…AND WE THANK THEE

Thanksgiving-Brownscombe

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth
by Jennie A. Brownscombe. (1914)
A mythologized painting showing
Plymouth settlers feasting with Plains Indians.
en.wikipedia.org

 

Spicy, aromatic whiffs of pumpkin pie, plum pudding, and candied sweet potatoes mingle with and enhance the hearty, mouth-watering smell of roasted, stuffed turkeys. Thanksgiving, a harvest festival thanking the Creator for a bountiful year, has remained virtually unchanged since the pilgrims in Massachusetts shared that first feast with Chief Massoit and some of his braves.

On Staten Island, New York, as in homes across the nation, people will gather in love and harmony to give thanks. Holiday fare on the Island will not differ greatly from traditional foods, except for the addition of ethnic dishes, such as home-made ravioli, succulent tomato sauce, crusty loaves of Italian bread, lasagne and delectable pastries indigenous to the New York area. In Italian homes, especially, a nine course meal is not unusual.

The turkey will dominate the day, whether served in homes, hospital rooms, soup kitchens for the needy, or meals on wheels for housebound senior citizens. Restaurants across the Island will also defer to the turkey, serving those who wish to celebrate, but hate to cook. Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds people of the past, celebrates the present, and offers hope for the future; a day that gratifies body and soul.

Although Governor William Bradford, of the Plymouth Colony issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1621, the concept of giving thanks is as old as the need for worship, and dates back to the time when humanity realized its dependence upon a Higher Power.The colonists of Plymouth observed three days of feasting, games and contests following their plentiful harvest in the autumn of 1621. The journal of Governor Bradford describes the preparations for that first Thanksgiving: “They began now to gather in the swell harvest they had, and to fit their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty… Besides waterfowl, there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. . . . Which made many afterward write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned, but true reports.”

Staten Island, at that time, was a beautiful lush wilderness, sparsely inhabited by the Aqehonga Indians, who fished, hunted deer, raccoon, and fowl, and harvested corn, pumpkins, berries and fruit. Settlers arriving from England and Holland in 1630, added sausage, head cheese and pies to the abundant game and vegetation on the Island. Twenty years ago, it was common practice for butchers to hang plucked turkeys in store windows, while grocers displayed fresh produce and jugs of apple cider.

On October 31, 1777, the Continental Congress appointed Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee, and Daniel Roberdau, to draft a resolution “to set aside a day of thanksgiving for the signal success lately obtained over the enemies of the United States.” Their solution was accepted on November 1,1777.

George Washington issued a presidential proclamation appointing November 26,1789, as a day of general thanksgiving for the adoption of the constitution. The first national Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1863, due to the unrelenting efforts of Mrs. Sarah J. Hale. While editor of The Ladies Magazine in Boston, she penned countless editorials urging the uniform observance throughout the United States, of one day dedicated to giving thanks for blessings received throughout the year. She mailed personal letters to the governors of all the states, and to President Lincoln, persuading many governors to set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving. Her editorial was titled,”Our National Thanksgiving”, and began with a biblical quote: “Then he said to them, go your way and eat the fat and drink the sweet wine and send persons unto them for whom nothing is prepared; For this day is holy unto the lord; neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the lord is your strength.” Nehemiah, VIII:10

President Lincoln, moved by Mrs. Hale’s editorial and letter, issued the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1863, which reads in part: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of almighty God.” Lincoln designated Thanksgiving as a day “to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion.” The northern states, in response to the proclamation, held services in churches of all denominations, and gave appropriate sermons.

President Roosevelt, on December 26, 1941, approved the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving, to be observed in every state and the District of Columbia.

The first international Thanksgiving was held in Washington, D.C. in 1909. It was the brain-child of Rev. Dr. William T. Russell, rector of St. Patrick’s Church of Washington. Dr. Russell called it a Pan American celebration, and it was attended by representatives of all the Latin American countries. The Catholic Church was chosen for the services, since Catholicism is the religion of the Latin American countries.

St. Patrick’s Church published an account of the celebration, noting that “it was the first time in the history of the Western World that all the republics were assembled for a religious function…When asked what prompted Dr. Russell in planning a Pan American Thanksgiving celebration, Dr. Russell said, “My purpose was to bring into closer relations the Republics of the Western World. As Christianity had first taught the brotherhood of man, it was appropriate that the celebration should take the form of a solemn mass.” The Pan American celebration continued from year to year.

Some Eastern cities adopted the old world custom of dressing children in the over-sized clothes of their elders, masking their faces, and having them march through the streets blowing tin horns. The children often carried baskets, and solicited fruits and vegetables from house to house to help celebrate the day. This tradition was adapted from an old Scotch wassail custom.

The warm, loving atmosphere of this holiday has been immortalized in song, literature, and poetry, such as the well-known poem by Lydia Maria Child: “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go. . . .”

Thanksgiving signals the onset of the joyous holiday season which continues until New Year’s Day. The only sad note is the number of people killed on the highways each year, en route to their destinations. Thanksgiving also proclaims the arrival of Santa Claus, who assumes temporary residence at the Staten Island Mall, which will be ablaze with Christmas decorations. Those shoppers brave enough to venture out on “Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, can take advantage of Island sales.

Today, more than ever, Thanksgiving is intrinsic to our time. The need to give thanks is profoundly American. As a people, we have pursued idealism, struggled for individual freedoms, and enjoyed the fruits of capitalism. Like the starship “Enterprise” on Star Trek, Americans have “dared to go where no man has gone before.” The act of giving thanks acknowledges the greater force that inspires this nation, encouraging and demanding excellence. This Thanksgiving, when stomachs are bulging with savory, traditional food, and hearts are full with love for family and friends, it is fitting to give thanks.

Stand up on this Thanksgiving Day, stand
upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and
with clear eyes, believe in your own time and
place. There is not, and there never has
been a better time, or a better place to live.
 

Micki Peluso began writing after a personal tragedy, as a catharsis for her grief. This lead to several publications in Victimology: An International Magazine & a 25 year career in Journalism. Her first book was published in 2008; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called, . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG which won the Nesta CBC Silver award for writing that builds character. She’s presently finishing a collection of short fiction, slice of life stories & essays, in a book called, DON’T PLUCK THE DUCK.

 

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To care or not to care. Are these the options? by Eduardo Cervino

Jean Valjean

Jean Valjean

Whether it is possible for a fair, reasonable person to remain oblivious to current political trends in the US. Or to abhor the hatred and jingoism vomited by righteous porters of bibles and guns.

If this sentence strikes a chord, make no mistake. It’s meant to provoke you.

Can you pass beyond the cheap literary hook?

Can you share with me the outrage against those forked-tongued politicians, preachers and televangelists poisoning people’s minds?

What can I do to awaken empathy for the millions among us at the margin of society?

Are we becoming a nation of psychopaths?

A nation where puppets of the rich govern for the benefit of the rich.

A nation where legislators criminalize poverty, and police arrest good men who feed the hungry.

A nation so arrogant that it takes pride in bucking the trends of the industrialized world. Refuses free education and affordable health care for all. Reduces child welfare, increases control of women’s reproductive rights, and promotes inequality.

A nation that revives the discredited philosophy of Ayn Rand, thereby raising the pursuit of money to the level of a satanic cult.

A nation that tramples over honest but less fortunate citizens

The majority of Americans refuse to see that abstaining from voting allows the nation’s oligarchy to solidify its control over our system of laws.

We agree that congressmen are for sale to the higher bidder, like whores in a Wild West bordello. But our refusal to vote gets them re-elected by 13% of eligible voters.

How many legislators enter office possessing a moderate net worth and leave as millionaires?

Coolidge, the 30th president of the US, said, “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.” That canon served the interest of the entire people well.

Now, however, the avarice of the 1% has created despicable new sources of revenue. It has converted education of the nation’s youngsters into a business.

Have we forgotten that education is the foundation of the country’s future?

It’s no coincidence that incarcerated citizens in the US exceeds the number in other industrialized countries combined. Sweden has closed four prisons for lack of inmates. But in the US, prison construction is a growth industry more profitable than home building

Greedy CEOs have converted the pharmaceutical industry and health services into businesses dealing with life and death. It’s more accurate to say dealing with preserving the lives of those who can afford the best at the expense of hurting those who cannot.

The war on drugs is another profit center. A large sector of the armed forces pursues smugglers. Those resources could be allocated to rehabilitation of the users. This is crazy, the equivalent of trying to cut the supply and let the demand increase.

Millions of citizens have died of tobacco smoking. When was the last time you heard of anyone dying from smoking marijuana? Yet we subside the tobacco industry while resisting legalization and taxation of marijuana in most states.

Does all this sound to you like a successful, exceptional society or a failed one?

How can we fix the future if we believe things are perfect, contrary to all statistical evidence? In reality, we are number seven in literacy, twenty-seven in math, forty-nine in life expectancy, but number one in defense expending and religious belief.

By now you may say, complaints, complaints. What can we do?

We should start by removing the For Sale sign from the Capitol building. About 150,000 wealthy individuals in the country contributed the great percentage of money spent in the races in an effort to manipulate the uneducated masses. They invest billions of dollars to buy loyalty from senators and representatives.

The average legislator spends thirty to seventy percent of his or her time in office raising money for the next campaign. What do you think they give away in exchange for the money they receive?

Their yearly salary increase, or cutting taxes for the 150,000 donors?

Increasing regulations of the banksters and larcenous Wall Street speculators, or cutting the peoples’ right to heath care and education, children’s’ Head Start programs, and soldiers’ mental health care?

Please, my fellow Americans, teach your children to vote. Better still, take them with you when you vote. Stop the madness before we regress to the times of the pre-industrial revolution, if we are lucky, of those of Genghis Khan if not.

 

Eduardo Cervino was born in Havana, Cuba, where he studied art and architecture. The Castro revolution failed to deliver on its promises of freedom, prosperity, and peace. Eduardo refused the communist regime’s indoctrination. Instead, he voiced his opposition and ended in an agricultural forced labor camp. In time, he moved to Madrid, Spain.

To leave his loved ones hit him like a ton of bricks. The pain seeded his heart with an overwhelming desire to give a hand to the fallen and join any group dedicated to healing the hurting.

After arriving in the USA, he wrote his memoirs. Eduardo found great satisfaction in writing. In New York City, he renewed his painting career. Since then, he has combined painting, architecture, and writing to quench his curiosity and express his awe for life’s wonders.

He has traveled throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Canada. In the USA, Eduardo has resided in Havana, Cuba; Madrid, Spain; New York City, Denver, and Phoenix.

“Life’s ups and downs make it a marvelous experience,” he said. “But only if we cultivate an ever-growing circle of friends to share it with.”

http://tinyurl.com/cultofiona

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Tuli made me a novelist By Paul Mosier

download

One day 9 years ago, more or less, I was driving around the west side of Phoenix, doing my job, visiting teachers and other school employees to help them with their retirement planning. I was driving a crappy white car, dressed in business attire, listening to the classical radio station. An ordinary day that would end up changing the rest of my life.

Several years earlier I spent much of my time writing stories and sending them to literary journals. I was strictly a one-draft guy, typing my work with a Smith-Corona typewriter and mailing it to people like the Rain City Review. The Oxford American called my work funny as hell, and asked for rewrites. But when I sent the rewrites back, the editor who asked for them was no longer there, and I was sure he had been fired for liking my work. I had an enthusiastic audience of baristas and coffeehouse types– I even asked out my future wife on the cover of a short story. But I grew frustrated with the process, and the thanklessness, and meanwhile people started giving me money for painting, and I sold everything I ever painted, mainly large nudes and politically motivated pieces in admiration of Mexican muralists. I always thought I was a better writer than painter, but the universe, I thought, was telling me otherwise.

Driving around on the west side of Phoenix, writing came calling again. It came via the idea of a female character who had sexual relations with men she found pathetic or repulsive. Mercy Fucker.

Why would she do such a thing? I’d have to follow her around in my mind to find out.

I had the idea of writing the story as a screenplay, in part because I was seeing the story like a movie that had already been shot. And I had the conviction that my mind was too disorganized to manage a novel. That may have been true when I walked away from writing in the early half of my thirties, and it may have remained true until I completed my first.

So I followed the character around in my head, writing as I did. She needed a name, and I decided to name her after a flower. Tulips are my favorite, and I had painted them often, but I don’t like the name so well for a woman. So she became Tuli, short for Tulip, and pronounced tooley.

I wrote a good bit of the screenplay before bothering to learn the format. Evidently what I wrote early on was more like a novel about a movie. And learning the format was tricky–writing a screenplay you can only describe what the lens sees and what the microphone hears. The movie industry doesn’t want you to give stage direction, and you cannot say what people are thinking, unless you employ a narrator, which I did not.

It ends up feeling more like presenting what life looks like, without interpreting the meaning for the viewer. The job is largely about deciding what to show and what not to show. I found the format frustrating and limiting initially, but I ended up liking it. And the screenplay was the first thing I wrote entirely on a laptop, and I found it increasingly difficult to do any thinking with a pen in my hand, aside from making notes and organizing the scenes.

I ended with a screenplay that began and ended with the words bon apetit, and which made me laugh and cry. I changed the name from Mercy Fucker, which I never really believed could be on the marquee at the family multi-plex, to Breakfast At Tuli’s.

I learned that finding an audience for a screenplay is not an easy thing. I never actually tried, but the process looked miserable from a distance. By this time I was working largely among the film industry people of Los Angeles, helping them with green investing, so I figured I might eventually run into a producer that I could hand the screenplay off to. I did encounter plenty of producers, but not the right kind. I paid a dear sum of money to have my script evaluated, and received a “consider” rating, which is not an easy thing to get, though it was accompanied by some fabulously bad advice such as the supposed need for a physical obstacle to my protagonist’s happiness. That’s a very American idea of filmmaking, but not really the sort of movies I like to see. I didn’t think having Tuli pilot a speedboat through a wall of flame while in a gunfight with Charles Bronson was right for my story.

I turned away from the script, but would come across it now and then in thick bound stacks of pages in my garage or trunk. I thought of trying to convert it to a novel, and just before the beginning of National Novel Writing Month in November of 2011, I decided I’d give it a shot.

The idea of NaNoWriMo is to produce a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Since most readers don’t count words, that compares to The Catcher In The Rye’s 73,000 words. The Great Gatsby is almost exactly 50k.

I had something of an advantage in that I already knew how the story went, but it took a different course when I was faced with deciding who would tell the story. The first idea for narrator that came to me was the pet fish that lives in a bowl in Tuli’s living room. That sounded crazy even for me, but I decided to stick with it. And the decision altered the story considerably from the screenplay version. In the screenplay, Fish is an inert pet in a bowl, but he has plenty of personality in the novel, grappling with the hopelessness of his love for Tuli as he waits for her to find happiness with someone else. Fish’s first words to open the story were the first words I wrote for the novel: Tuli gave hand jobs to strangers, but not for the usual reasons. The story had legs, or fins, and he didn’t stop talking until the story was done.

As most writers who have done NaNoWriMo will attest, it really should be called National Crappy Novel Writing Month, because the best you can really hope for is a very rough “vomit” draft in that period of time. I came up short, having written 42k words by noon on December 1st, wrapping it up at Lux Coffee in Phoenix, Arizona. But the novel was finished, complete, and it would grow to 63k words over the next few months as new material presented itself– a novel can dominate an author’s consciousness so that everything in life is filtered through a sorting mechanism that decides what is suitable for the novel and what is not. The world, and every object and experience, becomes your source material. I also hired an editor and began workshopping it at writer’s groups, which I have come to love.

Ultimately I self-published Breakfast At Tuli’s after 105 agents rejected it. Some agents came very close to repping it, including agents that make too much money to concern themselves with someone like myself. Agents have a different set of concerns than I do, and I’ll keep my talent over someone else’s success. As I am fond of saying, there are a lot of ways to get rich–none of which I have figured out yet–but there aren’t many ways you can feel when you give birth to a story that some people will connect with deeply.

I don’t profess to understand Tuli or any of my characters completely. Some writers think that I am a fool to say that, and suggest that I cannot write a story without first understanding my characters fully. But I think they show me as much as they want to show me, like anyone else I might meet. They are not so much my creation as beings introduced to me by the muse, and they can be as private and mysterious as people in the “real” world. I can only watch and guess what goes on in their minds.

And Tuli– beautiful, complicated, a little damaged, so generous, and not in the way you’re thinking– is someone I feel privileged to have met. I feel like I could fly a plane, take a train. walk a few blocks and be looking up at her apartment. I have now written 3 1/2 novels in 3 years, and there are other protagonists I have come to love as much as Tuli. But Tuli was the first. And Tuli made me a novelist.

 

Paul Mosier is the author of the novel Breakfast At Tuli’s, available on Amazon and elsewhere in the online retail world. It can also be found at Stinkweed’s, The BookShop AZ, Changing Hands, The Bee’s Knees, and other Phoenix area retailers. The novel Genre and the middle grade novel Story Girl: an all-ages show are expected to be available in 2015.

Paul lives a short walk from his place of birth in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. He is married and has two adorable daughters who often influence his writing. He has made half of a modest living as an artist, and is the founder of a green investing company. Follow the progress of his work on the facebook page, Novelist Paul Mosier’s Fabulous Lies, here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Novelist-Paul-Mosiers-Fabulous-Lies/341055266006499

You can purchase Breakfast At Tuli’s, read reviews, and watch for future available work here:

http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Mosier/e/B00GGZ317C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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COMING SOON FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO READ

Not only are the members of The Write Room Blog fine authors, but we are also prolific and wide-ranging. Here are some of the new books from the gang. Some are already available and others will be out soon. All are worth reading. So check the inventory, make your wish list, and get set for a good read.

1) From Frank Fiore “MURRAN” the story of a Black American boy coming of age in the 1980s and his rite of passage to adulthood. Trey is a member of a tribe in Brooklyn and is enticed into helping a drug gang. Eventually he is framed for murder and flees with his high school teach to the teacher’s Maasai village in Kenya. There Trey learns true Black African values and culture, goes through the Maasai warrior’s rite of passage, and becomes a young shaman. Returning to America to confront the gang leader who framed him, Trey teaches the values of the Maasai to his tribe in Brooklyn.

2) Suppose your acts and deeds in life were exposed?  What if darkness spread throughout the world, its evil feeding each person’s inner fears, terrorizing their bodies, minds and souls?  Monica Brinkman’s stand-alone sequel to “The Turn of the Karmic Wheel” aptly titled, “THE WHEEL’S FINAL TURN” takes us to Northern California where one woman holds the power to control the world’s destiny.  Brinkman presents a page-turning adventure of horror, the paranormal and spirituality. Watch for its release in 2015.

3) From Anne Sweazy Kulju comes “GROG WARS: PART 1.” Who will win the war for love and beer? A self-made German brewer endures the cross-Atlantic “coffin ship”, braves the savage-infested Oregon Trail and is threatened with Shanghai.  He becomes wealthy, but he would give it all for the love of his woman–while a lesser man would take it all and rid of the woman.  Let the battles begin!

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4) Chase Enterprises Publishing is now taking pre-orders for a stunning memoir from a woman who has lived nearly 40 years with the deadly disease, anorexia. Eileen Rand’s story, “NOTHING ON THE FIELD: A message of hope from a recovering anorexic” is a brutally honest account of her terrible struggle while also offering up hope to others with eating disorders. Clayton Bye, her recorder, recommends the memoir to anyone who has ever faced adversity in their lives or who simply wants to know what this killer disease is all about. Avoid the rush and order yours now at ccbye@shaw.ca.

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5) Discover the passion for not only cooking, but for enriching the joie de vivre! Recipes that create delicious entertaining and romantic conclusions. Whether cooking for two or more, these easy dishes will enhance any occasion and can turn an ordinary eating experience into a memorable event. Intermingled between luscious pictures of recipes, are gorgeous photos of men to spice the cook’s creative energy. A romantic story thread begins after the first recipe and concludes following the last menu suggestion of cheese and wine. “FRONT ROW CENTER’S PASSION IN THE KITCHEN” is a great addition to any cook’s collection and is the go-to book when desiring originality with a flare. Winner of multiple literary awards, Cynthia B. Ainsworthe delivers more than tasty meals.

6) Kansas, 1959. A traveling carnival appears overnight in the small town of Seneca Falls, intriguing the townsfolk with acts of inexplicable magic and illusion. But when a man’s body is discovered beneath the carousel, with no clue as to his identity, FBI Special Agent Michael Travis is sent to investigate.  Led by the elusive Edgar Doyle, the carnival folk range from the enigmatic to the bizarre, but none of them will give Travis a straight answer to his questions. With each new turn of the investigation, Doyle and his companions challenge Travis’s once unshakeable faith in solid facts and hard evidence.  In “CARNIVAL OF SHADOWS,” his powerful, atmospheric thriller, bestselling author R.J. Ellory introduces the weird and wonderful world of the Carnival Diablo and reveals the dark secrets that lurk at its heart.

7) Santa is better known then ever, and the world is getting busier. But he still has to deliver the presents. How will he get the goodies to all the children in time? Watch for the e-book and enhanced e-book of “SANTA’S DOPPELGANGER” coming soon from Stuart Carruthers.

8) Looking for a collection of multi-genre short stories, funny bittersweet slice of life experiences, essays and a smattering of poetry to laugh at, relate to and treasure? Be prepared for “DON’T PLUCK THE DUCK” by Micki Peluso, a reading experience to remember. Available soon on Amazon and everywhere enjoyable books are found.

9) “ANGELS VERSUS VIRGINS”. The twisted mind of author Bryan Murphy mingles with that of a teenage boy in this short, sharp tale of football and fanaticism with a bitter-sweet ending.

10) “SHADOW OF DOUBT” by Nancy Cole Silverman — When a top Hollywood Agent is found poisoned in her bathtub, suspicion quickly turns to one of her two nieces. But Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station, doesn’t believe it. The suspect is her neighbor and friend, and also her primary source for insider industry news. After a media frenzy pits one niece against the other—and the body count starts to rise—Carol knows she must save her friend from the court of public opinion. But even the most seasoned reporter can be surprised. When a Hollywood psychic warns Carol there will be more deaths, things take an unexpected turn. Suddenly, nobody is above suspicion. Carol must challenge friendship and the facts, and the only thing she knows for certain is that the killer is still out there. And, the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in.

11) Rosemary “Mamie” Adkins new book is “MAGGIE’S KITCHEN TAILS: Dog Treat Recipes and Puppy Tales to Love.” It is inspired by her dog Maggie, who rescued Mamie many times when she got into trouble with her blood pressure and diabetes, waking her when they crashed.  Maggie is now in training as a Service Dog.  She was severely abused as a puppy creating serious health issues for Maggie, which forced Mamie and her husband Doug to learn what foods were healthy and to create special recipes for their canine companion. Many of those recipes are included in the book; all of them are human grade and with added spices can be enjoyed by humans. A potion of each book’s sale will be donated to benefit animals suffering from the effects of abuse that are needing to be re-homed. Mamie’s co-authors for this book are her husband Douglas E. Adkins, Martha Char Love and Linda Victoria Hales. Copies can be reserved in advance.

12) “BACKWOODS BOOGIE” by Trish Jackson (just released on November 14th) is the third  book in Trish’s romantic comedy Redneck P.I. Mystery Series. Twila Taunton can’t allow gentle Pam Taylor to go to prison for a murder she did not commit, and sets out to hunt down the real killer, with the help of her quirky cohorts. When she discovers an illegal puppy mill, and a possible dog fighting ring, Twila calls on a vigilante biker gang and her long distance lover, Harland to help.

13) “VIRGO’S VARIANT” is Trish Jackson’s third story in her Zodiac Series, where each heroine belongs to a different star sign and exhibits the typical traits of her sign. “Virgo’s Variant” is a romantic suspense thriller about a reality show gone terribly wrong. It is available for preview on Amazon’s Kindle Scout program, where the power goes to the readers, who are the judges. If you have an Amazon account, please click on the link and if you like the story, Trish would love you to nominate it

14) Eduardo Cervino’s (writing as E.C. Briefield) upcoming novel “ALLIGATOR ISLAND” is based on his last years living in the Island of Cuba, during the Castro revolution. Revolutions, like alligators, have a nasty habit of eating their young. When moonlight bathes the Florida Strait, you might see Cubans escaping north aboard rickety rafts. The price of the perilous trip is fear, tears, and laughter if they succeed, or death for those who fail. These men and women carry nothing but dreams of freedom for themselves and hopes of prosperity for their children. The ninety miles between Havana and Key West may well be the most dangerous adventure of their lives. The spirits of countless Cubans who have drowned in the salty waterway cannot always steer away the sharks circling the flimsy rafts. This is the story of one such trip.

15) D. M. Pirrone’s “SHALL WE NOT REVENGE” is “a deeply nuanced mystery bolstered by fine writing and attention to historical detail” (Kirkus starred review, August 2014).  In the harsh early winter of 1872, Irish Catholic detective Frank Hanley must solve the brutal murder of an Orthodox rabbi.  Aided by the dead man’s daughter Rivka, who defies her community to help track down her father’s killer, Hanley unravels a web of corruption and deceit that ultimately forces a showdown with a powerful gambling king and nemesis from his own shady past.

16) Talk about homecomings . . . Thanks to suspended animation during his missions, Turtan, humanity’s greatest hero, returns to the space academy where he graduated 4,000 years before.  John B. Rosenman’s novel “DEFENDER OF THE FLAME” is Book III in his Inspector of the Cross series, and thanks to MuseItUp Publishing, it will blast into outer space this winter.  For 4,000 years, Inspector Turtan has traveled on freeze ships to investigate reports of weapons or devices that might turn the tide against our heartless and seemingly invincible alien enemy, the Cen.  If it weren’t for him, we would have lost the war and been annihilated centuries ago.  Now, at long last, Turtan believes he has found a way to defeat the foe and save us.  But is he only deluded?  Read the series and find out!

17) Set to be released by Christmas of 2014, “IT’S BAD BUSINESS” by R.L. Cherry is the second in the Morg Mahoney, P.I. series.  The investigator with a tongue as lethal as her revolver is back with a vengeance and the bad guys learn she is no wimpy woman.  She’s Morg, and that says it all. With a tip of the fedora to Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon,” the story even includes a Sam Spade who helps Morg at key moments.

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18) “THE MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN,” John B. Rosenman’s novel about three boys growing up in the fifties is now also available as an audio book.  It is narrated by Aze Fellner and available on iTunes, audible.com, and amazon.com.  If you think the fifties were conservative and innocent, think again.  Sex, violence, and mayhem abounded, and that was on a quiet night.  The story stars a boy with an Orthodox Jewish father who sternly discourages his two immense gifts.  Johnny is potentially an unbeatable heavyweight boxer and a sublime expressionistic painter.  The other two boys, a black kid from the ghetto, and a born Romeo with a gift for football, ain’t bad either.

19) John B. Rosenman is Bundling these days.  MuseItUp Publishing has just released “THE AMAZING WORLDS OF JOHN B. ROSENMAN” – Don’t put him down for being conceited.  The publisher picked the title!  It’s 592 pages and 4 complete, mind-blowing books.  Pre-order until November 21 at a special low price.  Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and more.  Dark Wizard.  Dax Rigby, War Correspondent.  More Stately Mansions.  Plus The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes, winner of Preditor’s and Editor’s 2011 Reader’s Poll for SF/F.

 FinalBroodyFrontcover

20) Ken Weene’s “BROODY NEW ENGLANDER” is a collection of three tales set in Maine. Beneath the Down East quiet, emotions roil and passions burn. These are tales of desire, lust, and yes, of love. Stories of fidelity and deceit, of anger and repentance, of youth and aging, of birth and death. They celebrate the prose poetry that is life.

21) Coming soon from Ken Weene,  “TIMES TO TRY THE SOUL OF MAN,” crime fiction based on real events and including previously untold facts about the attacks of 9/11. It is also a story of coming of age in 1990s America replete with drugs, alcohol, sex, unrequited love, and the search for life’s meaning.

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Life as a Writer…

I kind of chuckle to myself now when people “ooh” and “ahh” over my life as a writer. If they only knew what it entailed I think that they might idolize it a bit less.

Being a writer is most definitely not your usual 8:00 – 5:00 (or 9:00 – 5:00) job. Nope. There’s no clocking out; no truly free weekends and no ‘normal’ night’s sleep. Creativity seems to be synonymous with spontaneity – this means that inspiration can (and will) make an appearance at any time of the day (or night).

Oh, I’m sorry – you’re not a morning person? Well, guess what? Your muse doesn’t care…

When my inspiration strikes at 3:00 A.M. (whether I’m already in bed, or just about to retire for the night) I’m faced with the choice of either getting up or staying up until I’ve committed the words to paper or computer; otherwise they will be gone with no intent to ever return.

Oh, I’m so sorry – you’re friend or significant other is at the door waiting for you so you can go to the movies? Well, that’s too bad because this is the precise moment when the light bulb of epiphany sparks. Running through your mind in its entirety now is the article (or chapter) that you’ve been trying to cohesively formulate for the entire prior week…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all writers experience these things, but I’d be willing to bet that most can relate to some.

Other writer ‘side’ effects?

  • The addiction to coffee (or some type of caffeinated/energy beverage).
  • The need for said item at any given hour of the day (or night).
  • The new love of any food(s) that provide a quick energy boost. (Hello candy! I’m certain my dentist will be happy that you’ve entered my life).
  • The ability to have multiple ‘open’ lines of chatting/dialogue. You know – there’s your real-life friend and/or family member, as well as all those characters from whatever novel or story you’re currently writing. It’s like Tourette’s for the writer’s brain – the person across from you says something and in your mind you can clearly hear a response from your novel’s leading protagonist.
  • And sleep? Pfft! Who needs it?! Apparently my characters sleep enough for all of us…

Regardless though, at the end of the day (when I finally put down my pen or close the keyboard) I’m glad to have the calling of a writer. Just like the bards of days long gone, we writers soothe the world with our voices; and for brief moments we bring peace and happiness to others.

Candy, Coffee, Sweets

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great rest of your day!

Charline

Charline Ratcliff

Author: The Curse of Nefertiti, The Princess, The Toad & The Whale, and The Further Adventures of The Princess, The Toad & The Whale

http://www.CharlineRatcliff.com

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Turbulence

An excerpt from Trish Jackson’s upcoming unpredictable, eccentric, politically incorrect romantic comedy, Backwoods Boogie, the third in the Twila Taunton, Redneck P.I. Series.

airplane

“If someone had told me just a few months ago that soon I’d be sitting in a jumbo jet heading for England, I would have laughed. I mean, me, born and bred in the South and proud to be a redneck. And now here I am. The flight is not completely full and there’s an empty place between me and the weird looking woman on the aisle seat. I stare at her for a while until she gives me a look and I suddenly get interested in finding a movie on the viewer in front of me.

They don’t serve bourbon on this airline, so I drink a couple of beers instead and pour the contents of the miniature bag of pretzels into my mouth. The flight attendant must have noticed, because she brings me another two bags, which don’t stop me from being starved when dinner is served. The aircraft food is okay, but there isn’t enough of it. The dessert is in this little miniature bowl which I finish in one mouthful.

I consider asking if we can get seconds, but I figure we probably can’t, since just about everyone has started watching movies.

I stare at a few of the other passengers, who open out those little miniature blankets and place the tiny pillows under their heads. Do they actually think they’re gonna sleep?

I’ve watched two movies before I decide I’m gonna have to pee. I’ve been hoping I would be able to last the entire flight without going, but the beers probably did it. And when you gotta go, you gotta go.

It’s not that easy to get to the bathrooms. First, if you have a window seat like me, you have to wake the woman in the aisle seat. I tap her on the shoulder. She is snoring pretty well, so the people around us must be thankful even if she isn’t. “Gotta go pee,” I tell her.

“Wha…? Oh. Oh,” she says and pulls the blanket off her legs and slides out into the aisle. I squeeze past her just as the aircraft hits a bump. I don’t understand how air can be bumpy, but I fall face-first onto the dude in the next aisle seat along. I mean, my mouth is right over his privates and he’s just lucky I don’t bite down. When I come up for air he has both his hands up above his head, as if to show people he ain’t doing anything wrong. Just getting an impromptu blow job.

The PA system crackles and the captain’s voice comes over it.

“We’re experiencing a bit of turbulence. Please take your seats and put your seat belts on.”

I hold onto the back of the dude’s chair and haul myself off him. We hit another bump and I crash into a woman on my side of the aisle. She throws me a dirty look. I’m not making much progress and wonder if I’ll ever get to the restroom. It seems to be very far away all of a sudden.

“Sorry Ma’am,” a flight attendant bars my way. “Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt.”

The airplane is really bucking now, and it reminds me of the new mechanical bull Ricci and Tina put in the Hogs Waller. “I have to pee,” I say and crash into her, knocking her off her feet. I land on top of her in the aisle. It takes a while for me to untangle myself and scramble to my feet. Another flight attendant glares at me and helps her co-worker up. I try to push past them, but now there are two of them blocking me.

“Okay,” I say. “I’ll just pee right here then, if that’s the way you want it.” I unbutton my pants. That gets them moving and I walk-crash to the restroom, waking up anyone who wasn’t already awake on my way.

When I finally get there, I heave a sigh of relief that it isn’t occupied. There isn’t a lot of space in it and it takes me a while to figure out how to lock the door. The toilet smells bad. The blue water inside it is slopping around quite a lot and I wait until a bump throws me toward the seat and I manage to land sitting on it. I find myself hoping the water isn’t gonna slop up and wet my ass.

I don’t have much time to savor that feeling of relief though. I’m beginning to get a little worried about whether we’re gonna make it out of this storm or whatever it is.

The captain wasn’t kidding when he told us it was gonna get turbulent.

I flush and make my way back to my seat, getting quite personal with a number of passengers, and reminding myself never to sit in an aisle seat. I heave a big sigh of relief when I finally manage to get back into my own seat and buckle up. Rain is pelting the outside of the window.

The turbulence sticks around for a while, but finally things get smooth again and the fasten seat belt lights go off.

Phew.”

Backwoods Boogie is scheduled to be released on November 14th, 2014. Apart from the comedy aspect, it also has a serious message about animal abuse and puppy mills in the US, and 20% of all the author’s proceeds will be donated to the ASPCA to help them in their fight to save dogs that live their entire lives in squalor in small cages and without veterinary attention.

Trish Jackson also writes serious and emotive romantic suspense, focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. www.trishjax.com

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Meet The Write Room Gang

1) Cynthia B. Ainsworthe: I thoroughly enjoy participating in The Write Room Blog. I have read many diverse stories and articles, not to mention the perk of meeting new and interesting people who have grown into valued friendships. The Write Room Blog offers something for everyone.
http://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-B.-Ainsworthe/e/B00KYRE1Q8

2) Joyce Elferdink: I love the discussions on a marvelous array of topics. Conversation is one of my favorite things. Sadly, discussions rarely take place on my own blog but, gladly, they occur regularly in The Write Room. Are you willing to give your opinion on  the impact of language (especially doublespeak), short tales of horror or compassion; or unique ways to deal with life’s small or major adversities. That’s only a sip of what’s “at the bar” in the Write Room. Join me there for a Happy Hour this week?
https://www.amazon.com/author/jelferdink

3) Eduardo Cervino: To write well one must read. Good writing can be exercised in solitude, if you are a genius. I don’t know many of those. Otherwise, nothing is better than sharing your work with talented people. Their honest critique fertilizes the brain. The Write Room Blog is like a drip system in which each drop goes to the root of the tree and encourages the branches to reach up, far and wide. My deepest gratitude to you, writers and readers alike.
http://www.ecbrierfield.com/

4) Clayton Bye: As Editor-in-Chief of The Write Room Blog, I get to read all of the twice-weekly posts. They are nothing if not eclectic. They are also well written. Varying from non-fiction satire to fictional horror and to most things in between, this is a high traffic and well respected blog.
www.claytonbye.com

5) Anne Sweazy Kulju: I am always so entertained reading this blog–who would ever guess there was such a wealth of knowledge and talent in such a small group of writing pals?
http://historical-horse-feathers.com/

6) Monica M. Brinkman: It is pure enjoyment to read the many diverse topics and forms of writing. Point of view, humor, horror or a wondrous new adventure; it is all here and I look forward to each new post.
http://theturnofthekarmicwheel.blogspot.com/

7) Bryan Murphy: Amid such variety, there is always something to stimulate the imagination of a reader and set the creative juices of a writer flowing.
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bmzm

8) Fran Lewis: The Write Room Blog allows authors with many different opinions, ideas and backgrounds to create articles that inspire discussion, controversy and interest in a wide variety of topics.
http://www.amazon.com/Fran-Lewis/e/B002F8Z87U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1413614403&sr=8-2

9) Louise Malbon-Reddix: What I like about The Write Room Blog is the fact that perfect strangers from such diverse backgrounds and skill levels have come together in support of one another in such a spirit of cooperation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfOUVQFaxU0

10) John B. Rosenman: I like the variety of posts.  Really, you never know what you’re going to get–different subjects, different genres, different perspectives, different opinions.  And the readers’ comments reflect that, too.  I like the design and layout also.  It’s darn attractive and eye-pleasing.  Sometimes the posts are illustrated by artwork, sometimes by cartoons.  You name it, you’ll find it.  The carousel of writers’ books is great, too.  In general I like The Write Room Blog’s inclusiveness and openness to writers of all kinds, whether they’re edgy or traditional, controversial or conservative.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=john%20rosenman&sprefix=john+%2Caps

11) Micki Peluso: The  exceptional Write Room Blog posts, while versatile and informative, offer a forum for commentators to voice their own opinions, adding flavor and sometimes disfavor with the  blog written—a mentally stimulating experience.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=micki+Peluso

12) Kenneth Weene: When I came up with the idea of The Write Room Blog, my goal was to create another marketing tool for myself and other authors. It has become much more than that; this group has become a band of friends and collaborators who have shared ideas, efforts, and fellowship. In the process it has perhaps made us better writers and has certainly added to our enjoyment of our role as authors.
http://www.kennethweene.com

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Halloween – Stories About Things That go Bump in the Night

dreamstimefree_1341393

In the spirit of Halloween, a few of our authors have put together a collage of stories, some of which are based on their personal true encounters with the other side. Warning! Do not read if you are afraid of having nightmares.

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SalButtaci

A TRUE STORY ABOUT THE DARK ARTS

Sal Buttaci

Years before my constant stumbling in search of life’s meaning, long before my mother’s prayers were answered and I returned to believe in and love God, I ventured into the dark arts.

My parents and teachers had told me often enough that I asked too many questions. “Isn’t that a good sign?” I’d ask them. “Sometimes too many doors are opened and later you regret asking too much,” warned my father.

Still, I wanted answers. Why am I here? What comes after this? Do I lie in my wooden box till the worms have had their way with me or does my deathless soul fly to Heaven or Hell?

In my search I read books that offered incantations that were supposed to lead to the next life. Caught between theists who believed in God and atheists who did not, I wanted to see for myself, a kind of proof positive, that one side or the other possessed the truth I seemed sorely lacking.

In 1965 I purchased a Ouija board. It was a game, devoid of any value to a truth seeker, but I wasn’t convinced of that at all. One September evening friends and I took turns asking questions of the board, our fingers gently holding the planchette while it slowly moved, seemingly on its own, spelling out words a letter at a time. When I asked if I’d meet and marry a woman in Sicily, the board spelled out “D-A-N-G-E-R.” In answer to “What kind of danger?” It spelled C-A-R-L-O.”

We laughed about it. I bought the game back in my closet. In early October I went to Sicily where I committed the cardinal sin of flirting with a young unmarried woman (a married woman would have meant my doom). Word got back to her brothers and walking down Via Giudice one evening I was attacked by four of them, the most brutal of them named Carlo.

Skip ahead fifteen years. My good friend Dan and his wife came to visit. He suggested the four of us play poker. I suggested playing the Ouija board instead. Dan’s face paled. “You serious?” he asked. I placed the game on the kitchen table. “It’s just for fun,” I explained. But Dan grabbed hold of it and I followed him out the door towards the giant dumpster.

“This is Satan’s way of winning souls,” Dan said. I started laughing but not for long. He broke the board over his knee. And from the two halves we heard a cacophony of bloodcurdling screams, louder than anything we had ever heard.

“What did Satan say?” asked Dan. “‘We are Legion’?”

It was the closest to Hell I will ever want to be.

Copyright© Sal Buttaci, 2014

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Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci   

His book A Family of Sicilianswhich critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008

He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.
www.salbuttaci.blogspot.com

www.twitter.com/sambpoet

The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2347

 

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Monica

TRICK OR TREAT

Monica Brinkman

 

The small house stood 500 feet or so from the street on this gloomy, misty Halloween night, silhouetted by a tall oak tree, branches stretching over the left side of the roof.  A cracked, broken cobblestone path led up to the darkened front door.

“Do you think a ghost lives there?” asked my friend Emma.

“Maybe a witch but I don’t think a ghost.”

“I dare you to knock on the door,” Emma said, a smile curling at the corners of her mouth.

It sure looked scary and spooky and not at all inviting to a seven-year-old girl, yet I couldn’t back down on a dare. Plus, Emma would be sure to tell everyone what a scaredy-cat I was.  I could hear her giggling at my side.

“Go ahead, you aren’t scared are you?” she mocked

I faced the house, pulled my shoulders back, and with knees trembling, slowly walked down that broken cobblestone path until I stood at the door. The house looked even more frightening, with cracked loose paint hanging from the dingy, dirty window frames and siding. There wasn’t one bit of light unless you counted the dull glow from the lamppost at the curb.

Okay, you can do this Lisa, it’s only a house… there are no such things as ghosts, I mumbled to myself

I knocked twice and waited, my body trembling, knees shaking, and lips quivering.  Whew, I let out a long breath, relieved that no one seemed to be at home.

Just as I was about to turn away, I heard shuffling footsteps growing closer to the other side of the door.

All I could do was stand there, unable to move, with eyes so wide it felt like they were bulging out of my face.

The door creaked and opened. Before me stood the oldest man I had ever seen in my life. His gray hair was wild and disheveled, deep wrinkles etched into his face, and his jowls sagged. He touched some sort of microphone or speaker at his throat.

“Is it Halloween?” the sound came from that microphone. It wasn’t a voice, per say, but I could understand the words emitted from the contraption.

I stuttered my response of “Yes,” and added, “Trick or Treat.”

He placed his hand  back at his throat, motioned with his other hand for me to wait, and said, “I have no candy but I want no tricks. You stay there a minute, I’ll be right back.”

What was he going to do? He had no treats. Oh Lisa, you’ve really done it this time.

It felt as if I was waiting there for hours until the old man appeared again. He handed me a small box, and closed the door.

I raced to get back to Emma who had watched this entire episode, and slipped on the damp stone, almost dropping the treat in my hands to the ground.

“What did that old guy give you Lisa?”

We walked closer to the lamppost light, pulled the lid off the box and squealed with delight. Inside was a stuffed kitten, a fluffy pure white stuffed kitten with the bluest bead eyes.

….

The year passes quickly and it was once again Halloween and time to go Trick or Treating. I couldn’t wait to see my robotic-voiced neighbor again to see what special treat he had in store for me this year.

I sped toward his house, ran up to the front door and knocked three hard raps, and waited for the sound of his footsteps. Nothing happened. I knocked again, this time more forcefully. He never appeared.

As I turned away from the house, and headed down the cobblestone path, I looked up to see Mrs. Jenks, the neighbor from next door, peering over the fence.

“Where is the man who lives here?” I said.

A chill went down my spine when Mrs. Jenkins came up to me, peered into my face and said, “Child, there hasn’t been a man living here since Fred Oliver passed away over seven years ago.”

Copyright © Monica Brinkman, 2014

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Monica Brinkman looks at life as a wonderful journey and believes those ‘bumps in the road’ bring us understanding and knowledge. Laughter is a mandatory part of her life, thus many readers are surprised to see horror and the paranormal within many of her stories. Her stand-alone sequel to The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, aptly named The Wheels Final Turn, will soon be seeing its release. Along with writing, Monica hosts the It Matters Radio broadcast each week.

http://www.amazon.com/Monica-M.-Brinkman/e/B004C6UBQG/

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/itmattersradio

The Write Room Blog post —  http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2336

 

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CharlineRatcliff

A LIFE LOST ALONG THE MORMON TRAIL

Charline Ratcliff

 

An excerpt from my 06/06/2013 dream…

The ghost of a long-dead woman haunted my sleep this night. She showed me the story of her short life. And at its end, when she faced the memory of her betrayer, she forgot herself and entered my physical body…

“Is she still with you?” the ‘betrayer’ had asked me, and I stared at her in disbelief.

As if from a distance, I heard the ghost’s voice, and then I felt her simply inhabit my earthly body. I could feel my face distort with fury while the betrayer’s face, with its guise of concern, now swam before my eyes.

“You bitch,” I heard myself say aloud in a guttural, almost non-human voice. “Do you not know what you have done?”

I felt this ghost’s white-hot rage and an evil hatred seep into my very bones. I felt myself (the real me of my body) recoil from these alien feelings in terror.

I felt the intense fear that made me want to cry, but at the same time would not allow it.

With a huge, struggling gasp I managed to wake from this dream only to discover her spirit floating above me. In my dream I had seen her flesh. In waking, all I saw were her bones; starkly white and eerily illuminated by the faint moonlight.

Mentally I lashed out at her. However, I was too exhausted to do more than keep my eyes open until she allowed the vision of her remains to dissipate as her spirit finally floated through the glass pane of the closed window.

The real question is – do I commit her story to paper?

Do I tell the world of her plight; of the fate that befell her and her oh-so-young daughter?

She spared me the gory details, but the America of the late 1800s was a harsh world. Oregon was barely discovered. ‘Savages’ roamed the lands freely and the only ‘real’ law was survival of the fittest. By any means necessary…

Will I ever forget this dream? I think not.

Will the jarring experience soften and fade over time? I hope so…

And finally, did she show me (the storyteller) so that she could, at long last, release her heavy burden of hatred and finally rest in peace?

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Copyright©Charline Ratcliff, 2014.

Charline Ratcliff is an author of historical fiction. Her stories are themselves inspired by her own vivid, real-to-life dreams; each one providing her with glimpses of times long ago passed.

http://www.charlineratcliff.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Charline-Ratcliff/e/B00J1GB0E4/

The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2447

 

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CynthiaA

FEAR

Cynthia B. Ainsworthe

 

Blackness. Silence. Mouth opens and words don’t come. Suspended in a void with no top, bottom nor sides. Fear grips my heart. Wishing for the sweet comfort of death that brought me to this place. Eyes strain to see. But, see what? Beings abound so close as terror grows. Lungs strain to expand and bring a breath of freedom. A vice of control grabs my throat. It’s the control of others. Unseen others, but I know they are.

I look down. Nothing is there. Still, the feel of them persists, ever growing closer. A brief, fleeting touch? What was that? Did a crazed mind create that sensation? Has lunacy taken all lucid thought? Anxiety and terror builds. Frantically I look for an escape. Black deadly void remains at each side. Clothes drift away, fiber by fiber until innocent nakedness is the cover for my soul. Now, totally exposed for the imagined claws of the others. I feel no breath, no warmth, no cold. A neutral hell is my new surroundings. A hell that I have yet to cross, that eternal threshold of torment.

My eyes look upward for the slightest glimpse of an escape. Nothing. They come closer. Weakness and a lead weight fills arms and legs. A sinking feeling pulls , drawing me deeper into that black hole of obscurity, ready to swallow my  being into the wrath and terror of those gone before me.

Their presence bears ever closer, teasing me with the hope of freedom before the eventual capture of my soul. With a sliver of remaining strength, arms and legs flail about, pushing at the void. The void wants to consume my every cell. Stronger I fight. Faster my legs move in pedal like fashion. Arms reach up as I imagine I must have fallen into this black hell. Up must be the way out.

In the mist of my desperation, I find the breath to scream. My ears hear nothing. My mind hears the words clearly, “I don’t want to die. I will never wish for death again.”

A cold sweat. Body trembles. Eyes open. I’m alive in my bed. Damp sheets cling to my still lingering terror. The sweet breath of life fills my lungs. Gratefully, I hug my pillow. I am thankful for the glimpse of terror that could have been my fate.

Never will I pray for an end.

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© 2014 Cynthia B. Ainsworthe

 http://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-B.-Ainsworthe/e/B00KYRE1Q8

http://cynthiaswordsandpassion.blogspot.com/

The Write Room Blog Piece, What Did I do Wrong? http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2217

Raised in Yorktown Heights, New York, Cynthia B. Ainsworthe has dreamed of being a writer. Life circumstances put that dream on hold for most of her life. In 2008 she released her debut novel, Front Row Center, which won the prestigious IPPY Award and has a script in development with notable Hollywood screenwriter/producer/director Scott C Brown. Ms. Ainsworthe has been a guest on several radio talk shows, and garnered the awards: Excellence in Writing (for short story It Ain’t Fittin’), and Reader’s Favorite International Award for her contribution to The Speed of Dark anthology (for two short stories: When Midnight Comes andCharacters).

 

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DaveEdlund

BEWARE THE BEAST

Dave Edlund

The firelight cast a flickering glow on the tent fabric. Although we were both tired from the pack trip, Margaret wasn’t ready for sleep. “Was that a wolf howling?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said, and yawned. “They’re pretty common in these woods.”

Howww. The wail was louder than before, closer.

“You heard that creepy man yesterday at the gas station,” Margaret said, her voice soft.

“He’s just a crazy old man, having fun with the tourists.”

“He said the sheep were mutilated.”

“You’re letting your imagination get the better of you. It’s just a story.” I yawned again, bigger this time. Closing my eyes, I drifted off, only to be startled awake by rustling in the bushes. Propping myself on an elbow, I listened. There it was again.

Then I saw the shadow cast by the flickering flames—pointed ears and elongated snout. Slowly, it circled on long, muscular legs, stopping at the front of the tent.

Margaret saw it too. As the shadow grew larger, the last of the flames died.

“Did you see that?” she said.

“Shhh…” My heart raced as I strained to hear every sound, no matter how faint.

The creature ran claws down the tent fabric. Margaret stifled a scream. “It wants in!” she whispered.

I wrapped my hand around the revolver lying on a white handkerchief, drawing comfort from the heft of the cold steel-and-wood grip. For several long seconds we were totally silent, neither of us daring to move.

I clicked on a flashlight and reached for the zipper, only to jerk my hand back as claws raked down the fabric again. “What are you doing?” she whispered, panic rising in her voice.

“Do you think that nylon flap is going to keep it out?” I said, and pulled the zipper up allowing cool air into the tent. On my knees, shining the light forward, I parted the fabric in front of my face… a rhythmic thump reverberating in my ears with every heartbeat.

Suddenly, a large hairy snout thrust in through the parted tent flap, fangs glistening in the light beam! The nose slammed into my forehead, propelling me backwards. The flashlight lay on the tent floor, projecting a shaft of light at the clawed feet of the beast. Margaret scrambled within the tight confines to get behind me, away from the creature.

I raised the gun and then the flashlight, but the fanged head had already pulled back, out of sight. Seconds passed like minutes, and then the beast surged forward and was upon me in one leap, its raven fur absorbing every photon of light.

Margaret screamed!

Only then did I recognize our wolf for a Labrador retriever.

Copyright©Dave Edlund, 2014

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Dave Edlund is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a doctoral degree in chemistry. Crossing Savage (book #1 in the Peter Savage Series), an action-political thriller based in Central Oregon, has received critical praise for its realistic action sequences plus cutting-edge science and technology. Relentless Savage (Peter Savage book #2) is scheduled for release in February 2015. An avid outdoorsman and shooter, Edlund has hunted throughout North America for big game ranging from wild boar to moose to bear. He is a long-time resident of Bend, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, son, and three dogs (Lucy Liu, Murphy, and Tenshi).

 www.amazon.com/author/daveedlund

 www.PeterSavageNovels.com

 

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JohnRosen

A CERTAIN KNACK

John Rosenman

 

“Wanna see somethin’ really scary?” Mark said.

Tommy looked at Mark, who, like him, was carrying a bag stuffed with candy, the reward of visiting 59 houses this Halloween night.

“Like what?”

“Like somethin’ so scary it’ll make your hair stand up, that’s what!”

“That depends,” Tommy said.  Mark was spooky, unpredictable, and got into trouble.  Tommy’s parents had warned him to stay away from Mark.  If they knew…

“Shhh,” Mark whispered.  “Just watch!”

Nervously, he followed Mark up yet another walk and watched while he pressed the 60th doorbell of the night.  Mark’s impish face glistened expectantly in the moonlight.

The door opened and a kindly, white-haired woman beamed at them.

“Well, what do we have here?  Two boys?”

Tommy adjusted his Batman cape and raised his bag.  “Trick or treat!”

The old bitty practically went into conniptions.  “You wait here.  I’ll be right back.”

Tommy nudged Mark as she disappeared.  “C’mon, let’s split.  We ain’t gettin’ nothin’ out of her.”

“Wanna bet?”  Mark winked.

Footsteps.  She returned with a bowl of overripe peaches.  Disgusted, Tommy reached for one.

She snatched it back.  “Nooooo, you don’t!”

“Ma’am?”

“Do a trick first.  That’s the rule!  Least it was when I was a girl.”

Mark smiled.  “What kind of trick you want, lady?”

“Oh, something clever.  Surprise me!”

“With the greatest of pleasure.”  Something happened in Mark’s dark eyes.  “Hershey bars!”

Tommy stared.  The bowl was filled with Hershey bars, the half-pound size that cost over two bucks.

The woman gasped.  “Where did they come from?”

“You want trick or treat?” said Mark.  “Lady, you got it.”

Sores appeared on her face.  Some burst and ran.  She dropped the bowl.  One of her fingers fell off.

“How about flying, lady?” Mark said.  “Like to be a bird?”

Screaming, she rose and shot through a doorway.  Tommy saw her whirl about the living room, banging into walls.

“It’s a knack,” Mark said.  “I don’t use it much ’cause I’ll get caught.”

Tommy swallowed.  “What…”

Mark contemplated the moon.  “You know, maybe I’ll turn her into a pig.  Or something really weird.”

“No!  Stop it, please!”

“Oh, all right.”  Mark pouted and the woman swooped back, disease-ridden and terrified.  Then she was unblemished, standing before them again with a bowl of overripe peaches.

“Hey, lady,” said Mark, “you don’t remember a thing.”

She blinked and held out the bowl.  “Have a peach, son.”

“No thanks.”  Jauntily, Mark hooked Tommy’s arm.  Tommy felt himself being escorted back toward the sidewalk.  Looking down, he saw his bag was filled with Hershey bars.

This was crazy!  How could Mark do this, and what was he, anyway?  Though stunned, he knew he’d finally had enough.

“Mark,” he said, “I—”

Shouts.  Half a dozen kids came running up the walk.

Mark laughed and moved to block them.  He raised his hands like a magician.

“Tommy,” he said, “would you like to see something really scary?”

 

Copyright © John B. Rosenman 2014

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John B. Rosenman, a retired English professor from Norfolk State University, has published over 300 stories and 20 books. His work includes science fiction and dark erotic fiction. “The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes won the 2011 annual readers’ poll from “Preditors and Editors.” In 2013, Musa Publishing awarded his time travel story “Killers” their Top Pick. He is the former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and the previous editor of Horror Magazine.

Two links:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/The-Merry-Go-Round-Man-Audiobook/B00NP5UD4A 

http://www.amazon.com/Inspector-Cross-John-B-Rosenman-ebook/dp/B007USB0YU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1412877976&sr=8-2&keywords=john+rosenman

The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2362

 

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MikciPeluso

GHOSTS — FRIENDLY OR EVIL?

Micki Peluso

 

Who could’ve known? I finally find the house of my dreams, a 100-yr-old renovated farmhouse and now my six kids insist it’s haunted by evil ghosts. Worse, my normally, (well almost) sane husband agrees. I love this house, bonded instantly.

The varmints are the first to share our house. Barn rats visit from the farm down the road; starlings fly in through the roof, and torment our new kitten. One thing I really fear — bats —make daily appearances which immediately evacuates us — me trampling over the kids to reach the front door.

The kids see and hear the ghosts first. I don’t believe them. Five out of six are teenagers with enough hormonal eruptions to cause poltergeist activity. At first it’s mild hauntings; bumps in the night, beds shaking, shadows whisking by; typical stuff. And yes, no small pets, like hamsters or birds ever live long in Mike’s room but then it’s so, let’s say sloppy to be kind, that nothing could live there.

Things go downhill the night my husband tells me that the house breathes, when I thought it was only the local black bear coming down the mountain for garbage can snacks. That’s when I start believing my beloved house might be haunted by good spirits. In spite of Kelly seeing a floating head of ghost that Noelle names ‘Orville,’ Kim’s hotlips balloon spinning with no wind, and Dante  dreaming he’s Napoleon — this from a kid who failed history, I feel loved and protected by my home. But things are getting a little weird, causing eight-year-old Nicole to start sleeping in our bed.

While cleaning up from a summer barbecue, Kelly screams out of her attic windows to come quick. Inside her dormered attic room, shared with her sisters, all the lower wall panels are kicked out from behind with not even a bent nail. All their red clothes, tossed across their beds—only red. This is impossible. I blame Dante our resident troublemaker.

“Ma, why do you think I do everything around here?”

“Because ninety nine percent of the time you do!”

This is a bit scary. A few days later I come home from work to find the cat near death. I place him in a shoebox and rush to the vet.

“This cat looks like he was hit by a car,” he says.

“No, he was alone in the house until I got home from work.”

Driving back I wonder if something evil got to him. The kids get off the school bus and are horrified by the wounded kitten.

“Now do you believe us?” the girls say at once.

Yeah I kind of do. Yet if these apparitions are evil why do I feel loved and safe? Do we have both good and evil spirits?

We’re about to find out.

Copyright © Micki Peluso, 2014.

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Micki Peluso, journalist, author of …And the whippoorwill Sang—with the humor of ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ and the heart of ‘To Kill a Mickingburd.’

http://www.amazon.com/Micki-Peluso/e/B002BLZ7JK/

http://mallie1025.blogspot.com/

The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2290

 

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Trish

THE CAM AND MOTOR MINE

Trish Jackson

 

When I got married, my husband had just taken a new job as the group geophysicist for an international mining group. It meant we had to relocate to a small mining community called Eiffel Flats on the Cam and Motor Mine.

I was not impressed. It was hot, dry and dusty. The crumbling Eiffel Flats Hotel, known to the locals as the “Cockroach Inn,” marked the entrance to the mine compound.

Housing was provided to all employees, and it was with some trepidation that we drove around the mine looking at those that were available at the time. The house we chose was a typical old Rhodesian brick mine dwelling, with three bedrooms and one bathroom, and a green corrugated iron roof. The spacious yard was graced by tall jacaranda and avocado trees.

The Cam and Motor Mine was the biggest gold mine in the country, and beneath the housing complex was a network of shafts and tunnels going down more than a mile underground. A few hundred yards away from our house was a ‘ventilation shaft’—a square hole in the ground, from which steam or smoke billowed constantly.

We hadn’t lived there more than a few days when we were woken in the night by bangs and crashes that sounded like they were in the house. We were certain something was being smashed into the walls. I imagined our lamps and ornaments being in pieces, but when my husband got up to investigate, he found nothing out of place. This happened on more than one occasion.

I was beginning to wonder if we would ever be able to have a good night’s sleep when to add to the chaos, we both woke up to a cacophony of noise outside the house one night. We could hear the mine head-gear turning, (that’s the enormous wheel you see on the pylon-like structure over the top of a mine shaft). Bearings creaked, men shouted and there was the unmistakable clamor of heavy machinery in operation.

“I don’t know how anybody sleeps in this place with all the noise the mine makes,” my husband said at work the next day.

Nobody commented – they just looked at him strangely as if to say: “What did you expect? It’s a mine.”

Another week passed and we were still being woken up most nights by the mining operations, so he mentioned it again.

“What are you talking about?” someone said.” This mine hasn’t operated for four years now.”

Strangely enough, we never heard the mine working again.

The bangs and crashes in the house continued, though and one night I actually watched the bolt on a locked door slide across and unlock. Then someone told us there had been a particularly gruesome murder in our house. The man of the house was working night shift on the mine, when his wife was woken to a loud knocking on the kitchen door in the dark of night.  She grabbed her rifle and went to the door.

“I have a note from your husband,” came the voice on the other side of the door.

“Push it under the door,” said the wife.

“He said I have to give it to you in person.”

They argued for a while, but the bearer of the note was insistent that she should open the door so he could give her the note. Eventually, she lifted the rifle to her shoulder and fired one shot through the door, and went back to bed.

When her husband returned the following morning, a dead body lay outside his kitchen door, shot once through the heart. He told his wife he didn’t send the note.

We decided to ask if we could relocate to a different house. It was a huge relief.

We never figured out why that strange vapory stuff flowed constantly out of that ventilation shaft. If nobody was down there, then why was anything being disturbed enough to come up to the surface?

Copyright ©  Trish Jackson, 2014

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Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense and romantic comedy focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. Soul-stirring, passionate, thrilling – and fun.

http://www.amazon.com/Trish-Jackson/e/B004ZZG55K/

www.trishjax.com

The Write Room Blog post – http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2206

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October 26, 2014: Mother-In-Law Day

 

Mothers-in-laws are a favorite butt of jokes for stand-up comedians.  Rumble seats in the old coupes and roadsters were called mother-in-law seats because those who rode in them were out of the passenger compartment, and presumably out of the driver’s hair.  If you google “mother-in-law jokes” you will have page after page of sites listed.  A few of the less offensive ones are listed below:

Adam the happiest man who ever lived because he didn’t have a mother‑in‑law.

My mother‑in‑law’s second car is a broom.

A man in a bar says to his friend, “My mother-in-law is an angel.”  His friend replies, “You’re lucky.  Mine’s still alive.”

Q: What’s the difference between an outlaw and my mother-in‑law?   A: An outlaw is wanted!

The definition of mixed emotions is seeing your mother‑in‑law drive over the cliff in your new Porsche.

So is Mother-In-Law Day a joke, too?  Absolutely not.  Started in 1934 by a newspaper editor in Amaraillo, Texas, it is now observed on the fourth Sunday in October.  Or not.  Over the last eighty years it has not exactly caught fire.   But do mothers-in-law deserve the almost universal vilification and lack of recognition they have received?  Maybe some do, for there are both good ones and bad ones.  Yet, if anyone suggested ignoring Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because some mothers and fathers have not deserved to be honored, they would be booed and driven from the stage in a shower of rotten tomatoes.  In that spirit, some of us who had or have a great mother-in-law have written about them to honor them on Mother-In-Law Day.

From the moment we first met, my mother-in-law and I hit it off.  She was attractive, lively and had an incredible wit.  If she were angry with someone, that wit could have a razor edge.  However, in the 36 years I knew her, she never turned her quick mind against me.  In fact, my wife (an only child) used to say that she knew we had to work any disagreements out because she could never “run home to Mama.”  She said that Mama would have sent her back to me, her buddy.  After college, I ended up working in my in-laws’ family business.  I ran one of two locations and had pretty much total control of its day-to-day operation.  They also almost always had a house close to my wife and me.  For 16 years, they even had one on the same property as ours.  We went on a number of cruises as a family over the years.  Normally, that would be a recipe for disaster: working, living and playing in such close proximity with family often causes friction.  Such was not the case with my mother-in-law.  While there were a few occasions when my father-in-law and I had problems, my mother-in-law stood as Horatio on the bridge against his angry outbursts (which he did have).  Her rapier wit provided a great defense.

My mother-in-law thought that the term “in-law” was demeaning to me and seldom used it.  At a dance at a country club to which my in-laws (sorry) belonged, we danced together.  A woman who was also a member asked her who I was.  “My son, Ron,” she replied without hesitation.  The lady smiled.  “Oh, I can see the resemblance.”  We both had a hard time refraining from laughter until we were out of the woman’s earshot.

To say we were simpatico would be an understatement.  We both enjoyed a similar sense of humor, oft considered warped by those who did not think in the same way we did.  We both were avid readers, devouring books.  We both enjoyed crossword puzzles.  We both took Latin in high school, the “dead language.”

Sadly, she was stricken with Alzheimer’s.  Even as this horrendous disease attacked her, she kept her sense of humor.  “There’s one advantage,” she once told me.  “I can read the same book over and over again.”  As the disease progressed, she forgot my name, but she would look at me and say, “You’re a good man.”  After her passing, I wrote her eulogy, which was sent to all who knew and loved her.  It was a woeful duty and a great honor.  As her son, it was also my right.  So I now honor her memory on Mother-In-Law Day, although Altera Matris Diem, translated from Latin as “Other Mother’s Day,” would be much more appropriate and I am sure one she would prefer.

For about eight years, Ron Cherry has written a column about classic cars and street rods in The Union newspaper. His short stories have been in several online magazines, including The Dan O’Brien Project, Devilfish Review, Writing Raw, and Ineffective Ink.  He has two book on Amazon, Christmas Cracker and Foul Shot, with another due before the end of the year.

www.rlcherry.com

Mil- Ron's true friendMy Altera Matris Diem and true friend.



Determined—Yep, That Would Be the Word
By Kenneth Weene

We hadn’t expected that call, in the middle of the night, like in the movies.  I answered.  “What?”  It took a moment to register.  “How?”  Then the news hit.  “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

My father-in-law was on the phone. His words gurgled through tears. Isabel, his wife, my mother-in-law, was dead.  She had gone into the hospital for a hip replacement and was coming out with toe tags.  “An opportunistic fungal infection,” we were told.

After a few more hours of sleep—fitful at best—we packed and headed for Washington, where Sid, my father-in-law, awaited us.

While we packed, we talked about what we would need.  Funerals and sitting shiva meant clothes we didn’t usually wear.  My immediate reaction was to pack not a suit or sports jacket but sweaters,. Why? Because Isabel had knitted all my sweaters, and I had many.  Actually, I still have plenty of them, even after all these years and having given some away to charity.

Isabel knitted with the same determination she brought to every task.

Some years earlier, my wife and I had joined Sid and Isabel for a trip up the Pacific Coast.  While Sid drove nonstop, swinging into parking lots and right out again unless my wife or I demanded he let us jump out to actually see the sights, Isabel didn’t even glance out the window.  She was knitting.  A sweater for me, one for Jay, their son, perhaps one for Sid, on occasion one for my wife.  The needles never stopped clicking, and the results were always gorgeous, but not as gorgeous as the giant redwoods or the coastal views she was too busy to appreciate.  But, she was always determined to finish that sweater and get on to the next.

My wife Roz insisted I had to wear a suit, at least for the funeral. She was, of course, right.  After all, Isabel was also a lady, a very proper lady.  She would have been scandalized by me wearing a sweater, even one she had knitted.  We compromised;  a sweater would do for the house, when people came to offer their condolences.

After the service, we sat around and told stories about Isabel—yes, me in a sweater.  We talked of the dinner parties she threw and the work that went into them; each dish carefully made, with the table groaning under properly garnished plates, always including the chopped liver that she made especially for me.  We talked about the time she refused to leave work early even though there was a major snowstorm coming.  That evening, her car got stuck and she had to walk the last mile home in high heels through deep snow.  It never occurred to her to call a cab.  She just trudged on.  We talked about her reaction when Sid’s business had failed.  Isabel had insisted on going to work and helping pay off every creditor, leaving no one holding the bag of their bankruptcy.  Sid might have folded, but not Isabel.  Isabel never  folded.  She was a strong woman, a lady, and, above all, determined.

Life itches and torments Kenneth Weene like pesky flies. Annoyed, he picks up a pile of paper to slap at the buzzing and often whacks himself on the head. Each whack is another story. At least having half-blinded himself, he has learned to not wave the pencil about. Ken will, however, write on until the last gray cell has retreated and there are no longer these strange ideas demanding his feeble efforts. So many poems, stories, novels; and more to come. http://www.kennethweene.com

mil-keninsweaterYes, this is one of the sweaters.


“Mom-in-law”— My True Mother
By
Micki Peluso

Our first meeting was, shall we say, rather rocky.  Six months before, I had eloped with her son and the two of us were about to tell her and my father-in-law that we married outside the Church.  Not only that, I was three months pregnant.  She wept. Her husband muttered things in Italian whose meaning needed no translation. I was almost 18 and she was in her late 40s.  At first, her tears flowed because marrying outside of the Church was a mortal sin.  However, she rose to the occasion with dignity, compassion and an iron will.

Butch, my new husband, and I lived in his parents’ home but were placed in separate bedrooms until we were married “legally, in God’s eyes.” This lovely, persistent woman walked the hall nightly, making certain we never got together in the Biblical sense. Yet she liked me and I liked her. She was a health-food fanatic and I constantly slipped contraband like cookies, milk and the dreaded white bread into her home to compensate.  She served us good steak, which she broiled into beef jerky, with boiled escarole.

….Graciously, “Mom” looked the other way on my junk-food smuggling.  After all, she’d achieved her goal by coercing me into being tutored to raise my children Catholic in order to marry her son.  That was difficult for a feisty Baptist, raised on “fire and brimstone.”  After instructing me, the young priest was sent to a home for distressed clerics.  I felt vindicated.  Mom and I had a draw on this one

After the marriage in the Church rectory (at which time Butch fainted), Mom threw a huge reception with dozens of relatives, all Italian, all looking alike, all loving me unconditionally. After our first child was born, we moved to three hours away, where jobs were better.  I remember Mom driving up to see our two room apartment over roach-infested dry-cleaners. She once more wept and begged us to come back to her home.  We didn’t.

Over the next 10 years we had five more children and Mom babysat them whenever we were away.  The kids worshipped her — I often thought more than me.  Whenever I needed her, she drove to wherever we lived to help.  My own mother was always “too busy.”  The only time in my life that my mother-in-law couldn’t be there for me was when my 14-year-old Noelle was killed by a DWI.  Her intense grief paralyzed her and, like my own family, she suffered alone for a long time.  She had spent each night for ten days praying outside the ICU, hoping for a miracle for her granddaughter.

As my other children grew, married and gave her great-grandchildren, holiday celebrations were held at her home where she prepared delectable feasts, a far cry from her earlier disasters.  She was the Matriarch, loving, patient, yet stern in her beliefs which she expounded upon whenever she felt that a family member had strayed off the path of righteousness.

After my father-in-law passed away at the age of 79, Mom devoted her life to the Church and helping others. She maintained her wonderful, 150-year-old house into her 90s and had the strength of ten women.  Now, at 98, her blood tests are that of a 20-year-old.  She’s often tired and doesn’t do much, but is still able to live in her beloved home.

I call her every day and together we reminisce the wonderful past days and years — the good and the bad.  She has outlived her entire immediate family, older friends and a few doctors.  I treasure our calls as I try to prod her memory which is failing; dreading the day when this woman, who’s been mother and friend for most of my life, passes on to another Realm — to meet her Creator whom she’s served devotedly all her life.  She will leave a void within my heart that cannot be filled.

Micki Peluso is a journalist, book reviewer, editor and author of . And the Whippoorwill Sang. Her short stories are in several anthologies and her next book, Don’t Pluck the Duck, a collection of published essays, slice of life and short fiction will be released by December of 2014.

 MIL- Pelosi clanMom-in-law with the Peluso family

 

VIRGIE AND HER OLD CHEVETTE
By Sal Buttaci

 My mother-in-law Virgie Bateman poked along the winding roads of War Mountain in West Virginia on her way to do some food shopping at Jones & Spry. Her 1980 Chevette, once upon a time vibrant candy-apple red, now an almost dull orange, chugged its mechanical best to keep itself from stalling. When her husband  died in August 1989, Virgie  started driving again. Except for Sunday church, shopping, and an occasional visit to friends in the next holler, Virgie’s eyesore sat resting on the gravel outside her house.

Sharon and I shared the dream of one day cruising to Hawaii or lacing up and down the boot of Italy or buying first editions of bestsellers by one or more of our favorite 19th Century authors. With pleasure we could take that plunge and hopefully dive into one of those dreams. But then what about Virgie?

How would we feel dancing the night away in a Roman nightclub or lounging on the beach of Waikiki or walking out victors in an auction deal that net us an original Dickens, if Sharon’s mom had to tackle War Mountain in that old Chevette, shaky on its last wheels? Where would the joy be in that?

The grandest dream of my life has always been to realize the grandest dream of someone else. No way could Virgie Bateman’s dream come true unless Sharon and I won the Big Lottery, that in itself a dream, but if it had come to pass we would have laid aside our own wishes, and attended to hers.

Often we’d delight ourselves imagining the look on Virgie’s face when her blue eyes alighted on her sparkling white Toyota Corolla CE automatic sedan sitting like a miracle on the gravel her old Chevette no longer occupied. Could there be three happier people in all of West Virginia or anywhere else in the world?

Well, it never happened. We did not win the lottery. Virgie drove her old Chevette until it puttered its last, then, instead of returning to its graveled spot in front of Virgie’s house, it bummed a ride with a tow truck on its way to the county junkyard.

On January 14, 2013, brain cancer took Sharon’s mother away from us. She was eighty-three and we could hardly believe within days Virgie would be gone. She digressed from her usual cheery self to a hospital deathbed in Morgantown. How surreal it seemed!

Sometimes we hear comics cast aspersions on mothers-in-law. They label them meddlesome, demanding, opinionated, possessive, and a list of other negative name-calling. Virgie Bateman was none of these. I loved her as I loved my own mother. She was kind, affectionate, God-fearing, just, and everything good about a woman who had lived her life according to God’s Word and who loved her daughters and the spouses they chose with all her heart.

My dream for us now is to one day win for our souls life’s greatest fortune –– Heaven, where Sharon and I will meet Virgie again and stand with her in God’s glorious Light.

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Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available athttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci

His book A Family of Sicilians… which critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.

www.salbuttaci.blogsport.com
www.twitter.com/sambpoet
www.facebook.com/salvatore.buttaci

Mil-Virgie Bateman,Sharon's mom in 2006Virgie Bateman, Sharon’s mom in 2006


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Can Even The Dead See This and Forget to Weep? by James L. Secor

noh grief

She came into the room, the scars on her arm too numerous to count. She had her old polishing rag in one hand. The polish was in the other. The room was an unimportant room. It was too ordinary. Everything in its place. Clean, tidy, a room to be proud of. Pristine clean.

Along the east wall was a window. Below the window was a large buffet. Atop the buffet were overlapped doilies, on each a gold-framed picture. She stood at the buffet. She sprayed her wax on the open top already high-glossed, high-lighting the wood grain of blacks and browns, ground for the gold frame. Wiping it down took some time. Her swirls shone in the sunlight from the window until they disappeared into the wood so the buffet top sparkled.

Out of a drawer she withdrew a feather whisk.

Reverenced, she raised the frame, dusting the memento. Then she set it down. Raising some trinkets before the first photograph, she fingered them daintily. Army regalia. With each piece, great care was taken shining them to reflect the day light their wearers no longer appreciated.

And she said, “You were my husband. I loved you. You were mine. I cooked for you. I cleaned for you. I made babies for you. I loved you. But that was taken from me. They killed you and gave me these. That I might better remember you, they said. I should be proud and I should have something great to live for. Your honor,” they said. “Your honor to look upon forever, they said.”

She put them back before the picture.

She dusted off the next picture. She set the duster down. She picked up the medals in front of this frame. They slipped through her fingers into her other hand. She did this over and again.

She said, “You were my first born. The apple of my eye. Such a tiger you were. I loved you with every ounce of my soul. I helped you grow up. All by myself. I watched you excel in sports. And school. Here, take this, they said. I have lived with these remains. My memory.”

And she put the memorabilia down before the picture, gently.

She took up the duster and dusted the last picture. She put it down and reached for the mementos before it. She held them tightly in her hands.

She said, “You were my baby. I spoiled you so. I raised you well. Remember when you would go down to the road and throw yourself against the cars? You bounced off. You bounded away, running and laughing. I would scold you. But when you grew to manhood, your luck did not hold out. You came home stretchered. Then they gave me these. Take these, they said. In remembrance of him. My heart.”

She put the keepsakes down.

She squatted down and began polishing Army boots. There were five of them lined up below the buffet, awaiting wearers. She made each shiny black, two by two by one.

She picked up her rag and her spray can, moving to the end table. It did not receive any sunlight at all. She sprayed the surface. She was careful not to get the doilie wet. There was a picture on it. With care she dusted it with the feathers. She held it up. She looked at it for some time. Then she kissed it, set it back down.

She moved to the drop-leaf table against the west wall. There was a large doilie on the table with two pictures on it. She polished the table. She dusted the pictures. She picked them up and looked at them awhile. She hugged them to her breasts. She squeezed them to her. She put them back in their places.

She returned to the kitchen. She came back with a bucket. She set it down before the centre table. She took one of the long objects from the pile on the table. Kneeling down on the floor, between her knees she placed the bucket. She held the Army-green object before her. And the bayonet unsheathed. She quickly sliced her arm open, blood coursing down her arm, collecting in her hand at the bottom of the pail between her spread legs.

She said, “Take and drink this. I want you to remember me. I died for you. I died for you. Ooo-wuwu!” Like a dog with no master she whined.

She howled, “There is nothing but this for me. There is only my blood. Take and drink of this.” And she spat, “May you choke on it! May you be accursed till I die–and I will never die. Cannot die. Always to suffer. My loss, my blood, all that is left me! Tell me the reason you have cut off my legs and arms, cut out my heart! Tell me the reason!” she cried out. “Tell me why! I would know why you snuffed out the joy of my life thoughtless. I want the spear out of my side!” Like a dog she yelped. “Ah-ooo-wawoo!”

She rent herself again to watch the blood well up and spill over the eviscerated flesh, unsalved.

She snarled, “I tell you the wound will not heal. It suppurates while you give me trinkets to staunch it. I do not want your pieces of the true flame. Your medals. I want my men. When will you hear me? There are no heroes. There are only carried burdens. I carry the burden of mankind in my soul. Can you not see? I am called Earth and you do nothing but rape me! Woo-wowo-wooo!” A beaten dog’s yelping.

killed mother mask

She came into the room, the scars on her arm too numerous to count. She had her old polishing rag in one hand. The polish was in the other. The room was an unimportant room…

 

BIO

Jimsecor thought he would advance his career by giving up 11 years of live theatre production to get a PhD. Little did he know! He worked with the Lifers at KS State Penn and did summer vaudeville and somehow got the doctorate, publication in a volume devoted to Japanese ghosts and demons and wrote a ground-breaking, though not academically enchanting, dissertation on women and morals in theatre. Then he studied at the National Puppet Theatre of Japan while writing award winning tanka. Illness forced a return to the States where he worked in disability. Seven years in China followed with multiple productions, including an all-female Lysistrata, TV commercials, a documentary and the publication of poems in Chinese in a major journal. He was also commissioned for a film and a play: the play was not liked and the film was deemed unable to pass the censors, so they never saw the light of day. Via Liverpool, he returned to the US and publication in The Speed of Dark and his own book of mysteries, Det. Lupée: The Impossible Cases. He can be found on Linkedin and at http://labelleotero.wordpress.com along with Minna vander Pfaltz, while his essays are sprinkled all over the internet. Jimsecor’s email is hellecchino@eclipso.eu. Lord, lord, lord–what does Helleccino mean?

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