Book Launched

My latest book as been launched as an e-book.bones-cover

I have been writing a series of novellas, The Richard Tracy Series. They are all available only as e-books. Book 3 of the series, Dem Bones Shall Rise Again is now on the market on the following websites: Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Google, Indigo (Canadian), and Fnac (France).

These novelas feature Richard Tracy, a retired detective and Mary Beth Austin, a retired chef. They are senior citizens and avid gardners but don’t let any moss grow on them.

Book 1 is A Dangerous Bike Ride. Richard and Mary Beth meet during the Texas MS 150 bike ride. Sparks fly and they promise to keep in touch, but there is an explosion at the finish line. Richard is injured and Mary Beth is carried off by her ex-husband. Richard must find and rescue his lady love.

Book 2 is Gone Running and Gone. Mary Beth moves to an apartment near Richard’s house. Together they plant a large garden in Richard’s yard. They marry in the middle of Spring. Richard has been training to run a marathon. Mary Beth provides support and encouragement from her mountain bike, but suddenly, Richard disappears. Mary Beth must work with the state police to rescue Richard.

Book 3 is Dem Bones Shall Rise Again. Theodore, the dog next door keeps digging under Richard’s fence where Richard is digging a trench to lay pipe. WDSC03260
hen Theodore digs up a human bone, the trouble starts. Because it appears Richard may have buried the body, he becomes a murder suspect. In the end it is Theodore who catches the murderer.

More about this book and other books by Reynold Conger can be found
on his website,

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Enough! Children Play Together Nicely


As long as we have had elections, we have had division after the election. In our presidential elections, a 5% margin of victory is considered a landslide, so after each election we have almost half of the voters disappointed by the outcome.

Historically, the winners have cheered and the losers have licked their wounds. Usually within a few days of the election, almost everyone in the nation is pulling together. There have been many elections where the candidate I supported lost, but I have accepted the winning candidate because he is the new president. For better or worse, he is the leader of our country for the next four years.

This year is a little different. Mr. Trump won, but there are a large number of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters who are sore losers. Since the election there have been many liberals who refuse to interact politely with Trump supporters. Case in point is the restaurant in Hawaii who will not serve Trump supporters. This is only one of the more recent examples. In some cases Trump supporters have been assaulted.

Such behavior is simply juvenile. It is like a child throwing checkers around the room just because his or her opponent wantsto play with the red checkers (the pouting child’s favorite color). Usually in that case a parent says, “Children! Play together nicely.” Even after the game is over and the loser throws a temper tantrum, the parent says the same thing.

The behavior of these people throwing tantrums because their champion lost is childish. It is not appropriate for adults, and a requirement for voting is the voter must be an adult.

The election is over. The results are final. All of the protests and anger against people who voted for the other candidate accomplish nothing. The losers will accomplish more if they simply say, “I don’t approve of this man or woman, but he or she is our president.” After all, every government needs its “loyal opposition”. We need men and women who remain loyal Americans and who work with the government in power to run the country even though they do not agree with the government.

The loyal opposition has the following responsibilities: (1) Avoid obstructing the legal operation of the government bodies such as happened when Wisconsin legislators of the minority party boycotted sessions in an attempt to block a bill they did not like. (2) Legislators of the minority party are obligated to point out provisions of bills that they believe are detrimental to the country or to segments of the population. (3) They are obligated to offer amendments that will help to mitigate the problems pointed out under item 2. The loyal opposition is there to prevent the majority party from simply ramming their agenda through without giving some consideration to the concerns of the minority party.

What about the average citizen? If the average citizen is a member of the loyal opposition, they are obligated to write to their congressmen and senators when there is a bill before Congress that they oppose. Likewise, they are obligated to write to the White House with their opposition when the president is preparing to sign a bill or make an appointment.

The election results are final. Children! Play together nicely. There is an election every four years. Next time your candidate may win.

Reynold Conger is an author. Learn about his books at ReynoldConger.com.

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Ponder Eternity

Some of you may have noticed that I made no posts for several months until my last post on Christmas. In late October, I caught a serious, but not life threatening, infection. Early in the illness, I ran a very high fever, but antibiotics dropped the fever to a temperature only slightly high. Nevertheless I was ill. It was not until early December than my temperature dropped to and stayed at normal indicating that the infection was finally conquered.

A consequence of my illness is that my back became very weak. I could only stand or sit for short periods of time. By the time the infection was gone, I had lost 15 pounds and a great deal of muscle mass and muscle tone. Most significant was the loss of muscle tone in the muscles of the back that support the body. In the last couple of weeks, I have stretched and worked out with very light loads so that my back muscles are approaching a useful strength. I can now walk more than 200 yards and can sit for over two hours.

Needless to say, I had a lot of time to ponder things. Even though there was no risk of death, I pondered my ultimate demise. What if I did die within a matter of days or weeks?

In my condition, there was little I could do to change things. Fortunately, my will is in my lock box with a copy in my lawyer’s office, but other matters are unresolved. The garage would remain a mess until my widow and children took matters into their own hands. The garden needs to be cleaned up for the winter. Friends helped me there, but had they not, my heirs would have had to clean up the mess left by frozen valves. I find myself making resolutions to get the garage and shed in order once my health and strength return.

A more serious concern is what will happen to a person after they die. In my case, I have a prepaid burial so the body will be taken care of, but what about the soul? What happens to a person’s soul after death?

A few of my friends are either agnostics or atheists. They argue that everything ends at death, but the rest of the world believes that a person’s soul survives for eternity in one way or another. Thus for most of us, we need to ponder what is the destination of our soul, and what we can to direct our soul to a desirable destination. Monotheistic religions tend to offer the equivalents of heaven and hell. One will either be rewarded or punished. Most of the Asiatic religions teach reincarnation. The person’s soul will be reborn in another animal. Would you rather become a horse, a rat or a worm? At some time before death, we need to ponder the destination of our soul, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

Had I been on my death bed, there would have been nothing I could have done about the messy garage. What, could I have done about my soul? After all, eternity is a long time. If one’s soul ends in a place of punishment or in the body of an undesirable animal such as a worm, eternity is a long time to regret what one did in life.

The agnostics and atheists are in a bind. Because they believe that death is the end, there is nothing they can do. In fact, their life becomes meaningless unless by chance they did something of major benefit to mankind. Even then, they will never know how they have blessed or cursed their descendants. Personally, I believe there is a supreme deity who rules the universe. The agnostics and atheists will discover after death that they are accountable to this deity. Oh woe are they. It is interesting to note, that psychologists find that atheists have a greater fear of death than people who believe in a god.

So have you pondered your relationship to what ever deity you believe in? What destinations does your deity offer you? What, if anything, can you do to influence the deity? What have you done already? What can you do in the time remaining before your death?

In my case, my pondering consisted in reviewing and confirming the choices I have already made. I am a born-again Christian. I believe there is a God who is supreme and who owns everything. Our possessions have only been lent to us during our lifetime. There is nothing we can do to impress God. We can not pay him back because we own nothing. Even if we did, what of value could we give to the one who owns everything?

As a Christian, I believe God is beyond our comprehension. We simply can not conceive God in all His power and glory. As a result Christian theologians set forth the doctrine of the Trinity. No, we do not believe in three gods. Christians believe that this overwhelmingly grand and glorious God can be viewed in three ways. God, the father, the historical sovereign God. God the son, or Jesus, who lived among us in human form as an example, teacher and savior, and God the Holy Spirit who moves within our consciousness teaching, guiding and correcting us that we might work to glorify God.

As a Christian, the Holy Spirit urges me to do good works that glorify God, but what work can I do that can earn my way into Heaven? I do things to glorify God, but nothing I do “earns” my way into Heaven.

Some people use the metaphor of a balance with a person’s good deeds on one side and their evil deeds on the other. Others think of a celestial book keeper entering debits and credits for our good and bad deeds. Unfortunately, humanity is inherently sinful. There is no way for a person to be able to do more good than evil. We all deserve an eternal punishment that Christians call Hell. We can not buy our way into heaven with good works. There is nothing we can do that is of greater than our sins.

While many people get frustrated trying to work their way into Heaven, Christians get to Heaven on the basis of faith. It is an individual decision, but those who get to heaven believe that Jesus was born, died and rose again as payment of their sins. Only the death of a sinless man, Jesus, can atone for our sins.

You may have picked up that I said I was a born-again Christian. This means that I not only accept by faith the salvation that comes from Jesus, but I have given my life to him. He is my Lord and Savior. I strive to live my life to honor him and live in his strength and mercy.

I would hope the readers would seriously consider Christianity, but my purpose in writing this post is to get you to ponder your death and your future in eternity. Perhaps you disagree with me about Christianity, but in any event take the time now to think about what will happen after your death. If you are not sure of where your soul will go, or if you have doubts about what you have believed up to now, ponder eternity. Now is the time to look for a faith that works for you. Now is the time to change your life in a way that will impact how you spend eternity. Do not just stumble through life, and at death find yourself spending eternity in a place of punishment.

As for me, Christianity offers me the path to heaven. You are free to look for other paths, but the Bible says it is the only path.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, now is the time to consider how you will spend eternity. A sudden death could leave you spending eternity where you do not wish to be. Remember, eternity is a long time. While you are at it, you may also wish to ponder for a moment if you really believe your choice of religion. There is time to reconsider now, but not after death.

Reynold Conger is an author of fiction. He writes his books to entertain, but they are written from a Christian perspective. For information about his writing, go to Reynold Conger.com.

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Merry Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly. Among other things, we wish each other a merry Christmas. Yes, I know it is politically correct to say Happy Holidays, but that takes all the punch out of it. We could say that about any holiday, for example, groundhog’s day. There is something special about this time of year, Christians are celebrating Christmas and Jews are celebrating Chanukah. Both of these religious celebrations honor the God that is the basis of both Judaism and Christianity. Our Christmas season derives from these.

Being a born-again Christian, I wish that all people were Christian. To me the meaning of Christmas is that God sent Jesus to Earth as a baby to live among men. Jesus is an example how to live righteously, our teacher and our savior. Christianity make my life richer.

Our Christmas holiday, however is enjoyed also by non-Christians, agnostics and even some atheists. So I can wish a merry Christmas even to those who ignore the religious significance of the season because I wish them to enjoy the secular celebration of the season. I do wish my Jewish friends and other Jews a happy Chanukah and most of them wish me a merry Christmas in return. Even though they are celebrating Chanukah, they are part of the greater Christmas holiday.

Whether you are religious or not, please celebrate Christmas (or Chanukah) and help to spread the good will of the holiday.

 

Reynold Conger is a published author. For information about his books, go to ReynoldConger.com. 

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Do My Friends Get in Stories?

Every now and then, in a joking way, I tell my friends to be careful lest they end up as characters in my next book. Of course the same applies to my enemies, but they are seldom around to hear me give the warning.

There has to be consideration of libel laws, character assassination and loss of friendships, but most writers write about what they know. We write about people we see or meet, but who would we know better than our friends and our enemies?

Over the years I have written more than 20 manuscripts, mostly for practice and my own entertainment when on consulting assignments in foreign countries. I can only think of two manuscripts in which I directly recorded physical and personality characteristics of friends on the printed page. When I wrote My Knight in Shining Armor, I memorialized my late college friend who died in Vietnam. I not only used his real name, 2nd Lt. George Stivers, but tried to give him the same personality as he had displayed in college. My concept was to bring him back from the dead through literature to enjoy his chosen career and have a chance for romance with the girl of his dreams.

The other time was after I had been at my 40th reunion. All the writing coaches advise us to write about what we know so I wrote about a reunion caught in a crisis. As I wrote, it was a little startling to see my classmates come to life on the computer screen. I did change most of the names, but I suspect that any of my classmates could have read the manuscript and correctly identified most of the characters. Perhaps it is just as well I never published that manuscript. At my age, I am losing too many friends to death. There is no need to make any of the survivors angry.

As it turns out, my friends and relatives do populate my stories. I have not used any of my enemies, but several of my enemies would make good villains. My technique is to merge several personalities into one character. A character, I will call Dave may have Sam’s physical appearance, but John’s personality with a few of Sam’s habits thrown in. Dave may be a combination of Sam and John, but he will take some action that Charles once did. So is the character, Dave, taken from Sam, John or Charles?

As I flesh out a character, I usually find that none of my friends are exactly what the story needs. That is why I merge personalities together. I get richer characters, custom made for the plot in which they must function.

You ask about villains. Usually I have to make them out of whole cloth because no one I know has quite the right makeup to have the right combination of evil and potentially redeeming characteristics.

I did need a villain for a subplot, and once did cast in that role a girl who once jilted me. I did change her name, but left the rest of her alone. I did not assassinate her character. After all she is a classmate and a friend, and she plays the villain’s role in a manuscript that probably will never see the light of day.

Writers, take care of your friends and enemies. You never know when you will need them to populate your next novel.

Reynold is the author of three published novels and two novellas that have been published only as e-books. For information about Reynold and his work, see his website, ReynoldConger.com. His books can be purchased on his website or from most on-line book sellers.

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Is Drug Use Worth the Risk?

There are people who get addicted to pain medications, but a bigger problem are those who use drugs for the “high”, for what ever pleasure they get. Is recreational drug use worth the risk?

Everyone knows the statistics of drug use and addiction, but an article in the Albuquerque Journal brings it home. There have been 20 recent deaths in New Mexico including one victim who lived near me.

The victims had each taken what they believed to be black-market oxycodone. That would have been risky enough, but they probably felt safe because oxycodone is a prescription drug manufactured in plants that assure there is only 30 mg of drug in each tablet. The victims had reason to believe the dose they were taking was an amount their bodies could tolerate.

Unfortunately, the pills taken were not oxycodone, they only looked like 30 mg oxycodone. They consisted of a filer material, blue dye and fentanyl. Fentanyl is a high powered painkiller that can kill easily. In this instance, the drug users also had no idea how much fentanyl was in each tablet. Apparently these fake pills were made in Mexico and exported north.

Drug use and drug related deaths have become rampant in the US. There is nothing unique about the state of New Mexico that makes it more vulnerable to drug problems other than it is one of the states that share an international border with Mexico.

Considering the risks, is it worth it to use recreational drugs? For one thing, can you be sure what you are putting into your body? Are you sure what the dose is? The further you go into the black market for your drugs, the greater the risk that you are not getting what you thought you bought.

There are all kinds of ways to have fun without using drugs or alcohol. Is it worth risking death for a short time “high”? The risk of deadly overdoses is on the rise.

Don’t start taking recreational drugs. If you have already started, STOP NOW. If you are addicted, seek help.

Don’t let recreational drug use prevent you from having a long and happy life.

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On the Train

I am writing this in the lounge/observation car watching the sun rise behind the Southwest Chief as I travel west toward home in New Mexico. We have just crossed the state line from Kansas into Colorado and were told to change our watches from CDT to MDT. Due to lack of WIFI, I am writing this on the word processor. I will have to post this after I get home.

Those of you who read my earlier post about my reunion, know that I planned to take the train from Albuququerque to Chicago. In Chicago I rented a car for the drive to Waukesha, Wisconsin where the Waukesha High class of 1961 had a great reunion, our 55th. Being a bit more mature than we were for earlier reunions, we dispensed with the fancy dinners, music and dancing. (Who wants to dance at a reunion anyway? We want to talk with our old friends.)

We started the reunion by joining a breakfast club Friday morning. This club is former athletes and fans from all classes along with current and retired coaches from all sports. All of the ’61 alumni gathered together on an enclosed porch at the restaurant. What a great way to start a reunion.

Friday night the class of ’61 met for a fish fry. I think they were about to kick us out by the time the last of us finished talking. Saturday night, rather than a formal dinner, we met for a buffet. There was no formal program, but there was an open mike. Several of us made short remarks. Most of the evening we circulated and renewed old friendships.

After a quick visit with my brother, I started back.

At one time the United States enjoyed a vast network of passenger rail service, all provided by the private railroads. The trains with longer routes had dining cars, Pullman sleeper cars and cars with private compartments along with coach cars. Passenger rail travel was comfortable, efficient and within most people’s budgets. It was faster than traveling by automobile, but slow in comparison to air travel. Of course, airlines were in their infancy following World War I and really did not mature until the late ’50s.

Following World War II, automobile ownership became very popular. Families began taking vacations by auto. Long distance auto travel was not very efficient, but as roads and cars improved, passenger travel by rail declined. The improvements in air travel cut further into rail travel. One at a time, the railroads reduced their rail service. Most railroads stopped passenger service entirely as freight became more profitable than passengers.

Passenger rail service would have died a quiet death had not Congress passed a law establishing AMTRAK. My trip on AMTRAK from Albuquerque to Chicago was 26 hours. The seats in coach are wide and spaced five feet apart. They recline and have foot rests. I was very comfortable. I slept better on my trip than I have on most of the intercontinental flights I have taken. Seats are equipped with tray tables and 115 volt AC power. My only complaint is that there was no WIFI. I was told WIFI was only available in the sleeper cars. The observation car provides great views, but the view from my seat on the upper level was pretty good.

Unfortunately in many places, AMTRAK travels mostly on tracks owned by freight lines. In some places, track conditions do n ot permit high speed travel and in other places we had to wait for other trains to pass the other direction. I have been told by a railroad employee that AMTRAK trains no longer have priority over freights. This makes it difficult to stay on schedule. To the credit of the train crew, we reached most scheduled stations within a few minutes of the schedule, but we were up to an hour late at other stations.

Someone will comment that I could have traveled to Milwaukee much faster by air, but I had no need to get there quickly and I saved some money. I also saved the time and aggravation of going through TSA security.

AMTRAK is hamstrung by being a government owned company that is ruled by bureaucrats and crippled by politically mandated budget restraints, but all things considered they do a pretty good job of providing passenger service. The crews on the two trains I rode, took good care of the passengers.

My criticism of AMTRAK is that they do a terrible job of publicity. I suspect there are many people who are not even aware of the availability of passenger service between major cities. The AMTRAK websites are poorly done and a little confusing.

In my opinion AMTRAK should have more routes servicing more cities. On some routes, trains need to run more frequently. Unfortunately, no transportation provider can afford to provide service without adequate ridership. This is why I think AMTRAK needs better publicity. If they increase ridership, they will be able to justify the the fund for additional equipment. With additional equipment and increased ridership, they will be able to expand routes an schedules.

When I was a business traveler, air travel was the travel of choice because I needed to get to the clent quickly. Time is money in business. As a retiree, I seldom have the need to get to my destination quickly. Retirees, college students and some vacationers often can take their time when traveling. It is in the country’s best interest to have good passenger rail service, even better than what AMTRAK currently provides.

(My apologies for not posting this sooner. I wrote the draft for this post on the train, but could not send it for lack of WIFI. Once home I got busy, but better late than never.)

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist and teacher who has taken up writing as a retirement career. He used his train time to write this blog entry, finish revising his next novel, a Christian thriller and to begin on a middle grade nonfiction book about bees. For more about Reynold’s books, visit www.ReynoldConger.com.

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