Gun control and mental health are not the real issues

In the last two weeks, three colleges in the United States have been the victims of shootings. Mass shootings, school shootings, are happening far too frequently, and the response of politicians, the media, and the general public is always the same. Everyone expresses outrage and sorrow over the shooting (as they should). The media goes into great detail about the shooting and the shooter. Security precautions are discussed. Politicians and one segment of the population starts pushing for gun control. Another segment of the population is afraid the government will take away their constitutional right to own firearms. Gun sales go up. People starting talking about the need to improve mental health care and reporting of those with mental illness. Then all the talk dies down, gun sales go back to normal, and nothing changes.

The predictability is disturbing, as is the complete avoidance of the real issue. These shootings are not a gun control problem. They are not a mental health problem. They are a societal problem. Tightening regulations on the sale of guns or banning them all together won’t solve the issue. Increasing access to mental health care and improving diagnostic techniques, while an excellent and much needed step forward, won’t solve the issue.

The real issue is that somehow people in this country have come to believe that violence is an acceptable response to anger. All the regulations and laws in the world won’t solve that. It’s something that must be solved at the community level, at the family and individual level.


Mass shootings make headlines because of their horrific nature, but all the focus on the big shootings distracts people from the reality of violence that occurs each and every day across this nation. Somewhere in the United States on any given day, someone is a victim of gun violence. Even more people are victims of other kinds of violence, whether through domestic violence, bullying, or a fight. People solve their fights with fists, knives, and violent words, not just guns. Violence is a pervasive problem, affecting every person in this country at some point in their lives.

The majority of the people perpetrating violence through words or actions are probably not mentally ill. In fact, the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Improving access to mental health care is an excellent goal, but it needs to be pursued for the right reasons. Do it to help those suffering in silence. To help those who want help but can’t find it due to a lack of availability or affordability in their area. Don’t do it in an effort to stop mass shootings. That puts the focus on identifying those who might commit a heinous crime at some point in the future rather than focusing on helping those with mental illness live successful, productive lives.

Tightening gun control might help slow the tide of gun violence, but it would only treat one symptom of a much larger illness. Many school shooters have been victims of bullying. Several weren’t old enough to legally buy guns, so gun control wouldn’t have made a difference in those situations. Preventing the bullying they suffered likely could have prevented the shootings as well. Tighter gun control wouldn’t have any effect at all on the people who choose to use a knife or build a bomb with common household items.

What we as a nation need to focus on is not knee-jerk reactions to tragic events, but combatting the pervasive anger and violence throughout our society. Many say parents need to teach their children to respect laws and not fight or bully others, but what if those parents haven’t been taught those same things? Would you expect a person who has never learned French to teach someone to speak it?


Instead of shifting blame from one place to another, we need to accept that we are all responsible for changing the culture of violence. We need to model healthy ways to deal with anger and disagreements, not just in person, but online as well. Diplomacy seems to be getting lost in the “us vs. them” world we live in. We can change that. Instead of looking to Washington to solve the problem of violence in this country, we need to look to ourselves and our families. If each of us works to change our own behaviors and model healthy ways to deal with anger and frustration to those around us, our communities would change. The violence and anger that are everywhere we turn would fade. The shootings, abuse, and bullying would become less frequent.

Society is what we make it. Instead of continuing to follow the predictable patterns of the past that do nothing to stop the violence, let’s work together to make this nation a friendlier, safer place to live. If you want to change the status quo, start making changes in your own homes and neighborhoods. All those small changes will work together to change the world.

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Book Spotlight – Not Every Girl by Jane McGarry

Please welcome my fellow Clean Reads author Jane McGarry! She’s here today with her new book, Not Every Girl.

Not Every Girl cover artBlurb

Olivia Davenport’s plan is destined to fail.

She is going through with it anyway, of course. After all, it is the chance of a lifetime. The unreasonable rules of others should not stand in her way.

In her small kingdom of Stewartsland, Olivia trains with the squires and harbors a secret dream. She longs to become a knight under the command of the Master-of–Arms, who just happens to be her father. He has indulged her passion so far, but they both know a simple fact – girls may not attain knighthood. Dismayed by the constant discouragement of her ambitions, she makes an impetuous decision to disguise herself as a boy in order to sneak on a mission. The consequences are not at all what she anticipated.

When her deception is revealed, she is sent home in disgrace; however, an unexpected turn of events puts her at the center of a dangerous plot against the King. The ensuing adventure finds her grappling with mercenaries and outlaws, yet these pale in comparison to her newly awakened emotions. She finds not only her life at risk, but also her heart, when the aloof Prince Liam begins to affect her in ways she never thought possible. In the end, it is her courage and unique spirit which must guide her through the challenges she encounters both physical and emotional.


“I came to offer the young lady one of my guards as an escort home.”


That is not part of my plan! And besides, my father could not seriously consider sending me off into the woods with a strange man, royal guard or not. It takes every ounce of my restraint to not jump up and protest.

“That is gracious of you, Your Majesty,” my father answers. “However, I am concerned about the propriety of that arrangement. Not,” he adds hastily, “that I would expect anything less than the highest scruples from one of your men.”

Good. So Father has a grasp on the situation. Sending me back with any strange man and no female chaperone is entirely inappropriate. And there are no other women on the trip. Too bad Puck isn’t here; my father would trust him with me. Now, they will all have to work out the only viable option—that I continue on the trip. I merely sit quietly and wait for them to come to this inevitable conclusion.

“Well, I certainly understand your feelings. Especially since the young lady in question is your daughter,” King William agrees. “I am sure if I had a daughter of my own, I would feel much the same way.”

They discuss me as if I am not sitting right here, as if I have no capacity for thought—or hearing. I am actually quite capable of taking care of myself and could get home without help from any man, thank you anyway. Not that I will suggest this as an option, of course.

Time drags into a prolonged silence. Birds chatter in the trees, the river bubbles happily by, the men are all packed and ready to go. They stand in a huddled mass waiting for instructions from their superiors. Come on guys, surely one of you can figure out the answer. My father must be aware of the only solution, so why isn’t he saying anything? Perhaps he is waiting for the King to suggest it, so it appears he thought of the idea and can take credit for it.

“If I may make a suggestion, Sir Jack…” Prince Liam begins.

I am so happy someone is finally going to state the obvious, I don’t even care that it is coming from his egotistical mouth. But then, he decides to become the next person to throw a wrench in my plans.

“Why don’t I accompany the young lady home along with one of the guards. I give my word that everything will be handled with the utmost discretion.”


Not Every Girl is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.


About the Author

photo of author Jane McGarryReading was always a big part of Jane’s life. Over the years, creating stories developed out of this love. Finally, she decided to try her hand at writing a novel and that was when Not Every Girl was conceived.

She lives in New Jersey in a house full of boys, including one over-indulged cat. When she is not running around with her family or writing, she can be found curled up with a good book and said cat. It is her belief that a good book, a loyal pet and anything made of chocolate can brighten just about any day.

You can visit her online at:

Connect with Jane Online






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New Release – Holding Back by Helen Pollard

Please welcome my fellow Clean Reads author Helen Pollard! She’s here today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Holding Back.

Holding Back cover artBlurb

The last thing they’re looking for is love …

Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends’ hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.

Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn’t have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.

As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?


“Excuse me. You’ve picked up the wrong bag.”

Deep and decisive, the voice startled Laura from behind as she loaded her luggage onto her hard-won airport trolley.

“No, I don’t think so.” She swung round to confront the voice’s owner. Unnerved to find him towering over her, she took a step back, stumbling over her trolley in the process.

With lightning speed, he reached out to catch her arm, his grip strong as he helped her regain her balance. When she was upright again, she took in piercing blue eyes, thick dark brown hair, a hint of stubble on a tanned face—and felt an immediate jolt of attraction.

Laura ignored it. “I can manage, thank you,” she snapped, thinking she wouldn’t have tripped if he hadn’t surprised her like that.

He released his hold and raised an eyebrow. “As I said, you have my bag.”

Pushing away long strands of chestnut-brown hair that had dared escape their ponytail, Laura returned his gaze.

“No, this is definitely mine.” She was hot, harassed, and late. The last thing she needed was a futile argument over her own luggage!

“Would you mind if I check?”

“Help yourself.” Unable to disguise her impatience, Laura waved at it, adding, “But I am in a hurry.” She winced at the hostile tone in her voice, but she really didn’t have time for this. Tapping her foot in irritation, she waited to be proved right as he crouched over her trolley.

“Would you care to look?” he asked.

Laura’s foot stopped tapping. Recognising undisguised triumph on his face, she read the label over his shoulder with trepidation, but there it was in black and white—Daniel Stone, London Gatwick to Porto. The heat that rose in her cheeks seemed to burn right through her skin.

“But it’s the same as mine!” she blustered, watching with embarrassment as he hoisted the heavy bag from the trolley with ease.

“It’s hardly a unique design,” he commented, shrugging broad shoulders. “If you weren’t in such a tearing hurry, you might have spotted your own on the carousel.”

Laura spun around to see her bag riding forlornly around with the few that were left. Mortified, she opened her mouth to apologise.

But he spoke first. “Personally, I would advocate that old saying ‘More haste, less speed.'” His tone softened a little as he added, “I’m sorry, but you’re not the only hot, tired person whose flight was delayed, you know.” And off he strolled through the terminal, his bag flung over his shoulder, without a backward glance.


Holding Back is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and other online retailers.


About the Author

photo of author Helen PollardHelen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.

Connect with Helen Online

Website & Blog:  






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New Release – Healing Rain by Katy Newton Naas

Please welcome my fellow Clean Reads author Katy Newton Naas! She’s here to celebrate the release of her new YA novel, Healing Rain.

Healing Rain cover artBlurb

Some people just naturally seem to have it all. Until five months ago, sixteen-year-old Rain Sawyer was one of those people. She had the perfect life, with a loving, wealthy family and a strong Christian faith, complete with popularity, sports, clubs, and good grades.

When one tragic incident shatters everything Rain thought she knew, she finds herself five hours away, starting over in a small town very different from her glamorous big-city life.

Armed with a different outlook on life – one that no longer includes her faith – she struggles to create a new identity for herself.  Determined to keep her dark past as secret, she navigates through a new school year, a new town, and new relationships while trying to figure out who she wants to be.



The smell of blood – sickeningly thick, fresh blood – filled my nostrils before I ever opened the door. I didn’t recognize that smell at first; I had never encountered that much blood in one place before. But I knew that the smell was off, somehow. The room usually smelled just like my dad – a mixture of pine trees and cologne, a combination of aromas that I had never quite understood but they belonged to him. I knocked, but no one answered. Cautiously, I pushed open the door. “Dad?” I whispered as I entered.

That’s when I saw his legs. His signature khaki pants and brown loafers stuck out from behind his desk. He was on the ground and didn’t move when I said his name, didn’t even twitch as I opened the door and walked inside. “Dad!” I called again, louder this time.

Oh no, he’s had a heart attack, I thought. I rushed over to the desk to see his face. But what I saw stopped me in my tracks like a deer in headlights.

I was frozen. My brain screamed at my body to move, to get away from the sight, but my feet were glued to the floor. My arms and legs suddenly felt like sandbags, and I collapsed.

This is not my dad. There was no face, no way to identify him for sure. But it was him. I knew the shape of his body, the clothes he wore. But the pool of blood under his neck took my breath away.

Who did this? Who did this to my father? I heard violent, blood-curdling screams, which I quickly realized were coming from me. I pleaded for help, still unable to get up off the ground, but it was useless. No one else was home.

Or was someone else in the house? My heart stopped beating as I considered this. Someone had broken in, had murdered my father in cold blood. Maybe I was next. Maybe my whole family was next. At that point, I almost wished for it. Death would be a welcome release from the idea of losing my dad, the man I admired most in the world. My funny, loving, attentive, adoring father. My best friend. And now he was gone.

And that’s when I saw it. The gun. The murder weapon that was used to kill my father was still lying on the scene. I stared at it, too shocked to cry or get scared or have any of the other normal reactions I should have had.

My mind was racing but remained blank. I had to get up, had to call for help. Move, I commanded my feet. Get up and go call 911. Tell them there’s been a murder, get the police to catch whoever did this and make them pay.

And that’s when my brain began to truly process the scene. The gun – the murder weapon – was in my dad’s own hand. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. And then the tears came, slowly at first before gushing out of my eyes until I couldn’t see straight anymore. I curled my legs up to my chest and hugged them, putting my head down on my knees as my shoulders shook uncontrollably. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

I forced myself to look back at my dad one last time, just to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. He couldn’t have done this. He couldn’t have.

I looked up toward the sky and asked one simple question: Why?


Healing Rain is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and other online retailers.


About the Author

photo of author Katy Newton NaasKaty Newton Naas currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children’s church. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a master’s degree in Reading and Language Studies. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, her young son, Aven, and her four-legged sons, Shakespeare and Poe.

From a young age, Katy was always an avid reader and writer with a big imagination. Though she continues to grow older, her true literature love is and has always been young adult fiction. She loves creating both realistic and futuristic stories about teenagers, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.

Connect with Katy Online


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RONE Awards Nominee – Bogota Blessings

I am so thrilled to announce that Bogota Blessings (Passport to Romance) has been nominated for the RONE Awards, Inspirational category! The RONE Awards are an annual award presented to great books in a variety of categories. The first round in the selection process is based on the star rating books received from InD’Tale Magazine (the award sponsor). The second round lets the public vote for their favorite nominee in each category. The third round involves judges evaluating each of the finalists from round two and selecting the winners.

The voting for Week Two categories (including Inspirational) is open until April 26, 2015. There are some amazing books by wonderful authors in each of the categories, so I have some tough competition. If you would like to cast your vote, here’s the link:

In order to vote, you do have to sign in to your account. If you don’t already have an account, you can easily create one. They won’t spam your inbox, and you just might find some new books to read in the free monthly magazine they send out.

Now, who wants a peek at Bogota Blessings? Check out the blurb and an excerpt, and then go cast your vote for your favorite titles. Yes, I’m hoping you choose mine. LOL

Bogota Blessings cover artBlurb

When Kayla Shaw travels to Bogotá to help renovate a house for a mission to street children, nothing can prepare her for the ever-present mission employee Mateo Luis. He looks like he could be one of the rebels who have caused so much fear throughout Colombia. Then she begins to see him with her heart instead of only her eyes.

Mateo Luis Gómez Días has dedicated his life to the mission, and he’s determined to help as many street children as he can. Unfortunately, he can’t keep his thoughts off the beautiful American helping renovate the new children’s home. Although he would love to have a relationship with Kayla, his past and the bad neighborhood God has called him to serve in prevent him from pursuing her.

Has God truly led Kayla and Mateo to each other, or does He have something else in mind for their lives?


Kayla’s gaze drifted to the door as an older woman hurried in with a piece of cardboard in her hand. The woman looked over and held up the sign with a questioning look—Shaw Restoration.

Relief washed over Kayla as she returned the woman’s smile and nodded. “Our ride’s here.”

She led the way over to the woman. “Hi, I’m Kayla Shaw, and this is Angie Martin and Paul Reed. We’re the group from Shaw Restoration.”

“I am Maria Santiago Uribe de Ramírez, wife of Pastor Carlos Ramírez Ochoa. Please forgive me for being late,” the woman said in heavily accented English. “The bus did not want to start, and Mateo Luis had to fix it before we could come.”

“I understand,” Kayla assured her.

“My husband sends his apologies for not being here, but he was called away by an emergency.” Maria lifted a hand toward the exit. “Come. Mateo is waiting to take us to the mission.”

As soon as Kayla saw the rusty, ancient bus with the mission name scrawled in faded blue paint across the side, she completely understood why Maria had been late. The vehicle looked as if it would take a miracle to get it to run, and Kayla made a mental note to contact the missions committee of the church she attended with her father. Perhaps they could raise enough to fix up the bus or possibly buy a newer one. The mission needed reliable transportation, and their current bus appeared to be far from it.

A swarthy-skinned man stepped out of the open door of the vehicle, and Kayla’s heart leapt into her throat. His dark, brooding eyes scanned the group, his stance wary as he took them in. A scar down the left side of his face made him look even more menacing than the heavy, dark stubble shadowing his face.

Maria stepped up beside him with a warm smile. “This is Mateo Luis. He works for the mission, so you will likely see him often. Mateo, this is Kayla, Angie, and Paul.”

Kayla struggled to find her voice, certain it was her responsibility as team leader to respond. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

He nodded, his gaze drifting over her. “If you will move to the back of the bus, we can load your luggage.”

As they followed him, Kayla noticed a slight limp in his walk. She felt a small twinge of guilt for judging him by his appearance alone. Since he worked for the mission, he was probably a very nice guy, even if he did look as scary as the rebels she’d seen in news reports. Perhaps his limp had been caused by the violence that had gripped Colombia for several decades. That could explain his wariness and the scar on his face as well.

Still, a little wariness of her own until she knew him better wouldn’t be amiss.


Want to read more? Download a copy of Bogota Blessings from Pelican Book Group, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or iTunes.

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New Release – Andrea and the 5-Day Challenge by Cindy K. Green

Please welcome my fellow Pelican Book Group author Cindy K. Green! She’s here today with her new young adult novel, Andrea and the 5-Day Challenge.

Andrea and the 5-Day Challenge cover artBlurb

Dear Lord,
I need Your help and sooner would be better than later. Wouldn’t you know it, just as soon as I decide to attempt the 5-Day Bible Study Challenge, my parents start heaping on loads of pressure to get me into Julliard. My friend Amy isn’t any better, urging me to ask Luke Ryan to homecoming. As if the cute, transfer jock would actually go out with me. I mean, we’re kinda friends, and I’ve enjoyed our Geometry study sessions, but in case Amy hasn’t noticed, I’m the invisible one at Aubrey Christian Academy, and I like it that way. On top of that, I have a feeling Luke’s concealing something behind those chocolate-brown eyes of his. I know I can be self-centered and a bit melodramatic, but I really do want to seek Your will for my life. Then maybe I’ll even figure out which direction points up.

Sincerely, Andrea Jamison
High School Junior
Change-o-phobic & complete neurotic


Before she had a chance to answer, I heard my name called out. I pivoted, but I was totally unprepared to see Luke coming right up beside me. My face grew warm again. Oh, please, if only my skin wouldn’t turn all blotchy like it usually did when I blushed. “Uh, hi Luke.” I couldn’t say any more. If I opened my mouth, it would come out in gibberish, I was sure. Lord God in Heaven, if You’re listening, and I know You always are, please, please, don’t let him have overheard what we were talking about. When was that spaceship getting here, anyway? I’d settle for an invisibility cloak, too, just as long as I could disappear.

“Hi.” Luke smiled.

Why now did his smile make my heart do cartwheels? I’d seen him smile dozens of times, maybe even a hundred, and my heart had never done that before. OK, that’s not completely true. There have been a couple occasions when my pulse tripped upwards, but I just needed some more vitamins or something.

“I was wondering if we could go over that new proof from yesterday. I’m not sure I have it yet.”

Geometry? He wanted to talk about Geometry.

My heart fell. I don’t know why I thought it would be anything else. I mentally slapped myself in the head. Of course. He just wanted to talk about Geometry. The quiz today.

“Well, I gotta go,” announced Amy with a conspiratorial smile as she adjusted her glasses and walked off.

I turned to Luke. “You know, Geometry isn’t my strong subject.”

“I know.” He knew? His answer surprised me.

I stood staring at him for a second. His brown eyes looked a little sparkly as he grinned at me. I must have been seeing things. Yeah, I definitely needed some extra vitamin A.

“If I had to guess, I’d say history is your best subject.” Luke still smiled, in fact, I think it grew.

How did he know my favorite subject? “Uh, yeah, it is. How…”

He raised his expansive shoulders slightly. “I can tell by the way you speak up in class.”

Class. Oh, yes, because we also had U. S. History together. I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t that much of a coward. I could stand here and look into his eyes…no, I couldn’t. They were somehow more fascinating than ever. I lifted my view to the doorway. “You know, I need to get to my locker and pick up my books for next period.”

“OK, me, too.”

So, I’m walking with Luke Ryan. He is suddenly very interesting to me and seems to know more about me than I do about him. Something is definitely wrong with this picture. Had I somehow walked through Alice’s looking glass without noticing, because this was unquestionably a wonderland.


Andrea and the 5-Day Challenge is available from Pelican Book Group, Amazon,, and other online retailers.

Read more excerpts on Cindy’s blog:


About the Author

Cindy K. Green has worked as a middle school history & English teacher, a frozen yogurt server and a golf magazine employee. Today she’s a multi-published, award-winning author, a mother, a wife, and a homeschooler too. This native Californian now resides in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and two cats named Chloe & Kassey. Visit her website & her blog She’s on Facebook (Cindy K. Green) and Twitter (@cindykgreen) too. Connect with her on Pinterest and Google+ as well.

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Acceptance vs. Tolerance – Why we need both

Acceptance vs. Tolerance

Last week I wrote about why tolerance is a more realistic expectation than acceptance for American society. This week I want to discuss why acceptance is an essential part of any civilized nation, including the United States.

Wait. What?

I know, it sounds like I’m starting to contradict myself, but stick with me. I promise both viewpoints (pro-tolerance and pro-acceptance) are completely compatible and possible for every individual to hold.

Acceptance is essential to civilization.To refresh your memory, tolerance is about respecting beliefs, opinions, and lifestyles you disagree with. Acceptance is about approving and viewing favorably those different from you. Note the differences in the definitions. Tolerance has to do with beliefs, opinion, and lifestyles. Acceptance has to do with the people holding those opinions and beliefs and living those lifestyles.

While I completely agree that some beliefs, opinions, and lifestyles are incompatible and unacceptable to different people, I fully believe that every person should be accepted and respected even if you don’t agree with the way they live or think. The vast differences between people are part of the reason America is sometimes referred to as the great melting pot. We’re all in this together, and whether we agree with the guy down the road or not, we need to accept him as a valid, important human being.

In the debate between tolerance and acceptance, the arguments over whose religion is right and which lifestyle is best, people often miss the point. That point? It doesn’t matter. We’re all individuals with our own way of doing things. We’re going to find like-minded people, but not everyone is going to agree with us and that’s fine. That’s why tolerance is essential to the survival of American society. Yet without acceptance of each individual as a person, society is still at risk of failure and chaos.

Let me give you an example of why acceptance of people as valid and important beings is essential.

April is Autism Awareness MonthApril is Autism Awareness Month. While most people know autism exists, far fewer truly accept autistic people as being as valid and important as non-autistics. This is true of many disabilities, especially the invisible ones. That lack of acceptance and the general theme of seeing autism as the person being broken or needing to change in order to be acceptable hurts. I say this as an autistic adult. We need to be viewed with the same respect and acceptance as our neurotypical (non-autistic) counterparts if we’re ever going to thrive.

Yes, autism poses great challenges. No, it’s not easy, either for the autistic or the people around them. But we are people. We are not broken. We are different, and most of us don’t mind being different… until people start telling us there’s something wrong with us or refusing to give us a chance.

Acceptance can change that. It doesn’t take much to accept someone who is different from you. All you have to do is quit thinking, “Hey, that guy’s different” and start thinking, “Hey, that guy’s a person just like me.”

The National Down Syndrome Conference has a campaign I love and wish we would see for more disabilities, religions, and ethnicities. It shows how people with Down Syndrome are “More Alike Than Different” when compared to people without the disorder. That’s how everyone needs to view the people around them. Instead of focusing on the differences, focus on the similarities.

That’s where acceptance begins. When you can look past whatever makes the person different from you or the beliefs you may not agree with and respect the person as a person, that’s when acceptance happens. That’s when the contention and hate stop and the real discussions and debates on the things you tolerate but can’t accept happen.

What do you think? Is important for everyone to accept everyone else, or is tolerating the existence of those you don’t agree with or understand enough? Or do you think something else entirely?

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New Release – Nila’s Hope by Kathleen Friesen

Please welcome my fellow Pelican Book Group author Kathleen Friesen! She’s here today to celebrate the release of her new novel, Nila’s Hope.

Nila's Hope cover artBlurb

Just when her career as a carpenter and a relationship with handsome co-worker Will Jamison are within reach, Nila Black’s abusive ex-boyfriend is released from prison. He’s out of jail, out for revenge, and making promises she knows he’ll keep. Nila will do whatever it takes to save her friends from the evil that will come their way if she doesn’t put distance between them-even if it means abandoning her new-found faith. It will take a miracle and an angelic messenger to show Nila that God is her greatest protector. He has never left her side, and He wants only the best for her and for the man she loves.


Too soon dinner was finished and Jason introduced her toast to the bride. Nila pushed herself upright onto shaking legs and tried not to wobble or spill the juice in her fluted glass.

She clung to the podium for support and smoothed out the torn paper. She tried to read her notes, but her handwriting seemed to have morphed into another language. Her hands shook the podium, so she folded them together on top of the useless paper. The silence in the room felt heavy. Nila glanced up. So many people.

She opened her mouth, but no words came. Then she spotted Faith sitting at a table near the back. Faith smiled, patted her heart, and put one thumb up.

Speak from your heart. Easier said than done. Nila breathed a silent prayer. “Jesus, help me do this, for Melody’s sake.”

She glanced over at the head table, hearing only the pounding of her heart. Will nodded and mouthed, “You can do it.”

Nila took a deep breath and cleared her throat.

“As most of you know, Melody’s daughter Faith was supposed to be her matron of honor, but she caught a bad cold last week. When Melody and Faith asked me to take her place, I was honored–and terrified. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

She glanced at the nearest tables. No one snickered. Everyone seemed to be listening, most with smiles on their faces. She looked down at her paper.

“Melody is a very special lady. The first time we met was when she came to visit me in the hospital. Even though Melody didn’t know me and had to fight through her own fear, she came to tell me that God loves me. She didn’t just visit me once and then leave me alone, either. She kept telling me over and over how much I was worth to God and to her. No one had ever talked to me like that. She showed me what real love is.”

She glanced up. Every gaze was locked on her. Her hands shook again. She quickly looked at Melody, and her warm smile gave her the courage to continue.

“God used Melody to save me–not only my soul, but my life. If it weren’t for Melody…” Her vision blurred. Nila blinked several times and dabbed at the tears that spilled onto her cheeks. She took a deep breath and released it slowly.

“When Melody and Daniel realized they were meant to be together, I was thrilled for her. I’ve enjoyed watching their love grow and bloom as beautifully as the flowers Melody nurtures in her garden. She deserves a life full of love and happiness, and I trust that today is the beginning of many years of joy with Daniel.”

She paused, looked out at the crowd, and with a steady hand raised her glass.

“Would you please stand and join me in toasting the bride? To Melody!”

A movement caught her eye. A door at the back of the hall opened without a sound. A head appeared. Glittering eyes stared at her. Hatred sliced across the room and raked her with an icy touch. The figure raised a finger to his lips and shook his head. The message was all too familiar.

Nila froze. Black spots filled her vision, and the room disappeared.

When she came to, she was back in her seat at the table, and Melody’s hand patted

her face.

“Nila, honey, are you okay?”

She shuddered and looked toward the door. No one was there.


Nila’s Hope is available from Pelican Book Group, Amazon, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.


About the Author

author photo of Kathleen FriesenOnce upon a time, there was a shy girl who loved to read. She found friends, adventure, and reasons to trust God in the pages of her favorite books. When she grew up, she carried a dream in her heart that someday she would join those authors long admired in the adventure of writing stories. Today Kathleen Friesen is writing and loving it. Her stories invite readers to risk faith, dare to love, and trust God with the consequences.

After thirty years on the Canadian prairies, Kathleen and her husband Ron now live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada. They enjoy travelling, long walks in nature, and time spent with family and friends. And wherever they go, Kathleen’s on the prowl for ideas for her next book.

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Tolerance vs. Acceptance – Is there a difference?

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

The United States gives its citizens wonderful freedoms protected by the Constitution. Some of those freedoms include the right to hold whatever religious and political beliefs you wish, as well as the right to speak freely about them. Yet despite these legal rights, many in America seem to think that only their beliefs should be allowed.

acceptance definitionThis is where tolerance comes in to play. In order for our nation to function, tolerance is essential. Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, but they also have the right to disagree with the beliefs of others. However, tolerance prevents them from attacking those who have differing beliefs.

And here’s where the ideal of tolerance frequently gets misunderstood. Tolerance simply means you tolerate the beliefs of those you don’t agree with. You don’t attack someone. You don’t use hate speech against them. Basically, you let them do their thing while you happily go do your thing. Unfortunately, many people seem to think tolerance actually means acceptance.

While tolerance allows you to disagree with others’ beliefs, acceptance doesn’t. If you accept another’s beliefs, you are essentially agreeing with them and saying those beliefs are right. This doesn’t work in a nation with as many different religions, political opinions, and lifestyles as the United States. Many times, those beliefs and lifestyles contradict each other or have irreconcilable differences. In order to accept each of those beliefs and lifestyles, one would have to ignore those contradictions and differences.

When you think “tolerance” means “acceptance” that’s where the problems begin. In order to accept some beliefs, others must become unacceptable. At that point, if you speak about tolerance and believe in practicing it, you have become a hypocrite. After all, if you accept some beliefs and disparage others, that doesn’t follow the “acceptance” definition for tolerance.

tolerance definitionBut, if you practice true tolerance, you don’t have to become a hypocrite. You can still have strongly held beliefs that don’t coincide with the beliefs of others. You are welcome to disagree with others. If you are tolerant, you are willing to accept that others have different beliefs and opinions, and that they have just as much right to hold those beliefs as you have to hold yours.

The United States is made up of myriad cultures, religions, and political beliefs. True acceptance of all those different groups is an impossible dream simply because of irreconcilable differences. Tolerance, however, is a realistic possibility and the ideal our nation with all of its freedoms was founded upon.

In order for American society to function well, each individual within it must accept what they can and tolerate what they can’t. Anything else in a tolerant nation is unacceptable.

What do you think? Should we strive for tolerance, acceptance, or something else altogether?

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New Release – Best Friends… Forever? by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Please welcome my fellow Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press) author Krysten Lindsay Hager! She’s here today with her new novel, Best Friends… Forever? (Landry’s True Colors Series Book 2).

Best Friends... Forever? cover artBlurb

Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way—instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year—something she finds terrifying.

Landry gets her first boyfriend, but then gets dumped just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice about dealing with frenemies from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry faces having to speak up for what’s right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American Ingénue modeling competition.


I got ready for bed and then stopped to check my social media page one more time and that’s when I saw it — another picture of Peyton, India, and Devon hanging out. They were sitting on the couch with their heads scrunched close together and laughing. It was a cute picture, but then I saw the caption: So glad we could all be together for the holidays. Love these guys soooo much! Best friends forever. #Alltogether #Threemusketeers #BestFriendsForever #ThreeBestFriends #ThreesCompany.

My heart sank. It was India’s caption and anyone who read it would think what a close‑knit group of friends and not realize anyone was missing from that photo. Sure, I was in another state, so naturally I couldn’t be there for it, but the way India wrote that made me feel so left out. I mean, what did she mean by the “ʺThree’s Company”ʺ hashtag? And sometimes people tagged friends who weren’t there in pictures and added, “ʺWish you were here,”ʺ but there was no mention of a fourth member of the group.

“Ready for bed, hon?” Mom asked coming into my room.

“Yeah, just signing off.”

“Okay, sleep well.”

I got into bed and hoped I was reading into things, but the knot in my stomach wouldn’t go away.


Best Friends… Forever? is available from Amazon, Amazon international, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and other online retailers.


About the Author

photo of author Krysten Lindsay HagerKrysten Lindsay Hager is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series, a clean reads young adult series. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image in both True Colors and Best Friends…Forever?

Krysten is an Amazon international bestselling author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten Online





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