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First Chapter Sneak Peek

Chapter 1

No one in Ohni’s agency had as many case files on their desk. Okay, it wasn’t her agency. She didn’t own it or even manage it; though she might have done a better job than her current supervisor, a fiftyish bureaucrat in love with policy and procedure.

New Start Family Services of Saint Francis, Kansas, had never been fully funded, as some of social services providing help for more “worthy” clientele such as those coping with AIDS or heroin addiction. The dented file cabinets and outdated desktop computers showed it.

Ohni sighed and looked at the schedule on her day planner. Ten clients today. She gazed at the grey canvas covering her cubicle. It reflected her mood.

No lunch for me today, I guess,” she spoke towards the identical cubicle opposite her.

Oh, Ohni, you just need to be more efficient,” a faceless voice attached to a blonde head nagged. “Skip the depression assessment. Fill everything out while they’re talking.”

Ohni rolled her eyes.

They hardly ever make eye contact anyhow,” her office mate claimed.

Her cubicle opening filled with a slight but formidable frame that became only more threatening with continued acquaintance.

Budget meeting tonight, Ohni. You know the routine. Don’t forget to be back from supper break by five-thirty—it’s especially important we be prompt.” The middle-aged woman planted a hand on her hips and glared at Ohni.

Can I go to the cafe for supper?” Ohni struggled to push herself past a whisper. And failed.

You won’t have time. If needed, I’m sure the office refrigerator will yield something edible,” her supervisor intoned, as if speaking to a high school intern.

Ohni dreaded the meetings as much as agoraphobics fear track and field meets. Lasting til nine o’clock was common, and tonight’s agenda would be unusually tedious with Mr. Lanscombe making his quarterly appearance. The agency controller never met an illegible spreadsheet he didn’t like.

Her supervisor had vacated the doorway in the few seconds these thoughts ran through Ohni’s mind. She often thought her private musings to be the only things her supervisor couldn’t control. When she signed on with New Start, she had hoped the name would apply to her life as well. But her current situation, with little free time and an impossible quota of clients to serve, mocked her optimism like a spectre brandishing her work contract and ridiculing “you forgot to read the fine print Ohni! You will pay for your carelessness!”

Hey, Ohni, earth to Ohni…”

She snapped back to 2025.

Yeah, what, Rozika?”

I was only going to say I brought an extra sandwich today in case you didn’t have anything for supper.”

Thanks, Rozi. Tofurky?”

Yeah, mayo–no mustard. I remembered.”

Ohni wished Rozika would have better recall about her promise to speak to her Uncle Ulrich, attorney-at-law, about Ohni’s indenture contract. She’d misplaced the priceless piece of paper on her journey to St. Francis after her mother died. Seventeen years old and grieving, Ohni recalled. And the state of Kansas expects me to have all my ducks in a row when they dump me, all alone in St. Francis, in a crummy studio apartment?

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If you couldn’t find it on Amazon, it is now there. Honest.

 

 

1991. Jonah knelt before the gravestone to pray. He placed his palm on the cold smooth surface, as if bestowing a blessing on his father’s head. Rev. Edward Tyson, 1929-1983.

Dear Lord, please forgive me.

The edges of the stone began to blur. He blinked and squinted at the writing. The engraving was melting, a videotape rewinding. In its place stood a long-haired teenager.

“So are you joining the party, or just going to stand there?” A classmate from his 1975 algebra class said.

In 1981, Jonah interviewed for admission to the seminary, but ten years later he’s settled for a job as a nonprofit administrator. Then a bizarre experience at Hemingway Cemetery makes him question where God’s will ends and his will begins. Can he dare to pursue his mission again?

 

Available through Apple iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Tolino, Inktera, Scribd, Playster, Kobo Plus, and 24 Symbols. 

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New Release: Only 99c!

 

1991. Jonah knelt before the gravestone to pray. He placed his palm on the cold smooth surface, as if bestowing a blessing on his father’s head. Rev. Edward Tyson, 1929-1983.

Dear Lord, please forgive me.

The edges of the stone began to blur. He blinked and squinted at the writing. The engraving was melting, a videotape rewinding. In its place stood a long-haired teenager.

“So are you joining the party, or just going to stand there?” A classmate from his 1975 algebra class said.

In 1981, Jonah interviewed for admission to the seminary, but ten years later he’s settled for a job as a nonprofit administrator. Then a bizarre experience at Hemingway Cemetery makes him question where God’s will ends and his will begins. Can he dare to pursue his mission again?

 

Available through Apple iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Tolino, Inktera, Scribd, Playster, Kobo Plus, and 24 Symbols. 

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The Reluctant Archivist

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Mill hugs Rich, John, and Melissa as confetti drifts down in his small, bustling campaign headquarters office.

“Thank you for all your hard work,” he bellows. The forty-some “Champaign Crusaders” clap and whistle. He is now a city councilman. The Goal—becoming mayor of Champaign IL, is now within reach.

But Mill’s conniving political rivals are using his brother Gary’s mental instability to discredit him, and not even Mill’s political savvy prevents a threat on Gary’s life. How will Mill maintain his focus on The Goal, when his own vulnerability to mental illness is already sabotaging his dream?

Mill escapes to graduate school, but ignoring his inner conflicts and “Gary challenges” isn’t making them go away. Then his former campaign manager, Rich, discovers some apparent dirty dealing in the Champaign Mayor’s office. Could this be the information Mill needs to get back on track and achieve the Goal?

Send Me My Free Book! 

See also books2read.com/u/mqzZr6  for all my published books!

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What’s An Archivist, Anyhow?

So my character Mill is, among other things, an archivist? What in the heck is an archivist, and why would an aspiring politician want to be one?

People arjulies picse more familiar with the term archives, which brings to mind dusty records piling up in some kind of library, maybe consulted by a TV detective for evidence. Actually, many lovers of history, writing, and the ethical tightrope we call “politics” are users of or workers in archives. Archives are a treasure trove for biographical or historical researchers. They contain primary sources–that is,  narrative written by or directly quoted from the historical figure or event of interest. Eyewitness, on-the-scene descriptions. Any organization can maintain an archives, but large institutions such as universities, museums, city halls,  and presidential libraries are typical places to find them.

Can you imagine the millions of pieces information collected in one museum’s archives alone? Newspaper articles, letters, ledger en3111852354_240ee7ca74_mtries, meeting agendas, official memos–maybe even top-secret! No wonder a trained staff of archivists is needed to read, organize, catalog, and protect them.  Not to mention assisting researchers to find what they’re looking for. In the past, original copies were stored in special archival containers to protect them from the ravages of light, water, and time.  In our time, many collections have been converted into digital copies for safekeeping.

Safekeeping the past, so that we aren’t doomed to repeat its mistakes. Learning of fascinating events  from those who were there. These are some of the reasons Mill became an archivist. To find out the other reasons, you’ll have to read my book.

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You Might be Drawn to my Book If: A Quiz

 

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Would you enjoy “The Reluctant Archivist?” Take the quiz and find out!’      

1. Seeing the phrases “mental illness,” “politics,” and “mystery” together makes you feel:  a) nothing in particular  b) intrigued  c) somewhat repelled.

2.  You would rather read:   a) a book set in the here and now     b) a book set in medieval  times      c) a book set in the 1970’s

3.  To read a book to its end, you need:   a) over a dozen quirky characters   b) the possibility that the main characters find no meaning in their experience         c) a main character who realizes his purpose

4.  Your usual attitude toward the Midwestern U.S. is:    a)  it’s a down-to-earth place   b)  seems kinda boring to me        c) never been there and don’t care to go

5. You think the main character should usually:   a) show flaws but also great resilience    b) never waver and be strong as iron     c) have the most weaknesses and limitations  of any character

6.  Your ideal fiction book has:  a) steamy romance and innuendo       b) mystery elements and twists       c) new technological gadgets

Chose most of these? 

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* 1970’s setting

* intrigued by mental illness, politics, and mystery

* main character who finds his purpose

* the Midwest is a down-to-earth place

* flawed but resilient main character

* twists and mystery

You’ll enjoy “The Reluctant Archivist.” 

 

 

 

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Novels for Foodies

From Food52.com:

13530614_fd1036c444_bThis week on the Hotline, Pili Gómez asked for recommendations fornovels with foodies as main characters, noting that she’s already a fan of the Comisario Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri and the Detective Carvalho books by Vazquez Montalban. As usual, you all came through with great suggestions—dozens of them:

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Writing Fiction for Foodies

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I have a love-hate relationship with cooking. The responsibility of putting something not only edible but healthy on the table wars with my longing to put up my feet at day’s end. But the sense of accomplishment I savor when dishing up a casserole made from unprocessed ingredients seems rare and beautiful–an achievement only outshined by giving birth to my daughters. Perhaps these periodic Martha Stewart impulses stimulate the same endorphins as finishing a Jillian Anderson work-out. No doubt such research would be easier if I actually completed both tasks the same day. Someone should really write a grant for this.

While I’m prone to rhapsodizing about food, I haven’t yet decided whether I am a “foodie.” No doubt a Buzzfeed quiz would be happy to impose their assessment on me, but I prefer self-evaluation. I finally settled on these standards of measure:

1) Preoccupation with exotic ingredients (saffron-infused oil? organic double matcha?) only available at a store at least thirty minutes from one’s home. Extra points if the store doesn’t sell Spam or cigarettes.

2) Possession of a sufficiently large cookbook collection to qualify one for a TV spot on “Hoarders” or similar. (and an equally colossal array of online recipes)

3) A marked preference for novels in which the main character’s favorite recipes are featured. Extra credit if recipes are listed at the back of the book. (or if the main character is a caterer)

4) Willingness and/or compulsion to make homemade (and probably organic) versions of common kitchen staples, such as ketchup or peanut butter.

And finally:

5) Frequent snapping of food selfies while fantasizing about becoming a restaurant critic. (being paid to eat–Lord have mercy!)

A score of two indicates developing foodie tendencies. Three or more positive responses correlate strongly with foodie-ness. Implications of scores of four and five should be obvious. My score fluctuates between two and a half and four, depending the amount of time until Christmas is due to arrive. No, I can’t explain the two and a half.

As I sat polishing my book The Reluctant Archivist, I noticed foodie-ness creeping in. Interesting food sightings pepper the narrative, which I’m now confident will enhance the plot. In fact, I think it’s time to embrace the food plot device–maybe even feature a recipe or two. Even if Mill Fairbairn, main character and earnest politician, is far from a chef.

Do you read about food? What does it mean to you?

Quench your thirst for meaning–read.

 

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Today I Met A Time-Traveller

This past week I promised to endure a technology time-out, and failed on an epic scale. We had decided it was time to give my daughter my old phone, so I got a smartphone last week. Not the best conditions under which to begin! Not only did my technology “fast” rule out email, instant messaging, and live streaming video, but even the most basic CD player had to be avoided.

Which made me wonder–what would happen if Mill, my book character from circa 1975, arrived on the scene smack-dab in 2015 and requested my help? Here’s my take on Mill’s first visit to the 21st century:

The man approached me where I stood consulting my phone in front of a suburban Old Navy store, his walk betraying his inner-CEO in operating mode.

“Excuse me, I can’t seem to find a pay phone anywhere,” he said, smile valiantly trying to put me at ease.

I slipped my phone into my purse and made eye contact, my words emerging in fits and starts. “Uh…they all got ripped out years ago. Do you want to use my phone?” I reached inside my capacious bag to help.

He stopped me, his hand glancing my forearm. “Oh no, I couldn’t ask you to interrupt your day,” he said, as if apologizing for a major inconvenience. He offered a smooth hand to shake.

“I’m Mill Fairbairn. And you are?”

“Good to meet you, Mill. I’m Julie Hadler.” I wasn’t sure why, but I felt I’d just met an elderly man, though Mill clearly carried less years than I.

“I’ve been out canvassing–have a flyer. I’m a candidate in the mayoral election and I really need to contact my campaign manager.” He handed me a white piece of paper on which light purple words marched across the page in pica font.

“I’ll be getting something better than mimeographs soon, this is all I could afford right now.”

Mimeographs? I read the crowded page, confusion setting in.

“So, Julie, maybe you could help me another way–would you happen to have a map on you, or be able to give me directions? I need to get downtown, and I’m hopelessly lost.”

Mill pulled out a little notebook and pen while I dug out my phone and touched Google Maps.

“Oh, we misunderstood each other. I don’t need a calculator. I’m fine there. I just need directions to…” He consulted his notebook. “3345 N. Clark.”

Hoping to streamline the strange encounter, I typed furiously. “Um, sir,” I turned around my phone and held it up about six inches from his nose. “It’s all good, I already got the address on Google Maps.”  Poor soul must be from a third world country. Funny, he didn’t have an accent.

Mill’s neck arced back, Dracula recoiling from a crucifix. “What’s that? It looks like a tiny robot-computer-thing.” He wheeled around and scanned other passersby. “Am I on that Candid Camera show?”

I couldn’t stifle a snort. “You mean, a hidden camera show? No, it’s just my app.”

He seemed to be sorting through mental files. He lowered his head near my phone and face and whispered. “This isn’t a film shoot, is it? I’ll pay you to edit this out. I mean, I kinda sounded like an extra on a Doctor Who episode for a minute.”

My confusion mounted as I backed up a few paces, considering if, rather than an immigrant, the man was AWOL from his inpatient detox program. “Listen, I’m not the film editor, but maybe  you’d feel better after you eat something.” I rummaged round until I found the protein bar in my purse. I offered it to him.

“Oh, thanks, but I try to stay away from candy bars.”

“It’s just a protein bar, are you diabetic?”

Mill seemed puzzled and gestured his intent to change topics. “I know, maybe grabbing a cab would be the easiest way–I think I saw a couple earlier. Thanks anyway, it was nice to meet you, Julie.”

I shrugged as he strode to the curb and looked down the block. In less than a minute, he successfully waved one down and stepped in. The weather was hot, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw the cab’s windows begin to lower. What I did not expect was the thunderous yell that reached me even as the cab rolled away.

“Aaaaah! Did you see that? The windows…they just went down…all by themselves!”

 

Items referenced here and unavailable in 1970’s (which I did not avoid using this past week): cell phones, high-speed photocopiers, cell phone apps, protein bars (unless you were a hard-core body builder) and remote-controlled car windows.

 

 

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Part of JFK’s Vision for (Mental) Health Care?

Photo1297FYou value privacy in your health care, but if that privacy prevented your primary MD and a specialist or two from coordinating your various treatments, you might feel differently. And the state of Minnesota seems to be leading the charge in enabling MDs, paramedics, and ER clinicians to share information when needed.

I assert this is even more crucial for people with long-term mental illness. Family and friends,  strained by the person’s unpredictable or unpleasant behavior,  may be unavailable or unwilling to take the time to advocate for the patient. When docs can’t access the treatment and medication history needed to create a personalized treatment plan–look out!  People are misdiagnosed, prescribed duplicate or previously intolerable meds, and are at great risk for relapse or re-hospitalization.

Many of us remember the Community Mental Health Act, passed during JFK’s administration. The Act funded construction of outpatient community mental health centers, with the good intention of making the psych unit obsolete. Medical and treatment monitoring boosted patient autonomy and positive self-image. Unfortunately, the under-funded programs didn’t translate into enough centers to accommodate the many people who needed them.

Because of the push from government budget concerns, groups of hospitals, home care agencies, and physician practices are finally collaborating. Sharing information via integrated software networks is permitted as patients sign a release upon admission. Having sympathized at the bedside with hundreds of patients insisting “their doctors never talk to each other,” I know this is not an isolated problem.

Whether or not I am a JFK-admirer is not the point. I think JFK would be encouraged and pleased with Minnesota’s Community Health Network. Not to mention coalitions such as Rush University Medical Center’s Bridge Program, here in my good ‘ol Chicago.

 

 

 

 

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