Thursday, November 30, 2017


"Sometimes heroes come young."

Available for Pre-order, only $2.99! Cover by Charlotte Charlie Volnek - 

    I'm excited to be continuing my Inspector of the Cross science fiction-romantic adventure series. This is the first novel in the series in which I've focused on a girl, a young heroine in the making. Skyburst is a coming-of-age story; yet at the beginning, Sky Masterson is on the verge of death, suffering from cancer and other diseases. How can she possibly survive?

    In Defender of the Flame, Turtan arrived on First Station and organized a plan to defeat the aliens and save humanity. Skyburst looks at many of the same events from the standpoint of Sky, Turtan’s young protégé. In just a few years she grows into womanhood and meets momentous challenges which shape her character and test her courage and abilities. As the great mission to attack the enemy approaches, she constantly asks herself one question: Will she be ready to face the alien menace that threatens to destroy mankind?

Excerpt: The Invaders 

She’d known this day was coming. As Doc would say, it came with the territory. If she wanted to be an Inspector and do her part in the grand crusade, she could not do it alone. She must have company.

Lots and lots and lots of company.

She stood in a Head Banger (the cadets’ word for these rooms) and faced Tan. He stood two and a half meters away, brimming with the Radiants he would soon share with her. She smiled, eager and ready for their arrival. All the cadets she’d talked to had been positive about the experience, some even describing it as a mass party with loving, playful guests. They weren’t her, though. What would it feel like to have such creatures enter her brain and move about inside? If Carrie Flowers was right, it would be wonderful indeed.

And yet she felt a dollop of doubt, a touch of fear. The Radiants could be like the Cen in the Lauren mine, lurking and stealing through the dark tunnels and caves, waiting to pounce. A moment’s carelessness or miscalculation and you were dead.

Nonsense. Tragic as the two dead cadets and Elise’s case were, the cause for such accidents had been identified and the problem corrected. Since then, her fellow cadets had adapted well to this benign invasion. Some had actually flourished. Despite the rooms’ name, only a few had even experienced headaches or nausea. There were dozens of successes, one after the other, with several cadets now hosting over a hundred million Radiants. The program was rolling exponentially on, and Admiral Walker and everyone concerned was optimistic.

Only something still nagged at her. What if her case was different, and it went wrong? She thought of Elise lying broken in her hospital bed and wondered if she’d soon have a roommate.

No, silly. You’ll have your own room!

She smiled, and Tan took it for a signal. “Are you ready, Sky-

Someone sneezed then sneezed again. Kit/Yani and Carrie Flowers were present, along with Admiral Walker and some of his officers. Sky realized her relationship to Tan gave her a special status. However, the nearby presence of Dr. Wu and another physician indicated the potential risk. Above, the ravaged wasteland of Secuna watched as always, reminding her that invaders were seldom friendly. 

She licked her lips, her mouth dry. “I’m ready,” she said.

He raised a finger and pointed at his eyes. “We’ll start with five Radiants from each eye. If all goes well, and I assume it will, I will increase the number.”

“Understood,” she said, familiar with the procedure. 

“If at any time you feel distress or discomfort,” he said, “let us know at once, and the Radiants will withdraw. Shout if you have to.”



She waited. Seconds passed, stretching like one of her code instructor’s lectures.

And then the Radiants came toward her in shimmering silver trails. She started to stiffen and caught herself. Relax!

Relax? I’ve never even had sex before, and now I’m going to let God knows how many little beasts enter and rape my brain.

She knew such fears were ridiculous and it was common for cadets to have them. But she should be better than they since she’d shared more with Tan and seen firsthand how easily he hosted billions of Radiants. Hell, he’d even named the damned things and was confident there’d be no problems. If he himself believed the Radiants were safe, then there was nothing to worry about!

Only now she saw them coming directly at her, not some other cadet. This time, she wouldn’t be merely watching but would be on the receiving end.

As the Radiants entered her head, she made herself relax. Breathe out, breathe in.

At first, she felt nothing. Then she heard an inner chorus without sound. “Hello, Sky-Bird!”

She raised her hand, cupping a smile. “Hello!”

“Don’t speak,” Tan said. “Think!”

Tan’s Radiants seconded his advice. “Yes, Sky-Bird, think your responses. Carry on an inner conversation.”

She was mad at herself for forgetting. “Hi, my new friends,” she thought. “I’m glad you could come to my party.”

“Thanks for inviting us, Sky-Bird!” they replied in joy.

Sky-Bird. Suddenly everything was all right. She was not alone but realized she felt more complete than ever before. These Radiants were drenched in Tan’s flavor, in his love. It was almost like having him inside her.

Sky swung to Carrie and winked. “You were right, Carrie,” she thought. “You don’t become less, you become more.”

“Shall we continue?” Tan prompted.

Sky grinned. “I thought you’d never ask.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Available at:

The Books in The Inspector of the Cross series:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Baby Born From 20-Year-Old Frozen Embryo – What’s Next?

According to AOL Health, back in 2010, a “42-year-old woman gave birth to a baby that came from an embryo frozen 20 years ago.” Does this surprise you? Dr. Sherman Silber, a fertility expert said “this particular baby’s birth isn’t groundbreaking.” In fact, “it’s symbolic of a practice that is revolutionary and can change women’s [and men’s] lives.”
This is certainly the case with Rachel and Aaron Halbert, a white missionary couple who had trouble conceiving. Last year, after adopting two African-American children, Rachel gave birth to black triplets after ‘adopting’ leftover embryos from discarded IVF treatment. Please view the happy family members below:

Dr. Silber feels such cases are “no big deal. We have lots of babies born from embryos that have been frozen over 15 years earlier.” Nearly a million such embryos already exist in this country alone, and “There is no legitimate shelf life limit to frozen embryos or eggs or ovarian tissue for that matter.”
Pause for a moment and think of some of the implications. Of course, women such as cancer patients who need to delay childbearing can have their eggs or ovarian tissue frozen and later implanted. Perhaps twenty years hence when it is more convenient or physically possible, they can give birth to one or more infants.
Most of us already know this. But there are more implications that have long been the stuff of science fiction. I present just two of many possibilities below.
1. It’s All in the Family. Catherine Donaldson-Evans reports in AOL Health that “Some parents have even stored eggs and sperm for their children with health conditions that will make them infertile—meaning the kids will give birth to their half-brothers or sisters. A woman whose 7-year-old daughter had a medical problem rendering her infertile froze her eggs in 2007. In another case, a baby was born from 22-year-old frozen sperm.”

2. Fifteen years? Twenty years? Why limit ourselves? What about fifty years, a hundred, five hundred? What about a woman ‘adopting’ a one or five-thousand-year-old embryo and giving birth eventually to a healthy baby? Or three, five, or even ten?

Why not? Perhaps in the future, Science will be King. Doubtless, as the photo above shows, the field of frozen embryo development opens up many beautiful possibilities for enriching our lives. However, at the same time, it might lead to darker and troubling consequences.

Perhaps I’ll discuss that last subject in a future post. As for now, I’d like to close with a song from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, in which a man longs for the artificial womb he inhabited before birth. For some reason, it seems relevant here.

"Bottle of mine, it's you I've always wanted!
Bottle of mine, why was I ever decanted?
Skies are blue inside of you,
The weather's always fine;
For there ain't no Bottle in all the world
Like that dear little Bottle of mine

Please check out my latest novel, Conqueror of the Stars, Book 4 of the Inspector of the Cross series. Amazon: - and MuseItUp:

Read one of my novels for FREE! Inspector of the Cross – This is book 1 in my series, so if you haven’t read it, here’s your chance. Amazon: -

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ruth J. Burroughs, SciFi / Fantasy Writer

   Coming soon from Gypsy Shadow Publishing: Liminal Key, a dark fantasy romance   
                 "The jail was cold and full of Fairies."                         
               Now Available on Amazon:


                         Available at


[Ian must rescue his fierce and beautiful comrade                                                                                                                   Hunter Gordon from the clutches of the hostile alien 

                                                                                              Quetzals, but they have his wife and children . . .]    

                                         5-STAR REVIEW: 

 R. J. Burrough’s short science fiction novel Myth of the Malthians contains enough fascinating and fully drawn characters to fill a series.  It starts on the gas giant Fishtail with the meeting of two individuals: Twist, a tattooed, telepathic cyber clone, and Dylan, an alien, telepathic wormhole jump-pilot with a big black furry tail.  Both of these engineered soldiers will soon become mates, and their mission, along with that of numerous others, will be to travel to the planet Shoemaker-Levy 92-93 to rescue Hunter Gordon, if they don’t get killed or altered (turned into clones) by the bloody Quetzals first.  And oh yes, one of the members of the rescue mission, an unaltered human named Ian MacPherson, seeks to rescue his wife Kaleida before the fiendish enemy . . . well, I won’t go into THAT.

            What follows is rousing action at its best, fully suspenseful and gripping.  The scenes within the Pteroid breeding prison are especially harrowing, and the portrayals of the aliens are quite convincing.  What I like best about Myth of the Malthians is the author’s expansive imagination coupled with characters we can really care about.  Burroughs actually takes time to characterize them.  To take one example, while Ian MacPherson genuinely loves his wife Kaleida, he is at the same time childishly irresponsible and not quite dependable throughout.   The ending, which I won’t give away, provides us with really fine writing, seasoned with poetry as are earlier sections of the story.  I finished this novel feeling it came to just the right conclusion.

            I heartily recommend Myth of the Malthians.  Please note that like much good fiction, it requires more than one reading to get all or much of the meaning and richness out of it. - Reviewed by John B. Rosenman


John: Ruth, thank you so much for being my guest.  Could you tell us a little about your background as a writer and what is distinctive and different about your writing?

RUTH: I started writing stories as soon as I could write. The spoken and written word were like a drug to my young mind and after having mastered the Dewey Decimal System of card cataloging I'd hunt for books on the little index cart catalog drawers in the school library. I can still remember the smell of the books and their plastic covers, and the feel of the clean rug under my knees as I searched for books. They each had stickers on the bottom so you would know if they were talking animal stories or science fiction. I dreaded the ones with the rocket ships on them because they were all about machines and boring dry math and science stuff. I ignored them and only read the ones with the animal stickers. I read every talking animal story or book I could get my hands on in the elementary school library at Clarkesville Elementary school near Albany, New York. Around the age of eight I read Bambi, The Fox and the Hound, all the Jack London novels, and 101 Dalmatians. I also wrote talking animal stories but my parents didn't save them.

I discovered there was a sequel called Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith but I couldn't find it anywhere. I reluctantly asked the Librarian for help and she couldn't find it either. She kept looking and looking until ahah! Here it is in the science fiction section. It had a rocket ship sticker on it instead of an animal, which was Anathema to my young mind. At that time I truly loathed science and math and anything to do with them. How dare they put one of *those* on my precious animal story and what could it possibly have to do with Dalmatians, all that dry science stuff. Well, in this story by Dodie Smith, Starlight Barking, in which the Dalmatian family wakes up with telekinetic and telepathic powers I found another true love, science fiction. After I read it I took out every rocket ship stickered book I could and read them. I've been writing and reading science fiction ever since. 

John: Liminal Key  is your latest. I know you're excited about it. What's it about and what should readers expect?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
RUTH: Although it is billed as Fantasy Romance it has a lot of science-fiction elements as well as battles with Evil Elves and some violence. Only what was necessary to move the plot forward of course. I didn't want to do a straight-up fantasy because there are so many out there. Witches, Elves, Magic, Wizards, etcetera etcetera. I wanted to make it more me and so I made the traditional trolls Neanderthals and the dragons dinosaurs because it's what I know and love. So it will be different from what you'd expect in a fantasy and different from what you'd expect in a romance, plus the lead woman is strong, independent, smart and not stereotypically thin and young. She's older and has put on weight from bearing children. But her impossibly seductive and strong Elf man likes her more for it.

                                ~ More Titles of Ruth J. Burroughs ~


Buy at                       Buy at
John: Are you a pantser or a plotter when you write? In other words, do you trust to inspiration or planning?

RUTH: I have a story arc in my head that guides the direction. I like to see what comes naturally and am often surprised by where the story goes and what happens. The plot grows on its own. I wouldn't know any other way to write it but I would like to try my hand at more advanced techniques some day.

John: After reading Myth of the Malthians, I was wondering if you have a tendency to create hybrid characters in your fiction. For example, Twist is not only tattooed but telepathic and a cyber clone. Dylan is alien AND telepathic, and she's got a big black furry tail.

RUTH: I never thought of them as hybrid though they're both bred for war. Twist is a man grown from regular cells of one man, and because all his brothers are his twin they have telepathy. Dylan is a natural creature of her planet but also bred for war with some technological enhancements, but they are a part of her like prosthetics. When I initially wrote it I thought the nano tech would be a large part of the plot. That was why I wrote it. Nano tech was just coming out. But my brain had other ideas. My brain didn't really care that much about the nano tech, both in this story and in Jack. I had the same idea with Jack. I thought it would be all about the nano tech. My brain had other ideas about that too. 

Twist is bisexual, but he does fall in love with Dylan. Dylan is female and likes males so I think she'd be considered straight.

John: Thanks for my new and beautiful Celtic ring. Tell us about your interest in Celtic lore.

RUTH: I'm a descendant of Robert the Bruce and love Celtic Lore. Love Celtic characters, thus Ian MacPherson and Jack Cluewitt. But I wanted to make them American too, that hybrid of mutts that is America and the American dream.

John: I know you’ve been challenged by serious health problems. Could you discuss their effect on you and your writing?

RUTH: When I finally got the diagnosis I was relieved. I was having mysterious heart episodes for a year. The heart would beat out of whack and speed up. There was no pain.  It just felt like my heart was going to jump out of my body like the xenomorph alien chest burster. It was missed the first time in Cortland but 3 months later in Ithaca the radiologist saw something. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma stage II. The five or seven inch mass growing around my heart was discovered from the cat scan they ordered. I thought I wouldn't last a week let alone a month, but fortunately HL is very curable no matter the stage. I hung on to that quote from my doctor over those next few weeks and couldn't wait to get the port in. I never let that curable statement go throughout the six months of treatment and have kept a positive attitude about the whole thing, not that it wasn't difficult or sad. It's life altering though and it's no picnic. I was a healthy 53 year old. When I finished treatment there was an odd colored H sign on the road home and I felt like I was exiting Hell. I feel reborn. Like I've emerged from an egg. I have Scot's Irish blood in me and I'm a fighter. I don't ever give up. I love life. No matter the Hell it might bring me I love breathing. If it's hell I must go through to get to the other side then Hell it must be to get back to my good health. I'm feeling very well today, and I fought hard for that. I wrote the Liminal Key Before Cancer and there is a battle going on between the good elves and the bad elves. I wondered if my subconscious wrote the book about my body's fight against cancer. But sometimes I wonder if that isn't just life.

John: What are your goals, both with regard to writing and your life? Is there a new book in the works?

RUTH: I have a few starters. The longest one is Loch Lomond, working title. It starts on the Moors near Mugdock, Scotland, 1350, with the lead character Effrig. Straight-up historical romance, no science fiction or fantasy. I do hope I am able to earn enough money to write full-time.

John: Thanks for a great interview!  I hope you can visit us again in the future..

Thursday, June 22, 2017


            Maybe “hate” is a bit strong, but there are some current expressions which I find especially annoying because they are so overused. Perhaps you have your own list too. Here are four that make me grind my teeth a little.

1. “At the end of the day…” I’m sure you’ve heard this one. It seems to have flared up a couple of years ago, and now everybody’s using it, especially on CNN. All I have to hear is a political commentator start a sentence with “At the end of the day,” and my ears shut down. For one thing, the phrase is filler, intended to launch a sentence while the speaker figures out what to say next. For another, it’s wordy. If you must use this phrase, then please file it down. I’d be happy if the offender shortened it to “In the end” or even “In the final analysis…”

2. “There’s no there there.” I actually liked this for a while. I found it clever and a bit witty. But you know, after 5000 commentators used this phrase, I began to feel there’s no there there. Whatever originality once existed has gone someplace else than there.

3. “Man up,” or “Why don’t you man up?” It used to be “Why don’t you be [or act like] a man?” But times change. Newt Gingrich used this during his latest campaign for president when he said one of his rivals should “man up” about something. This phrase seems to have faded from use recently, but never fear. I expect a surge of testosterone to bring some variation of it back.

4. “It is what it is.”  - Not to be confused with “Tell it like it is.” Recently, my dentist put my nose out of joint (say, wasn’t that once an overused phrase?) when he dismissed my polite complaint concerning a bad tooth by saying “It is what it is.” I wanted to reply, “How brilliant! How perceptive and profound! Did you figure that out all by yourself, or did you learn it in dentistry school?” What exactly does this cretinous statement mean? Is a cow what it is, too?

          Dear readers, that’s all for this time. If you have any phrases or expressions you personally dislike, why don’t you man or woman up and share them with us? At the end of the day, I have to know if there’s any there there, or if it simply is what it is.   

* * * * *

Please check out CONQUEROR OF THE STARS, Book 4 of the Inspector of the Cross series. –Amazon:  -  and MuseItUp: 

Read one of my novels for FREE! INSPECTOR OF THE CR0SS - This is book 1 in my series so if you haven't read it, here's your chance. Reviews will be appreciated! Amazon:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Poems About Poems

Image result for poems images

Can you write poems about poems? Of course you can. Here are two poems I wrote long ago.

                                                            This Poem

                                                This poem is hypnotic.
                                                Watch these words.
                                                Your eyes are getting heavy.
                                                You are getting sleepy.
                                                You are beginning to feel at peace
                                                with yourself.
                                                Now your thoughts are a child’s.
                                                Now you are inanimate,
                                                a leaf on an iron wind.
                                                Now you are the first thought
                                                you ever had
                                                closing like a bud in snow.

                                                Now I am this poem,
                                                each word a reflection
                                                in your eye.
                                                You are my reader
                                                getting sleepy
                                                beginning to feel at peace
                                                with yourself.
                                                Ready to join me
                                                in my poem.                          

                              If God Were An Imagist Poem

                                                so much would depend

                                                a red god

                                                glazed with heaven

                                                beside the milky

--With profound appreciation to William Carlos Williams’ famous imagist poem “The Red Wheelbarrow”, presented below.

                             The Red Wheelbarrow
                                    so much depends

                                                a red wheel

                                                glazed with rain

                                                beside the white
* * * * *
Please check out CONQUEROR OF THE STARS, Book 4 of the Inspector of the Cross series. –Amazon:  -  and

Read one of my novels for FREE! INSPECTOR OF THE CR0SS - This is book 1 in my series so if you haven't read it, here's your chance. Amazon:

Friday, May 19, 2017


Multi-Award Winning Author, including...

       The IPPY Award  - Visit Cynthia's Web site:

Book 3 of the Forbidden Footsteps Series - On Sale for $1.99 until June 1. - Steamy romance mixed with espionage.





* * *

EXCERPT: "I'm only here on vacation." His fingers played with the softness of her neck and caressed the perimeter of her car. She started to melt from his touch and glanced at his hand on the table.  

God, his hands are so sexy, strong, slender fingers, and so well-defined. I bet he would know how to caress a woman all over. What in hell am I thinking? I'm still married. Does being separated give me more leeway?  

She grabbed her pocketbook from the tabletop in an effort to leave. "We better go. It's getting late."

* * *

BLURB: Peril lurks in the old-world historic streets and shadowy back alleys of the City of Light and brings Cindy to question both her sanity and heart.  

                                                                                                                                              Is the risk to find true happiness worth her life?  

                                                                                                                                  Fleeing her violent past to find a new life, Cindy Hastings' bright future turns dark, as her courtship with the wealthy and sensual French rock star Jean-Claude LeGrand uncovers his expertly crafted facade and his exotic tastes. His sinister secrets create a razor-edged race for her between love and lust, fraught with terrifying evil. Cindy is forced to face the hidden scum of Paris' murky underworld to find the truth. Could English-speaking Stuart Dumont be her only lifeline to survival? 

Over 111,000 words. Adult content for language and situations.                                                                                                                                                   


~ Cynthia and Friend ~


John: Cynthia, I've heard some rumors that Forbidden Footsteps is the best in the series.

CYNTHIA: Trish [Trish Jackson] thinks that book 3 is my best because of tighter prose and I ratcheted up the tension, even with a tip of the hat to Fifty Shades. My romance differs from others as my criminal romance theme is darker.  I like the degree of danger to mix things up as my characters grow and discover how to deal with emotional and physical conflict.

Cindy, the main character, has been through a lot in book 1 and 2 (she was a supporting figure in those novels.) I introduce what the reader assumes to be her hero. I like to throw crime into the mix. The stakes are always higher when there is the threat of death or an actual murder. All that said, each of my books in my series is a stand-alone. Even in book 3, I'm careful not to give away plot points in book 1 and 2.

Yes, my books are steamy but I don't describe tab A, nor slot B. I know the trend for most romance readers is erotica, but that's just not me. My WIP is Dangerous Reach, which will be book 4 in my Forbidden series.

John: Tell us about your background as a writer.

CYNTHIA: Well, it's been a steep learning curve. I'm a retired cardiac RN. Been living from the wrong side of the brain for creative endeavors. I lost my skill of forming sentences, spelling, grammar, etc. in writing. Nurses chart (writing on patients' charts) by using phrases and abbreviations--tenses are mixed, i.e.: Spleeping, Coughs, spoke with sob (short of breath). I wanted to be an author from the get-go, but Dad had other ideas then: nurse, secretary, librarian, or teacher. I wrote short stories as a child and into my teen years.

John: What do you like so much about Barry Manilow?

CYNTHIA: Barry's words, "Do what you love and the rest will follow. Follow your dream. Never give up." As you know, I've met with Barry several times. He's always been supportive, encouraging, and genuine and kind. We chatted about his music and my writing. He could have easily said to me, "Don't mention my name or use my photo in relation to your writing or books." He never said that. Instead he wished me great success and not to become discouraged. That's one reason I dedicated by first book, Front Row Center, to him. Yes, I should've made that dedication to my husband, but I was so appreciative of his kindness and generosity and wanted to thank him with the dedication. All my other books are dedicated to Mitch.

John: Does crime/mystery and especially danger interact with and enhance the romance/sexuality or sexual tension of your fiction?

CYNTHIA: Yes, most definitely! Who wants to read the typical formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. If a psycho character is in the mix or a hard-hearted hit-man, all the better. That is when the true nature of the character is revealed. A prime example of increasing the sexual tension is that the hero turns out to be a criminal of some sort. Now the leading lady must make a decision--close her eyes to the truth and pretend all is right in her world, or muster up the courage to forsake the relationship and chalk it up to a life's lesson?

Available on Amazon:

John: Hmm, how does this all relate to your culinary writing?

CYNTHIA: My cookbooks? I've always enjoyed cooking and started at the age of seven. I feel that cooking should be enjoyed and romance with cooking is a no-brainer when you have your loved one helping you stir that pot or slice a tomato. Plus, cooking encompasses all of the senses as does making love. Also, I thought the cookbook would be a fun gift for anyone celebrating an occasion or for a bridal shower, etc.

John: Thank you, Cynthia.  You've been a great guest, and I encourage all readers to look up your books.

CYNTHIA: It's been a pleasure to be here, John, and I'd love to hear from readers.

# # # # #

Monday, April 24, 2017

Have You Ever Received an Unusual Birthday Gift?

Well, on April 16 I did.  In fact, I received two. Here's the first.  It's the birthday card my son David gave me.  

(Click picture to enlarge it.)

When you open it up, David's written greeting says HAPPY 76!!! BOW WOW WOW! And a deep, harsh, male voice chants "BOW WOW WOW, YIPPY-O, YIPPY-AYE" over and over to a manic beat.  Then a demented chorus comes in, singing something that sounds like "GOOD FLOWERS!"

I think my son is trying to tell me that I've gone to the dogs.

If you want to know what my son's OTHER birthday gift was, check my Amazon Author Page at

HOW ABOUT YOU?  Have you ever received an unusual, memorable birthday gift or present? If so, what was it?  Please comment and let us know what it was and why it was so different or great.

For just $6.95 each! 

Finger puppets of some of the most badass females that have ever lived.

Finger puppets of some of the most badass females that have ever lived.
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild / Via
Like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks. $6.95 each from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


John B. Rosenman

A funny thing happened the other day. I was navigating Facebook as I often do, and I noticed that Morgan Freeman had just died. I was both surprised and saddened by this news. I always liked Morgan Freeman. He was a good actor, and when he spoke, so did God if you know what I mean. Now a car accident had claimed his life.*

It was a shock but I continued on, only to see the next day that Brad Pitt had also bit the dust. Maybe it was contagious.

Fake news has always been around, but lately it’s become more common. In another “news” account, Morgan Freeman is not only dead, he’s been cloned. Wait, hold the presses, there’s even more. Morgan Freeman just married his step-granddaughter!  

As the site Politifact states, "Fake news is content that is manipulated to look like a real journalistic report, but it's not. It's completely made up. And the headlines are designed to go viral." Often, it's hard at least initially to tell the real from the fake, especially if we're not the kind to question or do a little digging. If we're "informed" that Hillary Clinton is running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop, we may believe it, especially if it fits our political bias or beliefs or is presented in a plausible fashion. Do "Democrats want to impose Islamic law in Florida"? Absolutely! On the other side, we have BuzzFeed's recent release of allegations concerning President-Elect Trump's ties with Russia and his "perverted sexual acts." It never seems to stop.

The motivation behind false reporting and manufactured stories can be almost anything. It can range from a political or social agenda to a simple desire to have fun and get a rise out of people. Or it can be to make money. Whatever the case, it is important for Us, the People, to be skeptical and to look before we leap into acceptance.  Credulity can be costly, whether to ourselves or others. Sometimes the truth can actually be hidden or difficult to see, or even ugly and unpleasant. Just ask anyone who has been unjustly sentenced to prison.

As I see it, there are two main reasons why there has recently been an epidemic of fake news.

1. Social media and the internet.  Facebook, to mention just one platform, often has sublime and beautiful posts such as lovely photographs of nature and animals of different species living in mutual harmony and support. Unfortunately, it also offers a lot that is ugly and obscene, as well as irresistible to the gullible. Above all, anyone who can log on can often get away with doing anything they want, things which they wouldn’t dare do in public. Faceless trolls and liars disseminate their mischief with impunity. If someone reports them and the site takes them off, they soon crop up elsewhere. The internet in particular is hard to resist. We all know people who have taken countless selfies from all conceivable angles. Why? Because they want friends and folks to react positively. And so do the frauds and pranksters who post fake news.

2. We’ve lost respect for research, scholarship, and critical thinking. This is at least partly related to #1. Before I retired as an English professor, I noticed that more and more of my students’ research papers were plagiarized from online sources. These articles were so quick and easy to find that some students didn’t even bother to go to the library. Why spend so much time and effort trudging all that way to dig through the stacks? Instead, they sat on their butts and cut and pasted whole sections of articles directly into their papers. Easy-peasy! I’m afraid that this casual, lazy attitude toward one’s sources has contributed to fake news. Sometimes, indeed, the offenders may even have difficulty distinguishing truth from falsehood. In the end, the truth is what they think it is.

Perhaps you can think of other factors that contribute to fake news. The important thing is to remain skeptical and to be on guard for it. Otherwise we run the risk of being seduced by falsehood and paying a terrible price.

* Previously published in PnPAuthors Promotional Magazine.