Where the Crawdads Sing

Name:                        Where the Crawdads Sing

Author:                      Delia Owens

Rating:                       4

General Rating:

What’s all the fuss about? I liked this book. I did. But, meh, wait until the dust settles to read. I was over 2000 on the waiting list at the Philadelphia Free Library to borrow this book. It’s not that wait worthy. I give this a 4 only because I loved the writing. In comparison, I looked forward to reading it as much as I did Baldacci’s Absolute Power and Moriarity’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story. I liked the plot and story in the other two more, but Crawdads had the best writing, by far.

Skip factor:               

3% I could not take all the marsh information. I tried but TMI.

Who should read:            

Most women and especially any back-to-nature people. (Back-to-nature folks will skip 0%.)

Summary:  This is the story of a ten-year-old girl, Kya, who is deserted in a North Carolina marshland and must learn to survive on her own. Her mother and siblings leave by the time Kya is six. Her father stays, but comes and goes until finally, he leaves for good when she is ten. To prevent a spoiler, I’ll summarize by saying she befriends a kind boy who teaches her to read, a not-so-kind boy who says he loves her but doesn’t, and a few other people in a nearby town who help her survive until she creates a way to sustain herself.

CharactersI did not feel a connection with any of them:

Kya Clark –  Kya is a strong female character with aloof qualities that living in solitude might relay. She does not have a big personality. Yet, you root for this ten-year-old. She must learn survival skills on her own. And while she is somewhat unbelievable to me, the author was so knowledgeable about wildlife and the marshlands she had me wonder if a child could survive out there alone.

Chase Andrews – Chase, who loves the marshland, befriends Kya, teaches her to read, and falls in love with her before going away to college. He promises to say goodbye and then—going against every grain of his character—doesn’t. He leaves but much later redeems himself. I won’t say how. No spoilers.

Other characters – I didn’t like Tate, which I’m sure the author intended. I liked the man at the store (although obviously not that much as I can’t remember his name) and his wife Mabel but didn’t feel the connection with them I thought the author was trying to evoke. I liked the police investigators, and although there were times they were funny, I didn’t love them.

Storyline: Is it believable? No, but here’s where I go against my grain. Typically, I pay no mind to where an author went to school or grew up. I’ve read lots of books written by Ivy School grads that I DNF. But because I loved Owens’ writing, I googled her to find out how she learned to mix words so well. Astonishingly, I found she’s a zoologist. So I sat back and reevaluated the storyline. Is it believable?

Still no. To be believable, Kya 1) would have been more aloof and recluse (a duller story) and 2)  would have had much more trouble alone in that marshland (a more depressing story). Additionally, Chase walking away without even a goodbye but continuing to love her for years? Fairy tale fiction.

Writing style:    The writing is flawless and that is why this is worth the read. I loved her dialogue, and while, again, I am not a fan of setting description, the author’s wonderful word mixing led me much deeper into scene description than I would go for any other author. Sometimes, in those marsh descriptions that I typically would have loathed, I found myself saying, “Wow, what a clever way to describe that,” which is the only reason I skipped so little.

There is also clever symbolism between the marsh and life that is worth a ponder.

Read this author again: Because I loved her writing, I’ll try reading another of this author’s books. If there is too much nature-loving description in that one, I’ll give it a miss and return it to the library early. However, I’ll just quietly walk away. Won’t add it to my Books I Almost Read category. Her writing is too good to tarnish with a DNF.

Read on!


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a paranormal element. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.


Beyond Reality Radio Interview

Have you had a premonition? Apparition? Seen a ghost? If you’re enamored by the unexplained, tune in to Beyond Reality Radio (BRR).

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed on BRR about the childhood attic experience, 9/11 premonition, and church apparition that led to my novels Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream.

Please listen to my interview on Youtube at CJ Zahner on Beyond Reality Radio. I’d love for you to hit the thumbs up button and like if you enjoy!

The host and interviewer, JV Johnson, was awesome. He made my debut radio interview a positive, comfortable experience. Since that interview, I’ve discovered several other past discussions on various subjects. You can search for past topics.

If you listened to the interview and have questions for me, or if you’ve had a premonition or apparition you’d like to share, please email me at I’d love to hear from you!


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two paranormal thrillers. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own real-life experiences. See the video of her 9/11 premonition here. Listen to her Beyond Reality Radio interview about her premonitions/apparitions here. Purchase her books on Amazon. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreads, BookBub, or LinkedIn.

What I saw in the Chapel

What was that? Am I crazy? Or am I having (gulp)—a vision?

At the risk of sounding deranged and for the lack of a better description, I’m admitting I experience occasional, brief, inexplicit “movies in my head” without reason. These little episodes surprise me in different settings: at home while relaxing on the couch, at my workplace, the bank while talking to a teller, or in a chapel while I’m praying. This last setting was the inspiration for the first chapter in my new novel, Project Dream.

What happens in the book is much more melodramatic than my real-life experience because, well, because I write fiction and real-life isn’t all that exciting. So here’s what I conjured up:

In Project Dream, ten-year-old Izzy Jimenez visits a chapel in San Diego, California. An angel appears. The ghostly spirit swoops down and begs Izzy to dissuade a forlorn woman in that chapel from going to New York City. Reluctantly, Izzy approaches the woman and relays the advice of the angel (who she thinks is the woman’s mother). The woman asks Izzy what the angel’s name is. Izzy doesn’t know. She doesn’t hear the angels, only sees them, but they do give her signs.

“Wait!” Izzy says. The spirit opens her arms. She’s holding roses. “Rose? Is your mother’s name Rose?” And with that verification of the mother’s name—walla—the woman cancels her trip. Izzy has saved her life.

Was that the real-life story?

No. I wish it was. My 9/11 vision (read that story) was so vague, it helped no one. I often question why I had it. I knew a building would collapse and I suspected people would lose their lives, but I had no idea where the building was located other than somewhere in northeastern America near a body of water.

The single advantage of that premonition was personal confirmation. That vision made me, CJ Zahner, believe I wasn’t crazy. It was too accurate to be coincidental.

But I digress, what actually happened in the chapel?

Many years ago, a new friend asked if I would like to visit a side chapel of a Catholic church—not in San Diego, but in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The chapel struck me as lovely. I knelt beside my friend and immediately began praying. I don’t recall who I prayed for, probably my kids. Regardless, there I was—minding my own business praying—when I had this swooshing feeling like an angel came down out of the ceiling. I attempted to ignore the sensation, blaming my wild imagination. This time, however, the woman, white spirit, ghost, whatever you would like to call her, was relentless. She wouldn’t leave.

She said, quite clearly, “My daughter doesn’t believe in this sort of thing.” She chuckled, told me she wanted her daughter to know she loved her, and just before she left, she opened her arms and showed me roses.

The dream seemed so real that I was quite shaken. When we were leaving, my friend asked what was wrong.

“You’re going to think I’m crazy,” I said. “But I think the mother of one of those women in that chapel appeared to me.”

My friend didn’t know me too well at that time so, of course, she looked at me like I was nuts. But still shook, I described what the angel relayed, and my friend became quiet.

“What was the woman’s name?” she asked.

I told her I’d seen lots of spirits, but I never seemed to get their names right. They usually only gave me feelings or showed me signs. Then I remembered the roses.

“Oh, wait,” I said. “The woman’s name may have been Rose.”

Again, silence from my friend. I was sure she thought I’d lost my mind. Finally, she spoke. “My mother’s name was Rose.”

And from that true-life experience, I conjured up the entire first chapter of Project Dream.


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two paranormal thrillers. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own real-life experiences. See the video of her 9/11 premonition here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Big Little Lies

Name:                         Big Little Lies

Author:                      Liane Moriarity

Rating:                       5

General Rating:

This was a can’t-put-down novel for me. Confession: Not sure I would have LOVED this book as much if I hadn’t watched the Netflix series. Reese Wetherspoon’s voice echoed through my head with the turn of every page. (I love that girl.)

Skip factor:               

O% This doesn’t happen very often, but I skipped nothing. Not one word.

Who should read:            

Anyone who has watched the series. Women who are in their own heads too much. (You’ll identify with Maddie.) Mothers with angry teenage daughters. Rumor mongers. Women who are bored and need to spice up their life. (I say boring is good. This novel spiced up my dull little life.) Mothers who share custody of their children…oh, forget it, let’s say all women…

Summary:  I’ll attempt brevity. Jane, a single mom, enrolls her son, Ziggy, in Pirriwee School. There she meets Madeline, a head-strong, thinks-too-much, underdog-defending mother of three. Madeline takes Jane under her wing and the two of them, along with Madeline’s best friend, Celeste, take up arms when another mother, Renata, accuses Ziggy of bullying her daughter.

Celest is rich and beautiful but married to an abusive husband. Madeline is married to a good guy, but her ex-husband and his much-younger wife have moved into the Pirriwee school district. They inadvertently flaunt their life in Madeline’s face. Madeline, bitter because her ex-husband left her when her now teenage daughter was a baby, becomes outraged when that daughter opts to live with him.

The disturbing crux of this novel is Ziggy is the result of Jane’s one-night-stand turned rape. She has returned to the scene of the crime, the Pirriwee area, in hopes of finding and confronting Ziggy’s biological father.

I won’t say more than that about the story, so I don’t spoil it. I truly want you to read this one.

Here are three of the main characters whom Moriarity creates and whom I loved:

  • Madeline – love, love, laughed-out-loud loved her. She’s relentless. Her thoughts, hysterical. If you don’t love this character, you’re not human.
  • Celeste is Maddie’s best friend and the mother of twin boys. She’s so sweet you’ll adore and root for her.
  • Renata, is originally cast as the villain, but Moriarity had me loving her, hot-headedness, materialistic flaws, and all.
  • Oh, and the husbands – I didn’t care for a single one. Maybe that was Moriarity’s intention?

Storyline: Early on, the author lets you know there will be a death at a Pirriwee school function. The story unfolds through the eyes of Madeline, Jane, and Celeste. Each has their own storyline. In each chapter, Moriarity includes brief transcripts of police interviews of other school parents. Some are hilarious. Some reveal more of the back story until everything unfolds at the event.

Writing style:    The writing was superb. Moriarity has a way of allowing the readers to see past Madeline’s pettiness and take her side. Pacing was excellent. I loved the dialogue, and again, the police interviews were brief and entertaining. Evoked suspicion and interest. Perfect. Felt as if I was right there at Pirriwee school, standing beside Madeline.

Read this author again: Absolutely. Already did. See my 4-star review of The Hypnotist’s Love Story. I fully intend on reading everything Moriarity writes.


Read on!


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a paranormal element. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.




Books I Almost Read

Read the Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex? Me neither.

Wandering through my seventh decade, I treasure time. I used to read the classics no matter how grueling and gut-wrenching, but now? Meh. Distinctions can be deceiving. Some of the smartest people I met over the years never earned a high-school diploma. Lots more swore off college. I’ve learned not to judge a book by its accolades.

So Pulitzer Prize and all, I’m pulling out the ladder, stepping up, and slipping Middlesex onto that top shelf I can’t reach, setting it alongside Hillbilly Elegy and Moby Dick. (Yes, it’s above me. Who cares?) I couldn’t take the Greek history or the multitudinously-lined paragraphs as I’m a fan of dialogue and white space.

My apologies to my book club. I really did try. This is only the third time they selected a book I couldn’t muddle through. The other two were Hillbilly Elegy, and (um, my sixty-two-year-old memory fails me) another one about a pig. Oh wait, there was a fourth. Some Steve Martin blunder. (Sorry, Steve. I love you otherwise.)

So now I add Middlesex to a perfectly wonderful list. These are all great books that have appealed to hundreds, thousands, of people. They just aren’t reading-in-the-backyard-with-a-cup-of-coffee worthy to me. Their skip factor was too high.

You’ll find my skip factor is what sets my reviews apart from others. I’m coming out of the bookstore closet and admitting I skip. (Gasp.) And, really, who cares if we skip a line or paragraph or book or two?

In alphabetical order, here are the books I almost read. (To see books I recommend, browse my review page.) My apologies to the authors:

Hillbilly Elegy – Skip rate 40%. I read more than half of this book. I believe the fall of the middle class is unavoidable, and I was anxious to read this story about the working-class Vance family. However, I could not get through it. Sorry to the author for what I am about to say. I felt this was a story of many Americans and the only reason this succeeded was because of the author’s ivy-league resume. He rambled on, and I kept asking myself why his thoughts were so important. (Confession: I earned straight A’s in my poor, menial, private-school college economic classes years ago but HATED the subject.) DNF (did not finish).

Middlesex – Skip rate 90%. As stated above, I just couldn’t wade through the long paragraphs and Greek history. I did want to read the story. Where it began, I do not know. For those of you who have more patience than me, carry on the read. I do think the author is a gifted writer and some will like. DNF.

Moby Dick – Skip rate ??. Honestly, I do not remember how much I read. This was years ago and I tried to read this monstrosity of a book several times. Never could. Not sure why. I went back and read the first few lines. Maybe because of the full-of-myself male voice? (The skies rumble as the Mel-admiring gods groan.) No desire to try again. DNF.


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a paranormal element. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story


Here’s my take on The Hypnotist’s Love Story. I recommend this book!

Name:                         The Hypnotist’s Love Story

Author:                      Liane Moriarity

Rating:                       4

General Rating:

This novel kept me turning pages. The main character’s thoughts engaged me. I had to know what was going to happen to her.

Skip factor:               

5%. Generally, I like more dialogue. This novel held a lot of “in her head” chatter that did get to me, occasionally.

Who should read:            

Just about any woman who has ever been in love.

Summary:  This is the story of Ellen O Farrell, a hypnotherapist who has had three unsuccessful relationships. Now a thirty-something, Ellen doubts she’ll find Mr. Right. So when she meets Patrick, she is pleasantly surprised that he likes her, she likes him, and he appears normal. Patrick is widower with one son, who also seems lovely. The catch? Patrick’s ex-girlfriend—Saskia, whom he met after his wife’s death—is stalking him.

Patrick’s stalker remains in the shadows for quite a while. Ellen is both intrigued and worried by the stalker. When Saskia finally reveals herself, Ellen realizes the woman is a client of hers. A client she rather likes.

Without telling all, the relationship between Ellen and Patrick progresses, and Ellen remains unsure if Patrick really loves her.  Saskia’s stalking continues and readers constantly wonder what will happen next.

Throughout the book, I found myself wondering if Patrick truly loved Ellen. It’s  why I kept reading. Other tidbits kept me turning pages as well. Without spoiling the ending, I’ll say Moriarity took me up and down and all around before revealing Patrick AND Ellen’s true emotions.

Characters:   Moriarity engages her readers through the main character’s thoughts. To say she is deep in POV is an understatement. Every thought Ellen has is out in the open, and I loved it. While other characters were occasionally interesting, most definitely, the well-developed main character, the hypnotist, was the center appeal.

To mention a little more about other characters:

  • Patrick was aloof. I liked him, but Moriarity intentionally doesn’t reveal too much about him so readers must wonder (and worry) if he is committed to his relationship with Ellen.
  • Saskia is crazy, yes, but Moriarity creates something appealing about her also. I found myself seesawing between, “Ah the poor girl was jilted,” and “She’s freakin’ nuts.”
  • Patrick’s son is a normal child and is there more to reveal Patrick’s nature than his own.
  • Ellen’s three ex-lovers are weaved into the story to reveal more about her.
  • Others: Ellen’s mother and two godmothers, Patrick’s ex-mother- and father-in-law, and a few others I felt no attachment to whatsoever. That didn’t take away from the story. Ellen’s bigness made me love it.
  • Storyline: The start was not as interesting as some novels. Yet right away, I found myself imagining all sorts of scenarios on Ellen and Patrick’s first date. Is he crazy? Is there really a stalker? Moriarity puts enough doubt in your head to make you question everything. You become invested in Ellen’s tale. About three fourths through I grew tired of Ellen’s thoughts and felt some forced storyline. Toward the end, it picked up again. Simply, the main conflict, the hypnotist’s love story, kept me reading. There were other small conflicts here and there, but as simple as it sounds, what held my interest was finding out if Ellen’s fourth love affair would work.
  • Writing style:     The writing was superb. I’m not sure another writer could so cleverly craft a simple story and keep their reader’s attention. It wasn’t deep or insightful, but there were simple underlying life lessons. Moriarity’s descriptions are clever. Pacing is good, but generally, I like more dialogue—which is the only reason I struggled between giving this a 3.5 or a 4. Her writing boosted it upward. The book did not disappoint. Not much depth to the storyline, an easy voice, I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed read.

Read this author again: Absolutely. Already did. See my 5-star review of Big Little Lies.

Read on!


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake andProject Dream, two thrillers that carry a paranormal element. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Is Your Child’s Phone Calculator Safe?

Phone calculators. Innocent. Educational. They’re great, right? Be careful, Mom and Dad.

I saw frightening news on the Today Show this morning. Kids can now hide secret apps on their cell phones that are accessible through a calculator plus app. The sites your child may visit by this mean will not be in their browser history. So while you may think you are monitoring their every move, you’re not.

Savannah Sellers, host of Snapchat’s Stay Tuned, appeared on the Today Show to warn parents the calculator plus may hide websites where children can privately interact with others. Those apps may include live text, voice, or video chats. Many open the door for inappropriate behavior and/or interactions with strangers.

Several police departments around the country are warning parents to watch out for several apps. They are promoting the “15 Apps Parents Should Know About” poster pictured below. (

Fifteen Apps poster

Read the Sarasota News Fox 13 article (staff reporter) highlighting those apps here, or the article by Jordan Mickle of WTMJ-TV Milwaukee which also describes the apps individually here.

More importantly, to see how easily the calculator is to use, watch Savannah Sellers Today Show broadcast on Twitter here.

BE SURE TO WATCH UNTIL THE END where Savannah shows the phone calculator and  the calculator plus app side by side and how simple it is for your child to open. She enters a number, hits the percent sign, and a world of secret apps and photos magically appear.

Sellers ends her report by quipping, “It is a rabbit hole you do not want your kids to go down.”


CJ Zahner lives in Erie, Pennsylvania. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author. Follow CJ on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn. Find out about her books on Amazon or BookCircle Online.


Presque Isle: a piece of my journey

From the sky it looks like a puzzle piece, Presque Isle. The sort of piece that finds your hand first because it’s the most colorful, most distinguishable. It’s the one you want to begin with, fit the other pieces around. From high above, its jagged edges disappear into the blue water, and its magnificent green hues mix with soil brown and take your breath away.

There is so much to love about Presque Isle.

A bald eagle took my breath away there once as he soared along the shores of the bay. Three of us were lucky enough to witness his wide wings slowly and gracefully, rising and falling in flight. He was there and gone in an instant—a small, blessed piece added to each of our puzzles on a near-perfect morning.

I’ve logged over thirty years of Saturday mornings in the same manner. Running. Mostly on that little strip of land jutting into Lake Erie called Presque Isle State Park. And usually with my best running buddy, Robin. Runners have come and gone over the years, but Robin and I remain—a little slower, a little wiser, and, more profoundly, a little closer to gathering up all of our journey’s puzzle pieces and heading home.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” At a stone’s throw from sixty, I know the importance of the journey.

And that thirteen-mile stretch of road on Presque Isle State Park has been a big part of mine. Its contour is flat and lazy. Yet, there are times, bone-chilling mornings, when its frost and ice-bending trees hide the beauty within its edges, when woods and wildlife cower, but somehow I appreciate even its worst days with Robin and Heather and Carol and Laura and Jan at my side. Good friends and encouraging words firm up the slickest footing and most treacherous terrain. As we talk on those days when our breath fades into the air like puffs of icy powder floating away, we slip in and out of each other’s lives and forget the biting cold. Even in life’s most wickedly cold hours, the pieces snap warmly into place.

I buried a child on a cold February day. An infant. A little girl with a full head of hair that would be flowing over her shoulders by now if she had lived. For a long time afterwards it was hard to run at that park, nearly impossible to see its beauty. Yet every Saturday, my friends showed up and ran beside me, their shoulders so close to mine I could feel their warmth, their strength. They would not let me fall.

Life is precious. It’s sad to think of death on land so alive, and yet death, too, is a part of the journey.

So, occasionally when I run at Presque Isle, I reflect on my little angel or on other loved ones who have journeyed home, and my thoughts sometimes settle on a June Saturday in 2015. I began that morning as usual, congregating with other runners, leaning against my car, texting late friends, “Are you coming?” The mood was light. The conversation, jocular. I didn’t know my path was about to cross Death’s path once again. That Death would swoop down in front of me and claim another mother’s child.

He was seventeen years old, and seventeen is so much a child to someone finishing her sixth decade. My running buddies and I first saw him at the mouth of the Peninsula. A car sped by. He was a passenger inside. I don’t recall the exact time or the temperature or his face, but I remember the air was thick that morning. One runner mentioned the car’s erratic ride, but we began our run with hardly a thought of it. We were a mile or two down the road when we heard the crash, a half mile from the accident when the metallic smoke singed our nostrils.

A few minutes later, the scene was horrifically upon us. There was a cyclist standing near the car and two hunters came toward us, herding us away, saying we didn’t want to see inside. I remember the quiet anguish of the air. The stillness that fell on life. I will never forget that scene—that moment in time when the boy’s journey ended, when his path crossed other paths for the last time. A senseless car accident, metal against tree, and he was gone—a mere memory, one small but much-loved piece forever clicked into eternity’s puzzle.

I think of him whenever I pass his resting place. Pray for his family. Pray for my own children and my friends’ children, because on that little patch of road, I watched every mother’s fear come to life. I was ashamed that I knew her grief before she did. Hated that, really. His last piece falling to complete strangers.

Yet, one never knows how many lives they have touched until that final piece finds its place. I still take in the beauty of Presque Isle State Park, but I treasure the people who run beside me a little more now because of that child. He taught me that life is fleeting and that every encounter I have, no matter how brief, fits finely together with the others and shapes me.

Next Saturday, Robin and I will probably meet at Presque Isle. On that path of profound beauty, we’ll run alongside each other, placing one foot in front of the other until we finish our journey. We will talk about our families and the places we have been or the people we have met and the pieces we’ve gathered, because, like Hemingway, we know the journey is more important than the end.

And if our run becomes taxing and our legs heavy, we can remember that day we saw the eagle. Watched as his massive wings floated up and down in splendor. Took in his beauty as he sailed along the parkway. We can recall his flight toward the sky as he glided upward, soared, ascended like an angel flying home, and then gazed down at us as we journeyed up and down and over and around on winding path.

Yes, from above, the path looks unfettered and the journey amazingly clear, and Presque Isle, like a beautiful puzzle piece embedded in stark, jagged blue—and in me.


Cyndie “CJ” Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator and now writes fiction novels. She still spends Saturday mornings running with Robin, Heather, Jan, Carol, Laura, and LeAnn on Presque Isle State Park. She feels blessed to share a path with these women. Every year in June, she says a prayer for the boy who crossed their path on June 6th, 2015–as he traveled home. Follow Cyndie on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview here.

Contract Language

Union members should request a copy of the contract language from their union stewards BEFORE Tuesday’s meeting.

I am not an attorney and not proficient in labor contracts. I did read the GE contract two years ago when my husband was bumped by a steward who did not represent him. The labor agreement can be hard to read and confusing. You should have the opportunity to digest the information before Tuesday.

Several employees have questions because some issues are not addressed: code consolidation, right to strike, grievance procedures, sign-on bonus, raises, and other issues.

Read the synopsis at . It certainly sounds impressive. But personally? I’d rather read the contract.


Cyndie “CJ” Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator and now writes fiction novels. Her husband, brother-in-law, and nephew-in-law work at Wabtec. Her brother, Mike Filutze, is a GE retiree. Her father-in-law, Edwin Zahner, was a proud GE employee for thirty-seven years. Follow Cyndie on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview here.



Wabtec Compensation vs $35 hourly Rates

Are you angry at Wabtec workers who earn $35 per hour? Before you write your letter to the editor, read this.

The Security and Exchange Commission requires compensation disclosure of all public companies. To quote their website: The Summary Compensation Table provides, in a single location, a comprehensive overview of a company’s executive pay practices. It sets out the total compensation paid to the company’s chief executive officer, chief financial officer and three other most highly compensated executive officers for the past three fiscal years. (

Here is the 2018 compensation table for Wabtec:

Wabtec compensation chart

Feel free to peruse the report yourself. ( You may also view how much stock these individuals owned at year end, shareholders who owned more than 5% of Wabtec’s common stock as of March 22, 2019 (GE owns 25%), and a variety of other information.

So why are many residents siding with these executives rather than the $35-per-hour workers?

I believe Corporate America is pitting middle-class workers against each other. (Review the recent ad Wabtec took out in a local paper.)

But my friend, Dr. Nancy Hogan, professor at Ferris State, says it best. “The economy is driven by consumers—you and me—but the rhetoric that corporations are ‘job creators’ brainwashes everyone into believing we have to take a pay cut to ‘keep the jobs’. Show me one CEO who has taken a pay cut to help either the workers or the company.  Higher wages from unions raise the wages of non-unions. But the people side with those making 300+% more than the workers rather than workers who are a reflection of themselves.”


Cyndie “CJ” Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator and now writes fiction novels. Her husband, brother-in-law, and nephew-in-law work at Wabtec. Her brother, Mike Filutze, is a GE retiree. Her father-in-law, Edwin Zahner, was a proud GE employee for thirty-seven years. Follow Cyndie on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview here.