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Against All Odds - Book 3 - Crossroads Trilogy - Jacqui Murray

A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough, but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.

 The Crossroads trilogy 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the last chapter of her search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

 A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

How to Add Drama to your Writing

By Jacqui Murray

Sometimes I read my WIP and even I get bored. Where’s all the excitement I stuffed into the plot, wrote and rewrote, thought was perfect? Excitement may be difficult to define but I know it when I read it. I ain’t reading it here.

If you have that problem, here are some suggestions from efriend writers:

  • Look at your scenes. Is the drama predictable, or unbelievable? Is it a bridge too far or a euphemism too short? Or something else?
  • A football fan friend of mine who’s also a writer explained what you want out of drama: Let’s say it’s the end of the season, and Notre Dame’s playoff hopes rest upon Penn State winning their final game (and they’re 0-11) — nothing else could help the Irish get in, no other combination of wins or losses, plane crashes, plague outbreaks, anything. I still want Penn State to lose. (Not intended to trigger Notre Dame or Penn State fans–just fun)
  • If your drama is around romance, you need to make someone love the other like the devil loves sin.
  • One friend says she throws in a fight when the plot bogs down.
  • Leave more to the imagination. Don’t connect all the dots. Let the reader ponder over them.
  • If you can’t get the drama to ratchet up, work on your characters. Daniel Silva is one of my favorite thriller writers. Here’s what he said about creating characters that are as interesting as the plot:

“Boswell … was one of those Americans who formed their impressions of life in the United Kingdom by watching reruns of Masterpiece Theater.”

I’m completely wrapped up in how Boswell sees the UK now.

  • Writers Relief says this about the juxtaposition of characters and drama: “Amp up your character’s desires.”
  • Build a character that sees rules as suggestions then have him break one every time things slow down.
  • If you can’t get your readers to gasp with horror, at least let them chuckle. Add some humor.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Winter 2021. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning



Against All Odds – Book 3 – Crossroads Trilogy – Jacqui Murray


Excerpt: Chapter 1 

The foothills of the Pyrenees


They came out of the mountains, hair frozen in sparkling strands, hands and feet wrapped in shredded pelts, ribs etched against their skin under ragged hides white with snow, faces haggard with fatigue. Blood crusted scrapes and gashes, many recent, others almost healed, reminders of the violent struggles endured on their journey.

Though their steps flagged, not one of these upright creatures exhibited a hint of defeat. All males and a few females carried at least one spear, some two, many with warclubs strapped to their backs. Despite the anxiety and fear of entering this foreign land, hope energized them today, that their migration might be at an end.

All of them—Xhosa and her tribe, Pan-do and his, Wind, Zvi, and Seeker—had been chased from their homes by enemies. In their flight, they found each other. It took time to work through their differences but now they traveled side by side, respected ideas not theirs, and called themselves the People.

Their charismatic Leaders—Xhosa, Wind, and Pan-do—were known as reliable friends to those who earned their trust and dangerous enemies to those who opposed them. Two wolves—Spirit and Black Wolf—journeyed with them. Though the People lacked the animals’ sharp claws, dense fur, and piercing teeth, each considered the other “pack” and would defend them to death.

The exhausted group straggled down the gently sloping flank, feet shuffling carefully over the slippery scree. The ground changed from talus to stunted tufts of grass, sparse and brown which made walking easier. Optimism shone from their faces even as their tired eyes flicked side to side in search of unexpected movement, ears strained for out-of-place noises, and noses sniffed.

 Rather than continue across the meadow, Xhosa led the People into the shade of the edging forest.

“Do you smell it, Wind?” Anticipation filled her gestures.

She and Wind, pairmates and Co-Leaders, stood quietly, absorbing their surroundings. Light filtered lazily through the canopy, the shadowed ground dappled with patches of warmth. She sniffed in the essence of wet earth and rotting leaves, the mustiness of moss, and something else much more enticing.

“It’s there.” She pointed and strode forward, lengthening her stride.

An icy gust whipped down the hillside through the shadows and raised bumps on her arms but she ignored it. The forest gave way to open sky and searing heat. It was too hot for her thin pelt but she didn’t stop to remove it. Green stalks swayed as far as she could see, edged on one side by more mountains and the other by some sort of leaves and branches. Sunlight glinted off the rippled surface of a distant river as it curled over the terrain.

“Dung!” The scent overpowered every other odor.

Wind huffed to her side. “It’s been a long time since we smelled dung that wasn’t frozen.”

“We did it, Wind.” Her eyes glistened with relief.

For most of a Moon, dread gnawed at her courage and left her wondering if following the guidance of Seeker—a boy barely a man—was a mistake. But Seeker assured her in his ebullient way that once out of the hills, their new homebase would welcome them. Xhosa wanted to believe him because she wasn’t sure what else to do. Nor did she know what to do if it didn’t work.

Wind motioned, arms inclusive, “It’s beautiful, Xhosa.”

Siri, Pan-do, Ngili, the wolves Spirit and Black Wolf, and the rest of the People gathered around Xhosa and Wind, eyes locked on what lay in front of them.

Pan-do whispered, “We made it.” His eyes were moist, mouth open.

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, hands close to his body. “With all this grass, Gazelle or Mammoth must be nearby.”

Dust, the Lead Scout, trotted up, coming from a tall cliff far ahead on their forward path. “I think there are caves there.”

The People hadn’t slept in a cave since leaving Viper and the Mountain Dwellers. It would be a treat if true.

Xhosa looked behind. Shadows already stretched as far from the bottom of the rocky slopes as sunlight to the top. Daylight would soon end.

“We have little time. Let’s rest and then see if those are caves.”

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, fingers spaced out, palms up, “I’ll go with Dust to check.” He added a swift spread-fingered swipe with first one hand and then the other, followed by a quick bob of his head and a puff.

Xhosa brushed both hands down her sides. Go.

The People spoke with a complex combination of hand motions, facial expressions, body movements, and sounds augmented with chirrups, snaps, hisses, and whistles. By the time Ngili finished talking, Xhosa knew how many would join him, where they would go, and how long they’d be away. The People’s communication was sophisticated but quiet, a precaution especially in unfamiliar areas. Unusual sounds—voices, for example—stood out. All animals made noises, but few as varied as the People’s. Why alert Others who lived here to their presence? Xhosa would do that in her own time, in her own way.

Dust, Ngili, and two scouts soon receded into the landscape, the only evidence of their passage a slight disturbance in the slender waving stalks. Despite the dung scents, the abundant plant food, and the glisten of a faraway river, Xhosa crossed her arms over her chest and paced.

Something is wrong.

She searched the forests and the rippling field that had swallowed up Dust and Ngili . Xhosa possessed the ability to see great distances in sufficient detail to find trails, footprints, movement, or the glitter of sun off eyes.

She saw none of those and that made her more uncomfortable.

With this wealth of food and water, Others should be here.

Wind motioned, palms flattened against his chest, “The mountains we crossed touched Sun. They’re cold and barren. Few can do what we did to get here, Xhosa. We are safe.”

Xhosa could hear in his voice, see in his gestures, that despite his bravado, Wind too felt uneasy about what they didn’t see and hear.

But she grinned. “I don’t know how I survived without someone being able to read my thoughts.”

She trotted over to a stream that fed into the river she had noticed. She stretched out on her belly, flat on the soft grass at the water’s edge, and took a long, satisfying drink of the sweet liquid. Thirst quenched, she collected handfuls of the tender shoots of new plants growing along the shore, ate what she wanted and tossed the rest into a communal food pile that would be shared with all the People. It was already filling up with fat fish speared from the slow-moving pools beside the river, tasty reeds and cattails, and even a handful of eggs plucked from nests not hidden well enough along the shore and in the roots of trees. The wolves snapped birds from the air and swallowed them almost whole, coughing up feathers.

Xhosa leaned back on her hands, sniffing the unique fragrance of each groupmember. Zvi was sweaty from wrestling with Spirit. Siri smelled sourly of hunger, but she wouldn’t eat until Honey’s bleeding foot was wrapped in mulch and leaves. The females with new babies exuded the pleasant aroma of milk. Some scents jumbled together, making them impossible to identify. When Xhosa became Leader of the People, before it merged with Pan-do’s and Hawk’s, the People had been small enough that she could recognize everyone by their odor. Now, she kept track of her tribe while Pan-do did the same with his. Wind helped everyone.

Done eating, the People sprawled on the warm ground, soaking up Sun’s remaining rays, chatting contentedly with gestures and the occasional sigh. Water dripped from their thawing bodies, soaking into the thirsty ground, as the remaining ice and snow on their pelts and in their hair melted away.

Xhosa and Wind sat apart from the others, on a log long ago softened by rot. She uprooted handfuls of grass and wiped the sweat from Wind’s body, as he did hers. The soft scratch felt good and the earthy fragrance reminded her of times long gone. When he finished, she harvested chunks of green moss from the log’s decaying bark and stuffed them into her neck sack. All the People wore one of these around their necks. Even the wolves did when they were migrating.

Finished, she leaned against Wind and closed her eyes. In a group of Others, her pairmate stood out. A Big Head, the People’s traditional enemy, the ones who drove Xhosa and her tribe from their long-established home, Wind had earned Xhosa’s trust by saving her life more than once and then, as a member of her People, sharing Big Head spear tricks and warrior skills with her Leads. Before long, each of them individually told her that thanks to Wind they could now defeat an attack which they couldn’t have done in the past. Whatever distrust her People harbored toward him faded away.

“Xhosa!” Dust panted up to her. “I found a cave. And we found trace of a herd. Ngili is tracking it.”

By the time Sun settled into its night nest, it ensconced the People in the cave Dust found. They had to squeeze together to fit, but it thrilled all to sleep without waking to frozen toes and numb fingers. Stone and Zvi—the burliest of the People—lugged rocks in and Siri built a fire that quickly warmed the interior. The subadults gathered kindling to feed it and arranged who would be responsible throughout the night for keeping it lit.

Usually, the wolves slept scattered among the People, but with Black Wolf close to delivering her pups, she dug out an opening in the back and claimed it as her den. Then she settled to her belly, one leg forward, the other bent back, eyebrows twitching.

Xhosa strode toward the nest she would share with Wind but stopped at the sight of Seeker, weight on his bottom, legs crossed in front of his body in the uncomfortable position he preferred. His pairmate Lyta curled next to him with their best friend, Zvi.

Xhosa approached Seeker. “You are not outside.”

Every night as long as Xhosa could remember, the enigmatic male lay on his back, gaze fixed steadily on the star-dotted sky, spouting what to Xhosa sounded like gibberish to whoever listened. Intermittently, he leapt to his feet and spun dizzying circles or bounced from one foot to the other, huffing and chirping. Lyta and Zvi would either join him or watch. He once explained to Xhosa that this was how he studied the changes in the night sky—the appearance and disappearance of particular stars or their movement in relation to each other—so he could guide the People accurately. This nightly process was how they had moved from the distant start of Endless Pond to this cave where Endless Pond seemed to end.

He didn’t respond to her statement, didn’t even acknowledge her. That worried Xhosa. She hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that danger lurked around them, somewhere. Seeker’s anxious look didn’t help.

She squatted at his side and added a question to her declaration. “The stars aren’t talking to you?”

To the side, Lyta wriggled, not comfortable in the seated position Seeker preferred but determined to try because Seeker liked it so much. Zvi crouched on the balls of her feet, the more traditional pose. She’d tried to sit on her bottom, legs crossed in front, but kept falling backward. Besides, it took her too long to rise from that position, which meant if Lyta needed help, she couldn’t respond quickly. Squatting, for her, made more sense. Seeker didn’t care. He expected all to do what worked for them. Both his best friend and his future pairmate were long accustomed to his eccentricities.

Finally, Seeker offered Xhosa only a confused frown.

That’s not a “Yes, they are,” and that raised the hair on her neck. Before she could ask more, Ngili scrambled through the thistle barrier the youngsters had placed around the cave’s mouth to prevent the entrance of intruders and hurried toward Xhosa.

He motioned, “I lost the herd’s trace in the dark. I’ll try again tomorrow,” and then raced toward where the hunters had gathered. They were all tired. Some would mate before sleeping but not Ngili. He hadn’t given up hope that his pairmate, Hecate, would come back.

After a last glance at Seeker, Xhosa joined Wind in their nest. She squatted behind him and teased the dirt and debris from his long head hair, occasionally focusing on a difficult tangle until her fingers could move easily through his hair. When she finished, he did the same for her.

As he groomed, he said, “I’ll join Ngili tomorrow. If there are herds, we will find them.”

“Pan-do and I will continue with the People.”

They said nothing more, both enjoying the calming feel of nails scratching on their skin and the intimacy of someone they trusted implicitly. Done, both fell asleep.

The first rays of daylight filtered into the cave. Black Wolf was already outside, padding back and forth restlessly, huffing uncomfortably. Wind left with Ngili and a handful of scouts, knowing Xhosa would leave a trail to wherever they settled when Sun’s light ran out. Though Spirit usually went with the hunters, today he stayed with Black Wolf.

Xhosa and Pan-do led. Dust copied their pace and direction, but a distance away. With Ngili and Wind searching for meat, Xhosa focused on finding a cave large enough for the People. They strode onward, gaze sweeping the landscape, everyone grazing on berries, roots, and worms as they walked. Sporadically, Xhosa heard a faraway squawk or glimpsed a covey of birds as they exploded into flight, fleeing an unknown threat. It was the direction Ngili and Wind had told her how far they’d gotten.

The People rested by a waterhole. They searched its shoreline for prints but found none. Wherever the herds lived, they didn’t drink here, so the People moved on, through copses of young saplings and around a bed of haphazardly strewn boulders. The air tasted of flowers, warm earth, and the mild tang of salt, but the dung they found was hard and old.

Xhosa touched Pan-do’s hand, and both stopped, eyes forward. “Do you smell that? It reminds me of Endless Pond.”

He pointed to his powerful side and the direction they were walking. “From there and there. How can it be on two sides?”

Xhosa tingled. One of her People—Rainbow—had abandoned them long ago, taking many males and females with him. Others she and her People ran into while migrating here told her Rainbow traveled the same route she did but along the opposite shore of Endless Pond. For him, as for her, this was as far as he could go without a folding back on himself.

If they got this far. If any survived.

She pushed aside those thoughts. Before searching for whatever remnants remained of Rainbow’s group, the People must find a home base. All they suffered to get here—the interminable walking, losing Hawk, the death of group members, Nightshade’s treachery—was for naught if they didn’t establish a home.

Spirit bumped her leg. Black Wolf panted at her mate’s side, her belly almost touching the ground.

Xhosa motioned, “Your mate’s pups won’t wait much longer. We will find a den for her.”

Spirit took off, his movements graceful and fluid with Black Wolf lumbering after him.

Not much later, Pan-do squinted ahead. “I think Spirit found a cave.”

Xhosa leaned forward, narrowing her gaze, and finally saw where Spirit stopped. He sat on his haunches at the base of a cliff, facing her, nose twitching, tail swishing the dirt behind him.

It took the rest of the day to cross over the craggy scrubland, up and down the deep ravines, and around the occasional spot of slippery ice. The cave proved too small for the People but not for Black Wolf’s needs. With much scuffling and panting, she created a nest for her pups and disappeared into the cool black hole. The People settled outside, under an overhang that would protect them from rain and predators, and far enough away to not bother the new mother. As soon as Ngili and Wind arrived, shaking their heads they hadn’t found a herd, they left again to search for signs of a trail left by former inhabitants of this cave.

Xhosa’s chest squeezed, and her stomach knotted. Spirit padded up to her side, hackles puffed, nostrils flaring. He agreed. Something about this area made her tingle but for now, until Black Wolf finished, they must stay.


Book information:

 Title and author: Against All Odds

Series: Book 3 in the Crossroads series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Digitally (print soon) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021.


Social Media contacts:


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Einstein’s Compass wins Finalist 2020 Rone Book Cover Award

Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure
Wins Finalist
2020 Rone Book Cover Award



“…a riveting fantasy about soul-searching and growth which will keep young adult readers engrossed to the end.” —D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

How did Albert Einstein come up with his wondrous theories of light and time?

In Einstein’s Compass: A YA Time Traveler Adventure, a young Albert is gifted a supernatural compass that allows him to travel through time and space. He finds wisdom in other dimensions, like the lost city of Atlantis, but evil forces seek the power of the compass, including a monstrous, shape-shifting dragon from a different age.

Can the compass protect Albert from such villainy?


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Thrilling Events When Three Animals Converge

This is a thriller chapter where we find three animals. Raka, the evil dragon and doppelganger, the Hoopoe Bird, and a squirrel. Raka finds Albert because he saw the Hoopoe Bird perched outside the alehouse. Little does the dragon know what the little protector can do. Walking in the black night you can feel the hot slimy breath of Raka surreptitiously stalking Albert. As Raka sneaked up behind Albert, his deadly weapon readied out of nowhere like a missile, the Hoopoe Bird drops from the sky. The bird’s sharp beak pierces the stalker’s eye. Surprise! The dragon stumbles and loses control of his cane. The needle covered in a lethal dose of poison shoots out and finds a squirrel. Poor scorched tree rat shrivels up into a puddle of ooze. Unaware of the dragon and what has just happened, Albert sees the squirrel burn up like crisp toast. He shakes his head in disbelief, mounts his bicycle and heads home. The twists and turns of Einstein’s Compass are just beginning. The science fiction fantasy will keep you wanting more.

Einstein's Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure - Chapter 10 Excerpt

Raka was deep in thought, speculating on what he had heard when he saw the younger man reach into his pocket and pull out his money clip along with a round, brass device. Raka held his breath. There it was, his treasure! He wanted to jump up and grab it but had enough presence of mind to know that was not the way to achieve his aim. In the excitement of seeing the Shamir, Raka’s concentration weakened, and the illusion of his human form faded. Scales appeared on his face. He rubbed his hands over his cheeks quickly, and his soft, human complexion returned. Shaking with anticipation, his proximity overwhelmed Raka to the prize he had sought for millennia. As Albert and Max stood up and made their way to the front door, neither noticed the blond gentleman at the table behind them.

Raka waited until Max and Albert had left the alehouse before he tossed a few coins on the table and followed. As he exited the building, he saw Max walking to the left and Albert going right to fetch his bicycle at the library. Raka grinned and moved along the cobblestone street toward Albert, melting into the pitch-black night. Albert rounded the corner of the now-dark library and walked to where he had parked his bike. Lost in thoughts of his future, he was unaware of Raka approaching him from behind. Panting in anticipation, Raka prepared to strike, cosmic law be damned. He readied his weapon by pressing the dragon’s ruby eyes and exposing the toxic steel needle. Just as he aimed, out of nowhere, the hoopoe bird flew straight into the evil lizard, its pointed bill piercing his left eye. Raka stifled a cry and crouched to the ground in pain as the swift bird flew away.

Pulled from his musing by the muffled sound, Albert looked around. But the night was wicked, and he saw neither Raka nor the weapon which fell from his grasp as the lizard covered his wounded eye. The walking stick tumbled to the cobblestone pavement, and the poisoned needle tip broke with a snap, bouncing onto a squirrel nearby, causing it to chatter angrily. As he was placing his leg over his bicycle, Albert heard the noise and saw the little rodent scurry past him. Because it was so dark, Albert did not believe his eyes as the creature’s fur smoked and the animal appeared to disintegrate into a puddle of ooze. Albert shook his head, chiding himself for the way his eyes deceived him. He pulled the collar of his coat tighter around him to protect himself from the cutting wind.

Muttering soundless curses at the hoopoe bird, Raka skulked in the darkness, attempting to tend his wound. Far from fatal for the changeling, it was painful enough to demand his attention. He cursed himself soundly for his over-eagerness and realized what he had nearly done. The price he would have paid, he realized, would have been too high, even for the Shamir. He would not make that mistake again.

Walking in the dark, wintry night, Raka vowed to lay a far more foolproof plan. Yes, it would take time. Yes, he would have to be patient. But he would not let the Shamir slip through his clutches again. A plan formed in his mind—one that involved other humans. Like a precious seed, he would nurture it until it blossomed and bore fruit.

Astride his bicycle, Albert pedaled toward his aunt’s house, his mind filled with thoughts of a much brighter future. Not far behind, the hoopoe flew, ever vigilant, watching for the potential dangers of which Albert was blissfully unaware.

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Break Free of What’s Holding You Back

By: Jennifer Scott

When you feel stuck in life, something is missing and you aren’t living life to its full potential, it’s often tempting to blame outside factors for these issues. There will always be factors we can’t control, but the way we handle these circumstances really holds us back. And more often than not, the power to turn our lives around lies in what we should stop doing, as opposed to what we are doing.

Having a Fixed Mindset

 If you haven’t heard of the concept of a fixed vs. growth mindset, it comes down to how you view your own capabilities. Someone with a fixed mindset thinks they have a certain set of talents and that trying anything else is entirely pointless. While this may sound like an overgeneralization and something that you would never do, many of us approach life with a fixed mindset without even fully realizing it.

When you put a stop to that fixed mindset, you stop holding yourself back through thoughts and actions that are self-sabotaging. We can apply this idea to anything you’re hesitant to improve or even try in the first place, from exercise and other health goals to work to relationships.


One of the most powerful ways many of us hold ourselves back is avoidance. Whether it’s a task at work, scary “life” stuff, confronting a coworker or spouse, or issues in relationships, it feels easier to avoid them. The problem is that avoidance can have serious consequences.

Even when you know you need to do something, there are still times when anxiety can get in the way. Along with focusing on why the action is so important, Zen Habits recommends meditating on your fears and anxieties. Doing this helps you accept your fears so you can move forward in life with self-compassion.

Regret and Worry

 Along the same lines, too many of us go through life with regrets. No matter what we do, we will have missed opportunities and choices. We would make unique choices if we had the chance. What holds us back is when we dig into regret and stay there. To let go of regrets, apply the same principles of a growth mindset, which means nixing negative self-talk and self-judgment. This is the first step to move forward.

We can also live with less regret in the first place by being proactive about our goals. After identifying regrets, consider setting long- and short-term goals, and then giving yourself daily actions for working toward them. Even with this plan, worry still holds many people back from working toward goals.

For many people, habits like worry and avoidance have been with us as long as we can remember. As a result, putting a stop to them may not happen overnight, but remember that a growth mindset means you can make a change, even if it takes time. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of grace through the process, and you will see how good it feels to move forward.

“Do You Have a Dream Workbook 5 Keys to Realize Your Dream” can assist you navigate life’s challenges. Try the 5 Keys for thirty days and watch your life change with courage, confidence and creativity.

Dedicated to the brave spiritual warrior in everyone.


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Improve Your Health with Compassion and Courage

Dedicated to the brave spiritual warrior in everyone.

The true meaning of courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome fear when we want something bad enough. Even the most courageous of people still feel fear. To tap into this power, be a spiritual warrior. Practice and increase your bravery one courageous act at a time. Shift your inner gears from uncertainty to taking care of yourself first by making priorities that will move your life forward. Be kind to yourself. Have compassion for yourself by practicing gratitude. Begin your day by writing three things your grateful for. Researchers have found a link between gratitude and having lower blood pressure, and fewer aches and pains and improved immunity. Grateful, compassionate people are flexible and even have healthier hearts. #compassion #courage #gratitude.

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Serendipity - Opportunity In The Time of Change

Have you noticed when life is going down a path with a goal in mind, you hit a wall? Like Einstein in this chapter of Einstein’s Compass, life on our planet has changed beyond what we could imagine. You can throw your 2020 Yearly Calendar in the trash. In this chapter of Einstein’s Compass, his studies complete, Albert Einstein’s professors refused to help him secure a teaching job. He thought his life was over until a job at the Patent Office opened. The Patent Office turned out to be the perfect job for Albert. The laboratory gave him the opportunity to experiment with his theories. A lesson from Einstein might be how can we be flexible, learn to adapt and change? It takes courage to face the unknown. Please have compassion for yourself and forgive whatever you think is in your way. Check out Einstein’s Compass on the “Dr. Who” in UK website. Because of the virus they dropped their advertising prices. I received a low cost one-year contact.


Albert threw the letter down on his desk and began pacing. “Fools!”

He was referring to professors Weber and Pernat of the Physics Department at the Polytechnic. They had declined to recommend him for a teaching position now that he had graduated. Albert had sought to locate Professor Meiss who had, at least at first, seemed to understand Albert’s passion for innovative work. But he had become distant and then mysteriously disappeared.

As with most of his education, the general physics classes he took at the Swiss Federal Polytechnical School did not engage Albert. As a result, he had alienated mainly the professors there when he embarked on a course of independent study to learn firsthand from the masters. He wished his idols, James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann, the pioneers and founders of the kinetic theory of matter could have taught him.

Albert had often skipped classes, studied the latest research, and then naively wondered why the school’s faculty turned him down when he sought a referral to teach. The fact was, his professors understood his genius, but would not tolerate his lack of respect for them or the traditional theories of physics they taught.

After four years of study, by the end of October 1900, Albert was no longer a student, and he was jobless. He had churned out job applications and letters, and by 1901, had a truly impressive stack of rejection postcards. Albert wondered if anti-Semitism played a role in his inability to land a job. The jury was out on that.

Nearing desperation, Albert reached out to his school friend Michael Besso, who had wandered around for a while after graduating and then became an engineer in Italy. Of all the people Albert knew, aside from his fiancée, Besso was his closest friend. But, friendship or not, even he could not help.

Feeling thwarted at every turn, a ray of hope came through his former classmate and college friend Michael Grossman, with whom Albert would often ditch class and go to the cafes to debate “real” science. Michael had learned of an opportunity at the Swiss Patent Office. Michael’s father knew the director of there and offered to recommend Albert for the position. Although it was not anything close to what Albert had dreamt of as his first position after graduation, he was now at the point of entertaining any possibility. Albert hoped to hear soon whether he was accepted for the job.


* * *


The sun would not rise for another three hours, but Albert was awake. Dressed in his bathrobe and slippers, he was bleary-eyed from too much coffee and not enough sleep. Anxious about his cash running out and still without a job, he sat at the kitchen table piled high with notebooks that were crammed with math equations. In pursuit of an answer to his life’s predicament, he drew his twelve-jeweled compass from his bathrobe pocket.

As it often did, the compass triggered memories of the day when his father offered him not just a brass direction finder but also awakened him to the quest to discover the unforeseen forces of the universe. Albert brought the compass closer to his heart and closed his eyes. As Arka had taught him, he repeated the blessing to activate the compass.

Almost as soon as he completed the prayer, Albert heard a guitar playing and a man with a Scottish accent singing a Robert Burns poem, “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” As the music became more explicit, an image formed. It shocked Albert to see James Clerk Maxwell, who had studied and reported on electricity as early as 1855. Maxwell’s work on electromagnetism, kinetic theory, and thermodynamics won him every scientific honor of his time. His most significant discovery, though, followed his equations for electromagnetism, which were called the second grand unification in physics, following the first from Sir Isaac Newton.

A devout evangelical Presbyterian and elder in the Scottish Church, Maxwell completed his song, then said to Albert, “Aye, boy-o, what you seek is beyond math. What principles of the many disciplines that you have learned have you mastered? The Lord sees the universe in harmony. Find the unity in all.”

As the first light of dawn hit his eyes, it startled Albert awake from his reverie, the compass still gripped securely in his palm. Inspiration struck him like a physical blow, and he exclaimed, “Oh, I understand how to merge my work on capillarity to Boltzmann’s theory of gases!” Albert hurriedly put the compass back in his pocket and started scribbling away in his notebook.


* * *

The senior Grossman’s recommendation did the trick, and they hired Albert at the patent office. While it relieved him to have an income, science was still Albert’s first love. As a patent clerk, he analyzed technical designs and often collaborated with inventors by making recommendations on their experiments. Oddly, since Albert was fresh with contemporary theories and a fresh approach to step outside the box and plan a new direction in physics, the Swiss Patent Office became the ideal laboratory for his experiments.

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Tips for Coping With Changes Brought on by the Pandemic - Guest Post

  • Tips for Coping With Changes Brought on by the Pandemic

    Whether we like it, change is a fact of life that we can’t avoid. There are some changes we expect, but life also throws us some curveballs that we never see coming. Going through a pandemic is one life change most of us never predicted, and now that it’s here, we’ve experienced just how quickly our everyday lives can be upended. These unexpected changes are both big and small. They come with some surprising benefits, along with extra challenges.

    There’s a lot outside our control, but what you can control is how you respond to these changes. As Grace Allison says, in her book, ‘Do You Have a Dream Workbook 5 Keys to Realize Your Dream’, it takes “courage, confidence, and creativity” to change your life for the better.

    Recreate Routines

    Most of us thrive on routine, even if we aren’t aware of it. But since the pandemic, your routine probably looks different. Maybe you’ve lost your job or have worked from home. You may not get to church to worship or the gym to work out.

    According to Business Insider, two ways to respond to these changes successfully include (1) setting a new schedule, and (2) focusing on what you can control. How can you set a schedule that includes your usual activities, only done from home? If you’re missing your usual workout, try a workout app or video. If you’re missing your faith community, the Mayo Clinic recommends using this time to focus even more on your spiritual life, even if that’s something you have to do outside of church.

    Explore New Possibilities

     While recreating routines is a positive step, this may also be the perfect time to try something new. If your job situation has changed, why not look into fresh opportunities? Even while some companies are laying off employees, others are going strong, and many are finding the talent they need through hiring freelancers. For example, if you’re knowledgeable about desktop publishing and typesetting, including experience with Adobe InDesign, an online job board like Upwork is perfect for finding your first clients. Or perhaps you’re an animal lover and would like to start your own dog-walking business.

    Alternative possibilities can also come in the form of new hobbies. Have you heard that more people are gardening these days? Gardening is one hobby that provides more happiness than other daily activities, including ones we’re now missing (like shopping or eating at your favorite restaurant). So if you haven’t tried gardening before, or previously didn’t have enough time for it, starting a garden now is a productive way to find an alternative source of happiness.

    Manage Change With Creativity

     When we’re confronted with changes are outside our control, the only thing we can do is adapt. However, it’s perfectly okay if you’re feeling sad, frustrated, angry, and even anxious. These feelings are valid, but what you don’t want to do is let them consume you. Working with a therapist or spiritual advisor is one healthy way to process these emotions, and another way is to do something creative.

    If you enjoy writing, consider starting a gratitude journal, or try one of these tips from PsychCentral for writing to help process emotions. If you’re more drawn to visual arts, dedicate some time to an art form you enjoy, and maybe even take online lessons. No matter what you pick, spending time on a creative activity is productive, which is a great way to get a sense of accomplishment during a time when many of us miss that feeling.

    We’re all missing our normal lives right now. But what if your old normal isn’t the life meant for you? Maybe this new normal holds opportunities you never would have sought. It’s okay to miss your old routines, but don’t stay so focused on the old that you let these new opportunities pass you by!

    Photo credit: Pixabay

    Thank you!

    Jennifer Scott |

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Do You Have the Courage of Einstein?

Albert Einstein was never always famous. Born a Jew, he attended a Catholic school where he faced bullies daily chanting words of antisemitism. At age 16 his parents moved to Italy without him. Left alone, he had no one to help him face the brutal torture of his teachers and peers. When he graduated from college, his professors refused to give him referrals to find a job. What did Albert have that kept him going? A compass his father gave him when he was a boy. The compass was more than a direction finder. It became his moral code, a dream to stay on course, to discover what is time, what is light. Albert had courage, the heart to continue his journey, no matter who stood in his way or what tried to stop him. In this time of darkness, find your spiritual compass. Maybe you too can change the world.

Chapter 15 – Hate

The room filled with wooden desks arranged in three precisely regimented double rows facing the wall-to-wall blackboard at the front of the room. Albert made his way to a seat at the end of one row. Dropping his books on the desk, he searched for Johann. It surprised him to see his friend sitting next to Werner von Wiesel. When Johann glanced up, Albert gestured for his friend to sit next to him. Johann shook his head and looked down, unable to meet Albert’s eyes. Puzzled, Albert shrugged and sat as a blond boy took what was to have been Johann’s seat.

His back to the class, the teacher, Herr Hamlin, spoke while he wrote on the blackboard, “What… does it… mean… to be… German?” Dressed in a simple, dark-green wool suit, the tall, white-haired gentleman stood stiffly erect. He turned to face the class. “Today we will discuss the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and its impact on the people of Germany. Can anyone tell the class how the war of 1870 changed Germany?”

The boy next to Albert raised a hand.

Herr Hamlin gestured with chalk. “Yes, Herr Frederick?”

Ulrich Frederick stood, cleared his throat, and precisely stated his answer. “Prussian and German victory brought about the final unification of Germany. It was under King Werner I of Prussia.”

Hamlin, facing the class, crossed his arms. “Who were the two military leaders who conducted the war?”

Werner von Wiesel, shouted in a bored tone from his seat, “Napoleon III for France and Bismarck for Germany.”

Hamlin nodded, “Good.” Then he smiled. “You know, Herr von Wiesel, I served under your father during the Franco-Prussian War.”

Werner puffed himself up as he stood. “Yes, Herr Hamlin. When my father talks of the war, he often mentions you and your bravery as a soldier.” All eyes on him, Werner smiled and straightened his waistcoat. “My father feels that all Germany should have helped the Prussians.”

In a loud voice, Hamlin stabbed the blackboard with his index finger. “The young of our nation needs to be reminded of who we are. So, tell me, Herr von Wiesel, what does it mean to be German?”

Werner pulled his shoulders back and thrust out his chest, saying, “To be German means to be STRONG!”

Hamlin nodded approvingly, then turned to Albert’s seatmate. “Herr Frederick, what do you say it means to be a German?”

“That one is brave and honorable,” Herr Frederick said, then sat with near-military precision.

All eyes turned to Albert. He stood to answer, but before he could get a word out, Werner spat out, “You’re a Jew, not a German. You’re a foreigner who will disgrace the German Army when you get drafted next year.”

Albert glared at Werner, putting his hands on his hips. “I only want to be a scientist. I will not serve in the army. I do not believe in war.” What an arrogant loudmouth, Albert thought.

Werner turned and gave Johann a wicked wink. He pointed at Albert and taunted, “As you can see by his comment, Herr Hamlin, our Jew is a coward.”

Albert’s face reddened as his anger rose. “To my mind, compulsory military service is the prime cause of moral decay. It threatens not just the survival of our country, but of our very civilization!”

Herr Hamlin removed his spectacles and polished them with a clean, white handkerchief. In a stern voice he warned, “Careful, Herr Einstein, you could face imprisonment if you do not serve.” Holding his glasses up to the light and approving of their cleanliness, he said, “After all, the German National Army and universal military service were organized after the Franco-Prussian War. Bismarck’s vision brought about the victory over Napoleon III that led to the unification of our nation. You wouldn’t challenge that, now would you?”

Albert clenched his jaw but had the sense to hold his tongue as Herr Hamlin continued after a pause. “Napoleon III surrendered in January 1871, after being under siege from Sept 19, 1870. The Treaty of Frankfurt was signed on May 10, 1871. France ceded Alsace, except Belfort and eastern Lorraine, to Germany.” Hamlin put his spectacles back on, saying, “The German Army could occupy northern France until we received payment of five billion Francs. Now, Germany has the strongest economy on the Continent thanks to this war.” Hamlin turned, then turned back. “And the strongest military!”

Once again turning his gaze from Albert, Hamlin said, “I am going to end our discussion of what it means to be German and move on to other topics. However, I want each of you to attend the Volkisch rally this evening. It is at the Englischer Garden.” Straightening the rare items on his already meticulously neat desk, he instructed, “Be prepared to give your answer to my question in our next class.”

Albert frowned, thinking about the rally that was sure to be filled with anti-Semitic rhetoric. Those thoughts kept him distracted for the rest of the period. The nationalistic talk that promoted violence and hatred was becoming more prevalent by the day.

When Herr Hamlin dismissed the class, Albert gathered his books, then looked to where Johann had been sitting. His friend was no longer there. In fact, Albert did not see him anywhere in the rapidly emptying room. Leaving the classroom, he resumed his search outside the building.

He eventually found Johann huddled under a tree facing away from the Gymnasium. “Johann?” Albert saw his friend cringe at the sound of his voice. Albert carefully sat on the ground next to Johann. “What’s the matter, my friend?” Johann would not look at Albert and only shook his head, nervously glancing around. Puzzled, Albert tried again. “So, why did you sit with Werner today? You and I usually sit together.”

A forlorn whimper escaped Johann’s lips. With pain in his eyes, he turned to his friend. “Albert, I know we have been friends for years, but…” Johann paused, then sighed, “no more.” Albert gasped as if someone had hit him in the stomach. Johann was more a brother than a friend. Johann looked down and said, “Things are changing in Germany. Bullies like Werner…”

“…are rising in popularity and influence. I know,” Albert completed Johann’s sentence.

“Yes,” said Johann bleakly. “It’s gotten to where harm will come to my family and me if I remain friends with you.”

Albert’s eyes filled with tears. “You’re right. It’s getting that ugly.” Albert’s heart filled with resolve. “We cannot let anything happen to you or your family because of me and mine.” Albert gripped Johann’s arm. “We will not surrender to this hatred… but we will go along with what we must do to keep you safe, for now.”

Tears spilled onto Johann’s cheeks. He looked into Albert’s eyes. “I knew you would understand. You are a better man than I am, Albert.” He squeezed Albert’s arm again, as he made his way to his feet. “And… thank you, Albert. We will find a way through this. I know we will.”

Albert could only nod as he watched his friend walk away. “We will find a way.” But he sighed as he got back up. But God only knows how long it will take and what will happen in the meantime, he thought. Albert walked back toward the school building, a shivery feeling of dread filling his stomach, and sadness weighing down his heart.


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How to Deal with the Inner Critic Inside

Did you know you have a five-year-old child inside your belly? Mental health professionals call it the inner child. Its job is self-preservation. When a life storm comes along like the pandemic, the little one takes the driver’s seat. When you feel scared, your heart beating fast, mind swimming, what will I do next, who will rescue me? The little one inside sends you in directions to protect you. Sometimes the direction might eat and drinking foods for comfort. Using credit cards, and spending money you do not have.

When a crisis hits help the little one to feel safe. Take care of yourself by creating priorities. Eat healthy foods for each meal. Sleep at least six hours a night, naps when needed. Exercise walking helps the inner child to quiet. Meditation, prayer and giving thanks for what you have.

The inner child likes to communicate through writing. I recommend my “Do You Have a Dream Workbook 5 Keys to Realize Your Dream”. The self-directed Workbook has ten chapters with a 5 step-process to direct you in a positive direction. When used for at least thirty days you will feel greater confidence, courage, and creativity.

Grace Allison Blair is an award-winning self-help and motivational author, and podcast host, who has assisted thousands to find their spiritual wisdom to solve everyday challenges.

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Hall Ways Einstein’s Compass Audiobook Review

HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio Book Review: Einstein’s Compass is a HIGHLY imaginative mix of historical fact, biblical and mythological references, and spiritual mysticism that will keep readers’ brains whirling and fully engaged.

“He held his breath as the stink of foul, stale blood

and dark purpose filled the air.”

Figurative language coupled with rich, detailed descriptions make it easy to imagine the fantastic, but it also makes it easy to get bogged down in it. Though the narrator is spectacular, I think it would have been easier for me to absorb the more technical or spiritual elements of the book by reading with my eyes or better — enjoying the book through a combination of print and audio so I could re-read passages and see spellings of words and names.

I very much enjoy how Einstein’s Compass offers readers a full fantasy experience but also ties it into characters based in history – namely Albert Einstein, but also in religious history, like Moses and Ezekiel, for example, and how there is a whole team of otherworldly beings at work behind the scenes influencing the direction of the world. These actors exist in history, in parallel worlds, and even in limbo as they transition from death to after-life. The bottom line of the book implies that there is much divine and/or otherworldly guidance and intervention in the lives of some – like Albert Einstein – whose paths are meant for greatness.

“My only god is mathematics.”

The story provides a good window into the likely frustration that a young, brilliant Einstein had with classmates and adults who didn’t understand and/or felt intimidated by his intelligence. Also, it is interesting to view young Einstein in context of his being a Jew when already the anti-Semitism is building up and he and others are being singled-out and persecuted.

At special times in human evolution, a traveler is given the keys to soul transcendence: The practices that awaken the awareness of oneself as a soul and as more than that, knowing their oneness with God. This is not a theoretical understanding, but the actual experience of that living reality.

The story gets a little deep at times and includes challenging vocabulary, which could lose some readers. There are astral planes and light travelers (Jesus being the first of the latter), plus there is seduction and references to arousal in the story, so it’s probably more geared for mature, advanced young adult readers. I recommend the book for readers who can go in with open minds and seek new experiences and viewpoints likely different from anything they’ve read before. Einstein’s Compass would be an excellent book for reading clubs because it begs to be discussed.

ABOUT THE NARRATION: Narrator Curt Bonnem does an outstanding job performing the voices of a huge cast of characters, both male and female (and genderless), in a variety of accents, of those both good and evil.  I especially liked his voicing of Jehovah — the ultimate good guy, and Raka – the ultimate bad guy.  There were no technical issues with the recording, and I listened at regular speed and was never impatient with the pace.

Thank you to the author for providing me an audio book download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

The tour is being sponsored by Grace Blair. The gifting of this audio book did not affect my opinion of it.

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