Monday, January 29, 2018

The Secret Keeper by Carole P. Roman (featured on

I had a secret. It was told to me in the strictest confidence, and I honored the promise to keep it confidential for many years.
It was shocking when I heard it, over fifty years ago, born in a different time when a person could fall from grace and shame her parents. It sprang from a period where the act of one could reflect the perception of decency for an entire family. Without even the easy access to social media, Facebook, Twitter, even a telephone, a single step outside the accepted norm of society could be identified and then telegraphed with gossip throughout an entire community.
I don’t remember why my mother shared this secret, although I remember exactly where we were- in a supermarket, picking up a last minute item for dinner.
My mother was an honorable person and I think, carried the burden of this secret heavily. I had just turned thirteen, and it might have been one of our first grown-up exchanges, even used as a cautionary example of teenage rebellion. Perhaps, I asked about something I saw that passed between my mother and her older sister, or I witnessed a dark look from my grandmother and she sought to justify what I questioned.
There was a family secret had ruined my mom’s life. When it happened, my mother suffered a breakdown at sixteen and did not finish high school. Her entire family suffered a catastrophic meltdown that caused a schism. My grandfather disowned my aunt. My mom went into a funk that lasted months where she stayed in her room and cried. She didn’t tell me that part- I was to piece things together as I grew older.
My mom shared with me that my aunt had a baby out of wedlock when she was a teen. It was during the war, and the boy was a soldier. My furious grandfather refused to talk to her, said she was dead to him, they sent her to another one of my aunts whose husbands served as a chaplain on an army base in the middle of the country. Kansas City, Missouri- the other side of the world. They arranged for her to stay there, have the baby in secret, and give it up for adoption.
It was never discussed in the family, ever. I was close with all my cousins, as close as siblings, but I never told them. I didn’t mention it to my aunt, who was just about my favorite person in the world. But I never forgot this baby, my cousin. You see, I worried about her.
Through the years, she stayed in my heart. I thought about her birthday, and if she liked her parents. I wondered where she lived. I imagined her as a cowboy or a farmer’s daughter. After all, she was born in cattle country, I thought.
Every time I traveled, I speculated if we’d ever meet and never know we were related. Would we instinctively recognize each other, share some shared trait? Recognize our parents in our noses, or eyes?
Maybe our kids would find each other in some great cosmic coincidence.
When my mom died after a long illness, I told my aunt I knew about the baby.I said, everyone was gone, but her….and me…and maybe the baby. My beloved aunt was in the final stages of renal failure. What did she want me to do with the secret?
She was quiet, the silence between us was thick. She said she never wanted her children to know. She was afraid they would lose respect for her. I wanted to argue. I wanted to explain that I loved her so much, but I was losing respect for her for not wanting to share the story.
“Do you think about her?” I asked.
“Every day,” she replied. I heard the pain in my aunt’s voice. I wanted to tell her a child, any child, is a gift, not a shameful thing, but I think both our throats were tight with tears.
When my aunt died, I felt weighted by the secret. My unknown cousin owned real estate in my heart that I could not explain. I felt as if I was responsible for her as if I were her guardian, even though she was older than me. She was important to me. Well, she was. I became the caretaker of her memory.
One of aunt’s daughters died suddenly. She was my closest cousin. We were devastated, her younger sister most of all. I felt her pain and knew she was feeling alone, missing her sister.
I also passed an important milestone. I had turned sixty. What if I passed away and nobody told the remaining siblings of the secret? Was the promise to my aunt more important than the responsibility to my cousins…all of them? What if she found them? Would they deny her because of their lack of knowledge of her existence? What if they lost her again? It preyed on my mind.
My emotional side obsessed about it, my logical side estimated her to be almost seventy. What were the chances, anyway? She might not even be alive anymore.
My son called me over to his desk one morning, his voice puzzled. We had taken DNA tests in the fall to identify our ethnicity. I wanted them to be able to chart our familial progress through Europe for my grandchildren.
“Do you know this woman?” he asked.
I looked at her name without reading the caption. I shook my head.
“She says she’s your cousin. First cousin.”
“No, I know all my…she can’t be related to me…” I paused. Chills ran up my spine. “Wait, how old is she and where was she born.”
“She’s seventy and she was born in Kansas City, Missouri…”
I didn’t let him finish. I pushed him out of the way and wrote my cousin the first of many exchanges that would follow. I looked at the scientific evidence of our shared DNA, the ethnicity that defined us, the blood that bound us for all our lives.
“I know you. I know all about you.” I typed furiously. I told her her name. What my aunt had called her.
She wrote back, “Nobody but me knows that name. Are you really my cousin?”
“Yes. I’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”

Read inspiring stories like this one on  
Follow the link below to find this article and more!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Book of the Week: I Am Tan by Michele Rose

       I Am Tan, is a children’s book written by Michele Rose, aimed at helping young children, to better understand, race, color and stereotypes. The story follows a mixed-race child throughout the course of a day, as he seeks answers in regards to who he is, and how he should identify. It uses simple stereotypes that children from approximately five to nine years old, can easily understand. The author does hope that parents will expand upon this discussion, as their child grows older.
       The book is available through Amazon, and is now also available on audio, through Audible, Amazon and iTunes. The audiobook is fully dramatized, and is a great accompaniment to the e-book or paperback editions. Here is the link to I Am Tan:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Meet: Alex R Carver

Alex R Carver

As I gear up for the release of Into The Fire, book 4 in my Inspector Stone Mysteries series, hitting the virtual shelves in March as long as everything goes well, it seems that this is a good time to let the reading world know that they can get books 1-3 in the series.

There are two ways for you to get the series: as individual titles, starting with Where There’s A Will (available for free at all major ebook retailers) or as a boxset which gives all 3 titles for just $3.

Where There's a Will (Book 1) (Free)

The kidnapping of a child on the way home from school is every parents worst nightmare, for the Keatings it's no nightmare, it's a reality.

A reality made worse when it is suspected the Russian Mafia is behind the kidnapping to force Owen Keating to sell his business. 

Are the rumours true, or is there something else going on? (Takes you to a selection of retailer links where you can pick your preferred store to get the book from.)


An Eye For An Eye (Book 2) ($0.99)

A sudden surge in murders across Branton leaves Nathan Stone wondering if the town has gone made, or if they could all be the work of one man. If so who is it, and why is he killing such a diverse group of people. (Takes you to a selection of retailer links where you can pick your preferred store to get the book from.)


A Perfect Pose (Book 3) ($2.99)

The murder of a teen model draws Nathan Stone back to work after the tragic events of An Eye For An Eye. 

When rumours surface of abuse at the studio where Ellen Powers worked, Nathan must investigate whether that is why she was murdered, or if her death is connected to her pregnancy. (Takes you to a selection of retailer links where you can pick your preferred store to get the book from.)


Inspector Stone Mysteries Vol 1 ($2.99 – save 25% by buying the boxset) (Takes you to a selection of retailer links where you can pick your preferred store to get the book from.)


In addition to the Inspector Stone Mysteries I have a serial killer thriller set in a small English village, Written In Blood is the first book in a two-part story about a village that finds itself in the grip of a nightmare when its daughters are targeted by a brutal killer.

Written In Blood ($2.99)


A peaceful village torn apart by murder, mistrust, and a desire for revenge.

When Oakhurst's daughters begin to turn up, brutally murdered and with accusatory words carved into their skin, the residents of the small, close-knit community are unwilling to believe that one of their own might be a killer.

Suspicion falls on the village's newest resident, Zack Wild, attractive, charming, author of violent crime novels, and possessor of a dark history; he seems like the perfect suspect.

As the investigation continues, the evidence against Wild mounts, but is prejudice against the newcomer affecting the judgment of Sergeant Mitchell, Constable Turner thinks so; she is determined to bring the killer to justice, no matter who it is, or what she has to do.

Who will be proved right, and will they catch the killer before he can strike again?


The final book currently available from me is a departure from my usual mysteries and thrillers as I step into the world of space-opera sci-fi.

An Unwanted Inheritance:  Cas Dragunov #1 ($2.99)

Cas Dragunov knew his brother's plea for help could only spell trouble.

Nikolai created more messes than he could ever clear up, but family was family, and Cas couldn't turn his back on him. Alas, he arrived on Dormero Station to find Nikolai dead, but his debt to local crime boss, Valen Massio, very much alive.

On the hook for the money, Cas is stuck working for Massio to pay it off. It's a simple job, all he has to do is deliver the package that got his brother killed, while evading both Massio's bloodthirsty rival and the Federal Security Service.

Piece of cake, right?

Monday, January 15, 2018

A note and new animated video from Clifford J. Tasner

The latest animated video I wrote and produced for the Healthy California campaign just got released this morning.  It's called LESS.  It's about how much the US pays for healthcare compared to so many other countries that have universal, single-payer healthcare - and how much we'd save if we had Medicare for All. I was inspired by the wonderful Schoolhouse Rock videos I watched a child.  Our goal was to create something that sounded like it's of a piece with those delightful songs and cartoons from the seventies.  

You can see the video on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter  You can watch all four of the videos I've done so far at

Here are the talented folks who contributed to LESS:

Jason Paige - Lead Vocals
Holly Pitrago & Christy Crowl - Backing Vocals
Wil b., Rap
Phil Feather - Alto Sax
Mike Nelson - Tenor Sax
Peter Olstad - Trumpet
John Grab - Trombone
David Arana - Keyboards
Johann Frank - Guitar
Mike Valerio - Bass
Chris Wabich - Drums
Paul Berolzheimer - Engineer
Paper Panther Productions - Animation

Enjoy and feel free to share if this is an issue you care about.  There are a bunch more of these in the pipeline including a hip-hop song about the Pharmaceutical industry!

Clifford J. Tasner

Eugenia Chu's interview with me on "Let's Say Hello To Our Neighbors" on Podfire Radio!

Check out Eugenia Chu's interview with me on "Let's Say Hello To Our Neighbors" on Podfire Radio! The interview is the 3rd 'Press Play' button down.
The interview center's around the book, Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) and it's author, Eugenia Chu and her culture. It's a really fun interview!

Let's Say Hello To Our Neighbors interview with Eugenia Chu (3rd play link):

Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) by Eugenia Chu on Amazon:

Eugenia Chu:

Friday, January 12, 2018


This is from a friend of mine who is promoting her new game, THE WRITE WORD GAME for SENIORS:

Since I have been volunteering for years at a local retirement community, I have designed THE WRITE WORD GAME, an interactive 1-hour word game to engage those 55 years old & older, especially if they live at an independent or assisted living center. Please check out my blog & pass this inexpensive social enrichment program info on to any facility or individual who may be interested in this fun, entertaining, & educational game that they can enjoy! Sign up for a sample game to play at no cost or follow the blog. Having played it over 2 years, I am amazed how well it is welcomed and appreciated at Holiday Retirement Madrona Hills in Salem, OR.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Lost Art of Storytelling - FEATURED ON MEDIUM.COM by Carole P. Roman


The Lost Art of Storytelling

My Grandmother Kept the Past Alive

Graduation picture of my grandmother when she received her teaching degree in Europe.

My grandmother lived with us. Personally, I think it was the other way around, and we lived with her. She was the heart and soul of our home. 
My mom worked with my dad in their hardware store and Bobbie, as we called her, ran the house. She was up early in the morning making breakfast, preparing our lunches, and helping us get ready for school. 
Bobbie was always old, I think. She was proud of the fact she was born in the century before mine, in the year 1898. Her father died when she was three, and she had a gothic upbringing. Her mother, my great-grandmother worked as a cook in a college, probably one of the only respectable professions open to women in Austria-Hungary, pre-World War I. All three children were farmed out to relatives while she worked to support them.
I know her mother, my great-great-grandmother, ran an inn. Seems I am descended from a long line of working women. I like to believe my work ethic is in tattooed in our DNA. 
My grandmother became a teacher and traveled to this country when Calvin Coolidge was president, marrying my grandfather, a widower with two kids under five, in an arranged marriage. 
Obviously, she couldn’t teach in the states; she didn’t know English well. By the time, I was born, she spoke perfect English. She regularly beat the pants off me at Scrabble and loved to gloat that she only had two weeks of night school.
Long story short, she ended up buying a candy store in Newark, ran numbers for the infamous Dutch Schultz (my mom was almost born in Newark jail- Dutch bailed her out just in time.)
Widowed, the year my mom got married, my parents moved in with my grandmother so my mom would not be alone as my dad traveled the country earning a living. He was a traveling salesman- but that’s another story in itself.
My earliest memories of life are my grandmother singing as she cooked, holding up a dripping wooden spoon and stopping to tell us one of her stories.
Bobbie was filled with stories. She remembered everything from her life in Europe with a crystal clarity. Fascinated, I would hang on her every word as she told the recounting of my great-great-grandfather being forcibly conscripted at the age of twelve by an edict of Tzar Nicolas I, in or about 1825. He would serve a mandatory 30-year enlistment as a cook, marrying my great-great grandmother when he was in his forties, and she was a teen in an arranged marriage. They went on to have fourteen children.
She talked about her father who died of tuberculosis leaving three children and my great-grandmother pregnant with a fourth. 
She told horrific stories of the war, that first World War that shook her world. She whispered of how her grandmother hid her from the invading Russians, saving her from being raped. She remembered trench warfare, smoke, and gunfire. While they grew certain foods, had eggs from the chickens they kept, she talked of the deprivations, the utter destruction of her home during the catastrophic war.
Most of my cousins groaned when she said, “Did I ever tell you about the time…”
She did, and often. Her stories, as she called them woke my imagination and I didn’t mind. They never changed, she stayed faithful to her truth, and I knew most of them by heart. 
Her stories were not parables to learn lessons. They never seemed to have a beginning or end. She did not boast about her accomplishments, other than learning English. They were recollections of her experiences, her life, and the people she loved. 
Most of the time, I think her stories were to keep the memory of those she lost alive, or a way of life that dissolved in her new home. They were poor people, and I can’t imagine what my great-grandmother was thinking when she sent her eldest daughter to America, never to see her again. My eyes sting with the thought. 
Herman, her brother, was shot in the head for his horse during the second world war. Malka, her little sister, died from breast cancer. My great-grandmother disappeared behind the iron curtain post-WW II, to die in a nursing home, alone. To her eternal regret, my grandmother could never get her out. Any nieces or nephews that lived in their small town perish the inferno of the second world war.
I think my love of history was born listening to my grandmother. She kept the past vibrant, her detailed observations and anecdotes creating a panoramic view of the past no cinema could replicate. She ignited the fire in me to read as much as I could as if to verify what she told me. When learning in school, the lessons jumped from the pages to my imagination coming together giving the past definition and understanding.
I loved her company, and often, when we sat together toward the end of her life, I’d beg her for another story. She’d say, “What are you going to do when I’m gone?”
“Miss you,” I’d respond. And you know what, I do with all my heart.

My favorite snap of my grandmother in her apron, as she cooked.