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Finding Inspiration in the Every Day by Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes glasses in hand

My kids are weird. I say that with the most love possible. They are funny, unique endearing and strange. Just now, I was sitting in my office and I heard beat box noises and laughter, so I wandered out to see what was going on.

My eldest son was sitting on the arm of the couch, improvising lyrics to a song, while one of the neighbor boys played guitar and did a beat box. The closest example I can give is Alice’s Restaurant. One played and the other came up with lyrics, with a smattering of harmonica thrown in for spice.

All I can say is, I wish we’d recorded it. I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile. My son is one of the best at improvising lyrics. When his brothers were younger, he would play guitar and tell tales to put them to sleep. They loved it. Of course, he couldn’t always remember it later, but they always begged for particular songs every night.


My children have been a constant source of material. I don’t often write about them, because I don’t want to embarrass them, but I frequently use things they’ve said or done, in my books.

A prime example, also from my eldest son. His friend had been visiting and was heading home. They exchanged insults, as they often did. (Male bonding, I’ll never understand it.) The exchange stuck with me and I ended up using it in one of my sci-fi novels, Shakazhan. The last exchange between the men is the quote. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (Me) from being sued:


Ben chuckled, winking at Matilda. “Yes, Ma’am. Duty would work.” He risked a wicked glance at Wil. “The fact that you’re beautiful and desirable, and the sexiest woman I’ve ever met would have nothing whatever to do with it.”

Wil was furious until he recognized the subtleties of the remark. He chuckled. “Ben, you know what you can kiss.”

“Yeah, Wil, and you know what you can blow.”


I don’t always copy exactly what they say, but more the way they say things. Their mode of expression is unique and it fascinates me. Laced with sarcasm and double meanings, they communicate on an entirely different level from other people their age. I have to wonder how much of this my husband and I are responsible for, and how much is simply from them. Their friends have picked up on it, too, so our influence spreads.


Anyone who has read my books, knows that I use a lot of humor in them. I don’t purposely try to be funny, because that’s hard. Instead, I involve myself in the conversation and let the characters find their own humor. I’m not the one being funny, they are. They also have running jokes throughout a story, something that others don’t know about, but always makes them laugh.

In Conduct Unbecoming, the men are always twitting Joel about his bright blue Civic named Bluebell. Though I didn’t borrow any exact conversations, the way that the men comment and tease Joel is so like my sons and their friends, I have to give credit to them for it:


“Boys, enough,” Vivica said. “Joel, your car is cute—just like you.”

They moved toward the back door together.

Joel crossed his arms, frowning. “Why do women always tell me I’m cute? Men don’t want to be cute.”

“Then don’t drive a car that looks like it should be covered in Hello Kitty stickers,” Teague remarked, dodging out of his cousin’s way as Joel took a swing at him.

“My car is not gay!” Joel yelled as he flung open the door.

“Okay. . . .” Jasper held up his hands. “It’s not gay. It’s bi-curious.”

“You can ride in the Pinto O’Death,” Joel said.

“I’ll ride with Joel,” Aileen said. “Shotgun,” she called as she walked out the door.

Nadeya followed her. Teague and Vivica walked toward the truck, bypassing the Pinto. Disgusted, Jasper followed them.

“Okay, I know it’s lame,” he grumbled, “But it was all I could get my hands on.”

“That car’s almost as embarrassing as Joel’s,” Teague said as his truck motor roared to life.

Joel started his car and purple neon lights flickered underneath.

“Jesus,” Jasper remarked. “There is no expression sorry enough to describe that.”


In my historical novel, Indian Summer, there are continuous comments about Manuel’s well appointed pants, because of a remark some old lady made at a party:


“Your young man there.” She pointed with her cane somewhere below Manuel’s waist. “He’s well appointed, indeed he is.”

She smiled toothlessly, cackling happily and hobbled off to sit beside Manuel’s aunt on the settee. I looked over at Manuel, finding him scarlet faced. I couldn’t imagine what had made him blush. I leaned toward him a little whispering to him.

“What did she mean well appointed?”

He reddened even more deeply and moved nervously from foot to foot. Dropping his head and his voice to a whisper, he turned slightly away from my parents to answer me. “Well, it’s not really polite for me to repeat its exact meaning. But it means….” He looked around to make sure we were not overheard. “It means that I fill out these pants well—in the front.”

He looked at his feet and turned as red as the roses in my hair. I’m sure I did too.

“Oh,” was all I could manage. “Oh, indeed.” I giggled nervously and couldn’t help adding. “Well, she’s right.”


I should add that the character of Gabriella, who tells Indian Summer, is patterned after my daughter. Though she is only fifteen, Gabriella has core of strength and determination is patterned after my only girl. She was, and is, a formidable opponent and I wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side. Nor would I want to get on the wrong side of Gabriella.

My point throughout this piece is that inspiration can come from anywhere. It might be a conversation overheard in the grocery store, or between friends and family members. It can hit like a lightning bolt from the clear, blue sky, knocking an author on her backside. Or, it might drift in through an open window like a spring breeze.

Let life influence your writing. It’s there and a part of you. Don’t separate yourself from it, embrace it and allow it to flavor your words. Make it part of your imaginary world. Doing so will make your characters more real. I don’t mean that you should simply write what you know. That’s some of the most foolish advice ever given. Instead, write what entertains you. Use what you know to bring it alive.


joe and joseph 1996


Dellani Oakes is an author who currently lives with her husband, Joe, her three sons & the eldest son’s fiancée. It’s a crowded house! In order to retain some semblance of sanity, she writes. The above is something she wrote for the Fun in Writing class she leads through the local Council on Aging several years ago, but still holds true today. Her friends and family are a constant source of inspiration.

Look for Dellani:

On Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/mv8j2km

Smashwords: Second Wind http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dellanioakes

Smashwords: Tirgearr http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Dellani


Reflections on a certain crime by R.J. Ellory


Some while ago I was asked by the Wall Street Journal to write a piece concerning ‘unknown’ or forgotten literary classics.  Having recently spent a considerable amount of time in France, I decided to share my thoughts about several French writers, now widely available in English, who seemed yet to be unheard of by my English contemporaries, associates and friends.

Amongst the list of those I chose was Jean-Patrick Manchette, author of La Position de Tireur Couché (literally translates as ‘the position of the gunman lying down’, published in English as ‘The Prone Gunman’).  This book has now been adapted for film and is on general release as ‘The Gunman’ with Sean Penn and Javier Bardem.

Manchette said a very interesting thing about his genre, to the effect that the crime novel was the best way to hold up a mirror to the society within which we live.  That was the central theme of the piece I wrote for the Wall Street Journal, and seems to hold true as far as my own writing is concerned.  Dealing with the wider canvas of ethics, morals, justice, crime and punishment, the motivations and rationales of those who violate the laws of the land and all related subjects leads us – not only as writers, but also as interested individuals – into the subject of psychology, the mind, the very woof and warp of life itself.

And then the other night my wife and I watched a film called ‘The Imitation Game’ with Benedict Cumberbatch, itself a depiction of the life and work of Alan Turing, the man responsible for creating a machine that cracked the Enigma code.  The somewhat romanticized portrayal of life at Bletchley Park, the ‘emotional personalisation’ of the story that was facilitated by placing a brother of one of the research team on a ship that had to be ‘sacrificed’ so as to prevent any possibility of the Germans discovering that the code had been broken, did nothing to obscure the factual tragedy inherent in the tale.  Turing was a homosexual.  At the time, homosexuality was against the law.  Anyone engaging in homosexual activity could be charged with ‘gross indecency’.  Fifty years after the war the truth of Bletchley Park, Turing and the cracking of Enigma became public knowledge, at least those parts of it that the government permitted us to know, and Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a royal pardon.  It was the then-Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who stood up in parliament and announced that Turing had been ‘forgiven’.  Charles Dance, commenting in the film extras, said that the greatest irony of Turing’s pardon was that it was Turing who should have been forgiving us for the way in which he was treated, not the other way around.

After the film was over, my wife and discussed the moral and ethical ramifications of that specific situation.  Turing was a genius.  Turing built a machine with wires and valves and cogs that gave us the foundation for all things computer-related that we take for granted today.  It has been estimated that Turing’s machine and the cracking of Enigma shortened the war by two years and saved a further fourteen million lives.  Why couldn’t Churchill have stepped in when Turing was charged with ‘gross indecency’?  Why, after all that Turing had done, couldn’t someone ‘high up’ have bailed him out, saved the day, rescued him for the truly dreadful fate that awaited him?  But no.  No-one stepped in.  Turing was charged, tried, convicted, and not one person came forward to tell the world what this great man had done, how his ingenuity, resolve, courage and magnificent intellect had turned the tide of the war.  They couldn’t.  Such a thought was inconceivable.  Everything that Turing had ever accomplished was bound over and held confidential under the Official Secrets Act.  Had you looked up Turing’s war record, you would have found no record at all.  In effect, certainly for the duration of the war itself, Turing was a man who did not exist.

The judge at Turing’s trial gave Turing a choice: two years in jail or be subjected to horrific chemical castration to ‘curb his proclivities’.  Turing, wishing not to be divorced from his ever-ongoing work and research, chose the latter.  He reported in for a year, taking mandatory injections of Stilboestrol (synthetic oestrogen).  The treatment rendered Turing impotent.  On June 8, 1954, Turing was found dead.  His body had lain undiscovered for twenty-four hours.  Whether he committed suicide by eating a cyanide-soaked apple, or whether his death was caused by inadvertent inhalation of cyanide fumes from a machine he’d set up in his tiny room is still a matter of conjecture.  He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at Woking Crematorium.  His life and work went unknown for decades, but now – notwithstanding the fact that we will never have a chance to ask for his forgiveness – at least what he achieved has been acknowledged and appropriately commended.

However, having spoken to many who have seen the film, there still lies the question: Why did no-one step in to save Turing?  Answer: Because he broke the law.  It was that simple.  The simple fact is that many tens of thousands of individuals gave everything of themselves in the Second World War.  Turing was a genius, no doubt about it, but he did what he was able to do to assist in the war effort.  Others, perhaps blessed with less intellect, nevertheless gave no less of themselves.  Ordinary men and women learned to fly aircraft and parachute into occupied territory; they underwent rigorous training and volunteered for missions deep in the heart of Nazi Germany; they ferried supplies across a U-Boat-riddled Atlantic to bring ammunition and supplies to Allied forces abroad; they boarded landing craft for the invasion in June of 1944, certain that they would never again see home.  And millions of them didn’t see home again, as we know all too well.  Just because someone did something truly extraordinary and heroic did it them give them license to break the law, to perpetrate a crime, to be unreservedly forgiven?  No, it did not.  Did Montgomery’s success in defeating Rommel then give him permission to rob banks and kill innocent civilians?  No, it did not.  The law was the law.  Turing broke the law, and he had to face the penalty.

The real truth is that the law was insane.  A law that punishes a man or woman for their sexual preferences or predilections, save where those preferences and predilections actually render physical, mental or emotional harm to another, is the true criminal here.  It was a ‘sign of the times’, much the same as children born out of wedlock caused not only the mothers, but also the infants to be shunned and despised. My wife, as a girl of eight or nine, told a schoolfriend’s mother that her own mother lived with a man to whom she was not married.  That schoolfriend’s mother barred her own daughter from ever speaking to my wife again.  That was in the early 1970s.

We have grown up in many ways.  As a society, we appear to be more tolerant, liberal, perhaps even forgiving, but as individuals it is a different story.  We all harbour our own personal discriminations, our preconceptions, our unfounded and judgmental attitudes, and they influence the way we speak to people, deal with people, handle people.  I was once asked what I believed to be the fundamental difference between a child and an adult.  It was an interesting question.  My answer, regardless of whether it was right or wrong, was simply that a child appeared to trust other people until they were a given a reason not to trust, whereas an adult appeared to instinctively mistrust until they were given a reason to trust.

The newspapers and television news would have us believe that society is dangerous, crazy, unpredictable, potentially hazardous in every imaginable way.  That is a lie.  The newspapers engender, foster and encourage our cynicism and mistrust.  It seems to be their primary purpose.  How many times have you yourself been involved in or witness to an act of murder, rape, kidnapping, even physical or mental abuse?  If at all, then you are in the tiny minority.  Such things happen of course, but they are far less frequent and prolific than the media would have us believe.

The true criminals here are racism, religious intolerance, misogyny, greed, corruption, vested interest, and all the other ills that plague this society.  Beneath all of these is ignorance, perhaps the greatest crime of all, and a society that permits a decline in educational standards, a society that regards ‘celebrity for celebrity’s sake’ as something of value, a society that promotes the ‘let’s all get something for nothing’ viewpoint that appears pandemic, certainly in the West, is a society not only in dire need of change, but also very possibly on the way out.

We are all human.  We are all ridiculous in our own special way.  That old saw, never successfully attributed to a specific author, regarding holding onto anger being much the same as taking poison and hoping the other person will die, has a relevant place here.  Let others be who they are and they may very well let you be who you are.  If everyone was themselves, truly, and we accepted that others were also different and had just as much right to exist as we did, then wouldn’t the world seem different?

I guess it would.

Try it.  You never know, you might just like the world a whole lot better, and find that world likes you just as much in return.



On numerous occasions people have tried to identify Roger’s work with a particular genre – crime, thriller, historical fiction – but this categorisation has been a relatively fruitless endeavour. Roger’s ethos is merely to work towards producing a good story, something that encapsulates elements of humanity and life without necessarily slotting into a predetermined pigeonhole. He attempts to produce an average of forty thousand words a month, and aims to get a first draft completed within three to four months. His wife thinks he is a workaholic, his son considers him slightly left-of-centre, but they put up with him regardless. His son has long since been aware of the fact that ‘dad’ buys stuff, and thus his idiosyncrasies should be tolerated.



Vacation? By Cynthia B Ainsworthe

for mar 11

Vacation. If you look up that word in the dictionary, it states “a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.”

This is not so simple for a writer. Writers think and create through words, sentences, paragraphs, and so forth. Some create flash fiction, poems, novellas, and novels. Their minds are in a constant state of imagining all sorts of scenarios that might captivate others who read their work. The elusive vacation for an author is a fleeting moment until the stirrings of a plot take hold.

Sightseeing is not the same for a writer. Millions of vacationers will look at the same famous monument as the Statue of Liberty. That mighty icon may stir a plot to bloom into the life of a worker who labored long and hard hours laying the stone foundation, maybe losing a friend he worked beside. That friend could hail from the same neighborhood or country— immigrants struggling to make a life in a new world so foreign to them that they now call home. When an author looks at a London skyline, another story is conceived. What were the challenges to the individual citizen as construction took hold? Did an ambitious man see an opportunity to start a business? Did a woman step out of her comfort zone of hearth and home to start a bakeshop?

Will these fragments of thoughts develop into a story or book? That’s up to the writer. But it is far from a vacation from what an author does.

Everyone takes photographs when on vacation of locales, monuments, and famous statues. An author might snap a picture that inspires a story thread, a street sign, a café, or people on the sidewalk. Imagination never sleeps for the creative mind. There is always a spark waiting for discovery.

Many, if not all, enjoy the local cuisine of their vacation destination. Rare is there a thought given to the preparation of the food or its origins. Not so for the writer. Tasting a sublime cheese with a delicious wine will take the writer’s mind to a green grassy landscape where cows, sheep, or goats graze. Or the lingering taste of wine caressing the palate could evoke a vision of grape vines flourishing in meticulous rows under a loving sun. These visions could be a backdrop for an intriguing tale of love, rivalry, mystery, or passion.

Locals at a vacation destination further feed an author’s imagination. A couple share a park bench. Are they old? Young? Seem happy? Indifferent? Or having a disagreement? Again, more fodder for the writer. Seeds of a plot are planted.

All aspects of a vacation are quite different for those who create. We are a different breed, and yet the same in basic needs. So, when you see someone studying a painting, people or a building, you just might be observing the subtle workings of an author. We wear no signs or placards but merely go about out musings in an unobtrusive manner.

© 2015 Cynthia B. Ainsworthe

http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2217  and

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



Raised in suburbs of NYC, Cynthia longed to become a writer. Life’s circumstances put her dream on hold for most of her life. In 2006 she ventured to write her first novel. Front Row Center, is being adapted to screen. A script is in development by her and known Hollywood screenwriter, producer, director, Scott C Brown. Cynthia shares, with other authors, the Reader’s Favorite International Award for two short stories, When Midnight Comes, and Characters, which she contributed to the horror anthology The Speed of Dark, compiled by Clayton C Bye, published by Chase Enterprises Publishing. She garnered the Excellence in Writing Award from It Matters Radio for her short story It Ain’t Fittin’.


How a Serial Killer’s Family Helped Saved the Nation By T. R. Heinan

1-New Orleans 046

How a Serial Killer’s Family Helped Saved the Nation

By T. R. Heinan

This year marks the bicentennial of one of the most decisive battles in American military history, the Battle of New Orleans. The War of 1812 is sometimes called “the forgotten war” and it is not uncommon to hear that the Battle of New Orleans was fought after the war was actually over. In fact, while the Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814 and the final British assault did not occur until January 8, 1815, the treaty specifically provided that fighting would continue until the treaty had been ratified and exchanged, something that did not occur until February.

The British hope was for the war to end with the British in possession of the City of New Orleans. This would allow them to control traffic on the Mississippi. The fledgling American nation had been humiliated by one military defeat after another throughout the war. Except for some ports in New England, the entire coastline was now successfully blockaded, and the Americans were defeated on the Great Lakes. The British plan to turn the States into a helpless island surrounded by His Majesty’s naval might only lacked control of the Mississippi River.

The White House had been burned, American ports of entry were targeted for destruction, and there was confidence in London that the commercial sector in the former colonies would soon demand an end to their experiment with independence. To accomplish this end, the Crown sent Sir Edmund Pakenham with an armada of fifty ships and a force of 11,000 soldiers, sailors, and marines to capture New Orleans.

President James Madison ordered General Andrew Jackson to the Crescent City.   Jackson did not arrived until December 1, 1814. He required an interpreter to help him communicate with the largely French speaking population as he hastily assembled a small opposition force consisting of French and Spanish Creoles, free men of color, slaves, German famers, frontiersmen, militia, regular soldiers and a significant company of pirates.

Witness to these events was thirty-nine year old Delphine Macarty Blanque, pregnant with her fourth child and married to her second husband, Jean Pierre Blanque. The Blanques lived near Conti on Royal Street, two doors down from where Brennan’s Restaurant now stands. Their townhouse was next to the Bank of Louisiana, of which Jean Blanque was a director. Their summers where spent at the Blanque Plantation located on the Mississippi near the Macarty Plantation owned by Delphine’s family. Jean did quite well as a merchant, banker and member of the Louisiana Legislature, but his best source of income was as a silent partner of the most notorious pirates of the Caribbean, Jean and Pierre Lafitte.

Since January 1, 1808 it had been illegal to import new slaves into the United States. The new law played right into the hands of Jean Blanque and the Lafitte brothers.   There was big money to be made in the smuggling of ‘black ivory.” By 1814, the United States government was after Jean Lafitte; his brother Pierre was already in jail, and Jean Blanque had been found guilty and fined for smuggling coffee. Louisiana Governor William Claiborne offered a $500 award for the capture of Jean Lafitte. The pirate responded by offering $1,500 for the capture of the governor.

The British, knowing that Lafitte had ships, canons and hundreds of trained men, approached the pirate, offering funds and the rank of captain if he would join them in their attack on the Americans. Lafitte asked for some time to think it over. After weighing his options, Lafitte dispatched letters to Jean Blanque, including one addressed to Governor Claiborne, revealing the British plans and offering to join the American forces. The letters were rushed to Delphine Macarty Blanque’s husband, arriving in less than 24 hours after a trip through the swamps that would normally take three days. Blanque, while insisting that he barely knew Lafitte, beseeched the Louisiana authorities to take advantage of the offer.

Claiborne assumed it was a trick, an attempt to free Jean’s brother Pierre from prison. He ordered an attack on the pirate’s headquarters. Jackson didn’t think he could accept the aid off an outlaw, but was furious that Claiborne had attacked the pirates, fearing that this would push them to accept the British offer. Blanque continued to plead with the legislature and New Orleans safety officials. In a matter of days Jackson realized how unprepared New Orleans still remained.   He had only two actual fighting ships on the river, both seriously undermanned. The pirates could help there. More importantly they had cannons, big powerful cannons, and men experienced at using them. After a meeting with Lafitte on Royal Street, Andrew Jackson decided to accept Lafitte’s offer.

During his reconnaissance, Jackson found the place he would make his stand. His headquarters, and the final battleground was to be the childhood home of Jean Blanque’s wife, Delphine Macarty Blanque. The Macarty Plantation, just a short distance downriver from New Orleans, still remained in the family and was still being operated by her cousin. Jackson dug in there and had Lafitte’s heavy ship guns brought onshore. When the British attack came it was fast and furious. Jackson’s headquarters at the Macarty plantation house was struck by cannon fire nearly 100 times in just ten minutes. Most of the British fire was aimed too high however, and the superiority of the American gunners, assisted by Lafitte’s pirates, surprised both sides.

The British suffered 2,459 casualties. American losses were remarkably few. Sir Edmund Pakenham was dead and his forces were forced to retreat.

The sudden and complete defeat of the invaders not only prevented British control of the Mississippi, it became a defining and unifying moment in American history, proving that the new nation had both the will and the ability to bring its people together in defense of their constitutional government and independence. The history, legends, and fame of Andrew Jackson and Jean Lafitte have become part of the American story.

The wife of Jean Blanque whose family plantation became Jackson’s battleground and whose husband brought Lafitte’s offer of assistance to the Americans is also remembered today, but not because of the events that took place while she was married to Blanque. She is remembered for what she did with her third husband, Dr. Louis Lalaurie.

Each year thousands of tourists go to visit her final home in New Orleans at 1140 Royal Street. A new generation has learned her name from Kathy Bates’ excellent, though historically inaccurate, portrayal of her on American Horror Story. She is remembered today for the torture and brutal murder of her slaves in the attic of New Orleans most “haunted house”. She is Madame Delphine Macarty Blanque Lalaurie.


T.R. Heinan is the author of L’immortalité: Madam Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen, a reflection on justice and compassion set in the historical context of a popular 19th century New Orleans legend. http://www.amazon.com/LImmortalite-Madame-Lalaurie-Voodoo-Queen/dp/0615634710

Valentine’s Day Special


Originally a religious celebration, it was in 18th century England that February 14th became associated with romance, and eventually evolved into Valentine’s Day, that special day of the year when couples express their love for each other and exchange gifts which may include flowers, chocolates, cards and sparkly things like diamonds.

It seems fitting for us to post our best romantic stories and poems on this day for your reading pleasure.




Across the field of my vision, for a moment she is there;
then, as if dissolved in mist, her beauty disappears.
She floated on the breeze of love and on desire’s wind.
Did the god who shaped such beauty also fashion sin?

Temptation, I shall name and follow thee until the end
of time and world. Until my lonely heart shall bend
my knees to worship at thy feet. My heart already there
praying for you, my love, to once again appear.
I hear the fairies’ laughter in the dew that softly lights
upon the waking flowers at the gentle end of night.
I smell the jasmine and the lavender of desire
in that sweetest love which sets my soul on fire.

Yet, you mock me with your disappearance
and leave me spouting trite, rhyming incoherence.
Love, cruel mistress to us all. Temptation, you
to whose sweet memory I never bid adieu.

Kenneth Weene


Sometimes Ken Weene writes to exorcise demons. Sometimes he writes because the characters in his head demand to be heard. Sometimes he writes because he thinks what he have to say might amuse or even on occasion inform. Mostly, however, he writes because it is a cheaper addiction than drugs, an easier exercise than going to the gym, and a more sociable outlet than sitting at McDonald’s drinking coffee with other old farts: in brief because it keeps him just a bit younger and more alive.

Ken’s newest book Broody New Englander has recently been published by Red Chameleon Press. It can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Broody-New-Englander-Kenneth-Weene/dp/1502759284






Trish Jackson


“Check it out. He’s staring at you,” Rachel nudged me hard with her elbow and giggled.

He was the cutest guy in the whole school. All my friends said so, and I agreed.

“Ouch!” I said. “Don’t let him see us looking at him.” I turned and headed away from him as fast as I could, thankful that my friends were following me.

Jenny pulled my shoulder. “Now you’ve messed up all your chances,” she said. “He’ll think you’re not interested.”

I put my hands up to block my ears. “Cut it out,” I said. “Stop talking about him. You guys are making me crazy.”

We sank down side-by-side on our favorite bench. I couldn’t help it. I had to sneak a glance at him. My gaze locked with his, held for a second, two seconds. I jerked my head away. My heart was pounding so hard I was scared the others would hear it.

“Did you guys understand that math problem Catterall gave us yesterday?” I wondered if he was still watching me but I couldn’t risk another look.

I don’t remember much of the rest of that day at school. I’ll never forget what happened after the final bell, though, when all of a sudden he was beside me.

“Walk you home?” he said.

“Y—yes. Thanks,” I stammered. My legs were shaking and I was finding it hard to breathe.

“You know what day it is today,” he said. “Right?”

“Yes. V– valentine’s day.” Why couldn’t I speak properly?

His hand reached out and he laced his fingers with mine. It made me feel warm all the way down to my toes. I never wanted to get to my house, but we did get there.

He released my hand. “Happy valentine’s day,” he said, and then he leaned into me and kissed me on my lips. “See you at school tomorrow.”

And he left. And just like that, I understood about the magic of romance. I felt like I was floating above the clouds and nothing in the world could ever make me come down.

Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. Although her most recently released romantic comedy, Backwoods Boogie, is funny and entertaining, it carries a serious message about dog fighting and illegal puppy mills. Her newest book, Aquarius Addiction, is a romantic suspense thriller, with some paranormal events.



Soul-stirring, passionate, thrilling – and fun.




Sensual couple

Abridged Excerpt from FRONT ROW CENTER – IPPY Award Winner

Cynthia B. Ainsworthe


Taylor’s head reeled, making sleep elusive. She picked up a towel. The full moon illuminated the flagstone path. Reflected light danced across the pool’s water in random patterns. The soft sound of rippling alerted her.

It’s Larry taking a leisurely swim. Interesting! She stood very still, enjoying the sight of his bare buttocks.

He swam to the edge. “How long have you been standing there?” His eyes traveled up her body, from her long, shapely legs, to her firm, full breasts, and finally resting his gaze on her blue-green eyes.

“Long enough to know I like what I see.” Taylor ran her tongue suggestively along her lips.

“Be serious,” Larry said.

“I am serious … you’re a very attractive man. I bet I’m the only fan who’s seen you naked.”

“You certainly are. This goes no further—I can’t be advertising all my secrets.”

“Willing to share some of those ‘secrets’ with me, Larry?”

“You’ve seen enough of my ‘secrets’ tonight. Please hand me that towel.”

She dangled the towel just out of his reach. “Why don’t you climb out of the pool and get it yourself?”

“Taylor! This isn’t funny! Give me the damn towel!”

“I’m sorry, Lar … I was just having some fun. Really, I had no idea you’d be here at this hour.”

She handed him the towel and he climbed out of the pool.

“It’s okay. But you should come with a warning sign. You have a body that drives a man wild.”

Their kiss spoke of deep hunger. His mouth traveled down her neck, and to the base of her throat. “Your skin feels like silk,” he murmured.

“Larry,” she said breathlessly. “We can’t do this. I’m married.”

Her words shook him. “Taylor, I thought you wanted me, as much as I want you. Are you purposely teasing me?”

“No. I didn’t plan to seduce you.”

“But that’s exactly what you did!” His hand touched her cheek. “And beautifully, too, I might add.”

Tears came to her eyes. “We stopped in time. It won’t happen again. I trust you.”

“Can I trust myself? That’s the question.”

“Blame it on the romance of the moonlight,” she added, with a flirtatious smile.

Larry looked in her eyes, as if trying to read her thoughts. “You’re still going to stay a few days?”

“I’ll think about it … ,” she answered.

She strutted away with a seductive gait that again aroused Larry’s natural instincts.


As a retired cardiac RN turned-author, Cynthia enjoys her retirement in Florida, caring for her husband and their five poodle-children. Her first novel. Front Row Center, is being adapted to screen by her and Hollywood screenwriter, producer, director, Scott C Brown. She has won several awards for her writing including the coveted IPPY award, and has been a guest on several talk radio shows. She holds life-time VIP membership in Cambridge Who’s Who, Empire Who’s Who, and Manchester Who’s Who—all in recognition of professional career persons for achievement and excellence.








Dare I say it seems absurd, this sentimental gift
of roses rich in crimson hue, to fade and die far too soon.
For love itself is meant to last, to grow, to live, to thrive.
A faded flower cannot portray nuance or emotion deep

What better gift would purpose serve, expressing tender intimacy?
Surely tradition of bestowals bought, from card to sweets divine,
lack worth to signify sentiment or feelings raw, passions intense.
Loves’ essence lost. It has no cost purchased easily.

Instead the greatest gift of all lies hidden in the soul.
Dormant as it seeks escape through voice or written word.
To show gratitude to one whose loved, each and every day
Far exceeds a fading rose in its validity.

Monica M. Brinkman


Monica M Brinkman believes in ‘giving it forward’; reflected by her writing and radio show. A firm believer open communication is the most powerful tool to make positive change in the world; she expresses this in her book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel and It Matters Radio. Look for her book, The Wheels Final Turn, to be release in 2015.

Monica resides in the Midwest with her husband, two dogs and five cats.

Visit her web sites:






Salvatore Buttaci

“I got me an idea,” Chuck Dugan said as they huddled around the student-lounge table. “It just came to me.”

Bill Henderson shook his head. Chuck’s ideas were like short circuits in the brain that sizzled, fizzled, and finally petered out.

“See the wiz kid over there?” asked Chuck. “The skinny guy with the wide tie and the yellow sweater?” They all nodded. “The guy with the blond hair falling out of his head?” Again they nodded.

“Get to the point,” Flannery said.


“You think he’s ever gone on a date? I mean a real one. Why don’t we fix him up on a blind date?”

“With who?” asked Tony G. “A blind chick?”

They put their heads together.

Finally Chuck jotted a name and an address in his pocket pad. “Who’s she?” the guys wanted to know. Chuck simply smiled. Then he stood up, walked over to the table where Wiz Kid sat eating French fries alone. He wore a large napkin under his chin and one in his lap.

“Name’s Dugan,” Chuck said in his John Wayne voice. “I told a gal about ya and she’s dyin’ to meet ya. A pretty gal. In West Orange. Not so far at all. You game?”


“Meetin’ her. A blind date.”

Wiz Kid furrowed his thin blond eyebrows. “Blind?”

Chuck looked back at the hell boys and laughed. “The date, not her.”

He took the pad sheet.

“By the way,” Chuck said, “what’s your name?”

“Matt. Matt Matthews. My friends call me M & M.”


That Saturday the hell boys hid in the shadows close enough to Nadine’s house to see M & M melt in their hands.

Matt knocked a few times. Finally an old woman about 80 years old slowly opened the door.


Her grandmother, figured Matt.

“I’m Nadine’s blind date. I’m taking her to the movies. West Side Story.”

“Nadine? Are you sure?” Matt nodded.

Then the old woman touched Matt’s hand, smiled, twinkled her eyes, and said, “Come in. Let me get my coat. I’m Nadine.”


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 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.






Pass Intercepted

Delinda McCann

On my first day at college, before classes really began, my dorm had an exchange with a boys’ dorm to go to a football rally. To support my dorm, I went down to our parking lot to meet the freshman guys. They came in a hoard, hundreds of freshman guys looking for girls. They found about twenty-five of us. As my luck goes, the first boy to ask me to attend the rally with him wasn’t my type, but if my brothers taught me anything, I learned I must not embarrass a guy by rejecting him in front of a hundred others. I decided that despite being too pale and blond, maybe he would be interesting and off we went to the rally.

Things quickly went downhill with the silent, pale, blond boy and me. About halfway between the dorm and the football stadium, I started looking over the hoard of unattached young men and thinking that perhaps I should attract a fan club. At this moment, someone behind me said to his male companion, “You know, all these guys just met these girls. We should just go up and start walking with them.” I turned to see who was thinking my thoughts, but couldn’t pick out the mental giant from the hoard of unattached men. I found him within the next minute when an absolutely gorgeous guy appeared on my right side. I smiled and fluttered my eyelashes. The silent pale blond boy scowled at my new escort.

Pale Blond Boy executed a maneuver in the stadium to separate my new companion from me by insisting I enter the row of bleachers first. My new hero climbed over several people in order to sit next to me in the stands. Pale Blond Boy scowled more fiercely. Loren asked me to the dance following the rally. I nodded and Pale Blond Boy scowled.

Pale Blond Boy scowled at Loren and me for the next two years. Finally, Loren and I got married.

Pale Blond Boy still scowled at us.

I got pregnant.

Pale Blond Boy saw my huge belly, breathed a sigh of relief and stopped scowling.

Delinda McCann is a mostly-retired social psychologist. During her professional career she worked with at risk youth and individuals with disabilities. Her research in the field of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome led her to become an advisor to several governments. To ease the stress created by working in the disabilities field, she took up gardening. Never one to do things in a small way, Delinda now runs a small farm and sells cut flowers. She writes general fiction based on her experience as a social psychologist. She has published five novels. She expresses her sense of humor in many of her short stories. She’s also published numerous professional articles on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Youth At-Risk. The professional articles are rather academic and dry, but Delinda pulls what she knows about human behavior, disabilities and youth into her fiction.

You may purchase her books at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Delinda+McCann





The Gift

Charline Ratcliff

The mid-January day was sunny, and Heather stared out through the kitchen window – completely oblivious to the world around her. Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching – much quicker than she’d realized, and she still had no idea what she was going to give to the love-of-her-life, Jarrod.

Years ago, she’d gone to see the movie Jerry Maguire with a girlfriend. Silent tears had streaked her cheeks when, at the end, Jerry returned to tell Dorothy: “You complete me.” For months afterward, Heather had struggled with the knowledge that there was no one in her life with whom she could share that amazing connection. But then, out of the blue, Jarrod had appeared and her life changed forever.

Still lost in thought, Heather smiled wistfully. Hallmark doesn’t necessarily carry a “You complete me” card, but even if it did, so simple a statement could never properly explain to him what he meant to her.

Pictures from her previous life – the one before Jarrod, flitted through her mind. A kaleidoscope of fragmented images; none of them pleasant and all of them centering around one specific person: her ex, Thomas.

With Heather’s thoughts focused on Thomas, the unwanted whirlwind of mental pictures ceased – only to be replaced by a close-up of his face. Cold, calculating eyes, a harsh mouth that always seemed to be in perpetual sneer, sharp aquiline nose, and lank, greasy hair caused Heather to once again question what she had seen in him. Thomas was abusive in every aspect of his personality and no one was safe from his self-righteous temper and condescension. He was so much different than Jarrod…

Thinking of Jarrod caused the image in her mind’s eye to change. Even without him physically present, he was once again banishing the darkness of her earlier years. Except that now she was right back to where she started – what to give him on Valentine’s Day? What item can accurately express the love and gratitude she has for him? What card can actually showcase the emotions traversed between where she had been versus where she is now? What gift can accurately express her wonderment at, and thanks for, this man’s tenacity and love?

Heather’s mind drifted off again. She involuntarily shivered when she contemplated where she would be today, right now, had she not met Jarrod. She’d certainly never have been able to walk away from her job to pursue her dream of becoming a writer either.

“Oh, my gosh, that’s it!” she triumphantly exclaimed.

She had only just finished a Creative Writing course, and now she had use for what she’d learned. After all, there was no one who could explain the ‘everything’ that he meant to her – no one except her. And that’s just what she intended to do.


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.






Never too Late

John B. Rosenman


Andrew Delane hadn’t heard her voice in fifty-nine years, but he recognized it in a heartbeat. He paused with his hand on the door of the assisted living facility before leaving and then turned, blinking with surprise.

Surely he was mistaken. It was his imagination.

Then he heard the voice again and shuddered with wonder. Hale, hearty, and at seventy-seven years of age self-sufficient as the broken friend he’d just visited wasn’t, he made his way across the day room until he discovered the voice’s source.

Six decades had ravaged and wilted the once fresh, flirtatious girl who sat alone at a table, her face a mass of wrinkles. While others might not have recognized her, Andrew had no trouble at all. To him, she was as lovely as ever.

“Hello, Evvie,” he said.

She blinked and looked up. “Have we met?”

“Yes, long ago. I’m Andy… Andrew Delane.” Before he lost his nerve, he sat down at the table.

“What are you doing?”

Her knobby fingers turned something over—a Valentine’s Day card. “To Grandmother with Love,” it said.

“My grandchildren sent it to me,” she said. “My husband used to give me flowers and presents. He never forgot.” She sighed. “But he’s been gone now seven years.”

So she was alone, just like him. He licked his lips. “I…once sent you a Valentine’s Day card.”

“You did?”

Yes, and you liked me once, too. Liked me a lot. Then you met the boy who became your husband and forgot all about me.

Evvie was looking at him. “Excuse me, I don’t mean to stare. It’s just my memory isn’t so good anymore and I forget things. What did you say your name is?”

He held out his hand, his heart pounding. “Andrew Delane.”

She raised her own and placed it trembling in his. Parkinson’s perhaps.

“I’m Eveline Timmons.”


She gazed at him, and for a moment sixty years passed away, and he could almost believe she was the girl who had briefly liked him.

“You’re nice, Andrew. If I can call you that.”

“You most certainly may, Eveline.” For the first time, he noticed other cards on the table as well as envelopes. “What are those?”

“These? Just some Valentine cards I’ve meant to fill out and mail.” A flutter of embarrassment.

“I’m a bit late.”

I guess we both are. He smiled and moved his chair closer. “Tell you what. Suppose I help you a little.”


John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance. He’s the former editor of Horror MAGAZINE and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association. Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens. The Merry-Go-Round Man, a coming-of-age novel featuring three boys in the fifties, can be found on Amazon and elsewhere.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E
Website: http://www.johnrosenman.com





The Robe of Noble Hearts

James Secor


No job was so irksome as this. No. Irksome was not the right word. Not even odious quite captured his feelings. No. Quite simply, for Antonio this assignment was painful. But there it was. There was nothing for it. Never before had he let his Sire down. His pride and his sense of responsibility, his loyalty, demanded he repress his true feelings and carry out his duties, like it or not. Blind loyalty will do that to you: make you forget yourself. Blind loyalty allows you to ignore other possibilities. Abrogating responsibility is never an easy choice. Nor is it without consequences, often enough unexpected.

It wasn’t as if this were the first time he had been sent bearing gifts and a marriage proposal. Antonio had been sent with his Master’s bid for a maiden’s hand five times before. In this instance, correspondence had already begun with letters of polite, flowery courtly love on two or three occasions. None was as fearful as this particular possibility of acceptance, for the Lady Mechtilde was loved by Antonio himself. More the pain–it was Antonio’s own telling of the woman of his heart that inflamed his Lord’s passion.

What a heartless twist of Fate.


* * *

Antonio was received with open arms by King Friedrich, Mechtilde’s father. He was treated like a long lost son. Antonio was hurt even more by this. He harbored wishes of Mechtilde’s love and passion deep in his own breast, yet had to forego desire and suppress the pain of his squeezing heart. Breaking inside, Antonio must present the appropriate knightly face. Duty ever required a mask.

The sought-after and the messenger’s first meeting was uncomfortable for both. Mechtilde as she had not dealt with a go-between before and she found this one attractive and had since their first knowledge of each other months before. Antonio had made his love and devotion known at that time, promising to return to make her his. Yet he could not now make his suit to Mechtilde’s father. A King’s want holds sway over any other. Mechtilde, being a woman, had no say in the matter. A King was a good match. Both, therefore, repressed their true feelings, refusing to look at each other when both were required to appear together before Kind Friedrich.

One afternoon, shortly after Antonio’s arrival, Mechtilde sat in the garden awaiting the go-between’s presence. The ash tree behind her offered ample shade from the sun. Floating shadows from leaves fluttering in the light breeze dappled her face. Her skin was white as milk, the creamy complexion emphasized the emerald green of her mantle and gown. Her bosoms rose, pressing insistently against the restraining bodice, then subsided, never fully hiding their roundness.

Antonio paused as he entered the garden. His heart leapt into his throat at this sight of his love sighing for his coming. So demure. So pristine. Tears welled up in his eyes. Could he possibly continue his assigned duty come now in her presence?

Antonio nodded to Mechtilde’s maid who stood to one side. He approached Mechtilde and bowed, proffering the gift that his master had sent.

“From his Lordship,” he murmured, trying not to look at her.

“I thank your Lord for his kindness,” Mechtilde whispered as she accepted the present, using the moment to touch his hand perhaps longer than was necessary.

She held the box demurely in her lap not attempting to open it and fawn over the King’s magnanimous show of affection. The messenger stood quietly before her, red-cheeked and perhaps breathing harder than he ought. Antonio stood in silence. Finally, Mechtilde motioned for Antonio to sit on the stone bench beside her. He hesitated.


Jimsecor is a playwright, storyteller and writer of tanka who got caught up in comparative literature, especially the love stories across cultures. He has lived in Japan and China for some time, writing women’s roles in Japanese theatre, award winning tanka and publishing poetry in Chinese and producing several plays, including an all female Lysistrata. All the while, he delved into the everlasting love in the face of adversity, even visiting the historical site of one such love in China. This is, perhaps, the balancing act for his otherwise social criticism/activism. He is at www.thewriteroomblog.com, http://labelleotero.wordpress.com and at Linkedin.




Breaking Heart

The Reunion


You drew down the moon, but I didn’t see;
No Jim Stewart and Donna Reed are we.
Pain and love can blind the searching soul
from what might be a most fitting role.
Now, layered clothing keeps my embers low.
Was it on purpose? I’m sure I don’t know.
Yet nothing can hide the face or the eyes:
Your calm exterior gives up its lies.
The pain of love suppressed is there,
Eddied smoke those dark orbs do wear.
So, my passion still released strives for the smile–
A flash here, a moment there, makes all worthwhile.
For in the eyes your smile reflects
More than one such as I expects.
A day, then two, three and part of four,
Our weekend ends on a marble floor.
You turn away to hide the tears,
Walking forward through all the years.
Time, the beast, is now again,
Set right with a flash of pain.
No looking back, no warm smile,
Your shoulders braced all the while.
But we have our joy, the days we shared,
Those secret moments our hearts were paired.

Clayton Clifford Bye


Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. The author of 11 books and a varied collection of short stories, poems, articles and reviews, he has also published 4 books under the imprint Chase Enterprises Publishing. The books published for others include 3 award winning anthologies and a stunning memoir about what it’s like to live with and die from anorexia.
Visit his e-store at http://shop.claytonbye.com.

Mr. Bye also offers a wide range of writing related services, including small business management for writers.


On Teaching and literature

Z.Town Crier (2)


Four members of The Write Room Blog
talk about combining teaching and literature.

WRITING A LETTER TO THE EDITORIt was never my intention to become a teacher, but you know the old saying, “Make God laugh; tell him your plans.” I had been offered, and turned down, a scholarship to Yale Graduate School of Drama on the merit of a two-act play I wrote, directed, and acted in during my senior year in 1965. I was off to Italy to take advantage of a scholarship to La Universitã di Roma where I planned to study for a doctorate in Italian Literature. No one told me I had to first be proficient in Italian, so I lasted a week. Hear God laughing?

I remained a year with family in Sicily, then flew home to a frightening reality: no income. Life looked bleak. Then my sister Joan informed me that a Catholic school in a nearby city was in need of an English teacher. That began a career that included teaching in middle school, high school, and college for nearly thirty years. If I pasted each day’s lesson plan end to end, I suspect the paper trail would reach the moon!

My favorite lesson I taught incoming college students each summer, and one summer in particular –– 2004. Most of the students were weak in high school English. Many came from homes where English was hardly ever spoken. Believe me, it was a challenge to teach them how to write a letter to the editor.

As it turned out, 70% of all three classes had letters published in the local daily and weekly newspapers of Bergen, Hudson, and Essex Counties, New Jersey. It proved a tremendous ego boost for these new published authors. It provided them with a stronger desire to succeed, a better self-image, and a staunch willingness to work hard. In 2005  Bergen Community College presented me with the Instructor of the Year Award, which hangs on my living room wall.

Here is that lesson.

  1. Read the newspaper and search for a news article in which the writer has taken a stand on some issue. It could be about a local, national, or international issue. Where do you stand? Do you agree with the writer or do disagree? Can you think of two or three reasons why you agree or disagree?2.  Read that newspaper article a couple of times so you understand what it’s all about.3.  Plan the writing of a letter to the editor by writing an outline. Include the following parts:a.  Introduction (Beginning):  In this first paragraph, mention in quotation marks the title of the article, the author’s name, if given, the date of the article, and the page on which the article appeared in the newspaper. In that same paragraph include a statement that tells the reader immediately that you agree or disagree with the article you are commenting about.

    b.   Body  (Middle): This section should be one paragraph or two small paragraphs and here you should give your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with the article. Make sure your reasons are all different from one another and all make sense.

    c.    Conclusion ( End): In this last paragraph come up with a good strong closing to your letter, something that will make your readers think or feel something. Maybe you can give some advice or a famous quote.

    4.   Write the letter based on your three-part outline. Include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address on the letter because if the newspaper decides to publish your letter, the editor will contact you to make certain it was you who sent the letter.

    5.   Some newspaper do not accept e-mailed letters. You need to snail-mail your letter to the newspaper in care of “Letters to the Editor.”

    If your letter is published, count it among your credits as an author!


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.





Unmaking Readers through Lessons in Story

A musing by Joyce Elferdink


“The change which the writing wrought in me was only a beginning—only to prepare me for the gods’ surgery. They used my own pen to probe my wound.”

What gives me the right to write about love, me a three-time divorcee?  I believe in love, believe I have loved passionately (most recently the protagonist of my novel), and believe I will continue to experience love in at least some of its several forms; and I read–sometimes even stories or essays about love. Does that give me sufficient credibility to give advice on loving?

What I offer today is a painful lesson, one that confronted me after reading a C.S. Lewis science fiction novel, Till We Have Faces. In the reading I was forced to consider how much of my loving—if any—has been unselfish, directed toward the other person instead of my own desires. How can any of us know that? As I try to put in words what I fleetingly and shallowly recognized about myself in the tale of Queen Orual’s awakening,  I know the meaning of her words, “the change which the writing wrought in me was only a beginning—only to prepare me for the gods’ surgery. They used my own pen to probe my wound.” (p. 253)

In her story, which is actually Lewis’ alteration of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, Orual loves her half-sister, Psyche, so much that when she meets a changed Psyche after she had been sacrificed to the god, Ungit, Orual feels she must rescue her beloved Psyche even as Psyche protests she cannot leave the lover she adores, the one who gives her unspeakable joy, the god who comes to her unseen in the blackness of night. Orual forces Psyche to betray her lover, justifying her actions by professing the dreadful deed was an act of love and she, Orual, was the one sacrificing to save Psyche from some dreadful thing.

With Psyche lost to Orual’s world, separated from her husband/god and forced to wander miserably alone, Orual threw herself into her duties as queen. Even in her good works, she took all that others would give in the name of love.

As her own death approached, Queen Orual got her chance to complain to the gods for seducing what was hers, those she had loved best. Their happiness should have been for Orual to give. Reciting the speech that had been at the center of her soul for years, she instantly knew that she had been the most dangerous enemy of those she loved most. By acknowledging that their happiness had never meant as much to her as her need to possess them, she became unmade. Only then could she love as she would have thought it impossible to love.

I think I understand, at least in part, the moral of this story. (I won’t repeat the lesson because your interpretation may be different). I could ignore the judgment of another person, but the message in “Till We Have Faces” is much more difficult to reject.

May we as writers use sensitivity, wisdom and creativity to tell stories that “unmake” our readers.


This ENFP personality thinks of herself as a teacher, traveler, activist and author of thought provoking time-travel tales. Along with being a right brained slave to creativity, her inspiration comes from the life experiences which expose those questions that stir us to action.

Some of those questions are portrayed through her novel, Pieces of You, with the search for answers continuing in the coming sequel, The Battle of Jericho, 2040.


Book trailer on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIacFKaNWe8
Amazon Book Listing (Kindle edition): http://tinyurl.com/927am9u





The day we studied “The Highwayman”

a story by Kenneth Weene


“So what did you think of the video?” I asked the class.

Jackie Brown, their regular teacher, had asked me to cover the class. There was little I wouldn’t do for her. Some women have it, and Jackie had even more. Would she accept my invite for Saturday night? Dinner and dancing. I wasn’t going to refuse a simple request.

“Third period. Just lead a discussion after they watch it. You’ll only have about ten minutes. They’re good kids, a great class.”

Jackie was going to slip out for two periods.  She wasn’t supposed to, but Phil, the principal, had agreed to it if she could find somebody to cover her  third period A-Track English class. Her next period was free and then her lunch break: enough time for the dentist.

“Damn, Mike,” she had explained to me; “don’t you hate losing a filling.”

The filmstrip ended. Tip O’Malley flipped on the lights.

He was the exception in the class. The rest were already headed for college. Seventh grade, but they were the good ones, the ones every teacher wanted to have. Tip was different: a scruff of a kid from a poor family, but still bright. Phil had personally placed Tip in the class. “We’ll A-Track him for Social Studies and English,” he instructed; “maybe it will motivate him. Maybe he’ll get the idea.”

As Tip’s guidance counselor, I had agreed with the plan. I liked the kid and one can always hope.

Vicky Henderson, already a dark-eyed beauty at thirteen, raised her hand. “It was sad, the way she killed herself for the highwayman.”

I waited, but there was no more. “Yes, it is a sad poem,” I agreed; “but what about her love? Do you guys think you could ever love somebody that much?”

Tip raised his hand.

“Yes, Tip?”

“I was thinking. The robber. He committed suicide, too, didn’t he? Like suicide by cop?”

“Yes, I guess he did.”

“So I was thinking about how much he loved her. How he couldn’t live without her.”


There was an uncomfortable stirring in the class.

“Love is kind of a trap,” Tim continued. “For both of them.”

“How does that make you feel?” I asked.


A miasma of discomfort hung in the room.

“Sorry,” Jackie said when I asked about Saturday.

“What the heck,” I said to myself and went to IHop instead.

Damn, if Tip wasn’t there with Vicky — the two of them in a back booth, holding hands and sharing something covered in whipped cream.

The wind was blowing when I left IHop. I looked up. Yeah, the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. Would those two kids notice?


Sometimes Ken Weene writes to exorcise demons. Sometimes he writes because the characters in his head demand to be heard. Sometimes he writes because he thinks what he have to say might amuse or even on occasion inform. Mostly, however, he writes because it is a cheaper addiction than drugs, an easier exercise than going to the gym, and a more sociable outlet than sitting at McDonald’s drinking coffee with other old farts: in brief because it keeps him just a bit younger and more alive.

Find Ken’s books at http://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Weene/e/B002M3EMWU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1409509512&sr=8-1

and listen to him co-host It Matters Radio at http://www.itmattersradio.com



sharp pencil


Creative Writing 101

I’ve been asked to teach a Creative Writing Course for a varied audience. Why would I consider accepting such a challenge?

The first reason is I’ve already written the lesson plans. This is something I’ve given much thought to over the last few years. You see, there are a couple of fundamental choices you can make in this life when it comes to the work you do: you can either create or destroy. As a writer, I’ve chosen to create. But unless I pass on some of what I’ve learned, my creations end with me.
In my course the students will be asked to work on a composition of their choice for the 6 weeks the program will run. Each Tuesday that we meet, new ideas and techniques will be offered to the student so that he or she may add depth and breadth to their work. In doing so, the world will receive dozens of new works of literary art—whether that be a creative letter to one’s boss or a highly polished haiku.

What follows is a program overview…

Week one the students will be asked to write on any topic that comes to mind and in whatever format they choose. For those who find themselves stumped, I will ask the student to write a vignette about a pencil. The idea here is to create a circular idea, one that goes out into the world then returns to where it began. Why a pencil? The student will be reminded that one can write creatively about anything that can be imagined, even a pencil. A final note for the students will be not to attempt to edit the story as they go along. The reason for this is that an idea is a fragile thing. Attack it too soon and it will die. As a writer, I don’t let anyone see my work until I have a complete first draft. The time to edit is once that plateau has been reached.

Week two will focus on editing structural elements of the student’s work. I subscribe to
Stephen King’s idea that a story exists in full the way a fossilized dinosaur exists in the ground. One finds a fragment (the idea), then he digs around the edges of the fossil to find a general shape that slopes off into the depths. Now comes the time for picking and brushing at the lines, slowly working deeper in an attempt to discover the artifact in its whole. This is structural editing.

Week three goes deeper. One brushes the story until each sentence is a clear and visible entity that fits smoothly into the overall structure. We’ll review basic grammar rules as they apply to sentence structure.

Week four takes a closer look at plot. The dinosaur has a skeleton upon which the flesh is hung. The same is so for a story, letter or poem. Now is the time to play God. Does your piece hang elegantly from the structure you’ve discovered or can it be improved upon? We discuss fundamental plotting.

Week 5 follows a similar plan but deals with theme. What is it and is there an apparent theme in your work? If so, are you happy with it? If not, how can you create theme as suggested by your work?

Week 6 will be an in class swap of pieces so that that each person’s work is proofed by a fresh pair of eyes. I will also field questions and encourage general discussion. The student may submit his or her piece for assessment.


Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. The author of 11 books and a varied collection of short stories, poems, articles and reviews, he has also published 4 books under the imprint Chase Enterprises Publishing. These books, published for others, include 3 award winning anthologies and a stunning memoir about what it’s like to live with and die from anorexia. Visit his e-store at http://shop.claytonbye.com.
Mr. Bye also offers a wide range of writing related services, including small business management for writers.
Visit his bookstore at http://shop.claytonbye.com
Find him on Amazon.com
Bookstores may order through Ingram

I love the paranormal romance genre! by Maggie Tideswell


Let’s face it; love really is all around us. When you read a murder mystery or horror novel there are usually romantic elements. People fall in love. Even in the most unexpected or dangerous situations, people find each other. It is human nature.

What fascinates me about romance is, firstly, which characteristics attract people to each other enough to fall in love and, secondly, which traits keep them in love for a lifetime when one in three relationships fail.

Then there’s my fascination with the paranormal. People want to be scared. Fright gets the primitive fight or flight response going. And that is where the paranormal comes in. When I say paranormal I don’t mean zombies and vampires. Creatures with tentacles and many teeth also don’t interest me. Those are not scary and only have entertainment value as far as I’m concerned. My intent isn’t to put authors of those genres down. All I’m saying is that those elements aren’t what I write about. I’m interested in what isn’t visible to the eye–things that go bump in the night, ‘nothing is as it seems’, and witches getting up to mischief or doing genuine work to help. And of course, ghosts!

We all have those creepy little experiences of something moving just at the edge of vision, and when you look, there’s nothing there. Or the sounds we hear for which there are no logical explanations. And who of us haven’t known what was going to happen next or what somebody was going to say before it actually happened? This is what’s termed déjà vu.

People are not always what they seem. It’s a known fact that people represent themselves in the best light and what they show to the world is only the tip of the iceberg of their personality. I like to say people wear ‘masks’ to hide their true selves from others, for reasons of their own.

But my biggest interest is ghosts and why some people seem to get stuck on the earthbound plane after death. I even joined a paranormal investigation group, but I’m yet to come face to face with a ghost I could have a conversation with. I’ve been told I look too hard, and that ‘s why I’m unlikely to see a ghost, but I do experience them. On one occasion I had fallen asleep on the couch and I startled awake with the distinct feeling that somebody was leaning over me. There was nobody there, but the room had been freezing. It was the middle of summer.

Romance in combination with the paranormal is what I write. Instead of placing my characters in mortal danger of burning buildings, an erratic gunman or in the path of a tidal wave, I scare them with what they cannot see.

Maggie Tideswell’s first book, a paranormal romance titled Dark Moon, was published by All Things That Matter Press in 2011 and her second, Moragh, Holly’s Ghost, also in the paranormal romance genre, was published in July 2013. Her stories reflect her interest of things unexplained. Maggie loves books (the smell of paper), tea, wine, and her cat Felix is her constant companion. http://maggietideswell.blogspot.com/

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.”



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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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