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Friday, March 24th 2017
Two liberal friends accused my husband of "oppressing me" because I am a mother of four.
Posted Fri Mar 24 2017 13:31
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What they see.

What I see.

At first I thought they were kidding. After all, I gladly consented on all accounts. Does being married to someone I actually like (perhaps too much) make me oppressed? According to my uber liberal friends the answer is absolutely yes...if I keep getting pregnant. And that was no joke.

I tried not to laugh too hard. After all, they were concerned. But I wish they'd channel their worry on truly oppressed females.

White American Feminists supposedly care for all females but fail to address black child brides in Niger or the black fourteen-year-old girl who was knocked up by 20-year-old Alton Sterling* before he was killed by cops in Baton Rouge, July 2016. But that's another issue--What black men with prison records do is of no consequence. Because they are just as I am. No freedom, no choice.

"He's oppressing you! Four kids is way too much!" they insisted.

When I assured them that I had a hand in my own feminist demise they dismissed it as a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. I am a brainwashed conservative well-churched female who has been socialized to submit to my Roman Catholic husband. The fact that he's former military and doesn't kiss up to them only exasperates the problem.

And he's pasty white. I think they'd be more gracious if he had a little fun in his gene pool. Worse yet, he's smarter than they are and that really offends them. Although he didn't grow up in an especially blessed household, he's successful, and doesn't apologize for it. And that's incredibly irritating to the white-guilt set.

Last time someone asked Joe about reparations for the descendants of American slaves, he replied, "If they're demanding reparations, then they can pay me for the death of three white relatives who fought for the North." That was the end of that conversation...

When our Ravens Rolls arrived at the table, my increasingly agitated friends continued with more unfounded accusations, "And Mike Pence is demanding that every woman in American registers her periods online."

I giggled, "That's right! Menstruation will be stopped and women who are having sex and still having a period will be punished! Did your Huff Post bother to cite whom will be overseeing the menstrual spread sheets? I don't know much about Pence, but he seems a heck of a lot more decent than Trump...If Trump had a heart attack and Pence was sworn in accordingly, I wouldn't be terribly upset."

"He hates women! Pence and Trump both hate women!"

"Trump likes women...too much, I think."

Of course, this was also shortly after Trump's first week in office, so then I had to hear about how women all over the world were going to die because Trump was elected. "How so?" I asked.

"He put a ban on overseas women's health funds! Can you believe that?"

"Why should we be taking care of women overseas when there are women dying here? And I'm pretty sure this is about American taxpayers funding overseas abortions, isn't it?"

"No! That's just the story he's putting out there to cover up the fact that female health does not concern him!"

"Maybe your right. But why should we be trying to fix everybody else's problems with our tax money when there is plenty to fix here. Perhaps Americans who want free abortions overseas should send those groups some money...I'm sure they'd take it."

The lunch just went downhill from there. It was the most brief and heated ever, and I've been lunching with them for twenty-three years. I just don't see any clarity in their anger. Perhaps having a conservative in office has emboldened me, but I'm sick of just sitting there while being shot at.

I'm turning 43 next month and will no longer spend time with people who won't respect who I am or how I choose to live. Shunned by other working married women who might be less smug if they'd practice getting knocked up a little more...

Breeding with someone who loves you is a blessing and watching that love grow into four wonderful little people has not been a burden, it's been a bonus. Even in the quiet hours I have at least one pair of arms around me, someone that wants to brush my hair, or paint my toes.

T-Rex (5) made me a lovely sterile thirst-quenching gift yesterday...a blue surgical glove full of Frostie Root Beer. And our thirteen-year-old surprised me by making dinner last night- Nachos! (not my idea of a healthy dinner, but whatever). Our ten year old, who emulates my hubby with such inherent likeness (read: grouchy) woke me up at 11pm last night with one more hug and an "i love you, mom". And this morning before school, Q-Tip (7) made me a flying Hummer-like Lego vehicle covered with lasers and machine guns (then got it thoroughly tangled up in my hair).

We'll be sending our youngest off to kindergarten in the fall...but if Joe hadn't taken so long to find me then I may have even been more happily "oppressed" than I am now.

*Sterling is a poster boy for the Black Lives Matter who was also in and out of prison and a convicted child molester who was later shot in the chest by white cops, causing a racially charged stir-among-stirs in this nation.
Monday, March 20th 2017
The first two chapters of an original, serialized story about the government using a superhuman for a national security mission is now available.
Posted Mon Mar 20 2017 12:48
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Mortal Gods: "HVT" is a brand new story I am serially publishing here at Liberty Island Magazine and at Liberate Liberty. This short story tells the tale of the U.S. government figuring out how to use a superhuman individual in a unique way for a national security mission.

The schedule is to publish a new chapter every Monday. Chapters 1 and 2 are available now.

Mortal Gods: "HVT" is set within the Mortal Gods universe and falls after the events of, "Like Hail and Fire, Mixed with Blood," in the book, Mortal Gods: Ignition.

So start reading Mortal Gods: "HVT" today--or wait until the full story is available and then binge it all!

And don't forget to contribute to my Tip Jar if you like what you read.
Monday, March 13th 2017
Mortal Gods: "Presidential Pardon" will deal with subversion and espionage, national security, injustice and justice, and the power of the presidential pardon.
Posted Mon Mar 13 2017 14:04
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In a story that fits with current times, the in-progress, Mortal Gods: "Presidential Pardon" will deal with subversion and espionage, national security, injustice and justice, and the power of the presidential pardon.

Spying and treason accusations are all the rage in the news. So "Presidential Pardon" will be a short story in the Mortal Gods universe that will fit right in with the times. There will be espionage and betrayal in the story, with some people supporting it and others opposing it. There will be accusations of injustice followed by demands for justice. Some people become very outraged with what has happened and this leads to further conflict between characters.

Adam White is again the protagonist of this tale and through it all he will face difficult circumstances where he must make tough choices. . . .

Read the whole post at Liberate Liberty.
Monday, March 6th 2017
Mortal Gods: "HVT" starts early next week. Here is a tease of what the story is about.
Posted Mon Mar 6 2017 23:39
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Mortal Gods: "HVT" is the next story coming from Liberate Liberty, with the plan being to publish it serially here at Liberate Liberty and also at Liberty Island Magazine. I have the first installment currently scheduled for early next week. Here is a tease of what the story is about.

The story takes place sometime after the events of the short story, "Like Hail and Fire, Mixed with Blood," which is part of the Mortal Gods: Ignition book. The government has recruited Adam White to work in a brand new unit (that is not connected to any real-world DOD or intelligence community unit). The government doesn't know much about him but even so, it knows it wants to take advantage of all his unique skills and abilities.

So what exactly does the government plan to do with Adam? Many things likely, with the first story showing one way--a unique way that addresses a real-world challenge by using the abilities that Adam has. . . .

Read the entire post at Liberate Liberty.
Sunday, March 5th 2017
Here is the latest on the forthcoming artwork for the forthcoming tales from Liberate Liberty--here is what it will be as of now and here is what it can be if enough people support the stories.
Posted Sun Mar 5 2017 22:31
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Prose stories do not require artwork. However, prose stories struggle to find an audience without it. And what good is a story if no one is reading it? So here is the latest on the forthcoming artwork for the forthcoming tales from Liberate Liberty--here is what it will be as of now and here is what it can be if enough people support the stories.

I commissioned original artwork for both Mortal Gods: Ignition and Winning through Losing. The total of four separate commissions cost a significant amount of money. But it was worth it for those books. I'd like to commission more artwork for forthcoming stories (more of which I will post about this week--including how the first story will begin its serial publication this week or the next) but I need to make sure there is the demand for it.

So as of right now I'm creating the artwork for my latest work. I'm teasing excerpts of some of it above and in the images below. Some of what you see now might be different in its final form. And some of it I may not use at all. Also, while all the teased artwork is for Mortal Gods stories, I will be creating artwork for other tales as well. . . .

Read the whole post and see the art at Liberate Liberty.
Tuesday, February 28th 2017
"He... has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages..." Declaration of Independence.
Posted Tue Feb 28 2017 11:03
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The cannons in the upper levels of the two blockhouses were useless. The Americans besieging Ft. Sackville at Vincennes had stationed themselves 100-150 yards out - too close for effective cannon fire and too far for the smooth-bore "Brown Bess" muskets the Redcoats and their allies used. Besides, opening the gun ports was hazardous to one's health - those frontiersmen and their rifles could easily get off a clean head shot at that range.

Unknown to the British, there were actually less Americans outside the fort than Redcoats and loyalist militia inside, but Col. George Rogers Clark, in command of the besiegers, had ordered his men to march and counter-march in and out of undulating terrain and to rotate firing positions, so as to appear more numerous. Still it had become a stalemate, and Clark knew British supply boats were on the way and could reinforce the enemy from the riverfront side. All demands for surrender of the fort at discretion were refused.

Celebratory war whoops told Clark and his men that a raiding party was coming in on the landward side, and as luck would have it, they were unaware that the town outside the fort had changed hands. A brief firefight ensued. A few were killed and a half dozen taken prisoner. Among the Ottawas, Wyandottes and Miamis taken was the famed Ottawa chief Macutte Mong.

The Indians were bound and paraded to within view of the wall along the main gate, but again beyond musket range, where they were made to kneel. Those inside the fort were invited to observe the proceedings. Either Clark or one of his officers by his order (we are still not sure today) buried a tomahawk in the back of the skull of one of the kneeling warriors. The rest began to chant their death song, as they too were similarly dispatched. Macutte Mong was last. The first strike did not kill him; it didn't even seem to disturb him. He reached up, took the tomahawk out of his own skull and handed it back to his executioner. It took two more whacks before he even keeled over. Clark put both his hands in the vast pool of blood, smeared his face with his fingers, and let out his own war whoop.

The demand for surrender was renewed and accepted.

Now before we - from the comfort of our armchairs - wag our moralistic fingers at the ghost of George Rogers Clark, let's keep a few things in mind. The commander of that fort (and the Lieutenant Governor of British Quebec) was the infamous "Hair Buyer" Hamilton. To remind him of his good fortune in being merely sent back to Virginia in irons, the scalps brought back by those warriors under his command - scalps of men, women and children on the Kentucky frontier; non-combatants all - were hung just outside where he was kept prisoner.

For a more recent perspective, talk to members of the "Greatest Generation"(as I have) who saw combat in WWII and you may find out that Waffen SS troops were often not given the same opportunities to surrender (and were treated quite differently when they did) as regular Weirmacht, though you will look in vain for paperwork confirming official sanction for such a policy. Ask Marines who island-hopped in the Pacific about "rules of engagement" (ROE) when it is quickly discovered the enemy has none.

Even today, such unlawful enemy combatants could be kept completely out of the civilian court system, placed before a military tribunal and, if found guilty, executed. (See Ex Parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942).
In his circumstances of course, Clark had neither the time nor the inclination for such formalities.

War is messy, and often does not present itself in the clear-cut categories of a moralistic tale. To survive, you must improvise, adapt and overcome.

Saturday, February 25th 2017
Galatea, Inc. is one of the series I have been developing over the past few months. And today I explain how a real-life story inspired its creation.
Posted Sat Feb 25 2017 14:53
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Galatea, one of the series I have been developing over the past few months. I believe I'll have one or two stories that are set in its universe ready for publication in the spring or later, including the one that will serve as the introductory tale. The inspiration for this series came from a news story I saw years ago. I recently wrote about that story at The Loftus Party and today I explain how that inspired the creation of Galatea, Inc.

"How Victoria's Secret Plussed up the 69th Infantry" details how Victoria's Secret provided aid to the New York Army National Guard in Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. And when I read the sources for that story back in 2012, it started me thinking the following question: What if an intelligence organization used a modeling agency as cover to allow it to collect intelligence? . . .

Read the entire post at Liberate Liberty.
Tuesday, February 21st 2017
Those Fly-Over States...
Posted Tue Feb 21 2017 13:18
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Steak and eggs my way: Blistered tomatoes, baby greens, good parm, red onions, a fried egg from Lulu (my favorite chicken) and filet of Bison, compliments of the hubby.

There's a song about the middle of our great land and how it was made both perfectly and purposefully. And now I finally get it after a lifetime of false preconceived notions.

North to south, many middle states lack a major metropolis or incite much interest from "coasters". The lightly populated flat states in particular may be more readily associated with mud-flaps than mud-wraps. And I admit, I was one of those East Coast snobs who assumed the "fly-over" states had little to offer.

But after taste testing microbrews in nearly twelve states and reviewing the most extensive bourbon list I've ever laid eyes on last week, I am happy to report that I was more than very wrong. Because as important as culture is (or perceived to be), the meticulously curated galleries, blow-out bars, and broadway plays, don't fill empty bellies. But middle states do. And they are equally beautiful in their bounties.

Our farmlands, great plowed expanses that cover millions of square miles in our nation's landmass, feed Americans and much of the world outside, both friends and foes. Among the most farmed states are Kansas and Texas. Kansas farms 90% of it's total area, the highest farmland to residential/industrial land ratio of any other U.S. state.

This past fall, Ranger Joe (the husband) hunted birds in Pennsylvania and whitetail in both Michigan and Maryland. But for someone who's hunted big game in Africa, he's less than enthusiastic about spraying the adult equivalent of a BB Gun at a bouquet of pheasants (yes, that's what a group of pheasants is called, and yes, it sounds girly). Besides, for all that prep and effort, twelve birds and a mid-sized deer only lasts so long at a table for six. We're big meat eaters.

My entire clutch has wanderlust and we hadn't done a proper road trip since last March (to Sarasota and back). So when Joe was scoping out Cape Buffalo safari trips in Tanzania, I asked what any realistic, animal-loving carnivore might inquire, "What's the point of killing something that you don't plan to eat? And why exactly would you fly to the other side of the globe when you can hunt here and actually take the meat home? I'm sure you could find something big to charge at you on this continent...perhaps a moose or elk...or a bison, which tastes good and is bigger than the African cape buffalo...". Of course, I knew he'd go for bigger.

A week or so later I saw that he'd been searching South Dakota outfitters for Bison hunting. A few days after that, I found a chunk of cheese missing from the checkbook.

"Can we come too?" I asked.

"Do you want to come? I mean, it's almost thirty hours in the truck...You think your folks might want to babysit?"

"No, I don't want to ask them. Besides, I was thinking we could take the kids to see Mt. Rushmore..."

"That's even, three days one-way..."

"I know, but worst case, we need more Advil than usual..." He looked scared but played along anyhow.

"How'd you wanna get there?"

"I'd like to see Churchill Downs...and maybe get some good BBQ on the way. If the kids are really driving you nuts, you can just have beer for breakfast every morning..."

In order to talk the kids into being smooshed for a full week in Black Betty, I knew we'd need to make a game out of it. So over dinner, I asked the kids if we should try to drive all fifty states before our youngest graduates high school in 2030. We'd be the road warriors of Baltimore County!

The kids were all in. They'd be the only kids at school who would have driven the entire continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii and they liked that idea. And since we already hit twenty-two states in 2016, we were really close to half-way anyhow.

After telling our respective employers that we were going out west to fill the freezer, our family spent evenings at the kitchen table, plotting out points in which to stop, sleep, eat, and drink. Bourbon Row for dinner in Louisville, Jack Stack in Kansas City, and the best pizza in South Dakota at MacKenzie River Pizza. There's a reason my frame came home with a five pound bonus last week and that pizza was worth every ounce (which is why we also stopped there on the way back).

As if pork five ways wasn't reason enough for a road trip, what I though would be an afterthought, namely, the topography of the flat states, was actually quite beautiful. For a budding farmscape aficionado, there is nothing more alluring than silos against the backdrop of a Nebraska watercolor sunset.

There were white farmhouses, red barns, and green tractors lining the highways as if parade spectators. And the fact that it was unusually warm last week (thank you, global warming!) only added to the beauty. The smell was a little pungent with the windows down (steaming divots), but the ride was straight and peaceful. No weaving in and out of angry Chicago traffic or clueless bumpersticker-laden electric cars clogging the fast lanes. Folks were plain, friendly, and made me want to live out there.

Toby: Hanging weight 950 lbs.

Wednesday of last week, Joe downed a modern-day woolly mammoth that the children enthusiastically named "Toby" (above). The processor was a father/son business who butchered and flash froze Toby while we took in more of South Dakota. We drove another seven hours west to Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, and the Crazy Horse Memorial, a privately funded project that was in itself worth the trip.

Our not so little trip out west was more than we could have imagined. We even got the farm bug. Joe was crunching numbers in his head in between pointing out roadside pronghorn, roadrunners, and sharing exactly how Custer State Park felt very much like people, park rangers, fences or corrals, only wild animals happy to share a look with peculiar humans in an overstuffed pick up truck.

Slowly moving through a herd of grazing bison was only second to seeing Mt. Rushmore up close.

Next year we'll do Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, then head south the following year for Texas and neighboring panhandle coastlines. But for now, we have five-hundred pounds of Toby to keep us fat and happy (courtesy of a most splendid fly-over state).

Tuesday, February 14th 2017
Mortal Gods: "Sodom by the Susquehanna" remains on schedule to begin publishing in the first quarter of the year. I am also close to being ready to start publishing other tales.
Posted Tue Feb 14 2017 16:15
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Mortal Gods: "Sodom by the Susquehanna" remains on schedule to begin publishing in the first quarter of the year, and likely before the end of March. I am also moving closer to being ready to start publishing Mortal Gods: "HVT" and The Stought Brothers.

I mentioned last year here at Liberate Liberty that I was nearing completion on the outline of Mortal Gods: "Sodom by the Susquehanna." I've done further work on that. I've refined it, developed the characters a bit more, and I think that it's close to the point where I can begin publishing it as a serial story.

The publication will (most likely) occur simultaneously here at Liberate Liberty and Liberty Island. (And it will be published for free, although there is an option to donate to me at my Liberty Island site.) One of the last big things for me to figure out is what the serial publishing schedule will be. Ideally it will be once per week but that remains to be determined. I might try to publish a serial portion each week and alter that schedule if necessary. (In other words, if I find that the next portion is not ready on a given week, I'll delay it.) . . .

Read the entire post at Liberate Liberty.
Friday, January 27th 2017
Posted Fri Jan 27 2017 07:11
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The following is not quite a book review because this anthology from CLFA authors and friends includes my story. However, since there are many other stories alongside mine, and since this is a charity anthology to benefit FIRE, I decided that it would be appropriate to share my thoughts on my own blog. The stories are reviewed in the order they appear.

1. The Tenth Righteous Man by Nitay Arbel. If you think this story has basis in the real world, you would be right, but you have to read and find out the specific source of reference for yourself. First-person narration is used for great effect here, and the ending, plus the final reveal, surprised me. If I have any criticisms, the style seems a bit dry considering how emotionally charged the story actually is. Very different, and a great start for a freedom-themed collection.

2. Martian Sunrise by Matthew Souders. In spite of the otherworldly setting, this is probably the most literary entry. It's also the least political, and is more about facing one's demons and the fact that sometimes the worst prison of all is the one we create for ourselves. Lovely and touching without crossing into the maudlin territory, which it easily could have done.

3. Backwater by Lori Janeski. A solid demonstration of the oft-repeated truth: "You might not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you." It's set on a colony planet where most of the residents think themselves safe from government overreach, and find out the hard way it's not the case. The story is a setup for another work, so the ending is intentionally incomplete, which might bother some readers more than others.

4. The Birthday Party by Daniella Bova. Unlike the many dystopian entries in this collection, Ms. Bova's story takes us back to the past (some of the incidents are in fact connected to the author's family history). It makes us appreciate how far we've come as a country, both in terms of civil rights and just general tolerance towards those different and less fortunate. As we continuously strive to promote freedom and preserve out rights, it helps once in a while to step back and appreciate the progress we've made.

5. Dollars on the Nightstand by Bokerah Brumley. Although set firmly in the real world, this story is similar in its message to Ms. Janeski's Backwater. The government, left unchecked, will eventually overreach and make criminals out of citizens who just want to be left alone. The "crime" revealed at the end is, in fact, already a crime in some parts of the country, so even though the premise seems ridiculous, we're only a step away from it being true.

6. The City by A.G. Wallace. Here we get firmly into the dystopian territory, although the society presented seems entirely benign. This is very reminiscent of The Giver and the Matched trilogy, where all seems well until one finds out the cost of keeping up the apparent utopia. I appreciate the fact that the author acknowledges that a society of this type will need an escape valve to deal with those who don't wish to comply, without resorting to mass murder. The ending is abrupt, but in a way that makes one want to know more rather than leaving the reader frustrated.

7. Nomod by Henry Vogel. Another not-quite-dystopia showing the logical conclusion to the dreams of a perfect society achieved through bio-engineering. Although predictable, it's a fun read and not at all dark. Honestly, I would have preferred it in the form of a full novel or at least a novella, to allow for events at the end to actually unfold before our eyes rather than be described.

8. Sara by Chris Donahue. I think I now understand why some authors write in shared worlds. The setup described is pretty much next door to the world of my novella The Product, although there are differences. The reveal happens early on, which allows the author to really get into the details of what drives those who choose to defy the society's norms, and how they manage to stay safe from the all-powerful government. I won't discuss the ending, except that I absolutely loved it.

9. Room to Breathe! This story is set in the world of my novel Chasing Freedom. For those who enjoyed the novel, but want to see a little more of the world, this is a backstory for one of the side protagonists. It is entirely self-contained and is meant as a tribute to free artistic expression in an oppressive environment.

10. Victory Garden by Tom Rogneby. A very low-key dystopia that shows the world ruled, essentially, by an HOA on steroids. Neighbor spies on neighbor and corruption abounds (which is why it all seems so low-key: pay off the right people and you'll be fine). The ending surprised me by bringing in some new elements that hint at more possible stories in this world. Or at the very lease it points to potential start of serious resistance. It's a good balance of closure and leaving the reader wanting more.

11. The Unsent Letter by Brad Torgersen. A military fiction story that surprisingly has no military action. It focuses more on the military as an eternal brotherhood of people dedicated to a worthy cause. A worthy inclusion in a freedom-themed collection that reminds us of those who protect our freedoms on a daily basis, often at a terrible cost.

12. Credo Man by Carol Kean. A true genre bender that starts as a small town family drama, turns into a whodunit mystery, and adds a sci-fi plot twist seemingly out of nowhere. Does it work? I think so, but you have to accept the quirky turns and just go with it. The author's German heritage adds authenticity to the sometimes over-the-top tale.

And speaking of quirky...

13. The Fighting Beagles and the Attack at Dawn by Nick Cole. This has all the makings of satire, with all the ridiculous character names and fictional battlegrounds. In the end, though, it leaves you with a very earnest appreciation of both the absurdity of war and, more interestingly, of true old-fashioned manhood. At least that's what I got out of it; it's quite possible If the author meant something entirely different. In any case, it's a wild ride of a tale.

14. Shirt Story by Arlan Andrews. With all the talk of the New Civil War and the irreparable ideological split in this country, this story is perhaps the most timely of all as it shows a potential logical conclusion if we continue on this path. It's disturbing in a way different from most dystopias because the concept seems ridiculous, yet at the same time we're THIS close to already living it even without the technological aids envisioned by the author. I think it attempts to be satirical, but for me cuts to close to the truth to be funny. Be that as it may, the story is well done.

15. Polk's Prophetic Property by W.J. Hayes. Probably the strangest story of 'em all. A businessman works to convince Cthulhu (yep, you read it right) to leave his land alone and go wreak havoc elsewhere by quoting from the American founding documents. 'Nuff said.

Obviously, as a CLFA co-founder and one of the contributors, I am biased, but hopefully this extended review will give you more of an idea of what you find within this volume. It truly does have something for everyone, and I hope you find it an enjoyable read.

Purchase Freedom's Light on Amazon

Link to the FIRE website

Link to the CLFA website