Paranormal Transformation

When I started writing the book that become The Marquesa’s Necklace (The Oak Grove Mysteries, Book 1), it wasn’t supposed to be a cozy mystery. It was meant to be a paranormal romance, with a ghost as the romantic lead. In fact, the original title was The Ghost Who Loved Me.

Well, Harmony Duprie, the main character, wasn’t having it. Although she wasn’t ready for a man in her life as she was still nursing a broken heart, she’s much too practical to have a ghost complicating things. She attracts enough trouble on her own. Not only did she veto the ghost, she vetoed the romance (for the most part) and the book turned  into a mystery with her as an amateur sleuth.

I’m glad I listened to her. The book is better because of it. I’m still listening to what she has to say as I write the fourth book in the series.

Book Blurb

Harmony Duprie enjoyed her well-ordered life in the quiet little town of Oak Grove—until her arrest for drug trafficking. Cleared of all charges, she wants nothing more than to return to the uneventful lifestyle of a historical researcher she once savored.

But when her beloved old car “George” is stolen and explodes into a ball of flames, it sets off a series of events that throws her plans into turmoil. Toss in a police detective that may or may not be interested in her, an attractive but mysterious stranger on her trail, and an ex-boyfriend doing time, and Harmony’s life freefalls into a downward spiral of chaos.

Now she has to use her research skills to figure out who is behind the sinister incidents plaguing her, and why. And she better take it seriously, like her life depends upon finding the right answers.

Because it might.


By the time Janine and Sarah arrived in the morning, Luke, Joe and I had already wrestled the easy chair out to the curb. Joe was straightening up the kitchen while Luke and I restored order to the explosion of books and put them back on the shelves. Being an ex-librarian, I’m picky in how my books go, so the job was taking longer than Luke liked. When they knocked, Joe, who had self-appointed himself as my bodyguard, rushed to be the one to open it. I didn’t know what he had planned if it was an intruder—would an intruder knock? —but since he was a retired Marine, I wasn’t going to argue. Sarah and Janine stood there with their mouths hanging open, shocked by the scene. Janine gathered her wits and said, “What can we do to help?”

Joe answered for me. “One of you can tackle the bathroom. The other can haul a load of clothes to the basement and wash them.” The defiled lingerie already sat in the garbage can next to the garage.

An hour or so later Detective Thomason arrived. I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor in the spots the mop didn’t reach, when we heard a knock on the door. Joe just glared at me when I started to get up, so I let him do the honors, and returned to my cleaning.

“What do you want?” Joe said, rather gruffly and I figured I better check it out for myself.

Detective Thomason held a vase with a bouquet of supermarket flowers. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt instead of a suit. Tight jeans, I might add, and the shirt did him favors that his suits never could. I thanked him and put the flowers in the middle of the kitchen table. Luke steered him towards the bedroom to figure out how to get the shredded mattress out of the apartment without knocking everything else over again. The bouquet proved to be a beacon of peace in the midst of the chaos that ruled for the rest of the day, and earned him back the name of Fred. He still didn’t rank being Freddie in my mind—not yet, anyhow.

I spent the night with Janine. I had to stay somewhere else because Luke, Joe, and I decided we would clean the carpet in the apartment before I replaced my furniture. The soil from the African Violets was ground into the rug. And there had been more foot-traffic through my place than normal for the past year.

The violets were wilted, but would survive. The footprints on the Grateful Dead tapestry vanished with a good beating and repeated vacuuming. Several of my books had their spines broken or their pages torn, but none of my first edition books were hurt. I had to go shopping for a new mattress, but Luke and Joe were going to give me an old loveseat they didn’t want anymore. Nothing seemed to have been taken. I got off lucky. Again.

A not-so-tiny voice in the back of my brain told me I’d better start worrying about my luck running out.


The Marquesa’s Necklace is currently on sale for 99¢

Buy Links 

Author Bio 

Born and raised among the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, P.J. MacLayne still finds inspiration for her books in that landscape. She is a computer geek by day and a writer by night who currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not in front of a computer screen, she might be found exploring the back roads of the nearby national forests and parks. In addition to the Free Wolves’ stories, she is also the author of the Oak Grove series.

P.J. MacLayne can be reached on: 



Google +





The Flame Ignites

Thank you so much for sharing this blog exchange, Cathy. I hope when your readers finish here they’ll go on over to “Deeds of Darkness; Deeds of Light” and read your post there. When you mentioned that you write contemporary mysteries I responded that I would be happy to exchange with one of my “contemporary” mysteries. That has certainly given me pause to think—with some alarm—on how fast time goes.


The Flame Ignites is, indeed, my newest re-release in my Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series—which is, actually, a contemporary series that I am currently in the midst of re-editing and re-releasing. But, oh, my goodness—I first wrote that manuscript in 1984. I wonder how many of your readers were even born then? And the letters which form a significant part of the background, go back to 1979.

These mysteries (which do come up to the present time) feature Elizabeth and Richard, literature professors cum sleuths who find themselves enmeshed in mystifying murder as they explore the lives and works of such literary greats as: Rudyard Kipling, Elswyth Thane, Dorothy L Sayers, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen.

For The Flame Ignites, it is October 1984, the New England hillsides are ablaze with redgold autumn. Elizabeth is beginning her academic career and recently widowed Richard is stuck in the family business. They should be able to help each other but their meeting strikes sparks and raises old ghosts, possibly even the ghost of Richard’s dead wife. When Elizabeth finds an academic coup within her grasp for her thesis on the beloved American novelist Elswyth Thane, Richard stubbornly throws up barriers, but why? Rudyard Kipling, William Beebe, Charles Lindberg, Edna Ferber and a host of celebrities from an age past fill the pages of Elswyth Thane’s letters, but where is Elizabeth to find clues to the mystery haunting Richard?

A nostalgic return to an earlier, now-vanished time, The Flame Ignites evokes a long-distance relationship between a young woman just testing her wings and a celebrated American novelist, incorporating actual letters to the author. But what about the smoldering relationship between Elizabeth and Richard?

Like my heroine, I was unable to visit Elswyth Thane, my literary mentor, during her lifetime, but in 2014 I was able to visit her home in Vermont during a blazing autumn, put flowers on her grave as Elizabeth did, and visit Rudyard Kipling’s home as Thane had described it in her letters.


Donna Fletcher Crow authors 3 mystery series: The Monastery Murders, Lord Danvers Investigates Victorian True-Crime, And Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense. She is also the author of The Daughters of Courage pioneer family saga, the Where There is Love series set in 18th and 19th century England, and the Arthurian epic Glastonbury.

For more information you can receive a free book, learn about all her books and see pictures of her research trips and pictures from her garden on her website, visit her blog, and subscribe to her newsletter; follow her on Facebook; and Twitter.

All of Donna’s books are available on her website or through Amazon.


Unholy Alliance

Fellow mystery author Kathleen Rowland joins us today, celebrating the release of a new book, Unholy Alliance, book 2 in her Irish-American series with Tirgearr Publishing.

Jacket Copy

The worst happened. Her cousin is still missing. Just released from jail for a murder she didn’t commit, this is thanks to attorney. She has no clues. No destination. Just fear for the cousin she believes is held captive by a ruthless killer.

What if Tori were to park a food truck in the seedy waterfront neighborhood where the mob operates and hunt for this sadistic killer? Grady must protect the strong woman he’s come to adore. With emotions on a knife edge, Tori runs on instinct, on the desperation of affection between cousins. With adrenaline pumping, this is it. Tori identifies an island hideout, but Grady warns her to anticipate who her cousin is now.

Book buy links


“Don’t let the anxiety of freedom consume you.” Attorney Grady Donahue Fletcher clenched his teeth and rehearsed what he’d say to his client, Victoria Morningstar. He’d won her appeal and drove to pick her up at Gladstone Penitentiary. “At least you won’t be placed in solitary.” That was worse.

Six months earlier Grady had phoned a reporter at the Los Angeles Globe. “Drew Barker. Grady Fletcher here.”

“Ah, the lawyer. Calling about a tip?”

“I am. Here’s something you can investigate. Tori Morningstar, did she murder Irene Brennan?”

“I wrote that story many years back,” the journalist had said. “I assume you have new discoveries.”

“Fraud, illegal testimony. Do you want the story first?” A second passed. “Otherwise, I’ll call the Orange County Guardian.”

“Okay, okay. We want it.”

Three days later Grady had a hand in writing the first article in Drew Barker’s column. “The public labeled Tori Morningstar as an undesirable. Not black and poor, but disfavored, accused, incarcerated, and wrongly condemned. Her cellphone has been recovered. Her call to 911 identified her voice and substantiated screams of the victim in the background. Could she have beaten someone while speaking to dispatch at the same time?”

The reporter had written the second article. “People who get their ideas about criminal lawyers from TV probably would be disappointed in Grady Fletcher. He lacks flash but stands up straight, his posture neither ramrod nor slouched. He doesn’t smoke, doesn’t wear thousand-dollar suits. His voice is soft and low, one of his assets. He speaks truth with a voice inviting confidences.”

As nice as that was, Grady’s stomach cramped over pressure and strain from Drew Barker’s final article with the headline, Tori Morningstar, Released Today. Picked up by the online service, Newser, KTLA, and CBS Los Angeles, they planned to broadcast his arrival to escort his client from Gladstone.

Tori’s decade-long prison sentence ended today but with a sobering fear over tomorrow.

When was a July morning this hot? Grady balanced her release papers on his lap as he rolled up one sleeve then the other while gripping the damp steering wheel. Sweat blossomed on his throbbing forehead, wrapped like a python’s grip. He adjusted the dial for the AC and embraced the challenge of helping another client get back on track. Embrace and conquer. Or at least sound like it.

Would you enjoy a summertime recipe from Kathleen?

Crab Cakes!




1 pound crabmeat (I used 8oz backfin & 8oz claw)
⅓ cup crackers (crushed, I used ritz)
3 green onions (finely chopped)
½ cup red bell pepper (finely chopped next time i will use less)
¼ cup mayonnaise (I used the brand that is made with olive oil)
1 egg
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ lemon (juiced)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large pinch cayenne pepper (I used)
add flour (sifted for dusting)

Dice vegetables small and add all ingredients together. Chill them for a least a few hours so they will hold together better. as always add to your liking you might consider onion powder or Old Bay about 1-1 1/2 Tbsp. or maybe go Cajun.

Crab meat has a lot of liquid in the container so I did let it drain. I did not want to add an extra egg or more crackers or bread crumbs or even panko if that is what you have on hand.

If you don’t like to fry, bake them in 375 oven turn them after 20 minutes bake another 20 or 25 minutes approx. make sure you spray or wipe some oil on whatever pan or foil you are using.

Tartar sauce is an easy topping or just lemon wedges.

About the author

Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with an erotic love story sure to melt their hearts. Her latest release is One Night in Havana, #34 in the City Nights series.  See Kathleen’s most recent books here:

Kathleen also has a steamy romantic suspense series with Tirgearr Publishing, Deadly Alliance is followed by Unholy Alliance. Keep an icy drink handy while reading these sizzling stories.

Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.   She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.

Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write.

If you’d enjoy news, sign up for Kathleen’s newsletter at

Catch up with her on  Twitter    Facebook    Blog  


Southern Inspiration

One of the questions authors hear most often is, “Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?” A snippet of conversation or a hmm, what if..? can spark an idea, but sometimes the setting suggests a story possibility. Exotic locations can be inspiring but a novel based at “home” allows me to dive deeper into what makes that place special and how the setting influences the story.

Although my family lives in the Pacific Northwest now, “Home” for me will always be South Carolina, the place I was born and raised.

Now lots of books have been written about the South and many of them feature small towns with a hundred residents who are all related to each other. While those places exist, that isn’t “my” South. I lived in a city filled with universities, cultural opportunities and innovative companies.

Many of the places described in Cypher are real, if slightly modified to protect the innocent. The story’s action shifts between the growing metropolitan area and a small, secluded lake. I learned to ski on Lake Bowen and stayed with friends in a cottage remarkably like the one where Cara retreats to regroup.

All those images tumbled through my head as Cypher’s story elements evolved. I knew that was the South I wanted to share with readers.

As the story grew and took shape, the companies I mentioned above took on a special significance for a story theme. Privately held companies occur all over the country, but the extension of the family into the company is especially present in the South. I knew I had to feature a company—Cypher—that reflected all the family dynamics—good and bad.

For example, although Caroline (Cara) Wainwright said she was perfectly happy working for the advertising agency, what if she really wanted to work for the family business like her brother, if only to snag her father’s attention? The rest of the “what ifs” about Cypher might give away plot twists, but from the beginning, Cara wondered: since her father had always made the business a higher priority than his family, how far would he go to protect it?

With Cara pulling on family dynamics inside both Cypher, Detective Davis Morris could push from the outside, piecing together bits of forensic evidence. He was also falling for Cara, which made him wonder if their attraction was desire, manipulation…or real. Talk about your personal conflict! David was investigating the murder of Cara’s friends—with everyone in her family hiding secrets and on the suspect list, including Cara. Unless Cara and David overcame their distrust and worked together, more people would die.

I love it when the stakes are higher because the hero and heroine stand to lose both personally and professionally. And Southerners have been known to add that touch of crazy.

What about you? Do you like books with a strong sense of place? What’s your favorite setting for a story?


How far will you go to protect the people…or things…you love?

When a hitman kills the wrong person, a Greenville, SC detective confronts hidden agendas and conflicting motives in a powerful local family, while trying to control his attraction to the intended victim—a woman who should be dead, but instead is hell-bent on saving the remnants of her family. Unwilling to stand by while her family and world are destroyed, she rips apart the secrets surrounding Cypher, the company her father built—and will take any measures to defend.

HOLT Medallion Award ~ Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

NATIONAL READER’S CHOICE ~ Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements


Book links – available in digital and trade paperback

Amazon   Nook   Kobo   iBooks   Smashwords



Write What You Know

Write What You Know

By Avery Daniels

As a writer you often hear “write what you know.”  I’m not a lawyer, so no legal mysteries, nor a doctor for medical thrillers, or a police officer, private investigator and so on.  But I grew up with a five star resort (The Broadmoor) in a town that was a part of my youth and ingrained in my memories. 

During its sixty some years in operation, the resort’s ice arena was the training ground for World and Olympic champions, the site of hockey games, ice shows, and curling events, five World Figure Skating Championships, six U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and three National Sports Festivals. 

But back in my pre-teens and teen years, the resort rink would hold the glamorous Ice Revues there every year and my mother took me regularly.  I saw Dorothy Hamill, Robin Cousins, Brian Boitano, and of course Scott Hamilton with his stunning back flip on the ice.  Sadly, the rink was torn down in 1994 to make way for expansion of the resort’s main facilities.

The Broadmoor played into birthday celebrations at the restaurants, holiday brunchs, and company holiday parties there.  But I also remember the “lake” that is behind the historic original hotel.  It has changed over the years, but I remember saving up dried bread scraps and going to the lake to feed the ducks and swans.  They were so tame, they could tell who had food and would flock to you.  Back then, there was a tiny little island that the birds stayed on year round.  You could rent a canoe and paddle around the island and the birds would swim behind you waiting to be fed. 

One year the Broadmoor was hosting the Ladies Professional Golf Association Championships and my employer gave away a ticket to attend all day, with a lunch in the skybox overlooking the 18th hole, plus the day off paid.  That was another day that I cherish in my memories.  Plus, my one and only time skiing was at the old ski run behind the resort on the mountainside. 

The Broadmoor is part of local history as well.  The “a” in the name is branded always smaller than the other letters because Spencer Penrose, a wealthy local venture capitalist and investor who built the resort, was refused service at the Antlers hotel (still around too) when he had been to his mining interests and returned too dirty.  As soon as the Broadmoor name was to be registered, Penrose had the “a” smaller to be a reminder to not refuse service because of appearance.

The Broadmoor turned one hundred years old this year.  The birds aren’t as plentiful any more, the island in the small lake is gone, the canoes are replaced with paddleboats, and the ice rink and ski runs are gone.  But I still love going to the restaurants or the theater on the grounds.

Is it any wonder when I was going through what I knew enough about to incorporate into a mystery series that I thought of a five star resort?  Of course, in my Resort to Murder series it is named the Colorado Springs Resort and will have several books placed in other resorts as well. 

The second book I placed at a luxury ski resort in Vail, CO, which was loosely based on the amazing Bavarian themed Sonnenalp Hotel.  Friends have accused me of picking the resort theme because of the research I will be forced to do (wink, wink).  But I’m not confessing to anything.

How about you?  Is there a special place that holds many memories for you like that?  Maybe just one really cherished memory?





Amazon  B&N  Kobo  iBooks  IndieBound


Amazon  B&N  Kobo  iBooks  IndieBound

About the Author

Avery Daniels was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life. Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units. She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her spirited companions. She volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic. She inherited a love for reading from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books at the dinner table.


Fun with…Math? Is that even possible?

Have you ever noticed that at social gatherings, people inevitably ask, “What do you do?” It’s polite. A way to break the ice or find common ground. I can almost predict the response, however, when I admit I’m an accountant:

“Oh, I hate math.”

“Wow, April 15 must be awful for you.”

I smile and nod and don’t try to explain.

I have a secret to share with you. I may be an accountant, but I don’t do audits. I rarely mess with numbers. The only tax return I do is my own—well, my brother calls me every year on April 14 and ask questions. My usual answer? “Like I have a clue?”

I do create the occasional spreadsheet.

Like accountant Holly Price, the heroine in So About The Money and In It For The Money, I wear a number of hats, hmm…carry a number of briefcases?


(Purses are Holly’s weak spot—a woman can never have too many purses!)

Well, we’re alike in another area. We both look at financial risk areas in mergers and acquisitions. Operating in a small town in eastern Washington state, however, Holly gets far more involved in her clients business and personal affairs than I ever have.

Here’s an example from In It For The Money:

In It For The Money excerpt

A truck engine revved with a throaty growl. The crowd surrounding the obstacle course roared in response.

Holly Price paused between two of the vendor stalls and glanced toward the Broken Boulders course. What would her peers at Falcon, Inc., the Seattle-based mergers and acquisitions company where she’d worked for years, say if they saw her now? They already thought she was crazy for taking a leave of absence, crossing the Cascade Mountains into the wilds of eastern Washington, and rescuing the family’s accounting practice after her father bailed out. Finding out she was at Boulder Bounders—a Rockcrawler event—would have her declared certifiably insane. “Another truck—oops, I mean, rig—must be starting.”

Her friend, Laurie Gordon, braced her crutches as a group of men rushed past. “What was your first clue? The noise or the mass exodus of men?”

“Come on, let’s go watch.” Holly followed the stampede. “It’s opening day. We should be supportive.” In this small town, she’d quickly learned professional service people got much more involved with clients’ personal lives. Ergo, her presence at this insane truck gig.





I’m participating in a multi-author giveaway of ebooks and Kindle Fire 7 tablets!

Giveaway entry page! 

Details on how to get extra entries on the giveaway page.

How would you like to win a pack of your favorite mysteries, thrillers, or suspense books on Amazon? If you’re among the four ebook prize pack winners, you could decide which books we’ll buy for you from the millions on Amazon. Even better, you could take home one of two Kindle Fire 7 tablets we’re giving out as grand prizes!

(Sponsored by the 25 authors listed below)

Amanda Uhl • Anna Hub • Anne McClane • Authors Billboard • Bethany-Kris • Calinda B • Cathy Perkins • Ethan Jones • Genie Gabriel • Greta Boris • Inge-Lise Goss • Jacqueline Diamond • Jennifer Vester • Jess Lourey • Julieann Dove • K A Servian • Kathy McIntosh • Laura Haley-McNeil • Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra • Michelle Grey • Naomi Bellina • Sahara Roberts • Soraya Naomi • Tamara Ferguson • Taylor Marsh


Politics As Usual Or Is Scandal A Thing Of The Past?

This day in history – “Teapot Dome” became synonymous with outrage, political scandal and a disgraceful event.

You remember history, that thing we’re destined to repeat if we don’t remember it?

What happened, you ask?

In 1920,  Warren G. Harding, a senator and  Ohio newspaper publisher, won a long-shot bid for the White House with the financial backing of oilmen who were promised oil-friendly cabinet picks in return.

Harding’s campaign slogan for the election was “Return to normalcy,” a return to the way of life before World War I. His promise was to return the United States to its prewar greatness after the hardships of World War I (1914-1918). (Hmm, Make America Great?) As president, Harding favored pro-business policies, diminished conservation, and limited immigration.

Even though it lasted only from 1921 to 1923 (Harding died in 1923), Harding’s administration became the most scandal-ridden to date, thanks to his political friends. Attorney General Harry Daugherty was accused of profiting from the sale of government alcohol supplies during Prohibition, as well as selling pardons. Harding’s head of the Veterans Bureau, Charles Forbes, was sentenced to two years in prison for bribery and corruption. Other scandals involved appointees in the Shipping Bureau and Alien Property Custodians office. And, Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, Albert B. Fall, announced his resignation in the midst of an unfolding scandal that would become known as Teapot Dome.

Now I’d heard of the Teapot Dome scandal, but didn’t really know what was involved, so on a whim, I did a little research. (It’s what authors do, usually when they’re procrastinating.)

The Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s shocked Americans by revealing an unprecedented level of greed and corruption within the federal government. The scandal involved ornery oil tycoons, poker-playing politicians, illegal liquor sales, a murder-suicide, a womanizing president and a bagful of bribery cash.

During the Teapot Dome scandal, Albert B. Fall was found guilty of accepting a bribe while in office. (Fall claimed it was a loan from Doheny worth about $5 million in today’s dollars. He was unable to justify the ~$15 million in cash and bonds he received from Sinclair. Some sources say it was “only” $10 million.) Fall was the first individual to be convicted of a crime committed while a presidential cabinet member.

Fall attempted to transfer control of the Forest Service from the Department of Agriculture. He wanted the natural resources of the Alaska Territory (apparently for his own use), but was no match for the Agriculture Secretary–and future Vice President–Henry Wallace. He was more “successful” with the US Naval oil-reserves. As the Navy converted from coal-powered to oil-fueled ships, the reserves insured there was sufficient oil in the event of another war.

Fall convinced Warren G. Harding to transfer supervision of the land from the Navy to the Department of the Interior in May 1921 (which Harding did by Executive Order). Fall then secretly granted exclusive rights to the Teapot Dome(Wyoming) reserves to Harry F. Sinclair of the Mammoth Oil Company (April 7, 1922). (He also made similar rights grants to Edward L. Doheny of Pan American Petroleum Company for the Elk Hills and Buena Vista Hills reserves in California (1921–22).)

What brought Fall down was a Congress that actually investigated instead of staging political shows and a Justice Department that “followed the money.” Fall’s personal financial position improved dramatically following the lease grants, attracting the attention of Senate investigators. Special prosecutors were appointed and the investigation unraveled the crime.

In 1929, Fall became the first former Cabinet officer ever convicted of a felony committed while in office. He was fined $100,000, which he never paid, and served only nine months of a one-year prison sentence. “My version of the matter is simply that I was not guilty,” he told the parole board. (Ironically enough, after resigning, Fall took part in lucrative oil deals in Russia and Mexico with both Doheny and Sinclair.)

Doherty was never charged, but Sinclair refused to answer some of the Senate team’s questions, claiming that Congress had no right to probe his private affairs. That refusal was challenged and eventually reached the Supreme Court. In the 1929, Sinclair vs. United States ruling, the court said that Congress did have the power to fully investigate cases where the country’s laws may have been violated. Sinclair would later serve six months in prison for contempt of Congress and jury tampering.



Find Your Purpose in Life

Do you have a sense of purpose?

A friend invited me to hear a presentation by a local historian (a husband and wife team). At the end of their speech, she turned to me and said, “This is their passion. I wish I knew what mine was.”

That comment stuck with me as I move into a new stage of my life. What is my passion? Where do I find purpose in life? For years, I’ve found purpose in my professional life and through the charitable organizations I’ve supported with my time and money. Now, I’m reexamining these activities, searching for that greater sense of purpose.

For decades, psychologists have studied how long-term, meaningful goals develop over the span of our lives. The goals that foster a sense of purpose are ones that can potentially change the lives of other people, from launching an organization, researching disease, to teaching kids to read.

A sense of purpose appears to have evolved in humans so we can accomplish big things together—which may be why it’s linked to better physical and mental health. Purpose is adaptive, in an evolutionary sense. It helps both individuals and the species survive.

Many seem to believe that purpose arises from your special gifts and sets you apart from other people—but that’s only part of the truth. It also grows from our connection to others, which is why a crisis of purpose is often a symptom of isolation. Once you find your path, you’ll almost certainly find others—a community—traveling along with you, hoping to reach the same destination.

Here are six ways to overcome isolation and discover your purpose in life.

1. Read

Reading connects us to people we’ll never know, across time and space—an experience that, research says, is linked to a sense of meaning and purpose. (Note: “Meaning” and “purpose” are linked but separate social-scientific constructs. Purpose is a part of meaning; meaning is a much broader concept that usually also includes value, efficacy, and self-worth.)

“Reading fiction might allow adolescents to reason about the whole lives of characters, giving them specific insight into an entire lifespan without having to have fully lived most of their own lives,” Raymond A. Mar suggests. By seeing purpose in the lives of other people, teens are more likely to see it in their own lives. In this sense, purpose is an act of the imagination.

Find books that matter to you—and they might help you to see what matters in your own life.

2. Turn hurts into healing for others

Of course, finding purpose is not just an intellectual pursuit; it’s something we need to feel. That’s why it can grow out of suffering, both our own and others’.

Kezia Willingham was raised in poverty in Corvallis, Oregon, her family riven by domestic violence. “No one at school intervened or helped or supported my mother, myself, or my brother when I was growing up poor, ashamed, and sure that my existence was a mistake,” she says. “I was running the streets, skipping school, having sex with strangers, and abusing every drug I could get my hands on.”

When she was 16, Kezia enrolled at an alternative high school that “led me to believe I had options and a path out of poverty.” She made her way to college and was especially “drawn to the kids with ‘issues’”—kids like the one she had once been. She says:

“I want the kids out there who grew up like me, to know they have futures ahead of them. I want them to know they are smart, even if they may not meet state academic standards. I want them to know that they are just as good and valuable as any other human who happens to be born into more privileged circumstances. Because they are. And there are so damn many messages telling them otherwise.”

3. Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism

Certain emotions and behaviors that promote health and well-being can also foster a sense of purpose—specifically, awe, gratitude, and altruism.

Studies conducted by the Greater Good Science Center have shown that the experience of awe makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves—and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose. Of course, awe all by itself won’t give you a purpose in life. It’s not enough to just feel like you’re a small part of something big; you also need to feel driven to make a positive impact on the world. That’s where gratitude and generosity come into play.

With gratitude, children and adults who are able to count their blessings are much more likely to try to contribute to the world beyond themselves. This is probably because, if we can see how others make our world a better place, we’ll be more motivated to give something back.

Here we arrive at altruism. There’s little question, that helping others is associated with a meaningful, purposeful life. People who engage in altruistic behaviors, like volunteering or donating money, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.

4. Listen to what other people appreciate about you

Giving thanks can help you find your purpose. But you can also find purpose in what people thank you for.

Like Kezia Willingham, Shawn Taylor had a tough childhood—and he was also drawn to working with kids who had severe behavioral problems. Unlike her, however, he often felt like the work was a dead-end. “I thought I sucked at my chosen profession,” he says. Then, one day, a girl he’d worked with five years before contacted him.

“She detailed how I helped to change her life,” says Shawn—and she asked him to walk her down the aisle when she got married. Shawn hadn’t even thought about her, in all that time. “Something clicked and I knew this was my path. No specifics, but youth work was my purpose.”

Although there is no research that directly explores how being thanked might fuel a sense of purpose, we do know that gratitude strengthens relationships—and those are often the source of our purpose.

5. Find and build community

We can often find our sense of purpose in the people around us. In tandem with his reading, Art McGee found purpose—working for social and racial justice—in “love and respect for my hardworking father,” he says. “Working people like him deserved so much better.”

Environmental and social-justice organizer Jodi Sugerman-Brozan feels driven to leave the world in a better place than she found it. Becoming a mom “strengthened that purpose (it’s going to be their world, and their kids’ world),” she says. It “definitely influences how I parent (wanting to raise anti-racist, feminist, radical kids who will want to continue the fight and be leaders).”

If you’re having trouble remembering your purpose, take a look at the people around you. What do you have in common with them? What are they trying to be? What impact do you see them having on the world? Is that impact a positive one? Can you join with them in making that impact? What do they need? Can you give it them?

If the answers to those questions don’t inspire you, then you might need to find a new community—and with that, a new purpose may come.

6. Tell your story

Purpose often arises from curiosity about your own life. What obstacles have you encountered? What strengths helped you to overcome them? How did other people help you? How did your strengths help make life better for others? Reading can help you find your purpose—but so can writing,

“We all have the ability to make a narrative out of our own lives,” says Emily Esfahani Smith, author of the 2017 book The Power of Meaning. “It gives us clarity on our own lives, how to understand ourselves, and gives us a framework that goes beyond the day-to-day and basically helps us make sense of our experiences.”

On a final note, I wish I could take credit for this wonderful advice, but I can’t. This content was curated by the folks at I suggest you click the link and head to their site so you can read even more inspiring thoughts on this subject.

This post was originally shared at my group blog – The Stiletto Gang


Decisions, decisions

Are you a planner? Or do you go with the flow, making decisions on a whim or the spur of the moment?

I always thought I was a planner. (Why is this song line running through my head? If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.) When I was in college, I held a “co-op” position. This meant I worked winter and summer quarters for a company in my field. It helped pay tuition and meant I would have experience when I graduated. It also meant I was out-of-sync with the required course offerings for my degree.

In the spring of what should’ve been my senior year, I found I needed three classes to graduate—and only two of them were offered fall quarter.


I’d already accepted a job in Philadelphia starting in December, so I had to squeeze that class in somehow. So while my friends headed off to start their new careers, or at least left town for a summer job, I was going to summer school.

Double bummer.

I predicted a long and boring summer.


A game of racquetball doubles at the end of May introduced me to a friend of a friend—more famous last words: nice guy, not my type—who was starting grad school in June.

In a spur of the moment decision, I wandered into the Engineering building, found him, and suggested a game of racquetball. That summer turned into a whirlwind courtship. We married a few months later and he left grad school to follow me to Pennsylvania. Many years later, he’s still a nice guy—and he’s definitely my type.

In So About the Money, Holly Price faced those same decisions when she finished college. Follow her career aspirations and accept the high risk/high reward position in Seattle? Follow her heart and marry JC Dimitrak, who wanted her at home behind a picket fence? Convince JC to move to Seattle where he could follow his career choice in law enforcement? Their relationship crashed and burned as their arguments led to disastrous decisions.

Seven years later, Holly’s back in her hometown, facing the same choices. Go back to Seattle after helping her mother—or start something new with JC? Both of them are older, but are they any wiser?

What about you? Have you faced a follow your head or heart decision? How did you choose?