Abusive?

When Facebook first banned this blog from their site, the reason given was that this blog is spam. Yesterday when I tried sharing the post from the FB share button (which is now removed) at the bottom of the post I’d just written, I got a different explanation. They said: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.

Abusive? Me? Really? I have posted a handful articles (out of a total of 2,997) that might be considered controversial, though I do try to steer a middle ground. Even so, those articles were in no way abusive, weren’t even very controversial since I wasn’t taking a stand so much as trying to sort out what I felt about the political turmoil. Sometimes when I think I’m being the most helpful or logical or innocuous or agreeable, it surprises me that not everyone agrees with what I say. To be honest, I don’t always agree with what I say. As with those few controversial posts, so often by writing for this blog, I am trying to work through a problem, an idea, a spot of confusion, and sometimes, after I’ve posted the article, I realize that because of the writing, I came to a different conclusion.

But abusive? I cannot think of a single time I said anything that anyone could say was abusive. I always try to be nice, even when people aren’t nice to me. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

Although I did not appreciate this blog being blocked because of spam, I thought maybe their bots had picked up on the repetitious bio at the end of the article, or perhaps all the links I used in the bio. Even though it did no good, I removed the links and am alternating bios to make sure other sites don’t have the same issue, but as it turns out, that wasn’t the case at all.

Abusive?

That upsets me because it is so unjust and pejorative. What’s even worse is the current system, where anyone can say anything about any person for any reason, and no matter what harm is done, there is no recourse, at least not with Facebook. I have messaged them via FB. I have emailed them. I have sent letters to their headquarters. But apparently a few grouches (that’s the only thing I can think of — that people were grouchy and ticked off that somehow a post of mine got added to their feed) can determine someone’s fate.

FB was my primary means of promotion. I spent a lot of money with them over the years. It’s probably people who saw those posts who labeled them abusive, rather than any of my FB “friends,” but that’s not my fault. I’m not the one that posted the links on those feeds; FB did.

Ironically — and cruelly — whenever I do happen to stop by FB to see if someone left a comment on my page (which I will be doing less in the future, so if you want me to see a comment, please comment here on the blog rather than on FB), I find copious messages from FB telling me I’m not posting enough and I find even more messages telling me how important it is for me to pay them to promote my posts.

If it was me personally they had a problem with, I could simply set up a new account like so many others have had to do, but they have no problem with me personally. Just my oh, so non-abusive and very personal blog.

I have found a way around their ban for now — I reblog my posts to another blog, and then post the link to the second blog on FB. I wouldn’t even be doing that much, but several people said they missed too many of my posts. They could, of course, just sign up for my blog, but these are people who spend time on FB, and so that’s where they like getting their notifications.

I know FB is a huge site, but Google is even bigger, and when I had a problem with Google for banning my blog, they responded to my query, and WordPress helped me fix it. (It was a bit of stray code — innocuous code — that somehow got attached to one photo in one post.) But FB? Nope. Once you’ve been branded as abusive, that’s it for you . . . forever.

No one has to prove their accusation. No one checks the truth of it. To me, acting on unfounded allegations is abusive. My posts are not. If you disagree and can point out any abuse, please let me know so I can change it. Just be gentle. My feelings are hurt enough right now.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Tarot Update

I’m glad this is a short month, but not for any reason you’d expect. It’s not that I’m especially looking forward to spring; I certainly won’t mind warmer temperatures (though I do dread the wind). And I’m definitely not looking forward to March and the anniversary of Jeff’s death, though I must admit that after all these years, the day doesn’t carry the pain it once did.

The real problem this month is with the tarot deck I’ve been using. Each month for the past nine months, I’ve chosen a different tarot deck from the collection my deceased brother left me, trying to see if any of them resonate with me. I don’t do readings, just ask a question like “what do I need to know today” and then pick a card to study. So far, there hasn’t been any special connection to any deck, though I have liked some more than others.

The one I am using this February is the one I like least of the decks I’ve sampled. There are others I dislike so much I won’t use them, such as the witch’s tarot and a renaissance tarot that feature anatomically correct figures, something I don’t particularly need at the start my day. But this one — The Jungian Tarot — seemed interesting in that the cards were supposed to be tied to Jung’s archetypes, but only some of them were archetypal (the Major Arcana and the court cards). Most of the cards I dealt myself were the numbered cards, and they did nothing for me, especially since I kept getting the same card — the ten of wands.

The ten of wands certainly seems to illustrate its meaning — oppression — because it is a particularly oppressive card.

I could, of course, changed decks in the middle of the month, but then I wouldn’t get as good a feel for the cards.

In another three days, I’ll be picking a different deck. I hope that one will be more to my liking.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Warm War

A blog reader mentioned that he is wondering to what extent life will be altered by our experiences over the last year or so, and now I’m wondering, too. I have thought about the future now and again, not the particulars so much as the fact of it: no matter what happens with The Bob, our lives will be changed, it’s just that I don’t know — can’t know — how far reaching these changes will be.

It seems to me that the world will settle down eventually into new patterns, but again, there’s no way of knowing right now what those patterns — economic, social, political — will be. There’s also no knowing if those in power will ever let us know.

All of this rearranging of the world, our mores, what we’re willing to give up to for a facsimile of safety reminds me of a world war, because that is what happens during a world war. Everything is different, chaotic, but eventually life settles back into a new pattern, and younger generations never realize things were ever different. For example, think of all the millions of people who are alive today who have never experienced a world without airport security and checkpoints. They’ve never gone to the waiting room with their departing loved ones, never stood at the window waving good-bye as the airplane took off.

I’m sure, in that same way, upcoming generations will accept as right and proper whatever the world becomes after The Bob, because they won’t know anything else.

This obviously isn’t a hot war, with military conflicts killing off the young and strong. Nor is it a cold war being fought mostly with propaganda and fear, where countries are in a perhaps fatal stalemate, waiting for one or another to tip the balance of power. So what is this that we’re going through? A warm war? People are dying in vast numbers, though for the most part, the casualties of this war aren’t the young and strong but the old and weak. (A friend believes this is all about depopulation, though again, there’s no way to know for sure. There are always a dozen or a dozen dozen reasons for any worldwide conflict, with everyone involved trying to gather more power for their own particular interest groups.)

As I said, there’s no way for me to even begin to guess what the end result will be. We’re simply not being given enough information about important matters such as who, actually, was tweaking this virus, who let it loose and why. Was it on purpose? An accident? All these are the same questions my characters in A Spark of Heavenly Fire asked when a deadly organism was unleashed on the world, but that was a novel, and novels need some sort of resolution. Not so “real life.”

It’s easier to speculate about alterations on a more personal level, since although I don’t know all the particulars of The Bob and the reasons behind it, I do know how it is affecting my life. So far, I’ve managed to stay healthy, but a lot of that is due to spending most of my time alone. It’s hard to catch something from yourself, though I have done that — allergy attacks that become so devastating they might as well be a infectious disease. Mostly, though, I have managed to maintain my health during this time — no colds or flu or anything catching — which tells me that staying away from people is good for my health.

I’ve always been a bit of stickler when it comes to opening doors, such as those to a public restroom, making sure I use a paper towel to turn the door handle, and that won’t change, though I won’t feel as abashed about it. Nor will I ever use a public restroom again except in a dire emergency.

I’ve always been a bit antsy about standing in lines, and I will no longer do so unless people keep their distance. I have never liked people breathing down my neck, and even more so now.

I have a hunch, as things get back to a state that at least feels normal compared to the siege mentality we are now experiencing, I won’t be as loose and free as I was during the previous few years. I won’t be as willing to attend events where more than a few people are present, won’t be as willing to embrace strangers as I did, won’t be as determined to be sociable. It was always hard for me to be outgoing, but I did make the attempt because not to do so would be limiting my life in an unhealthy way, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to the point where I feel the necessity.

But then, what do I really know? This warm war will change us, all of us, even me. And the “me” to come might be more willing to be bold, to get out in public and let life — and death — fall where they may.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Altering the Truth Without Altering the Facts

In the cold war era spy thriller I’d spent the past couple of days reading, a Russian says to an American ally, “You have a unique gift of altering the truth without altering the facts.”

Quite frankly, it doesn’t seem like a unique gift to me; it seems to be the basis for most politics, legal maneuverings, and news reporting nowadays. Often manipulation is propaganda, pure and simple, a way of interpreting the facts to put the best possible spin on what could be a damaging fact. Other times it’s a way of getting people to vote for someone or to approve of something that they would not normally go for.

It’s also called fake news. Not that the news item is necessarily fake, but if someone calls it fake news, then it immediately casts doubt on the truth.

I am currently staying away from all news sources, fake or not. There have been too many times lately where the facts were spun so much that nothing but mush remained. And there were too many times where the very people involved were the ones who vetted the news to prove it fake, which means the facts could be false or the vetters could be playing false with us. I have never, in all my years, been so confused as to the truth of anything. There were so many undisputed facts, false “facts,” half-truths, truth told as lies, lies told as truth, videos and photos altered to show a different story than what actually happened, as well as dirty tricks I’m sure I missed, that it was impossible to sort out the truth.

For example, when it comes to the disease I call the “The Bob,” we the people know almost nothing. Oh, we know a few facts — there is a virus running around infecting people because we all either got sick or knew someone who did. We knew people who died, but beyond that, all we have to go by is what the “authorities” tell us, and those very authorities are the ones who know how to alter the truth without altering the facts.

The so-called authorities are not the only ones with this not-so-unique gift. A lot of people on all levels of society know how to alter the truth without altering the facts simply telling only the facts that leave them in a good light. For example, someone can say, “Yes, I went to the store. I bought a few snacks and a couple of sodas,” leaving out the salient fact that they also bought alcoholic drinks or illegal drugs or that they visited the person they are seeing on the side.

To be honest, I wish I had that sort of talent, to lie by telling only part of the truth, but generally, I’ve found it best to tell the truth as much as possible. It’s a lot easier to remember what I’ve said that way! Now that I think of it, though, almost no one tells “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Unless you are a representative of the people, in which case you owe the people the truth (though the folks in power don’t believe that at all and certainly don’t act on it), you don’t really owe anyone the truth. Or the facts.

As I said, I generally tell the truth, though sometimes on this blog I alter things a bit to protect either the guilty or the innocent, or even myself. I also sometimes use false birth dates and such because I am — or at least was — so active on the social networking sites that I needed to protect myself.

As for “altering the truth without altering the facts,” it also works the other way around. Novelists do is all the time: alter the facts so we can tell the truth.

But however you look at it, in our current society, it doesn’t seem as if there is a whole lot of truth going on.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Saying “No” to Outrage

In a cold war spy novel I am currently reading, I came across the sentence, “Outrage is a luxury available only in the West.” It was meant to explain the stolidity of the Russian workers, and I might not have even noticed the sentence if not for all the outrage that is so prevalent. Outrage in the USA is growing, and was most especially noticeable during the last presidency. Too many people thought they were the only ones who knew the truth, were the only ones who knew the best thing for the country. It didn’t matter what side of the line they were on, they were outraged at the folks on the other side for being liars, cheaters, racists, communists, sexist, for not caring enough about the poor, not caring enough about the economy, and on and on and on.

Outrage has been called a drug, one we really can get addicted to because it makes us feel smarter than other people, more in the know, more powerful. When outraged folk make comments, in their mind, it’s not opinion, it’s fact, even though the comment is no such thing — no matter how widespread, an opinion is just that — what something assumes is the truth.

Even worse are the outraged folks who do “research,” which means they read an article or two on the internet that solidifies their opinion.

Worst of all, of course, are those who try to ruin other people’s lives and careers because those other people deserve it for not agreeing with the current party line. And the person who did the ruining gets to feel puffed up and self-righteous when all they are is ignorant and arrogant.

Still, whatever the truth of the assertion that outrage is a luxury available only in the West, and however dangerous outrage is, outrage does seem to be one of the last freedoms we have.

Over the years, our freedoms have gradually been eroded in the name of safety. (Which is why I wrapped the story of Bob, The Right Hand of God around the theme of freedom vs safety. How much freedom we’re willing to give up for safety, and how much safety we’re willing to give up for freedom.)

Until outrage came along, the mainstay of freedom was the ability to say “no,” which is basically a power of the powerless, but gradually, that freedom is being taken away. For example, at the moment, it’s a choice whether one gets the current vaccine, though some people want to make it mandatory. In other words, saying “no” is no longer always possible. We’re so used to going along with the flow, doing what we’re told, that most of us no longer even think to say “no,” even when it is possible.

So what’s left is outrage. A luxury, perhaps. A freedom still.

Personally, I have no interest in being outraged about anything, which is why, except to see if someone left me a comment, I no longer spend any time on Facebook, watching the news, reading novels based on current policies, or anything that might draw me into the outrage culture.

It’s simply not worth it.

Luckily, I still have the freedom to say, “no.”

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Adventuring

Although I might not be having adventures of the traveling kind, I am certainly having an adventure of the weather kind — we’re experiencing an arctic cold front that has brought the temperature forty degrees below normal for the area. I can’t say it’s a fun adventure, but it is an adventure, this trying to stay warm in the chill temperatures. Luckily, I don’t have many reasons to go out and brave the cold, though today I did have one of those reasons.

I was invited to lunch at a friend’s house, and that was an adventure of a different kind — a culinary adventure spanning the gamut of Asian countries. First we had an appetizer of vegetable rolls — various vegetables wrapped in edible rice paper and dipped in a wasabi sauce.

Next we had a deliciously spicy clam-in-the-shell stir fry. After that was grilled eel on a bed of rice topped with a special eel sauce. An interesting taste experience, that’s for sure! I can’t say eel will ever be one of my favorite foods, but I did enjoy it this once, mainly, I think, because it was so different from anything I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t slimy, as you might expect, but it wasn’t flaky like fish, either, though it did have a mild fish flavor.

To drink, I had Thai cream soda, which is nothing like American cream soda. I don’t know what flavor it is, actually, perhaps similar to an Asian fruit, like rambutan or lychee. Which, incidentally, were served for dessert.

That’s plenty of adventuring for me for now. Tonight, we’re supposed to get snow and even colder temperatures. Tomorrow’s high will be zero. Or maybe 1 degree above zero if we’re lucky. I will have to go out to clear the snow from the ramp and the sidewalk in front of the house, but that will be it for me. The rest of the day I will snuggle under a comforter to read and drink hot tea and be grateful for the warmth inside my cozy little house.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Mixed Feelings

Today was a day of mixed feelings — happy, sad, shocked, sublime. I hadn’t been going anywhere or seeing anyone for a while, so when I found out the art guild was meeting today, I decided to attend. The town seems to be picking up the pieces of life, with various events that have been cancelled the past year being scheduled once again. For me, it mostly means coming up with another historic murder mystery scenario, but I have several months to think about it.

I was happy being around people, happy to do a project (we made small valentine banners), but I was shocked and oh, so saddened to hear about the death of one art guild member’s husband. My heart goes out to this friend. I’m just like everyone else when it comes to not knowing what to say, so I merely hugged her and said I was sorry. I also let her know I would be available if she ever needed anyone to talk to, which I think she appreciated, but I tend to think she’s still too shaken to be able to put her chaotic thoughts about her loss into words.

The sublime part of today (and the past couple of days) was the frozen fog. I don’t remember if I’d ever seen frozen fog before, though perhaps I did when I was young because the scene has a familiarity about it. I certainly hadn’t seen anything like it when I lived in the desert of California or the high plains of Colorado, so I enjoyed the whiteness. The white trees and shrubs, the white sky, the white . . . everything. It looks like snow, but it isn’t — we haven’t had snow for a couple of weeks. Apparently it’s cold enough (and yes, it is cold, though not as cold as it’s going to be this weekend; they’re talking about a high of zero on Sunday) to freeze the fog in the air and the moisture on the flora.

I’m still on hiatus from work, so it was nice seeing people, but it will be equally nice tomorrow when I stay inside and enjoy the frozen fog from the warmth of my rooms.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

A Trusting Species

I was standing in an aisle at the grocery store today, reading a label, when it struck me that for all our vaunted skepticism, we are a trusting species. There is no way to know for sure that the ingredients listed on the label are the only ingredients in the product, in fact, there’s a better than average chance that there are things in the product that aren’t listed on the label. For example, a certain amount of pesticides are allowed by law to be ignored when a product is advertised as “organic.” Many ingredients, not just pesticides, are actually included in the definition of certain foods, so even though a food my advertise itself as “sugar free,” that is not necessarily the case. And yet, we still read labels, still buy things according to what we read.

Because we are a trusting species.

Oddly, while we insist on full disclosure when it comes to food (even though we don’t always get it) we don’t demand the same sort of itemization with drugs. We take what the doctors prescribe (and they prescribe what the drug companies suggest they prescribe) because, evidence to the contrary, we trust that those people have our best interests at heart.

When it comes to doctors, survey after survey shows that people don’t trust the medical establishment, don’t trust doctors, yet when asked specifically about their doctor, they trust her (or him) implicitly. Which is a weird sort of syllogism. If all doctors are untrustworthy, and if everyone’s doctor is trustworthy, it somehow comes out meaning that all doctors are trustworthy.

Logically, it doesn’t make sense, but it does if you realize — ta da! — that we are a trusting species.

I think nowhere is this trust so apparent as in drug commercials. Commercial after commercial shows happy, laughing people, so thrilled to have taken the drug of choice (which almost always has three syllables, and one of the letters in one of those syllables is frequently a Q, X, or Z) yet while we watch these happy people, and while that oh-so-catchy drug name is oft repeated, there is a running commentary about all the horrible things that drug could do to you if you take it. And yet people not only agree to take it, they sometimes go running to their doctor (the only doctor in the world who is trustworthy) and ask for the drug by name.

Because we are a trusting species.

The trouble is, we cannot simply go by our own senses, believing only what our eyes, ears, and nose tell us, because those senses are basically lying to us. What we see is not what actually exists (which to the best of anyone’s knowledge or belief are various wavelengths of energy that somehow disappear into uncertainty and then perhaps into nothingness the more they are studied). Instead, what we see is what our brains decide to show us as they interpret that energy.

And we believe because . . . yep, because we are a trusting species. We have to believe our eyes and other senses. Otherwise, we’d be just streams (or strings or bundles) of energy interacting with other bundles of energy.

It’s not our fault that we are a trusting species — it’s how we were made. We have to trust, though to be honest, some of us have a harder time trusting than others do. We’re the sort who stand in grocery store aisles and wonder what the truth is about the ingredients listed on the product we are holding in our hand.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Alone Again . . . Naturally

Because of a change in the situation of the woman I have been working for, I am on a hiatus from work. Whether this is a permanent furlough or just temporary, I don’t know, but for now, I’m back to being fairly isolated. I’m hoping the weather cooperates so the workers can come and finish some of the jobs they’ve started, such as digging the dirt away from the house and repairing the cracks in the foundation, because having them around the place makes me feel less isolated.

Even though it’s getting cold again, I am trying to take a walk every day, bundling up against the chill winds, so at least that helps me feel more a part of the world. I can also make an appointment to get more books from the library, and if I get desperate, I can watch the few hand-me-down DVDs I’ve collected. All those things make me feel less isolated, though they don’t really do anything to actually make me less isolated. I don’t suppose it matters, though, and won’t for a while longer. I do well on my own since I have hermit tendencies, though I’m not sure how healthy such isolation is in the long run.

After Jeff died, I made sure to keep active, to make friends, to be involved in various groups and to do new things because I was afraid of becoming stagnant. I redoubled those efforts once I moved because I knew what a challenge it would be making new friends, but all that effort went by the wayside with The Bob restrictions, so I have a hunch I am now at the stagnant stage. It’s possible that spending so much time alone is skewing my perceptions and that I have not yet become torpid, but it’s hard to tell because . . . well, because I am alone so much.

I suppose I could do what so many people are doing — get involved in activities with a small group of friends, but unfortunately, just because people have received the vaccine, it doesn’t mean they won’t still spread The Bob. After all, the vaccine is only 90% effective (and less so when it comes to new variants) while isolation is 100% effective.

And truly, does it really matter if I’ve become stagnant, especially if I don’t know the truth of the matter? And so what if I become the crazy cat lady sans cats? If I’m the only one around, who will know?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

New Month, New Tarot Deck

Every month I’ve been using a different tarot deck in an effort to see if the deck feels the same as the rest, or if it resonates with me. Although I like a couple of the decks better than any of the others, either because of size or feel or the artistry, I haven’t felt any special affinity with any of the cards.

This month’s choice of decks is the Jungian tarot, which is based on archetypal images designed to activate the imagination. According to the designer of the deck, most of the current values assigned to the various cards were arbitrarily developed in the nineteenth century by occult groups. By contrast, he says the attributions in the Jungian Tarot were painstakingly researched in an effort to relate tarot interpretation to more ancient traditions.

Sounds good, right? Well, today’s card, the ten of wands activates my imagination not at all. The image gives me the impression of being weirdly inappropriate since it seems sinister, and the ten of wands is a rather benign card relating to careful management, functioning within a large organization, success, the loneliness that comes from success, and reacting defensively to badly organized ideas. Which is not a whole lot different from the meanings assigned by other tarot interpreters. Most say the card is about success and the perhaps oppressive responsibilities one has to take on because of that success; a need for prioritizing, delegating, and sharing your burdens. (None of which seem to have any relation to my life at all.)

It almost seems as if the major arcana (the cards most people have heard of, such as the fool, the hanged man, the sun, the moon, etc) are the cards that every tarot artist and interpreter spend most time on, and the others are “also rans.” (Which is why so many readings, such as online readings, use only those twenty-two cards rather than all seventy-eight cards.)

When I do graduate from picking just one card to doing a periodic reading (weekly or monthly), chances are I will only use those twenty-two cards until I get familiar with how the cards fit together to show . . . well, to show whatever it is they are supposed to show. I still don’t know. I do know the tarot isn’t really about foretelling the future; it’s more about communicating with our deepest being, but so far, there’s not a hint of what I might be hiding in my innermost depths. It could be I have no such depths. It could be the cards are not speaking to me, and if they are, I haven’t learned to listen. It could be that the whole thing is hokum.

So far, the only imagination it has activated in me is the possibility of using the cards as story telling cards — using each of the face cards as a character, and surrounding them random cards to see how their lives would unfold. But the idea has gone no further than that. Nor have I deepened whatever intuition I might have or learned anything I don’t already know.

But I have the cards, so it does me no harm to pick one every day just to see what I pick.

***

While sorting through her deceased husband’s effects, Amanda is shocked to discover a gun and the photo of an unknown girl who resembles their daughter. After dedicating her life to David and his vocation as a pastor, the evidence that her devout husband kept secrets devastates Amanda. But Amanda has secrets of her own. . .

Click here to buy: Unfinished