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It’s New Years and Members of the Write Room team share some thoughts

toasting the year in

 We asked our members to share their resolutions, gratitudes & thoughts about the New Year, 2016.

 

Part two

Fran Lewis is an author, book reviewer, and magazine publisher. Her resolutions are:

To think on the bright side.

To hope that I can deal with the impossible and turn it into the possible.

Remembering and valuing all the good things I have and glad that so many authors value my words.

To everyone in the write room blog, authors and readers, Happy holidays, Fran

To buy her books.

 

Flash fiction author and poet Sal Buttaci  shares these thoughts.

I Will TRY TO BECOME THE BEST VERSION OF MYSELF AS I CAN BE

I’ve made more New Year resolutions than I care to remember and most of them I walked away from before January was laid to rest. Were they too difficult to keep? Unrealistic? The product of an exuberant Christmas spirit when joy buoyed me up so high I believed I could promise anything and deliver? Who knows! I have since changed my tune. I’m singing a different song. Let me push the musical metaphor a little further: I no longer reach for the unreachable note that insists I can sing it if I try.

Did wisdom come to me in my old age? Hardly! I simply gathered past resolutions in one basket labeled, “I will try to be the best version of myself as I can be.” Over the basket I draped a kind of comforter to keep my intentions warm throughout the new year. And I continue to recite the mantra of what I hope to attain. “God, help me to become a better man.” One who is kinder than the one in the dying year. One who prays for an increase in faith, hope and love of my God, my wife, my neighbors and myself. A better man whose writings more deeply and sincerely reflect that the words I write emanate from the heart.

For several years now I respond to the call for New Year resolutions with Christ’s words: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect.”

It’s a resolution that helps me strive towards a better way to enjoy life and partake in the inner peace we all desire to be truly happy.

To buy his books.

 

British author Bryan Murphy is still keeping a New Year’s resolution he made in 1974 never to make another New Year’s resolution, but this year he is resolved to bring out his novel Revolution Number One, much of which is set in Portugal in 1974. He shared an excerpt in the blog.

To buy his books.

 

Cody Wagner tells us that his mom was the Clark Griswold of every holiday. She did everything so over the top, we were embroiled in holiday decorations and singing for weeks before and after Christmas, Easter, New Years, and Arbor Day…OK maybe not Arbor Day, but she was a holiday woman.

Every Christmas, we’d have a plethora of activities laid on us. We were the Atlas of holidays, bearing metric tons of cheer. Festivities included doing good deeds to earn miniature blankets to lay on miniature Jesus (by Christmas day, he’d have 300 blankets piled all around him), performing novenas to move sheep closer to a manger scene (one sheep, named Ishkabibble, had no head and all us kids fought over him), stringing popcorn and carrots for a trees just for animals (we’d go out into a field on Christmas Eve and plant it), and the list goes on and on.

New Year’s was no different. Mom got busy baking and made cheese balls, Chex Mix, coconut cream pies, and everything else under the sun. She was a terrible cook, but that never stopped us from taking a few bites of everything, only to revert to fallbacks of Kit Kats and Twix bars.

She also started a new tradition on New Year’s. Instead of going to parties and whatnot, our family stayed in every year. We’d whip out all our favorite board games and play them all night New Year’s Eve and into the following day. By the end, we’d be exhausted, sick of games and ready to crash. But it was a huge bonding moment for a busy family that had trouble finding the time to be together.

Sadly, Mom died of an unexpected stroke a few years ago.

I wasn’t sure what would happen with New Year’s after she passed. I mean, big parties are really appealing. I’ve vowed a hundred times to make it to New York one year to see the Big Apple drop.

It turns out, her death solidified our New Year’s game night.

It’s December 23rd and, instead of talking about Christmas like normal people, we are putting together our New Year’s gaming plans. I think we’re going to revert back to classics like Clue and Yahtzee. And I’ll try to replicate some of her recipes and make them as disgusting as possible (purely for nostalgia’s sake, not because I can’t cook…which I can’t). Several groups have extended invites, but they’ve all been turned down. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Reflecting on all this, it’s hard to say exactly what New Year’s means to me. Sure, I make resolutions like everyone else. And, like everyone else, I never stick with any of them. And I probably dread the passage of time as much as anyone else.

Maybe what Mom provided for us – in addition to an after school special about family bonding – was an escape. An escape from thinking about what we did or didn’t accomplish this year. Or what we need to accomplish next year.

Escapes are good. As good a revelation as anything. Especially when we’re all so busy adulting, the stress of everything weighs us down.

So that’s what I’ll thank Mom for when the clock strikes twelve.

To buy his book. 

 

Jon Magee is the author of From Barren Rocks to Living Stones to Living Stones and also Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey. These books reflect his nomadic youth where he has discovered that in places where all seems hopeless life can become hopeful. For that reason, he writers of a new commitment.

Well it’s that time of year again when in a fit of optimism many of us will make great promises about what we are going to do in the New Year that we usually abandon about the second week in January. Possibly we will spend a lot of time thinking through the resolution, yet it still does not reach to its completion. As we have come to the end of the year, we may likewise feel the sense of failure for what was not successful and we allow it to pull us down. In the midst of such a scene, perhaps we need to face the year with a different perspective.

In the coming year we will all face the challenges of life, however, do we see them as barriers to fall over, or as hurdles that we will soar over seeking to reach the next challenge of life? May our Challenges be hurdles, not barriers.

To buy his books.

 

Romance author and animal-lover Trish Jackson gives some advice, harness the power.

If you haven’t yet made a New Year’s Resolution, here’s one – harness the power of your mind. Be positive, think positive, and nix any negative thoughts.

Wikipedia: ‘The law of attraction is the name given to the maxim “like attracts like” which in New Thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and the belief that like energy attracts like energy.

The ramifications of this are way too complex to discuss here, but it is a fact that we tend to dwell on negative thoughts more than we should, and most of us devote far too little time to positive thoughts.

So be thankful for all you have and think positive. Be aware of your thoughts and make a concerted effort to catch the negativity and change it to positive energy. You have the power to make 2016 the your most successful year yet, and I’m sending positive thoughts to all of you

To buy her books.

 

Motivation and religious author and President of Christ Is My Savior Ministries Yves Johnson asks us abut our 2016 Goals.

At the beginning of this year I asked friends if they had abandoned their New Year’s Resolutions.  I jokingly said, “Hey, it’s been five days already!” I thought it would be appropriate to ask, “How did you do on accomplishing your goals?”

Someone once said, “A goal is just a roadmap to deviate from.” While that is true, your goals also help you to achieve success. It provides you with the opportunity to see what you have accomplished.

I want to be an honest broker. I did not accomplish all of my goals this past year. So, why would a person who teaches about goals admit that he did not accomplish all of his goals?  Great question. Let us explore that for a moment.

Goals will help drive you to a destination. We must be open to new opportunities. Further, we may have overestimated our goals.  I anticipated I would accomplish XY and Z. I was only able to accomplish X and Y.  I miscounted the cost for Z. Yet, this miscalculation was a benefit. I did my research on Z. I asked and received counsel from people who were engaged in Z. Thus, I was prepared to tackle this challenge!

Hmm. A funny thing happened on the way to success. This funny thing called life popped up. First, Z called for nearly twice the amount of time my counseled stated. Second, several unanticipated opportunities materialized. Although I had a defined goal, I miscalculated the cost to accomplish these goals.  It is possible I would be dissatisfied in progress if I simply looked at my goals sheet without taking into account the deviations.

All these aforementioned variable created growth opportunities. I teach participants in my Path to Personal and Professional Success workshop that they gain a lot of growth in those path deviations. Like those participants, you will see enormous growth once you adjust your goals with the new realities in your life. Personally, I received enormous growth when I adjusted my goals. In addition, I was able to adjust my goals to include the new opportunities.

I hope you have goals for 2016. Remember, embrace the deviations life may cause.  I’ll be checking in on you in a few months to see how you are doing on your 2016 goals.

To buy his books.

 

Novelist and essayist Ken Weene shares some musings on time, which is at once the most primitive, complex, and evocative of dimensions of human experience.

Consider an early ancestor living in a cave, locating their life in a small patch of jungle, unaware of the great distances of the world around. Aware that there is a sky, but having no sense how far above the tree tops it begins or to what distance it reaches. They know that one roasted pig is heftier than another, but they cannot measure the difference.

But when it comes to time, our ancestor was assuredly aware. He knew there was diurnality, the difference between day and night. Then there was the arc of the sun’s apparent movement overhead. The moon waxed and waned with no known cause. The seasons changed if only in terms of when certain roots weere edible and certain species produced their catchable and edible young. Even our ancestors’ bodies reflected time, both in circadian rhythm, especially the women’s menses, and everyone’s progression from birth towards death.

The protohominid was aware of time at the most primordial level of being.

But time is not an easy dimension to understand or to measure. Once past, the moment cannot be redone. Secondly, precision in time is difficult because the easiest standards of time, such as the angle of the sun, differ from place to place. Once we travel, time becomes very confusing indeed. For early explorers, longitude could be determined by comparing the time at one’s homeport to the noon hour of the sun overhead but how?

If those earthly considerations seem confusing, consider the contributions of Einstein. Imagine that you have a twin who becomes an astronaut, spends some time hurtling through space and then returns. They disembark and you discover that now you have a younger sibling. What?

Time is indeed complicated.

But it is the evocative nature of time that captures the poet in us. If we start at one place and go to another, we can say we’ve travelled so many miles, kilometers, or whatever. Pick something up and we can say it weighed so many stone, pounds, grams; or we can be fancy and rephrase that in terms of mass. Either way we are talking about a comparison, for example to the mass of a cubic centimeter of water at sea level. We are not talking about the very beginning of all weight.

Only when we consider time do we emotionally require an absolute starting point. Perhaps that is because we recognize our mortality and therefore need to know where we are within that flow of time from beginning to end. And so, from earliest recorded history, humankind has tried to explain that first point, that moment of creation. The Christian tradition is particularly brazen in its attempt to master time, giving both a starting point, a creation, and an end point, an apocalypse. Modern science has tried to do the same in an even more precise manner, big bang until the universe stops expanding and turns back on itself.

Of course, the religious model makes it all feel more comprehensible and isn’t that what we need, to comprehend our mortality?

But then once a year we all, or at least those who follow the Gregorian calendar, will wait until the first new moon after the winter solstice at the moment when the sun is farthest from its zenith in our lives to turn one to the other and say, “Happy New Year!”

For the moment we want to believe that we know “when we are.”

To buy his books.

Life As I See It:  By Golden-Fang Rat-Slayer  (aka Dandelion)

cat with pen and pad

Readers,

Mommy had a mangy piece for you to read about how toxins cause birth defects and brain damage.  She’s always talking about that stuff, but I deleted it.

Because I’ve reached the age of sixteen, I’ve taken up my pen to write my memoirs.  I will share with you my wisdom.

I’ve learned many things over the years.  For example:  Not all dogs are dangerous, but if you have a hissy fit when you see the ones that live in your house, you get your own room in the house and Mommy feeds you gooshy-food. Then, Mommy and Daddy yell at the dogs to stay out of your room and leave you alone—that’s fun.

I let Mommy and Daddy sleep on the big bed in my room.  They are my family so we sleep together.  The bed has space for all of us if they remember to sleep close to the edge and not encroach on the pillows.

We used to have a waterbed and I could play all day chasing the waves until I got the covers and pillows pulled back and could kill the bed with my sharp fangs.  I killed three waterbeds before Mommy and Daddy got a bed that isn’t alive.  It isn’t near as much fun except when I barf on the bed and Mommy has hysterics that I’ll “ruin the mattress.”

My favorite food is hind-quarter of rat.  We live near the forest so I’ve had a steady supply of rats.  It is important to plan for the future, so in the winter, I keep a family of rats under the nice warm house so I have a fresh supply of my favorite delicacy whenever I choose to catch one.  I like gooshy-food too, and it is much easier to have Mommy and Daddy bring me a serving than it is to catch rats.

I have worked hard to train my humans and even if I say so myself I’ve had some degree of success.  Mommy was fairly easy to train except for one annoying behavior that I will discuss later.  Daddy is nearly impossible to train.  Sometimes, I can get him to bring me gooshy-food and at bedtime he might stroke me, but he never scratches me under the chin like Mommy does.  He never cleans up after me when I barf and is generally slothful about meeting my demands for attention or solitude.  He has never learned to let me in and out.  He seems to think I should use the little door they built special for me.  How undignified to open my own door!

I do have one serious problem.  Mommy and Daddy have a horrid behavior that I have never been able to break them of.  They put their best clothes in boxes with wheels and handles and leave home for days.  A couple times they’ve been gone for three weeks!  I hope I’ve broken them of these long absences, but I don’t trust them to stay home everyday and wait on me.

I’ve tried everything I know to break this behavior.  I tried sitting in their boxes-with-wheels, but they just take me out and don’t get the message that they are not supposed to leave.  Next, I tried peeing on the boxes-with-wheels to tell them that those boxes belong to me, and they can’t have them—didn’t work.  I’ve barfed repeatedly on the boxes, but Mommy just cleans it up, and they leave.  Of course, there must be consequences for bad behavior so I go next door and stay with the old couple there until long after Mommy and Daddy get home.

Next door, I sleep in the old people’s patches of sunlight and eat their mice and rats.  The old people pet me sometimes, but they also scold me for eating their birds.   However, they never give me gooshy-food.  What am I supposed to eat? I have stayed there for over a week after Mommy and Daddy got home, but I don’t think my minions have learned not to leave.

I hope that my readers might have suggestions on how to break Mommy and Daddy from this terrible behavior.  The fact that Melissa comes and feeds me gooshy-food doesn’t make the behavior any less horrid.

Finally, I want my readers to know that getting along with others is easy if you stay cool and don’t hiss at everybody you see.  When I was young, I made friends will all the cats in the neighborhood, and they let me eat their food if I chose.  I don’t really like dry food, but as a courtesy to my friends, I would eat a bowl of it while they stood and watched.  I knew I could always barf the disgusting stuff back up on the bed in my room. It is very important to be polite to your friends and eat what they serve.

I used to visit my friends daily, but all of them have passed on, so I now lie on my bed and remember the past when I made my daily rounds of the neighboring houses and ate the offerings they gave me and slept in the best patches of sunlight.  Now, I appreciate the sunlight on my own bed.

Delinda McCann

Delinda McCann is a mostly retired social psychologist with specialties in at-risk youth and adverse effects of toxins on children.  She has written four novels based on her career experiences and has the fifth novel, Power and Circumstance, to be released soon.  She is also an avid organic gardener and amateur musician.

 

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…

 

1

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”.

XXXXX

“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

 

 

January 1st, 2014: A New Moon and New Beginnings

astrology
I could not have been more excited when my name was drawn to write the post for January 1st, 2014. After all, it’s the start of a new year, when everyone’s hopes, dreams and desires are renewed.


2013 is history now. We’ve sung Auld Lang Syne, even if we don’t understand the lyrics; we’ve kissed our loved ones and wished them a happy new year, and now it’s time to put the past behind us and look to the future.


We’re ready to tackle our new year’s resolutions, whatever they might be.


Maybe this will be the year. Maybe it’ll be the year our dreams will finally come true. Maybe you’ll land that fantastic job with a six figure income; perhaps that cruise to Alaska will finally be within your means. If you get the job, you may be able to buy your dream home. What if this is the year you find true love? Could this be the year they find a simple cure for cancer? Is world peace a possibility for 2014?


If only there was a way to predict the future. We all know there isn’t, but we can, and do, turn to astrology and the stars to get a glimpse of what might be coming our way in a new year. Astrologers are already predicting that something hugely significant is going to happen in 2014, because we will have a new moon tonight on January first.


What exactly is Astrology? Wikipedia says this:


“Astrology comprises several systems of divination based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. In the West, astrology most often consists of a system of horoscopes that claim to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict future events in their life based on the positions of the sun, moon, and other planetary objects at the time of their birth. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and the Indians, Chinese, and Mayans developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology


In simple terms, astrology is the study of the movement of the celestial bodies and how they may influence past and future events. Astrologers believe that the way the planets, stars and the moon line up with one another at any given time determines certain characteristics in people, and the development of future trends. Although astrology cannot predict a specific predetermined fate, it can be used to forecast possibilities and opportunities.


Astrology has been used for thousands of years by many diverse civilizations, including the Indio-Europeans, Mesopotamians, Chinese, Babylonians, Romans, Ancient Greeks, Persians  Arabs, Indians and Mayans. Astrologers were also very much revered at the start of the European Renaissance.


Successful business men and women have been known to rely on the guidance of a personal astronomer, and it is rumored that billionaire J. P. Morgan was booked to travel on the Titanic and cancelled his reservation when his astrologer advised him against it.


We know for a fact that the gravitational pull of the moon influences the tides, and many farmers and gardeners plant according to the moon’s phases. Astrologers believe the day of the new moon provides the best opportunities for finding success. Could a new moon on January first signify new beginnings that will impact the entire year ahead?


Modern scientists have refuted the claims that astrologers can predict the future, but nevertheless, millions of people all over the world still check their horoscopes every day. I think we can all agree that astrology is not an exact science, but there does seem to be some credibility to it.


Take, for example, the personality profiles attributed to each star sign. I’m a Capricorn and these are my supposed traits –
Good Traits:
Practical
Prudent
Ambitious
Disciplined
Patient
Careful
Good sense of humor
Reserved and shy
 
Bad Traits:
Pessimistic
Fatalistic
Miserly
Can be Spiteful


They describe me perfectly, even though I don’t like to admit to all of them. If astrology can do that, then I have to believe there is some truth in the predictions astrologers produce, and I will most certainly be checking the Capricorn forecast for 2014.


I write fiction in the form of romantic suspense and I have just embarked upon a series in which each heroine will belong to a different star sign. Capricorn Cravings, the first in the Zodiac Series has just been released by Soul Mate Publishing.
CapricornCravingsRiley Shaughnessy is a Capricorn. She can’t help falling for Powell Stewart, even though everything points to him being the serial murderer dubbed the “Capricorn Killer” by the FBI.


Other books focusing on the other star signs will follow.
So get on the Internet, find an astrology site and check out what the future may hold for you in 2014. You could be very pleasantly surprised.


Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy New Year from all of us at The Write Room Blog. May this be the best year ever for us all.



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

HOLIDAY BLUES

The most wonderful time of the year – NOT! Well, at least not for some people.

Hum drum, melancholy, down-trotted, heartaches, an abundance of sadness during a season where most shout gladness.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Carol of the Bells, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. What? Did I hear you say holiday bliss? But can everyone claim such cheer? The holidays may not be so bright and chirpy for everyone. In fact the holidays may be the most stressful time of the year for some families.

Have you ever thought to stop for a moment to consider those who are filled with holiday despair? Perhaps we can help ease gloominess by paying attention to the needs of people who are not extraordinarily happy during the next few weeks.

Stress may be due to a variety anxieties, and/or concerns we may not share, but anxieties just the same. I’ll touch on a few: divorce, death, new family member arrival(s), financial hardship, incarcerated parent(s), abuse, marital concern, changes in routine, and so much more.

We may not be aware of the “baggage” that some people are burdened with during the holiday season, but after the stories and testimonials of these very fine authors your hearts and minds will change forevermore about Holiday Blues.

Dr. Cherrye S. Vasquez, Guest Editor

••

MY HOLIDAY SELF-INDULGENCE
By D. L. KEUR

It starts before Halloween, the commercials, the displays, the hype–spend, spend, spend: “Thanksgiving…Christmas,
Thanksgiving…Christmas–buy now, buy here.”

First, I try to ignore it all. Then, I try to dismiss it with a yawn. But the advertisers keep yelping their pretentious ‘hap-happy’ “buy” jargon, and, pretty soon, my temper rises.

After rage comes discouragement. Then, disgust. What about all those who suffer during this self-indulgent luxury of spree? What about the starving, the lonely, the victimized, the pain-wracked, the abandoned?

I spend my assets, my “holiday cheer”, to help those in need, and then make dinner, as usual, and everyone at table agrees.

“`
Living in the Purcell Trench in North Idaho, D. L. Keur as E. J. Ruek is busy pre-press editing her latest novel, Old Hickory Lane. Visit her on the web at http://www.DLKeur.com and www.EJRuek.com.

••

THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER
By SAL BUTTACI

Carla’s comin’ home again this Christmas holiday.
Been that way for years and me and the wife
We say for sure this year and we set the extra plate.
The wife cooks Carla’s special meal and both of us
share the same thin thread of hope and faith.
A miracle’s on the way; she’ll come through
just like she promised all those times before.

Carla’s comin’ home again this Christmas holiday.
We saved her silly woolen cap. Her favorite leather boots
stand at attention in the foyer.
We ain’t gettin’ any younger, the wife says,
Maybe we should –– But I say quietly, Maybe we should not,
Because you know Carla, full of surprises,
can walk through that door and give us back them years.
We come this far. We know she’s out there headin’ home.
Have some faith, dear. Keep on your hoping because

Carla’s comin’ home again this Christmas holiday.
Our Baby. And then all them tears don’t mean a thing.
The wife she nods her head, goes on back preparin’
the holiday meal. A heavy snow tonight
might slow Carla down, but she always loved to taste it
in her open mouth, catch the flakes fallin’ down.
Her laughter we saved like presents in our minds.
Some days it ain’t so clear, but the wife and me
We’ll know it when we hear her in the yard again
When…when…when Carla’s comin’ home.
She’s comin’ home again.

“`
Sal Buttaci loves seeing life flash before his eyes. Visit him at http://cherryevasquez.tateauthor.com/uncategorized/a-bio-flash-from-sal-buttaci/

••

BITTER SWEET DAYS
By MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT

The waves lick my feet
As I stand on the shore.
Smoky green eyes,
Beloved and mourned,
Entice me to celebrate
Sun-given life, our ritual
Of bygone days on that very beach.
I demur. Eyes and ocean
Blend in a seagull’s call.
At one with the tide
He guides my steps.
Someday our hands
Will clasp again,
Smoky green eyes, eternally young;
Brown, tired eyes yield to your wish
Rejoicing that you keep watch.

“`
Marta Merajver-Kurlat writes novels, self-help, and essays in English and Spanish. http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/
http://www.amazon.com/Marta-Merajver-Kurlat/e/B009TC8C5A

••

WHY I DON’T TRUST SANTA
By KENNETH WEENE

A puppy. However improbably, Santa had brought us a baby cocker spaniel, the one thing I wanted most in the entire world.

Why improbable? First, we were Jewish and didn’t celebrate Christmas. Second, we had no chimney; at six I knew Santa Clause came down chimneys. Third, Mom didn’t want a dog. She had her reasons: Too much work; my brother and I were too young for the responsibility; Dog food was expensive; AND, she couldn’t touch animals.

“It’s called a phobia,” she’d say and begin crying.

I’d cry, too.

Still, despite all Moms’ reasons, Santa had brought us that light brown ball of fur.

Too bad Santa couldn’t bring my mother a new head. We were at school. Mom had nudged the puppy towards the stairs; we lived on the second floor. “He had to go out. He had to go to the bathroom,” she explained.

Down the puppy tumbled. All day he lay at the bottom of the long flight of steps yelping in desperation—all day until Dad came home.

They told us the puppy died. Later I learned Dad, had taken him back to the breeder.

So much for Santa.

“`
Ken Weene, who has subsequently owned many dogs, writes literary fiction and humor. You can check out his work at
http://www.kennethweene.com

••

HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
By MICKI PELUSO

Christmas carols waft through the crisp Manhattan air as the steady ringing of the bells of Salvation Army Santa sets the pace for shoppers hustling from store to store. The magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas tree heralds the promise of Yuletide celebrations ushering in the season of love and joy.

But for thousands of homeless people in New York City, the season is a harbinger of struggle. Huddled in alleyways, bus terminals, doorways and other temporary hovels, attempting to ease the chill of winter, they find no joy.

Some keep their faces to the ground, too hungry and lethargic to honor the Christ child’s birth. Others glance upward, perhaps searching for a special star to offer solace to a life of misery, but more likely hoping for handouts–a dollar or two to stem the ever-present gnawing of a tortured empty stomach. Years ago, it was a nickel, but inflation has reached the street people as well. New York City with the highest population in the country also has one of the largest numbers of people for whom Christmas is just another exercise in survival.

Perhaps it is the fear of ‘Except for the grace of God go I’, mentality that keeps us from recognizing them or addressing the biblical question, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Now that the holidays are upon us it’s a good time to reconsider our priorities. We live in a country of great contrasts; from the extremely wealthy through the weakening middle class to the struggling lower class. Not enough of us consider the ‘no’ class, the people who have nothing; because acknowledging the problem necessitates a resolution.

Still, the day after Christmas there will be those who will ponder, like in the old Peggy Lee song, ‘Is that all there is?’ Too often Christ is removed from Christmas and we sense, but cannot name, the hollow feeling left after the frantic rush to make one day memorable. The homeless, hunched around garbage can fires, or sleeping over subway grates to catch the warmth of a passing train, do not have the luxury of such contemplation.

As our world grows smaller, the plight of the homeless becomes a global concern, bringing crime, disease and poverty to our doors. No one appreciates a guilt trip during the Christmas season, and no one wants visions of starving people interrupting the Holiday feast, overflowing with homemade delicacies, cookies and candy canes hanging from decorated trees. We work for what we have, ever harder in this sluggish economy and we deserve the rewards of our labors. True. But in the spirit of Christmas it is important to remember that over 2000 years ago, the Christ child lay in a manure-filled stable in Bethlehem, on a straw mattress of questionable cleanliness, wrapped in swaddling clothes that did not come from Macy’s.

Emphasis today weighs heavily upon material gifts. Charge cards promote gluttony of expenditure that has little to do with the meaning of Christmas. The legendary Little Drummer Boy had nothing but a song to offer the new-born babe. That gift was cherished more than the gold, frankincense and myrrh brought by the wise men from the East, because it was a gift of pure love.

This season let us all think about how much we have, and how fortunate we are to be spending the holidays with loved ones instead of a damp, freezing floor in Grand Central Station. Above all, let us love one another. And if we can extend that love to the homeless street people, the next holiday season may witness a practical solution to our mutual shame. Love is a self-perpetuating emotion; and all it takes to activate it is to exchange it among ourselves. Merry Christmas!
“`
Micki Peluso is a journalist who writes poetry, short fiction, non-fiction and one memoir. Her personal blog site is http://www.mallie1025.blogspot.com

••

PARTY LIKE ITS 1499
By ANNE SWEAZY KULJU

Holidays got you down? What is it, the fattening foods you know you won’t resist? Is it the fear you won’t get that Pet Rock you’ve been hinting at? No, I know what’s got you down. It’s the relatives, right? That tribe of primitives that always makes the Season fright? Well, if you are one of those people who normally dreads the holidays because your family is a bunch of Barbarians, allow me to make some suggestions for a happier holiday season this year.

My family didn’t invent holiday dysfunction… but we may very well have perfected it. I’ve always been a good cook, so this meant the insanity usually came to my house to celebrate. It took time and maturity on my part before I finally realized, insanity need not exclude hilarity.

Doesn’t laughter make everything better? I’ve learned to mellow some in my midlife years; I’ve learned that if I can’t beat ‘em (I can’t run as fast carrying a big club as I used to), I should just kick back and enjoy the fun. I mean, say what you want about those guys in the animal skin pants, they’re not all wrong–those guys know how to party. So without further ado, here are my tips for surviving the holidays when the Barbarians are coming to your castle;

Add some excitement to the dinner. Stow a battle axe (no, I’m not referring to your mother-in-law) nearby the roasted ham. You can’t imagine the children’s glee that’s generated when your crazy uncle uses it for carving. Sure, a little food may fly, but my goodness, what did they think you meant by a six “coarse” dinner. Geez;

Add some suspense to the party. Put the family bitch in charge of the cauldron of burning pitch, and seat her next to your brother, the court jester. Then, have everyone bet on what time she rolls out the catapult;

Add some culture to the mix. Yes, Barbarians are by very definition, uncivilized. So why not introduce a little… refinement? Offer a prize to the Hun with the nicest fur, plan to attend a Midnight Mass –marauding, or try singing some nostalgic Barbarian Christmas Carrols: Jingle Bones, It Came Upon A Midnight Spear, Silent Knight, Oh Cannon-Bomb, Rudolph the Red-nosed Philistine, and that timeless favorite, Chestnuts Roasting o’er a Grecian Fire; and, lastly,

Add some fun for the kids. Make games a part of your new holiday tradition. Here are some time-tested mini-Barb favorites: Pin the Mace on the Face, Red Rover Red Rover Trebuchet a Man Over, Grand Theft Battling Ram, Keep Away From the Celts, and my personal favorite, the Scavenger Hun.

So remember, even if you have always dreaded the holidays of yore, with a little imagination (and a whole lot of mead), you can turn those holidays blues into Medieval old news. Just remember to keep your sense of humor about you… and party like its 1499!

“`

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

••

Courting Celia. This is Celia’s holiday blog
By Delinda McCann

The holidays are a hard time for caregivers. We remember our joys of past holidays. We remember the disasters or grief of the holidays when a loved one was ill or engaged in embarrassing incidences. We have some idea that the holidays ought to be a happy time. Maybe they will be for many of you, but for others they will be a lonely and sad holiday. I’d like to offer these words of comfort.

The first Thanksgiving was a miracle of survival. Those who gave thanks were separated from family they would never see again. They’d given up the luxuries of civilization. They were among strangers with different customs. They faced an uncertain winter. Instead of giving in to fear, they had the courage to give thanks.

For that matter, the first Christmas wasn’t all that hot either. Think of Mary uncomfortably pregnant and farther along than her marriage would validate. She must visit her in-laws then inconvenience them by delivering a baby–making herself, the room she was in, and everyone who attended her unclean. That first Christmas was at best uncomfortable.

May we all find the sense of humor to laugh over our difficulties rather than seeing them as disasters and may we find the courage to face the New Year.

Delinda McCann Delinda McCann is a social psychologist who has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over twenty years. She has served on committees for the state of Washington and has been an educational advisor to other governments. Visit Delinda’s blogspot at: http://delindamccann.blogspot.com/

••

A December Dirge
By R. L. Cherry

The old man stared out the window, watching the snow drifting down behind the cut-glass panes. At least he thought it was snow. It could be his blurred vision. The reflection of the twinkling Christmas tree lights made it even harder to be sure. He blinked his eyes, wishing he could rub them. Ever since the stroke, he couldn’t even lift a hand. Mutely, he watched, unable to turn his head to see who was speaking behind him. He knew it was Fred, but what he was saying was indistinct, undecipherable. Every so often he would understand a word and tried to make sense of what was being said, but they were disjointed, solitary. Christmas. Family. Will. They were understandable, but they didn’t make sense. He sighed. If only he had listened to the warnings.

Fred paced back and forth behind the old man’s wheelchair, glancing around at the walnut paneling and original Remington paintings. Why hadn’t the old cheapskate bought Picasso’s or Manet’s? They’d have been far more appropriate for Upstate New York than cowboys. And worth a hell of a lot more. “You know that I’m here, faithfully coming to your side when no one else does. If you recover, remember that I’m the only one of the family who cares. I’m staying for as long as I can, even though it’s started to snow.”

He glanced down at his Rolex. He’d been there almost an hour. Even if he had wanted to stay longer, he would have to leave before the snow stuck on the roads. His Porsche was not made for this kind of weather. He looked over at the two male nurses in grey sweats, lounging in arm chairs and watching him as if he were some circus sideshow. A couple of bums.

“Hey, don’t you think his diaper needs to be changed?”

The older one nodded but didn’t move.

Fred shook his head with disgust. He walked over to the old man’s side. “Well, I’d better go before I get snowed in. The wife would be upset if I missed Christmas with her.” He hesitated. “Maybe she’ll come next time. I’m sure you’d like her.”

He bent over and started to kiss the old man’s head, but stopped. With a scaly scalp visible through the wispy, white hair, he just couldn’t. Instead, he quickly patted the parchment skin of the old man’s bony hand and pulled his woolen lap robe up a little. “Take care. I’ll see you later.”

Fred grabbed his Burberry trench coat and scarf from the leather couch. He glared at the nurses. “Why don’t you get off your asses and do something to earn your wages?”

The younger one seemed to feel a little guilt and looked away. The older one just sat there and smiled.

Fred stomped fifty feet across the marble floor to the massive walnut entry-hall door and yanked it open. He cast a last scowl at the worthless pair of nurses, and then slammed the door shut as he left.

The older nurse gave a short, humorless laugh, brushed back his grey hair and stood. “Well, Jimmy, now that the ass-kisser has paid his annual visit, we can have a drink.”

“He only comes by once a year?” The younger man paused. “And it’s Jim. I hate Jimmy.”

The older man shrugged. “Whatever. Yeah, Freddy-boy only comes by every Christmas Eve. It’s just to remind the old man of that Christmas he’d said he was going to cut off the rest of the family out of his will. It’ll be ten years ago tomorrow. Only problem was that the old coot had his stroke that night and never got it recorded. So Freddy comes by to remind the old guy in case he ever recovers.”

He walked around the long, marble-topped bar that stretched across one side of the room. With a gilt-framed mirror behind it and the Remington paintings, it looked like a classy version of a Wild West saloon. Or bordello. The older man pulled out a couple of Waterford crystal glasses and a bottle of 30-year-old Macallan Scotch whisky. He poured a generous amount into each glass, added ice, soda and lemon twists, and handed one to Jim.

“Thanks, Bob.” Jim took a sip. “Hey, this is good stuff.”

“Yeah.” Bob walked back to the arm chair and plopped down. “Nothing but the best for the old man. He had cases and cases of good stuff. His lawyer carted off all the wine and Freddy grabbed the port and cognac, but I prefer the hard stuff anyway. Gets me a good buzz quicker.”

Jim walked back to his chair, but didn’t sit. He studied Bob. Years of booze were taking their toll, leaving the older man with red-veined cheeks, sagging jowls and a paunch. His sweatshirt had food stains. “Uh, ya think we should change the old man? His diaper’s probably dirty.”

Bob shook his head. “Jimmy, I’m paid to keep him alive, not comfortable.”

“Jim, not Jimmy.” Jim cocked his head. “You hate him, dontcha?”

Bob shrugged.

“Why? I mean, you worked for the guy for what, about twenty years before his stroke. Why do you even stay if you hate him?”

Bob downed half his drink in one gulp. “I worked for him for twenty-four years before his stroke.” He studied his glass, the lights of the Christmas tree the lawyer had made him put up glistening in the prisms of the crystal. “I stay for two reasons. First, it’s for the money. The lawyer likes having me around ‘cause I keep the old guy alive. As long as he lives, the lawyer makes more and more money. So he pays me good. He’s paying me four times what the old skinflint did, plus a big bonus each Christmas he’s still alive. The other reason is to watch him suffer.”

Jim dropped into his chair. “Whoa, man, that’s cold. You like to see him suffer? Why?”

“Because he ruined my life.” Bob finished his drink. Then he pulled himself out of his chair, went to the bar and mixed another. He turned to Jim and leaned on the bar. “I stayed here twelve hours a day, six days a week back then. Ten years ago, I was supposed to have Christmas off, but the old fart changed his mind and said I had to stay.”

“Why?”

Bob laughed. “Said he’d been attacked by three weirdoes who broke into his room in the middle of the night, that they’d threatened him if he didn’t give up his money. Claimed I’d have to have given them the alarm code or let them in. After I made sure the alarm hadn’t been tripped or turned off, I told him it must have been a bad dream. He swore it hadn’t been. He said he wanted me to stay around until he checked everybody out. The cook, the butler, all those other guys, too.” Bob took another gulp of his drink. “Then I got a call from my wife. My youngest kid was always sorta sickly and he wasn’t doing too good. I begged the old jerk to let me off, go home to my kid, but he said I’d lose my job if I left. So I stayed. Funny thing is that after his stroke, it didn’t matter about anybody getting into the old man’s bedroom that night.”

“That ruined your life?”

Bob nodded. “We only had one car and I had it. Kid got worse, so my wife finally called an ambulance. It was real icy and it got in an accident. Big mix-up for hours. By the time another ambulance got to my house and took my kid to the hospital he was real bad off. Took him to County Hospital ’cause I didn’t have no insurance or enough money for a decent one. It’s a real second-rate place. Plus it was Christmas, so they couldn’t find a specialist. My kid died. The old man might as well have killed him himself.”

Jim leaned back in his chair, eyes wide. “Wow. Bummer, dude. I can see why you hate him, but why stay?”

Bob shook his head. “My wife blamed me. Took the rest of the kids and bailed before I finally got home. Never found out where she went. The old man’s lawyer said he needed me more since the old guy’s stroke and I didn’t have no place to go. Told him I’d stay 24/7 and keep the old coot alive for enough money. It was the old man’s money, so I got it. Everyone else’s been let go over the years, so it’s been just me with the old man. Now I get to see the old man suffer like I suffer and still make some big bucks.”

Jim shook his head. “Guess it’s lucky for you the old guy had a stroke, huh?”

Bob was taking a drink of his Scotch when Jim said that and he started laughing so hard he choked. Jim sprang from his chair and began to pound Bob’s back. Finally, Bob regained control and waved Jim away.

After taking a deep breath, Bob continued. “That Christmas, the old man had all his family here. I don’t know what set him off, but he started screaming and telling them all to get the hell out, that he was cutting them out of his will. Said all of them were worthless, except for Fred.” He chuckled. “Funny thing is that he always called his nephew a no-account spendthrift, but suddenly he was the golden boy. So they all ran out, except for Fred. Then the old man told him to get out too, so he did.”

“That’s when he had his stroke?”

Bob studied the younger nurse, and then took a swig. “No, not right then. Not until after my wife called to tell me my kid was dead and it was my entire fault. The old man was on twenty-six different medications, so I played around with them before I gave them to him. Then he had his stroke.”

Jim stepped back. “Wait, you’re saying you caused it?”

“Probably.” He draped his arm across Jim’s shoulder. “But you won’t say nothing, will you, Jimmy? I had you hired to help me, so I know your background. You spent time in the pen for extortion. You stole from patients and maybe even killed one, ’though they couldn’t prove it. You’ve got the gravy train here. I’ll make sure you make a bunch of money, with bonuses, as long as the old man lives. I’m betting you’re not dumb enough to kill the golden goose.”

Jim stood, silent for a moment, and then extended his hand. “You can call me Jimmy. Here’s to keeping the golden goose alive.”

They shook hands.

Bob topped off his drink, and then staggered toward the old man. As he did, he bumped over the fake Christmas tree, leaving it on the floor with the fallen angel tree-topper mortally shattered. He grabbed a handle of the old man’s wheelchair and jerked him around, staring into his terrified eyes.

Bob Cratchit raised his glass. “Here’s to you, Ebenezer Scrooge. Merry Christmas. My dear Tiny Tim is in heaven now because of you. But I’m going to make sure your life on earth is hell for as long as I can.”

Mr. Scrooge closed his eyes. Why hadn’t he listened to those three weirdoes, those Christmas ghosts? But it was too late now. A tear trickled down his cheek.

“`
R.L. Cherry is a novelist, columnist and raconteur. Sample his short stories, articles and blog at www.rlcherry.com

 

REFLECTIONS By Rosemary “Mamie” Adkins

RE-EDITED-Reflections_for_The_Write_Room_11-13_(1) copy
Reflecting back on the turmoil of more troubled times reminds me that we do indeed have the resilience to survive sadness and despair. As we emerge from our sorrows to enjoy a bountiful lifestyle, we are mesmerized by the effect of having come full circle. Similarly, the misfortunes of others causes us to be thankful for what we have and to count our many blessings.

Denver skyline in fury-2013

This brings to mind a traumatic experience from back in the 70’s. I’d like to share that with you. My husband and I traveled on business to Columbia, South America where crime was rampant and border police were as corrupt as the underground criminal element.

Our first shock came at the airport upon our arrival. Passing through customs was not smooth at all and taught me a lesson that I’ve never been able to erase from my mind. The customs official took our passports and proceeded to open and close them repeatedly as he mysteriously rubbed his fingers together while pretending to stroke his hair. Well, this didn’t make any sense to me at all and I had no idea what he was trying to tell us. I nervously glanced toward the glass where the party awaiting our arrival kept making strange hand signals to help us out. Oh my gosh! I finally got it! That nasty official was signaling that we were to place money in our passports before he would grant us customs clearance. My first reaction was shock that such an offense could happen…at least not in my world anyway.

Oh yes, I’ve been known to react first and regret it later and this was one of those times. True to form, I blurted out words that would come back to haunt me, “You must be kidding!” Immediately, he greeted my remark with a vicious scowl that assured me he most certainly was not kidding as I was about to find out. He wasted no time in letting me know just who was controlling this game and it surely was not me. He grabbed my suitcase, ripped it apart and strewed my belongings everywhere for all to see. As further punishment for my miscalculation, he made a special point of displaying my personal items most flamboyantly for others to make fun of. I’m quite certain that those next in line quickly reached for their wallets out of fear that the same or worse might happen to them. My privacy was shattered as I made a mental note to be more discreet on my return trip home. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would dare to bribe a US Customs Official that way but then, one never knows.

What happened next is surely the stuff that movies are made of. As I was scurrying about to collect my belongings and get this unfortunate event behind me, I realized that I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I had just retrieved the last piece of personal clothing—okay, if you must know, it was a lacy black negligee and maybe a bit unfitting for my surroundings! As I arose, I came face to face with a man who was sporting a black suit, black turtle neck sweater and a black hat that seemed highly inappropriate attire for the scorching heat of this tropical summer. For a brief second, he seemed to believe that I was his contact and I could feel the panic rising in my throat while my life passed in front of me. Standing right behind him was another man in similar garb who was carrying a bag and holding one hand over his chest. Now even I had seen that movie before! Was it Men in Black? Sorry, that was a comedy and this was surely nothing to laugh about. My husband got my drift when my eyes screamed the words, “Get me out of here now!” I was witnessing a drug deal going down right before my eyes and there was little doubt that these guys were packing items far more threatening than toy pistols!

I was thankful for the party on the other side of the glass who had witnessed our ordeal. He was the contact we planned on doing business with; hence, the purpose of the trip. In an attempt to calm our nerves, he explained what these events were about, that they were a way of life resulting from a devastated economy and an extremely impoverished population. I nearly knelt to kiss the ground as we emerged from that airport and begged off business until another day, to which he agreed. I needed to unwind and collect myself before I was ready to venture out into this unfamiliar world that I found myself in.

We stayed at the InterContinental Hotel in Bogota as our home base. En-route to the hotel, we were stunned by the natural beauty of the landscape yet bewildered by the contrasting decay of the buildings and the potholes that seemed to be designed into the roads. Little did we know that we were in for the culture shock of our lives. Extreme poverty and squalor were everywhere we looked and we quickly realized that we were experiencing the real Bogota, not the sights that were intended for tourists such as ourselves.

Before long, we checked in and were escorted to our rooms, the personification of luxury and a much needed respite from our terrifying events at the airport and the sad reality of the streets outside. We decided to order room service for our dinner and found it to be second to none. We’d been told to try their fresh Columbian coffee with our dessert and it came to us served in a silver service accompanied by an equal sized pitcher of hot milk. The perfect Columbian recipe for Café au Lait is half a cup of strong Columbian extra strength coffee syrup with half a cup of hot milk. Oh my…a treat we were not about to forget and one that I made a point of serving once we were home again.

That night, sleep did not come easy. We could hear the sorrowful cries of small children from the side street below who had nothing to eat or a place to lay their heads to sleep. Here we were, wrapped in luxury while these poor homeless babies were starving in the street. This was a scenario that reminded me of my daughter’s origins. We had recently adopted our darling baby daughter from Vietnam, out of the war torn ruins of a society that rejected GI babies and there were many. The prospect of adopting one or more needy children from Bogota was tempting but when we learned of the pitfalls of doing so, we quickly changed our minds. Yes, we could attend a hospital or an orphanage and choose the children we wanted to adopt but at a hefty price…a bribe if you will. Proper papers would not be provided to us which meant that we would never be able to legalize these babies back in America. We had no way of knowing if this was fact or not but it made perfect sense to give up the notion and play safe.

The next day, we emerged fresh from a delightful breakfast and determined to explore the city. All the while, we were praying for our safety yet anxious at the same time to learn more about this part of the world. As we exited the hotel, the manager cautioned us to hire a guide and directed us to where it could be arranged. It should have been that simple but trouble seemed to be following us wherever we went. I had one foot inside our taxi when I was abruptly knocked to the ground by a mugger and commenced a wrestling match that would have put the professionals to shame. I fought the good fight on that dirty pitted pavement while the mugger struggled to remove my jewelry. The taxi driver was yelling, “Cover your ears!” Just then, the police emerged and chased him away. I was later to learn that he would have cut off my ears for my gold earrings had I allowed him to get away with it. Where was my husband you might ask? To be fair, he was on the other side of the car and it was all over before he even realized what was going down.

After this sordid ordeal, I was hysterical and wanted only to hide out in my hotel room all day but it was not in my nature to give up so easily. I wasn’t about to let some dirt bag ruin my day so we returned to our room to clean up but you can bet that I left my jewelry behind.

Anxious to move on, we decided to seek out merchandise to market through our business back in the USA. Foremost in my mind were cultural products but especially dolls. At the very least, I would seek out a doll in native dress to bring home to my little girl. Once again, our driver instructed us to shop with caution and always be aware of our surroundings. I could only wonder if there was anywhere in this dangerous city where we could feel safe and at least enjoy a shopping expedition. So, armed with his sage advice, we headed downtown to walk and shop the area where he dropped us off.

What happened next gave new meaning to the concept of sightseeing. By no means was this a pleasurable downtown stroll for window shopping. Simply navigating the numerous potholes kept us looking down so as not to risk a broken leg or ankle. Once I looked up only to find myself confronted by a policeman holding a bazooka carefully aimed at criminals close by. Eeks!

Now it all made sense. Those hundreds of potholes were not the result of traffic overuse at all but caused by overactive weapons in the hands of the so-called police. Just a few feet away from where we stood was another police officer with a machine gun and that was when sheer panic set in.

machine gun

Feeling threatened didn’t even begin to describe the spine-chilling fear that propelled us to run for our lives. By no means was this a shopping mecca fit for tourists and our only objective was to make it back to our hotel quickly and safely with our heads still sitting squarely on our shoulders. Never again would we feel safe enough to stroll freely anywhere in this city and all future excursions would be in the company of a guide with our taxi driver parked within feet of our destination. Suddenly a return trip to the airport didn’t seem so threatening after all and the certain knowledge that we would soon be departing South America was somewhat reassuring.

The next morning we dressed and went about our way to conduct the business that we had come for which was importing leather hides from Bogota and Cali for our business at home. Everything went as planned though we couldn’t shake the prospect of danger everywhere we went. The highlight of our day was that our business did come together in Cali where we also found the best treasure of all. Yes, we were able to purchase a large supply of that spectacular Columbian coffee to take back to America.

Now that I’ve shared this reflection with you, I can only express my heartfelt thankfulness for my lot in life. Would I appreciate what I have so intensely had I not seen how the other half lives? Likely not but that doesn’t ease the sadness I feel whenever I recall how those poor people lived. Poverty most assuredly leads to crime and the police state that we visited so long ago.

Giving thanks and reflecting on my good fortune includes my marriage of twenty-five years to a man who has protected me in the worst of times. And so I ask you, “Do your reflections spell turmoil or grandeur?”

Before I leave, may I share a touching meditation about reflections. It comes from the National Park Service in Jackson, Wyoming where we traveled this summer.

A MEDITATION ON PHELPS LAKE

A feather floats on Phelps Lake
a cradle of light
rocking with the breeze.

Wind speaks through pines.
Light animates granite.
An Eagle soars – its shadow crosses over us.

All life is intertwined.

We see the Great Peaks
mirrored in water-

Stillness.
Wholeness.
Renewal.

Reflection leads us to restoration.

Nature quiets the mind
by engaging with an intelligence
larger than our own .

Mindful of different ways of being,
Our awareness as a species shifts-

We recognize the soul of the land as our own.
The path of wisdom invites us
to walk with a humble heart

recognizing the dance
between diversity and unity,
action and restraint.

The Scales of Nature
will always seek equilibrium.
A feather can tip the balance.
-Terry Tempest Williams

Thank you for visiting The Write Room. You can find my reflections elsewhere but
recently told in my new book title: Reflections of Mamie: A Story of Survival               http://www.Reflections-of-Mamie.com.

rosemary_adkins.indd

It’s a story of abuse and hope–with the sale of each book,donations are made to Dreamcatchers for Abused Children and Kitsap Humane Society for abused and abandoned animals.

Help us stop abuse! Please send your additional comments or share one of your own reflections with me at:   Mamie@Reflections-of-Mamie.com.

Many outlets are listed for where to purchase my book.

– Mamie

Mother Nature by RL Cherry

natureMother Nature
© RL Cherry

The pale moon shone wistfully over the meadow.  Its melancholy aura seemed to acknowledge the passing of an age.  Tall pines stood as sentinels around the grass in ceaseless vigilance.  Their tops pointed to the darkened sky like bayonets of ancient soldiers, now impotent.  One brush-covered dirt track leading to the edge of the meadow was the only tie between it and civilization.  For some time, no human had ventured into the grassy meadow and nature was undisturbed.  Such places were rare, disappearing under the trampling of the beer-guzzling, garbage-tossing, brat-spawning humanity.

A chorus of the night filled the air.  Bullfrogs provided a pulsating bass, coyotes howled tenor, owls hooted a muted alto, and crickets chirped in shrill soprano.  No human voice was wanted in this choir.  Each section knew its part and carried it with divine direction.  A softly tumbling brook provided a staccato background with a precision that only the inanimate is capable of achieving.  The thin air of the higher altitude sharpened and clarified each tone, giving nature’s song a volume far louder than it would have had in an auditorium.  These sounds of darkness were not dependent upon any listener’s appreciation for a reason to exist, but were an end unto themselves.

A gradually increasing droning interrupted the night.  At the same moment, all living sounds ceased.  The only natural sound left was the brook winding through the meadow.  The droning turned to a roar, as the source of that sound crunched, bumped and wheel-spun its way toward the meadow.  With a blast of barely-muted exhaust, a Jeep burst through the sheltering underbrush.  The engine noise hardly covered the vicious snapping and snarling of the two occupants of the vehicle.  Its bright, piercing headlights jerked spasmodically through the trees surrounding the area, breaking the serene darkness with a harsh abruptness.  Lurching to a stop, the vehicle disgorged its noisy inhabitants.  A man and a woman, thirtyish, dressed in brand-new outdoor attire, clambered out of the vehicle.  They stretched aching muscles as they exercised their vocal chords.

She slammed the door of the Jeep.  “Why the hell did we come out in the gawddamn wilderness? Just ’cause some old asshole told you how he meditates with nature?”

“Why don’t you shut up?  You know I can’t stand women using that kind of language.”

“Chauvinist pig!  That’s what you are.  Like my mom used to say, you’re a real pig of a chauvinist.  You say a lot worse than asshole if your Beemer back home won’t start.”  She kicked the Jeep’s tire.  “You don’t care what I want to do on a vacation.  I wanted to go to the beach, rent a cottage, be with people.  But no, we have to rent a Jeep and go out in the middle of nowhere to commune with nature. Gawd, this place gives me the creeps.”

“It’s getting dark.  Why don’t you just drop it so we can set up camp for the night?”

“You mean this backwoods Hilton?  Oh my, how wonderful.  I get to help put up our luxurious accommodations.  Aren’t I lucky?”

“Whatever.”

She gave him a hateful glare.

He started unloading the Jeep and she, with obvious disdain and anger, started helping him, tossing the camping equipment onto the ground.

“Hey,” he shouted, “this stuff wasn’t cheap.  Be careful!”

“I’ll show you careful,” she spat out, taking up an ax.  With all her meager strength, she swung it.

His eyes grew wide, but he realized a nearby pine sapling was the target.  She swung again and again, teeth gritted and eyes squinted.  When the sapling was cut half-way through, she stopped, panting and exhausted.  Her energy and anger drained, she sat on a fallen log and leaned on the ax.

He stared at her.  “Are you finished?”

“Yeah, I guess.  Let’s just get the damned tent up.  It’s been a long day and I want to go to bed.”  She paused.  “Or whatever poor excuse for a bed you brought.”

The small pine was tilted, slowly bleeding its life’s sap.  The other pines stood quietly, powerlessly, as if mourning the senseless early passing of one so young.

Once the Jeep they had unloaded, he started it with the howl of an over-revved engine and spun the tires as he pulled it a short distance away.  Mud and grass flew in clumps as he went.

“Why did you do that?” she asked him, as he walked back to her.

“Like you said, we’re here to commune with nature, so I moved the Jeep away from our tent.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she sneered.  “Why not leave it where it was?”

He shrugged, but felt a little foolish for his dramatics.

When the tent had been assembled in the middle of the meadow, they stuffed it with sleeping, bags, air mattresses and such, as well as with essentials for civilized living: a radio, an ice chest, and bags of various snack foods.  Then he fired up a small generator that sputtered to life and crawled into the tent.  He turned a light.

She looked down at her smartphone.  “I don’t have any bars.”

He opened the ice chest, took out a beer and twisted off the cap.  “Looks like this is the only bar in town.”

“Funny.”  She looked into the ice chest.  “Didn’t you bring any wine?”

“You always provide plenty of whining.”  He laughed at his own joke.  “I packed, so you get beer, beer or beer.  Your choice.”

As she pulled a bottle of beer out of the ice chest, he settled back with a bag of chips and fiddled with the radio.  “Crap.  No reception.  I’m missing the Niners’ game.”

“Poor baby,” she said as she turned on her Kindle.

“Hey.”  He looked over her shoulder.  “Got anything interesting on there?”

“Sure do.  My romance novels.”

He rested his hand on her breast.  “How about some real life romance?”

She looked down at his hand, then lifted it off with two fingers like it was contaminated.  “It’s much better in the books.  Read your newspaper.”

He grabbed the newspaper and turned it to the sports section.  After a while, he went out and killed the generator.  They turned away from each other in their sleeping bags.  Except for the soft sound of the brook, it was silent.

Her scream shattered the night air.

He sat bolt upright.  “What’s wrong?”

“Something’s on me!  I don’t know what it is, but I felt it land on me!”

He groped for the flashlight, found it and turned it on. There, on her sleeping bag, trying desperately to escape the beam of light was a large, goggle-eyed frog.

“Get that thing off me!  Why the hell didn’t you zip up the door of the tent?  Get it off me!”

“All right!  All right!  I’ve got it.”

Taking the frog by one leg, he carried it out of the tent. There was a thud, then another.  A short time later he crawled back into the tent.

She pulled her sleeping bag high on her neck.  “What did you do with it?”

“I gave it a permanent home under a rock.”

“You didn’t have to kill it just ’cause you’re mad at me.”

“What’s it to you?  It’s gone.”

She turned away from him.  “Well, I hope it’s not where I’ll see it in the morning.  I hate those things, you know.”

He switched off the flashlight and turned his back to her.  “Go to sleep.”

With one last disgusted glance at him, she snuggled down in her sleeping bag and, except for the soft sound of the brook and his snoring, silence was restored.

She punched him in the back.  “Are you awake?”

He stirred.  “What’s wrong now?”

“It’s getting wet in here.”

His sleeping bag was damp.  ”Huh.  We’d better get out of here.”

Picking up the flashlight, he crawled out of the tent and found mud where dry land had been.

She came out of the tent after him.  “What’s going on?  Why is it all muddy?”

“I don’t know.  We’ve got to get to the Jeep.”

“But my phone’s in the tent.  And my Kindle.”

He set off to the Jeep. “Screw your phone and your Kindle.  Do what you want, but I’m getting out of here.”

She hesitated, then followed.

The Jeep, a mere forty or fifty feet away, stood silhouetted in the light of the full moon.  It offered an oasis of civilization, a refuge in a wilderness growing hostile.  Safety was but a short distance away.

As he slogged with increasing difficulty toward the Jeep, he realized two things.  The mud seemed to grow softer and more clinging, and the Jeep appeared to be sinking.  The second realization shocked him to astonished silence.

She didn’t speak because she couldn’t waste the energy.  Just to keep moving required maximum concentration and effort.  Each step took longer, as her feet sank past the ankle in mud.  It seemed harder and harder to pull her feet out of the muck to make another step forward.  Her panting filled her ears with the rasping sounds of her panic.

Reaching the Jeep first, he found that it had sunk so far into the mud that he couldn’t open the door.  With great effort, he managed to climb onto the hood of the vehicle.  When she reached the Jeep, he helped her onto the hood, then leaned against the windshield in exhaustion.

She sat huddled over, gasping in an effort to regain her breath, and looked toward where the tent would have been.  “What . . . hap–pened?”

“I don’t know.”

“What . . . are we . . . going . . . to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“You . . . you don’t know!  You’ve gotta know!  What – is – happening?”

“I don’t know, but this Jeep is sinking.”

“What!”

“I said the Jeep is sinking.  And the only chance we’ve got is to make it to the trees.”

With sudden resolve, he slid off the Jeep into the mire and began determinedly trudging toward the trees.  He heard her slide into the mud with a plop.

“Wait for me!”

With steady drive, he pulled each foot out of the sludge one at a time, always moving toward the edge of the meadow where the trees stood.  The mud was now up to his calves.

“Come back!  I’m stuck!  I can’t get my legs out.”

Unheeding, he plowed ahead with single-minded determination.  The mud was up to his knees.  Sweat ran in rivulets down his face.  Veins were standing out like chords on his forehead.  Still he moved forward toward his goal, the trees.

“Coward!  Ya gawddamn coward!  Coward!  Coward!  Coward!

Her screaming taunts had no effect on him and they died away to sobs.  And then there was no sound from her at all. Still he persisted.  Still he struggled on toward his goal, until at last his feet could no longer rise above the mud.

In desperation, he went to his hands and knees, trying to crawl forward.  Whimpering, he made swimming motions, trying somehow to get to the trees, to safety.  Slowly, he went deeper into the mud.  His struggling was useless, until at last, with a terrified gurgle, his head sank beneath the morass.  Except for the soft sound of the brook, it was silent.

Then, slowly, the chorus of the night resumed its nocturnal concert. The bullfrog and the cricket, the owl and the coyote again sang their song under Mother Nature’s direction.

 

RL CherryAs a native of California, R. L. Cherry has spent most of his life in the Golden State.  However, the five years he lived on the Isle of Man in the British Isles.  His love of things English, Irish, Scottish and Manx influence his writing, as does his love of mystery and history.  His short stories, mainly of a sci-fi or futuristic bent, have been published online in Devilfish Review, Ineffective Ink, The Dan O’Brien Project and the now-defunct Writing Raw.  For over eight years he has written a column under the name Ron Cherry on classic cars and hot rods for The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, CA, which reflects his passion for such works of automotive art.  He has two books currently available on Amazon: Christmas Cracker, a mystery with a female detective, and Foul Shot, a noirish suspense.   For more about R.L. Cherry and his writing, go to www.rlcherry.com

OVERCOMING READER’S BLOCK by Salvatore Buttaci

Sal's blog post for Nov 13


It is almost common knowledge that the creative drive sometimes hits a stone wall and otherwise prolific writers are left wordless. But what about readers? As long as the synergistic relationship between writers and readers is optimally working, the pleasure road ahead is smooth for both of them. Consider, however, that just as writers run afoul of the joys of productivity, so too do readers find themselves in a slump when it comes to appreciating the joy of reading.

Let’s face it. Writers need readers and readers need writers. It is a fact not to be ignored. A dampening of the writer’s output and/or the reader’s appreciation of that output can disastrously result in aborted creativity. It is the old story, “If a tree fell in the forest and there was no one there to hear its fall, did it make a sound?” Allow me the paraphrase: If a book is written and there is no one there to read it, what value can that book claim? A written book is only half alive; it gains full life when it is read by others.

Oddly enough, the solution to reader’s block can be mined from the same ore as the solution to writer’s block. Both involve selectivity, time management, and repetition.
Here is an explanation of each as it applies to readers.

1. Selectivity. A surefire way to become overwhelmed by the number of books and e-books available out there is to visit Amazon.com. It can be dauntingly discouraging. It reminds me of a cartoon I once saw of a diner in a fine restaurant being handed a huge multi-paged menu and the waiter saying, “I’ll be back in a little while to take your order.”

The greater the choice, the greater the difficulty in deciding.

Readers need to settle on certain genres in fiction and nonfiction. In other words, narrow down the playing field so that instead of facing millions of books they can zero in on, for example, the genre of science fiction, historical romance, adventure, how-to nonfiction, and biography.

How do we narrow down the choices of books from which readers can select those they prefer? This article you are now reading at www.writeroomblog.com offers a manageable solution to the problem of selectivity. Only the best of books are listed here. You will find fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

To find them go to the top of the site’s page and click on BOOKS. This will take you to a display of books with a brief caption beneath each book cover. Find one that interests you and click on that book cover. This will bring you to that book’s page at Amazon.com where you can order a copy of book or Kindle.

Often when readers enjoy reading a book by a particular author, they will seek out other books by that same author. It makes perfect sense to be selective in both genre and author because it reduces the D.Q. –– the Disappointment Quotient. A low D.Q. can only add to the pleasure of reading.

2. Time Management. You have heard it often enough. And I am sure you have said it too: “There aren’t enough hours in the day!”

We know that an extension of the day to thirty hours sounds desirable, but we would still be complaining, even with an additional six hours to get things done. We need to manage our time better than we have been. Take note of how you spend your day and delete those activities that waste the minutes, even hours, when you could be relaxing in the pages of a good book.

In their struggles against the “block,” writers try to reserve certain times in the day when they can write undisturbed for an hour or so. Making this activity habitual loosens the constraints of the dry spell and writers before long begin finding themselves breaking the bonds of the I-Can’t-Write-Today Blues.

So it can be for readers. Find a particular time in the day or night to read your book. Strapped for time, perhaps read only a chapter or two, but at least you would be reading in that time slot everyday, creating a habit the mind will come to know and anticipate.

3. Repetition. For any habit to take root, it must be practiced repeatedly. Selecting a certain time facilitates that objective. Reading one day at about three in the afternoon and then refraining from that activity for the next two or three days does not. Repetition is the key to honing all crafts. If writers do not write daily, if readers do not read daily, they will find themselves in the same pitfall as the ballplayer who forgoes the habitual time set aside for batting practice, then wonders why he consistently strikes out.

To sum it all up, following the hints expressed in each of the above three areas will help book lovers get back in the swing of reading. Select favorite types of reading, manage time better so there is adequate time to read, and finally, repeat the joy of reading by reserving the same time and even the same place everyday. Once the good habit of reading takes hold it will be very difficult to break.

Writers and readers depend on one another to complete the circle of literary expression and appreciation. They do not need the frustration of being blocked from writing or reading to their hearts’ content.

                                                            #

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.

His collection of 164 short-fiction stories, Flashing My Shorts, is available from  Amazon.com as book, Kindle, and audio book:

His Kindle e-book Ritual is part of a series of Horror Shorts published by All Things That Matter Press. Only 99¢.

Fundamental Exposure

 

Hope, despair, vengeance, terror, or desire is the real and fundamental wellspring of every book written, fiction and non-fiction.  Whether one, several, or all of these motivators are responsible for catalyzing the author, every book holds a keystone, a core, that manifests its foundation—something real and evocative, something based on the author’s own experience and perspective, that proves the source. I asked a handful of authors to identify these keystones, then to expose that very private, very personal, source for us.  Some are overt; others not so much, but every one proves their authors and their books.  This nut, this kernel, when handled well, is what makes a reader care, to maybe weep or giggle; it’s what makes a book worthwhile.D. L. Keur, Guest Editor__________________

Excerpt from …And the Whippoorwill Sang by Micki Peluso

AndTheWhippoorwillSang_MickiPeluso

It is evening. I stand by my daughter’s bed. I watch her eyes open and dart about, sensing my presence before I speak. I lean over; kiss her forehead, the only place that she can feel sensation. I stroke her hair. It is time.

“Noelle, I love you so much and always will. But it’s okay, baby, to go toward that beautiful light you see.”

Noelle’s eyes try hard to focus; she seems to relax a little.

“Sweetie, I want you to know that it’s okay for you to go Home if you choose. Everything you need or want awaits you.”

As I watch her slip away from me, I no longer see my daughter trapped in her broken body. I envision her running like the wind down the basketball court, blowing her hair out of her eyes, shooting for the basket, scoring the winning point for her team. I see her ice skating on the frozen pond, gliding in perfect rhythm to the music within her soul. Noelle’s eyes gaze into mine, then close as she slips back into a coma. I collapse against her bed, cursing myself for telling my daughter to die; to let go of hope.

*   *   *

AuthorMickiPelusoSAYS AUTHOR MICKI PELUSO: “This part of a funny, sad, true family story is the core of the book.  There is no hope for Noelle, whose spinal cord is severed. She can hear, see slightly and has a perfect mind. How can those who love her obey doctors who insist we disconnect her from life support? It’s like murder, since she can communicate by blinking her eyes. Yet she had told me only months earlier, while watching a movie, that she’d never want to live paralyzed. I can not do it, will not. I must let her decide. Given a choice, Noelle stops struggling to live for us and goes Home within 48 hours. She was 14, struck down by a drunk driver.”

http://about.me/micki.peluso
https://twitter.com/mickipeluso
https://www.facebook.com/micki.peluso
http://www.amazon.com/Micki-Peluso/e/B002BLZ7JK

__________________

 

Excerpt from Just Toss the Ashes by Marta Merajver-Kurlat

JustTossTheAshes_Marta-Merajver-Kurlat

“What have you done, Ma? How did you always find a way to screw yourself? Why didn’t you try it out, before, after, during? I thought you were brave. You said you had the world at your feet, until the world kicked your feet out from under you. I think one hemisphere of the world that really fucked you up was Grandmother Laura, even though you fought her, but at what cost, Ma? And the other was running into this guy, and then you couldn’t stand up for yourself anymore. You’d gotten used to defending yourself on your own. You stuck the dagger in your heart before they could stick it to you first. How you must have hated yourself! And you never asked forgiveness. Remember you taught me NEVER to ask forgiveness? You said it was attitude for beggars. How much fear, Mom, underneath the cocksure manner that made one want to slam you into a wall? ‘If you believe, it exists,’ you told me. I think maybe you loved me, a lot, and you were afraid I’d love you so much I wouldn’t be able to save myself from the darkness that engulfed you, afraid you’d infect me with the shadow of death that materialized next to your crib, calling you, tempting you, until you finally said, yes, ‘I want to.’ Now I know which deaths preceded you and who the dead were you supposedly had to replace. Poor Mom, the shadow didn’t permit you to see the living.”

*   *   *

JUST TOSS THE ASHES by
MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT
JORGE PINTO BOOKS INC., NEW YORK, NY, 2007

AuthorMarta-Merajver-KurlatSAYS AUTHOR MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT: “In his journey towards understanding his mother’s painful life and suicide, young Lucas talks at once to himself and to a mother whose mysteries haunt his mind. His train of thought provides the main clues to understanding much of what has happened before this pivotal moment, while allowing a glimpse into Lucas’s future quest for some truth that may reconcile him to Sylvia’s decision.

“The son’s interior monologue puts together the various kinds of discourse I listened to in my office from patients trying to make sense of a parent’s suicide. Sudden switches between accusation, empathy, self-pity, and speculation were frequent in many cases, yet I’d like to emphasize that neither the novel nor any of the scenes in it replicates a real-life case.”

www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marta-Merajver-Kurlat
https://twitter.com/merajver
http://www.amazon.com/Just-Toss-Ashes-Marta-Merajver-Kurlat/dp/0979076684/

__________________

 

Excerpt from Foul Shot by R. L. Cherry

FoulShot_RLCherry

Even in the dim light, Vince could see his eyes widen.  “You can’t,” he pleaded.  “You’re a priest.  Gawddammit, it’s a mortal sin!”

“Then I’ll see you in Hell.”  Vince fired two rounds directly between his eyes.  Blood, skull and brains exploded out the back of his head and he dropped back to the floor.

*   *   *

SAYS AUTHOR R. L. CHERRY: “Vince, my protagonist is a Christian, a faithful Roman Catholic.  He tries to live his life along the principles of his faith.  However, there comes this scene in the story when a murderer, someone who has persecuted, tormented and assaulted those he loves, assumes that Vince AuthorRLCherrywill not act on his feelings, not seek revenge.  That Vince will, as he has done in the past, trust in the justice of God and the laws of man.  But Vince has reached his breaking point.  Like all of us, Vince is flawed.  There are limits to his heroic nature.  When I wrote the scene, which is so crucial to Vince’s character, I wondered what I would do in the same circumstance.  Would I leave the villain to the courts, let the law decide?  What if a good lawyer found a loophole and the murderous bastard was set free?  Thank God, I have never been confronted with this decision in real life.  Yet, fiction gives us a chance to consider the unthinkable.  To be honest, I cannot say for sure what I would do if I were in Vince’s shoes, had gone through what he had gone through.  Can you?”

www.rlcherry.com
https://www.facebook.com/RonLCherry
https://twitter.com/RL_Cherry
http://www.amazon.com/R.-L.-Cherry/e/B008M7O98M/

__________________

 

Excerpt from L’Immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen by T.R. Heinan

 

“Caring and compLImmortalite_TRHeinanassion lead to life, to l’immortalité. They are the only path. You may comfort in the rituals of the church, but religiosity isn’t love; it isn’t even religion.”

*   *   *

SAYS AUTHOR T. R. HEINAN: “With these words, Marie Laveau confronts my protagonist, Philippe Bertrand, in her effort to get him to risk caring about other people.  Philippe has become a recluse after the death of his wife.  He soothes himself through prayer and rituals.  Within yards of his house, slaves are being whipped, neighbors are dying from yellow fever, and cruelty abounds.  Philippe wants to ignore it all and use God as a personal comfort blanket.

AuthorTRHeinan“In 1985, while in Portugal, I visited the Catholic shrine at Fatima. Tens of thousands of people were there, each hoping to get closer to God. My travel companion then led me to an orphanage located near the shrine.  There, for lack of funds, two dozen little girls, most the victims of sexual abuse, were living without adequate plumbing for lack of funds.

“If prayer can provide spiritual strength, then that same strength must, I believe, be used to meet our duty to the poor, the sick, and the marginalized. That day in Portugal lead to my own efforts to establish a fund to serve orphaned children.  Since 1985, this effort has been able to save and change the lives of thousands of kids.”

– T.R. Heinan, Author of L’Immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen

http://madamelalaurieandthevoodooqueen.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/T.R.Heinan
https://twitter.com/AuthorTRHeinan
http://www.amazon.com/LImmortalite-Madame-Lalaurie-Voodoo-Queen/dp/0615634710

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Excerpt from No Tildes on Tuesday by Cherrye Vasquez

NoTildesOnTuesday

“I thought you forgot your notes, so over the weekend I picked up the pad and thumbed through it. I was very shocked to see what you had written.”

Abuela. Let me––”

“I believe that if you tried hard enough, you’d probably get it,” Abuela interrupted. “But that’s it. You don’t care to learn Spanish, do you?”

“Isabella, you can come to Abuela’s house anytime you want to, but not for Spanish lessons anymore.”

I don’t care. My lessons with Abuela are finally over forever! No tildes on Tuesday!

*   *   *

Dr-Cherrye-Vasquez-authorSAYS AUTHOR CHERRYE VASQUEZ: “The title of my book, No Tildes on Tuesday is a ‘play on words.'”

“Over the weekend Abuela learned Isabella’s heart wasn’t in learning her father’s first language, Spanish.

“In the previous chapter, Abuela discovered the pad. Isabella scribbled, “Being here and learning Spanish is a waste of my good time!

“Monday would be the first time Isabella returned to Abuela’s home for a lesson. Abuela confronted Isabella with her findings.  Abuela told Isabella not to return for her lessons. The following day would be Tuesday.

“A ‘Tilde’ is a Spanish accent placed over some Spanish words.  For example, piñata.

“The ‘play on words’ meaning—no more Spanish lessons.”

http://www.booksthatsow.com/
https://twitter.com/BooksThatSow
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http://www.amazon.com/Tildes-Tuesday-Cherrye-Vasquez-Ph-D/dp/1616636890/

__________________

 

Excerpt from Redneck P.I. by Trish Jackson

RedneckPI_byTrishJackson

‘They were right about one thing. I surely didn’t fit into their world, and I didn’t intend to be there for long. I would never let them know, but the truth is, I was homesick—as homesick as you can get. I really missed my previous life. I’m all country, and living in the city just wasn’t for me. The problem was, I couldn’t go home until the recession was over and that didn’t seem like it was ever gonna happen.’

*   *   *

Author Trish JacksonSAYS AUTHOR TRISH JACKSON: “This is from my romantic suspense/comedy novel Redneck P.I.

“Self-professed redneck, Twila Taunton has been forced to relocate to Boston because jobs are non-existent in the small AuthorTrishJacksonAlabama home town of Quisby. Prior to the recession and the housing market collapse, she worked as a real estate salesperson.

“In my life, my husband and I had relocated to Florida to help our daughter with her new twins.  I had been working in real estate for several years, but was forced to change my vocation when the market fell apart. My daughter was retrenched and moved back to California to be close to her brothers. Our house has been on the market four years now and still no sale.

“In my book, Twila is luckier….”

‘The sun was high in the sky when we pulled up outside Pop’s trailer. Home. Nothing, not even crazy Tina, could have wiped the smile off my face. I got off my bike, kneeled down on the ground and kissed it.’

Trish Jackson, Author
Saddle up for a wild read!

www.trishjackson.com
http://www.facebook.com/redneckpi
https://twitter.com/trishjaxon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E3FPSCS

__________________

 

Excerpt from The Contrary Canadian by C. C. (Clayton) Bye

TheContraryCanadian_CCBye

“An important lesson was offered to me the day I left my name on that mountain at the top of the world.  I learned to walk the unbeaten path, began to understand the importance of taking unique, purposeful actions.  And over the years, as this lesson became an ingrained part of my life, it slowly evolved into a guiding attitude I call The Philosophy of The Road Not Taken.”

*   *   *

SAYS AUTHOR/EDITOR CLAYTON BYE: “This is the second last paragraph in the first essay in a collection called The Contrary Canadian. It refers to a choice I made between climbing a small mountain covered in the scars left by people who were searching for a certain kind of black crystal and a sister mountain that supposedly had no crystals. Even though I was out there for the stones, something told me to climb the undisturbed mountain.  I found a cairn at the top of this mountain (visible only from theAuthorClaytonBye air) and buried in it was a tin box with paper and pencil so that I could add my name to those who had come before me—going back to the 1960’s.  It was one of those life changing moments. Perfect start to my book.”

http://claytonbye.com
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http://www.amazon.com/Clayton-Bye/e/B002BWULO0/

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Do More of Us Believe in Demons than Angels?

 

good vs evil

Do More of Us Believe in Demons than Angels?
(Based on the Supernatural as Depicted in Novels & Films)
by Joyce Elferdink

A while back I reviewed an author’s novel with the understanding that he would reciprocate. When I didn’t hear from him for a few weeks, I asked if he had finished mine. His answer: “No, I can’t read it—there is an angel in your story and I’m an atheist.” I was shocked. In the last few years so many movies and books have supernatural characters that I couldn’t believe one angel would be that disconcerting. Since demons, ghosts, witches, vampires or other spirits deemed evil are the subjects of a great many box office hits (have you seen movie previews lately?), what could possibly make a grown man squeamish about one supernatural being on the good side of the list? 
             We’ve certainly had an abundance of authors writing about the supernatural—both good and evil. When I searched Amazon for “angels in books,” the result was 90,088 books (although some of these are “fallen angels”). The key word demon yielded 22,170;  witches, 28,110; vampires, 37,698; and ghosts, 89,786 for a total of 177,764 on the malevolent side of the spirit world.
             There was a time when angelic beings were more popular than the demonic—or at least more acceptable in movie theaters. The 1947 Academy Award winner was about a man who had given up his dreams in order to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brought about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. That same year, Angel on My Shoulder, a film about a deal between the Devil and a dead man  did something unique for the times—it depicted hell—and it didn’t do nearly as well financially.  In those days, angels had the higher approval ratings. Now, while society may not be exactly rooting for the dark side, people are fascinated by tales of the demonic. Consider, for example, the popularity of The DeVinci Code, The Blair Witch Project, and most of Stephen King’s books and movies.    
             These examples of book topics and changing movie popularities are insufficient for a statistical conclusion, but they do support my perception that modern Americans find the evil side of the supernatural more interesting, even more believable, than the good. If you believe in demons, as does the novelist who couldn’t read my book; wouldn’t you have to believe there are good spirits, too? Everywhere we look in our world we find opposites. It is the related concepts which are opposite in meaning, (e.g., up and down, right and left, good and evil) that allow us to use language to distinguish people, places, ideas, and things.             

I believe in the existence of good and evil and research proves I’m not in the minority. Most people, like me, seem to accept its representation in angels and demons.  I ‘ve just never paid much attention to angels, thinking they live apart from my world, in an unreachable place.  And since in my youth I was terrified of evil spirits, I chose to ignore the possibility of their presence.

I still tend to ignore the angelic, even though I made one a character in my novel.  But I can no longer ignore the demonic; stories and images are everywhere. In the first two decades following It’s a Wonderful World, moviegoers’ tastes favored drama but not horror, but then came Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 and the Exorcist in 1973. And the horror has never stopped, only gotten more sensational (a list of movies for rent last Halloween proves this point). 

The question I wrestle with is why the demonic side currently seems more interesting or at least more popular than its opposite. If angels really can intervene in our lives as Clarence Odbody did in It’s a Wonderful Life—and there are written accounts of such interventions—why would we not embrace the angelic realm and seek out angelic help and protection? And why are there only half as many books on angels for sale on Amazon? Could it be that those of us who write about angelic beings are reluctant to describe them as having super powers?  That sizeable portion of the public who claim to be religious have certainly read about angels; they play some major roles in Bible stories. Yet authors downgrade them to benevolent but nondescript creatures. Think of City of Angels (a story I love, by the way): the angel, Seth, wanted the joys of being human more than the powers of being divine.

Demonic beings, on the other hand, are made into super powers (if not super heroes), maybe because they’re like the bogymen of our childhood; we are only temporarily under the spell. The thing that goes bump in the night is deposed by daylight, the off switch for its power.  As long as we audiences/readers are sure there is no such thing, we clamor for the thrill of the chill.

Law professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong who doesn’t believe that spirits exist has a different theory. His explanation is that people’s false belief in angels and demons noted in many disparate human cultures comes from “people’s proclivity to use demons as scapegoats.” Sinnott-Armstrong asserts we don’t want to blame ourselves or those we know for evil acts so we conjure up demons to be the cause of much of the horror in the world.

That seems plausible. Blaming others is a very human trait. But if they’re only figments of our imagination or made up by creative storytellers, why would seemingly sane humans believe they have had encounters with demons and angels? Many professionals who’ve researched the subject also believe. University of Notre Dame philosopher Thomas Flint is one. Flint defines a demon as “a nonphysical finite person who has decided against God to rebel against God.” (He defines angels as the opposite.)

Whether or not people endorse the concept of the demonic, the evil side of the supernatural does sell more books and movie tickets in the 21st century. Maybe it’s because more people are rebelling against God and therefore siding with the demonic. Or is it because worldwide, the multitude of horrendous acts seem to be growing and we need something other than ourselves to blame? It is feasible that stories of demonic behavior and possession are just more exciting. If that is the predominant reason, could it be that the stories we tell are misleading, even causing us to be desensitized to the powers of the supernatural? 

   

Five years ago I met a wonderful man, whom I learned to love in the four months we had together. When he died after five days in a coma, I sought answers to that old question, “Why do evil things happen?” Why did he die? Where did he go? As I found answers that worked for me, I started writing Pieces of You, an adventure into sacrificial love, social responsibility, and the spirit world. My search continues to discover where he may be—in people I meet, in the Beyond, or both…

 

You can share that search at http://www.amazon.com/Pieces-You-Ms-J-Elferdink/dp/0615664490/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376852582&sr=1-1and by following my blog at https://harmlessjoyce.wordpress.com

it's a wonderful life