but broken text and anything that makes me work harder will lose me.

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OB ER: “You just don’t know what’s coming through the doors next”

During a sleep study last year, I was in the charge of a nurse named Pat who has so many interesting stories to tell, I urged her to write them down. As I was leaving at dawn, she stopped me at the door and handed me a lined sheet from a yellow legal pad – with notes for the first story she would write. It occurs to me this was her only copy.


Delinquently, I am atoning for this. I’ll type it here and return the original to Pat:


People think about all the joy and happiness that come with the birth of a baby. The majority of the time, they are correct. However, obstetrics is in its own special section of medicine with both tragedy and comedy. You can and do reach those peaks of joy with the uncomplicated birth of a new baby. At the other end of the spectrum, the one that is the valley, the tragic outcomes of what should be a joyous event are the ones that make a person ask, “Why am I doing this job?”

As with the regular ER, you just don’t know how the day will go. Could be the routine, every-day aches, pains and sniffles, or the “Drop everything! We have an emergency!”

These are the stories of both of those times, the joyous, the funny, the tragic–because you just don’t know what’s coming through the doors next!

Next up: The Stories from Pat, the former OB nurse, now working the more peaceful night shift of Sleep Study. (She’s earned it.) First, I have to reconnect with Pat.

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Having wheelchairs ready and waiting is good customer service (Supersizing too + Radio Frequency Identification #RFID)

 How many wheelchairs does your facility have? Do you know where they all are?
Keeping track of wheelchairs may be a low priority on busy staff members’ radar screens, but it keeps the hospital’s operating costs down and customer service ratings up.
sam-and-ranaSam and Rana
Assets like wheelchairs tend to be ignored. Misplaced, hidden, or stolen, when the hospital has to buy replacements (conservative estimate: $300–$500 each), these disappearing items can cost time as well as money.
Mobility. I don’t take it for granted. Depending on someone else to wheel you to health care appointments sounds almost as scary as a hospital stay for a claustrophobic agoraphobe like me.  How can we make procedures less stressful and traumatic for patients? Volunteers seem to be the #1 resource we have in a nation of budget cuts.
No care center has enough LARGE chairs to accommodate large patients. Like it or not, America’s health care system is full of big people.

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Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair, 24″ Wide Seat, Desk-Length Removable Arms, Swing Away Footrests, Chrome Frame

Stores have plastic devices attached to countless items that set off alarms if carried through the door. Chicago stores have grocery carts with wheels that lock up if the cart gets too far from the door. In today’s world of apps, bar codes, surveillance cameras, and more gizmos than the average employee could ever keep up with, it seems there has to be a better way to keep track of what’s what, and where.

The best way to prevent wheelchairs from rolling out the door used to be to keep an eye on them. “We tell our associates to be observant and watch them as they would any other property item,” says Roger Schlies, director of guest services for Centegra Health System in McHenry, IL. “Preventing wheelchair theft is the entire staff’s responsibility.”

 How expensive can it be for wheelchairs to have bar codes, GPS chips, or other IDs? Not much money up front – just the valets and security guards to respond to beeps, and the volunteers to wheel misplaced chairs from one entrance to another.
It’s all online if you google it:

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) saves hospitals time and money due to misplaced or lost wheelchairs. According to a white paper by IPM Asset Solutions, Inc.,

–A hospital with 500 wheelchairs loses up to $25,000 per year in wheelchair inventory alone
–Add $28,000 per month for employee time spent searching, trying to find wheelchairs
— How many are left in some patient’s van?
— How many get left outside the hospital until a vagrant starts using it to haul around possessions?
–How many are on the premises, but no one knows where?
— Some hospital employees hide these items in their unit so they will have them when they need them. Some cover them with sheets or towels to hoard their resources.
Misplaced, hidden, or stolen–the hospital has to purchase more
— Electronic Asset Management is almost unavoidable. Barcodes help assess inventory.
With barcodes, no one is alerted when an asset leaves the property. No one knows if it ever comes back in. Unless strict processes are observed, many of the same problems still exist.
If adherence to processes could be guaranteed, the problem wouldn’t exist to begin with.
With RFID, hidden assets within the hospital would still be a potential issue, but over time, hoarding should subside because the assets are not as difficult to find. Staff members won’t feel the need to keep a stash of wheelchairs or IV racks if it isn’t difficult to put their hands on them when they need them. The increase in efficiency and loss prevention coupled with the lower cost of implementation will make the return on investment easier to achieve. check out processes could be automated.
–Many caregivers know all too well the frustration of searching for a wheelchair to transport a patient.
–Wheelchairs are used by multiple clinical departments, outpatients, volunteers, families and even visitors.
–Often like a grocery cart, wheelchairs are picked up in one location and dropped off somewhere totally different.
–Until recent increased awareness to prevent the spread of infections, wheelchairs and grocery carts were often not cleaned between uses.
In one survey,
–only 1% of staff felt wheelchairs were always available when they were needed.
–Audits found that only 69% of the designated locations had the available par levels of wheelchairs.
–More importantly to the patient and despite intense emphasis on infection prevention practices, observations of wheelchair use found that only 7% were actually cleaned between use.
–The event team took cultures from a sample of wheelchairs and found 4 out of 10 positive for bacterial growth.1 comment: Kel Mohroron April 27, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      … Regardless of size, a provider can find credible guidance on designing and implementing wheelchair cleaning and availability management practices. These will improve patient, family member and visitor satisfaction. Just as important, the practices enable nurses to significantly reduce time and aggravation lost due to wheelchair searching and decontamination.

A wheelchair cleaning/availability system to improve patient/visitor satisfaction, save staff time/aggravation now being lost due to daily, inefficient, wheelchair searches and let’s not forget the need for decontamination.

I would suggest a fund raiser for new wheelchairs (plenty of Extra Large) and…. recruit some volunteers, maybe, to make Pediatric wheelchairs less scary looking and more fun. Magic Wheelchair is one nonprofit organization that makes epic costumes for children in wheelchairs, at no expense to their families:  “Our goal is to put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair by transforming them into magical rides.”

proxy You call this a wheelchair? Check out the handles. YES!
Then again, I will more likely retreat into my hermitude and just write about stuff, rather than try to make things happen. I’ll let someone else can donate time and energy to one of the many causes I call attention to, never knowing if anyone listens or cares, except on the rare occasion someone hits like or share or leaves a comment. Not that I expect anyone to read my blog. Every author has blogs, newsletters, and social media pages, and we’re asked to subscribe, follow, like, share – if you’re reading this now, you know you should be tending to other, more important, tasks.
1452455_10202352959375259_2065312821_nAlas, that’s not me in the photo. Johnnie Boor, a giant pig, was my childhood buddy, but no one photographed him. I love this rhino!
Vicki in New York, David in Dublin, “KoolAidMoms” in Michigan, and “American novelist/ outlaw traditionalist” Mord McGhee (friend of New Yorker Sam, pictured at the top of this blog), you’re the only ones who’ve left any evidence of seeing this blog post. Thanks for reading. 🙂 I checked with my next-door neighbor, family members, and friends. Nope, they don’t read my blog unless I specifically ask and post a link for them.
P.S. I’m very happy to report that Sam is no longer relying on a wheelchair to get around. Go Sam!! What a trooper! What a survivor!
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“Death in Venice” Björn Andrésen

600full-bjc3b6rn-andrc3a9sen Björn Johan Andrésen is a Swedish actor and musician idealized as 14-year-old Tadzio in Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film adaptation of the Thomas Mann novella “Death in Venice.” Watch it if only for the fabulous opening scene with Mahler’s 5th playing. In the film, Björn embodies an ideal of beauty that the avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) has long sought to capture through music. The pedophile with mustache (pedostache) spends most of the movie staring at the boy, infatuated.

bjorn Beauty is something that no language can describe as it is found in the eye of the beholder. But there is little universal doubt that Björn Andrésen is beauty personified. But what most see as nature’s random blessing has brought great pain to a man who was once arguably the most beautiful man in the world. People are enchanted at the first sighting of his amazing, beautiful face – both men and women. He was dubbed “the most beautiful boy in the world” after he appeared in the movie ‘Death in Venice’ thirty-odd years ago. But he was camera shy and he rarely appeared in the media, creating an air of mystery about his looks and his life. This Adonis was born on January 26, 1955, in Stockholm, Sweden, out of wedlock, and was never thereafter to learn the identity of his father. He was raised by his grandparents. In the year of his birth, his mother married a Norwegian man and divorced him four years later. Then, in 1965, she disappeared and was later discovered to have committed suicide.

“… After the role of Tadzio, his career as a boy actor declined due to mismanagement by his agent. Like many high school boys of his age, he had aspirations of founding a rock band. Later, as a classically trained musician, he was responsible for the musical arrangements of a Swedish stage production of The Rocky Horror Show, and he played John Lennon in a short-lived show about The Beatles. In 1978, he performed in the Swedish movie Bluff Stop. But nothing worked for him, and he had become a virtual has-been by his twenties.  When he was thirty, he acted in King of Smugglers (Denmark/Sweden) and five years after in Lucifer-Indian Summer: Yellow and Black (Norway). However, both movies failed to make a universal impact. Tragedy has trailed him. He lost one of his children and as a result, his happy marriage broke up, though he has been reunited with his wife and daughter.

“Now entering his fifties, his face has appeared again on the cover page of ‘The Real Tadzio: Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and the Boy Who Inspire’ – a book by Gilbert Adair. His face is also on the front cover of ‘The Boy’ by Germaine Greer. Perhaps it takes a beautiful person in this cosmetic world to offer a cautionary tale to those who seek eternal youth and good looks…  ”One of the diseases of the world is that we associate beauty with youth,” said Björn. “We are wrong. The eyes and the face are the window of the soul and these become more beautiful with the age and pain that life brings. True ugliness comes only from having a black heart”.

Shelley Xie | Beijing Today, 26.08.2005 | [] [Nella foto: Björn Andrésen] 

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