S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Red or Blue...Which Pill is for You?

A Tale of Truth:  How I Came to Choose the Red Pill

Once upon a time I wrote a book.  Several months later my book was nominated for the Molly Award and I signed a publishing contract with Vanilla Heart.  I was on cloud nine.  It felt as if my dreams were finally coming true.  Excitedly, I wrote another book and another and another, until I had completed eight full-length novels and one short story; all in less than three years.  Vanilla Heart published them all.

 One day, I wrote to my publisher and asked, “When will I find out how many books I have sold?”

“As soon as I get all of the reports from the distributors,” she replied.  “And they are always late with reporting.”

 I waited and then a couple of months later I asked again, “Are my books selling?  Am I doing something wrong?  Do I need to promote differently or market to other channels?”  You see, people were telling me that they had read my books and yet I wasn’t seeing sales numbers to validate their words.  I thought people were lying to me just to make me feel good.

 “You’re doing fine, hon,” my publisher said.  “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

So I went back to work.  It might be a marathon but I was going to sprint my way through it.   What I mean is, I was determined to do all I could to market my work.  I visited book clubs, did book signings, purchased advertising in every brochure and playbill I could afford.  I ran ads on Facebook, mailed out postcards, ran press releases and a monthly newsletter.  I coordinated a blog tour, participated in blog hops, conducted author interviews and submitted my work to various review sites. 

Then, I went back to my publisher and asked, “Are my books selling?”

“You’re doing great, hon,” she responded.  “Your sales are right where they should be for a newer author,” she explained.

 “Yes, but, what does that mean?” I questioned.  “Which books are selling best?  What format sells best?”  I begged for information so that I would know how and where to devote my marketing and promotional efforts going forward.

 “Just keep doing what you’re doing,” she said.

 What was I doing right?  What was I doing wrong?  It felt as if I was spinning my wheels, chasing my own tail and ultimately getting nowhere.  My royalty checks, when I actually received one, were demotivating and I began to feel like I was more of a failure than I had ever been before.  I began to tell myself that there was no sense in writing another book because no one wanted to read my work.

As if she could sense I was on the verge of giving up, my publisher would call with some new idea of what she was going to do to promote my work.  She’d shroud me with motivation and hope, but something on the inside began to feel very hollow.  There was little follow-through on all of the promises.  There was no reporting of royalties, no statements or a breakdown of sales; and when a royalty check arrived, it was a miniscule amount and always months late. 

How is it that the harder I have worked to promote my books, the less I am selling?  I began to wonder.  Something wasn’t right. 

Sometimes reality is a bitter sweet pill.  As much as I wanted to believe everything was on the up-and-up, believing that meant that I was a failure as a writer.  Believing that meant that my books weren’t selling and that no one wanted to read my work.  But… if I didn’t believe everything was on the up-and-up, it meant that my publisher was shady and accepting that truth opened a whole other can of worms.  If she’s cheating me out of royalties then I would most certainly terminate my contracts with her, and if I break away from her, what becomes of me?  Will my books disappear forever?  Will someone else want to publish my work?  What if nobody wants me?

I wanted so badly to believe my publisher was being honest, but I couldn’t ignore the sinking feeling in my gut, not to mention the evidence that was piling up. 


It’s difficult to explain the feeling of teetering on the edge of truth and ignorance, knowing you must choose one.  You must either be willing to turn a blind eye and live in ignorance or you must be willing to accept the pain that might come with a truth you don’t want to face.  As I mulled over everything, I was reminded of the 1999 movie, The Matrix.  In the movie, Neo is offered a choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill will allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix.  The red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and thrust him into the real world.

There I sat, asking myself, “Blue pill or red pill?”  Should I dwell in the blissful ignorance of illusion or embrace the painful truth of reality?  If I chose truth, my eyes would forever be opened and there would be no turning back.

This decision churned in my stomach like a soupy, sour mess that made me want to vomit and drove me to tears.  But, as evidence of wrongdoing began to pile higher and higher, what choice did I have? 

With trembling fingers I took the red pill, placed it on my tongue and swallowed.  It felt as if the ground beneath my feet disappeared and I was falling.  Consumed by fear I fought what felt like a suffocating whirlwind, pulling me downward and then, all of a sudden, I was lifted on the wings of truth and I realized I wasn’t falling; I was flying.  I was no longer being tossed by the winds of deceit, I was soaring above it.

With the lies now gone, I had a clear view of my options and a clearer picture of who I am as a writer and as a novelist.  I was selling books, a lot of books, more books than my publisher ever let on.  I wasn’t a failure.   I’m not a failure, but had I continued to believe what Vanilla Heart was telling me, I would never have known.   The truth, as scary as it was to face, has set me free from a bondage that had done more damage to my self-confidence and self-image than I ever imagined it could.  My publisher didn’t just rob me of royalties, she was robbing me of my self-worth.   The blue pill of ignorant bliss was slowly poisoning me, but the red pill of harsh reality brought me back to life.

I’ve received numerous emails from other authors sharing their experiences with unethical publishers.  I’m sorry that any of us have had to endure this injustice.  It breaks my heart, but better to have your heart broken and come out wiser than to have your spirit broken and end up weaker.

Authors… if you’re in a situation right now where you are teetering on the edge of truth and ignorance… if you have that stinging, gut-wrenching sensation that something isn’t right…and you’re wondering, like I did, what will become of you and your work if you stand up for what you deserve and stand against unethical practices…  
Don’t let fear immobilize you.  The big picture is overwhelming, but like my husband always says, “You can’t eat an elephant all at once…you have to do it one bite at a time.” 
When you’re facing a bunch of red flags, let your first bite be the red pill and the rest will fall into place.


Red or Blue…which pill is for you?




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Slamming Doors and Opening Windows

I've received a bunch of emails regarding what happened between me and Vanilla Heart Publishing.  I'm going to try to answer most of your questions in this blog.  If I don't answer thoroughly enough, let me know and I will email you privately. 

I'm not going to lie, the past few weeks have been difficult, but you know what they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  I don't know if I'm stronger yet, but I'm certainly on the road to becoming smarter.

Change is always hard and uncertainty is scary...put the two together and you have a variable pressure cooker of emotion.  I have bounced daily between anger and sadness.  I'm angry at myself for being naïve and stupid.  I'm angry at Vanilla Heart for being deceptive, breaching our contract and cheating me out of royalties that were rightfully mine.  But the anger isn't the part that overwhelms me.  It's the sadness. 

I feel sad because I thought I knew someone and I thought she knew me.  I believed in her, trusted her, prayed for her, prayed for her family, defended her and always tried to be supportive and encouraging.  There were many times when I felt that support was reciprocated.  There were many times when I felt like we were "friends."  I feel sad because I miss that feeling; though I realize now it was all a façade.

We've all heard the expression, "It's not personal, it's business."  But, what is more personal than your business...especially when that business entails relationships with other people (?)  Just because you're dealing in the business world doesn't mean you stop having personal feelings for those around you.  In my world there aren't business ethics and personal ethics, there are just plain ethics and they apply to everything in life.  Don't cheat.  Don't lie.  Don't steal.  Be kind.  Love God.  Love others.  Forgive.

Sure, the context of our relationship was business but when every excuse she gave was personal, how was one not to feel some sort of connection?

Hearts break in different ways.  Betrayal leaves me broken and injustice makes me angry.  Vanilla Heart has caused me to stare down the barrel of both and to try to reconcile these feelings against a foundation of truth that was one-sided all along.  That reconciliation seems impossible, especially to a person like me who tries desperately to understand why people behave the way they do.

To this day, Vanilla Heart has shown no remorse for wrongdoing and that is one of the most jagged little pills to swallow.  I'm someone who apologizes for everything and tries to fix anything I've done wrong...even if it wasn't intentional; so I just can't get my head around people who maliciously set out to steal from, deceive and hurt others.  This part of the whole thing probably taunts me the most.

I think I've answered all of the questions about my relationship with Vanilla Heart.  As for the questions about Small Press Publishers in general...let me first say this:  All small press publishers are not unethical.  In fact, there are some wonderful publishing companies out there, some great agents and incredible people in the literary world.  Please don't let my negative experience with Vanilla Heart taint your view of the industry.  It hasn't tainted mine.  Scam artists dwell in every industry.  What we have to do is learn to spot them and avoid them.   My hope is that other authors will learn from my experience and be saved the hassle and heartache that I, and the other ex-Vanilla Heart authors have gone through.

The bottom line is that life isn't fair, but when you have to close a door or a door slams shut in your face,  look around and find the window of opportunity.  There will always be one, but it's not going to open itself.  Muster up the courage to walk over to it and open it; and then climb through, dust yourself off and be determined, as I am, to tackle whatever challenges lie on the horizon. 

Had I stayed with Vanilla Heart I wouldn't have been offered an opportunity to learn the publishing side of things with Global Publishing Group.  Had I remained naïve and comfortable, I wouldn't have ever known how many sales and how much money my books were generating.  Had I not gotten my heart broken with the lies, I would never have been given the chance to appreciate those who were telling me the truth. 

To answer the final question:  "What am I going to do now?"  I'm going to get back to doing what I love... writing more books. ~



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pucker Up You Scam Artists!

On behalf of all authors everywhere who have ever been cheated, manipulated, stolen from, lied to and used...

On behalf of all of the authors who have fallen prey to scummy publishers and scam artists who have breached your contracts...

It's time we tell these shady publishers to pucker up and...

Shady publishers will continue to steal, lie and cheat.  That's who they are.  It's what they do and what they've always done.  When they get caught or the heat gets turned up too high they file Chapter 7 and then re-emerge under a new name so they can find more victims; just like Vanilla Heart did in 2002.  
Before signing with any publisher do a background check.  There are numerous on-line services that, for a minimal fee, will provide you with all of the information on how a company and/or a person conducts business. Look for red flags.   If they have a history of filing Chapter 7 and re-emerging with a new company name...that's a red flag.  If they have a bunch of  aliases...that's another red flag.  If they have numerous company names... that's a red flag.  Now, I'm not saying anyone who has ever filed Chapter 7 or has had multiple company names is shady; I'm merely saying it's good information to have up-front and to ask about prior to signing any type of contractual agreement.  You can save yourself a lot of hassle and heartache in the long run by gaining this information up front.
We can't stop all of these people, but we can spread the word on how to spot them, in hopes of minimizing the potential damage within the industry...our industry.
We writers, authors, agents, publicists and publishers dwell in the same world...the literary world.  It is OUR industry.  Thus, it is OUR responsibility to clean it up and keep it clean.  We do that with our fingertips parading across the keyboard.  We do it through our blogs, writer's groups and social media.  These shady publishers and scam artists can steal our money but they cannot steal our voice.  Our voice will ring loud to warn others.  Our voice can make a difference.
Upon finding out you've been scammed, it's hard not to wallow in self-pity and blame.  It's hard not to beat yourself up, as you are now able to look back and see all of the red flags waving behind you.  As they say, "Hindsight is 20/20."  I think the most important thing is to let yourself wallow for an afternoon and then pull yourself up by your boot straps and march on.  Some lessons in life are hard, and some are costly...but those are the ones you'll never forget.  Take something from the bad, spin it around and make it into something good...something that will benefit others...something that will make the industry a better place.
The way I see it, Vanilla Heart robbed me, but they didn't stop me.  They may have stolen the royalties for the eight books that I've already written, but they didn't stop me from writing.  I'm going to write more and more and more and guess who is not going to see a penny from it... the shady publishers of the world. 
This is OUR industry and I vow to protect it, to try to make it better for everyone and to use my voice to keep scam artist publishers like Vanilla Heart from further tainting it. 
So, to all the shady publishers out there...pucker up assholes!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Power of Thirteen: The Vanilla Heart Saga Continues

To say the last two weeks have been difficult is putting it lightly.  I have sobbed at my computer more than once, and not just over what has happened to me, but what has happened to twelve other authors who were once published by Vanilla Heart as well.  It began with one author having the courage to leave, then another, and another.  What was one became two, three, seven, eleven and now there are thirteen of us.  Thirteen of us giving statements to attorneys.  Thirteen of us talking directly with distributors.  Thirteen of us comparing email threads and sharing what was said to us by Vanilla Heart.  Thirteen of us documenting fraud, lies and excuses.  Thirteen of us standing up to protect other authors from falling prey to the unethical and immoral business practices of Vanilla Heart Publishing.  Sadly, but not surprisingly, our stories are very much the same in the sense that we were each manipulated, lied to and stolen from.  Sadder still is the fact that we are not the only ones.  If you read the comments about Vanilla Heart at Absolute Write Water Cooler, you will see that others have suffered the same fate.


As reports are rolling in from various distribution channels, the amount of money stolen is growing.  Literally, thousands of dollars was never paid to me.  I shudder when I think of how much was stolen from me and from all of us, collectively.  It makes me sick.


The ever-present question is:  How does a publisher get away with this for so long?


The answer is complex and yet simple.  Fear.  Publishers like Vanilla Heart prey on new authors…authors who would do just about anything to see their work in print.  Then, once their books are made available, the excuses begin and so does the manipulation.  Bluntly speaking, a new author is afraid to piss off her publisher, for fear that her next book won’t get published.  Thus, she is inclined to let the excuses slide.  These excuses range from blame-shifting to sympathy ploys.


Here are some priceless examples from Vanilla Heart:


1.     The post office lost your royalty check. (If this happens then another check should be mailed immediately; but this happened three times and a check never arrived.)

2.     I was going to direct deposit your royalty check but then my computer crashed and it’s going to take me at least a week to get everything up and running again.  (I have emails from Vanilla Heart wherein she stated that her computer crashed six different times in less than three years. That’s a lot of crashes.)  

3.    The distributors haven’t sent me the reports yet.  (I have numerous emails where Vanilla Heart stated that the distributors were always “months late” in reporting and paying royalties.  This, according to recent evidence gathered from several distributors is an outright lie.) 

4.    I am sick (flu, sinus infection, fell in a hole gardening, food poisoning, etc.) and haven’t been able to make it to the post office to mail your check.  (This happened so many times I finally switched to direct deposit and then, ironically, her computer started crashing all of the time.)

5.    My husband needs another surgery so everything will be delayed a couple of weeks.  (Sympathy ploy.  I actually added her husband’s name to our prayer list at church and in my Bible Study group.  Now, with all of the lies she has told, I doubt that he ever needed surgery at all.  I was played for the fool.)

6.    I have to take care of my mother-in-law.  (Again, a sympathy ploy that makes the author think, what a good-hearted, wonderful publisher I have… a person who takes care of her in-laws in need.  It’s a ploy.  Don’t fall for it like I did.)

7.    I can’t send out the royalty statements because my “stupid accountant printed them too small to read.” (Use a magnifying glass!)

8.    The post office lost the ten books you ordered.  I’ll have to track the shipment and let you know.  (To this day, I paid for 10 of my books to have for a book club meeting and have never received them.  She still owes me $97.50 and has not responded when I’ve asked for a reimbursement.)

9.  Fifty-six copies of your book, House of Lies, were downloaded from Smashwords using the free coupon code.  Someone must have gotten hold of that code and passed it around.  (According to the actual distributor report, only 13 copies were downloaded free using the coupon code.  The other forty-plus copies of House of Lies were purchased, paid for and royalties were paid to Vanilla Heart; but Vanilla Heart never paid me for any of those books.)   


These are but a few of the many, many excuses that were given.  If I listed them all, this blog would be endless and you would surely shake your head and wonder, as I do, how in the world people get away with this.  It’s criminal behavior, and on-going criminal behavior with no sign of remorse is sociopathic. 


Whether you dwell in the literary world, the sales world, the banking world, the world of technology, retail, medicine, law, etc., there are acceptable business practices and there are unacceptable business practices.  Everything in life won’t be fair, but it should be ethical.  Don’t let anyone manipulate you into taking less than you have earned, nor deceive you into believing they are due your sympathy for countless circumstances that have rendered them unable to do their job. One emergency or accident is understandable; ten is not.


Business is business and a good publisher shouldn’t have to prey on your sympathy to excuse her inability to give you the royalty statements and payments your hard work has earned. 


Authors, you’ve invested your time, energy, emotion and money into creating your work of art.  Do not let any publisher rob you of your rightful royalties on that work.  NO excuse is viable.


Before you sign a contract with any publisher:


1.    Visit the Preditors & Editors page on Warnings and make sure everything is on the up-and-up.

2.    Talk to authors who have left the publishing company and talk to authors who are currently with the publishing company.  If there is nothing to hide, all of these people will speak openly with you.  If there is something awry, the ones who have left will be afraid to speak.  (On that note:  if upon leaving, a publisher asks you to sign an agreement that states you cannot speak about what has happened, don't agree to this.  This is a major red flag and they have no legal leg to stand on.)

3.    Ask questions and don’t settle for indefinite answers.
4.  If you have any red flags, call an attorney.


The hardest part of this whole ordeal is to not allow myself to grow bitter.  It’s no fun feeling used, playing somebody’s fool and having thousands of dollars stolen right from under your nose.  It’s agonizing knowing that friends and family warned you and you ignored the signs because you were afraid to see the truth…afraid of what the truth might mean.  Will my books ever get re-published?  Will my work disappear forever?  It’s scary, but if I have learned anything it is that I am not alone.  There are ethical publishers out there.  There are ethical agents and wonderful writer’s groups filled with people just like me and just like you.  There is safety in numbers and wisdom in all of our minds and experiences meshing together.  Don’t be afraid to speak out and let others know what is really happening behind the scenes.


If I can lend one piece of advice to a new author, it would be this:  Talk to other authors.  Listen to their wisdom.  Join writing groups.  Consult warning sites and realize that you do not have to settle for unethical treatment.  You deserve better. 
When we all join together, we can change the world.  Right now, I'm calling that the "Power of Thirteen."  ~


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why I Left Vanilla Heart Publishing

I have been asked to re-post this story about Vanilla Heart Publishing and their unethical business practices; so here it is.  If you are an author seeking a publisher or if you know of an author seeking representation, please read this and heed the warning.  Vanilla Heart is not the only small press publishing company guilty of these charges.  Do your homework before signing a contract with ANYONE.  Protect your rights and your work from scam artists and liars like Kimberlee Williams and Vanilla Heart Publishing.

In October 2010 I signed a contract with Vanilla Heart Publishing to publish my debut novel, No Easy Way, which was nominated for the 2010 Molly Award by the Heart of Denver Romance Writers. 

In August 2013, eight novels later, I terminated my relationship with Vanilla Heart Publishing on the grounds of a severe breach of contract, misrepresentation, fraud and theft pertaining specifically to Articles #5, #7, #10, and #11 of the contract.

During my stay at Vanilla Heart, I upheld my end of the agreement.  I continued to write novels, producing eight in less than three years.  I continued to submit my novels to Vanilla Heart first, as per our contract she was entitled to a thirty day right of first refusal on all Just Call Me Angel books.  I continued to blog, participate in blog tours, promote and market my work through book clubs, book signings, holding contests and networking via numerous social media outlets (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram, etc.)  In return for my loyalty, I was lied to, manipulated and used.

Upon confronting Vanilla Heart Publishing with the breach of contract, misrepresentation and fraudulent activity, I was given no apology for wrongdoing nor was there an admission of remorse whatsoever.  Instead, I was sent a list of termination items wherein it was stated that I was “not to discuss the Author’s Group or any information from that group, or discuss Vanilla Heart Publishing, nor speak as an agent or former agent of the publisher, either by verbal, written, or electronic communication with any persons, groups, or agents.” It goes without saying that I did not agree to this and, per the advice of my attorney, informed Vanilla Heart that all statements that are factual, unbiased and can be proven with subpoenaed records, email correspondence or any other written form of communication do not fall into the category of slander or libel and are allowable for discussion in any setting, person-to-person, blog, group format or social media.   

My attorney is now in the process of reviewing back royalty statements from all of the distribution channels and thus far the information I have received from Vanilla Heart Publishing does not come close to matching the real reports in number of books sold nor in amount of money owed.  I sit amazed at how I have been ripped off for almost three years.  It saddens and angers me.

I requested royalty statements from Vanilla Heart at least eight documented times since October 2010.  Every statement was falsified.  Every paycheck came months late.  I never even received a statement for 2012 from Vanilla Heart and the check I received doesn’t match the distributor’s royalty records for the quarterly periods during that time.  Each time I requested a statement or a check I was promised it and then given an excuse as to why it would be late.  The excuses ranged from severe medical issues to a gardening accident and countless laptop crashes, an accountant who allegedly printed the reports too small to be read and the post office that lost checks or statements along the way.  Every excuse added to the sour pit growing in my stomach.  Still, I wanted to believe that everything was on the up-and-up; but, over time,  there were just too many red flags.

Little did I know, but several of the Vanilla Heart authors were experiencing the same frustrations I was.  No statements.  Late checks.  Excuses galore.  The problem was, for a long time, none of us communicated with one another.  We didn’t compare notes and that’s exactly how Vanilla Heart wanted it.  Manipulative phone calls from the Publisher psychologically pitted one author against another.  “She’s the next one I’m getting rid of,” was said to me on several occasions, referring to fellow Vanilla Heart authors.  The Publisher made a point to let everyone know who was in her “Core Group” and who was not.  I was in the Core Group and I think that was one of the reasons it never dawned on me that she might be breaching our contract at all, much less in so many ways.  I was made to feel “special” as if we had more than just a business relationship…as if we were “friends.”  Friends don’t steal from or lie to friends, my mind would justify… but the red flags waved.

It wasn’t until two of the Core Group authors left within a short period of time that I mustered up the courage to start asking questions and digging deeper into what was going on.  I dug out every contract, read through every email, analyzed my notes from phone calls, etc.  Every hour spent researching deepened the pit in my stomach and leant proof to the revelation I didn’t want to face:  Vanilla Heart was guilty.

Guilty of copyright infringement.

Guilty of breach of contract.

Guilty of misrepresentation of intent.

Guilty of fraud.

Guilty of theft. 

On August 10, 2013 under the guidance of my attorney, a termination letter was sent to Vanilla Heart Publishing.  A complaint was filed with the Washington Attorney General’s Office and DCMA Take Down Notices and Perjury Statements sent to every distributor that carried my books under the Vanilla Heart imprint.  All books in all formats were pulled from the market.  The distributors worked quickly to make this right, as their policy is first and foremost to protect the intellectual property of the author. 

I want to give a shout out to the employees at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks/OmniLit and Payloadz who were amazing in getting my attorney the information we needed (and I deserved) and in helping to protect my intellectual property rights going forward.  These people were absolutely amazing and I am grateful to all of them. 

My publisher used to call Amazon “Damazon” and always told me how slow and non-responsive they were.  That must have been a lie too…because after this experience, I would dub them “Amaz(ing)on.”

So, why am I writing this blog?  Because I feel a moral obligation to warn other writers who are as naïve as I was and can become easy prey.  The warning signs were there, but I didn’t see them…or I choose to look the other way.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.  

As an author, you deserve to have your books registered with the U.S. Copyright office.  You deserve a signed contract on every book.  You deserve to have timely statements and timely royalty payments and those statements and payments should match down to the penny.  You deserve a publisher who will protect your rights and who will not breach your contract.  You deserve a publisher who will conduct business in an ethical and moral manner, not hide behind excuses and outright lies.  You deserve better than Vanilla Heart Publishing.

In the past two months, seven authors have left Vanilla Heart… all of which were a part of the “Core Group.”  Some of us have found other publishers who have picked up our work.  I’ve signed with Global Publishing Group and my books will be back on the market in all formats by the end of the week. Others have decided to self-publish and still others are so shell-shocked they haven’t decided what to do.  What happened to us wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but we are all dedicated writers and will come out on top.

The moral of the story is:  Stay away from Vanilla Heart Publishing.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Curve Balls

Life can throw you curve balls.  In fact, it can throw a ball that curves so hard and fast that before you even see it, it hits you in the stomach, knocking the wind right out of you.  As you scramble to your feet, covered in dirt and gasping for air, you stare at the pitcher and wonder, in this game of life, why you just got walloped for apparently no reason.  It happens.  It hurts.  It isn’t fair.  Sometimes it makes you want to throw down your bat and quit; but you can’t. 
You can change teams, but even then there is no guarantee that another curve ball isn’t waiting to flatten you the moment you step to the plate.  In baseball, a batter can often times see the curve ball coming; in life, we do not have that luxury.  They come in many shapes and sizes and we don't know we have been hit until the damage has already been done. 

So, what is the answer?  I don’t know.  I don’t think there is one right answer or one applicable solution for every situation.  Some days the best we can do is simply continue breathing, hopeful that with every inhale and exhale a little of the pain and fear will melt away.  ~

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shark Smorgasbord

I’m afraid of sharks.  Some find this fear irrational, since statistically speaking my chances of being attacked by a shark are low.  Be that as it may, nothing sends me into a knee-buckling, heart-racing, eye-bulging panic attack like submerging my body into the salty home of a Great White.

On the food chain, sharks trump humans.  It doesn’t matter if you’re holding a harpoon; one nudge from a Great White can render your weapon obsolete.  They are bigger and more badass than we are and there’s nothing we can do about it.  I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to be the sea snacks at a shark smorgasbord.

Have you ever watched the tide as it rolls in or sat on the beach and gazed at the waves as they thrust themselves powerfully toward the shore?  I have and it dawned on me that the ocean itself is designed to hurl us out of it and back to the safety of land.  Try to swim out to sea and you will experience the sea fighting against you, beckoning you back to the sand.  It’s a sign.  We are not meant to be swimming in the ocean.  There are predators that will eat us. 

If you were walking down a city street and I told you that around the corner and down the alley stood a big monster waiting to devour you.  This monster will bump up against you a couple of times, knock you over and then, in a thrashing, violent motion, rip your limbs from your body and eat them.  You will cry out but only momentarily until the loss of blood causes you to enter a state of shock, followed by loss of consciousness. If I told you this, would you voluntarily turn the corner and walk down that alley?  

Let me give you a more realistic scenario:  If we were walking on a trail in the woods and I told you that just up ahead was a Grizzly Bear, would you continue along the path?  Or perhaps we’re at the zoo and I told you that the Polar Bear had escaped and was heading our way.  Knowing it is one of the deadliest predators on the planet, would you continue to walk toward it?

Why, then, when we have documented evidence of Great White sharks coming into as little as three feet of water, do we (humans) continue to swim in the ocean?  Why have we not fortified every inch of coastline with chain netting to try to protect swimmers?    

There are monsters at sea!

What’s more relevant is the fact that the Great White isn’t the shark who should be feared the most.  It is the smaller sharks who attack swimmers more frequently.  The Tiger Shark.  The Sand Shark.  The Lemon Shark.  They lack the girth of the Great White, but their teeth are just as sharp and their demeanor just as ferocious.

There are areas of the planet where humans belong and areas where we don’t.  I wouldn’t bring a shark into my home, so why, then, should I go into his home?  A good question indeed.