Saturday, November 21, 2015

“Love, Animals & Miracles,” by Dr. Bernie Siegel

Dr. Bernie Siegel has long observed how relationships with animals have helped his patients, alleviating their suffering and heartbreak. Now, he’s gathered many inspiring true stories, including delightful tales from the “Siegel Family Zoo” where “squawks, purrs, chirrups, squeaks, barks, and so on” fill the house. Other stories reveal animals as teachers and messengers, doctors and nurses, healers and miracle workers, and often as guileless clowns. Bernie writes that animals are here to show us how to be nonjudgmental and live better, healthier lives. Let these stories teach you, and apply their lessons to your daily life. If you have an animal, an appreciation for the inspirational, or simply the need for a smile, you’ll treasure this celebration of animals as a source of love, wisdom, and miracles.

A portion of the publisher’s proceeds from this book will aid Ark Angel Society.

Retired surgeon Bernie S. Siegel speaks, writes, and runs support groups in his effort to empower patients. His books include Love, Medicine & Miracles and 365 Prescriptions for the Soul. He lives in Woodbridge, Connecticut. Freelance writer and editor Cynthia J. Hurn cowrote No Buddy Left Behind with Terry Crisp and The Art of Healing with Bernie S. Siegel. She lives in Somerset, England.


I am more than a little biased for “Love, Animals and Miracles,” because I was one of the contributors. The story of my Basset Hound, Gracie, and how she came to us was included in this anthology. Grace’s story is one of many; how with her big heart and unconditional love, she worked a miracle in all of us. I believe that one of the stories in Dr. Siegel’s book will touch your heart and maybe inspire you to open your life to the love of an animal. It will be one of the greatest loves you’ll ever know. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Zookeeper's Wife

I am so flipping excited! Jessica Chastain is finally in the midst of filming “The Zookeeper’s Wife!” The movie is inspired by the book by Diane Ackerman and the true life story of Antonia and Jan Zabinski. The couple managed the Warsaw Zoo during WWII and hid hundreds of Jews from the Nazis. I have been hearing rumors about this movie for a couple years now and am ecstatic that it is officially in production!!!

I don’t usually watch movies at the theater; too pricey, but I may make an exception for this one!!!

Got a feeling of what my next WIP will be on…

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Strange Fruit


Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Sort of haunting, isn’t it? That is Lady Day herself, Billie Holiday singing a long, forgotten song, called “Strange Fruit.” 

The song – which was originally a poem called “Bitter Fruit” was inspired by the lynching’s of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith. They were two young African American men who had been accused of murder and rape in 1930. A crowd– men, women and children were all present- took them from their cells; the young men were beaten and hung. A third young man was spared the noose in the nick of time.

This sounds like a story that had taken place in the Deep South, right?

The lynching’s took place right here in Marion, Indiana.

My grandmother used to tell me that when I was researching our genealogy, that when I climbed up the family tree, beware of what might fall out of it. I think the same applies to doing research on your home state.

Indiana has a checkered past.

We Hoosiers, particularly the Quakers, were involved in the Underground Railroad and believed in abolition. Many of our young men fought for the North during the Civil War, my great-great grandfather was one of them. Yet we had some Jim Crow laws here, along with segregation. In 1924, the KKK had its rebirth here in Indiana. There are many sun down towns in Indiana- towns that do not permit African Americans or ones that do not want them around after dark. Growing up, when I watched “To Kill a Mockingbird,” my parents said that some of what went on in that movie, happened in Indiana when they were growing up.

In writing the first draft of my Indiana novel, I didn’t mention racism once. I was aware of what went on in Indiana’s past, but I didn’t think it was my place to write on a subject that I have no concept of. Also, it didn’t really fit in with my story.

Or so I thought.

However, in the last few weeks, I realize that if one writes about Indiana and the 1930’s, the racism can’t be ignored. There had to be a way for me to show what it was like in those days without trying to take advantage of someone else’s pain.

As a fan of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Help,” I have read some critical reviews that implied some irritation that the African American characters of those novels needed help from the white characters.

What if an African American character helps my heroine, or tries to?

As much as I like the song, it won’t be featured in my novel. My story ends in 1936 and the song was sung in 1939. The point is clear: we must confess our sins and try our damnedest not to repeat them. We must do what we can to atone for our mistakes and when we leave behind the world, we must leave it behind a better place.