Years ago when Jerry and I still lived in the Chicago area we became friends with a gentleman who had emigrated here from Spain.  Juan had been an actor, not a movie star or anything like that but a working actor on Spanish television and radio.  He was a good looking, late middle-aged gentleman with a terrific dramatic speaking voice.  His audio version of Count Dracula would have put Bela Lugosi to shame. He gave up his career to come to America, his land of opportunity, to work part-time teaching Spanish as a second language at a well knows language school.  This gig barely paid his bills while he struggled to improve his ability to express himself in English in order to get a better paying job.


Juan’s misadventures with the English language were numerous and, humorous but his good looks and gregarious personality were enough to usually let him slide.  Because of his accent and struggle to find the right words sometimes we would have to actually stop and listen and concentrate to fully understand his message.


There were no war or terrorism attacks or famine  that made Juan’s journey to America imperative.  He wasn’t escaping anything but rather he wanted to go forward and carve out a different path.    He realized that it was his duty by coming here to learn the rules set out in our Constitution, abide by them and respect the symbol of our country – our flag. 


Juan took the classes necessary and eventually became a citizen.  He kept up on current events, got involved in local government and was a positive and active member of the community.  Unfortunately his accent, no matter how hard he tried, still presented him with some awkward moments; one was when he told a neighbor that he had blue shits on his bed. Our friend made a point of being informed of all issues and diligently investigated those who ran for office before casting his vote.  To Juan the person who would be filling the position had an extremely important role.  That person was responsible for carrying out his or her duties in accordance with the will of the people as long as in office. 


The “office” to Juan was more important than the person who filled it.  People come and go and some will do a good job, some not so good but the office is a symbol of what our country stands for.  We have the right to vote for those we wish to oversee our well being whether it is the local school board or the highest “office” in the land. 


This year in particular we have seen and heard grown-ups acting like spoiled rotten children climbing over each other bodies to attain the chance of holding one particular high office.  Because of all the mud slinging and other slime they are generating, that mountain to the top has become difficult to navigate and their antics to grab our attention has run the gamut from amusement to outrange among those of us who must choose who we feel would represent us best.


I can’t help but think back to Juan and how hard he worked to become a citizen of  the United States and how seriously he took his responsibilities as a voter.  He was proud of his new home and proud of its Constitution and flag.  He looked up to our governing officials to oversee our country and its laws with dignity and strength and to maintain our place as the greatest nation in the world. 


RESPECTRESPECT is something earned, not given.  You DON’T get RESPECT by degrading your opponents, nor do you get it by lying, cheating, bullying or back-stabbing.  You DON’T get RESPECT for going with the variable, fashionable trends of the few. You DO get RESPECT by at least trying to do what’s right for America.  You DO get RESPECT for listening to the people you’re supposed to represent.  Do you see anyone out there in the running that Juan might consider?  We need to put RESPECT back in the office before it’s too late.




When we started THE SURVIVALIST series in 1981, we never imagined the stories and places the characters would take us but we were sure from the very beginning that family was and still is the glue that binds this made-up universe together and keeps everything within a certain semblance of reality.  

After The Night of the War, John Thomas Rourke never swayed from his task of finding his family, not knowing if they were alive or had perished.  He became the surrogate leader of another branch of the Rourke Clan, taking under his wing Paul Rubenstein and Russian agent, Natalia Tiemerovna.  They in turn were ready to do whatever necessary to help Rourke in his quest.  Sarah, Rourke’s wife, fought to keep herself and their children safe, knowing without a doubt that he would come looking for them.  

The family dynamics would occasionally change and it certainly grew over the course of years but the basic idea of strength in family always has and always will be a major part of their story.  No matter, good times or bad, family is strength.  The characters may not always agree or share the same page but they are always there when it counts. This holds true in reality as well. 

Those of us blessed with spouses, siblings and children and beyond know that family gatherings can be wonderful or perhaps challenging at times.  When we get together, (adults, five grandkids, four dogs, etc.), we somehow all end up in the kitchen where we trip over each other and try to avoid stepping on a fur buddy.  We argue politics and give explanations on why the sky is blue or ponder when the neighbor next door is going to cut their lawn. We even save enough dinner rolls to have a contest as to who can throw one the farthest off the back deck for the birds to finish off.  Jason’s wife, Getzy, won our last contest! 

Some families are impossibly large while some are small.  Your family may consist of very few relatives or maybe just friends.  Your closest and most beloved family member may be of the four footed variety who gives you their undivided attention and love.  Regardless of your definition of family, remember that they are part of who you are.  I guess that would include your crazy uncle who tells the same stories at every get together and drinks all the good stuff from the liquor cabinet.




I found this newspaper interview from 1982 in the back of a file cabinet and knew I had to share it with you.  I know, we look like dorks!  Don't stop with the photo.  Continue down and read the article.  We always knew how to embarrass the children!






If you’re a facebook friend you know that I attended the Commerce Library Garden Dedication last week.  It was a beautiful day and a sizeable crowd showed up to hear the guest speakers and see the garden benches held up by facsimiles of books written or illustrated by Georgia authors.  One of our books, WRITTEN IN TIME, is helping to hold one of those benches.  WRITEN IN TIME was penned by us while we lived in Commerce and the fictional main characters were very loosely based on our family.  The story starts out with our characters living in a house in Commerce that we did indeed live in for many years.  Our daughter Samantha helped a lot by giving us her take on what being a fifteen year old teenager was like in the present and what would happen if you were suddenly thrown back in time to a small town in Nevada along with your mom and dad and your seventeen year old know it all brother.

After the ceremony we adjourned inside for book signings and refreshments.  No longer living in Commerce it was pleasant to catch up with friends I’ve not seen in a while and to meet people new to me.  I had a great time wondering around the library, thinking about how much it has grown since we moved there in the late ‘70s.

Growing up in Chicago in the 1950s, one of my fondest memories is walking with my father for what seemed like miles – maybe it was, maybe not - to the neighborhood park where he would deposit me at the library while he went over to the ball field to watch whatever game was in progress. Like most kids at that time, my family didn’t have much money for extras like books but to me I had a gazillion of them just waiting to be plucked off the shelves and opened and read.  I’d stay there for hours reading and exploring and then I’d check out a pile of books to bring home to keep me occupied for a week or so.  Carrying a stack of books way too big for me to handle, I’d stagger down to the ball field and meet up with my father.  I knew he would carry most of them home for me.  Dads are good that way.

Libraries have become so much more than a book depository; they are our modern community centers.  They still have books that you can carry home with you but if you so wish, you can check out ebooks to view on your Kindle without even leaving home.  DVDs, CDs, information and entertainment in all shapes and forms are obtainable.  Computers are available for your use as well as other types of equipment.  Many libraries offer tutoring services as well as classes on everything from languages to knitting and gardening to genealogy.  Income tax information and legal advice can be had as well as other topics of interest. Book clubs are popular in libraries as well as creative writing groups.  You may go to your local library for instruction in CPR or to view videos of a local’s travels abroad.  Maybe you take your young child there for story hour while you soak up the silence in a different part of the building.

Go to your library and walk around; see what’s going on. It doesn’t matter if it’s tucked away in the middle of a strip mall or it’s big and bright with real plants growing everywhere.  Find something to read, find something to do and encourage your kids to do the same. There’s always something going on and you don’t want to miss it.


PS  Did I tell you that the mother of the guy I fell in love with and married was a librarian?  Yep!



2016 is already flying past from us.  I can’t believe how quickly the last few months have gone by.  The seasons have been changing as rapidly as have the presidential primary contenders and I know some children who are already looking forward to their spring and summer breaks.

 Bob and I are finishing up on #34 in the Survivalist series which is titled Lodestar.  Boy, talk about the pizza hitting the fan and a few other things.  The Rourke clan will be pushed to the limit in this one and some major decisions are made that will alter their lives once again.

 The Rourke family structure is changing as well as its leadership.  Bad guys are everywhere but the good guys are ready to step in and fight for their lives and the continuing safety of the world.  A new group of talented individuals will be introduced to aid in the fight against terror, a group comprised of our own Survivalist contest winners.  I hope they know what they got themselves into!

Soon to be released is Camp Zero, the first in a new series Bob and I are doing with writer friend Sean Ellis.  All six Rourke/Rubenstein kids are sent to a survival school set up by none other than JTR.  They’re supposed to learn how to survive on their own but little did they realize that they would be fighting for their lives against an organized gang of killers. Who do you trust turns into a deadly game if they make the wrong choice. 

The girls really get the chance to kick butt in Camp Zero and they all have to make some pretty serious decisions. Fear and uncertainty must be overcome in order to survive and family, they learn, is a powerful weapon.  I’ll let you know when both of these books will be out.

Once again I’d like to thank all the “good guys” out there who risk life and limb to help keep us safe.  We all know that no amount of money would be enough to compensate these people for the work that they do and all the **** they put up with but let us remember to let them know that they have our gratitude and respect.


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