“Mended Wings: A Flicker’s Tale” is Released!

Paperback & Kindle Editions available now on Amazon.com!

mended wings cover final low resFlicker is a survivor. Or at least that’s what people have been telling her since she was nearly killed by a drunk driver at age sixteen. Mended Wings: A Flicker’s Tale is a story about triumphing over adversity, making choices, and taking risks to achieve one’s goals.

Join Flicker as she experiences the ups and downs that are part of her journey toward an independent life. You may cringe, but also cheer, as you share her adventures. Your life will be enriched as you watch Flicker spread her wings and take flight.

Coming soon… “Mended Wings”

It has been almost a year in the writing process, but my second novel, “Mended Wings”, is nearing completion.  My amazing editor, Stephanie Ernst, has completed her initial edit.  Peggy Nehmen, from N-K Creative, has recently completed the cover design.  The novel should be available on Amazon by the end of 2016.  The story centers on one of the minor characters in “Painted Wings”.  Readers will enjoy meeting some new characters as well.  Here is a brief snapshot.


mended wings cover final low res

Flicker is a survivor. That’s what they call someone who is nearly killed by a drunk driver and lives to tell the tale. The doctors said that she would not live. She lived. Then they said that she would never walk or talk again. Flicker did those things and more. But living as the survivor of a traumatic brain injury sucks big time: the memory lapses, the feeling that your brain operates in slow motion, the sudden outbursts of anger, and the habit of getting into sketchy situations with the wrong type of guys. But the worst part is being able to remember what life was like before the accident, and what the future held in store. For Flicker, those dreams are gone. They did not include living in a group home and working as a housekeeper.

Late one evening, during a date-gone-wrong, Flicker is rescued by Jesse, a middle-aged cook from a local diner. A friendship develops and Flicker soon discovers that there is more to this short-order cook than meets the eye. Jesse helps her begin to think about what she wants out of life. Flicker sets some ambitious goals, including getting her diploma and attending the university.

As Flicker is beginning to see the beginning results of her hard work, a former high school classmate asks her out. He turns out to be the worst kind of influence and takes advantage of her desire for romance and companionship. He leads Flicker down a dark path that culminates in exploitation and a blackmail scheme. Which of these two men will have the greatest influence on Flicker’s life?

Mended Wings is a story about triumphing over adversity. It’s a story about making choices and the dignity of taking risks. It’s a story about the value of good friends, and about celebrating our differences.

Join Flicker as she experiences the ups and downs that are part of her journey toward a more independent life. You will laugh, cry, cringe, and cheer as you share her adventures. Along the way, you will meet some endearing friends. Their lives are enriched by supporting Flicker as she spreads her wings and takes flight. Yours will be too!





If I had a billion dollars, I’d buy you a …

This found story was motivated by an article in today’s Monday morning paper about the jackpot for the Powerball lottery. The jackpot was projected to grow to 1.3 billion dollars for the drawing on Wednesday. That would set a record for the largest lottery jackpot in world history. Now that’s a record! The article said that the odds of winning were somewhere in the vicinity of one in 292.2 million and that seventy-five percent of all possible combinations of the six numbers had been purchased for this past Saturday’s drawing. Still, no one won the jackpot. For Wednesday’s drawing, the percentage would probably be even higher. Someone was bound to win! While the rational part of my brain knew that the odds were not going to improve, deep down inside, I could sense that my chances were getting better and better.

Talking about the plan for what one would do with lottery winnings is a favorite topic of conversation in millions of homes and workplaces during weeks like this. It has never been to hard for me to imagine what I’d do with a few million dollars. But I found that 1.3 billion dollars was much harder to wrap my head around. That’s moving into Gates, Buffett and Zuckerberg territory. Any plan would have to include other strategies than just gifts to family, friends and favorite charities. It would be challenging to find enough stuff to buy. I decided that a little research was in order, so of course, I turned to the internet.

There was lots of chatter on Facebook about the jackpot and plans for the winnings. My favorites were from my sister-in-law, Pat and her granddaughter, Ella. Pat reported that she would buy a house on Maui so that she could have a place close to her grandson, Henry and his parents. Then she could split her time between Wisconsin and Maui. Not a bad plan. Ella’s idea was simpler. I liked that. She would buy lots of guinea pigs. Maybe her dream was to have a guinea pig ranch. Another post that impressed me was from someone who wrote that they would buy houses in Florida, Arizona and Hawaii. It sounded like they hadn’t quite decided where they wanted to go, but it needed to be somewhere warm and sunny. One fellow posted that his wife would be the one who decided how they would spend their winnings. I hoped that she would let him buy something for himself like a new chain saw or fishing pole. Someone else wrote that they would donate most of their winnings to their church. I hoped that it wasn’t one of those mega-churches with more television revenue than the NFL.

I remembered a song from the 1990’s by the band, Bare Naked Ladies. The lyrics outlined a list of things that the singer would do if he had a million dollars. That might give me some ideas. I looked up and printed out the lyrics. The lyrics suggested that the singer was telling his “love” things he would like to buy for her or for their home, if he were rich. I assumed that the love was a woman, because one of the items was a green dress. Other planned purchases included a house, furniture, a car, a cool tree-fort, a refrigerator, a fur coat, an exotic pet like a llama or emu, a painting, a monkey, and for some reason, John Merrick’s remains. I think John Merrick was “the elephant man”. There must be a story there. I thought it was notable that his thoughts were of his “love” and not himself.

For years my brother, Bill outlined a complex system that he would use to determine how much of a gift he would give to each of his six siblings after winning the lottery. That would include me! It had something to do with their annual income and then some kind of second drawing. I liked the randomness of the system. Bill would not be accused of playing favorites. Now that many of his siblings are retired, the system may require some adjustment.

I’m going to try to not over-think this. Here, in no particular order, are some of my ideas of what we would do after Wednesday’s drawing, when Rachel and I win the Powerball jackpot. Rachel and I have talked about this, but she has not signed the binding agreement yet.

1. My preference would have been to remain anonymous during the process of obtaining our winnings. Some states allow the winners to choose to remain anonymous. I checked, and Missouri is not one of those. Lottery officials in Missouri will always release your name, your city, and the amount of your winnings. So it goes. As an alternative, I would hold onto the ticket for a month or two before turning it in. Maybe the hype would die down a little. It would also give Rachel and me time to decompress and do some planning. We could put our team together, including an attorney, accountant, psychic, driver and bodyguard. Maybe we’d do this planning on a nice beach somewhere. Rachel asked if I minded if she chose to stop working right away. I assured her that she could do anything that she wanted.

2. The other preliminary question is whether to be paid in a lump sum or in monthly payments over 29 years. If you die during the 29 years, the payments continue going to your estate. What a relief. If you choose the lump sum payment option, the current estimate for the payout amount, after federal taxes, is approximately $806 million dollars. In many states like Missouri, winners still pay state taxes on that amount. It seems like 1.3 billion dollars just doesn’t go as far as you’d think. Rachel and I thought we would choose the lump sum option. We wouldn’t want to be dealing with taxes and other financial details when we were in our nineties.

3. Once the funds were in the bank, so to speak, the fun begins. What to do? The first thing that we decided to do was to write a check for fifty percent of the winnings to our favorite charitable organization, Doctors Without Borders. That would immediately take some pressure off. The funds would be put to use in an amazing way, and no matter what else happened, we would have accomplished something special. Rachel gets credit for that idea!

4. Early on, we would probably want to get out of Dodge, to maintain a sense of privacy and sanity. We have a favorite beach community that would work well for that purpose. It is located somewhere in North or Central America. We would find a nice house or condo, close to the beach. It would not be extravagant, but big enough for company.

5. In the simplest way possible, we would share some funds with family members:  children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, nieces and nephews. The amounts would be enough to take away any financial worries for a while.

6. Rachel and I have a few favorite “charities” that would receive nice donations. These would include non-profit community service organizations, international wildlife and environmental groups, public radio and television, local theatre companies, and a couple of churches that are important to us or family members.

7. Our best guess is that all of that would just put a dent in the funds. That is where the team comes in. We would create a small foundation to invest the funds wisely and to manage their use. Under our guidance, consultants and a small number of paid staff would do most of the work. Rachel and I would define the mission of the foundation and establish guidelines for how funds are spent.

That’s about it. We decided that we don’t need a mansion or a house in every state. We don’t want a boat. I don’t want to learn to golf and Rachel doesn’t want to take up skiing. We will probably travel a bunch more, but grandkids will take up much of that time.

Rachel and I each purchased ten Powerball tickets last week for the Saturday drawing. We did not match a single number on any of the twenty tickets. What are the odds of that happening? They must be astronomical! I’m feeling lucky. I need to sign off so that I can take a trip to the local Shell gas station to pick up ten more tickets. This time… for sure!

Good luck!


Sometimes healthcare can really hurt!

Rachel and I just returned from two weeks in Costa Rica. We visited three small, beach communities on the Pacific Ocean and celebrated our wedding anniversary at the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort. We had exchanged vows on this secluded beach, ten years ago.

One leg of our Costa Rica travel was taking a car ferry from the town of Paquera, across the Gulf of Nicoya to the town of Puntarenas. We arrived at the ferry about an hour before the scheduled departure. I paid 300 colones to use the primitive restroom. Rachel purchased a Coca Cola Light for our voyage. While we were seated at a picnic table, waiting for the ferry to arrive, we watched an ambulance pull up to the docking area. The rear door was opened and we could see a patient on a stretcher. Seated next to him was a young woman in white, who we guessed was a nurse. A woman who looked like the patient’s wife, was also in the back of the vehicle. I could see an IV attached to his arm and another monitor attached to his index finger.

The nurse and wife stepped out of the ambulance, and the driver walked to the rear to join them. She was wearing some sort of uniform. Several men came out of the ferry’s staging area to assist. They looked like unskilled workers, not medical assistants. Rachel and I looked around and noticed a modest-sized motor boat tied up to the side of the main dock. It had a canvas tarp to protect passengers from the weather. The logos and lights on the boat made it look like a medical transport boat. A two hour boat ride appeared to be the preferred way to continue the journey to get to more sophisticated medical care in San Jose, the national capital.

The ambulance personnel and their assistants pulled the patient out of the vehicle. The gurney unfolded as they pulled it out, so that it could be rolled down to the waiting ambulance boat. Rachel and I wanted to satisfy our curiosity and watch the drama, but also felt like the patient and family probably wanted some privacy. I suggested that we move a little further away. We had just turned away from the procession when we heard a crash and a loud scream. We turned and saw that the gurney had collapsed suddenly, dropping the patient onto the sidewalk. Everyone was talking loudly at once. It was a chaotic scene. The patient continued to moan loudly. The wife was holding his face in her hands and trying to comfort him. Several other people were in action, some giving instructions and others just trying to right the discombobulated gurney. I noticed that the patient had been strapped to a back board. A several foot fall onto the hard concrete was very scary.

After a few minutes, the patient was gently lifted back onto the gurney and the gurney was slowly carried, not rolled down to the waiting boat. As soon as he was strapped in, the boat pulled away, and started the trip across the Gulf of Nicoya. At least the weather was sunny and the winds calm.

Afterwards, Rachel commented that it was fortunate that no one had their fingers caught and cut off in the collapsing gurney. What a disaster that would have been. We wondered what the incident reporting process was like in Costa Rica and who would be held responsible, if the patient’s injuries had been aggravated as the result of the fall. We talked about how we take for granted the easy access to our primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals, urgent care centers, and outpatient surgery centers. All can be found right in our neighborhood.

Our hopes and prayers went out to the patient, his wife, and the men and women trying to care for him.

Thanks to new readers!

The recent free download promotion for Painted Wings was a success!  Over two days there were 150 downloads of the novel.  As a new author, my most important goal is to find ways to help readers discover my books.  Thanks to everyone that has contributed to helping this happen.

If you have enjoyed reading either book, please take a minute and give the book a rating on Amazon or Goodreads and write a sentence or two about your experience.  My hope is to get to ten reviews for each book!

Happy holidays to you and yours!


Download “Painted Wings” for free!

The response to the two day, free download offer on amazon.com in late Oct. was great, with almost 100 people downloading copies of Painted Wings. There were even downloads from Australia and Great Britain. I am going to repeat the free download offer on December 2nd and 3rd. If you have not obtained your copy of Painted Wings, now is your chance. Please feel free to share this info with friends.

If you have read the novel and you enjoyed it, please give it a rating on amazon.com and write a one or two sentence review. My goal is to get into double digits with at least 10 reviews!

Happy reading!