Tag Archives: Parcbench

Politics and the Smart Girl, Part Two

Part Two of my Parcbench interview with Ashley Sewell of Smart Girl Politics covers the upcoming Smart Girl Summit and Ashley’s experiences as a young conservative woman. Please visit the site to read it all:

DD: Do you have any advice for other conservative women?

AS: Yes, recognize and respect your own power; use it wisely. As much as it’s a cliche, you’re not alone so don’t be afraid to jump in! We live in a catty, judgmental world, but you can’t let that stop you from doing the right thing for our country. Our freedom and our nation are just too important to worry about what other people might think.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of your own voice, because there’s definitely a ripple effect. In my own life, as I’ve grown in my political involvement so has my dad, and it has been such a special experience for me. I have also realized that I can never again be afraid to stand up for what I believe in, because by having the courage to do so, I may be inspiring someone else to do the same.

Thank goodness for young, intelligent and involved women like Ashley!

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Politics and the Smart Girl, Part One

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Ashley Sewell, Southwest Regional Coordinator for Smart Girl Politics, a wonderful grassroots organization that’s doing amazing work in taking our country back, one community at a time. The bright, intelligent and effervescent 26 year-old shared her story about becoming an active member of SGP, her own political awakening and her experience as a conservative young woman.  Head on over to Parcbench for the full interview, but here’s a teaser:

Little did Ashley Sewell realize when a woman approached her to take a photo of her sign at an Arlington, Texas Tea Party in April 2009, that she would end up becoming the Southwest Regional Coordinator for Smart Girl Politics (SGP), an online conservative grassroots movement for women that in a very short span of time, has grown from a blog with seven followers to a social media phenomenon with 40,000 members. Her responsibilities with SGP also include writing for their online magazine, Smart Girl Nation, and covering events like CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) and the Right Online Convention. I recently spoke to Ashley about her own political awakening and motivation for transitioning from a successful sales representative to a full-time activist and blogger.

Thank you to Ashley and SGP for being a true beacon of hope and change on the political scene!

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Water Signs: The Seen Versus The Unseen

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” — 2 Corinthians 4:16

I’d posted a cryptic Twitter update the other day alluding to the fact that I’d received confirmation on the accuracy of my intuition, pertaining to a character in my book. I’d recently written that “Erin” was mostly a product of my imagination, an embodiment of the theme of the culture of self-absorption, with her obsession with all things material and superficial. Turns out, as I’ve discovered from a reliable source, I was right on target in my portrayal of her without even realizing it. Of course, the whole LinkedIn incident should have provided a very big clue as to this person’s true nature, along with the revealing status updates that inspired a professionalism post.

Sadly it appears that spouses, just like friends, do indeed have the power to change previously upstanding, deep-thinking  people for the worse, which seems to be the case here. Either that, or for some strange reason, she wants her husband to come across online as an infantile, immature version of his former self — the guy I once knew who inspired a larger-than-life character in both Water Signs and my forthcoming sequel.  Let me just say, I am thrilled that the novel came into existence prior to my knowledge of these realities, because Ken has definitely come into his own as a fictional creation — one that extends far beyond his initial, real-life foundation.

I don’t know if the guy I remember from the past and spoke with over the phone as recently as two years ago even existed in the first place, but I choose to believe in his sincerity. Coming from his background, his honorable ambition and drive to succeed — originally fueled by an admirable work ethic and desire to blaze a new and different trail from the one put forth by his father — makes it very easy to understand how he’d fall prey so easily to an attractive woman with an agenda. I’ve seen this scenario play itself out over and over again, especially in South Florida — particularly in Boca Raton — where too many people get caught up exclusively in the material trappings of life.

And when either the guy or girl in the scenario isn’t strong enough to listen to his/her inner guidance when it’s flashing warning signals about an impending marital union, either that person will eventually succumb to the other person’s negative influence until they become unrecognizable, choose to remain in the marriage even if miserable or as character Ken does in Water Signs,  know when to leave after making every effort to salvage the union.

In Chapter 24 — a recreation of actual life — Maddy receives another surprise visit from Ken on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, a few days after dreaming vividly that he’d broken off his engagement to Erin:

By the time early afternoon rolled around, she’d finished her chores and had changed into her bathing suit and cover-up. She was busily placing a towel, a magazine and a few bottles of water into her canvas tote bag when a knock at the door took her by surprise. Her heart lurched when she opened it to find Kenny standing before her, smiling in his typical fashion, dressed in shorts and a tee shirt. It bothered her that in spite of all the pain he’d inflicted, her body still tingled at the mere sight of him. Suddenly, she remembered the dream she’d recently had about him breaking off his engagement.

“Ken! I must say, this is an unexpected surprise!” She endeavored to remain cordial and calm, while keeping her hopes in check.

“Hey, how are you doing, Maddy? Can I come in?”

“Uh, I guess there’s no harm in that,” she replied lightly, offering him a seat and a cold bottle of water. Was it her imagination or did he possess the unmistakable aura of a defeated man?

There was no sparkle, no luster in his aquamarine eyes, which appeared to be lost in thought as he stared off into the distance. And as he held the bottle of Zephyrhills in his hands, he leaned forward on the couch as if grappling with an unspoken, internal conflict.

“Is everything ok?” she inquired, settling in at a safe distance beside him. “You seem a bit preoccupied.”

“Huh? Oh yeah, everything’s fine. It’s just that—well I guess I’ve turned into my father after all,” he sighed. Madeline wasn’t quite sure what to make of that statement, though it hardly coalesced with the profile of a happily engaged man eager to exchange vows with his beloved. What exactly was he trying to convey?

“Oh,” she responded softly, recalling the difficulties he and his dad had endured in the course of their relationship. Though they’d seemed to patch things up that New Year’s Day at her house in Pennsylvania, Maddy had no idea where things stood with them at this point.

“Well is that such a bad thing?” she asked.

Kenny turned to face her, staring deeply into her amber eyes, nearly causing her to tumble to the floor.

“I hope the excitement comes back after Erin and I are married,” he confessed.

Why was he telling her this? Was he just trying to spare her feelings by pretending not to be enthralled by the idea of marrying another woman? Or was he attempting to get her to open up about her feelings for him—feelings she still harbored in the infinite depths of her heart and soul, no matter how hard she fought to expel them?

“Kenny, I don’t know what to say,” she finally blurted out.

“Madeline, do you ever miss our conversations, you know, the way we used to talk? God, you were so easy to talk to!” He ran a hand through his blond hair as he spoke.

“Well, I will admit Kenny that no man before or after you has ever treated me the way you did. No one has come close to that level of affection, respect and kindness.” Her tone was wistful as her thoughts turned to Jake, Jim, Gary and now, Mark.

“It was all you, Maddy,” he insisted. “It was all because you were such a joy to be around. You always listened without judgment; I could talk to you for hours about anything!”

This scene ends with a hug and a few tears, though Madeline — just like me in real life — cannot bring herself to admit her true feelings. She’s too consumed with an ardent belief in right and wrong, considering an engaged commitment on just as equal a footing as a marital one; in her mind, Ken needs to be strong enough to walk away, even if by doing so there’s no guarantee that she, Madeline, will be waiting in the wings.

Her new friends from the dance studio however, beg to differ:

“If you want my opinion, the guy stopped by to see you to try to figure out if getting married is the right thing to do,” Scott offered plainly as he dried himself off on a chaise lounge. Ken had just left after spending nearly four hours poolside with Maddy and her friends from Fred Astaire.

“Or maybe he just wanted one last fling before he ties the knot!” Lloyd teased, playfully punching her in the shoulder. He was blissfully unaware of the ludicrousness of his statement, considering Ken and Madeline’s passionate, but chaste history. However, Maddy wasn’t about to ‘fess up to keeping her virginity intact to this new group of friends, nice as they were. Something gave her the distinct impression such news would raise a few eyebrows as well as concerns for her mental health.

“Nah Lloyd, Kenny’s not like that; he’s a very honorable guy and he knows I have high standards. I don’t go after other women’s boyfriends, fiancées or husbands—it’s just not my style. Besides, if he does break his engagement, I want it to be entirely his decision with no influence from me. If he’s having second thoughts about marrying Erin, he shouldn’t go through with it period, regardless of how I feel or what I do.”

“Yeah, you have a point,” Rebecca concurred. “But I gotta say, Maddy, he gave you the perfect opening to tell him how you really feel. I don’t know—if it was me and I still loved the guy, I’d tell him.”

“Rebecca, I can’t hurt a woman I’ve never even met—a woman who’s done nothing to me just because Kenny and I couldn’t get our timing straight! It wouldn’t be right; I wouldn’t want someone hurting me like that! And even if I did admit my real feelings, there’s no guarantee he’d end things with her anyway. I got the very strong impression that he’s resigned himself to his decision, even if it’s wrong. I don’t think he could live with the guilt of hurting her and her family by backing out now.”

“Well maybe you have a point,” Rebecca conceded. “Still, I’m amazed by you, Maddy. Do you know how many women would move in for the kill in this situation? Hell, I’ve had girlfriends who had no qualms about stealing my boyfriends right out from under my nose!”

“It was strange though, when he called her on his cell from my apartment,” Maddy admitted. He didn’t tell her where he was, for obvious reasons. But it was more than that—it was almost as if he felt stifled by the whole conversation, like she has him on a short leash or something. Anyway, he’s not the upbeat, gregarious, fun-loving guy I remember. And for someone about to get married, he’s sure not excited about it.”

“All I can say is for the guy to spend an entire Saturday afternoon on a Holiday weekend with an old girlfriend, and not his fiancée, something is terribly wrong,” Lloyd commented.

And while I listened to everyone’s input, I still couldn’t justify hurting a woman I didn’t know, simply because “Ken” and I kept messing things up between us, a thought process Madeline articulates in the above paragraph, much to the consternation of the entire group. I will also admit that I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time, so enveloped was I in the heartbreak of the whole situation. Maybe there was a little bit of pride at work, too, in the sense of You hurt me? Well, I’ll show you I don’t need you. You made your choice, now live with it, kind of way.

And it now appears that he’s not only living with his choice, he’s allowed it transform him from a once thoughtful, deep-thinking individual who was actually concerned with important things far beyond the scope of just his own little world, into a vain, shallow man who can’t stop bragging about his new status in life — from where he gets his hair cut to  his family’s latest 5-star vacation.

But in choosing a different ending for Water Signs to keep my main characters around for a compelling sequel, Ken takes an entirely different approach in Chapter 28:

Unfortunately, their live-in arrangement soon revealed significant differences—impediments that Ken hoped would either dissolve entirely, or at least mitigate once they were united in the bonds of marriage. In hindsight of course, he’d realized the folly of his thinking. That while he truly did love Erin, it had been utterly foolish to believe they could actually go the distance with her relentless insecurities, self-centeredness and proclivity towards distrust inflicting slow, steady and ultimately—unfixable, damage to their union.

Every female, whether Ken’s boss, co-worker or fellow college student, provoked Erin’s pervasive jealousy. On more than one occasion he recalled knock-down, drag-out arguments with her over innocuous incidents, from a study session in broad daylight over coffee at Starbucks, to mandatory after-hours socializing with the sales and operations teams at a company-sponsored event.

And a few paragraphs later:

Strange also that this particular year had brought her so much clarity; he’d just signed his divorce papers the previous fall. Did Maddy somehow know that? If she had been aware of his marital status, she offered no indication in her correspondence. His last recent search of public records had revealed no information whatsoever, which was understandable, given that his attorney had advised him it could take up to a year for such records to be updated on Internet databases. With no mutual friends or acquaintances to spread the word, Maddy was most likely in the dark. And that made her gesture even more impressive.

Ken rolled over onto his side, kicking the cotton sheets down to the end of the bed. Ever since having children, he no longer enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in the raw, and had taken to wearing boxer shorts. Tonight, he’d just happened to have chosen a green pair featuring the Philadelphia Eagles logo, though it had been ages since he’d actually slept in them. Somehow it only seemed appropriate. Funny, Erin despised football, one of the many activities Ken and Maddy had delighted in together.

It was also thrilling that she regarded him as a catalyst for positive change in her life, despite all of the heartbreak he’d caused her. And the thought that he’d somehow inspired her was the icing on the cake. All this time he feared she might actually feel nothing but contempt for him, though he completely understood her rationale for keeping her distance. He supposed it was selfish of him to want to keep her as a friend while he gave his love and devotion to another woman, but he’d truly missed her presence in his life.

In the book of course, this leads to a reunion which eventually leads to a marriage proposal and wedding a full 16 years after their initial meeting at the Somers Point Dance Club (which by the way, was a real place called “Key West”, though I changed it to “Key Largo” in the novel).

While it is sad to witness through cyberspace such a profound change for the worse in the man I remember, I am thankful for the unexpected rush of memories that led me to create a character who is much beloved by my readers. And unlike his real-life counterpart, Ken will continue to evolve as a man, father, husband, Christian and American, never allowing the material aspects of life — wonderful as they may be — to become his “god” or to alter who he is at the very core of his being.

Looking forward to finishing Sea To Shining Sea very soon!

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Conservative Republican Forum: July 24, 2010 on BTR

Steve and I take a break from our grassroots candidates series to interview two of the brightest minds and articulate voices among conservative women, Heather Bachman and Alexandrea Merrell. Bachman is the Policy Director of Frontiers of Freedom, Political Editor for Parcbench and host of the GOP Girl Show. Merrell is the author of a new book entitled, Rules for Republican Radicals, having completed extensive research on leftist agitator Saul Alinsky.

Having listened to Merrell’s interview on The Neidner Show last week, I can promise you that this evening’s broadcast will be informative and fascinating. And since Steve and I both write for Parcbench, we’re familiar with Bachman’s excellent work and look forward to hearing more about her involvement in the conservative movement.

As always, live chat will be open and your calls will be warmly received at (347) 637-1121. See you at 6 p.m. Eastern!

Update: Over at our companion blog, Steve has posted a few thoughts on our show’s One Year Anniversary. To listen to tonight’s broadcast in the archives, please click here.

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LinkedIn, The Star Spangled Banner and the Tea Party Movement

After that little interaction with the nice lady at the networking event, not much else transpired on the “Ken and Erin” front for most of the year.  Armed with new insight into Erin’s integrity, based not only on the LinkedIn email, but also a friend of a friend’s experience with her as a businesswoman, I felt the urgency to steer clear of both of them even more strongly. As I’ve mentioned, I was not out to ruin anyone’s marriage, though the deception displayed by Erin in pretending to be her husband and writing that ridiculous message does make me wonder about the state of their union.

If their marriage was solid and strong, why would a fictionalized novel even have the power to drive her to do something so outrageous in the first place? Did she stop to think about his reaction? Assuming we were having an affair (which I’ve stated is not the case), did she honestly think I’d broadcast it in an email?

Oh yes, Kenny, I want to tell the whole world about your johnson! And while I’m at it, I’ll give them an explicit account of every extramarital tryst we’ve shared, so everyone will know what we’ve been up to!

I mean, it’s simply absurd.

Now one thing I do remember about “Ken” is that like me, he can be overly sensitive; he can also  transform from fun-loving and full-of-life to angry and defensive if he feels hurt or betrayed by someone else’s behavior. I can’t imagine he reacted well upon receiving my forwarded email of the original request, and can only surmise that at the very least, they had one heck of a fight about it. Speaking for myself, if my husband had logged onto a website using my credentials in an effort to “trap” an old boyfriend, that alone would infuriate me.

And if she really thought it possible that he’d been cheating, why not confront him about it directly and calmly? Why add insult to injury by being deceptive?

Looking back, I guess I must’ve salvaged a Christmas Holiday for her, because it took me until the day before New Year’s Eve to even respond, that’s how taken aback I was.

But as 2009 unfolded, I concentrated exclusively on promoting my book, co-hosting internet talk shows, getting involved in the grassroots Tea Party Movement, editing for clients, blogging and otherwise avoiding any potential run-ins with Ken and Erin, either in cyberspace or in real life. Funny, but I’ve lived just two miles away from them all these years and have never once spontaneously bumped into either one, ever.

But in December of 2009, I received an email from “Ken” (who’d also included some pretty big media names in the distribution, like Sean Hannity). This time, it was nothing personal, just a copy of his email response to a stupid liberal sportswriter who thought it was a great idea to eliminate the singing of The Star Spangled Banner at professional sporting events. By this time I’d been contributing regularly to Parcbench, Canada Free Press and my other blog, Palin Drone. I have a pretty good idea that “Ken” had been checking out my posts and hence, thought I could get his editorial letter additional exposure, which I did. I’m sure he also knew it was a hot-button topic for me; one that I would not be able to resist commenting about.

So perhaps knowing I shared his passion for the subject and the USA, he’d sent this to me as a way of re-establishing communication? Who knows. But it did give me a great idea for a story, which in the end was published on the Parcbench site. I am also incorporating it into my sequel, Sea To Shining Sea, as a letter Ken writes to the editor, because it fits in perfectly with the plot and themes unfolding in that story.

“Ken’s” request for distribution led to a series of cordial email communications — none of which so much as mentioned Water Signs — prompting me to use the opportunity to set the record straight about the LinkedIn debacle. In very clear terms, I recounted the entire story of how I’d put all of the pieces together, which ultimately verified my initial gut instincts. He replied that he never uses LinkedIn much at all (we have that in common, too) and confirmed “It sounds like you have figured out that it was not me”.

And I was relieved to finally get it out in the open. For whatever reason, it was bugging me that — as far as he knew — I still believed that tacky, immature email came from him and not his wife. For that matter, I wanted her to be aware that I was on to her little schemes, and in fact, told him forthrightly I “wanted this nonsense to stop”.  And it has.

However, social media would prove to be revealing on other ways as far as these two were concerned. More on that in my next post.

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Filed under Lifestyle, Politics, Pop Culture, Professional Experience, Social Media, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

Hank Oprinski’s Profile of Me in the Huntsville Examiner

Back Cover Photo for Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

My Facebook friend and co-contributor to a recent Neidner Show broadcast, Hank Oprinski of PR Online News, has posted a profile piece of me on the Huntsville Examiner. In order to get the maximum exposure for my book and other projects, I must get to 50 comments on the site as soon as possible. If you are so inclined, please click here to read the article and add a comment. Much appreciated!

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Today’s Parcbench Posts

In today’s Parcbench posts, I take on Newsweek and Palin’s critics in the Palmetto State.

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