Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Moment that Changed My Life

I've had a life-changing experience, a moment of pause; an epiphany – something to make me stop and think for a minute.

I drove to the mall and had just parked in one of the many empty parking spots left vacant after the Black Friday shopping frenzy. There in the parking lot was a mall employee, a groundskeeper doing his job. He had a gas-powered leaf-blower slung over his shoulder and he was walking along the parameter of the parking lot blowing dead leaves away from the curbs and out into the street and parking lot.

I sat and watched the man for several minutes. He would blow the leaves away but when he would walk away, the wind would blow the leaves right back against the curb. His actions, although he was gainfully employed, did not seem to serve a purpose, and he didn’t seem to care one way or the other. I’m sure he would be paid the same wages regardless where the leaves ended up. Cars passed by, scattering leaves in all directions. Some of the leaves would blow down the street only to end up against another curb, which the man would dutifully clear away with this blower.

I tried to relate this man’s efforts to my own life. Do I make a difference in the lives of other people or do I just aimlessly blow leaves from one place to another? Do I live with a purpose in mind or do I just go through the motions? Am I sowing seeds for a future harvest or am I just blowing leaves?

My life must count for something. I must be better focused than the man with the leaf-blower. I cannot be content with payday, just narrowly getting through life. I need to know when all is said and done that I made a difference somewhere along the way and that I’ve not just left a lot of scattered leaves lying along the course of my life.

In the end, I watched the groundskeeper walk carelessly up the street looking for more leaves to blow, his leaf-blower running in idle. He would pause from time to time and clear away a section of curb, caring not where the leaves ended. His expression never changed, his purpose was still unclear. It was just another day on the job. He will be back out tomorrow to clear the same curbs again of the same dead leaves.

With this thought in mind, I've had to reexamine my own efforts. Although I enjoy writing science fiction, I've tried to take on writing projects the last couple of years that are more than just simple fiction. I want people to read my books and not only enjoy them, but that will make a difference in their lives. When I first took on the project of writing From Victim to Hero -- The Untold Story of Steven Stayner, I wasn't sure I could do it. It was a daunting task that forced me to trudge through years of police reports and interviews, and I was forced to envision the torture and torment young Steven suffered at the hands of his captor. But since it's publication, I've received many emails from people all over the world telling me how it has opened their eyes to the reality of child abduction and sexual predators, and how it has helped them keep their children safe.

So the question I ask myself now is, am I making a difference, or am I just blowing leaves? When people read my books, are they better for reading them or are they just another form of entertainment? Are they seed for new growth, or are they dead leaves blowing down the street? I'll leave that for you to decide.

From Victim to Hero and The Apostle Murders are available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats. Strangers in the Stable, my new children's book, is available in paperback because it is fully illustrated in 3-D graphics. Your children and grandchildren will enjoy it for years. Just click here for ordering information.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hammer versus the Velvet Glove

I was recently asked my solution preference when dealing with political correctness. Am I more likely to use the hammer or the velvet glove when people take very simple things and make them difficult, or when someone is so concerned with political correctness that they ignore common sense? My answer – the hammer. Why? Because I believe political correctness is a major bane on American society. We’re so concerned about not offending the minority that we step on the majority.

A good knock in the head with a hammer is just what this country needs. We trample the rights of the very people that make this country great. For example, if a child doesn’t want to pray or exercise any religious beliefs in school, let them read a book or just sit quietly. But don’t deny my child his right to pray and exercise his religious beliefs for fear of offending yours. If an atheist athlete wants to give the glory of his touchdown to the coach, fine, let him. But don’t deny the Christian athlete the right to kneel in the end zone and thank God for giving him the strength, skill, and ability to make the run.

Another prime example for the need of hammer versus the velvet glove is the argument of the legality of gay marriage. The whole gay and legal community is up in arms arguing with each other, trying to legalize or condemn gay marriage. A good knock in the head would allow both sides to clearly see that gay marriage is and has always been legal in all fifty states of this country. Two gay people can legally marry any time they wish as long as they are of majority age or receive permission from their parents or guardian. There is no standing law against gay marriage in any state in this union.

The real question on the table is not the legality of gay marriage – it’s the definition of marriage. If a gay man and a gay woman want to marry, they can, and it’s perfectly legal. It’s the question of two people of the same sex marrying each other that is causing the argument. This country does not recognize the marriage union of two men or two women especially when sexual intercourse is the primary motive. So why are we bogged down in this meaningless argument?

Personally, I like the hammer approach. It’s just what we need in this country from time to time. But let’s discuss it in terms of religion. The hammer may not really be a good approach when working with religious people. Christians, especially Pentecostals which is my personal religious background, are a hard-headed bunch, and often hard-hearted. And let’s face it, your church or religion isn’t the only game in town. People can go to church anywhere, not just your particular little patch of sacred ground. It’s an atmosphere of love that will keep people coming back to your church instead of going across town. If you offer a nurturing place to worship, eventually people will find the love and peace of God they desperately need in their lives.

Hammer or velvet glove? They’re both viable tools if used in the proper context. Political correctness needs a good knock in the head, but religion needs ministries that care about the people in the pew, not just the size of the offering. For this, only the velvet glove will work.


Yep, it's time for another advertisement. As my old daddy used to say, "A fella's gotta make a livin', don't he?" So here goes.

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Read the true story of Steven Stayner, a 7-year old boy kidnapped in Merced, California while walking home from school. Steven was held captive for 7 years by pedophile Kenneth Parnell before escaping and rescuing another kidnapped child and returning him to his family. Steven became a national hero and a voice for child safety, helping children avoid the horrors he had suffered.

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This book is endorsed by Safety Kids, Inc., as well as The Surviving Parents Coalition.

Now for my final plug.... Just in time for Christmas, my new children's book, Strangers in the Stable is a delightful telling of the nativity, looking at the birth of Jesus Christ from the viewpoint of the animals in the stable that first Christmas. Illustrated in beautiful 3-D graphics, see what the animals saw that fateful night the world changed forever. Click on this cover to order your copy of Strangers in the Stable.

Well, that's it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you did, please pass my link on to your friends and family. If you've never read a Jim Laughter book, I believe you would enjoy any (and all) of them. I'd love to hear from you. See ya next time.....

Monday, October 10, 2011

They are at it again

I am flabbergasted and disgusted at the ignorance and audacity of this pack of scam artists preying on elderly citizens in the country and our apparent inability to do anything about it.

If you’ve read my last two postings, you know that I was the target of a scam artist, and that I filed an official report with the United States Secret Service and the Bessemer, Alabama police department. Both ordeals were frustrating days for me and I’m not sure I accomplished anything except to spend a lot of time on the phone.

But you’re not going to believe the phone call I got today. I know I couldn’t believe it when I answered the phone and another one of those Nigerian con artist thieves was on the line again. This time he said his name was Mr. Parkinson. I couldn’t understand him very clearly and had to have him repeat himself several times, but I finally to the bottom of it.

I guess my stock has gone down a little in the scammer’s eyes. Today I only won $150,000, and no new car. But the investment wasn’t as much either. Today the scam was for only $150, only 1/10th of 1 percent of the total prize. And all I had to do today was go to a local CVS drug store or Radio Shack and buy one of their Brown Dot gift cards, and then call the Nigerian crook back. He said when I got the gift card; his courier would come to my house to pick up the card in exchange for the $150,000 check.

Well, I really hate being taken for a fool, and to have these low-life, sewer-crawling, slime-bellied, vomit-eating Nigerian sons-of-hyenas call me twice in an eight day period just makes me crazy. But I try to be a gentleman, so I listened to this hairball until I just couldn’t take it any longer. So I told him that I knew who and what he was, then I told him what I thought he was, and in no uncertain terms. Then I hung up the phone because my time is valuable to me and I have better things to do than talk to a crook.

Then my phone rang again and this arrogant jerk weed asked me why I hung up on him as if he was doing me some kind of favor by assuming I was a total fool that can’t tell when my backside is on fire.

I didn’t spend much time on the phone with Mr. Parkinson because by this time I was really upset. I tried to pick my words carefully and small enough that this scavenger could understand. I don’t think they’ll call back, but you never know. Ignorance and arrogance run in packs.

But as Paul Harvey used to say, now for the rest of the story.

I thought that since these low-life dirt bags are using local businesses to finance their thievery, I should call CVS Pharmacy and Radio Shack and alert them to watch for elderly people coming in to their stores to buy gift cards, and to have their clerks ask these people why they are buying the card. Then if the person says they’re buying it because they’ve won money, the clerk can advise the senior citizen of the scam and advise them not to buy the card.

I spoke to the manager on duty at CVS Pharmacy and he took my call graciously and assured me he would pass the information on up his management ladder to send out a nationwide memo to all CVS Pharmacies. Radio Shack, on the other hand, was a different story. I guess their focus is on selling the merchandise, not just good customer service. The manager I spoke to wasn’t really interested in my story, so I asked for their corporate contact information. She gave me the names of their two district managers, which I called. I wasn’t able to speak to either manager, so I left my name and phone numbers and a message that I needed to speak to them about the possibility of their business being used as a part of a scam. I’ve still not heard back from either of them. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I wish I had been thinking more clearly when I was on the phone with Mr. Parkinson, and before I told him to never call me back, and before I called him every dirty name I could think of without actually cursing at him. If I had been thinking, I would have gone to CVS and purchased the gift card, but for $1.50 instead of $150. Then I would have called the police and had them at my house when the courier arrived to pick up the card in exchange for the bogus check.

But I wasn’t thinking straight. I was just plain old mad. I just wonder if these people are really as stupid as I think they are. I wonder if these fools will call me again next Friday. I think I’ll stay home by my phone and hope to hear from another Nigerian scumbag that preys on elderly U.S. citizens that don’t have anyone watching out for their interests.

Come on, sucker ….! Call me again… I dare you….

Let me invite you to visit my website to take a look at my books. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like. And if you have a Kindle or Nook reader or application, you can purchase any of my novels for only $2.99 (Strangers in the Stable children's book excluded).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm a new millionaire --- Part 2

I guess I should follow-up on my September 30 blog about the scam that a person with no moral fiber tried to pull on me. I got to thinking about this unscrupulous criminal that doesn’t have the backbone to get a real job or do honest work. Instead, this Nigerian crook sits in a rat hole somewhere and uses his talents to call elderly people around the United States to cheat them out of their savings, pensions, or social security. He has figured out that people are hurting, and they’re looking for easy escapes, so they make themselves vulnerable to scam artists. He smiles his wicked smile and laughs his wicked laugh while he brings tears to elderly Americans, possibly your mother or grandmother.

I really hate being taken advantage of or being treated like a fool. So I decided to do the only thing I could do and keep a clear conscious. Since I had the name of a person and an address in Bessemer, Alabama where the requested fraudulent funds were supposed to be sent, I decided it was my civic duty to report this illegal activity to the police.

Now you’d think that since a river of dirty money was pouring through Bessemer, Alabama, that a criminal activity reported to the Bessemer police department would garner a certain amount of concern and attention. So I called the Bessemer police department within an hour of hanging up from Mr. Robertson (see my September 30 blog for details about Mr. Robertson) and spoke to the officer on duty, explaining the events of my day. Her response was that since I live in Mounds, Oklahoma, the jurisdiction for this crime wasn’t in Bessemer, Alabama, but instead was the jurisdiction of the Mounds, Oklahoma police department. My response to her was the question, “Doesn’t it make more sense to have the police in the town where the crime is taking place to investigate instead of relying on a police department in a town with 3 cops, 120 people, 2 cows and one three-legged dog?” This didn’t move her either.

Well, I knew this person didn’t know what she was talking about. I figured she was high on donut sugar or pastry filling, so I decided to wait and call back the next day. I guess I lost track of time and forgot that it was Saturday, and I forgot that crime stops below the Mason-Dixon Line because there are no detectives on duty on the weekend. However, I did call early enough Saturday to speak to a very nice desk sergeant that hadn’t had time to overdose on Krispy Kreme yet. Although she wouldn’t take my report, she did refer me to the Bessemer police department detective division and gave me the name of the detective that handles these sorts of things. Oh joy, I was making progress! So I called the detective division, but being Saturday, I could only leave my name and phone number, briefly outline the fraudulent activity, and hope for a call from down south so justice could prevail.

Monday arrived and I was home all day working in my office. I figured I’d get that phone call so we could start the ball rolling to stop at least a little piece of this fraudulent activity. But the call didn’t come Monday, regardless how diligently I waited by the phone. And it didn’t come Tuesday either. So I decided that perhaps since the Bessemer detective department didn’t work on the weekend, perhaps their answering service didn’t either. So I called again and left my name and number, along with the details of the crime, then sat back and waited for my phone to ring. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.

When I hadn’t heard from the Bessemer police department by Wednesday, I began to wonder if Bessemer, Alabama actually existed. When I can get the squirrel in my magneto cage to run fast enough, it generates enough electricity to power my computer so I can access a miracle of technology called the internet where I can look up information all over the world. It’s truly an amazing tool but I’m not sure it will ever catch on.

Anyway, I managed to look up Bessemer, Alabama and discovered they have a city government and everything, so I sent an email to their mayor.

Mr. Mayor,

I've contacted your police department several times since this past Friday to report a case of interstate wire fraud being operated out of your city. I spoke to one of your receptionists at the police department on Friday and gave her the details of the wire fraud headquartered in your city, but she didn't seem overly interested. I called back on Saturday and spoke to a very nice lady that gave me the phone number to your detective division and referred me to Sgt _____. I've called his number several times, but it is picked up by another officer's voice mail whose name I can't recall at the moment. However, no matter how often I leave my name and contact phone number, no one from your police department has returned my calls.

I guess my question is, are you and your police department interested in crime taking place in your city?

If you'd like to read a tongue-in-cheek article I wrote about the crime taking place in your city, please read it at I can also tell you that this exact same fraud was perpetrated on a friend of mine at almost the same time it happened to me. The details in my blog are correct, complete with name and address of the criminal operating not far from your police department.

So Mr. Mayor, the ball is in your court now. Let's see if you can run with it.

Jim Laughter

Well, needless to say, when I got home Wednesday, I had a message on my answering machine from the Bessemer police department, and on Thursday (today) I received a personal phone call from the detective I’d been trying to contact. He listened to my story then told me that this was a clear case of wire fraud. He told me that he had indeed looked into my complaint, and that the address where I was supposed to send the fraudulent money existed, and that a little old lady actually lived there. Oh boy, progress! Then he dropped the second shoe and told me that since this was a federal crime, it was out of his jurisdiction and I would have to file a report with the United States Secret Service. And since I had received the phone call in my home in Mounds, Oklahoma, I would have to report the crime to the Secret Service office in Tulsa. That way they could get the paperwork started, and they would notify their office in Birmingham, Alabama, who would in turn contact the Bessemer police department, so they could drive down the street to see if Mary Robinson was indeed receiving fraudulently wired money.

So today (Thursday – six days after the fraudulent phone call and my first attempt to report it) I called the United States Secret Service office in Tulsa to file my report and spoke to a receptionist that I’m fairly sure was a blood relative of the first receptionist I’d spoken to in Bessemer. Every time I tried to file my report, she would spin off on a tangent and try to explain to me the ins and outs of the interstate law. She wasn’t an agent herself and she refused to connect me to an agent. When the dust settled, she told me that I would have to contact the Secret Service office in Birmingham, Alabama to file my complaint so they could contact the Bessemer police department to start an official investigation. She gave me the number I needed and told me to ask for the duty agent.

Boy, these long distance phone calls started to get annoying. But being the good citizen that I am, I called the Birmingham office of the United States Secret Service and asked the receptionist to let me speak to the duty agent. She put me right through to his voice mail where I again left my name, phone number, and a detailed message. It only took another hour for an agent from Birmingham to call. I don’t remember his name, but by the tenor of his voice, I’m pretty sure he was at least 20, maybe 25 years old with at least 30 years of investigative experience. But he was a nice kid, and he informed me that he had indeed contacted the Bessemer police department and they would launch an official investigation into my reported case of wire fraud. He didn’t seem to think that anything would come of it, and he wasn’t sure if they’d be able to prosecute anyone even if they were able to justify an arrest.

Well, that’s my follow-up report. I just want you to know that if you receive a phone call from Mr. Robertson like I did telling you that you’ve won 2.5 million dollars and a new Mercedes Benz from the Publishers Clearing House sweepstake, and all you have to do is wire $299 to an address in Bessemer, Alabama, I have already taken care filing the report. So enjoy your money and new car. I’ve already done the dirty work.


I'd love for you to visit my website to catch up on all of the good stuff going on in my camp, particularly the release of my latest two new books. My murder suspense, The Apostle Murders, released July 15th. It is a fast-moving modern-day suspense based on the martyrdom of the original apostle of Jesus Christ. And releasing October 1st was my new children's book, Strangers in the Stable. This full-color illustrated book a look at the nativity on the night of Christ's birth, and is seen from the viewpoint of the animals in the stable.

So visit my website and place your orders. With exception to Strangers in the Stable, all of my books are available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm a new millionaire

I can only assume you saw my post on Facebook announcing that I won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes today. Yep, it’s true. It is the dream of every American to answer his phone and hear those magic words, “Sir, you are a millionaire.”

That’s exactly what happened to me today. I was sitting at my desk around noon slugging away at a new book I’m writing when my phone rang and Mr. Robertson, a manager with the United Parcel Service called to say that a UPS truck was on route to my house with a certified check for 2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes Benz automobile, both being escorted by a U.S. Marshall to ensure both my safety and the safety of my prizes. He provided me with a UPS tracking number, 1945886201UPS, his UPS supervisor identification number, and his personal office and cell phone numbers.

Being the curious person I am, I asked Mr. Robertson how I happened to win this fabulous prize, and he told me that since I paid my utility bills on time and was never late, the power company that supplies electricity to my house automatically entered my name into the sweepstakes. Now that’s service, especially since I live in an all-expenses paid house at my church and don’t have any utility bills in my own name. Must be a miracle from the Lord, I thought. He knows I could use the money and a new car.

Oh joy, what a day! I remembered 1977 when I won the Reader’s Digest grand prize of a brand new Chevy Vega. Unfortunately, I was in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Okinawa, Japan at the time working with the top secret spy plane, the SR-71, and couldn’t leave the island to claim my prize. Alas, it went to the runner up. Just my luck. A Chevy Vega and I missed it!

But today wasn’t a Chevy Vega. It was a certified check for 2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes Benz automobile, and it was at a gas station only four miles from my house where the UPS truck was filling its tank, waiting for me to call and confirm that I had my receipt.

What receipt, you ask? My Western Union receipt, of course. Haven’t you ever won 2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes Benz?

“But I don’t have a receipt,” I said to Mr. Robertson, “and I don’t know what kind of receipt you mean.”

“Oh that’s ok, Mr. Laughter,” Mr. Robertson said. “Do you live near a Western Union?”

“Yes, I do,” I assured him. “There’s a Western Union about six miles from my house.”

Mr. Robertson assured me that all I had to do is go to the Western Union and pickup my receipt. And to attain my receipt, all I had to do was fill out a money transfer request and send $299 to cover handling charges to Mrs. Mary Robinson (which I thought was oddly similar to his name) at 643 7th Avenue, Bessemer, Alabama 35020. Once the money was sent and she confirmed receipt, all I had to do was wait for the UPS truck to arrive with my 2.5 million dollar certified check and brand new Mercedes Benz automobile. But this $299 wasn’t a fee. Oh no, not at all. Mr. Robertson assured me that the US Marshall would reimburse my $299 when they delivered the car. Well if you can’t trust a U.S. Marshall, who can you trust?

“It’s that simple?” I asked. “All I have to do is wire $299 to Mrs. Mary Robinson in Bessemer, Alabama, and you’ll deliver 2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes Benz automobile to my home? And that truck and automobile is at a gas station only four miles from my house waiting for confirmation that I’ve sent the money?”

“Yes sir, that’s absolutely correct,” Mr. Robertson assured me. “How long do you think it will take for you to wire the money, sir?”

I didn’t hesitate. Boy, oh boy, I know a good deal when I hear one, and 2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes Benz automobile for a reimbursable $299 fee was a good deal.

“Give me an hour, Mr. Robertson,” I said. “I’m still in my pajamas, working at home, so I’ll need a few minutes to get myself together.”

“An hour, sir?” Mr. Robertson asked. “You can’t send the money any faster than that? I’d hate for you to miss this opportunity.”

“But Mr. Robertson,” I said. “If I’ve won the sweepstakes, it’s mine, and the only way I can miss it is to decline it. Isn’t that right?”

“Well, yes sir, that is correct. And if you’d like to decline your prize, just say your name three times and we’ll move on to the alternate winner.” Just say my name three times? It reminded me of the movie Beetlejuice where innocent people had to say the ghost's name three times to free him from his bondage. I'm a good citizen and didn't want to take the chance of releasing something like that on the world.

“Oh no, I certainly don’t want to do that,” I said. “Just give me an hour and I’ll call you when I have my receipt.”

This pleased Mr. Robertson very much. He was such a nice man. From the accent of his voice, it sounded like he was from Bangladesh, or maybe Madagascar. Could have been Texas. Foreign accents throw me a little. I’ve never heard of a Bangladeshi named Robertson, but who can tell with all of the job out-sourcing in the American marketplace nowadays?

I only had one more question for Mr. Robertson. “Mr. Robertson, what if the UPS truck and the U.S. Marshall can’t find my house? What should I do then?”

“Oh, that’s easy, Mr. Laughter,” he answered. “Then all you’d have to do is go back to the Western Union office and they’ll refund your $299. No questions asked."

Wow, what a deal. This was really a nice guy. I receive a lot of packages from UPS. Being an author, I receive and ship books quite often, and I use their services regularly. All of the local drivers know me so I wasn’t worried about the delivery truck not being able to find my address. And I didn’t want to miss that new car. After all, my KIA is 3 years old already.

We hung up from our conversation. I was elated that I had won 2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes Benz. Did I mention that Mr. Robertson said this car came with three years of prepaid full-coverage insurance? I think I might have missed that detail. Sorry. I'm getting forgetful. According to my kids, old age is creeping up on me.

I knew I had a few minutes to spare because my bedroom is only across the hall from my office, so it wouldn’t take me long to get out of my pajamas and into my blue jeans. I was so excited that I decided I wouldn’t even put on any socks; just my sandals because I was a millionaire now and could dress any way I want to. But in the meantime, I decided to make a few phone calls, just in case this wonderful windfall might not be completely legitimate.

I called the local UPS store and asked them to verify the tracking number of my 2.5 million dollar certified check delivery, and that they had a truck parked at a gas station only four miles from my house. Can you imagine my dismay when I learned that my tracking number was not properly formatted? “Oh no,” I said to the UPS clerk, “what am I to do?” Well, being the wonderful service organization that UPS is, the clerk connected me to the national UPS tracking service. But again, much to my dismay, the UPS number wasn’t properly formatted and the UPS had no record of Mr. Robertson or his personal identification number.

I thought, does Mr. Robertson know that UPS tracking numbers are 16-digits long now, and they start with 01 instead of 19? Maybe I should call him back and confirm my information. So I dialed the number he gave me, which by the area code I recognized as an Oklahoma number. Much to my surprise, the phone rang in a private residence in Duncan, Oklahoma and was answered by a very nice lady that did not know Mr. Robertson either. The lady and I had a very pleasant conversation about Duncan because my wife and I had just returned from the annual Chisholm Trail Book Festival hosted by that lovely little town. We also discussed Mr. Robertson giving her phone number out as his own. How odd? She said she might call the police and report it, just in case.

What was I to do? The UPS couldn’t confirm my tracking number, and the lady in Duncan didn’t seem to know what was going on. Perhaps I should call the Better Business Bureau. Maybe they would know how to get hold of Mr. Robertson.

“A scam!” I exclaimed when the lady at the BBB said they’ve had several people call them about the very same phone call claiming they’d won 2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes Benz automobile. But that’s my car and money, I thought. Why is Mr. Robertson offering it to people all over town. I wondered if the UPS truck was parked only four miles from everybody's house.

Wilma, my wife, showed up about that time. I explained our good fortune to her, and that with 2.5 million dollars, we would use that money to pay off all of our credit cards, as far as it would go, and if there was any left, she could use it to buy her own 40-year anniversary present that I forgot to buy for her last week. Guess I am getting just a little forgetful.

I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t take my good new serious. Instead, this woman that I've loved for forty years wrestled me to the floor and took my car keys and checkbook away from me, and wouldn’t let me go to Western Union to send $299 to Mrs. Mary Robinson (still oddly similar, isn’t it?) in Bessemer, Alabama. She sat on top of me, and pulled my ears, and told me that I may have been the unwitting victim of a scam artist.

“Mr. Robertson?” I asked. “That nice man? Not Mr. Robertson.”

I was heartbroken, devastated, demoralized, and disillusioned. Did this mean I wasn’t going to get my prize? Could that nice Mr. Robertson be a scammer, a dishonest person that calls elderly people at home in the middle of the day to defraud them of their meager savings? Surely not. “Not Mr. Robertson, Lord,” I prayed. “Say it isn’t so…!”

Thirty-minutes after hanging up from Mr. Robertson, he called again to say that Mrs. Robinson (there’s that name again) in Bessemer, Alabama had not received the $299 wire from Western Union. What could I say? Wilma had my car keys, she had pulled my ears, and the battery is dead on my truck. So I did the only thing I could do. I told Mr. Robertson that I had called both the local UPS store and their national headquarters, and that neither he nor the tracking number he gave to me existed, and that the lady in Duncan, Oklahoma would like for him to stop giving out her phone number. I also told him that I had called the Better Business Bureau and they were aware of his scam. I also told him that he was a liar and a thief and that he’d better never call me again. Then just to show that I am a true gentleman, I told him that he could personally take my 2.5 million dollar certified check and my brand new Mercedes Benz automobile and drive it up his ….. driveway…..

So for all of my friends and relatives that I’ve not seen in 15-years, it won’t do any good to call and tell me about your sister needing a kidney transplant, and if you only had $10,000 you’d pay for it yourself. Sorry, I didn’t get the money. Call me in 15 years. We'll try again.

I’m very sad. I’m not a millionaire. Oh well, I wasn’t one yesterday either. Guess I better get back to writing my new book and try to get rich the old fashion way -- by working for it.

P.S. This is a true story. Every detail I've outlined in these paragraphs is absolutely true. Well, almost. Wilma didn't really wrestle me down, take my keys, and pull my ears. But she could have if she had wanted to.


Hey folks, my new children's book Strangers in the Stable is available October 1, 2011. It's a wonderful telling of the nativity on the night of Christ's birth, seen from the viewpoint of the animals in the stable. Visit my website at for details.

And don't forget my newest novel, The Apostle Murders, a suspense thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat while you watch a serial killer recreate the martyrdom of the original apostles of Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I'm Tired

I don't intend to post political and religious diatribe on this blog unless it's something that really stirs, angers, or inspires me, which is why I've decided to post the following article written by for Senator Robert A. Hall. I think he says thing in this article that many people feel but won't say because they're afraid of recrimination, ridicule, or rejection. I may be shooting myself in the foot, but I'm afraid that with exception to his comment about global warming, which I believe in, I agree with Robert's point of view. So here goes ....

"I'm 63 and I'm Tired"

Robert A. Hall is the actor who plays the coroner on CSI... if you watch that show. He also is a Marine Vietnam War veteran, and served five terms in the Massachusetts StateSenate.

by Robert A. Hall

I'm 63. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I've worked hard since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven't called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there's no retirement in sight, and I'm tired. Very tired.

I'm tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.

I'm tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to "keep people in their homes." Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I'm willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.

I'm tired of being told how bad America is by left-wing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood Entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities Americaoffers. In thirty years, if they get their way, theUnited States will have the economy ofZimbabwe , the freedom of the press of Chinathe crime and violence of Mexico , the tolerance for Christian people of Iran , and the freedom of speech of Venezuela .

I'm tired of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and Shari'a law tells them to.

I'm tired of being told that "race doesn't matter" in the post-racial world of Obama, when it's all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of U
.S. Senators from Illinois.

I think it's very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an all-knowing government.

I'm tired of a news media that thinks Bush's fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but thinks that Obama's, at triple the cost, were wonderful; that thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress; that picked over every line of Bush's military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his; that slammed Palin, with two years as governor, for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever. Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn't vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004

I'm tired of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures" we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America , while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.

I'm tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore's, and if you're greener than Gore, you're green enough.

I'm tired of illegal aliens being called "undocumented workers," especially the ones who aren't working, but are living on welfare or crime. What's next? Calling drug dealers, "Undocumented Pharmacists"? And, no, I'm not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic, and it's been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I'm willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak English, doesn't have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military.... Those are the citizens we need.

I'm tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years and still are? Not even close. So here's the deal. I'll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we'll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.

I'm tired of people telling
me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers; bums are bipartisan. And I'm tired of people telling me we need bipartisanship. I live in Illinois , where the "Illinois Combine" of Democrats has worked to loot the public for years. Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama's cabinet.

I'm tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

Speaking of poor, I'm tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn't have that in 1970, but we didn't know we were "poor." The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

I'm real tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I'm tired. But I'm also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making. I'm just sorry for my granddaughter.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Heroes Among Us

We all heard the sad news a few months ago about the death of Mr. Frank Buckles, the last surviving veteran of World War One. He was truly an American hero. But someone I know, a friend of mine, posted a statement on Facebook that struck me the wrong way. And even though his statement was well intended, I'm afraid I took exception to it. His statement was that he wished there were more men like Mr. Buckles for our young people to look up to.

My contention is that there are more men like Mr. Buckles; more than we can possibly imagine. And not just men. We have numerous women standing in harm's way every day. Anyone brave enough to wear the American uniform and fight an enemy that can't be seen or even clearly identified certainly qualifies as an American hero.

Heroes aren’t born–they happen. Heroes emerge from situations. A combat soldier doesn’t go into battle with the intention of saving his friends from a fortified enemy. He doesn’t plan to risk his own life in an attempt to save fellow soldiers trapped in a crossfire of enemy bullets. No, heroes are not born. They rise from the shadows and background, and they risk everything in a single moment of selflessness for the benefit of others.

Let's not hang our hats on the memory of just one man. Let's honor that man. Let's respect his service. But at the same time, next time you see one of our men or women in uniform, take a moment to thank him or her for their sacrifice.

And while I'm venting, let me say one more thing about our military heroes. Not all heroes are still in uniform. We have veterans living among us that only wore the uniform for a few years but who stood the chance of paying the ultimate price of freedom. Many of them served in Viet Nam, then came home to disgraceful demonstrations with self-righteous knot-heads calling them all kinds of terrible names, and accusing them of unthinkable acts. Some of those veterans live on our city streets and sleep in our public parks, forgotten and abandoned by the very people (us) that they fought for. Look around you. Chance are there is a veteran within 100 yards of you right now.

Well, that's my vent for today. I'm not asking you to kiss a veteran, but I am asking you to respect the sacrifice they made. Whether they were wounded or not doesn't matter. It's the uniform that matters, and what that uniform stands for, which is greater than any single individual.


If you have young people in your home, or if you just like a good, clean, sci/fi adventure that will touch your heart and fire your imagination, I welcome you to read an excerpt from Escape to Destiny, the first book in our Galactic Axia young adult adventure series. Also, if you'll click on this cover, you can read an interview we did with Beyond Worlds magazine.