What Bill O’Reilly’s new book on Ronald Reagan gets wrong about Ronald Reagan

Before you see Killing Reagan, please read this…

Katherine's Chronicle

Killing Reagan

Bad sources and old misconceptions persist in “Killing Reagan”

Ronald Prescott Reagan is referred to as “Ron Jr,” a minor matter but a revealing one. The book states that Reagan’s radio broadcasts of the late 1970s were once a week, but they were delivered five times a week. There are dozens of Kelley-type references to horoscope readers, astrologers, an imperious Nancy running the country and generally a persistent, clueless and oblivious Ronald Reagan — addle-brained, out of touch, dangerously uninformed. The most common word used to describe Reagan is probably “confused.”

A large part of the storyline refers to the erroneous contention that there was serious consideration about removing Reagan from office via the 25th Amendment after John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate him in 1981. What’s so remarkable about the 11 days Reagan spent in the…

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Emotional Dragons Eating Authors: Emotions And YOU!!! By Peter Leavell

I heard dragons devour authors who write boring books. Or maybe dragons burn the books. I can’t remember.

Repeat after me—my writing will not be boring.
Jesus wasn’t boring! (Jesus juke!)

You know what deflects boredom? Not reading a boring book.

But even better, add this key ingredient:
Galadriel: “The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail to the ruin of all.” LotR
Your quest is to evoke emotions in readers.
Emotions and Me
I hate waiting. Groans, pleadings, cries for mercy come from my side of the car at every red light. Why? Anger covers my boredom. Makes the dull moments manageable. I’m not emotionally engaged in the bored moment until I’m angry.
David Banner: “Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” TIH

Love can work the same way. Humans are intolerable. We’re writers, so we can admit that little secret. But love makes me want to be with my wife every second of every day.

Miracle Max: “Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.” PB
Credits: Relatable.com
Getting Philosophical

Postmodern America. Emotions reign as king. Emotion is truth. Science is proved and disproved and proved again with no answers to the meaning of life. Philosophy is depressing, and worse, confusing. Religion builds massive structures then erects signs to advertise like banks, promising huge rewards for deposits. How can that be truth?

To most, how I feel is the only motivation that matters. It’s the only truth we can verify. We’re told we can’t control how others feel, only ourselves. So if we control our stimuli, or situations, then we can have a pretty good time.

*Special INSERT: Christians
The truth is Christ. But if Christ is king, then emotions are prince. We look for joy and peace from Christ. God delivers. Beware of guilt, though. We work to assuage guilt, then the lack of guilt is pleasure. Is lack of guilt true joy? For some.
Col. Jessep: ”You want answers?”
Kaffee: “I think I’m entitled to.”
Col. Jessep: “You want answers?”
Kaffee: “I want the truth!”
Col. Jessep: “You can’t handle the truth!” AFGM
Practical Writing Tips

Readers desperately want to feel their pain reflected back through our work. They want joy. They want boredom squashed. They want to learn so they can feel as if they are getting smarter. Evoke emotion!

These are extraordinarily boring for today’s readers:
Endless Flashbacks.
Narrative longer than Tweets.
Mindless monologs.
Action with no point.
Kissing and sex with no point.
Gardening. Just kidding. Gardening is awesome.
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. -Greek Proverb
Last Tidbits of Advice You Can Skip But Shouldn’t:
Sometimes we see the world in a problem/solution kind of way. Society and religion, yes, they have problems. But we use
our fiction to dispense solutions. That’s not art. That’s propaganda. Stop it. It’s boring. The line is too fine to walk. Focus on story, and if there’s a statement in there somewhere, great!

Tension on every page? It’s a cheap emotion and readers grow immune. Vary emotions like you would vary sentence structure.

What’s exciting for some is boring for others. Vary the thrills.


Counterpoints can be set out like drinks for every problem that enters the café. But there’s one truth we can’t get around. Boring doesn’t sell well, unless the professor assigns it. Emotionally engage your reader. Give them something to feel. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll feel alive.

Doc. Frankenstein “It’s Alive! IT’S ALIVE!” YF
Peter Leavell
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho.  www.peterleavell.com.
Posted: September 22, 2016
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Dennis Byrd, the toughest Jet there was, will always be an inspiration to all By Mike Lupica


Dennis Byrd died in a car crash Saturday at 50 years old. (John Minchillo/AP)

Finally there was a collision from which Dennis Byrd, one of the toughest New York Jets who ever lived, could not survive. He was driving in his Hummer north of Claremore, Okla. and suddenly there was a car veering into his lane, and now Byrd is dead. He broke his neck once playing for the Jets. There was the thought that he would never walk again. But he did, and made people cheer him even more than he ever did when he was No. 90 for the Jets. He never did play football again, just went on to live a full and wonderful life. Now it ends, much too soon.

This time the collision is with another car, not Scott Mersereau, a teammate. Byrd was coming hard for the quarterback of the Kansas City Chief, Dave Krieg, in November of 1992. Krieg stepped up in the pocket, which is what quarterbacks do when somebody like Byrd is coming for them. Byrd put his head down at the last second when Mersereau was in front of him. He broke his C-5 vertebra, and was paralyzed for a time. He always believed he would walk again, even when the doctors weren’t so sure; even knowing he would never play football. You better believe he walked. If you knew him at all, you weren’t remotely surprised. Dennis Byrd was always one of those guys who never needed to tell you how tough he was.

Now he is gone, 10 days after his 50th birthday, because of an accident on Oklahoma State Highway 88, between Claremore and Oologah, near Lowry Road. He leaves a wife and four children and a legacy that is a permanent part of Jets history, such an important part that before the Jets played the Patriots in a big playoff game in January of 2011, before Rex Ryan and the Jets went into Foxborough and beat the 14-2 Patriots, it was Dennis Byrd who addressed the team.

“I just heard the most inspirational message of my life,” Braylon Edwards would say of what he heard from Byrd that night.

Dennis Byrd lived a tragic life, but he leaves a huge mark

Of course it was. It was Dennis Byrd. He came out of Tulsa and played four years with the Jets and there was a two-year stretch when he had 20 sacks. He was No. 90, and he was that good, until he collided with Scott Mersereau and his teammates heard him say this:

“Am I going to be paralyzed? I can’t move my legs.”

There was surgery. And rehab. Then you started to see headlines and stories about how he could lift his right leg again, and how he could stand again. And how, by God, he was going to walk again. There was a story, in January of 1993, the Associated Press, when Byrd said: “The physical therapy is difficult. If it hurt this much to play football, I probably would have quit a long time ago.”

He was a good, strong, quiet man of faith, an even better man than he’d been a football player. There was a time, not too terribly long after he got hurt, when I took Mike Utley, the old Detroit Lion who was also paralyzed in a football game, who would never again walk the way Dennis Byrd would walk, to Mount Sinai to meet Dennis Byrd when Utley was about to be honored by Special Olympics Connecticut. There were these two big young guys, these two tough guys, in wheelchairs that day, smiling and joking and laughing and becoming instant friends, joined by the bond and by the knowledge of how quickly things can change. We talk constantly about how the next moment in sports is the one that can change everything. Mike Utley and Dennis Byrd found out the hard way.

Dennis Byrd is attended to by team trainers and medical personnel after suffering a career-ending neck injury. (JIM SULLEY/AP)

“I look at him,” Byrd said, meaning Utley, whose injury was far more serious and far more permanent, “and there’s no way I could ever feel sorry for myself.”

He was like that. He was all that. I remember talking to Arthur Ashe once, after he contracted the AIDS virus that would eventually kill him because of a tainted blood transfusion. And Arthur said that he never once asked himself, “Why me?”

“If I ask myself why this happened to me,” Arthur said, “then I also have to ask why all the good in my life happened to me, why I was able to win our national championship and win Wimbledon when nobody thought I could. I never said ‘why me?’ then. I can’t start now.”

That was Dennis Byrd. That was Dennis Byrd exactly, even if he would never again play pro football after the age of 26. He went around the country and inspired people with his story, and courage. He later did some coaching at Owasso High School in Owasso, Okla., working with the defensive line. The field at Lincoln Christian School in Tulsa, where he also coached, is named after him.

The Jets will always remember the way he played for them until he got hurt that day. Ryan and his coaches and the players in the room that night will never forget the speech he gave before that game in Foxborough against the Patriots, before the Jets got one of the biggest victories they’ve had in their history.

Now No. 90 is gone, at 50. Everybody around here remembers all the times and all the ways the Jets have gotten knocked down in their history. Nobody ever got up the way Dennis Byrd did. He will always be remembered for that.

© Copyright 2016 NYDailyNews.com. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 16, 2o16

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What Is the Oxford Comma and Why Do People Care So Much About It? By Ann Edwards

The Oxford (or serial) comma is the final comma in a list of things. For example:

Please bring me a pencil, eraser, and notebook.

The Oxford comma comes right after eraser.

Use of the Oxford comma is stylistic, meaning that some style guides demand its use while others don’t. AP Style—the style guide that newspaper reporters adhere to—does not require the use of the Oxford comma. The sentence above written in AP style would look like this:

Please bring me a pencil, eraser and notebook.

Unless you’re writing for a particular publication or drafting an essay for school, whether or not you use the Oxford comma is generally up to you. However, omitting it can sometimes cause some strange misunderstandings.

I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

Without the Oxford comma, the sentence above could be interpreted as stating that you love your parents, and your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty. Here’s the same sentence with the Oxford comma:

I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.

Those who oppose the Oxford comma argue that rephrasing an already unclear sentence can solve the same problems that using the Oxford comma does. For example:

I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

could be rewritten as:

I love Lady Gaga, Humpty Dumpty and my parents.
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The Prophet’s Cry Part I

The foundations of society were crumbling. The economic system was collapsing and the law selectively enforced. The religious leaders were more interested in financial gain than cultivating holiness. Evil was prevalent and righteousness suppressed. Sound familiar? This was the state of Israel during Habakkuk’s time, and he had had enough.


From the beginning of the book that bears his name, we are told the nature of Habakkuk’s prophecy, and it isn’t good. “The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw…” was a message of judgment just like the ones given to Isaiah and Nahum. (Is. 13:1, Nahum 1:1).  Despite the warnings, God’s people continued to ignore His word and His law.


It wasn’t a prophecy that was easy to hear and even harder to deliver.  The judgment of unrighteousness cannot come quickly enough for Habakkuk. How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save (Hab.1:2). Listen to David, O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest” (Psalm 22:2). Jeremiah puts it perfectly, “Why are You like a man dismayed, Like a mighty man who cannot save? Yet You are in our midst, O Lord, And we are called by Your name; Do not forsake us!”(14:9).


            Habakkuk’s complaint continues. “Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises” (1:3). King David says, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak” (Psalm 12:1-2).   Human nature hadn’t changed during King Solomon’s reign when he said, Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them”(Ecclesiastes 4:1).


The prophet is not finished. It gets worse. “Therefore the law is ignored. And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.” (1:4). Habakkuk knows that when evil is not dealt with, chaos ensues and society is ripped apart at the seams because the law is not obeyed. Corruption reigned from the top down.  As Isaiah says, Your rulers are rebels And companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe And chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, Nor does the widow’s plea come before them” (1:23).         As King Solomon says, So there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9c).


How many of us identify with the prophet’s position today? Watching evil increase and feeling helpless to stop it is infuriating, particularly when there appears to be no governing authority. If you’ve ever cried out to the Lord about a serious situation, you are not alone. And when God seems silent in the midst of it, the fear and pain are worse. Where is He? If He hates evil, why does He allow it to continue? The consequences of sin are devastating.  It is even more grievous when the righteous suffer because of the things the ungodly do.


But God doesn’t remain silent. He does answer Habakkuk’s cry. He always hears the cry of His own, and He always answers them. God does everything in His time, according to His plan, and for our good. God is consistent with His character, His purposes, and His word. He will not be mocked forever.


To Be Continued….


All Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Version.

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Thank You Vin Scully!

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Invasion of Imaginary People by Peter Leavell

Writers know—characters possess a violent burn to be created. A churning volcano at the best of times, a black hole of unreasonable emotion at the worst.

We’re depressed when we can’t spend time with our characters, and when we sit down to chat, their interest lies somewhere else. Maddening.

Our characters are so real our spouses are jealous. Parents are confused. Children are impatient. Siblings don’t know about “that particular family member.”

But the absurdity can’t be overstated. Our imaginary friends are getting in the way of real relationships.

There’s medicine for it all.

The medicine I would suggest is thankfulness. We’re the lucky ones. And you know why. I don’t have to tell you. If you need help in this area, message me, and we’ll talk.

Here’s a few pointers, though, for coping with a real and an imaginary world in the same mind.

Stay calm. Yes, we’ve had breakthroughs in character developments, but jumping up in a church missions meeting yelling, ‘That’s why your promiscuous behavior is so famous…your mother rejected you, and you’re looking for someone to replace her!’ can lead to embarrassing talks with church administrators. Jot down the thought quickly, and move on.

Divide your time with a thick pen between fiction and reality. Just because you must spend time with your characters to write well doesn’t mean spouses, parents, friends, and utter strangers have to spend time with them. You may find they’re not interested, which is disheartening. I’ve found if I must tell someone about my character, I create another character who is disproportionally fascinated in my imaginary friends.

Let your real friends be the ones to comfort you. Stoicism may come from working through your own personal issues with your characters, but others will think your perfection irritating. I think your perfectionism is irritating. Let us help.

Do not discuss murder methods with your characters in public. For example, in the church hallway, when prepping to speak to 2nd graders and your characters appear, do not mention aloud cement shoes, taking someone to the farm, ballistic therapy, tango down, the number 187, or kevorking anyone. We understand. We really do. But you’ll find your sphere of influence at church shrinking.

Allow your characters to take a role in your life, but do not set a chair at the table for them. Don’t drive them to appointments, unless you’re going there already. It’s okay to fill out job applications for them, but don’t submit them to the company. Don’t tell anyone your crazy new idea for a hairstyle comes from your protagonist. And for goodness sake, don’t let them drive.

Be thankful we have so many interesting people in our lives, real and imaginary. But take care, my friends. The real world is scary.
Peter Leavell
Peter Leavell is an award winning historical fiction author. He and his family research together, creating magnificent adventures. Catch up with him on his website at http://www.peterleavell.com, or friend him on Facebook: Peter R. Leavell.
Posted: September 12, 2016
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