Saturday, November 30, 2013


I remember in my earlier days, my dad gave my brother and me matching tool sets. These weren't little plastic replica tools, these were "Handy Andy" sets.
I mean just look at that! Hand saw, hammer, punch awl, Brace and bit, man this thing had it all, and we were on Cloud Nine just having these tools within our reach.
Dad was a bit of a craftsman, and we used to love watching him in the basement, building kitchen cabinets, turning lampstands on a lathe, making intricate kites---he loved wood. Which reminds me of a story, but I'll tell that later.
Anyway, Dad taught us how to use all these brilliant little implements of destruction to create things of our own. He showed us how to hammer, and then he put the hammer in our hand and said, "Now you try." He cut a couple boards with his big handsaw and then set us up with smaller ones to measure and cut. Mark always got his right. Me, not so much. It wasn't from lack of trying, mind you. I just didn't have the steady hands that Dad and Mark had, nor the sharp eye for detail, nor (let's face it) the talent to nail more than one board to anything more than my own foot.
BUT, I tried, and still had fun. And my father exposed us over the years to many other skills besides, from making acrylic-molded sculptures to candle-making, to developing our own photo negatives and prints, to maintaining our own cars. He even taught us how to braze sculptures from coat hanger wire and hardware.

He wanted us to be well-rounded with our hands so we could be more self-sufficient, and maybe in the mix, we could find our calling. Dad pushed us ever on, ever higher, and told us there was no limit to what we could do, if we set our minds to it. All we needed was a vision.
So many times though, I look around and see people with no vision. they get up, go to work, they come home, pay their bills, and go to bed. And the next day, they do it all over again, until they die. I don't know about you, but I am more frightened of dying in a rut than I am of anything else, except maybe large, hairy spiders.
There is a story Jesus told his followers about a landlord departing on a journey. Before he left, he gave each of his servants ten measures of gold, with the understanding that he wanted it back when he returned. Then he left. When he came back home, the first servant came to him, and said "Lord? These ten measures of gold (Gold back then was measured using in "talents.") you gave me, I invested, and turned them into thirty talents. See, here is your gold." The second came to him and said, "I put the gold you gave me to use, and turned it into twenty talents. Here it is, my lord." The third one came and said, "I took your gold and buried it so you couldn't accuse me of losing it. Here it is, all ten measures."
The landlord was impressed with the servants who got their hands dirty and doubled, or even tripled their money, even though they put their talents at risk, and rewarded them richly. The third servant he called "wicked," and threw him out. Look it up; it's called "The Parable of the Talents."
See, I'm going to be held accountable one day for having used the talent I've been given.  I want to be able to say to my Maker that I took the tools my father gave me, and I made something with them. Now, that Handy Andy kit has long been gone from my life. But Dad gave me more tools than just a hammer and a brace-and-bit. I have different tools now, and I want to tell God I've put them to use.
Even if you don't believe in God, you're going to be lying on your deathbed one day with the knowledge that you could have done more, stretched yourself farther, reached higher. And it will be too late to do anything then to fix it.
So fix it now. Here's your chance.
I want everyone who reads this post to set a goal THIS WEEK for taking one more step toward fulfilling your true joy. Those are the talents you received from God. It might be writing. It might be enforcing the law. It might be dancing, welding, singing-- whatever it is that God has put in you (remember you have everything in you that you need already), whatever it is that is your True Joy, take one step closer to it.
If you need help making a plan for achieving it, then get help. I want reports, and "I can't" is not an acceptable answer.
Do it. This week. I'll randomly pick four who comment with a NEW STEP toward their goal, and they will get  their choice of an eBook by yours truly, Cyrus Keith. I'll even gift it in your name to one person you designate, if you want. Make sure you leave an email for me to contact.
Three, Two, One...Go.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Special Interview: Alice Germond

Good day, fellow castaways.

This week I'm posting a day early because no one in their right mind would pass up this interview. It's gonna be a long post, but I hope you all read through to the end, because I couldn't stand to cut any of the real meat in the story.

Jack Germond was one of Washington Journalism's heavy hitters, writing columns that appeared in 140 newspapers over the years. He was also an outspoken panel member on Meet the Press, The McLaughlin Group, and other public affairs shows.

His first work of fiction released recently through MuseItUp Publishing, the same House through which I have my own work published, which makes him my House brother. Sadly, however, we lost Jack to a respiratory illness the very day his book released. He said in a 2008 interview, "I want to see if I can do it, but I don't want to write a bad book." Yeah, right. The man wrote through ten presidential elections, gained national notoriety for his Mad Skillz (yes, I said it. Suck it up!), and still doubted whether he could pull off a decent work of fiction. I haven't read his book yet, but rest assured I'm going to.

To get to the point: This week, my guest is none other than Alice Germond, Jack's wife of twenty-five years, and before we get done, you'll get a great picture of Jack and his book, A Small Story For Page Three.

Alice is herself no shrinking wallflower. She met Jack in 1984 while he was covering that presidential campaign, and she's been active in politics for some time, sitting in positions of leadership on the national level. I'm honored and blessed to host her this week.

So without further ado, Here's my interview with Alice:

Cy: First off, Alice, my deepest condolences for your loss. Those of us who don’t know Jack will never know what we missed out on. That is, until now. Because we all want to be able to say “Don’t tell me I don’t know Jack!”

Alice: Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words.  Knowing Jack was an extraordinary experience and a great joy.  He was lots of fun, smart, caring and complicated.  He enjoyed many things and we had a great time together.  I am fortunate indeed.

Cy: Jack Germond was known as one of Washington’s heavy-hitters in political journalism for many years. Why was A Small Story for Page 3 Jack’s first foray into Fiction?
Alice: While Jack pondered this novel for at least 20 years, he loved writing for good newspapers and covering great stories – so much so that he often said he would have done it for free.  But the newspaper business was changing, the campaigns he covered less real, and though he was worried about writing “a bad novel” with a little encouragement, he was ready to go for it.

Cy: Give me one memory that sums up “Jack” in his essence.

Alice: One is too hard, he lived life very completely burning the candle at both ends.  But I like to picture him both in those quiet moments sitting on our deck in the morning sipping coffee and watching the bluebirds nest, and in the evening with a glass of wine as the sun reflected the day and we shared ours; and in those collegial moments with friends enjoying great conversation, good food and wine, and extending the evening, often at the bar at the end of a long campaign day on the road;  and covering a story, writing fast, getting it right, and beating the competition.

Cy: Why fiction? Why now? (Not that we’re complaining, mind you!)

Alice: After he retired from the newspaper business – a bit fed up with the alarming way both politics and the media have changed – he wrote a memoir (Fat Man in A Middle Seat) and then an opinion book (Fat Man Fed Up).  So he was kinda’ evolving from “just the facts” to writing about himself, to writing his thoughts.  Writing fiction, making up people and situations and a story line was the next challenge and he had played with the idea over a number of years on the road and at home.   Finally he had the time and the courage.

Cy: Did he have any other hobbies or interests?

Alice: Oh yes, Jack loved the race track.  He judged horses almost like they were candidates:  closer, trainer, come from behind, condition of the track, the rest of the field, etc.  He also loved good food and wine and would pore over various catalogues imagining his next order.  He loved sports, particularly the Red Skins and the Orioles.  He was fascinated by and knew the names of most birds, and enjoyed the change of seasons noting when various flowers bloomed in my garden, and which vegetables were ripe.  He read the newspaper every day, of course.  We certainly liked to travel together and go on road trips, and he liked seeing me dressed up, sexy, smart and exuberant celebrating something/anything.  He loved our place in the country about 1 ½ hours outside of DC.  He was a very complete man.

Cy: What was your favorite meal to share?

Alice: Well, I loved that he made me breakfast almost every day while I would go running with our dog and pick up the newspaper.  But, dinner with Jack Germond, what a treat.  We ate by candlelight even if it was just pizza.  Dinner was always an event, first a drink and “being sociable” as he called it; then cooking together or whatever; eating and talking with occasional hand waving and much discussion, and extending the meal, or the evening, with more talk and good wine.

Cy: How did you two meet?

Alice: On the campaign trail.  I was working as a senior staff person in Gary Hart’s campaigns in 84 and 88 .  The 88 campaign was long and messy and after Hart folded I was hired as the Deputy Political Director for Michael Dukakis.  It was a long year and a half of traveling and we sorta’ found each other, regularly…  We called it “schedule check”; i.e.; where were we each going next and could it be the same state?
Cy: Was there ever a story Jack really didn’t want to write?

Alice: I think Jack was often troubled by the obsession with personal issues that have nothing to do with the real stories these days, but Jack would not write a story if he didn’t think it should be written – and he would fight to write the story if it should be.  That’s partially what “A Small Story for Page 3” is about.

Cy: It just so happens I "sit" on the other side of the political aisle, but from what I'm hearing so far, Jack and I would have seen a lot of the same things from the same side, with the way politics have changed in the last forty or so years. A journalist with ethics: Now, that I can respect, regardless of whether we agree on specific issues.

Was there any particular subject that got just got his goat more than any other? 

Alice: When so called journalists are not really reporting the story, just pontificating without doing the job -- not talking to both sides or to voters and not appreciating nuance.  And the “moral” certitude of some who pretend they are in the news business.

Cy: The New York Times described Jack as “old-school, irascible and opinionated.” Would he have taken those as compliments, or as insults?

Alice: “Old school and irascible” I think he would have smiled at, and he was, among many things.   But while Jack held strong opinions, I’m not sure opinionated captures him as well since Jack was seldom judgmental.  He certainly was sought after company both on the road and on TV.

Cy: Lastly, how are you doing?
Alice: Oh, how nice of you.  Pretty well I like to think…  Jack and I had a wonderful time, mustn’t be greedy.  But I miss him.

Cy: I can understand. I've lost people whom I've loved deeply as well, and I want to thank you for giving us this insight into Jack. I feel like I know him a little, and I feel privileged that you've allowed us to see him in a light away from what we may have seen in his columns or on TV.

So now, my friends. with that tone still ringing in your minds' ears, let's take a peek at Jack's only work of fiction, A Small Story For Page Three:

Blurb: Harry Fletcher can’t for the life of him figure out what exactly the ‘nugget’ of information his colleague, Eddie Concannon, uncovered prior to his death is. Picking his way along the threads of information, Harry soon finds himself at odds with government officials and his own newspaper seems to be involved in the collusion. Join Harry as he deciphers the clues and enjoy a journey into the world of investigative reporting set against a colorful back drop of characters and locations.

Check out more of Jack's book at:

Barnes and Noble

Check out these reviews:

Congratulations to MuseItUp Publishing for publishing this first novel by the legendary newspaper reporter and television commentator Jack Germond.  I was privileged to know Jack, who died at age 85 the day A Small Story for Page 3 was published.  Like the author himself, his novel is knowledgeable without being the least bit pretentious, insightful and often funny.  You’ll cheer newspaper reporter Harry Fletcher as he doggedly pursues a scandal involving a politician who hopes to be governor. Despite threats from both the politician and his own publisher—not to mention marital problems at home—Harry perseveres as he confronts his own ethical standards of journalism.  This is a well-written story with plenty of food for thought.  K.P. Robbins

Inside a major D.C. newspaper hub, Jack W. Germond has created a tense, boilerpot of a story. He shows the glamour we all think the news media possess is coated with many layers of tarnish, some obvious, some concealed, seedy, and spreading like dry rot through the limbs of a towering old tree.

Upon the death of his friend, our hero Harry Fletcher, top political reporter is given what the business calls a nugget of a story his buddy was following. Find the story, Harry's bosses bid of him...quietly!

This is a gripping book I read from beginning to end in one sitting. I was captivated and cheering Harry on as he came up against obstacle after obstacle while ferreting out the story behind the nugget.

When I reached the end though, I wanted more, but sadly, there will be no more, Mr. Germond passed before this book was due for release, but I will read and re-read this book, as I often do with books that are keepers. This IS a keeper. Well done Mr. Germond, and thank you for leaving this final gift behind for us to enjoy.

Lin Holmes

Monday, November 18, 2013

Special Excerpt: Becoming NADIA

Greetings, fellow castaways.

This is going to be a short week for a variety of reasons. Oh, most of them are good, believe me.

First off, I was going to post this weekend, but after Linda peeled my face off my keyboard and typed "Go to bed, Dearest" on the imprints on my forehead (Shift key included), I figgered it weren't gonna hap'n, darlin'. So forgive my late post this week.

Secondly, and this is cool beyond cool: My special guest THIS FRIDAY is none other than Alice Germond, Secretary Emeritus of the Democratic National Committee and wife of the late Jack Germond, the legendary Washington "not-inside" Power Journalist and author of A Small Story For Page 3. No, we're not going to debate anything. Alice is going to share some of her favorite "Jack" moments, and talk about her husband's book. We had us an awesome conversation. So stop back by and comment.

So, that's out of the way. This week, I want to share another sneak peek from my EPIC-Award-winning debut novel Becoming NADIA. If you haven't read it yet, I can safely promise you'll enjoy it.

Nadia fished around in her duffel bag until she found a gray fleece hoodie and slipped it on against the rising wind. She took one other item from the bag, the little bible from the hotel nightstand in Denver, and tucked it in her pocket. Then she picked up the duffel and stuffed it into the bin, one less load to slow her down.
She walked north out of town on Hank's Lumber Road, skirting the upper lake on a narrow, winding road that led up into the mountains around Klamath Falls. She breathed deeply of the mountain air, refreshing her lungs as she stepped out, hands jammed in her pockets. The aroma was clean, the air rich with life. She heard birds in the trees all around. A bear snorted and shuffled across the road ahead, hardly giving her a second glance. A gentle rain began to fall, and it wasn't long before Nadia began to feel the chill in her bones.

As she walked along, she wondered if the people who lived here appreciated the beauty that surrounded them. She wondered if they woke up and simply went on with their lives, not living each day to its fullest. How many people never heard the birdsongs in the trees, never saw the sky painted with so many beautifully sad shades of watercolor gray? They would call this dismal. They would write today off as dreary and depressing, and never bother to look out their windows to see the beautiful, clear raindrops gathering like a million tiny, silver-gilt diamonds on the leaves of the trees all around them. They wouldn't bother to smell the clean scent of the air, feel the coolness in their lungs. How many never really tasted the food they ate, or smelled the scent of the morning air in the mountains? How many people never really felt the other people in their lives, never appreciated the love that could be theirs? Deaf, numb, and blind, they existed only to exist. She took an extra deep
breath of cool, moist air and felt it cleanse her being. Breathing. They could start by being thankful
they could breathe, and enjoy every breath because it meant one more that they could take. How many more breaths would she be able to call hers?

Here, even so close to the end, she was thankful. Thankful for the few real friends with whom she'd shared time and laughs, thankful for this short time that she'd been given. At least she'd known friendship; she'd known love.

A car came by the other way, headed for town, throwing a fine mist from its tires as it passed. Nadia was so lost in her own thoughts she never heard it turn around and pull up behind her. She jumped when a familiar voice rang in her ears, and she started to run, but held up short when she heard a desperate shout. “No, Nadia! Please don't run away!”

Nadia turned around. Becca Mitchell was out of her car running toward her. Nadia held her ground. She stood on the shoulder and waited as Becca approached.

Becca stopped a few paces away and held her arms out, breathless. “Please, let me talk with you. Just you and me, and no one else, okay?”
Now you want to talk?”

Becca's face was tight, her voice confused: “I've always wanted to talk. Nothing's changed.”

“Everything's changed, Dr. Mitchell! I'm not who I thought I was, and you're a part of this whole mess. Why should I trust you?”

“I'm sorry, Nadia. Look, I'm just as confused about all this as you are. I want to understand. Will you help me?”

Nadia looked into Becca's eyes. Either Becca Mitchell was a better liar than Nadia ever dreamed, or she was dumber than a box of rocks.

She remembered when this whole mess began to blow up. Becca was anything but stupid. She was also the worst liar in history. That left only one other option, and that was the most frightening of the three. She followed the doctor back to her car and slid into the passenger's seat.

The car was warm and dry. The windshield wipers beat a gentle cadence as Becca put the car in gear and pulled out onto the road. The women spoke little as Becca headed down the highway toward town. “So you decided to come home after all?”

“After a fashion,” Nadia mumbled, shivering in spite of the warmth from the car's heater. The rain had soaked her clean through to the skin, and she was losing body heat.

Becca seemed to notice, for she reached over and turned the heater up to full so Nadia could warm her hands. “I know what I am now.” She looked at Becca, waiting for some kind of response. She got none. “I'd like to know why.”

I included this part because it follows up on what I've been trying to tell everyone from the git-go. We all need to see the beauty of rain, of snow, of parenthood, and of childhood. Life is life, and we only get one shot. We need to make it count. We need to tell the people we love how much they mean to us, to show the world the best that we have. We have no guarantee of a tomorrow. How many more breaths do we have to call our own, after all? 
Just a little food for thought, people.
I'll see you Friday. Set your calendars.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Good News/Bad News

I was watching a video with the fam, an old comedy (whoodathunk "Dinosaurs" was "old?") last night, and one of the characters says to another (read closely, this is the "bad news"):

"You're all that you are, and that's all you're ever going to be."

It was meant as a punchline, and the context was "If you're miserable now, you'll always just be miserable." Okay, funny, haha. At least it was funny when he said it. Kind of like those posters you see in cubicles from these smart-aleks over at

Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.  Of course, then your eyeballs will boil and your lungs explode from decompression.  But that's what you get for being a damn showoff.

Even the most ambitious little pebble will never grow up to be a big rock.

Woo-hoo. Yes, I think those are hilarious. And the bad news is:

Yes, it's true. You're all that you are, and that's all you're ever going to be. Period.

"Hey," you say. "That doesn't equate to what you said before! You mean I'm always gonna be this way?"

No, I didn't say that. Because now I'm going to share a secret (This is the "Good News" part): You have everything to be great RIGHT NOW.

You have your talent. You have your dream, and all the tools to make it happen, right inside you. I'll even go you one better. Jesus said "The Kingdom of God is within you." (Look in Luke's Gospel, Chapter 17). Look, you have the Kingdom of God inside you. What more do you need?
Who you are is not what you are doing right now. Who you are is what you will become. t's the final fulfillment of all that you already are. It's you, shining in your brilliance, in that one great thing you can do better than anyone else, and that's just to Be You.

No, not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut. Not everyone bounds across the Mongolian wilderness with RC Andrews. Not everyone writes beautiful stories. But if you are, then don't compromise. In everything you d, do it as though you were doing it for God Himself, for His glory as your Daddy. "Hey, did you see that?" he shouts as He points at you and laughs with pride. "Did you see what my child just did? That's AWESOME!!!"

So your earthly father never did that. He may be someone you really don't like or respect, and that sentiment very well may be merited. But God doesn't make junk, and He doesn't make mistakes. He refines GOLD, people.

He makes farmers who love the earth and bring forth life from it.

He makes pilots who cram us into hollow metal tubes with wings and chuck us through the air at supersonic speeds to land safely in far way lands.

He makes comedians who make us laugh and bring smiles to our lives.

He makes writers, who make us see new worlds, and challenge us to think.

Yes, the good news is this:

You're all that you are, and that's all you're ever going to be.

And that's a wonderful thing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I'm an great shot with a rifle or pistol. I can hit an aspirin at 50 feet with a rifle, non-scoped (Try it sometime), or a man-sized mass from closer. I qualified for my expert marksman badge in basic training with no difficulty at all. You could have covered all 400 of my shots on the target at 150 feet with a coffee mug. Huah. Hey, it ain't bragging if you can back it up, right?

There some folks out here who are even better shots than me. Yep, right here on the internet. Snipers. They love to get their shots in, and see how much damage they can cause. Some folks call them Trolls. That's a good word, too. They hide under bridges and wait for Little Sally Sunshine to say something they can jump all over, and then they leap out and swallow Little Sally whole, while they ridicule her all over the 'net.

Now, this is where I get all "Old Fart" on this: The internet, though a technological marvel, has opened the door for these snipers to lower the bar for courtesy all over the world. And it's spreading to other areas of our lives.

We get to hide behind the relative anonymity of our Usernames, and launch verbal bullets, missiles, rockets, grenades, what have you, at our foes. Then we can sit back and chuckle at our cleverness, knowing that we've just blown our target's ego to smithereens. There. That will teach them to disagree with us and our vaunted position. How dare  they trifle with our sacred cow.

The internet has turned into a vast tool of character assassination, and it's easy because we will most likely never be held accountable for our words or actions. Why do you think that girl didn't even care that the other girl she was cyber-bullying leaped off the top of a storage tank to her death? Murder, nice and sterile. And we don't even have to give a rat's hairy little ass, because after all, they must have been off-balance anyway. It's not our fault that they took our words to their grave with them.

I filter every comment on my blog now, because I and my fellow castaways get sniped. I might make a statement, and then I'm attacked. Not just disagreed with. Flat-out attacked, called every name in the book but a human, and of course the commenter refuses to identify themselves. "Anonymous" is one of the biggest jackwagons in history, and he's awful busy out here, running his mouth flap in new and creative ways to piss people off. So I head off those comments and delete them. I don't mind someone who disagrees with me in substance. But you'd better damned well show respect for my house when you come in as my guest. You can expect my respect in turn.

Why they do it, I don't care. It may stem from the old adage that some folks just don't feel big enough about themselves, and the only way they feel they can make themselves bigger is by making someone else smaller. Shame. I almost feel sorry for them. Almost. Really, I want to knock on every single one's door, walk in, and have a face-to-face talk about who's an adult, and why they seem to think having a Username entitles them to behave like two-year-olds in the sandbox. I wonder how many of them would hold the same attitude looking straight into my eyes.

And then they let it spill over into every other aspect of the media and our lives as well. Who else has noticed the decline of common courtesy in the last half-century? When I was a child, every professional addressed his co-workers with "Mr." or Mrs." or "Miss." I still use "sir" and "ma'am" liberally in conversation. It's important to show respect to the person with whom you are dealing. It's not even about catching flies with honey or vinegar. It's about having enough respect for the other individual as a human being, another of God's Greatest Creation, to discuss on level ground, and to debate with thoughtful dialogue. It's called "disagreeing without being disagreeable."

Look at politics today. It's spread into that arena as well. Politicians are constantly seen standing around the mike with a dozen or so of their cronies for moral support, saying the most stupid, hateful things about their opponents. It's all over Facebook, especially. "F*** the GOP, and f*** you if you voted for them," I read on a friend's page recently. I know why my friend posted it (she explained it to me once), and while I don't agree, I see her passion.

And don't get me started with this "First Amendment Free Speech" BS. I stood in the breach, ready to shed blood for your right to say what you want to, as well as my own right to say what I want to. But we need to understand, whatever you say, you damned well better be ready to stand accountable for it, and that right to say whatever you want doesn't include the right to be rude.

So, here are my House Rules: Feel free to disagree with anything I or anyone else says in my house (If you're reading this, you are in my house). Keep any and all comments polite and courteous. I do not, nor will I, tolerate disrespectful comments. They will be deleted with extreme prejudice.

While you're at it, speak to people on the web as though you were face to face with them. And while we're at that, let's speak to people face to face with a little more courtesy as well. the world could stand a little more friendly overall atmosphere.

Can we all just get along, already?