“I wish it could be Christmas every day” by Jon Magee

 

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Happy Christmas every body!

Yes, I know this seems to be a bit on the early side, however, as this item is being published it will be Christmas that I will be celebrating along with many others. It will be a time of sharing Christmas meals and the pulling of the traditional Christmas crackers. There will be the singing of Christmas songs and the festive joy. The town puts on a Christmas treat to the elderly of the town on the third Wednesday of December, so along with the committee my wife and I will be mingling with hundreds of folks who are over 70 years of age as they enjoy a Christmas meal and concert. Many of them do not manage to get out regularly due to health issues relating to age, so this is a unique time for them to interact with their peers, to reminisce, relax and revel in the joy of it all.

It is Christmas, even if its not the 25th December. December is, of course, a month that will include many other social events. We will be having a children’s party for the Parent and Toddlers group. That should be fun with the children enjoying the games. Then there will be the Christmas meal with the Bowlers, and the same with the men’s drop in, with the opportunity of good company. The list of events seems to be endless, and such a variety of the kind of people and age groups involved. Yet, for all of that, it is the senior citizens event that I prefer to focus on with regard to the social aspects of Christmas. Why?

When I lived in Edinburgh I recall a project I was involved in that required me to go from door to door visiting the residents. I found one lady very helpful and quite pleasant and appreciated how receptive she was to what we were discussing. As I prepared to leave she called me back to enquire as to whether I planned to  visit her neighbour. On my confirmation that I would she advised, “Do note that she is elderly and hard of hearing, and if she does hear the knock at the door she will be quite slow in walking, so take your time”. I thanked her, its always good to hear of such good neighbourliness, taking time to ensure she did not miss out on the visit. I knocked loudly and waited, and waited, and waited. It was just as well I was warned, I thought, she really is taking a long time.It was at this point that a car pulled up and the driver called across. “Are you looking for ‘Mrs Smith’, because if so you will be waiting a long time”. I confirmed that I had been made aware that ‘Mrs Smith’ was both deaf and also very slow moving, and understood she would need to take her time. “No, you do not understand”, he said, “You see, what I was meaning is that ‘Mrs Smith’ died 3 months ago. She will never answer that door again for anyone.” I was astounded. The neighbour I thought was so caring did not know that ‘Mrs Smith’ had died 3 months previously. There was a superficial sense of caring, but clearly she had not given time to her on a regular basis. The real need had escaped her attention. On reflection, I would guess that could have happened in any city. We nod, we smile in the passing, but so often no one has time to get to know each other, and when we fail to give the time we fail to care adequately.

So, coming back to Christmas. The gathering of these elderly people in a safe environment means an opportunity to know peace, love and joy, important elements in the Christmas story. Tomorrow, they may see no one, but today they see everyone and enjoy every moment of it. In 1973 the pop group “Wizzard” recorded the record “I wish it could be Christmas every day”. It was destined to be high in the British pop charts for for weeks over December 1973 to January 1974. I am not sure I agree with all the words of the lyrics, but I guess that the title encapsulates the words I want to express. I wish that every day we could find a way to bring together those who need such care. I wish that every day we could be a society that can share the love, joy and peace that’s at the heart of the Christmas message.
Author of “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” & “Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey” http://about.me/Jonmagee.author.minister

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MURRAN by F.F. Fiore

 

Lion

Back in the eighties, growing up in Brooklyn, I was aware of gang members.
On the streets there was no choice. Those young teens saw themselves as
‘warriors’ — bad asses having to prove themselves.

As a writer, I thought what if one of the teens in a gang really wanted to
prove his courage, really show he was a ‘warrior’. Like a young Native
American warrior hunting a bear with nothing but a bow or spear.
Obviously, that wouldn’t work. There were no bears in Brooklyn unless he
broke into the zoo. Even if he did, that would hardly count as hunting a
wild animal.

At the time, I didn’t know what to do with the ideas; I filed it in the
back of my head. A decade or so later, I went on safari in Africa. There I
learned about the Maasai tribe and their “rite of passage” from youth to
manhood. The challenge those young men faced was killing a lion.
“Hey! What if a gang member tried to hunt and kill a lion?” Now, that was
a thought. But, there were no lions in Brooklyn — again excepting the zoo.
My next thought was, “What if the gang member was an African-American?”
Could I figure a war for him to get to Africa, to seek his manhood, to
kill his lion, to become a warrior? How would that happen, and how would
it affect him.

The story of “MURRAN” fell into place.

“MURRAN” is the story of Trey, a young man who wants to belong, to be
respected, to be a man.

With his father dead and his mother a drug addict, Trey and his
sister Nichelle are forced to go live with their grandmother in
Brooklyn. Surrounded by inner-city crime and conflicting ideologies,
Trey seeks security and recognition by becoming a member of a small
street crew.

When he’s framed for a crime and facing prison, Trey flees to a
Maasai village in Kenya with his English teacher and mentor, Mr.
Jackson. Though initially repulsed by the Maasai customs, Trey slowly
comes to value their traditions and morals. As he goes through the
Maasai warriors’ rite of passage becoming one of their own, he learns
what Black African culture is truly about. Only after confronting lions,
disapproving Maasai elders, and his own fears does Trey begin to
understand that men are made and not born.

Honest and unafraid, Murran is a tale of a young
African-American teen coming of age amidst the pitfalls and threats of
1980s Brooklyn. What he learns along the way could possibly lead his
community toward a cultural revival.

Frank Fiore, a bestselling author of non-fiction books, has also
penned four 5-star rated stirring thrillers and action/adventures. His
works include CYBERKILL, a techno-thriller; The Oracle, a collection of
short stories bound by a larger tale; and The Chronicles of Jeremy Nash, a
series of novels centered on conspiracy theories, unsolved mysteries,
urban myths, and other themes.
He currently lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona, with his fetching
wife Lynne and their dogs Sebastian—a big Newfoundland, and Duffy—a
little Scotty.

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STORIES WITHOUT IDEAS John B. Rosenman

 

John

Once upon a time, I went to writers’ cons, and I noticed that writers on panels tended to be of two kinds.  There were those who outlined their novels and stories in advance, and those who were pantsers who made it up as they went along.  Oh, there was a continuum all right, and some writers fell in between, but the polar types squared off like Yin and Yang with guns drawn, and in general, the opposites did not attract.

Some extreme planners prepared outlines hundreds of pages long in minute detail with elaborate sketches for virtually every character, however minor.  Little was left to chance, and I didn’t see how their novels and stories could possibly breathe.

Others, an equally rare breed, sat down before their typewriters and yellow legal pads and let fly with little or nothing in their noggins but a desire to create.  And to this community I have tended to belong more and more as my hair has thinned and my skin has wrinkled.  Sometimes over the years, seeking inspiration and wild, unpredictable new directions, I have visited a nearby Barnes & Noble.  I wander through it, letting my eyes and mind wander too about the titles and walls, and occasionally part or the whole of a story will leap out of nowhere into my head.  One day I saw a book titled The Pain Technique, and a title for a short story sprang into my mind.  “The Death Technique.”  All I had was a title, but darned if I didn’t like it.   

A second passed, and a concept rose.  What if a man discovers he has the ability to will the signs of decay and dissolution that signify death?  His body dissolves, liquefies, and drips on the floor.  From this beginning I wrote a horror story that I later sold.  Though I polished and edited the story as I do all my writing, the story itself came out of virtually nothing and was written with no clear end in sight until I was halfway through it.  It was originally a story without an idea, only a book title I saw at Barnes & Noble.

I’ve gone through this process many times, often with even less than a book title to inspire me.  Perhaps it’s been just a touch of wind, or a glance of sunshine.  I’ve done it with both short stories and novels.  Fellow scribblers, I’m not a wild, raving mystic.  Creative writing and composition instructors, of which I was one, often use a similar method in freewriting exercises, encouraging spontaneity while trying to make students forget their inner censor.  Freewriting helps to overcome writers’ block and to tap into resources individuals don’t know they have.  The point of my words is that sometimes, if you relax a little and open the door to inspiration, maybe, just maybe, you will be surprised and delighted by what you can do.

In that spirit, here is an essay with the same title (slightly revised) I wrote on this subject nearly thirty years ago.

John 3

STORIES WITHOUT IDEAS

A writer I know said that “Ideas for stories just seem to come to me.”  Fascinating.  But I thought readers might be interested in a phenomenon that’s happened to me more and more in the past few years: “Stories come to me without ideas.”

Let me explain.  A year ago I was lying innocently in bed, not bothering anyone, least of all the Muse, when a sentence materialized out of nowhere and whopped me over the head: “I’m sitting in hell listening to Barry Manilow records when the call comes.”  I sat up thinking “Wow!” and promptly grabbed a legal pad and began an 8,000 word novelette, “Survival of the Fittest,” which will appear in Supernova.  The sentence itself served as a catalyst or springboard into a narrative, got me started even though I had no idea where the hell I was going.  But I was intrigued by my feeling that Barry Manilow’s music was a fit ingredient of the nether regions, and in some nebulous way, it inspired a story of man’s first contact with an alien race.

What’s the point of this?  Simply that for some writers, beginning stories without (or almost without) ideas may be a viable and productive approach, and it may be folly to wait until something more solid develops.  True, you must have something, but it may only need to be an interesting phrase or word, a potential title or a vague question or sentiment.  Here are some other examples from my own experience.

  • I remember reading once, somewhere, that the most frightening and horrifying thing of all is when a rose sings because something so beautiful doesn’t need enhancement.  This quote rattled around in my mental teapot for years till I finally wrote “When A Rose Sings,” which appeared recently in 2 AM Magazine.  When I started writing, all I had was the dimly remembered quote, but it metamorphosed into a story about a divinely lovely rose perverted by hard rock music into a flower that mesmerizes its victims by singing.  Happens all the time, right?
  • A month ago I saw a word that knocked my socks off: “Dreamfarer.”  I started writing, and the result is a 12,000 word story, “Dreamfarer,” about a future where people are maintained by dream machines.  All their deepest desires are fulfilled in computer fantasies, and everything’s hunky-dory unless you wake up and discover the truth . . .  [Shades of The Matrix!]
  • Even more recently, another potential title whomped me: “Two Moons East of Tomorrow.”  No way I was gonna let that stunner pass.  After a false start, the title’s seed burgeoned into a tale about an alien being who can recapture the past by using people who lived it.
  • One last example: A year ago, I took my seven-year-old son David out on Halloween, and as he ran up a curved path to a house, he disappeared briefly behind a trellis.  A question briefly nudged me in a way that scribblers as opposed to normal people train themselves not to ignore: What if that did happen, and the father could never find his son?  The result is my multiple-published “Daniel, My Son,” one of my best short stories ever.

“Where do you get your ideas?”  I believe the answer to this question is endless because the creative process may be a mystery to the writer himself, submerged in a subconscious realm he can’t fathom.  But to me, that’s part of the fun, the fascination, and the glory, for to bring something out of nothing is as godlike as any of us mortals are likely to get.  So, fellow writers, pay heed to those unorthodox, sometimes barely perceptible nudges and flashes—it just may be a story knocking!

  • For further information on John Rosenman’s strange, make-it-up-as-he-goes-along views, read “I’m a Pantser, Not a Plotter.” It’s a post on his website at http://johnrosenman.com/?p=1312/ John, a retired English professor from Norfolk State University, has published over 300 stories and 20   His work includes science fiction, speculative fiction, paranormal romance, and dark erotic fiction. The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes” won the 2011 annual readers’ poll on Preditors and Editors. In 2013, Musa Publishing awarded his time travel story “Killers” one of their Top Picks.  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

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Musings And Checkers by Kenneth Weene

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What eight-year-old boy doesn’t want to do things with his dad? When my father told me to hop in our black four-door Ford, I was happy to oblige. That we were going to the general store made it all the better. I loved roaming that store—cram packed with scythes, guns, food, ice cream, clothes, notions, even the local post office. The entire place redolent of Maine. Voices filled with flat “R”s and twang. Local folks stopped in as much to socialize as to shop.

The wood-burning stove would be cold—summer was not a time for roaring fires; but there was sure to be a checkers game in progress, the board sitting atop an upturned pickle barrel similar to the one from which I would, if Dad was in the right mood, fish a crispy dill for a special treat. Checkers was a religion almost as important as the Boston Red Sox. Its devotees were the old men who gathered at Maynard’ store; its practice was simple, red and black.

My father never asked to play, nor was he ever asked; but I loved to watch those geezers huffing and puffing their way through each game as if it were mortal combat.

While Dad and Maynard, the proprietor, worked on our order—much of which would have to come from Portland or even Boston and would arrive in perhaps a week, I wandered through that wonderland, trying as children do to soak-up everything that was being done and said.

Elvira, Maynard’s wife was talking fabrics with Hortense Clark. Usually, I would have skipped the women’s talk, but Hortense mentioned my family name. “How come Maynard lets that kike Weene order things; I wouldn’t do business with a Jew.” She spat the last word out so it hung in the air.

“Hortense,” Elvira answered, “Joe’s a White Jew.”

“What the hell did that mean?” Instinctively, I knew it was not a question to ask aloud. That was well over sixty years ago, and I am finally ready to answer my unspoken question. My answer is not, as some might expect, about anti-Semitism, although anti-Jewish prejudice certainly underlay Hortense Clarks’s comment. Rather, it is about race or at least the American concept of race and how that concept affects our social and political discourse. It is about what has been termed by some the American dilemma, but that dilemma is not about the role of Blacks, African-Americans, Negroes, or whatever term you have learned to use when referring to people who can trace their roots back to Africa. Rather it is about how early Americans came to see themselves, how those first British-Americans came to define their world.

Perhaps a bit of history would be helpful. Well before slavery had become the mainstay of what is now the Southeast United States, it took root in the Caribbean. England had discovered sugar and the insatiable European sweet tooth demanded plantation after plantation of cane. Sugar was a backbreaking crop and labor intensive; what better way to produce it than employing the cheapest possible labor, slaves. But the Africans brought to Jamaica, the Barbados, and other islands were not agreeable to the plan or to their treatment. There were rebellions. Vulnerability to French and Spanish intrusions and to the depredations of pirates and privateers added to the sense of unease in those island colonies. Better to move lock, stock, and slave holdings to the mainland where there was comparative safety. So the Carolinas were settled. If sugarcane did not do as well in the new plantations as they had in the islands, tobacco and rice coupled with fur trade with the Indians made up the difference.

However, the plantation owners still didn’t feel that safe. The slaves were no happier with their conditions in the new setting; they still wanted freedom; and the Spanish in Florida encouraged slave rebellions. The enslaved Black population outnumbered the plantation owners and their hired hands. Then, too, displaced Native Americans brooded in the forests. There was a boding sense of danger. The solution of British troops being garrisoned in the communities was too expensive and was certainly unacceptable to the plantation owners who wanted to be their own royalty. Better to find other, poorer Europeans to share the risk, to settle the lesser lands and provide the services in the towns and villages.

The attraction of the New World to impoverished working class recruits was land. If they had none in Europe, at least in America they would now have some. So they came. Of course there was a selection process that went on. French and Spaniards were not welcome. After all, England was in almost perpetual war with those two Catholic monarchies. While Scots, Welsh, and Scots-Irish were the most welcome, there were too few of these; so other Europeans were welcome: Greeks, Albanians, Germans, and so forth. They came to find themselves an economic underclass, many indentured, often burdened with debt, and seldom able to obtain land worth the farming.

The question was how to keep these poor Europeans from forming a natural affinity with the slaves who often worked beside them all for the landed gentry. How to keep them from seeing themselves as oppressed. It was in that context that the notion of a “White Race” was born.

“Why do they call themselves the human race? Do they think somebody is going to win?” The line from a television sitcom haunts this topic. Just what do we mean by race and how do the word’s two meanings intersect?

Race in the sense of rushing or competing comes from the Norse or perhaps Old English.

Race in the sense of “people of common descent” comes from the Middle French, possibly before that from the Italian. It was originally used to describe people and other things that naturally grouped together, including wines of particular flavor, a generation, a group of people with a common occupation, or people who had a common background as a tribe.

There is no evidence that race referred to people being divided on the basis of physical differences before the late eighteenth century. In other words, those colonists—rich or poor—did not come to the Americas thinking of a “White Race.” They may have thought of Africans as different from themselves, but only in the way they may have thought the same of Russians or Slavs as not being like them or perhaps of Welsh and English being different.

It was essential to the landed gentry of the colonies to alienate the poor Europeans from the Black slaves. The easiest way to do that was to play up the sense of difference and the clearest difference was the color of skin. Hence whiteness became a political tool.

That night in Maine I lay on the grass and looked up at the stars. I could see so many of them—no light pollution to interfere. I did not know even then if I believed in God or Heaven, but I do know I believed in possibilities and the future. I looked up and like many young Americans of that day I saw a world that could be better. It did not occur to me that there were many who could only see the ground beneath them, who lived in desperate fear of things getting worse.

“Keep your eye on the prize.” What a great evocation. But for those who cannot know if their children will have enough to eat, there is no prize. They cannot look to the stars; they are far too busy watching for the pratfalls along the path. For those who are living in quiet desperation there is no possibility. For them it is the simple maxim, “Look back, the Devil may be gaining on you.”

Fear becomes anger, and anger becomes rage. The Devil is coming and has to be defeated. And if that Devil is represented by the descendents of the slaves whom their ancestors were supposed to look down on, by the Black-skinned Americans whom their culture came to call a different race, why it is clear where the rage must be directed.

For a person who sees himself as a member of the White race who lives in a terror of downward social mobility, a terror known only too well by those who are just holding on to their rung of the ladder, the mythical other, the Black, becomes a threat beyond the tolerable.

From the first gleaming of the American character this terror of the not-White was mixed in— added intentionally by those plantation owners looking for allies just in case of a slave rebellion. Once it existed towards the African slaves, it was easily displaced onto other groups, groups that at some psychological level were identified as not-White. As descendents of early French settlers migrated from Eastern Canada down into Maine and New England, they became the non-Whites. The Irish who were carried to the New World by the waves of the potato blight were often labeled “Black Irish.” Obviously, to Hortense my father was not “White,” but Elvira set her straight, albeit about just that one person, not all Jews.

Today, for most Americans, the French, Irish, and Jews have been assimilated into the class of Whiteness. African Americans are still not white. Neither are those of Hispanic background. Consider those wonderful questionnaires one is so often asked to fill out, for instance satisfaction surveys after Internet purchases and services. The classifications offered for self-identification make it clear that Hispanics are not White.

A short time ago I saw a picture of four children on the social media; they were labeled Black, Yellow, Brown, and Normal. Normal, that is the label given to the white child. Perhaps there was no intent; after all the purported message of the picture was “Everybody deserves to be treated equally!” Equally to the normal, to the White.

Another recent event sends the same message. An exit poll of voters in South Carolina asked, “Are Blacks getting too demanding in their push for equal rights?” Too demanding, how can one be too demanding in the expectation of equality?

It is many years since I heard my father referred to as a White Jew. At the time, I suppose a part of me was happy with that distinction; it meant that my dad was accepted, that at least to some small degree we were part of the community. But he was not asked to play a game of checkers.

Years later I am not so happy. I wish I had known then what I know today. I would have spoken up. Voice cracking with youth and emotion I would have said, “My father is a person. He is honest and trustworthy. Beyond that, there should be no labels. We are Americans, and we should know better. We are the children of revolution, of the natural human drive for freedom, a goal that can never be realized while we are willing to classify ourselves as if we were talking about the flavors of wine.” I would have taken a bite of that pickle clutched in my right hand and added, “Besides he’s a great checkers player.” Yes, I would have added that.

At least now I know that it is my responsibility to say such things, to make those comments in the social media, to stand up for that idea in my life; that is the responsibility of a free person. For if we are not equally free, then freedom will no longer have meaning.

If there is a Devil who will gain on us, he will not be in the guise of those with a different shade of skin but in the guise of those who tell us that we must fear others in order to protect ourselves. We can defeat that evil spirit. The place to start? Might I suggest a game of checkers? Might I suggest that we set up that overturned pickle barrel and start to play—making sure that everyone gets a turn.

 

Besides his work organizing The Write Room Blog aand co-hosting It Matters Radio, Ken Weene writes and writes. His latest book Broody New Engander is now available in print and Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002M3EMWU

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Introduction to Freemasonry by Clayton Clifford Bye

When Ken Weene suggested I write a piece about Freemasonry for The Write Room Blog, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, I am an active Freemason who loves to teach people about what it is we do. It wasn’t long, however, before I realized I was overwhelmed. You see, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons or Freemasons or simply Masons represent the largest, most complicated and dreadfully misunderstood fraternity in the world. People I know have called us a cult, a religion and a secret society. The following will explain why people think these things and will, at the same time, give you a reasonable introduction to Freemasonry.

No one is clear as to when the fraternity known as Freemasonry began. Our own, carefully preserved records claim we were around in the times of King Solomon, when the craftsman lodges of operative Masons began to turn away from the physical labour of building the temple at Jerusalem and moved towards the more speculative nature of the mind and soul, their working tools becoming symbolic tools with which to build a man with spotless morals and good character. Historical research, however, tends to suggest Freemasonry began in the 1300’s (when the first written records became available) and indicates the stories we use to teach our members are only complicated constructs.

Why the confusion? Well, originally, all the work presented to the initiate or candidate for admission to the Lodge was done strictly by memory. Vast lectures were learned word for word by one brother who would then teach it to a younger brother, and in so doing pass the knowledge along from generation to generation. Plays were put on with intricate costumes and great flair, all language being archaic in nature (and kept that way). There were no books to be passed down through the ages, just keepers of the work. If you were an authority seeking to destroy a Lodge—more about this later—all you would ever find were symbolic paintings and drawings that meant nothing to you. The real Lodge was kept safe in the minds of its members. Sometimes Lodges were even mobile, being set up wherever was safe and then taken down when the meeting was done.

There is also another reason the origins of Freemasonry are lost in the mists of time: all Lodges conduct their business behind closed and guarded  doors—in secret! Why? What’s the big deal? After all, the only reason Lodges exist is to take good men and make them better. Could it be we are protecting the fact that our initiates are taught a beautiful system of morality that is veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols? No, it is generally understood that our system is taught via stories, poems, paintings and special symbols that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden, moral meaning. The problem actually goes back to the days when teaching a moral message, other than that approved by  the Church, was forbidden and its purveyors persecuted.

Today, however, Masonic Lodges are not secret in and of themselves. They stand in the heart of every town of decent size in most countries of the world. You drive by these buildings every day. Some are ornate and some are plain. Almost all of them have our main symbol located somewhere on the front of the building. It is a square and compass surrounding the letter G, which stands for God …

 Square and compass

And if our existence isn’t secret and our meeting times are usually posted on the doors, why do the rumours of secrecy still exist? Well, prejudice for one thing. Freemasonry was non-denominational long before separation of Church and State, making it a very unpopular organization. The fraternity, was, quite simply, a form of heresy. Secrecy was oftentimes all that stood between a Mason and prison time or even an untimely death. In fact, even as recently as World War II, Masons in Germany had to go underground. You see, they supported Jews like they supported all other people of the world, and because of this they were persecuted as fiercely as were the Jews. Why,  until just a few short years ago, the Catholic Church wouldn’t allow any member to be a Mason. They even went so far as to create their own competing fraternity—The Knights of Columbus. I, for one, am thankful that practice has been stopped. Still, persecution persists: many religions believe an organization that doesn’t follow their particular path of salvation must by its very character be an agent of Satan. And this attitude is the big problem. For a man to be made a Mason, he must swear that he believes in a Supreme Being. We don’t care who or what that is—other than he/she/it must punish vice and reward virtue. We don’t even care what book you study from, be it the Bible, the Quran or some other written work. Freemasonry simply urges you study daily from the pages of your holy book or from the words of your religion. We want you to have a strong moral guide from which to learn. Freemasonry will teach the initiate many lessons about morality, charity, truth, upright character, brotherly love and … but he will learn much more by studying his own religion every day. Some people (religions) just don’t like these practices.

Are such problems, mostly in the past, the only reason Lodges have secrets? No, Freemasonry has always been careful about what it reveals to the uninitiated. For example, we all take an oath never to reveal the secrets or mysteries of a Freemason. Why do we do this? There are several reasons I can’t share, but I can tell you this much: some of the secrets are nothing but ways and means of identifying another Mason when in public. These methods, if revealed to you, would seem foolish. All I can say is remember Hitler. In his day if you couldn’t secretly identify yourself to another Mason, you were as good as dead! I believe these secrets that we must keep also teach us there’s a time to hold your tongue, to keep silent. They make us think about what we say and how we say it, thus helping us maintain a favourable image of ourselves (and thus Freemasonry) when out in the wide, wide world. Because, yes, we are taught to take what we learn as a Mason and use it in our daily life so as to be a leader, to be someone people look up to, to be a man people know is of good character and morals.

And finally, what about the mysteries? What are they and why are they to be kept inviolate? Here you’ll find the strongest reason Freemasonry has been deemed a secret society. Most Masons never study the stories and lectures hard enough and long enough to figure out what the mysteries are. There has been many a book written about the mysteries of Freemasonry, posing hypothesis after hypothesis. But given all the hidden meaning in our teachings it’s really no wonder the average Mason doesn’t know quite what it is he isn’t supposed to reveal. So, do you know what he does? He says nothing at all. In truth, many never even divulge their association with Freemasonry. I was in Masonry for 10 years before my favourite uncle told me he, too, was a Mason. He belonged to a different Lodge than I did and had no reason to expect me to identify myself to him as a Mason. It was just a chance remark I made one day that twigged it for him. So he challenged me with one of our forms of recognition, and I passed the test.

If we, as Masons, don’t know for certain what we can tell you about our unusual fraternity, then who are we to cry out when someone says we are a secret society, a religion or a cult? Only education, spurred on by us Masons can do that. Here’s what I tell people: We are not a secret society; we are a society with secrets. Freemasonry is not a religion; it does have religious aspects. Our fraternity is not a cult; it does teach a moral system through the relating of ancient stories and through the description of certain symbols, like the square and compass.

May I finish with a poem? It tells about our obligations and some of the ways to recognize a Mason (you can find them all on the internet, by the way, I just won’t tell you them myself); it also gives one the sense that there’s depth and goodness at the heart of this thing we call Freemasonry.

 

The Old Master’s Wages

I met a dear old man today
who wore a Masonic pin.
It was old and faded like the man,
Its edges were worn quite thin.

I approached the park bench where he sat,
to give the brother his due.
I said, “I see you’ve travelled east.”
He said, “I have, have you?”

I said, “I have, and in my day before the all seeing sun,
I played in the rubble, with Jubala, Jubalo and Jubalum.”

He shouted, “Don’t laugh at the work my son,
It’s good and sweet and true,
and if you’ve travelled as you said,
you should give these things their due.

The word, the sign, the token,
the sweet Masonic prayer,
the vow that all have taken,
who’ve climbed the inner stair.

The wages of a Mason
are never paid in gold,
but the gain comes from contentment
when you’re weak and growing old.

You see, I’ve carried my obligations,
for almost fifty years,
They have helped me through the hardships
and the failures full of tears.

Now I’m losing my mind and body,
Death is near but I don’t despair,
I’ve lived my life upon the level,
and I’m dying upon the square.”

Sometimes the greatest lessons
are those that are learned anew,
and the old man in the park today
has changed my point of view.

To all Masonic brothers,
The only secret is to care.
May you live your life upon the level,
may you part upon the square.

Author Unknown

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…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.

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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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