Tag Archives: Great Reads

Of Labor and Work – pieces from the members of The Write Room Blog

I thought it might be interesting to ask our team to reflect on the world of labor and work, and received some wonderful responses. (Ken Weene)

 

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A NOTE ON LABOR AND WORK by Kenneth Weene

Some ideas stick in a person’s mind and change the individual’s weltanschauung (worldview). For me, one such idea presented itself in a “social philosophy” course sophomore year of college. Two years earlier (1958), Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition had leapt onto the political theory stage. It was, according to the professor, a must read. She wrote of the social realm and the political. Her book made me think and reflect. Perhaps no distinction she offered hit me more forcefully than that between labor and work.

To paraphrase: Labor is that which we must do to earn our bread, to make our necessary contribution to the physical needs of others and by doing so to meet our own. Work, on the other hand, had lasting value; it was the creation of substance and meaning. Of course, some people were able to unify the two things, to earn their way by writing poetry, sculpting, perhaps by organizing a community, or providing political leadership. Most of us, however, must labor in order to have the freedom to work. If there was one person who personified that disconnect, it was another political thinker, Eric Hoffer, who wrote The True Believer while working as a longshoreman. (Yes, his book was also recommended.)

So what has that to do with me and with The Write Room Blog?

The effort is the same: my fingers tap at the same keyboard; my eyes strain at the same screen; my time passes with the same finality. BUT! What about within my head?  That is where the difference lies.

Watch my brain at work. The neurons flash with pride. Another sentence has been crafted for that so valued imagined reader. I see her/him smile in recognition of an idea, a symbol, perhaps a unique turn or phrase. “Ah, it succeeds,” I think, and it is my work.

Now consider my brain at labor. “This will do,” is the thought. The image is not of a reader but a looker, a glancer. “That will catch attention,” I say to myself as I click “send” or “post”. “Arg, there’s so much marketing to do”: tweet after tweet, comment after comment, request after request. I can imagine myself as longshoreman, lifting bales; that they are filled with letters instead of cotton — no, not even words — makes those bales no less heavy to the mind. I strain beneath the weight. Oh, to get back to my novel, to that poem, to that short story or essay.

A postscript for those who appreciate irony: The final exam, not a question about Arendt or Hoffer. I ignored the questions and wrote about them anyway. Received an A. I guess that was because I really worked at it.

 

Besides novels, short fiction and poetry, Ken Weene occasionally decides to consider serious issues. You can learn more about him and his writing at http://www.kennethweene.com

 

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WORKING ON THE WRITE GANG by Clayton Bye:

Work … It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I lost count at 50 different jobs. And this during a time when people stayed with one corporation for most of their lives. But not me. I’ve been a cleaner, construction worker, cook, factory worker, farm hand, financial products broker, manager, mechanic,  personal trainer, private detective, public speaker, social worker, tutor, vacuum cleaner salesman, waiter, weather man and, of course, writer—just to name a few. Why so many? Well, it’s like this … I’m a problem solver, and since business is all about solving problems it turns out I can work virtually anywhere. This discovered, when I became bored or unchallenged or was put into management (which I’d rather not do), I would give my notice and go in search of something new. It worked for me for a long time.

One day, I realized I had figured out a model for running my own business. So I tried it. The experiment worked fairly well, but not enough to give the kind of money and freedom I wanted. Back to the drawing board. The end result was working for a multinational company that let me run my position as a separate but related business. I did very well. But it wasn’t where I now knew I wanted to be … having a writing business that supported me in the style I had dreamed of.

So, I had a business system, and I could write. I put the two together to see what would happen. The business model didn’t really work for writing, but I was hooked on the work. What to do? I spent many years chasing after that fabled bestseller that was supposed to launch my career. While I never wrote a book that lost money, neither did I write a bestseller.

Back to the drawing board … The problem I discovered with my model is that it requires other people to work the system for me. Hard to do when you’re a writer. More years passed, and I managed to become an expert in the business of producing deliverables like books, manuscripts, reviews, short stories and so on.

“How do I hire people to do that for me?” I asked? “Become a traditional publisher,” came the answer. That didn’t work either, because the writers didn’t want to use my system. No, I needed actual employees.

By sheer luck, my next job was as a ghostwriter. A very busy ghostwriter. I don’t know when it finally clicked (when I had 20 clients all at the same time, I think), but I said to myself: “Self, why don’t you hire some ghostwriters to work for you?” All I would need to do is to manage the funneling of clients and the rest could become automated. I could even use the model to hire a pen of copywriters, something new I was trying.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

 

Clayton Clifford Bye has written 11 books and at least as many ghostwrites. He also writes short stories, poetry, occasional reviews and publishes the work of others when he finds a property he likes. Clayton now spends most of his time ghostwriting. You can find his website at http://www.claytonbye.com, his store at http://shop.claytonbye.com

 

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A MOST LABORIOUS DAY by Micki Peluso

It’s 1979. We’re in a recession and feeling it the hardest in our country home. My six kids are old enough that I can leave them home alone. At least that’s what I tell myself. I find a job as a morning prep person and night dinner cook in the small town’s favorite Italian restaurant.

I’m not a morning person. The rooster next door crows at 6:30 AM, waking the neighborhood dogs. That’s my alarm clock. Rousing the kids who sleep through the racket, I get them moving, dressed and breakfasted as I gulp down my third cup of coffee. They all pile into the local school bus and go off to their various schools.

I get to work at 8:30 AM and begin making mountains of meatballs as ‘Aunt Mary,’ the mother of the restaurant’s owner, stirs a huge cauldron of red sauce and rolls out sheets of pasta dough. Hours later we’ve made hundreds of homemade ravioli and rolled so many meatballs that my hands are cramping. It’s 2:30 PM. I leave to get home in time for the 3:30 PM bus and onslaught of starving kids rushing through the front door. They head for the fridge and snacks laid out on a table, while telling me all about their day at the same time. I’ve learned to listen to all of them at once, a gift that may come in handy one day — or not.

It’s Friday, one of the three or four nights that I work as a cook at the restaurant. Homework gets done or so they tell me, chores when I can catch them, pets cared for, and last night’s tuna casserole set out for dinner. I’m off to work again at 5 PM. The summer heat registers 95° in the kitchen of the restaurant and it feels like 110° or more. I’m dressed in short shorts, tank top and flip flop sandals like the other cooks. Massive vats of boiling water for pasta and sauce simmer as the Friers and range emanate even more heat. God is good. Tonight I get to work the salad bar and scrub huge pots and pans.

The bartender/owner brings me a mandolin to slice the salad veggies. I prefer a knife but he’s the boss. Within minutes, I manage to slice off the tips of three fingers on my left hand – not completely off but hanging and bleeding all over the wood cutting board and vegetables. The grill cook rushes to get our boss, Donnie, and after appraising the situation, he leaves and returns with a roll of black electrical tape. Whatever works, I think, and struggle to carefully place the tips of my fingers back on and tape them with my right hand. The pain is fierce.

Donnie pops in to tell me to switch places with the Gopher cook so I don’t bleed on the food. I realize then that he’s not sending me home. The dinner rush hits and I’m soon busy working the microwaves, getting food out of the huge walk-in, and setting up plates. That’s the job of a gopher.

Wild storms strike the area, breaking the heat wave and slowing business. Donnie sticks his head into the kitchen. “It slowing down, Micki. You can go home now.” The man is all heart. I grab my purse, say goodbye to the cooks and dash out the back of the kitchen to where my car is parked. The storms have slowed to a few rumbles and flashes of ground lightning as the rain tapers off to a fine drizzle.

Home looks really good — a deception of course. I walk in to find eight-year-old Nicole crying on the couch. The heat made her sick and triggered a migraine. “I told you girls not to let her out in the sun,” I snapped at her two younger sisters.

“She got away from us,” Noelle says, looking upset.

But 15-year-old Kelly has a bigger problem, forecast by wracking sobs. She’s holding Puff, my oldest daughter, Kim’s, white rabbit;, he doesn’t too healthy.

“It’s my entire fault,” Kelly sniffles.” I left him outside in the storm. Kim is going to kill me.”

I figure the poor little guy was either traumatized or struck by lightning. He begins screening, which rabbit’s do before dying. I try pouring whiskey down his throat and then warm tea but he lets out a final shriek and dies in my arms. 16-year-old Dante suggests laying him out on a table in the basement until we can bury him the next day. Kim comes home from her date and that scene isn’t pleasant. She stomps up to her room and slams the door. Mike ambles in a little later on and we all sit on the long red velvet sectional couch watching TV until my husband walks in. The recession makes it necessary for him to work five hours away in New Jersey and come home only on weekends.

We are a sorry lot that greets him with our tales of woe. First thing he does is rip off the black tape on my fingers, removing the tips that I had secured so well with the tape. I refuse to scream from the pain as he pours salt on the wounds but tell myself that it’s good that I won’t have fingerprints left on those fingers when I strangle him in his sleep. I sip on some scotch and water — not a very good year — to ease the pain and tension from this laboriously horrible day.

I get to sleep in tomorrow and don’t work Monday, which is Labor Day. The next day I can collect my paycheck. At a $1.25 an hour comes to about $40 a week. Reagan’s trickle-down economy has not yet reached the tiny town of Williamsport Pennsylvania – or me.

 

Micki Peluso, author of the award winning memoir, . . .And the Whippoorwill Sang, writes slice of life , humor, short multi-genre fiction and commentary. Her collections of short stories, “Don’t Puck the Duck’ will be published in 2015. http://www.mallie1025.blogspot.com/

 

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LABORS OF LOVE By Nancy Cole Silverman

I have been hunkered down – like a World War I foot soldier in a foxhole – putting the last edits together on the final draft of my next manuscript due to my publisher the end of the month.  I write this very tongue and cheek, because I know a little about fox holes and World War 1 soldiers. My Great Uncle Henry was a member of the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders out of Canada, and while I’m hardly fit to compare myself to my great uncle, he and I do share a similar fate. He was a writer, and so am I. And it is from that shared and fated talent from wince I have my understanding of history and a healthy appreciation of the craft.

Like many authors I waited until after I’d completed the final version of my work in progress, and sent it off to my publisher before I began cleaning out my files and cluttered drawers. My office was a mess. My desk piled high with unanswered mail, stale coffee, and littered with scraps of paper and illegible notes. It was then that I landed upon a package of old, onion-skinned, carbon copied news stories my aunt had transcribed as a girl on her Underwood typewriter. They were stuffed in the back of a drawer and I’d nearly forgotten about them. She had given them to me for safe keeping.  I hadn’t looked at them in years and scarcely remembered the promise I’d made to do something with them – in this lifetime.

Let me start by saying, my Uncle Henry was a member of the Scots-Canadian Royal Highlanders.  His unit, the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders, were part of the Allied Expeditionary Forces from 1914 – 1918, during what was then called the Great War.  Often referred to as the “Ladies from Hell,” the 72nd was known for their Mackenzie tartan kilts, their bayonets, their bagpipes, and the action they saw while stationed in France where most of the Great War was fought.

My great uncle was also a war correspondent, and throughout the war sent home a series of missives, he titled, Little Memories, about his experiences.  However, the stories Childs chose to tell in his columns from the front, were not those of brutal destruction and bloody battle scenes, but more personal moments.  Moments when he crouches nervously with his comrades in a foxhole before “going over the top,” or where he sat alone, quietly on a hillside and unearthed a small doll while viewing the ravages of the village below.

Writers write. So I grabbed these letters and assembled them, as best I could, for a self-publishing in time for Veterans Day.  I’ll release them then.  Until then I labor, like all writers.  Hammering away at my next work, certainly under better conditions than those my great uncle wrote, but like him, it’s a labor of love, pulling ideas from the world around me, no matter how ugly or difficult, and trying to find the humanity of it all.

 

Nancy Cole Silverman writes the Carol Childs Mysteries.  After working in news and talk radio for nearly twenty-five years, Silverman retired to write fictional stories similar to those that took place not only the air, but behind the mic as well.  Her first book in the series, Shadow of Doubt, debuted in December 2014.  Her newest book, Beyond a Doubt, was released in July and the third of her series, Without a Doubt, is expected out next year.  For more information about Nancy and her work, please visit her website: www.nancycolesilverman.com

 

061107-N-2659P-030 Seaman Mark Andaya prepares fresh rolls for the evening meal in the aft galley of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on Nov. 7, 2006.  Andaya is a U.S. Navy culinary specialist aboard the Stennis, which is currently the flagship for Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3.  DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins, U.S. Navy.  (Released)

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Seaman Mark Andaya prepares fresh rolls for the evening meal in the aft galley of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on Nov. 7, 2006. Andaya is a U.S. Navy culinary specialist aboard the Stennis, which is currently the flagship for Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3. DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins, U.S. Navy. (Released)

PAPA ON A MISSION by Sal Buttaci

I believe my father was on a mission to do all he could to interest me in acquiring a college education. A former seminarian in Sicily, he had studied Latin and Classical Literature to which he attributed his intense love of learning. If he‘d had the power, he would’ve passed on those genes to me. Instead, in the pocket of my jeans I had no room for college aspirations. I would remind Papa that he never followed through with his own future plans of becoming a priest, so why not let me live my own life. He would wink and remind me in turn that it was quite fortunate for me and my siblings that he had opted instead for a wife.

At fifteen I joined the Police Athletic League because Papa wanted me to learn how to protect myself from the bullies who literally looked down on me for being so short.

That kind of abuse particularly bothered him because he too was short, but unlike me he never came home from school crying over a few bruises. He was a scrappy kid who grew into a scrappy guy with enough self-confidence to go around.

He wanted me to learn how to box, to show the bullies that being short did not mean being weak. But what he did not count on was I’d come to love the sport so much I wanted to jab my way into being professional one day.

“What about college?” he asked, interrupting my report of the evening’s match.

“I don’t want college, Pa. I want to fight in the ring.”

Papa decided to talk to the P.A.L. police captain about sending me into that ring I loved so much but to box with a fellow half a foot taller than I who had an arm’s reach long enough to have me swinging at air like a puppet on a short string. Needless to mention, but I’ll mention anyway: he won; I lost. And boxing became an event to watch safely on TV.

The following year I got a summer job as a baker’s apprentice at the Central Bakery in Union City, New Jersey. Papa had been a night-shift baker years before and following in his floury footsteps seemed a good idea. One day I reached up, lifted the oven door, slid the peel inside to retrieve a hot pan of baked cookies, and my asbestos gloves fell off. I reached up with both naked hands to catch the falling pan. They swelled into oversized mitts which I waved while screaming loud enough to summon the bakery boss. “Rub some butter on your hands and get back to work,” he said. I did neither.

“You’re not meant to be a laborer. Not tough enough,” Papa said. “Not like me. I helped build the Queens Midtown Tunnel with all them other immigrants. We made America what it is today. You? Queens, New York, would still be waiting.”

“My gloves fell off, Pa. The pan was hot. I didn’t want to drop it and ruin the cookies.”

Papa laughed. “Think about college. Let us workers take up the hammer and wrench. You pick up the pencil and paper. Hit the school books.”

Papa was right. Laborers were a special hard-working breed who deserved more respect than a once-a-year Labor’s Day. He believed in labor unions to protect workers from those who historically mistreated them. Still, he wanted us to go to college. “Two things nobody can steal from you,” he’d say more than once, “your name and your education.”

Over fifty years later I thank Papa for his persistence.

 

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.

 

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LABOUR DAY FROM A BRITISH PERSPECTIVE by Jon Magee

Thomas sat in the back of his car, studying the plans drawn up for the building he was involved with. His daughter, Violet, was driving. It was not unusual that he would ask her to drive in order that he could make the best use of his time driving from one meeting to another. What was unusual was the revelation of a past that Thomas never spoke of before. It was just one sentence, but that sentence, along with the tone and the expression of sadness said so much to his daughter. As such, it was a day that would stand out for her for the rest of her life. She recalled driving past an establishment hidden to the outside world by an extremely large wall. As they passed, so Thomas looked up from his paper work and said “It was behind that wall that I spent the worst days of my life”. This was the only time Violet could recall her father speaking of his childhood.

Thomas, born in the British Victorian era, had a poor start to life. His father died tragically in an accident at work. With no one able to bring money into the house they knew the reality of poverty that few in the western world today could really comprehend. He was one of three boys and two sisters, and they and their mother were to begin life in the Work House, as it was known. Such were the harshness of the conditions they lived in, that the mother of Thomas was to soon pass away as well. In the wisdom of the authorities of the day, the brothers were to be separated from the two girls and were never to be told that their two sisters also died as children. At one point there was a thought that he was to be rescued from this harshness by one claiming to be a relative. However, they claimed him as one who, they thought, would be cheap labour in their business, and hard tough work it was too. These are not the tales of fiction, for Thomas was my grandfather and his daughter, Violet, was my own mother. However, though it was too painful for Thomas to say much more, clearly the tales of Charles Dickens may have been far closer to the truth than we might realise.

The novels of Charles Dickens, the most popular author of the Victorian era, reveal an intense concern about the vulnerability of children. When Dickens was twelve, his father was imprisoned for debt and he was sent to work in a blacking factory, an incident that haunted him his whole life. His novels are full of neglected, exploited, or abused children: the orphaned Oliver Twist, the crippled Tiny Tim, the stunted Smike, and doomed tykes like Paul Dombey and Little Nell. Dickens was galvanized by revelations of real-life horrors facing the poor. Oliver Twist (1837) was written in response to the draconian New Poor Law of 1834, which had been inspired by the theories of utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham. This law relegated the needy to prison-like institutions called workhouses, splitting up families and subjecting them to repugnant living conditions and hard labour.

As we consider the theme of labour and workers, two thoughts come to my mind. The first is a sense of gratitude that the Work House has been relegated to history and current laws address the need for workers who may be at risk of injury or death. Thankful also that following the 2nd world war a health system was brought into place to ensure no one need say they could not see a Doctor due to lack of finance, or being too high a risk for insurance companies to consider them. However, that gratitude must also be tempered with the need to always be vigilant, looking for other ways to be found to support those who are most vulnerable in society

 

Baptist minister Jon Magee’s writing reflects a lifetime spent living throughout the world and dealing with the vagaries of historical events. You can find his work at http://www.amazon.com/Jon-Magee/e/B003VN33WA

COMING SOON FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO READ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 FinalBroodyFrontcover

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

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

DYING IS EASY, COMEDY IS HARD

 

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Everyone knows who originally said the oft quoted, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard,” right?  It was the English actor Edmund Kean, who lived from 1787 to 1833, who first said it on his death bed.  Wait, no one recorded it and it wasn’t until the middle of the last century that it was attributed to him, so probably not.  Well, then, it was Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street) who said it on his death bed to director George Seaton.  The exact quote is a little different, but the gist is the same:

 

One day Seaton, coming into the room and looking down at his game old friend, felt a                   sudden surge of compassion.

“All this must be terribly difficult for you, Teddy,” he said sympathetically.

Gwenn didn’t buy that sympathy. A smile touched his lips.  “Not nearly as difficult as                      playing comedy,” he answered cheerfully.

They were his words of exit. His head turned on the pillow. He was dead.

 

The only problem is that Seaton never claimed Gwenn said it.  Motivational-writers Neil and Margaret Rau wrote it in their book seven years later.  It has been cited, with a number of variations, as Gwenn’s by actors and writers many times and, eventually, biographer Don Widener recorded actor Jack Lemmon describing the scene thusly:

“George, I don’t like it. I don’t like it a bit. There is no feeling of peace, no feeling of                        anticipation. George, it’s awful. It’s frightening and I hate it.”

Not knowing what to say, Seaton murmured “Yes, old friend, I guess dying can be very                                 hard.”

Gwenn thought about it for a moment and then looked at Seaton. “Yes,” he said, “but                  not as hard as playing comedy!”

Those were his last words.

 

Hmmm, quoting accurately must be even more difficult than comedy.  But the two Edmunds are not the only contenders.  Depending upon which source you prefer to buy into, it was George Bernard Shaw, Groucho Marx, Noel Coward, David Garrick, Marcel Marceau and, the last-ditch source of all wry humor, Oscar Wilde.  Good ol’ Oscar has almost as many quotes attributed to him as Shakespeare.  But at least Shakespeare’s were all written down on paper.  The only sure source is Peter O’Toole, when playing the washed-up actor Alan Swan in the 1982 movie My Favorite Year, says “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”  But he never claimed to be the first.  So let’s leave the first speaker as “To Be Announced” and you fill in your own preference.

 

Now that the quote author is unsettled, let’s briefly consider what it says.  Is comedy harder than dying?  Stand-up comics refer to failing onstage as “dying,” so dying is failed comedy to them.  If you’ve ever told the wrong joke (like a blond joke at a feminists’ convention) or the same one for the umpteenth time in front of your wife at parties, you’ll agree.  It’s far easier to step in front of a Mack truck barreling down the highway than tell a great joke.  So, as you read the following selections from The Write Room authors, be open to off-beat humor and enjoy.  As the Reader’s Digest says (and I accurately quote), “Laughter is the best medicine.”

 

R.L. Cherry has published two books, a female-detective mystery titled Christmas Cracker and a noirish suspense titled Foul Shot, both available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.  For more about him and his writing, go to http://www.rlcherry.com

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NOT FOR SALE by Micki Peluso

(From a friend’s actual adventure)

My daily horoscope hinted of disaster if I did not stay close to home.  The throbbing pain in my recently-sprained ankle concurred.  However, never being one to miss any sale, whether or not I needed anything, the warnings went unheeded.

I borrowed Nicholas, my grandchild who was both young enough to be endearing and old enough to be helpful, and drove to the discount warehouse with the temptingly advertised specials.

It was mobbed.  When I glanced over at the scooters provided for the disabled, I was tempted.  “How hard could it be? “  I thought, forgetting that I was technology impaired.  Any gadget requiring more than two buttons, preferably off and on, was almost always a catastrophe.  But fortune favors the bold, so I awkwardly climbed on one.

After zigzagging throughout the aisles, narrowly missing sideswiping young children or leveling tall, stacked shelves, I reconsidered my mode of travel.   Scowls and snide remarks from other customers influenced my decision. Eight-year-old Nicholas trailed several feet behind me, pretending to belong to someone else.  It was time to leave.

I drove the scooter to the nearest register a little too fast and became wedged tightly in the checkout lane. Even reverse could not budge the jammed scooter.

Amidst laughter from the observers that echoed through the warehouse, a strong, disgruntled male cashier lifted and unceremoniously dumped my 5’9” body onto the conveyor belt.

As I was scanned and slid down the length of the counter, my grandson asked, “How much did you cost, Gram?  Were you on sale?”

Memoirist and humorist Micki Peluso is the author of And The Whippoorwill Sang

http://www.amazon.com/Whippoorwill-Sang-Micki-Peluso/dp/1466497076/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347680072&sr=1-1&keywords=Micki+Peluso=

 

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DEATH BY CLICHÉ by Linda Hales

It all started last Saturday night.  My boyfriend treated me to comedy dinner theater. Dinner was only so-so but the comedy acts were killer and more than compensated for the mediocre fare.  The star act began by cracking jokes about what sort of people you meet up with when you get to heaven.   First, he warned the audience to think carefully about what they would like to be doing when the grim reaper comes knocking and especially, to think about what they do not want to be caught dead doing.

We heard about the clown who was greeted by an old movie actor who was renowned for his clown acts.  This character instructed the newcomer to get into his sidecar and then proceeded to tour him around Heaven.   Next up was the lady who went for a midnight swim and got caught in an undertow that forcefully whipped off her clothes leaving her stark naked. Needless to say, she spun frantically until she finally succumbed to those whirling waters.  Well, darned if she wasn’t greeted in Heaven by a bevy of strippers!

Each successive routine was funnier than the last until I was laughing so hard I passed out.  Or at least that’s what it must have looked like to the rest of the audience.  Apparently they carried me out and no one was any the wiser.

Yeah, I actually did die laughing.  When I got here, I was in for the surprise of my life or should I say afterlife?   Some of the best comedians the world has ever known were here to greet me.  Not wanting to be a name dropper, I can only assure you that my Heavenly buddies were literally household names so we’re talking major funny here.  I’m in Heaven in more ways than one.

So now you know how I got here.  I may have died in a cliché, but at least I died with my clothes on.

See Linda’s books at  http://www.linnieslittlebooks.com.  Available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/LindaHales/e/B004YKW4QU/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_nu_I4tGrb51FD314

 

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DEATH IN THE ROSE GARDEN: Confessions of a Professional Assassin by Delinda McCann

I run a small farm and sell cut flowers.  I suppose you might say I have a green thumb, in a sense I do.  However one should keep in mind that I’m a professional.  I plant great masses of flowers.  When I assassinate flowers, they die in great masses.

As a professional, I try to keep up with all the latest in scientific and botanical discoveries.  Last year, I fell victim to all the experts and decided to buy some new rose bushes on multi-flora rootstock, which is the scientifically proper and botanically correct rootstock for our damp Pacific Northwest summers.  I even went so far as to purchase these beauties from a local grower a few miles from my house.  I was doing the rose bush buying thing right!  I even paid eighteen dollars for each of the little beauties.  I bought two dozen.  I leave it to you to calculate how much I spent.  The total is painful.  I carefully planted, fed, and watered my new scientifically and botanically correct babies.  They died.  Two dozen rose bushes at eighteen dollars each and I assassinated them.

I forgot to consider that while I get lots of rain, and I water my gardens regularly, my soil is sand and gravel.  There is no way I can keep enough water on a multi-flora rootstock to keep the thing alive.  However I am a professional grower.  I will rise up and go forth to grow and assassinate more beauties.  Until then, “They’re dead Jim.”

Delinda McCann is a social psychologist with many years experience working with at-risk children.  She recently gave up writing learned papers for journals and has started writing novels.  Her work can be seen on her website where you can also find her blog.  She occasionally shares gardening tips among her other musings.  http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html

 

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THE GRUNT by Anne Sweazy-Kulju

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the farm team on that day.

The score was nothin’-nothin’, not one inning did they play,

The home plate ump implored the child–Musberger was his name,

The Red Sox catcher (minor league), said, “C’mon, let’s play the game”.

 

The mother glared in her reply, “she’s not a charm”, she said,

“Like unwashed socks and jock straps, or rubbing Pumpsie’s head”;

“Oh, c’mon, I’ll pay the kid. Heck, I’ll do anything”,

Is what the third base coach professed, then he began to sing.

 

Soon the players of both sides piped up a lullaby,

But instead of growing sleepy, the child let out a cry.

Upon the stricken bleacher-crowd grim hopelessness convoked

“This is a strange ‘delay the game’”. Musberger softly joked.

They sat down on the outfield; the infield swiped at flies;

“Well, I can’t just give a bottle every time this baby cries”.

The visitors grew restless, unversed in baby’s grunt,

Demand, they did, to start the game,

“Enough! This is a stunt!”

 

All eyes were on the baby, as Musberger yelled, “Play ball!”

Mom stood the baby on her lap in answer to the call.

From benches full of people, there came a growing rumble;

“They don’t pay me enough for this,” the home plate ump did grumble.

 

“Grunt, grunt, grunt, grunt”, came the allied roar,

It carried on the summer breeze; it beat the distant shore.

They saw the baby’s face twist up; they saw her muscles strain,

“I’ll make her MVP”, said coach, “if she’ll just do her thing.”

 

Suddenly a lip curled up, a scowl answered the crowd,

And to the wonderment of all, she grunted good and loud.

Her mother blushed bright scarlet, the catcher did the same.

Musberger smiled benignly, “Now we can start the game”.

 

If you agree with Anne Sweazy-Kulju (and Anatole France) that history books that contain no lies are extremely dull, visit her website:  www.Historical-Horse-Feathers.com and read more of the author’s fun perversions of the past!

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BREACH OF PROMISE by Kenneth Weene

“When I text him, we won’t even answer.  He ignores me.” Tears trickled down her chubby cheeks.

The attorney noted each drop of sorrow in the margin of his long, lined, yellow pad.  Money in the  bank.

“He promised to love me forever, but he lied. It isn’t fair. I followed him for years, from the very beginning.”  She dabbed her eyes with a hanky.  “That first show he did, the one with his open arms. The poem about the secret place in his deepest heart. Wasn’t he speaking to me?”

The lawyer gave her a practiced look of sympathy.

“I did as he asked. I joined, I bought, I liked, and I followed. All for love of him. There was never another.”

The lawyer nodded.

“Even now, betrayed, I dream of him. If he asked, I’d even…” She shuddered. “I’d even go back to Manhattan with him.”

“You were promised love that would last forever, and then he disappeared.” the lawyer summarized.

“Leaving only his name written in electrons on my heart,” she replied, “never to tweet again. Without him I wish I were dead.”

“It’s breach of promise clear and unconscionable,” the lawyer growled. “We’ll sue for your distress. How dare he walk away like that!”

Quickly, the attorney drew up a formal complaint – filling boxes on a computerized boilerplate.

Through her tears, his client smiled. She blew her nose, signed her name, and paid a big, fat retainer.

The lawyer rubbed his hands with glee. They’d sue the entertainer for two mil and settle for half.  Unless it went to trial, which could be even better. Miss Piggy could win the jury’s hearts no matter how sympathetic they were with Kermit for being a frog of color.

Ken Weene’s novels are available on Amazon and wherever good books are sold. Check out his writing at http://www.kennethweene.com

April Fools’

Dear Readers,

With April 1st just around the corner, we just had to do something. For those of you who caught it, we posted a very funny story by James Secor, one we had published before. For those who didn’t, April Fools’. And now the real fun begins…

 

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The Pommie

[Excerpt from “Grog Wars”, Coming Soon!]

 by

Anne Sweazy-Kulju

I’ll take the little hinny with me on patrol. But it’ll be a Pig-shearing Expedition”, he grumbled.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what that means, Queensy. But I do appreciate your taking Bleeker with you”.

Queensy smirked and asked his friend, “Have you ever tried shearing a pig?”

“Certainly not; why would anyone do such a–”

“Exactly, Mate! It’s too much squealing, and too little wool. When it comes to hunting Indians with the Pommie, I think I’d rather take my chances with the pig”.

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“You there, Pommie, three of us are heading out tonight; we’ll leave in an hour, maybe two. Hard to notice you haven’t been of a scouting party, so far, and here you’ll be leaving us tomorrow when we reach the fort”. He clucked facetiously. “So you know what that means, Pommie? Tonight is your night. We need a fourth, an’ you’re it”.

Bleeker stared aghast at Queensy for several long seconds before he found his voice. By then, Queensy was already headed back to check on the horses and cattle. “I wouldn’t go to a party with the likes of you, ever–Indian or otherwise, Mr. Queensy. I don’t bear fools”, he hollered after him, tossing his nose into the air.

Queensy stopped in his tracks, turned slowly and smiled wicked at the snit they called Bleeker. “Well, I find that wonky queer, mate. Your mum certainly did”.

Bleeker could only spit and huff at Queensy–to do more would be to invite pain. He snatched up his journal and pencils and hurried off for his buckboard.

XXXXX

Detergent blue sky, birdcalls and nothing else; it was too early to be morning already. Queensy shook his friend’s shoulder until he woke. “Georg-without-the-e didn’t make it back last night. Don’t know if he’s off on the one-way trail, or not. The, uh, the Pommie didn’t make it, either–so they tell me. One of the others in our party, that meaty-pawed cooper, he saw Georg in a bit of a pickle, he told me. At the time, he was locked in fierce battle himself and couldn’t be of a help to Georg. He went looking for him later on, but there was nothing for it. Everyone was gone”.

Burke shook the cobwebs from his head and expelled them with a yawn. “What…well, how bad a pickle was Georg in, did the cooper say?” Burke asked, concerned.

“Well, the cooper said Georg had hollered to him that his sidearm only had two pops left in it. When the cooper looked Georg’s way, he saw an Indian on Georg’s left, and another savage to his right. An’ as I mentioned, the bookish little pommie, Bleeker, whinger about everything under the sun, including the sun, well, the cooper caught sight of him too—of course he was carrying on like a hinny, savages all around and he’s worthless as tits on a bull—I tried to tell you, Burke, pig shearing…”

Burke exhaled audibly. “We all know how you feel about him. Well, did the cooper say whether Georg had managed to shoot the Indians?”

“That’s just it, Mate. Georg didn’t shoot either one! The cooper said Georg shot that pommie twice, instead!”

If you agree with Anne Sweazy-Kulju (and Anatole France) that history books that contain no lies are extremely dull, visit her website: www.Historical-Horse-Feathers.com, and read more of the author’s fun perversions of the past!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

2

Metric

by

Kenneth Weene

Curtis had never been this far before. It was a big step. His father would have been pleased, but the old man was dead.

“That’s what happens when you take risks,” his mother had lectured. Her words had become the foundation stone of his life — a life lived within the safety of a metaphorical rock bunker.

“What am I doing?” Curtis questioned himself. He had to stop and hold on to a parking meter, to give himself time to think through his options. There were two – go forward or retreat.

“Tick. Tick,” the meter was counting seconds. Five minutes left.

Home beckoned: The safety of his front yard.  The comfort of the living room, where the television offered glimpses into a world so seductive yet so terrifying to enter. The security of his bedroom and the soft quilt under which he could lie and dream of love.

Love — that was the force which impelled him forward.  If she were not worth the risk, then there would never be a reason to leave his house, his yard, and especially not his room.

The parking meter clicked. The red flag.

She was his dream, the focal point of Curtis’s energy. For her he would brave the world.

Stumbling, he let go of the parking meter and moved forward. One more block. He could see the sign.

Another guy was going in. “What if they run out?” The thought pushed Curtis onward. “She’d never forgive me.”

Breathing heavily, Curtis burst through the door. “Do you have it? I have to buy it for her.”

“What?” the woman behind the counter asked in a removed voice not unlike his mother’s.

“The new Disney magazine. The one with Miley’s pictures. On the show, she told me; she told me to buy it.”

http://www.kennethween.com

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

3

THE WIN-A-HOUSE SWEEPSTAKES

 by

Sal Buttaci

We all waited for Ivan Petrovsky’s luck to change. No, not change. Melt into a dark viscous residue of terribly bad luck. Okay, we were over-the-top jealous of Ivan Petrovsky who dreamed of owning and living in the only gated dacha house on Bartholomew Street.

We were less-than-neighborly neighbors, mostly renters of post-World War II dilapidated tenements that groaned under the weight of neglected years, including 114 Bartholomew Street where Petrovsky made what he called “his temporary residence.”

“Going some place?“ Scanlan the tailor asked him.

Then in an almost undetectable Russian accent he cryptically replied, “Dreams come true.“

In his childhood Ivan, his engineer parents, and his brother Sergey lived in an eye-captivating dacha in Pitsunda on the Black Sea. In fact, as Ivan told us numerous times, “Nikita Khruschev owned the next dacha.“ We would have fared better with Nikita next door than with Ivan.

He had won several lotteries. Nothing like millions, but enough to create a “Mr. Lucky” reputation. Once he said he would bet one dollar on 0-0-0-0. The following morning we checked the newspaper. 0-0-0-0. Petrovsky won five thousand big ones!

He had panache. You could see it in his swagger and that enigmatic pencil-thin smile. Though friendly enough, he felt superior because his family centuries ago sat in the czarist courts. The consensus of the neighborhood? If only we could all move to Winchester Circle, smile mysteriously, and hold up our noses like Ivan Petrovsky.

He was the picture of “imperially slim,” but unlike the poet Robinson’s “Richard Cory,” he harbored no hidden despair, no gun, and no bullet for his head. He was capital D dapper.

I’d been living on Bartholemew Street since grade school. Petrovsky in his early twenties   moved in close by. Ever meet folks with a one-track mind? No matter the conversation, they unrail it and set their wheels on their favorite subject? Obsessive Ivan droned on about the eggshell-white dacha he would one day own.

One February morning, a few cities away, I came across a contest announcement in the daily free newspaper. “Win a Dream House” it read. The picture showed a huge plantation home. A  possible win for the man who seemed to win everything? In several copies I filled out a few contest entries with Petrovsky’s name and address. The winner would be announced at the start of April.

No surprise. Ivan won the dream house. A rep from the sponsor, a three-man bugle band in tow, delivered it to his apartment on April 1.

“Congratulations, Mr. Petrovsky. You won an excellent replica of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage House, fashioned by American Cast-Iron Edifices! Place it on your mantle. Use your Home-of-the-Month discount card to purchase more houses from our impressive collection.”

When the implacable Ivan Petrovsky confessed his bad luck to Donovan the bartender after several shot glasses of Stolichnaya, the revelation traveled up and down Bartholomew like a Russian MiG-31 Foxhound jet.

We all applauded Ivan’s sudden turn of events.

#

 

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

He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.

www.salbuttaci.blogsport.com

www.twitter.com/sambpoet

www.facebook.com/salvatore.buttaci

 

 

Science Fiction /Paranormal Shorts by the Write Room Blog crew.

 Mickis story

 THE HOUSE

By Micki Peluso

 

On a balmy summer night something awoke Vera. The lighted digital clock read 4 AM. She jabbed her husband sharply in the ribs.

” Hank, do you hear that heavy breathing sound? Think it might be the black bear planning on a snack from the garbage cans?”

“No, he mumbled. It’s just the house breathing.”

“I don’t believe you just said that.”

“I’ve told you it’s an evil house. It often breathes during the night.” He rolled over and went back to sleep.

Their five kids, all teenagers, swore there were ghosts in the house, but Vera figured it was just poltergeist activity from raging teenage hormones. She felt so protected and peaceful in her lovely old home.

“The house wants Mom”, the kids insisted.

Nonsense, their mother told them. Vera did not notice that she rarely left the confines of the house, and was developing agoraphobia–fear of leaving the house. Hank’s new job in another state changed that, relieving the kids and breaking Vera’s heart.

On moving day, the house was emptied; truck loaded. Vera went back one last time to bid farewell and make sure everything was gone. She ventured up into the attic where most of the kids had slept. The attic door, which always stuck, swung shut, locking her in. Vera ran to the window to call out to Hank. There was no sign of her family; the countryside was set in another time or dimension. Vera stifled a scream. The old house breathed in deep contentment. It had waited centuries to get Vera back. No one would ever take her away again. Vera turned to see antiquated furniture surrounding her. She smiled; sat in an old rocking chair and rocked. The house breathed one last sigh . . . relieved. Vera was home at last.

BIO

Micki Peluso started writing as a response to grief. . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, which won the Nesta CBC silver award for writing that makes a change in the world, shares the story of her daughter’s death and the family’s movement towards recovery. Since then Micki has written humor, horror, and much more. Read more about her at (Add a URL)

 

 

  For Delinda's article

DECISION ON THE EVENGELINE

By Delinda McCann

 

Captain Hera opened a com-channel to A’Damirea.  “Hera, captain of the Evengeline to His Excellency Martar.  We achieved orbit, Sir.”  As she waited for a gravi-connection, she debated for the thousandth time should she follow orders or should she follow her own instincts?

Finally, a voice came over the gravi-com system.  Even distorted with static, she recognized Marta’s warm voice. “The prisoners, their condition is what?”

Captain Hera fought to keep contempt for her charges out of her words.  “The passengers are fit for transport to the surface.”

“Did you have any trouble?”

She refused to tell this gentle soul that the brutal rebels had kept the medic team busy repairing broken bones, split skulls and internal injuries until engineering devised a system for confining the prisoners to quarters.  “Nothing of significance, Sir.  The landing pods are prepared whenever you issue the command to commence transport.”

“Another option I wish we found, but peace is essential to continued existence.  Commence transport.”

Finally, the time came for Hera to decide.  Should she send the whole lot of murderous renegades down to form one colony per orders, or should she set them down in small groups separated by thousands of miles, or oceans, or mountains.  She knew in her gut that they faced a greater chance of survival where they couldn’t get at each other.

Captain Hera inspected each readied pod.  Procrastination ceased to be an option.  She took a deep breath and ordered, “Deploy the pods in a scattered pattern encompassing the whole planet.”

Before each pod launched, she offered her blessing by kissing her fingers and touching the code that identified the pod belonging to the A’Damirea system and the ship Evengeline–A’Dam-Eve.

BIO

Delinda McCann is a social psychologist with years of working with at risk individuals in the field.  She also runs a small flower farm and is an avid if inaccurate musician.  She started writing when she got her second cancer diagnosis.  Her work with at-risk populations has inspired her writing.  Currently she has published four books.  They can be found on her web site: http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html

 

 

 

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 LOOKING FOR PEACE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES

By Sal Butacci

 

The question we spend our lives asking is “Who am I?” In our search we do our best to piece the puzzle together so the final answer –– if it can be learned at all –– will bring much needed peace in our lives.

Baptized when I was weeks young, I spent the better part of my years a nominal Christian, the kind who offers lip service to the church but in his heart lurk doubts or at least uncertainties. I not only wanted to know the deepest me, the individual beyond name and profession, but what would become of me at the end of my earthly tenure. In other words, would I lie in my grave, dead and forgotten, or would the soul I was taught lived inside me move on to a continuation of who I am?

Like many seekers who have lost loved ones, I wanted to reconnect with them, even for a few minutes, so that I could be reassured they still existed somewhere beyond the life from which they had so sadly departed.

I read whatever books and articles I could get my hands on that offered what their authors insisted was truth. Looking back now, I realize I ventured into dangerous territory because I summoned spirits and twice they came: a sinister old woman in black; a boy-faced dog growling at the foot of my bed. I believe Satan sent them to me.

My mother’s prayers brought me back to God. I began reading the Bible, relying solely on the promises of Christ. For certain there is another life after this, and if I live as Christ taught, the who I am will spend eternity with the angels and saints, praising Him there forever.

BIO

Salvatore Buttaci is a retired teacher and professor whose work has appeared in The Writer, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere here and abroad. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award.

Buttaci’s recent flash-fiction collection, 200 Shorts, published by All Things That Matter Press, is  available at  http://www.amazon.com/200-Shorts-ebook/dp/B004YWKI8O/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369920397&sr=1-2&keywords=200+Shorts

He lives with his loving wife Sharon in West Virginia.

www.twitter.com/sambpoet

FLASH BULLETIN: Today’ s the perfect day to order copies:

FLASHING MY SHORTS

200 SHORTS

A FAMILY OF SICILIANS…

IF ROOSTERS DON’T CROW…

 

 

 Bryan's photo

 THE DAY BEFORE

By Bryan Murphy

 

“I’m getting out of here for a day. Want to come?”

It was natural for Cardinal Healy to have struck up a friendship with Cardinal Varela. Not only were they by far the youngest at the Conclave, they were also both from the New World.

Cardinal Varela coughed, then answered, “I am with you. But how?”

“I know some hidden passages.” Healy’s eyes gleamed with more than the slight fever he had picked up.

“They will miss us, no?”

“No. There’s nothing on today. Just the Chamberlain droning on about procedure.”

And so they went.

However, the Chamberlain, Cardinal Grugliasco, did not drone on about procedure. He was brief and to the point.

“I am joyful to announce my conversion to the one true, true faith. Islam. For which I shall be a martyr. I have taken on a virus that will soon kill me. We are taking this rare opportunity to eliminate the foremost members of our main rival. Most of you already have the virus, and it will kill you, too. All of you. It dies with its host, so it will spread no further; we are not mass murderers. I urge you to convert, to turn your pointless deaths into meaningful martyrdoms. If you do, you will receive the martyrs’ rewards in Paradise.”

While the few Cardinals who still had the strength were slowly beating Grugliasco to death, Healy and Varela were tucking into rich Italian cuisine in a crowded Roman restaurant.

“Sure, it’s good to be alive at a time like this.”

“Indeed.” Varela reached for his handkerchief yet again. “Life is wonderful!”

Bio

Bryan Murphy is a man of Kent who lives in Italy. Since retiring from his most recent job, as a translator within the United Nations system, he has concentrated on his own words, publishing many poems and several e-books. He welcomes visitors at http://www.bryanmurphy.eu . You can find his books here: http://bit.ly/19vt7Ts .

 

 

 

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A MATTER OF LAW

By R.L. Cherry

 

Rik rested his cheek against the cold stock of his rifle, looking through the scope watching the predator warily edging through the trees in the glen below. It stopped and drank from the stream and Rik rested his finger on the trigger.

Kal shook his head.  He had been watching the animal of prey through his riflescope as well, but never put his finger on the trigger.  “You’re insane.  That’s an endangered species.  We’d be in a lot of trouble if you get caught, you know.”

“Caught?”  Rik let out a short laugh and glanced around before putting his eye back to the scope.  “We’re out in the middle of the Rockies in January.  No game warden is out here.  Besides, that whole ‘endangered species’ bit is insane, not me.  I’m saving the innocent animals it’ll kill.”

The crack of the .300 magnum rifle echoed like a sonic boom as the heavy gun bucked against Rik’s shoulder.  The bullet hit the beast of prey, the impact slamming it to the ground.

Rik sat up and rested the butt of his rifle on the granite.  “Damn thing moved just as I fired.”  He glanced at the sun, just descending behind a mountain.  “Too late to go after it now.”

“That was a gut shot.  You’re going to just let it bleed to death?  It could take hours.”  Kal stood.  “That’s even worse than shooting it.  We’ve got to go down and finish it off.”

“Is that another one of your laws?” Rik sneered.

“No, that’s the right thing to do.”

As Paul Harvey would stay, stay tuned for the Rest of the Story.  R.L. Cherry gives us the chilling ending to his story at http://www.rlcherry.com/brevity-is-the-soul-of-wit-short-stories/matter-law/

BIO

As a native Californian, R.L. Cherry spent most of his life in the Golden State. However, the five years he lived on the Isle of Man in the British Isles not only gave him many ideas for his writing, but also a less Americentric perspective. He now resides in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, Gold Rush country.

(Rhody’s in bloom)

He began writing fiction when he was in high school in the form of short stories. Most were of a futuristic/sci-fi theme. Although he never actively pursued having them published at the time, he has had several in ezines lately. Under his “Ron Cherry” byline, he has written a column on classic cars and hot rods for The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, CA, for over six years.

He has two books available, Christmas Crackerhttp://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Cracker-ebook/dp/B008LY2N8Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369503152&sr=1-2), which has SoCal P.I. Morg Mahoney solving a case of kidnapping and murder in Northern England, and Foul Shot (http://www.amazon.com/Foul-Shot-ebook/dp/B00CZ1PEZI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369503054&sr=1-1&keywords=foul+shot), the story of Chicago Police detective Vince Bonelli and the woman who rips through his life with passion and issues that threaten to destroy him and all he holds dear.

Read more about R.L. Cherry and his writing at www.rlcherry.co

Turning Winter Into Summer by Linda Hales

TURNING WINTER INTO SUMMER

It Takes Team Work to Make the Dream Work -a quote by Sue Wilde

If you despair of the severe winter weather and dream of escape to warmer climes but a real life break is out of the question, you are not alone. After all, kids must attend school, many stay back to mind the store and there are any number of reasons why we are forced to remain at home and brave the elements. Still, tempers run short and sore backs prevail from shoveling that sidewalk one too many times.

But hey, who among us doesn’t have a vivid imagination, sufficient to take us wherever we wish to go? I know that I do and dedicate this space to the fantasies of a few talented writers who will paint their vacation masterpieces to share with you, each in his or her unique style and fervency. The authors who have contributed their short stories each have a fresh take on their own ideal vacation escapade. I’ll lead in with mine:

 

My Southern Italian Getaway

It seems I have known forever that my grandest escape would take me to the spectacular southern coastlines of Italy, but none more romantic than the Amalfi coast that stretches along the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula where dazzling views reign supreme.

Sparkling vistas stop me in my tracks as I approach the artsy city of Positano, which I lovingly refer to as the “Jewel of the Mediterranean.” As I lay back to soak up the sights…craggy cliffs and shimmering bays live up to their promise of more, so much more. Spectacular nightlife and delectable Mediterranean cuisine rival the best of the best. Before I leave here, I must take in at least one starlight fashion show, comparable to anything that Paris or Milan has to offer.

TURNING WINTER INTO SUMMER 2The town of Ravello presents a visual feast second to none. We stop to soak up the stunning landscapes and gardens of the Villa Cimbrone and the Point of Infiniti. As we undertake the lengthy and steep walk up to the Hotel our stomachs remind us that it is time for a magical dinner at Villa Cimbrone, a culinary delight that will not soon be forgotten. We complete our meal with exquisite pastries and a shot of Limoncello, a liqueur, lovingly flavored with the lemons that are unique to the Amalfi coast. Before leaving this little slice of Heaven, we stop at the gift shop to hand pick the perfect mementoes to take home.

Oh dear, my dream clock is beckoning me back to reality. That is so unfair. After all, I just got started! Never mind. My next grand escape will pick up where I left off. After all, Capri is only a hydrofoil ride away and will be a story unto itself.

 

BIO
Linda Hales is retired and devotes her time to writing in various genres for both freelance and pleasure. Her greatest passion is writing motivational stories for young children. Linda has two Sunshine books, an Activity Story Book and Andy-Roo which was recently awarded the 2013 Kart Kids Book List award for Creative Storytelling. Learn more about Linda and her books at:

Website: http://www.linnieslittlebooks.com
All books are available on Amazon
And Clayton Bye’s Online Store
© Linda Hales 2014

 

 

 

Countdown to Summer By Sharla Lee Shults

COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER-2

The ultimate vacation could have been anywhere, as close as only a few miles from home to distances measuring hundreds of miles. While the destination created enthusiasm with anticipation of new adventure that was not the only reason to be excited. Even escaping the bleakness of winter was farther down the list.

Planning summer vacation brought visions where life tossed many curve balls sometimes with the stress factor being exhilarating. Unplanned expenses, unforeseen happenings kept Dad and Mom in a tizzy. My schedule was rigid with school at the top of the list. Hours outside of school centered upon after school activities, which could only be enjoyed once chores were completed. Then, of course, the day didn’t end until all homework was done! Like there wasn’t enough work to be done at home. Some of my teachers simply piled on pages upon pages thinking it would help us ‘kids’ stay busy, thus, out of trouble.

Daydreams to escape the winter blahs encapsulated thoughts of relaxing by a pool reading a good book for Mom, sunup to sundown on the golf course for Dad, cruising the strip at the beach for brother and sleepovers with girlfriends for me (that definitely was not part of the picture during the school year). Of course, for brother to be able to cruise the beach, our vacation would have to be somewhere along the coast, could be the Caribbean or Hawaii, possible but not very likely.
Hey, I’ll give up the sleepovers for the beach! Let the countdown to summer begin!

Countdown to Summer

Nothing like counting the days

For the school year to come to an end

It began in September

Continuing ’til summer began

Those were considered good ol’ days

When school started after Labor Day

Cold winters passed, spring erupted

Memorial Day ended the stay

Looking ahead to the weekend of weekends

Meant no more bells would ring Books,

lessons and practice would be set aside

School choirs would cease to sing

Logs and tallies were fussily kept

With each entry inching closer to summer

When unforeseen events extended the year

That became the ultimate bummer

Holidays, of course, were thoroughly enjoyed

Intermittently throughout the year

It was during those momentous times

Visions of summer vacation would appear

Countdown to summer

Ended with exclamations no doubt

Every kid in school bolted then shouted

“School’s finally out!”

 

©catnipoflife
Sharla Lee Shults

Excerpted from catnipoflife, a work in progress. Sharla’s passion for writing is poetry: Historical and inspirational. Become acquainted with her writing by visiting http://sharlashults.com/ where links are accessible to her books and blogs.

Sharla previously shared A Woodsy Morning here at The Write Room:  and A Day That Will Live in Infamy, December 7, 1941 http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1538.

 

 

 

My Great Escape
By Rosemary “Mamie” Adkins

MY GREAT ESCAPE
It’s not the sun that I crave, rather it is the
romance that I wish to escape to!

Variety in romance must first appeal to the eye of the beholder, and can even be found right at home if we are lucky. But what of whisking the love of your life away to the world’s most romantic locales and experiencing new flavors and dimensions with a touch of drama in every one? I can imagine all manner of scenarios but here is the one that tempts me the most.

 

Vienna…our City of Dreams

Travel with my lover and I to Vienna, capital city of Austria, known as the City of Music and most especially, the City of Dreams. Now I haven’t left home without my Guardian Angel who most assuredly steered us in the directions we needed to go to make the memories that will last a lifetime.

He guided us to sites where Johann Strauss lived, the patio where music filled the air with the Vienna Waltz and by day, to the largest Ferris Wheel in the world but what I enjoyed the most were the ski slopes with clean, crisp air biting at my cheeks and those momentary pauses when my love’s sweet kiss gently touched my lips as he held my hand to warm me. He was and is my dream man of course— my lover, my friend for life, my husband—yes, he is even the ‘Don Juan’ of my dreams.

We frolicked as we made angels in the snow, kissed passionately under a corner street lamp with twinkling stars above. As though our wish were his command, our angel beckoned us to the perfect candle lit bistro to dine, be serenaded and end the evening with a warming nightcap… the close to our perfect, blissful day!

Now I awake from my dream wondering MY GREAT ESCAPE ringif it was all real or only imagined. After all, how was I to explain this stunning, champagne diamond ring…the one that my heart had always yearned for that managed to find a new home on my finger? So what if I didn’t escape the winter climes at home, they were surely the perfect dream half a world away. Only my Guardian Angel knows for sure. I do trust him implicitly and never leave home without him!

 

ABOUT ME

Rosemary “Mamie” Adkins, is my name but I am known as “Mamie” to my friends. I was born in Houston, Texas, where I spent most of my childhood. Later, our family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where I graduated from Bishop Gorman High School in 1965. From there, we moved to Redding, California and upon turning eighteen, I fled the state and moved around restlessly until I found a happy place to land in Eugene, Oregon. Years later, I settled in Bremerton, Washington where I met my husband and together, raised our beautiful daughter, Kecia. Writing had always been a dream but not a reality until 2012 when I published my first book, Extraordinary Dreams of an Ireland Traveler. In June 2013, I published my new book, Reflections of Mamie: A Story of Survival. Please visit my websites for more information and where to find my books.

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“NEVER GIVE UP”
Thank You for visiting The Write Room Blog
Reflections of Mamie A Story of Survival
http://www.Reflections-of-Mamie.com






August Day in Maine

by Kenneth Weene

AUGUST DAY IN MAINE

Stories fill the fluffy sky while he,

Sucking on a stalk of timothy,

left arm bent beneath his brown-curled head,

dreams of dragons, battles, knights-errant.

Too soon the adults will call him in

from imagined conflicts he must win,

from heroic feats on bounding main,

from his daring death and daring pain.

The damsel in distress he must leave

behind, for her kiss he’ll surely grieve

until another maiden he will meet,

who, with turned up nose, will take her seat,

next to him, first day, in seventh grade.

All those summer memories will fade

 

BIO

Ken Weene is editor of The Write Room Blog,

co-host of It Matters Radio,

and writer of poetry, short stories, and novels.

Visit http://www.kennethweene.com to learn more.

 

 

 

Paradise Found

by D. M. Pirrone

PARADISE FOUND

Dazzling white sand stretches out before us, down to the clear blue ocean. Sea and shore merge where they meet, their edges soft-smudged like a pastel drawing. David, four years old, slips his hands from ours and rockets toward the shoreline. We watch him go, me shading my eyes, my husband hefting the child-sized boogie board we dug out of the closet in our rented condo. This is Maui, the place my Aunt Judy calls paradise.

A warm breeze caresses my face. It smells like hibiscus and tanning oil, carries the sounds of crackly pop music from someone’s radio and the call of a vendor selling shave ice. I imagine that sweet coldness melting on my tongue. Raspberry, lemon, cherry? How can I choose? David dashes between sand and shallows: “Hurry! Hurry!” Full of energy, impatient to try the boogie board, he’s a tiny human firework in his bright orange trunks.

At water’s edge, the waves lap the sand. There’s music in their ebb and flow, a rhythm that grabs hold. I step into the water, ankle-deep. My footprints melt as I dance in a slow circle. Near me, the boogie board slaps down in the surf. I turn to see David throw himself on it, his dad gripping the flat end so it won’t float out to sea. “Hold your breath,” Steve says, just in time. A wave surges, lifts the board, breaks over David. His small body is drenched, his eyes tight shut. He opens them, blows air out with a birthday-candles puff, and laughs. We laugh too as we dance and play in the sparkling water.

I am drunk on shimmering sunlight, azure sky and the song of the surf. On love for my family and this place. In a moment of absolute joy, I know this time will never end. Even when it’s over, it lives on in memory.

 

About D. M. Pirrone

A regular contributor to The Write Room, D. M. Pirrone writes mystery/suspense, horror, historical and general fiction.

You can find more of her work at her personal blog, Word Nerd Notes (http://www.wordnrd.wordpress.com) and her website (http://www.dmpirrone.net).

We’ve Reached 100,000 Hits!

Join in the celebration by entering our draw. You can win 1 of approximately 80 books. Just email us at ccbye@shaw.ca, leaving your name, email, preference of print or electronic book, and finally your country (some print books are only available in the continental U.S. and Canada). You can check out our books using the carousel or by going to the book page. The draw will take place on Nov. 15, 2013. Good Luck, and don’t forget to leave a comment about the blog below!

 

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– Halloween –

 

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

“Please come over? I swear I’m so freaked out right now… I don’t want to be alone.” She cupped the phone handset like it was her life’s blood. She wriggled lower into her bed covers so she was hidden up to her neck.

“C’mon, you’re not that scared of a dream. What’s really going on?” her friend Sarah yawned. She had been sleeping soundly before Madison’s ring tone (Bukowski) rudely shook her awake.

“It wasn’t a dream. That’s what I keep trying to tell you. I’ve seen this same guy in, like, six different dreams. Each time, he’s disposing of a woman’s body. I swear, Sarah, he looked around like he knew I was watching him. It was so creepy–and so real. I don’t think it was a dream at all. What if he can follow my trail? What if it was like a two-way mirror? Sarah, what if he can find me?”

Madison sounded like she was about to have the mother of all anxiety attacks, her friend surmised. “Okay, tell me exactly what happened in this one. Spare no detail. Just close your eyes and tell me the dream,” Sarah instructed. She was out of her bed now, pulling on leggings and a tunic sweatshirt in the dark as she hugged the cell phone between her face and shoulder. She had dropped her phone three separate times doing the same stunt and now the glass was all cracked and crazed; she held it together with a screen protector so she could stop cutting up her fingers.

“Not until you’re here. I’m afraid to conjure his image at all, Sarah. I’m worried he might see me, somehow. It’s almost like there is an invisible tether between the two of us. I think he knows the tether is there, but he hasn’t found it yet. Every time I think of him, every time I dream about him, I think it gets him closer. I’m afraid, Sarah.”

Sarah jumped into her Sanuk flats, placed a scribbled note on her pillow for Mike, and grabbed her bag and car keys. “Okay, I’m walking out the door. I’ll be there in five,” her friend promised.

“Thank you, Sarah. I’m sorry to get you up in the middle of the night. Please tell Mike I’m sorry I woke him.”

“Are you kidding me? Nothing wakes that man once he hits REM sleep. Crap, he slept through the earthquake.”

“Okay, well anyway, I’m really sorry, but I really appreciate this, Sarah.”

“Forget about it,” she tried with her best New Jersey accent. “I’m in the car now so I gotta hang up. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” She changed her tone to one of untimely cheerfulness and added, “think about baskets of Pit Bull puppies.” She disconnected the call and hit the gas.

***

They were stretched sideways across Madison’s queen bed. Madison glanced at the alarm clock as she passed the joint back to Sarah. It was 2:35 in the morning. They both were supposed to be at work tomorrow, although Madison was contemplating the use of a sick day. She couldn’t face all of those kids with no sleep. The smoke was calming her anxiety attack, though. She no longer felt like her heart was beating too fast. She sighed.

“Ready?”

“Oh my God, I’ll never be ready for this,” Madison answered quietly.

“Come on, close your eyes and, you know, fly, float, or whatever it is you do; let go. I’m right here.” Sarah soothed.

“Okay.” Madison’s eyes closed. “The first time I saw him he was pulling clothing and crap out of a big, dusty trunk in what looked like an attic space, and I’m pretty sure there was a body wrapped in cellophane, laid next to that trunk. I just didn’t know what I was seeing at the time.  The next time I saw him he was in, like… I guess it could have been attic space too, but it was long and narrow and had sharply-angled drywall floor-to-ceiling on one side. There was a bank of mullioned windows all across the other side that looked out upon the roofs and penthouses of neighboring buildings; it was eerily pretty. The moon was full and it cast strong white light upon him—and that’s why I saw the plastic-wrapped… thing. He was laying the parcel down in front of the windows.” She squeezed her eyes tighter. “I saw hair… brown; I saw polished nails… a hand had broken free of the plastic casing. I think she was wearing acrylics.” She felt her friend grab her hand and squeeze it gently.

“Tell me what happened this time, Madison. What did you see?”

“Okay. I was sort of floating, I guess, over someone’s backyard. It’s a pricey neighborhood. Um… there’s a built-in swimming pool and pretty landscaping with stone, Birds of Paradise, and Malibu lights.  There’s a sliding glass door from a master bedroom; it’s open. There’s gauzy, white tab drapes stirring in a slight breeze. Then I see him. He has a cocktail in one hand and he is standing at the edge of the pool. He’s kind of handsome, in a scarred and rugged way. Nice body, too. He seems so relaxed… so normal. Now I see the woman…” Madison was back inside her dream, even as an urgent voice inside her head begged her to stay away. “A really pretty woman in a white, one-piece swimsuit just passed briefly in front of the slider and curtains. She’s fussing around her bedroom, readying herself for him.

“He just heard her close a dresser drawer. He’s turned away from the still water to watch her brush her hair into a high ponytail. His free hand is traveling to the small of his back where he’s reaching for something… uhhh!” Her quick intake of breath whispered as it escaped her. At the exact moment of Madison’s exclamation of horror, the killer suddenly looked all about the backyard. “Oh, no! He heard me!” At that, the killer looked up into the air. “Oh my God, did he just hear that, too?” Now the killer drew a bead on just one spot in the air above him, and a slow, wicked smile seeped across his face. Madison quickly imagined herself reeling in an invisible tow rope before the killer reached for it—for her. This was too slow! She imagined she held a knife as wicked as the one the killer sported, sheathed at his belt in back; she sliced through that tether, quick and mighty. Her eyes popped open.

“What the hell? What was that?” Sarah’s arms and legs had sprouted gooseflesh.

“I swear he heard me. He looked around when I caught my breath. And when I asked aloud if he heard that, he zeroed in on the air above him; Sarah, I swear he looked right at me.”

“Wh… what did he do when he saw you?” her friend was now trembling.

“He smiled. He just smiled.”

“What did you do?”

“I tried to reel in the tow rope. I think I was too slow. I imagined myself with his knife, and I cut the cord. But, Sarah, I think I was too slow. He saw me, I just know it.”

“Jesus, Madison.” Sarah was no stranger to her friend’s weird psychic bouts—she’d known her since the fourth grade. “Do you think he can follow your… string?”

“I don’t know. I was hoping that by following his string, I might get some details that would tell me who he is, or where he is, or who his victims are. I’m just not getting very much and I’m worried he’s learning more about me with each try.”

“What do you mean? He may know what you look like, but he has no idea where in the world you are, right?”

“I don’t know. It was the way he smiled, like he knew something.” She turned around to see what was behind her; her eyes surveyed the wall. She saw nothing tell-tale on her vanity, nothing identifying on the wall about the mirror, either. And then she saw it, in the mirror: Palm Dessert Pre-school Calendar 2013. There stood Sarah and Madison with their class; their names listed below… pretty much everything a serial killer needs to find his next victim. Madison turned back slowly to her longtime friend. “Sarah, do you think he could see the calendar?” Madison’s voice took on a husky quality.

“No, I don’t. This is silly; he could be in Belize for all we know.” She held her friend’s stare. “You know I’m right.”

“Okay. But you’re going to stay here for the rest of the night, aren’t you?” Madison’s bottom lip actually quivered.

“Of course, Sweetie. I have my overnight bag and everything. We’ll go in to work together, okay? That is, if we can get some sleep now.”

***

Madison checked her wristwatch; the lunch period would end in about ten minutes and after that, story time. The day was so pretty it had the power to chase away the black clouds of her nightmare from the night before. Invisibly tethered to a serial killer? Sometimes even she didn’t know where she got such goofy ideas; she looked over at her best friend, smiled, and shook her head at her own silliness. Sarah seemed to understand exactly what Madison was thinking, and smiled back.

   Look up!

Madison’s head jerked up at the command. Wait! That command issued from inside your head! Her mind screamed just a fraction of an instant too late. Her eyes locked onto the same dead eyes of the killer from her dreams. He stared at her from across the playground; he lifted something he had draped over the palm of one hand, something she couldn’t see… something invisible. With his other hand, he mimicked an invisible pair of scissors and sliced right through that invisible string.

Anne Sweazy-Kulju, Author

 

 

dreamstimefree_4967805

JUST A BITE OF CANDY ON HALLOWEEN

By T.R. Heinan

Tom Thibodaux was the first uniformed officer on the scene. Until he saw the body, he thought the call would turn out to be another Halloween prank. That’s what he told Homicide Detective Bart Pellerin. The two cops stared down at the bloody corpse as the crime scene crew finished taking photographs. Every cop present was asking the same question.  “What happened to the rest of her face?”

After returning to the station, Pellerin played back the tape.  A “demon” killed a girl on Governor Nicholls Street next to the Lalaurie Mansion. At least that’s what all five callers told the 911 operator. None of the callers had actually seen this “demon,” but that’s what the only eye witness kept screaming. The flurry of cell phone calls weren’t going to be much help.

Even with half her face missing, it didn’t take long to get an initial identification of the victim.  Her name was Candice Boggs, a student at Tulane.  According to her boyfriend, Candy had become obsessed with a new television series about Delphine Lalaurie. She wanted to take a haunted walking tour on Halloween night and see the building people in New Orleans call THE haunted house.

The only person who would admit to witnessing Candy’s death was a drunk who called himself Pauley. Pellerin would know his true identity in a few minutes, after his prints were scanned.  Pauley was beyond intoxicated, so Officer Thibodaux was keeping an eye on him in Interrogation Room #3.

Pellerin watched boyfriend Steve Iverson in Room #2. The young man was nervous and his mood appeared to shift from confusion to anger to extreme grief and back to confusion, in the span of less than two minutes.

“What happened?” Pellerin asked Steve in a calm, controlled tone of voice.

“Candy took a photo when our tour group was standing on Governor Nicholls Street.  It showed an orb in front of the Lalaurie Mansion,” said Steve.

“An orb?”

“A ball of light in the photo,” Steve tried to explain.  “Sort of a big deal for people into ghost hunting.”

“And Candice was into ghost hunting?”

“She loved all that paranormal stuff.  Can you take these cuffs off me?”

“Maybe in a few minutes.  Why is it that you didn’t see what happened?”

“Our tour group had rounded the corner onto Royal Street so the guide could explain the front door of the mansion.  It has all these odd carvings. Candy ran back to see if she could get one more orb picture.”

“So she went back to Governor Nichols Street and the rest of you were on Royal, is that right?”

“For a few minutes, yes.”

“Then what?” asked Pellerin.

“This drunk guy came around the corner screaming at us.”

Pellerin was about to follow up with another question when a knock signaled that Officer Thibodaux was outside the door.  Pellerin walked out to the hallway to see what the uniformed cops had learned.

“Our witness is Paul Jefferson,” Thibodaux said in a low voice.  “Been in and out of every rehab in New Orleans.  He’s useless. Delusional. The tour guide thinks the girl left the rest of the group and disappeared around the corner. The ticket agent for the tours doesn’t even remember her.”

“Boyfriend probably bought the tickets,” said Pellerin.  “So, tell me about this demon.”

“Pauley says he was having a drink on the sidewalk when a ball of light appeared over the Lalaurie house.  Says the girl came around the corner with a camera, from then on it just gets weird.”

“Weird, how?” Pellerin asked.

“He says the light grew in size, turned into a fourteen foot tall female with bat wings, bit the woman on the face and then vanished into thin air. I’m gonna ask him for a blood sample.  See what else he’s on besides booze.”

Pellerin scratched his head and asked, “So what do you think happened?”

“Boyfriend did it,” said Thibodaux.  “It’s always the boyfriend.”

“The tour guide says he was with the group.”

“The guide thinks he saw him, but none of the rest of the group remembers whether he went with her or not.  All they recall is Pauley running around the corner screaming about a demon.”

“Maybe,” said Pellerin, “but her face looked like it was bitten by a shark.  How long did it take for you to respond to the call?”

“Less than two minutes,” answered Thibodaux.

“So where is the rest of her face?” We talking about an eye, and a chunk of flesh, bone and brain larger than my fist!”

“We’ve searched everywhere, not a trace,” said Thibodaux. “I don’t know how, but that kid did it.”

“Detective,” the desk sergeant called out.  “You better hear this.  Caller says a creature from hell is attacking a taxi driver in front of the Lalaurie Mansion.”

 

T.R. Heinan is the author of L’immortalité.

http://www.amazon.com/LImmortalite-Madame-Lalaurie-Voodoo-Queen/dp/0615634710

 

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The Night of Reckoning

By Micki Peluso

     Vera dreaded the night. Each October 31st, the dark shadow grew closer. Soon the demonic essence would claim her. All her magic, herbs and chants were useless against it. Scorpio, her pit bull/poodle mix with high intelligence and a killer instinct would be no match for what came closer and closer each Halloween Eve. Lord, how much longer must I suffer until the wicked marauder whisks me off to his evil lair? What have I done to deserve such threat of future eternal torture?

“Gram, why don’t you believe in Halloween?” asked eight-year-old Tyler.  “It’s my favorite time of the year. I’m gonna be dressed in black like the grim reaper.” His blue eyes gleamed with anticipation.

“That’s nice,” his grandmother replied, trying to sound enthusiastic for the boy. “Come for treats before sunset tonight. I’m going to bed early.”

“Okay, Gram. Save me some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and don’t let the goblins get ya.” He jumped off the front porch laughing at his own joke.

How she yearned to share his excitement on Halloween Eve. It was once her favorite holiday, but no more. When did it begin? She knew exactly when. It was on a Halloween night when Hank and she had the terrible fight. He had accused her of flirting with the local butcher, which she denied, admitting only to being alluring enough to secure the best cuts of meat. The argument raged on through the evening, when Hank suddenly grasped his heart and fell to the floor. Vera tried hard to resuscitate him after she called 911, but it was futile. She mourned her loss, certain that their quarrel had killed him.  Then the dreams began, growing more terrifying as each Halloween neared. The nightmares were never clear, just a black clawed hand beckoning and the scent of evil wafting over her. Her heart pulsated wildly through her chest as she felt haunted by fear and guilt… it would be the death of her.

Halloween arrived with all its costumed, hidden faces. She handed out candy until evening, but then refused to answer the constant ringing of the doorbell. Scorpio laid by the entrance, growls rumbling from his throat. It seemed to go on forever, until the children gave up and went to other houses. The night was nearly over and she could finally rest.

Sudden rapping on the door made her jump—who would pound so loud? she wondered. It awoke her from a deep dream of Hank, one that was so realistic she reached out to touch him. He was telling her that his death was not her fault. He had kept something from her; his heart had been failing for many years. She felt his love wash over her body, mind and soul. That pounding! Why now when she finally felt liberated by years of torture, knowing this dream would wash away the nightmares?

Vera slowly rose from her bed, ever dutiful. She donned her bathrobe and apprehensively walked to the front door. If death greeted her now she was no longer afraid. She even looked forward to it, knowing Hank awaited her with love. The door creaked as it opened–a figure clad in black, holding the scythe of the Grim Reaper stood poised before her.

“Hi, Gram!” Tyler said. “Sorry I’m so late.”

 

 

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A Path of Destiny

Jagged tones of lightening cracked in deafening volume followed by the rumbled claps of thunder. My body thinly protected in black polo shirt and khaki pants, shivered and trembled in trepidation of the menacing darkness.  Freezing rain whipped across my face sharply stinging my checks, as tears fell from the corner of each eye with every rip of intensity.

It had commenced as a warm, sunny autumn day, the sort that teases you with hints of summer now passed. I, Arthur Barnes, Jr., began my travel to Zeznabar Castle, deep in the Canadian forests. Winter caretaker of the grand structure; this was a job I relished.  I’d had great success and recognition in this particular field of service, mainly due to my love of preserving structures and antique relics of the past.

Not knowing the outline of the land, I’d managed to over react to a sharp turn in the extensive winding road leading to my destination. Pitifully, my once pristine 1962 Fiat was now set firmly against an unforgiving large Maple tree, smoke escaping from under the mangled front hood.  You’d think at thirty-seven years of age, I’d known better than to set off on foot in unfamiliar territory. Hindsight is always a fools’ observation indeed.

Night fell instantaneously. The storm hit without warning and I stumbled from the edge of the road, propelled under the ancient, crumbling servants building.  My blonde covered head hit the ground; blue eyes searched the landscape, lower body hinged beneath the rocky composition of the unyielding structure.

Time had not meaning; each second a minute, each minute an hour, each hour a day, each day an eternity.

Is it my imagination as I glance up to see small movement of wings, tongue protruding from a wide-mouth, lips smacking for this creature’s next meal?

Author, Monica M. Brinkman

Column:  A Touch of Karma

Radio    : It Matters Radio

Blog      : A Touch of Karma blogsite

The Biblio File: Favorite Books from Childhood

Every reader has one: a favorite book read in childhood that stays with us to this day. Not necessarily a children’s book; but whether written for children or adults, a book that spoke to us in some way we couldn’t ignore. It awakened our love of words, or transported us to faraway places. Or widened our inner horizons beyond anything we’d ever experienced. A book that made us believe in magic, plumbed new depths of emotion, introduced us to a character who became an old friend. Whatever its enchantment, that book is an old friend, too.

The Write Room authors below invite you to explore some of their “old friends.” To ponder, perhaps recall your own favorite book from long ago…and most of all, enjoy.

—D. M. Pirrone, Editor

D. M. Pirrone writes mystery, suspense and historical fiction. Visit her website at http://www.dmpirrone.net, or check out her work at The Write Room (http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1101).

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Having been first hospitalized with bulbar polio at 6 years old, I missed a lot of school and had much work to do to catch up on reading skills. In fact, reading was a huge struggle for me as a child until the day I read “The Story of Doctor Dolittle” by Hugh Lofting. I will never forget it as this was the first book that I truly enjoyed. Reading this book, I discovered that I had finally learned to read and since the topic was certainly one of my favorites—about animals—it magically guided me into the reading rainbow of book enjoyment. While I did not fancy that I could ever talk to animals like Dr. Dolittle, I vowed at the time to follow in his footsteps and become a healer, a doctor or vet. I did not meet this exact challenge, but I did study the healing sciences as an adult and became a school psychologist, counselor, and later an author on the topic of social sciences and gut instinctual intelligence. Every so often, I check out this wonderful book from the library and reread it. It always renews my feeling of pleasure in reading!

Martha Love writes non-fiction on the topic of the intelligence of human nature and gut instincts. Her book website is http://careerstorefront.angelfire.com.

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Wild

The Book by Kenneth Weene

We had few books in our home. Thankfully, there was a library nearby. I worked my way through the shelves, especially dog stories. Knight and Terhune were my favorite authors. We didn’t have a dog, so those collies became my imaginary pets.

By fourth grade I had run out of books and begged for an adult library card. The world opened. My first pick, and therefore the book that stands out, was Jack London’s “Call of the Wild.” I am sure I didn’t appreciate it fully. I certainly could not recognize the metaphor, the conflict between the possessiveness of love and respect for the nature of the other. Nor could I understand the faux-naturalism of the author. What I could understand and appreciate was that there was conflict and emotion, anger and loss. The world of grownup books was not filled with treacle and cotton candy.

I read on: Dana, Conrad, and my favorite, Steinbeck. As a writer, I strive to bring emotional honesty to my novels. Sample “Tales From the Dew Drop Inn”. (http://mediasuite.multicastmedia.com/player.php?p=aat76pv9). Or listen to “Bender”, a short story. http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/bender

Assuredly, books should entertain, but they must also challenge, not just make us feel good.

Ken Weene writes poetry and novels in addition to short stories. His personal website is http://www.kennethweene.com

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The book that I will always love and remember from my childhood is “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis.

I think what makes this story unforgettable is the absolute escapism it presents. I often wonder how many children; myself included, crept into a wardrobe or a closet, closed their eyes, pushed through the clothes and imagined they would find themselves in another world.

Even when it didn’t work out that way the first time, somehow hope never died for me, and I tried again several times. The belief that it was still possible and that one day, one magical day, things would be different never died.

The reactions of the children in the book, when they find this window to a new world, are utterly believable, and although the characters in the other world of Narnia are not human, what makes them so real is their ability to experience and express human emotions.

Just thinking about the book makes me want to read it again. Maybe I will.

Trish Jackson, romantic suspense author, writes about animals, star signs, and the passions, dreams, and tragedies in the lives of country folk in small towns. “Saddle up and follow your stars to a wild read!” Visit Trish’s website at http://www.trishjax.com.

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ChildsGarden

My Favorite Childhood Book by Delinda McCann

“All the names I learned from nurse, Gardeners Garters, Shepherds Purse….” Ever since my mother read those lines out loud to me, I’ve been in love with the outdoors and with A Child’s Garden of Versesby Robert Louis Stevenson.

This wonderful book of poetry about things that interest a child has enriched my whole life by inspiring me to garden, read and travel.  The beautiful descriptions of Stevenson’s England and his sense of adventure called me to “rise and go.”

Those poems taught me to really see the world in all its glorious detail.  Some days when the wind tosses my trees about and blows dust so thick, it’s hard to see, I just have to say, “Who Has Seen the Wind?”

How can I possibly get up early in the morning to go out into my gardens without reciting a line or two from “My Shadow”?  Believe me, there are many mornings before the sun is up, that I’d rather be back in bed with my shadow.

We carry very few treasures from our childhood through life into old age.  An excellent book is one of those treasures.

To learn more about Delinda, visit her web site at http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html

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NOBODY’S BOY by Salvatore Buttaci

Oh, how we lived for those afternoons when our Irish nun would read to us about the adventures of Rémi! Left on a doorstep shortly after his birth, mistreated by the mason worker Barberin who had taken him in, Rémi is sold to a traveling artist named Signor Vitalis who travels through France with three dogs named Dolce, Zerbino, and Capi and a  monkey, Joli Coeur. It was adventurous enough in our eyes to traipse through France with Signor Vitalis, but to do so in the company of three dogs and a monkey was the epitome of traveling the golden streets of Heaven!

Nobody’s Boy by Hector Mallot remains my all-time favorite novel. Originally entitled Sans Famille (Without a Family), the 1878 novel, to the delight of so many generations of young people, was translated into English in 1916. Thirty years later my second-grade teacher Sister Rose de Lima introduced Nobody’s Boy to our class.

The book taught me how to appreciate my own childhood. I was not homeless, hungry, fearful of abuse, or loveless. Though I had no dogs nor a monkey, I had two loving parents who provided all I needed in my growing-up years, especially encouragement in writing poems and stories.

Nobody’s Boy also reminds me that many children in the world are not so blessed as I was back then. Rémi suffered hardships that I vicariously called adventures. I didn’t understand until much later. After all, I was somebody’s boy!

Sal Buttaci loves seeing life flash before his eyes. Visit him at 

http://cherryevasquez.tateauthor.com/uncategorized/a-bio-flash-from-sal-buttaci/

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Sherlock

Elementary by Ron L. Cherry

I was eleven when I first met Sherlock Holmes. He was in a cheap, red paperback that quickly became dog-eared. I was fascinated by this man who was so socially inept, yet analytically brilliant. I remember sitting and working on the code of the dancing men, frustrated that Sherlock solved it before I did. Although that book only had selected cases, they were enough for me to become a lifelong enthusiast.

His clues were always intriguing, like “why the dog didn’t bark” in Silver Blaze. As the Great Detective would often say, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Although later I would learn that solutions like a bell pull-climbing snake that answered a whistle were not exactly possible, all of his stories still hold a special place in my literary heart.

When the BBC put out almost all the Sherlock Holmes case collection in a series with Jeremy Brett, I awaited each new release like the original fans awaited his tales in the latest issue of The Strand Magazine in the late 19th century. In fact, Sherlock inspired the methods my detective, Morg Mahoney uses. It is my tribute to him.
R.L. Cherry is a novelist, columnist and raconteur.  Sample his short stories, articles and blog at www.rlcherry.com