Four years after being gunned down by the city's most infamous crime boss, Empath and PsiCorps agent, Torrin St. James wakes from a coma to find that he's seemingly lost everything. Entered into the WitSecPsi program, as part of his cover Torrin is believed dead by the members of his psychic triad, Resonance Partner Riley Valin and Psi Anchor Sky Roarke-his fiancé. Faced with nothing but the cold comfort of justice in testifying against the crime boss, Torrin convinces his handler Quintus to help him barter his cooperation for a chance to break protocol and see Sky and Riley before the trial.
Two days before Christmas in a secure safehouse hours outside the city, PsiCorps makes arrangements for Torrin to see the two people he loves the most. It's everything Torrin's wanted from the moment he opened his eyes but when time finally comes he's left to face a multitude of truths and a symphony of sorrows. After four years the loves of his life have moved on, his handler Quintus has been keeping secrets, and there's a high level leak in the agency he's given his life to. The entire world has turned upside down and Torrin doesn't know if he has the right to fix it, but he's about to find out. Isolated in a safehouse under the worst storm of the season and no way to turn back, he'll learn if their feelings for each other are still passion incarnate or if he's just a ghost from Christmas past.
I hope the blurb has intrigued you and there’s also an excerpt available at Xakara.com. But now that all of my responsible author promotion is done, let’s get to the real focus of my post, gifts! Taking inspiration from the title of my novella and the Christmas Carol story it originates from, I want to talk about the spirit of the season and those that need us.
No matter which holidays you celebrate this winter season, it’s a time for giving of ourselves to others with less. Operation Santa opens all those dedicated letters to the North Pole each year and allows volunteers to help make Christmas wishes come true for children. This year, children and parents alike, have asked for a few things above all others, basic clothing and food. Children have pulled out there pencils and crayons and carefully formed their letters so that Santa Claus will know that they need socks, shoes, coats, hats, jeans and shirts. They ask not for Christmas dinner, but dinner at all. They want their parents to smile and be like they used to be before every day was a fearful phone call from bill collectors or worse. They ask and Santa would answer if he could, but he’s a little overwhelmed and needs you.
You can call your local post office and see if they are part of Operation Santa or a more local organization that will allow you to pick up a letter and fulfill a Christmas Wish. If you’re in a tight situation yourself this year, you don’t have to do it all your own. You can get your family and friends together to help one household this year for less than $5 each. But what if even $5 is too much or your town doesn’t have any letters?
ABC News has become part of Be the Change: Save a Life. Over the next year they will bring attention to global health initiatives to save lives around the world. You can do your part now. For $50, that’s $5 from you and nine of your friends, you can provide a week of in-patient care for a malnourished infant through Casa Jackon. You can also work with Save the Children Clean Water Fund to build wells, latrines and water pumps to provide sanitation and drinking water for school children around the world. That amount also provides medicine to prevent a mother from passing the HIV virus to her baby through the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Perhaps you only have seven friends to pitch in with your own $5. Save the Children will turn that $40 into a goat for a family in Guatemala, providing protein rich dairy, fertilizer for produce and a valuable source of income. If that’s too much, for just $25, or $2.50 from ten of you, you can provide antibiotics to five children suffering from malaria, TB, or upper respiratory infections through Community Health Africa Trust. Or you can provide a full month-long nutritional treatment for a child through Edesia’s PlumpyNut, a peanut paste packed with calories and nutrients that have brought malnourished children from the brink of death.
That same $25 can treat tuberculosis in India through Operation ASHA. It can send out ten birthing kits with six basic items through Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia, or provide a birthing kit and the training to use it through IMA World Health. Let’s drop down to $20 and you can work with Embrace to bring a low cost infant warmer to a vulnerable newborn in a country where incubators don’t exist because there’s no electricity to run the $20,000 machine if they could afford it.
Still too much?
For $15 you can provide a month of life-saving food supplements to a family in Paquip, Guatemala through Wuqu’ Kawaq. $14 can provide 2,000 chlorine tablets to treat dirty water in the developing world through UNICEF. $11 buys three birthing kits through the United Nations Population Fund. Even one dollar from everyone you know would put the Charity: Water fund closer to its goal of $40,400 to provide a community of 250 with clean drinking water. Those same dollars to CARE given before December 31st will be matched, up to a million dollars, to help the world’s poorest women and their families.
Look at what you were going to spend this season and see whether or not you can spend just a little less and make a world of difference to someone around the globe. If you find yourself like me, living through a double-layoff and breathing a sigh of relief now that the Unemployment Benefits have been extended, perhaps you can pull out those coupons and switch to that store brand and eek out that extra dollar or five for clean drinking water elsewhere around the globe. And if, by all misfortune, you find yourself needing that extra help this season, may you bask in the charity and goodwill of others that you may be able to pay it forward when you can down the line.
A Spirited Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Blessed Kwaanza to All.