Bree's AWOL

Since it looks like Bree won't be posting today, hop over to my (Cindy's) post about Indie Publishing

Count down to the launch of Watched...6 days....

US Activist's Statement Against US sanctions on Venezuela

Read by Cindy Sheehan and Eva Golinger

Please Click on Video to Watch

Need a treat? Try these Easy, Yummy Scones

The Eats by Cindy

  1. Mix 4 C. flour and 1 Tbl. instant yeast with 2 tsp. of sugar in a mixer bowl. (I like the Bosch)
  2. Stir in 1 1/2 C. warm milk and 1/4 C. melted butter.
  3. Stir in 3/4 tsp. salt and 1 beaten egg.
  • Whatever mixer you use. Make sure you're using a dough hook. Knead for 5 minutes in machine. 
  • Heat oil to 350 degrees. 
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled.
  • Carefully punch down the dough and then roll onto a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Cut into the shape and size you want.
  • Place into oil until light brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with honey butter or cinnamon sugar.

A fun, easy treat everyone loves.

ailie and jake

Ever been locked in a store when it closed for the night?

What the Heck by Cindy

One of my good friends got locked into a local garden nursery when it closed for the night.

  No joke.

She and her son were locked in the back of the nursery, in the greenhouses, where all the plants are. The doors to leave the nursery and go to the front of the store where the registers are, were also locked.

 Cell phone to the rescue. (Good thing she had one)

She called her husband, who tried the store, but of course, no one answered. He then called the police who tried to get a hold of the owners, but were unsuccessful.

In the meantime, my friend found a door that had a rusty spot for a lock, minus the lock, and she pushed and pushed until it opened. Now she was outside, on the grounds of the nursery. She got in her van and tried to find a way out through the back of the gardens, but a fence totally enclosed the entire place.

A locked fence.
No one could get her out.

Finally, the police got a hold of the owner and he came to let her out.

At first, he was pretty grumpy, but my friend showed him how it was his employees' fault and she ended up with a hundred bucks to spend in the nursery.

Get locked in for a hundred bucks?

"Yankees, Go Home!" by Cindy Sheehan

"Yankees, Go Home"

"Nobody messes with Venezuela. Venezuela must be respected."
Rafael Ramirez, Venezuelan Energy Minister

I am in Caracas, Vz today (May 29th--Casey's birthday)—a country I love and a people that I support with all my heart in their struggle against US imperialism and corporate interests so they can make their own lives better.
Nine of us came from the US to support the people of Venezuela in rejecting the US economic sanctions that were imposed by the State Departments because, apparently, Venezuela sent two shipments of oil product to Iran. 
During the Clinton regime, the US enacted The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA)--ironically first called the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act  (ILSA)--but then Libya became our friend during the Bush stain before it recently became our enemy again (dizzy, yet?). The ISA was enacted to prevent foreign countries from selling oil to Iran to stop its peaceful nuclear program. The point the leadership in Venezuela is trying to make is that it is now being "sanctioned" for allegedly breaking a law created by the US that it doesn't feel obligated to. Again, why should Venezuela make US corporate interests primary to its own? The immature arrogance of the US is stunning and my own country has absolutely no right to run roughshod over sovereign countries like a two-year old throwing a temper tantrum.
In my opinion, the USA just needs to grow the hell up. "Might" does not make "right," especially when the "might" destroys the economic health and credibility of the country exhibiting "might over what is right."
The hilarious thing about the new economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela’s state oil company: PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela, SA) is that Venezuela does not borrow money from the US, has repaid all of its debt and the economic sanctions do not stop Venezuela from selling petroleum to the US. More importantly, PDVSA and its US subsidiary, CITGO has helped over 250,000 US citizens by giving, or greatly reducing prices, on heating oil to our own desperately poor. No other oil company, including US oil companies, has done the same.
The newest sanctions are clearly symbolic to undermine Venezuelan credibility and to further demonize President Hugo Chavez because Venezuela ranks 4th behind Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia in providing the black gold to the gluttonous US.
Why now? Well, for one thing, there is a hysterical Congressman from a very conservative district in Florida named, Connie Mack (R), who has been jonesing for the overthrow or assassination of President Hugo Chavez because Chavez had and continues to have the nerve to take from the excess wealth of the rich to give to the poor. Clearly, Chavez’s support of the poor runs counter to everything the oligarchy of the planet believes in. The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republica of Venezuela, written by representatives of the people in 1999, enshrines basic human rights as law in a country that has reduced the gap between the rich and the poor by 50% since Chavez achieved power. Chavez and his revolution are a thorn in the side of Capitalism and the “threat of a good example” must be neutralized.
This weekend also saw another big event in Latin America, Manual Zelaya of Honduras returned to his country after he had been in exile for nearly two years in a US-backed military coup (because he proposed the re-writing of the Honduran Constitution by the people). The intense diplomatic efforts of President Chavez and Venezuela helped facilitate this return with Zelaya flying back to Tegucigalpa from Managua, Nicaragua in a Venezuelan plane. The US taketh away and Venezuela giveth back.  
Another reason for the sanctions right now is that President Chavez is leading the hemisphere in advocating for strategic alliances to bring peace and continued prosperity to Latin American and Carribbean countries. When I was here last year, Chavez had just returned from a meeting of Latin American leaders in Cancun where it was decided that the Organization of American States was an anachronistic institution that exists to be a tool for the US’s continued exploitation of the region—so the leaders of the Latin American countries planned to form a new alliance to exclude the US and Canada. The new alliance will be launched on July 5th in Venezuela on the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain. Will the alliance be a threat to the OAS? Probably not right now, but just the fact that Hugo Chavez is one of the leaders of this alliance and that the people of Latin America don’t believe the lies and demonization of the US against him, and, in fact, respect him immensely, must be grating to an Empire that has done everything possible to undermine and even overthrow the man.
The unification of South America was long a dream of freedom fighter, Simon Bolivar, and indeed he led Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and  Panama to independence from the Spanish monarchy in the early 1800s. Bolivar died a brokenhearted man after his dreams of unification were not realized. Hugo Chavez has the same dream and the new alliance is one more step closer to being able to resist US imperialist neoliberalism. Today, the thousands of Venezolanos who came to the rally to oppose the new US sanctions are rightfully proud of their accomplishments in a short 12 years and still support the leader who is making it all possible.
Additionally, the unification of Latin America and the Caribbean is necessary to have greater economic strength if each country wants to retain its sovereignty. The US only respects the sovereignty of either strong nations or puppet states—while many countries in South America have huge amounts of territory, individually, they are about as strong as each of the states in the US (except California). This alliance, or union, is also seeking to use its own currency, called the Sucre, like the European Unions’ Euro. Today, the USA has very little to offer the world beyond death and destruction and the strength of the US dollar is diminishing.
Another reason the sanctions appear now is because as the US wanes in the region, China ascends—according to an editorial in the right-wing Miami Herald:
The share of U.S. exports to the region has dropped from 55 percent of Latin America’s total imports in 2000 to 32 percent of the region’s imports in 2009, says a new report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Meanwhile, China’s trade with the region has soared, the study shows.

In my opinion, the announcement of the new sanctions against Venezuela, while no doubt a very hostile act, is nothing but the US flexing its increasingly weak and flabby muscles. The over-extension of the US military combined with its plunging credibility over such continuing programs as torture and illegal regime change, has turned us into a big international laughingstock—still feared, because the US is nothing but a big imperial bully—but a joke, nonetheless.

This is the 3rd time I have been to Venezuela, but as evidence of this new US paradigm in the region, for the first time I saw signs that read: Yankees, Go Home. Yes, I agree: “Yankees,” go home! Hands off of Venezuela and get your bloody imperial storm-troopers out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and even Palestine where US tax dollars fund an immoral Israeli occupation.

For sure, it will be a great day when the "mighty" US military empire falls and something new is born in its place. To we nine who traveled here to a real and vibrant democracy that is lead by Chavez but fueled by the revolutionary struggle of the people, the Phoenix that arises from the ashes of imperial collapse will hopefully look a lot like the structure of Venezuelan society: healthcare for all, free education for all, investment in an aging infrastructure and care for our elderly, community control and activism, respect for our indigenous cultures and protection of the environment. 
However, the thing that I love the most about Venezuela: the absence of a hostile and violent foreign policy.



We nine USAians

Crystal Geyer and Shamus Cooke from Portland

Jameelah Muhammad (Brooklyn), Crystal, Laura Wells (Oakland)

What is the Concept of your Story? Larry Brooks Speaks out in Story Engineering

Writing-the Craft by Cindy
One of the 6 Core Concepts discussed in Larry Brooks, Story Engineering is Concept. If you don't have a grasp on the concept of your story, Larry says your book will not succeed. So, let's figure it out. What is Story Concept?
Concept is something that asks a question. The trick is making the concept a succinct What if question. He gives two examples to help clarify this.
                #1            An idea would be to travel to Florida
A concept is that you travel by car and stop at all the National Parks-the question being, What if you traveled by car and stopped at all the National Parks?
                #2           An idea would be to write about raising the Titanic
A concept would be that there are secrets hidden there that certain forces would kill to keep concealed. The question would be, What if there are secrets hidden there that certain forces would kill to keep concealed?
The answer to the question is your story.  If you are able to make your answer fresh and original or give it a new spin, it becomes compelling and what Larry Brooks calls High concept. You WANT your concept to be High concept.
 What is the concept of your story?

harry, joe, ava and eliza

Hands off Venezuela!

Children from Venezuela

We Reject United States Sanctions Against Venezuela
On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, the United States Department of State unilaterally imposed sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), for its alleged relations with the government of Iran. The sanctions are a desperate and weak attempt to link Venezuela to Iran's nuclear energy program as part of an ongoing campaign to justify further aggressive action against the South American oil producing nation.

As citizens of the United States, we unequivocally reject this latest attempt of our administration to demonize the Venezuelan government and undermine the vibrant democracy of the Venezuelan people. The Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez has already been victim of a coup d'etat in 2002, backed by Washington, which briefly ousted the President from power. Fortunately for the health of Venezuela's democracy, the people fought back, rescued their President, and reinstated constitutional order. Then, as now, the United States stood alone in its support for hostilities against Venezuela's democratically-elected government.

The government of Hugo Chavez has used its oil wealth to invest heavily in improving the wellbeing of its people. Currently, more than 60% of oil industry profits are directed towards social programs in Venezuela, including free healthcare, education, job training, community media, grassroots organizations and subsidized food and housing. The results are notable. Poverty in Venezuela has been reduced by over 50% during the Chavez administration, illiteracy has been eradicated and free, universal healthcare and education are available and accesible to all. These policies of social justice have extended well beyond the borders of Venezuela to the United States though programs that supply free, discounted or subsidized heating oil and fuel to low income neighborhoods, indigenous peoples' communities and homeless shelters throughout the nation.

More than 250,000 US citizens in 25 states and the District of Columbia have benefited to date from the Venezuelan government's subsidized heating oil program, which is run through PDVSA's subsidiary in the United States, CITGO. No other oil company in the world - including US companies - has offered to help low income families suffering from the inflated cost of heating oil during the past six years, except for CITGO. Venezuela's solidarity with the people of the United States has enabled thousands of families to survive through these difficult economic times.

We find it outrageous that the United States government would attempt to demonize the one company, and country, that has been there for our neighbors, putting people before profits. And we call on our representatives in Washington to suspend these sanctions against Venezuela immediately. 

Love Handle Anyone?

Tidbits from My Travels by William

When I have a window seat on a plane, I often gaze out the window for a while until the new wears off.  On one particular flight I had a window seat.  I began gazing out the window and not paying very much attention to what was happening in the cabin of the plane as passengers were still boarding.

I did notice a lady had taken the seat right next to me.  After a few minutes while still looking out the window, I reached up and to my left and grabbed the arm rest and attempted to push it to down to its normal position.  I noticed it would not go all of the way down.  While still being preoccupied with whatever I was looking at outside, I attempted to push it down with much more force.  After it still would not go all the way down, I looked and noticed what the obstruction was—the lady’s large love handle. 

I was too embarrassed to ever really look at her.  I think I looked out the window the rest of the flight.

We Have a Winner!

Heidi Raccuia

You are the winner!

Please email me your address and I'll ship your copy of Watched out ASAP.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Come to my launch on June 6th at the Layton Barnes and Noble at 6:30 for more chances to win.

Review of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare Review

What I'm reading now by Cindy

When Clary discovers her world is much different than she had believed, she decides she must accept and explore this new world. She jumps head first into the world of Shadowhunters and demons hoping to make sense of her life. Falling for a Shadowhunter named Jace is only part of the reason she pushes forward. She must also find her mother, who has disappeared.
While I was able to come to terms with the massive number of similes in this book, I had a hard time loving the sarcastic, harsh characters that populate it. I felt unconnected and unconcerned with their plight. I wish I had cared about these characters because I think the storyline is unique and interesting.

I will not be reading any more of this series.  I say read it if you've got time to kill or you can  borrow it from a friend.

In the Name of Love by Cindy Sheehan

2 year-old, Casey
Thirty-two years ago today, I was very pregnant with my first child. In those days, of course, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl and the pre-natal care usually consisted of a few blood tests and getting to hear the baby’s heart at every appointment. 
With the June 5th deadline looming, on Sunday May 28th, my husband and I, went to an air show in Long Beach, Ca where we decided on the names: it would be Julie Anne for a baby girl or Casey Austin for a baby boy.
Well, lo and behold, the very next morning, I went into labor, one week early and on May 29th, our healthy, 8lb 2oz baby boy, Casey Austin, was born. We were thrilled and Casey, the perfect baby, was the apple of our eyes. Very quickly, boom, boom, boom, three more came: Carly Anne, Andrew Patrick and the baby, Jane Elizabeth.
As for mothers all over the world, my family was my life. As parents, we made our share of mistakes, but everything we did from May 29th, 1979 and forward was for and about our family.
One of the hardest things to do as a mother is to let your children grow up and make their own mistakes. Human beings usually don’t learn from the errors of others, but have to make their own. On Casey’s 21st birthday, he made a huge mistake: he joined Uncle Sam’s Army and 55 days before his 25th birthday, he was killed in Iraq in one of The Empire's Wars for Profit, Iraq.
Casey would be 32 on May 29th and it’s so hard to believe that his original birthday was 32 years ago! I can remember it like it was yesterday, but I can also remember his death day so vividly my heart hurts and my throat clenches up just to think about it. Tears are pouring down my cheeks and snot is flowing out of my nose as I write this. Burying a child is far more painful than giving birth to one (even with no pain medication).
For Casey’s birthday this year, I will be fasting in solidarity with Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal, who are the mothers of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal who were arrested by the Iranian government on July 31st in 2009 while they were hiking on the border of Iraq and Iran.
Cindy and Laura began the fast because they were not being allowed to communicate with their sons—and this past Sunday, the men were allowed to call home—so they believe the fast is having the desired effect. Cindy and Laura have vowed to continue the fast until their sons are released. As one can imagine, Cindy and Laura are knots of worry and longing for their sons every day! It's time to bring them home, they have been imprisoned for almost two years, now. Enough is enough!
Fasting for one day isn’t such a big commitment, and, for me, it is symbolic of not only the release of Shane and Josh, but also for political prisoners all over the world: Pvt. Bradley Manning, attorney Lynne Stewart, Mumia, Leonard Pelletier and all those whom the US detains and tortures every day in our own prisons: foreign and domestic.
In honor of Casey, whom I represent, will you also fast with me on May 29th for Shane, Josh and all political prisoners?
If you decide to fast with me on May 29th, please send me an email and a message of support for Shane and Josh (and their mums: Cindy and Laura) so I can post your message on my blog.
or join the fast on Facebook

Happy Birthday, Casey—what you did was “in the name of love,” and I carry on my work loving and missing you everyday and “in the name of love” for victims of violence and oppression everywhere.
Go to

Confessions of an Avid Reader

Books I'm currently reading by Cindy

I thought I better fess-up. Hmmm. I've never written that before. (Fess-up, that is) It looks strange, but it passed spell check, so it must be okay, Right?  Anyway, I discovered I'm actually reading six books right now.
  1. The Red Pyramid-hardback and huge- it stays by my bed
  2. Shiver-paperback and borrowed-next to my pillow
  3. Being Nikki-hardback and small-next to the couch
  4. Millie's Fling-on the Nook-it goes with me everywhere
  5. Story Engineering-on the Nook-I never leave home without it
  6. Wings-on the Nook-again, with  me all the time
How many books are you reading right now and where do you keep them?

Best Orange Rolls Ever....and They're Easy

The Eats by Cindy
  • Put the wet ingredients into the breadmaker or mixer
  1. 1 1/2 c. warm milk
  2. 1/4 c. butter melted
  3. 1 beaten egg
  • Put dry ingredients into the breadmaker or mixture
  1. 1/2 c, sugar
  2. 3/4 tsp salt
  3. 4 c. flour
  4. 1 Tbl. instant yeast.
  • Start dough cycle on breadmaker.  
  • If using a mixer, mix on low until it is all blended and using a dough hook knead on medium for about 6 minutes. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled. About 1 hour.
  • When dough is done in breadmaker or has risen to double its size, roll it out into a big rectangle on a floured surface.
  • Spread 1/4 c. butter onto dough with a basting brush.
  • Make filling and spread over butter
  1. 1/2 c. sugar
  2. 1 Tbl fresh orange juice
  3. 1 tsp. orange rind grated
  • Roll dough jellyroll style
  • Cut using a serrated knife into 12 equal pieces and put into a sprayed 9 X13 pan. Cover with sprayed plasic wrap
  • Let rise to double, but not more- it takes about 1 hour in a warm place
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Do not over-bake.
  • Make glaze
  1. 3 Tbl. orange juice
  2. 1/2 tsp grated orange rind
  3. 2 oz of cream cheese
  4. 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • Whisk together and spread 1/2 over hot rolls and the other half  over them when you serve them.
These are so good, you'll have a hard time stopping at just one.