About Marcy Kennedy

Posts by Marcy Kennedy:

December 10 Grab Bag

I used to love candy grab bags growing up. You never knew what goodies were going to be inside, but you knew they were going to be good. Like the posts you can find at these links . . .

For Writers

5 Types of Platform and Which Is Right for You? – Jeff Goins explains five different “voices” or “tones” your platform can take and what personality types are best suited for each.

When Grammar Elements Go Out Drinking – The ladies at Edittorent made me laugh out loud. If you don’t get the joke, make sure you hire an editor before trying to publish your book.

Is Your Novel a Spineless Weakling? – A story can succeed or fail based on the antagonist. Yet another great post from Kristen Lamb on how to make sure your novel has the backbone it needs to survive. 

For Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Lovers

Rules to Survive a Horror Movie – You’ll be chuckling and nodding your head over these tips by Liz Schulte on how to survive if you ever find yourself in a horror movie. Many thanks to Jessica O’Neal for hosting this guest post. And because no horror movie is complete without a sequel, go by Liz Schulte’s Bat Country for How to Survive a Horror Movie Part 2.

The Characters of Harry Potter: Neville – The latest instalment in Jessica O’Neal’s series on the characters of Harry Potter doesn’t disappoint as she tackles one of my favorites. Neville’s innate humility and surprising bravery immediately drew me to him. Find out why else Jess thinks he’s one of the most well-developed characters in the books.

The Hunger Games: Team Peeta vs. Team Gale – Jess Witkins’ Happiness Project pits the two men in Katniss Everdeen’s life against each other. While I didn’t care about Twilight and picking sides, I’m Team Peeta all the way in this one.

The Meaning of Life

Confessions of a Hoarder – On her blog Of Martians and Marshmallows, Lynette M. Burrows comes clean on her personal hoarding obsession. It’ll make you take a fresh look at your own house.

Learning to #EpicFail . . . with Style – Kristen Lamb shares how failure can actually be a good thing if we learn how to use it to our advantage.

The Grinch Is Pregnant -The never-disappointing Myndi Shafer makes an extraordinarily good case that The Grinch is actually pregnant. Yes, even though he’s a boy.

From My Co-Writer Lisa Hall-Wilson at Through the Fire

Why I Hate Christmas – Not everyone loves Christmas and sometimes that’s okay. What matters is what you do with it.

Mermaids Off the Port Bow – Could the myths about mermaids have originated from a real society?

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Come find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I’d love to hang out.

What Are You Willing to Do For Love?

Love RingThe customs agent accepted the two passports I handed him, but didn’t look at them. Instead, he looked at me.

“I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?”

He had. Three times. On at least two of those times, he’d been the one to search my truck and then come in to chat with me while the other customs agents photocopied my itinerary and I filled in the declaration form. The last time he’d seen me had been four months earlier, before ice clogged the river and prevented the ferry from running.

I gave my best nod and smile. “Yes, sir.”

“Where’re you headed this time?”

“Just to the airport,” I poked a thumb toward my fiancé, who sat in the driver’s seat, “and then back to Canada.”

“She’s dropping me off,” my fiancé said.

We’d hit the point in the conversation where an angry avalanche always took place in my stomach. Would he let us through without trouble? Or would he tell us to pull the truck aside and come in? Living in Canada, less than 40 minutes from the US border, I’d crossed hundreds of times in my life without a problem—until I broke a taboo that I hadn’t known existed and somehow became a flight risk.

My crime? I’d agreed to marry an American.

The first time I tried to cross the border to visit my fiancé after getting engaged, my mom and I spent over 30 minutes inside the customs building. We answered questions about the wedding date, and where Chris and I planned to live.

Then the woman in charge asked, “Do you own any property in Canada?”

“She has a house,” my mom answered.

“Do you live there?” she asked me.

“No, ma’am. I live with my parents.”

“Why don’t you live there?”

“We rent it out.”

“So you don’t own a home.”

Deep breaths.

“She owns a house,” my mom said.

“Then why doesn’t she live in it?”

“Why would she live in it when she can stay with us and rent it out?”

“So she doesn’t own any property?”

My mom and I exchanged a glance.

“I’m sorry,” my mom said. “I don’t think I understand the question.”

On this trip with my fiancé, however, the customs agent returned my smile rather than asking us to pull the truck to the side. “Are you going to cry when you drop him off?”

Naw. I was going to jump for joy because my fiancé was going back to his home, 600 miles away, and I wasn’t going to see him again for a month. I reminded myself that he’s just doing his job. “Probably.”

He let us through without the usual delay. Finally—someone who realized that, if I haven’t made a run for it yet, it’s probably a safe bet I’m not about to. Besides the fact that I’m compulsively law-abiding, we’d lose all the wedding deposits.

I dropped my fiancé off and took the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario, anxious to go home.

“How long were you out of Canada?” the border guard asked.

“About three hours.”

“What for?”

“I dropped my fiancé at the airport.”

“Where’s he going?”

“Virginia, sir.”

“What’s he doing there?”

“He lives there.”

“Isn’t that hard?”

I bit the inside of my cheek, and swallowed a giant chunk of sarcasm. A couple months earlier, when a US customs agent noticed an apple beside me, she asked, “What are you going to do with that apple?”

“Umm…eat it?”

Even I’m not paranoid enough to think up malicious ways to use an apple. The best part was that it was a U.S. apple with the sticker still on it. It was simply coming home. It’s a good thing they can’t read minds, though, because if sarcasm was a crime…

After one particularly harrowing border crossing experience, where the customs agent told me long-distance relationships never work and treated me like I was destined for a bad break-up, my maid of honor said, “I don’t know if any guy is worth that hassle. You must really love him.”

She was right. I did, and I still do. And now that my husband and I made it through all the paperwork and almost a year of immigration hoops and are in the same country at last, we can look back and laugh at the crazy things we did for love.

What are some of the crazy things you’ve done for love? Do you regret doing them or did it all work out in the end?

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An Exorcism? Or Something Else?

This is one of the most creative examples of advertising I’ve seen. Can you guess what this video is for before you reach the end? Anyone guess right?

 

Dirt Devil-The Exorcist from MrPrice2U on Vimeo.

Who’s Your Unicorn?

Unicorn“I have forgotten that men cannot see unicorns. If men no longer know what they’re looking at, there may be other unicorns in the world yet, unknown, and glad of it.”—The Last Unicorn (1982 movie) based on the novel by Peter S. Beagle.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you unicorns don’t exist. I’ve met one. And no, I’m not talking about those pictures that occasionally circle the internet of goats who’ve had their horns trained to twist together to look like a single horn.

I’ve met a real, live unicorn. She just didn’t look like what most people might expect.

Accounts differ about where the unicorn legend originated, but the most consistent picture of them is of a white horse with a single spiral horn growing from their forehead. As every little girl will tell you, they’re exceptionally beautiful.

Their horn soon became known as the bane of evil. A unicorn horn could drive away evil, neutralize poison, and kill any monster it came into contact with. Both their horn and their blood were said to have healing properties.

In China, unicorns came to symbolize wisdom. They were the kings among the animals. In the United Kingdom, they symbolized purity and many kings made them part of their heraldry.

They were and are beloved for a very simple reason.

Unicorns are the embodiment of good.

My unicorn had dark hair, hands that were cold even in summer, and an infectious laugh. She was exceptionally beautiful both inside and out.

Her name was Amanda, and she was one of my best friends. In 2001, a repeat-offender drunk driver with a blood alcohol level of twice the legal limit and a suspended license slammed into her driver’s side door at 100/mph (160 km/h). After 21 hours in a coma, she died. In a way, it was a blessing. The doctors said even if she’d woken up, she’d never have been the Amanda we knew again.

For a year, I brought flowers to her grave every Friday. I went because I missed her, but to be honest, I think I went more because of the fear that if I skipped even one week it would mean I’d forgotten her. And she deserved to be remembered.

Then, a year after her death, sitting on the soggy ground beside her grave, I finally realized the best way to honor and remember her wasn’t to sit in the cold and cry. It wasn’t to bring her flowers. It was to let her life and who she was motivate me to be a better person.

When you cut away all the myths and speculations and stories, unicorns are the things that make us want to be better simply by knowing of them, by being around them. They are what we aspire to be.

Amanda was far from perfect, but I can’t remember the imperfections anymore. What I do remember is her creativity, her cheerfulness, her refusal to let anyone change who she was, her determination and strong work ethic, her soft heart for hurting people.

The qualities I still remember best about her are the ones I want people to one day remember about me too.

I’m far from perfect. I’m still far from being the person I want to be. But I hope that one day, if I keep working at it, I’ll be someone’s unicorn too.

Who’s your unicorn? What is it about them that you so admire? How have they helped you become a better person?

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Image: FreeImages.com/Gabor Palla

Ace Combat: Wedge Antilles vs. Kara Thrace

Welcome today’s special guest poster–my husband Chris 🙂 He’s the biggest Star Wars fan I know (don’t believe me, check out the picture of him in his jedi Halloween costume to the left), and he’s also the one who introduced me to Battlestar Gallactica. I couldn’t think of anyone better to pit the best fighter pilot from each against each other and see who wins . . .

*******************************************************************************

In much the same way that sports fans have fantasy leagues to make dream-team matchups, it’s fun for science fiction fans to have dream matchups between some of the larger-than-life characters in the most successful science fiction franchises.

I’ve heard in a few places that Kara Thrace of Battlestar Gallactica (whose call sign is “Starbuck”) is the best fighter pilot in the sci-fi universe. I’ve also heard that Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo (all from Star Wars) are the best. With this thinking in mind, I decided to do my own little all-star matchup between Wedge Antilles, the long-time leader of Rogue Squadron, and Kara Thrace, arguably the best fighter pilot in the Colonial fleet.

(I didn’t choose Luke Skywalker or any other Force user, as they have an innate advantage through the Force. I didn’t choose Han Solo because the Millenium Falcon, although an amazing ship, is a heavily modified light freighter, and he doesn’t qualify as a fighter pilot.)

In terms of skill, Wedge and Kara are probably equal. They are both aces (they’ve racked up five or more kills), both served as commanders of large strike groups, and are highly respected for their skills inside the cockpit.

Wedge’s decades of experience (eventually he’s promoted all the way to Admiral), cool head, and innate calculating instincts serve him better than Kara’s fiery personality. Wedge excels at getting inside an opponent’s head, both with his flying and with his words.

Kara’s drive to excel probably matches or even exceeds Wedge’s, but hotheads like Kara can easily be manipulated, in much the same way a skilled martial artist uses his opponent’s weight and momentum against them. For example, in the Star Wars books, Wedge frequently uses his ship’s comm system to talk to opposing pilots. He would probably try to talk Kara down from a fight, while she would likely tell him to “shut the frack up” and be ready to lose.

If they both flew the same starfighter, it’d be a coin toss as to who won the fight. The difference between the two pilots really comes down to the equipment at their disposal, so let’s take a look at the birds they fly.

Imagine it like a dogfight . . .

Kara’s Viper Mark II would easily outmaneuver Wedge’s X-Wing, but she’d have to pack missiles to get through his shields, which can be placed into a double-strength configuration wherever he wants. And Wedge’s four laser cannons outclass Kara’s machine guns. As she maneuvers out of any lock he achieves on her and angles in behind him, he has his astromech droid program a proton torpedo to go off via a proximity fuse.  She has no shields, and a proton torpedo can destroy unshielded enemy fighters.

Should she manage to take out his weapons and disable his shields, all he needs to do is plot an emergency hyperspace jump and live to fight another day, while she has to wait for Gallactica to recover her, determine his course, and plot a trailing FTL jump to find him.

The Mark II Viper probably has an edge over the T-65 X-Wing in terms of speed, power, and maneuverability. However, the X-Wing has a definite advantage in terms of armament, range, supralight travel capability, navigation, and survivability.

The winner of this duel would be Wedge Antilles, based solely on the equipment used.

But I’m just one sci-fi fan.

What do you guys think? Would you bet on Wedge or Starbuck in a dogfight? What other science fiction or fantasy characters would you love to see faceoff?

November 26 Grab Bag

Facing a back log of blogs to catch up on because of the holidays? Here are the ones from the last two weeks you won’t want to miss.

For Writers

Balancing the Scenes that Make Up Your Novel – This is the eighth installment in Kristen Lamb’s helpful series on novel structure. With this post, she moves from big picture plot issues to scene structure.

9 Astonishing Facts About Amazon – You probably realize that Amazon is big, but do you know just how big? Michael Hyatt shared an eye-opening infographic on his blog that puts it in perspective.

What You Need to Consider Before Signing on a Contract’s Dotted Line – Paranormal romance author Janelle Madigan brings a special guest post from “recovering lawyer” Diane Capri of Licensed to Thrill about what you need to considering if you’re going it without an agent.

For Science Fiction & Fantasy Lovers

Why Invisibility Cloaks May Be In Our Future – Alexia Reed (“Danger Begins With A Kiss”) brings together science and fantasy in her post about how physicists are bending light and capitalizing on the mirage phenomenon to create a functioning “invisibility cloak.”

Who Designed that Ship?! – Samantha Warren of Deadliest Catch gives a very insightful (and funny) look at why Boba Fett’s ship would never get off the ground in the real world.

The Meaning of Life

The Edge Jennifer L. Oliver of World Beneath the Evening Star writes a short but spectacular guest post for SJ Driscoll about how she’s tired of walking along the edge. Not quite prose and not quite poetry, it’ll strike straight to your heart.

An Attitude of Gratitude – In a special Thanksgiving post, Kristen Lamb gives practical examples of how to turn even the things we usually complain about into things we can be grateful for–and how it will change our lives.

From My Co-Writer Lisa Hall-Wilson at Through the Fire

Biking In Panties – Sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way . . . just hopefully not this hard.

Why Twilight Let Me Down – A review of Breaking Dawn Part 1, the latest installment in the Twilight movie phenomenon.

 

The Hunger Games Movie

This week, Lionsgate released the first full Hunger Games movie trailer. As a huge fan, I’m already counting down to the March 23, 2012, release date, and saving up my credit card rewards points so that my husband and I can see it in theaters. In case you missed it (or are like me and want to watch it multiple times), here’s the trailer . . .

You can also become an official Hunger Games groupie by checking out the following sites:

The Hunger Games Facebook Page – Meet the tributes and keep up on the latest updates.

The Hunger Games Movie Site – Want a counter widget (don’t think I didn’t consider it), sneak peaks, and photos, then this is the place to be.

The Hunger Games Official Website – Find out more about Suzanne Collins, play games, or vote for whether you’ll be supporting Katniss or Peeta.

 

Are You Living Life at Warp 10?

When social media maven Kristen Lamb suggested I use the logline Life At Warp 10 for my blog, she found a way to sum up not only my love for science fiction and fantasy, my fascination (my husband would call it obsession) with uniqueness, and my desire to try new things, but also the speed at which I live my life—something she couldn’t possibly have known.

Or could she. You see, living life at warp 10, for all its benefits, can bring with it consequences obvious to anyone with eyes.

I first heard about warp 10 through the Season 2 episode of Star Trek: Voyager called “Threshold.”

The starship Voyager is stranded in the Delta quadrant (Earth is in the Alpha quadrant). Even if they could travel at their fastest speed the whole time, they’re still 75 years from home. And more than anything they want to get home to the loved ones who think they’re dead.

Lieutenant Tom Paris, Voyager’s pilot, along with his two closest friends, comes up with a plan to get them home sooner—warp 10. Theoretically, warp 10 is impossible. You wouldn’t really be moving at all. You’d be everywhere at once. By traveling at warp 10, they could simply be home again instantly.   

Paris, however, has solved the puzzle, and they’ve equipped a shuttle with warp 10 capabilities. Before he leaves, the doctor warns Paris there’s a two percent chance he could die due to a rare medical condition. He decides to take the risk. He argues this is his one chance to do something truly great, something that will go into history books.

He breaks the warp 10 barrier, and for a moment, it’s amazing. He’s everywhere. He can see Voyager and knows they’re looking for him, but he can also see home, their enemies, everything. The data he collects is invaluable.

And he’s achieved his goal. He’s made history.

Although Paris doesn’t die due to his medical condition, his time at warp 10 mutates his genes. He can’t drink water or breathe oxygen anymore. Before the doctor can treat him, his mind goes, he kidnaps Captain Kathryn Janeway, goes back to warp 10 to find a planet, and they both end up mutated lizards on a non-oxygen atmosphere planet with three lizard babies.

Living life at warp 10 is like that (minus the kidnapping and lizard babies of course).

You move as fast as you possibly can, and for a moment, it’s amazing. You’re able to be everything for everyone and do everything you need to. You’re doing it because you have a dream of doing something important, and that dream is worth the risks and sacrifices.

Except if you only stay at warp 10, you find yourself mutating into something you don’t like. I don’t like how tired I am and how I can’t enjoy the simple things that were once essential (you know, like Paris and his water and oxygen). I don’t like how I sometimes snap at my loved ones. I’ve been moving too fast for too long.

So while I want the experience of life at warp 10, the discoveries it brings and the chance it provides to reach my dream, I’m learning to also come back and get a treatment of slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life. Being able to successfully live life at warp 10 requires finding balance.

After all, I don’t think my husband would really appreciate me having lizard babies with someone else.

What keeps you moving at warp 10? What do you love about it? How do you make sure you don’t miss the simple pleasures along the way?

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Behind the Scenes: Kait Nolan and Werewolves

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Kait Nolan, author of action-packed paranormal romance, to go behind the scenes of her latest novel, Red, an urban fantasy twist on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

Kait Nolan werewolvesEvery fairy tale has a dark side…

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

Welcome, Kait 🙂

The market is full of werewolf stories. Where did the idea for such a new twist come from?

I’m a big fan of fairy tale reboots, and I really wanted to do something with the Red Riding Hood legend—but something that would really turn it on its head. People have done adaptations where the wolf was a werewolf, but I wanted to go a step beyond that, to see what the consequences would be if Red fell in LOVE with the wolf. And that’s how I came up with Elodie.

How do your werewolves differ from the traditional werewolf folklore and from the werewolves in other books on the market?

No silver bullets necessary. No involuntary shifts related to the phases of the moon. It’s not transmissible; it’s a genetic condition, passed on just like blue eyes or brown hair. Oh, and they turn into full wolves, not that funky bipedal hybrid of some werewolf lore.

Readers who love a particular type of story—for example, one including werewolves—sometimes resist innovation. How did you find the balance between making your werewolves unique and meeting readers expectations when they pick up a “werewolf book”?

Well I am one of those readers who loves a good werewolf book, so I was just sure to include everything I knew I wanted. Pack dynamics, fight with the animal instincts, unshakable loyalty, and mates for life.

In Red, werewolves thrive best in stable pairs (either a home with both parents for young werewolves or a mated pair for mature werewolves). Where did you get the idea to have the key to a “safe” werewolf versus a “dangerous” werewolf be a stable pair? 

*grin* I write romance. Plus it really seemed like it would be a way to muck around and complicate things for Elodie’s family line.

An aspect of your werewolf culture that I found especially interesting was that werewolves mate for life. That’s almost counter-cultural to the rest of the world. Was this something you came up with because wild wolves actually mate for life or were you trying to send a message to teens about the value in long-term, stable relationships?

Actually that is a popular misconception. Wolves don’t always mate for life. But I am a lifelong romance lover, which means I am a fan of the One True Pairing/Soulmate concept—whether you’re talking YA or adult fiction. For Red I really wanted to try to present a love at that age that was real. Too often adults are quick to say that teens don’t really know what it is to love, really love. And I think that’s because those adults weren’t there, didn’t feel it for themselves, and they can’t believe it. But it does happen, and I think teens deserve a chance to see that.

How much did the habits of real wolves and the “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale affect Red?

I did a lot of research on wolf behavior in an attempt to realistically portray how Elodie would be changing and behaving as the wolf became ascendant. The actual fairy tale was more backstory in terms of how Elodie’s family line got started.

What do you find really attractive about werewolves?

Their strength, their intelligence, and their unwavering loyalty to pack and mates.

If you found out you were a werewolf, what would your biggest fear be?

Absolutely it would be the same as Elodie’s—I would fear losing control to the beast and hurting someone.

Will you be writing more werewolf books in the future (not necessarily with Elodie and Sawyer) or do you think you’ll move on to something else?

Oh I’ll absolutely have more werewolves and wolf shifters. I love them! I have at least two other books planned in my adult paranormal romance series that features them as heroes. They’re kind of a favorite creature of mine. 😀

Thanks, Kait, for taking us behind the scenes on Red.

Kait Nolan author of paranormal romanceKait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.

You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Her debut YA paranormal, Red, is currently available from Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, and All Romance EBooks.

Saturday Grab Bag

Because it’s tricky to keep up on all the great posts out there, I’ve collected some of my favorites in a Saturday mash-up. Enjoy 🙂

Links for Writers

Getting Primal and Staying Simple with Your Plot – Bestselling author Kristen Lamb gives priceless tips on how to get a visceral reaction from your readers with a plot that’s both complex yet simple.

Writing A Series: 7 Continuation Issues to Avoid – From covers to character histories, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn points out what you need to watch for when writing a series.

On Your Mark: Marketing Your Novel (Part 1) & (Part 2) – Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse hosts Janice Hardy, author of three novels, in this series of guest posts full of tested advice on how to market your novel. These tips are as valid for traditionally published authors as they are for indie authors.

Links for Speculative Fiction Lovers

The Immortals Are Coming – Debra Kristi of Sparks in the Fire asks, “Would you want to be immortal if it meant continuing to grow old and watching everyone you love pass away?”

Why Sliders May Be Possible: The Science of Multi-Universes – Alexia Reed of Danger Begins with a Kiss asks “what if” while looking at some interesting scientific studies.

Current Events

A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney – Coleen Patrick looks at the snippets of wisdom Andy Rooney gave to the world in his many essays on 60 Minutes.

Five Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs – Michael Hyatt calls these leadership lessons, but they’re actually just good life lessons for all of us.

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Lessons from Steve Jobs – Diane Capri on her blog Licensed to Thrill gives a lovely summary of what Steve Jobs did right in his life, as well as links to the 60 Minutes special and his biography.

The Meaning of Life

Grumpy to Gracious – When you feel grumpy but you don’t know why (or even if you do), August McLaughlin’s blog Savor the Page gives some simple ways to practice gratitude. Her tips help chase the grumpies away.

Beer Can Barriers – Are your problems actually impossible to fix or are they only beer can barriers? Myndi Shafer’s Silly Soapbox takes a new look at our perspective about our problems.

This Week from My Co-Writer Lisa Hall-Wilson

Check out her tribute to Canadian veterans in I Am Not American.