NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Friday, July 24, 2015

There is Hope

This past week I was honored to be a guest on “Setting Things Right” on Immaculate Heart Radio to discuss the undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practice of selling body parts of aborted babies.  One issue discussed was whether we should even be talking about the videos as they might be re-victimizing those who have had or participated in an abortion. 
Granted, the content of the videos is deplorable.  I am sure, based on my own reactions, they are re-traumatizing those who have attended post-abortion healing and bringing stuffed emotions to the surface from those who have not.  However, the purpose is life-saving.  Exposing Planned Parenthood for who and what they are is necessary to end the barbarity once and for all, and it will also guide those now struggling with the pain, remorse and regret towards healing and hope.

Along with the Planned Parenthood discussion, there were two other guests on the show: Incredibly courageous angels of mercy - Jacqueline Isaac and Dr. Yvette Isaac of Roads of Success.
Their non-profit organization empowers girls and women in the Middle East who have suffered the barbaric actions of ISIS (enslavement, torture and rape).  It also deals with other human rights controversies including female genital mutilation, child marriage, women’s rights, spousal abuse, discrimination, lack of higher education and health issues, such as eating disorders, hunger and malnutrition, sanitation, disabilities, childbirth, child rearing, sex slavery and disease such as HIV/AIDS. 

God entrusted them with this mission of hope and they could definitely use help reaching out to those in need.  Click HERE for information on their organization and how you can help. 

With Kent Peters, Jacqueline Issac and Dr. Yvette Issac at
the St. Francis de Salles studio.

Listen to the broadcast HERE

Thank you Kent Peters - Director,  Linda Arreola - Asst. Director, Deacon Jim Walsh and Maria Valencia - Administrative Asst.  of the Office of Social Ministry and Immaculate Heart Radio's "Setting Things Right" for bringing truth, hope, and the love of God to so many. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Plunged into The Snakepit of Bureaucracy

Does anyone remember the song, Sometimes You’re the Windshield, Sometimes You’re the Bug?  Those words perfectly describe what should have been a joyful event in my advancing years.

I will reach the magical age of 62 in September, thus eligible to receive Social Security benefits.  I followed the recommended process and submitted my application three months prior to my birthday to make sure I would start receiving benefits on time. 

A few weeks after applying, a letter arrived informing me the original benefit amount will be reduced because I was already receiving a pension.  What?  Pension?  Am I missing something?  Is there a secret pension I was supposed to be getting and the checks are still in the mail?  Hmmm.  At the end of the letter it said something like this: “If our information is not correct, you have five (5) days to provide documentation to refute our records."  FIVE DAYS?  Needless to say I was perplexed (and a tad bit angry). 

Aware the lines at Social Security are just about as long as the DMV, I decided to call them.  Of course, I got a recording.  You know the message …. “calls will be answered in the order received.”  I must have been #1,000,000 because I was on hold for an hour and fifteen minutes.  They did offer a callback service, but I tried that with the IRS one time (four days later…), so I suffered through the elevator music.  I rejoiced when I heard a real voice until I got the explanation of my situation.  The overworked civil servant informed me I received a pension from the government after I left in 1988.  Yes, 1988.  I told her I was a mere 35 years old for goodness sake, not old enough to get a pension.  I also informed her what little had accumulated during my tenure in federal service was pulled out that same year.  She told me I had to contact the Office of Personnel Management for a letter confirming what I just told her.  Again I reminded her I was only 35 years old in 1988, isn’t it obvious I wasn’t eligible?  I also asked her how in the world can I provide verification in five days. Then I heard it….the dreaded, “I understand your concern, but that’s our policy.” 

After biting my tongue and politely thanking her (for what?), I called the Office of Personnel Management.  Once again … “Calls will be answered in the order received.”  More elevator music for an hour (I must have been #950,000 this time … whee!).  I explained my dilemma and at least this woman was sympathetic.  Evidently she’d heard the story before and we had a chuckle about Social Security’s assumption a 35-year-old would qualify for a pension.  The chuckles abruptly stopped when she informed me the verification would take some time.  Upon hearing about the five-day deadline, the woman gasped and as calmly as possible, told me it would take four weeks to get the information necessary.  FOUR WEEKS????  She explained my records were stored away (probably somewhere in a dark basement on microfiche), not on a current database.

I called Social Security back.  Thankfully the gal I spoke to earlier gave me her direct number saving me from hearing the soundtrack to Dr. Zhivago seventeen times. Of course, she didn’t answer but I left her a message informing her I would be getting the info to her within four weeks and please not penalize me for not meeting the deadline.

Today I received another letter.  “We reduced your Social Security benefits starting October 2015 … this is the first month you received a pension …” Unfortunately, I didn’t keep the number of the woman I spoke to the last time.  One of my favorite movies, Armageddon, was on TV and the twin shuttles had just taken off to destroy the asteroid when I first heard that familiar recording and elevator music.  I was on hold until A.J. saved the day by drilling down to 800 feet.  Yes, they had received my message but, “It is our policy. Once we get verification, we can make the necessary adjustments.  You need to call the Office of Personnel Management.  If it’s been four weeks there must be a problem.”  I took a deep breath and dialed the number to OPM.  “Your call will be answered in the order received.”  An hour later I was informed the four-week wait had been increased to six.  
I hung up the phone…stared into space, fighting the urge to scream out a multitude of expletives that would send me to the confessional, resulting in enough penance to last the additional two weeks.  I decided instead to focus on the rest of the mail that had come in.  It was then I lost it……

"Patricia Smith …. Your driver’s license expires on 9/5/2015 … you cannot renew on-line.  You need to go to the nearest DMV office………."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Welcome C.M. Halstead to "An Author Speaks"!

C.M. Halstead is product of 40 plus years of travel and exploration; a childhood as an Air Force brat and service in the Marine Corps changed him forever. He managed 84 people, negotiated multi-million dollar contracts, drove Jeeps professionally — usually at crazy angles and locales. An astute believer in adventure, he is now doing the craziest thing ever, pursuing his passion full out and becoming an accomplished author. Ready or not, here he comes!

Are you ready to join in as he takes you on one wild ride after another? Free your mind to worlds that may or may not be reality and let your imagination
be ignited by C.M. Halstead. 

What five words describe you?

 Tenacious, outdoorsy, reclusive, kind, thinker

What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?

I am working on three books: 

I am entering the final editing stage on ‘Kangal’, Book two of 'The Tripper Series’, which is scheduled to release in September 2015, Book cover design by Wisdom House Books has begun as well. They designed an awesome cover for book one, which made it a no-brainer to utilize them again. Book two of the series has the team taking a double “tram ride” all the way back to 1917, where they help to prove everything is not as it seems.

I am in the outline stage of a book called, ‘How to refurbish your life’. I am combining my passion for making old things new (Our company, TLC Agents LLC refurbishes old furniture and turns it into art and other useful creations. We are currently in the process of turning a 1980 school bus into a tiny home to travel the national parks, and book tour in). The book is our story of survival and creating a NEW American dream, free of the requirement of debt. How we left our “corporate jobs” and stopped building their dream empires and are now creating our own dream version of our empire. The book lays out the steps that we took to free ourselves, how we met, and how we got to the crossroads to choose our own path.

The third book I wrote last year 'Earned Innocence' (last year I wrote my first 3 novels ever! It’s amazing what happens when I get out of my own way) is a cathartic piece about a young man of 17 joining the Marine Corps, experiencing the mental strengthening of training, followed by the atrocities of war. After his military service he finds it hard to come all the way home and choses instead to live in the wilds of the America’s western forests. It takes an angel’s influence to encourage him to face a demon that prevents his hero’s journey to come to an end. This novel is written in the classic “Hero’s Journey” style. The entire rough draft of this book was written during NaNoWriMo of 2014, currently in its rough draft stages, I will return to working on it, once ‘Kangal’ enters the design and layout faze of self-publishing. ‘Earned Innocence’ is schedules for release in January 2016.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your
most recent book?

There are seven main characters in ‘Trip Walk’ book one of The Tripper Series, all are equally important, but for the sake of brevity in your blog you can focus on Grey.

Grey (team leader):  Liam Neeson or Dwayne Johnson (if he was about half his current size)
Rosa:   Michelle Rodriquez
Charles:  Tom Hardy
Miokel:  Mahesh Jadu
June:  Christina Hendricks
John:  Chris Pratt
Mackenzie:  Alexa Davalos

 If you could have been the original author of any book, what
would it have been and why?
Interesting question. I mostly want to write my own! For the sake of the question…let’s go with a book called ‘Neuromancer’ written by William Gibson. Solely because I would own the movie rights and turn this into a movie ASAP!

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Creating the space to do it! I need a writer’s cave, a place of solace un-disturbed by “real life” so I can live in the worlds of the characters whose stories I am telling.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writers block?

I have a couple great blog articles about that very thing: 


  Where would your dream location be for writing?

Four seasonal locations: Sedona AZ, a beach cabin in Bali, Glacier National Park, Kentucky or Upstate NY for fall leaf change.

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?

A lot of the personality details come from people in my life. The antidotal parts of their characters, the jokes and the human characteristics. Even the “bad guys” are from people in my life, albeit sometimes the complete opposite characteristics (what would Joe do in this situation? When then the evil guy would do the opposite…).

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I don’t read my reviews unless someone in my inner circle sends me a specific one to read. The phrase “What other people think of me is none of my business” comes to mind. 

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

Everything else I have been: Manager, Negotiator, U.S. Marine, Farmhand, Purchasing agent, Golf Course Ass’t Superintendent, Outdoor Guide, grocery bagger, Landscaper, Warehouse Supervisor,…I’m pretty sure there are about 10 more things on this list!

 What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you
in your writing career?

Get the hell out of your own way and pursue your dreams now!!!

Where can we buy your work?

How can we keep up with you?

Twitter:   @CM_Halstead
Instagram: CM_HALSTEAD

Thursday, July 16, 2015

With Heavy Heart - My Thoughts on the Latest Expose' on Planned Parenthood

My heart has been heavy since the release of the undercover video of Dr. Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood discussing the harvesting of body parts of aborted babies.  She went into morbid detail while munching on a salad and drinking a glass of wine. 

Being post-abortive, this latest atrocity not only broke my heart, but I was also shrouded once again with overwhelming regret over my decision to abort so many years ago.  The nightmares have returned with graphic reenactments of the details Dr. Nucatola so dispassionately divulged between bites of lettuce. 

How many other post-abortive women are going through the same despair?  Yes, I’ve been through a healing program, in fact, I am a facilitator of one and thank God I have the tools that will, in time, help me get through this latest crisis.  But what about those who have not yet reached out for help dealing with their regret?  I can only imagine the heart-wrenching anguish they must be experiencing.

The only positive that came out of Dr. Nucatola’s callous lunch conversation was the affirmation that abortion does destroy life.  She speaks of muscles and organs, all parts of a human being (e.g. “A lot of people want intact hearts these days.”).  I pray those comments sear the truth into the hearts of pro-aborts and end this barbarity once and for all. 

For the women who have had an abortion … or for anyone involved in the decision:

Be assured there is light at the top of the dark abyss of pain, shame and regret.  There is hope, there is healing.  We can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can move forward with the love and mercy of God and support of others that have walked the same path.  You are not alone…
There are many healing resources available in the U.S. and internationally.  Silent No More Awareness provides a list of resources at:


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

From Nut to Polished Gem - by Terry Palmer

Fellow author, Terry Palmer, posted the following on my Facebook Author's Page and I loved it.  Thank you Terry for sharing your words of hope and for the wonderful review of "Grave Obsessions". 

Years ago this author worked at the family gravel business. My father started that business with a truck and a prayer. He sure had an eye for the land. The same ground that would barely support a stunted stem of field corn, made wonderful gravel. I came into the business on a part time basis and soon learned the value of long lines of loading trucks and the shaking of the separation chambers as each size of rock tumbled out into their respective piles. On occasion I could delay leaving the pit after a good rain storm and spend time looking for ‘nuts’. Most of my life I have adored the chase of the agate business. Long hours up and down steep cliffs of agate bearing sand hoping to find a few pretty stones was a common past time. Now, due to the family business, I could have first chance at all those sandy cliffs and separated piles of rocks. It wasn’t long before I found some fist sized ‘nuts’. ‘Nuts’ are larger agates in their rough form. It takes a good eye and piles of discards before you will find those true gems. The outside layer of rock or husk, only told a bare glimpse of the treasure inside. Weeks of chipping and polishing were required to reveal the beauty inside. How like the Christian life. God takes some ‘nut’ like me, rough hide and all, and puts me through the chips and grinds of life, knowing from the start about the hidden gem within. The same is true for many of my Christian friends. They each had to pass through hard experience after the other as God refined them into the beauty underneath. For those as rebellious as I was, more trips into the grit and polish were required. Painfully, I can add that it took many years for this ol’ ‘nut’ to shine for Christ. When God is through with us, we are either on the discard pile or shine forth as a true gem. Which are you?
As I read Grave Obsessions by Patti J. Smith I find the same qualities. Her hero had to handle some true grit in order to both survive and to become the gem of the story. If you relish a great detective story that’s a real gem, then take that moment of grit and read it through. You’ll find an action packed story and some good lessons in life.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Scott McPherran - How to "Exercise" your Demons

Scott McPherran is the head wrestling coach at El Cajon Valley High School

My run was easier today. I talk to God during my runs. I tell him how sick I am. How fake I am. How much I want to rid myself of all my impurities, but how I feel trapped in a life of seeking the world. It has always been this way. Many times as I run, I hear myself in my head saying over and over “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” for things I always need to apologize for as a 24-year-old man. I even apologize for things that I have already confessed. Sounds horrific, but it is truly the opposite.

I would like to explain why it is important that you work out. Working out and exercising is an essential part of your life, whether have you begun or not. My goal is to “evangelize” you to workout. And here’s why: When you work out, you are identifying with Christ. How? Think about it. What happens when you work out? You go through pain and suffering. It is a beautiful thing. Your body tells you, what the heck, this kills, stop. If you’re like me, you hate it. Some people claim they love it. I’d like to think it is more of a love-hate thing. I love the idea of it. I love doing it.  But, sometimes, and depending on the workout (especially running, I hate running!), the feeling is awful. But this is how you identify with Christ. Every time you run or lift or go to a boxing class or whatever you do, you are suffering – you are sacrificing. You are sacrificing your body. This is all relative. Jesus died for us on the cross. Each time you go through the pain of working out, you are physically approaching the pains of Jesus Christ. Of course, I would take a Thursday Chest day over being crucified anytime.  This is not to say you are truly identifying by being ridiculed, mocked, beaten, spat on, tortured and whipped in the worst way.  Nor are you identifying being nailed to a cross in which you are suffocating slowly while suffering the most gruesome pain imaginable, stripped naked with everyone laughing at you. 

No, we are not Jesus and never will be. But when we work out we are more like Jesus than not, and we are trying to identify with him the whole way through. Our bodies go through this pain - and once you get into a good routine, it will be some terrible pain! But then our bodies are resurrected, and we see a reflection of our hard physical labor and sacrifices. We are cleansed with the appearance of our new bodies, ones that reflect honor and servitude. We truly identify with Christ in the healthiest way imaginable. The thought of the cross can permeate our minds throughout our workouts. Then the bliss of the Resurrection is exemplified as we sit down for a well-deserved meal or indulge in a chocolate peanut butter protein shake engulfed in a total peaceful feeling of recovery and numbness. You want to bring peace to your life, the entire hour after a workout will bring you enough peace for a week.

Which brings me to my next point: Forget the psychologist, bring God, prayer, and physical workouts into your life and you will overcome that anxiety you are having. As radical as that may be, I am sorry, but it is true. Yes sure, you may not need physical labor, but it greatly helps and from what I remember sloth is a deadly sin. Now a lot of you work hard and sloth is not an issue, you are just burnt out and do not have time for a workout. That is fine, but you are missing out! Your life could be that much better. Is that not the goal for our service to Christ? Aren’t we supposed to work to make it better? Here I am to give you a great option! Work out and work out frequently! Do not take diet pills, do not use performance enhancers, do not skip meals, do not pass go and collect $200! By “workout,” I mean no games. Go on a run, go to the gym and lift, jump some rope, and eat enough (yet another perk, with working out, gluttony really becomes less of a problem!). That is was I do and it works. I am not going to give the whole nutrition spiel, but the only tip I have is you know spinach is good for you, so eat it. You also know grilled is better than fried so eat the former more so than not. Just like in God’s kingdom, there are no cutting corners in achieving your goal. You cannot cheat God, and therefore you cannot cheat working out. It takes fruitful intention and true effort on your part.

Why it makes your life better? The mentality. How much easier it is to call the debt collector as you put up your final bench press rep? How much you would rather be simply sitting down and writing a paper than on your third mile of running? How you would do anything to not be squatting and simply calling your parents to talk (which you do not do very often)? How asking your boss nicely to please stop taking the Lord’s name in vein becomes reasonable as you are crushing your abs in your abdominal routine. Oh man, how sorry you are for looking at all the girls the wrong way (or at the guys if you’re a girl) when you walked in once you start your shoulder routine. Through prayer and working out, you WILL become a better person, I guarantee it. You’ll look good too…

Your body is a temple. This goes beyond not doing bad things like having a bunch of promiscuous, premarital sex and doing drugs. Your body is a temple to build upon. Just like in Lent we have negatives we try to weed out and temperance that we try to build, we also try to add things that positively affect our life. Working out positively affects your life, more so than you can imagine.

Feeling discouraged, why? Are you fat? So what … so was Jared, (and let me tell you outside of lipo, it wasn’t Subway that got him skinny as Mr. Rogers, he took his behind to the track). Are you out of shape?   Don’t think you could ever get back to the physical shape you prided yourself on as a track or a football star in high school?  Well, you’re definitely not going to with that attitude. Have a bum shoulder? That’s great!  There are tons of workouts to do that don’t involve your shoulders. Do you have gym anxiety? Well, you won’t anymore: There will always be someone bigger than you. Yes, our planet is huge; it is also very tiny compared to other things in space. Yes, I see myself make gains and feel big, then I look at 6’9 Popeye stroll in and warm up with the weight.  I struggle so hard to put up still chatting with his girlfriend as if he is on a lounge chair at a resort somewhere in Florida. You will NEVER be the biggest guy or the fittest girl in the gym. Get over it and create your own world inside the gym with God. I also see string bean Larry struggling to put up the bench with only 10 pounds on each side of the bar. I love you string bean Larry, you are the epiphany of effort. You are courageous, and you will become Popeye before you know it, and help other string beans grow to your strength and determination. Stringbean Larry, just for going to the gym today, you have done so much more than anyone who skips out on working out and makes excuses. If you are a string bean Larry, or inversely, a plump Patrick, do not be afraid.  God’s world carries no judgment on how much you are lifting or for how long you are running - trust me on that. What God’s world does carry is happiness that you are improving your body and glorifying His name.

The way I believe you are doing this, is working out is your way of saying Thank You. We are thanking God for the healthy body He has given us and we are using these talents and bearing fruit. When we go on a run or hit the gym, we are glorifying the fact that God has kept us healthy and has allowed us to live without many diseases or famine. We should glorify God for this gift, not abuse it. This goes for the disabled as well. They are still even able to use their gifts and work out. Look at Anthony Robles. He won a National Championship in college D1 wrestling, aka he was the best in the U.S. at his weight class and he only had one leg. Yes, somehow one leg gave him a positional advantage in the sport of wrestling, but gosh dang, you do not have one leg and become a national wrestling champion without a true effort and dogged determination! So all you Catholics and Christians of all shapes and sizes and of all ability, go, work out and glorify your body in Christ. Go build your temples.

Just think about everywhere you can be after you start working out or working out more. Do not be overwhelmed by how much time it will take for your bodies to show results. You would be surprised what even one week can do! Working out in God’s name can be your new tool. It can be your new healthy activity of the day. It can be your escape from the world and from sin. Angry at your mom? Going to kill your best friend for telling the person you’re in love with that you love them? Sexually frustrated and tempted? Work out. You will forget your desires of anger, pride, and especially lust and be brought back home to your desire to Love, God’s Love.  You will return to the cross through your pain of building your body; through the pain, we approach simplification. With every shortness of breath and unbelievable effort to keep going, we become too focused and experience a great enough amount of pain that our comforts and lustful passions are carved out of existence.  All that is left is what we really want and what we really need. It helps us to reflect with God. This sacrifice will carry over to the other parts of your life. You will be more energetic and motivated to complete simple tasks. Your life will be in order. You will forget the pressures of the external things that worry you and you will grow confident in what you choose for your life and what you cut out of your life as you simplify your lifestyle. You will be brought back to your roots of living modestly. You will be able to protect your family and will be a better soldier of God.

Yes, my run was easier today, and it is a metaphor that life is becoming easier. If you master your physical labors, you will master the rest of your life. Like my dad, who had once joined the army put it, “Once I got out of basic training, it was a lot easier to go after my engineering degree. That was nothing compared what I had to do in basic training!”

I may be sorry during my workout, but I am so full of grace after, and so okay with who I am and how far I have become and so thankful for God.  I will say it one more time, there is simply no better feeling of peace then the end of a long workout, where the body is truly at rest. Just like the ending of Jesus’s story, it is happy…..every time. Go, be cleansed, and workout. If this has not convinced you then darn, I quit writing already.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Welcome J. Christopher Thompson to "An Author Speaks"!

 J. Christopher Thompson lives in Billings, Montana and loves the American Southwest.
When he isn't twisting plots or dreaming of new ways to torture his characters, he is a stay at home father, helping to raise twin boys and achieve his Education Degree. He is also a blade and exotic weapon enthusiast, and loves a good story no matter where he finds it. Lineage is his first published series.

What five words describe you? 

Calm, introspective, knowledgeable, quiet, kind

What are you working on at the minute? What is it about? 
I'm working on Book Two of the Lineage Saga. It's titled Lineage: the Wild Hunt. In order to protect his friends and loved ones, Connor Murray feels the need to distance himself from them. He goes to the United States, feeling a strange force drawing him there. What he does not know is the U.S. is the home of the exiled Wild Hunt. The Eldritch hunter fae who are led by the Erlking. They hunt Connor at the request of Mordred and Morgan le Fay.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? 

Honestly, while I have thought of actors while creating my characters, I'd want an unknown. Someone fresh to the scene.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The concept of a dystopian society that shuts out the vast problems of the real world by escaping into a virtual world! The story is not only wicked cool and great social commentary, but it came out just as virtual interfaces like the Oculus Rift were being developed. It was spooky.

What is the hardest thing about writing? 

Making time to write.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writers block?  

I clean house, or leave the house entirely; I put on inspirational music; I’ll start writing from a different characters perspective, or begin writing another story.

Where would your dream location be for writing? 

Anywhere I can be alone with my thoughts and able to write them down.

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?  

Some are. None of the antagonists, thus far. Most of the protagonists.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? 

I do read reviews, I don’t respond, yet.  Too busy. When I do read bad reviews, I try to maintain the attitude of a student. I do my best to learn what I can do better as a writer.

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be? 

I'd be a teacher. I’m currently working on my Ed. degree. I want to teach History and English.

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?

I’d have given myself a copy of Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules for Writers and told him to adhere to it religiously.

Where can we purchase your work? 


I have a store on Big World Network’s site for my Paperback and ebook. Audio book will be on sale there soon:

How can we keep up with you?
Here’s the social media blitz. I do my best to stay active on all sites. It’ll get better once I get cybernetic implants that allow me to update all social media instantaneously and simultaneously. . . . scratch that. It sounds dreadful. Here are my sites:

Twitter: @avalonacademyuk
Amazon Author Page: Goodreads:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It's All in the Family

Our priest gives wonderful homilies, but one in particular I wanted to share.  I'm not as eloquent as Father Fernando, but this was the message I heard:

A father teaches a child the tools of his trade so when he is gone, his business will continue to thrive. That child takes that endowment and strives to make his father proud, and the business grows. That child does the same for his son ... and so it goes from generation to generation.

Our Heavenly Father did the same with his disciples as proclaimed in Matthew 28:16-20. "The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

So when we walk out the door today for work, shopping, etc., remember we are all part of a family business, His business.  Let's teach the tools of His trade ... Love, Mercy and Compassion ... to build a better world today and for future generations ... Let's make Him proud.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Welcome Iffix Y. Santaph to "An Author Speaks"!


Iffix Y. Santaph has been writing middle-grade and young adult sci-fi for the past 20 years and recently made the leap to publishing. His debut novella, the first in a six part series, is entitled Impulse and is available at a wide variety of on-line book retailers both in print and kindle e-book formats.

What five words describe you?

Geeky, adventurous, cheery, socially-awkward, creative

What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?

I am actually mid-way through books three and four in my series Forgotten Princess. Their working titles are Conspiracy and Retrospect respectively. The Forgotten Princess series is an fresh space-opera reworking of a classic fairytale whereby a princess' evil step mother is actively seeking to destroy her. Only, rather than relying on seven old guys, this princess is relying on three young friends to help her depose the evil queen and reclaim her throne. That being said, the series reaches a schism in Deception (Book 2, available in July).

In Conspiracy the princess aligns with a rogue alien on a mission to create an allied force against the evil queen. However, an invisible tag-along puts the entire mission in jeopardy. In Retrospect, the princess' friends, convinced that she has been kidnapped, race to her rescue, unwittingly setting in motion the destruction of an entire world. And it falls to them to prevent obliteration.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead
character from your most recent book?

This is a tough question, one I really hesitate to answer. Whenever I watch a movie if I see an actor, or recognize a voice I'm familiar with, I lose any sense of realism the movie is trying to create. I am not certain whether that is a unique experience for me, but that being said, I'd like to work with up and coming actors and actresses, and since most of my heroes are quite young, I think the best way would be to introduce a series of fresh voices and faces, as a strong and qualified cast. That being said, at this point, having a movie made seems like a very distant future project, since I have only begun to get my toes wet as an author.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

I tend to admire the dreams of so many authors. I just don't feel qualified to walk in their shoes. Personally, I am happy to be the author of my own works.  

What is the hardest thing about writing?

For me, the hardest thing is to put myself in my character's place. There is a scene at the end of Deception where my youngest hero Toby is speaking directly from his heart about the greatest pain he has ever felt. I had to put myself in his place, and write as if I was him. This is his character defining moment, and he has another like it in Retrospect. It was hard not to write that particular scene without stirring my own emotions to match his. (It was a very difficult trick, considering I've never been, nor would ever want to be, in Toby's shoes at that moment.) I hope my readers will see what I mean, and I hope they won't hate me for what I did to poor Toby, because it was the most delicate and difficult passage I've ever written.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writers block?

Perhaps just a bit of assurance that a writer experiencing "writer's block" isn't alone. It doesn't make you an inept writer simply because you experience writer's block. As writers, we jump through hoops for our readers' enjoyment. Writing, as most any job, can be taxing work. But if you learn to enjoy it, coming through these slumps can be easier.
Something I have experienced from time to time, a bit of self-discovery from a few years ago, is to ask yourself, "Would my character really do this?" A lot of times, when we're forcing a character to do something they wouldn't do naturally, we experience blocks. It's our own subconscious telling us the story doesn't make any sense. But if you allow your characters to lead the story, and they may lead the story into some very uncomfortable places, you'll still know where they're going, and the writing is easier.  

Where would your dream location be for writing?
I'm not picky about location. I've never written standing on my head, but I wouldn't be opposed to giving it a try. Since I'm a science fiction writer, I'm generally too involved in the world coming alive on the page to think about where I am anyhow. But there are certainly some things that help. If my character is spending some time in a cave, it helps to visit one. If my character is walking through a forest, I take a walk through the forest and I generally write about my own experiences from their eyes.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?

I'd like to say no. The truth is, I've been so involved with storytelling, even from a very young age, its hard to tell some days whether that was a person I met once or a character from the story I was telling. There is a scene in Retrospect where Leon is telling his mother he has decided to leave home for good. And I imagined saying those words to my own mother. I recently was told by my closest readers that most of what's on the page happened at one point or another in my own life. It's sort of strange, considering it's adventure sci-fi, but I have begun to at least consider the notion. But I can say with certainty, the more horrible a person  in my story is, the less likely it is I actually know that person in my own life, because most of the people I've been blessed to know in life have been exceedingly sweet and kind. I'm more inclined to believe I've taken the situations from my own life and left the people to my imagination.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I've only just begun to receive reviews. Things are slow enough that I can respond to people who read my stories if they wish. But I respect anyone's opinion. My quest for a good story will continue even after my first negative review. I've come to accept that, even though I may not know the person in real life, there's a real person on the other side of that computer screen. Bad reviews generally don't happen out of spite. I don't want to disappoint my readers, so I will make every effort to learn what I can about what my audience dislikes. And if I can't learn anything useful, I move on.

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

Really, really sad. Oh, you mean besides that. The reality is, I still don't get to consider writing a career. There are very few writers who do. My foremost responsibility in life is to volunteer. I generally volunteer seventy hours a month as a minister. Secularly, I drive three routes a week delivering candy and paper products.

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?

I'm glad my younger self had the sense to wait as long as he did to start publishing books. I do wish I had known what I know now about indie publishing. Marketing indie published novels is still a challenge, but it would have been a challenge to sell even with advertisers, and the process from agent to published manuscript itself takes far too long to be a viable option these days. This way, I can share the best part of myself without catering to the whims of the big traditional publishers, and I can still experience the joy of sharing a good story with readers everywhere. 

Where can we buy your work?
Createspace is an Amazon company. But they also market to a variety of other online retailers. The book is available both in soft-cover and kindle epub format. And, dear reader, if you would like to do us both a favor, ask your local library to add a copy to their collection for everyone to enjoy. This may take some time, but I value sharing my stories with a larger audience more than simply selling a copy.

How can we keep up with you?

Coinciding with the release of Deception this month, I have created an author website:; I also use goodreads regularly, and my blog feeds directly to And I have been learning to use twitter. My twitter account is @IffixYSantaph."