Category Archives: Fabulous Fiction Fridays

Helping Those in Need ~Letters From the Heart #A2ZChallenge2021

Hello, Hello, Howdy and Hey-hey whaddaya say?

Your letter today is going to be short and sweet because Tall Cool ☺ne decided since it was Thirsty Thursday you guys would pretend you were back in high school and instead of him going home after Rockford Files he stayed, and you guys played… into the wee hours of the night (or morning). You are getting a little too old for that on a “school” night and it’s gonna be a long day on three hours of sleep.

Today’s offering is about helping those in need. You might interpret that to mean helping homeless helpless people. Not today my friend. Help is support for anyone who needs it. Just because you work at home don’t think there are not opportunities to help. It comes in various ways.

It can be as simple as a smile 🙂 over the phone ☎️ and if you try really hard people can hear that smile 🙂 in your voice. A gesture 🤙, a peace sign ✌️, a tip of the hat 👒, a nod of the head 🙃, even a like 👍on a social media site or other places you interact with people virtually.

Helping is a gift. Not everyone has the personality to be a helper…some are antagonists. Avoid them at all costs…just kidding, those are the ones who need the help the most. Remember that the next time someone comes along that you would rather avoid. Be the one person in their day that shines.

Until next time,

your constant and faithful,

What is A2ZBlogging? Using this premise, you would start beginning April First with a topic themed on something with the letter A, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.  It doesn’t even have to be a word–it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself.  The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day.

Survivor

 

 

Completely forgot about the Reflections part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  Now that April is over the writing on a daily basis doesn’t seem as important as it was while keeping up with the challenge.  I wish we could do it all year. Or maybe do a monthly check in. I’d like to say thank you to all of my readers who followed my daily posts for the April blogging challenge.  It was nice to have the support and encouragement and I appreciate every one of you.  For me it was nice to check off another year √!  This makes six for me. 

 

I was quite surprised to see that there were only 510 bloggers who signed up.  WOW … I kept thinking there was something wrong with my excel sheet every time I opened it to jump over to visit someone’s blog.  It’s a shame there was not more of a turn out.  Maybe next year. Maybe we should plug the challenge all year long?  

 

I know I’m going to try to blog more and keep visiting more of the people from the list.  I’m also going to try to recruit people from my own blog to come next year.  We should all try to do same. It is hard to promote someone else, especially when we want the attention ourselves. It’s a great big world out there and blogging on a personal level has become lost in the commercialization and advertisement and propaganda.

 

If you need some fancy artwork for your web or anything check out  Jeremy Hawkins.  He did all the artwork for the challenge and he has a  Neat Shop — Very Cool Stuff

 

Stay real folks and stay safe. 

Unicorns

You didn’t really think it was going to be unicorns did you?   ☺  The thing about Unicorn cookies, you can make any flavor you like… it’s just a package of gelatin!

 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3 oz. package of cherry flavored gelatin
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tbsp. lemon rind (optional)
2 eggs
1½ tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour
1½ cups cooking oats
Preheat oven to 375º. Place rack in center of oven.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter, gelatin and sugars together until fluffy. Add eggs, orange rind and cherry extract and beat well. Combine flour, baking powder and cooking oats together and gradually add to mixing bowl, beating on low and scrapping sides of the bowl until mixed well.

Scoop by tablespoons on ungreased cookie sheets two inches apart. Bake at 375º for 12 minutes or until lightly browned on edges. Cool one minute then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Yield 5 dozen 1½-2 inch cookie gems.

Food for Thought:

Use any flavor gelatin for Unicorn cookies.  Unicorn Cookies come in all colors and flavors.  You could even make several batches and mix them all together. 

Welcome to the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  This year I think it will bring a lot more people together with this crazy pandemic. Being quarantined means people will flock to the web looking for things to do. This is a great way to meet new friends/contacts.  Maybe you will read something new, find a new hobby, or just be entertained by some random musings.  Whatever the case may be, stay safe, drink plenty of liquids and enjoy the trip. 

ONE SKIP DAY




Hell found me!  As I fell into the depths of the cold salty Atlantic water I saw my whole fifteen year life flash before me.  I thought about my mother and what she would think.  I worried about my diary and what my sister would do with it when she found it.  I wondered what my friends Chris and Jackie were doing, and if they would try to save me.

The water swirled around me and everything turned black.  The salt tasted metallic in my mouth.  I kept sinking further into the depths of the water.  I didn’t realize the Penobscot was so deep, then suddenly I felt soft ground.  I pushed into the flats upward with my soaked sneakers and immediately began to ascend.  I wanted to take a breath.  I needed to take a breath.  When I slipped it was unexpected, and didn’t take a deep breath as one does before jumping in water.  I knew if I gasped for air that my lungs would be filled with water, and I would drown.  I couldn’t see the surface and my wet jeans and sweatshirt pulled me down.   I didn’t want to die.  I was too young to die.  I started making deals with God, as we do when things go wrong.  “Dear God, please don’t let me die.  Please, I promise I’ll never copy homework again.  I won’t be mean to my sister.  I promise I won’t skip anymore classes.  God, please, please, don’t let me drown.”

April showers bring May flowers, and they also bring warm, sunny afternoons, and the itching of spring fever; that equals to a whole bunch of trouble for a few high school kids. After five months of snow, and shoveling snow, and then more snow to shovel, when it reached 45 degrees, that was a celebrated welcome.  Basketball was over, and baseball hadn’t really got started so those late afternoon rides home on the activity bus were on temporary hiatus.  It was that awkward time of boredom in school, and typical teenage girls and boys look for things to dispel the monotony.   The three of us had been best friends since the fifth grade when I moved to town.  Based on my experience three friends are a recipe for disaster.  Two will get together and talk about the other one, and one will try to vie for another, and it normally turns into a mess.

For Chris, Jackie and I, it was different.  Chris wasn’t into the girlie things that Jackie and I talked about.  He just wanted to be our friend, and that was good enough for us.  We liked that Chris acted as our bodyguard per say, and he always let me copy his math homework.  He was wicked smart.    It is all different now with the technology and social media available to occupy a bored teen-ager.

Back in 1980 none of us owned a computer; let alone a smart phone.  Our parents would never have tolerated us playing video games or social media forums anyways.  We were lucky to have one color television in the house. If anyone had a cell phone it was one of those monstrosities that came in a bag and needed to have the magnet antennae plunked out on the roof, and then the power cord got plugged into the cigarette lighter.  If you were very lucky your parents owned a car that the cigarette lighter worked in, and maybe they let you borrow it with that ugly thing called a car phone.  Only some of the preppy kids, and most of the grease monkeys had their own cars.

The three of us were at the mercy of begging our parents, and more often than not they said ‘no’.  Needless to say, most of our entertainment was done by walking or taking our bikes.  Remember those things that you peddle, and your butt hurts from the uncomfortable seat?    Spring fever brought afternoons of cutting classes, and walking the sidewalks trying to stay hidden from friends of our parents who would share the fact that they had seen us on the street, when we should have been in school.  We were young, naïve.   We had no idea how lucky we were to be young and naïve. That was of course, until after the thirteenth skip day when our parents were notified by the principal that we were cutting classes.  Young people do stupid things, and we were very stupid.

The most significant, as well as the last adventure we took could have been the death of us, or at least, one of us.  The three of us decided to cut our “health” class! How ironic now that I reminisce about it!   We set out for a quest searching for anything that would be more exciting than sitting in Mr. King’s stinky armpit smelling class room listening to his monotonous voice talk about penises and vaginas.  Instead of walking the streets, taking the chance of being spied by a nosy adult, we decided to take the forbidden path just beyond the smoking area  behind Hampden Academy down to the Penobscot River.  We were going to hike out to the rocks, do some exploring and maybe find an electric eel in the small pools of water left behind from the tide going out.

The sun was shining and we shed our sweatshirts and tied them around our waists.  Jackie took her shoes off for a short time until one of the rocks cut her foot and she put the bloody thing back in her high top Nike sneakers.  We searched for cool looking shells with the shiny glitter of embossed quartzite, starfish, crabs and the coveted electric eel.  We made our way out across the rocks that went out deep into the smelly flats that were exposed from the tide being out. We were having a splendid afternoon, throwing rocks and mud at each other, talking about the upcoming spring dance and who we thought would go with who and who wouldn’t show up and who we’d like not to have show up.  

What we weren’t expecting was the tide to rush back in so quickly.  One of us couldn’t swim.  We had sneakers on and jeans and sweatshirts tied around our waists.  Not dressed for rock climbing by any means.  When the tide comes in on the Penobscot, the tide comes in fast.  It was scary for all three of us but mostly for me.

It was Chris, probably because he was the one who couldn’t swim, who first recognized the fact that our way into land was quickly disappearing.  The path out to the rocks that we originally took covered almost immediately with eighteen feet of cold, salty, stinky Atlantic Ocean.  We had to scale the rocks fast if we were going to get to land before there was no path back at all.  I remember slipping and sliding and cutting our hands on the sharp edges of rocks.  The rocks poked out of the dark murky water, some covered in green mossy seaweed while others appeared to be shards of shiny black glass.  The most treacherous were the rocks that appeared dry and safe to step on, but our weight triggered them to shift and move causing us to lose our balance more than once.    I screamed and as I slipped I heard Jackie and Chris both yell, “Barbie!”  The rest was inaudible because I slipped into the depths of the black water.  It seemed like a life time that I was under water.  It was cold and I could feel my muscles tightening up, and soon I wouldn’t be able to move at all.  Abruptly I surfaced and sucked in a huge breath of fresh air.  I gagged and spit and clawed my way to the edge.  Jackie and Chris dragged me back up on the edge of the rocks.  I was shaking from fear more so than the cold, but thankful to be alive.

When we reached the shore line the only way to level ground was up.  We climbed through rocks and pulled through trees and brushed past bushes and dug through sod.  We climbed and moaned and groaned the whole way.  Dry level ground never felt so good.   Jackie and Chris ended up with soaked feet, wet jeans and bloody hands.  I was grateful to be soaked but alive and safe.  Where we came off the rocky walls was a long ways from where we had begun our adventure.  The walk back through a field of prickly bushes was not especially a fun experience, and when the giant back yard dog chased us and the owner came out with a shot gun, we were even more anxious to make our way back to school.  We were lucky to catch the bus home to Winterport and luckier when our parents said we had to quit cutting school and stay in Mr. King’s classroom.  We were just thankful that we could quit trying to scale the banks of the Penobscot River in a pair of Nike’s on a skip day.

To be honest, it was a fun skip day….and some of it’s true!  Most of it is made up and names have been changed to protect the innocent! 

Welcome to the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  This year I think it will bring a lot more people together with the epidemic going on right. Being quarantined means more people will flock to the web looking for things to do. This is a great way to meet new people.  Maybe you will read something new, find a new hobby, or just be entertained by some random musings.  Whatever the case may be, stay safe, drink plenty of liquids and enjoy the trip.

She’s Wicked Smart

Sunflower

(But uglier than a mud fence)

To coin a phrase, it’s a dog eat dog world out there.  Every cloud has a silver lining and every dog has its day.  Mark my words the name of the game is not to jump on the bandwagon and just between you and me I don’t mean to flog a dead horse but I’ve got the gift of gab.  A little bird told me half  the battle is getting there but Rome wasn’t built in a day.  It’ll all come out in the wash and to cut a long story short, the show must go on.  Just for the record I’m not reinventing the wheel because you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, but face facts, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  So far so good … this a-z blogging challenge might be the greatest thing since sliced bread, no expense spared.  This is a golden opportunity for the movers and shakers; the more the merrier and I’ll move the goalposts or bite the bullet because actions speak louder than words. The early bird gets the worm at the crack of dawn and I won’t drown in my sorrows if this is sour grapes.  Not to put too fine a point on it but, lock stock and barrel this is a level playing field and let’s face it, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck so let bygones be bygones. At the end of the day you can’t win them all in the rat race, and accidents will happen across the board. Give me a helping hand just for the record and share your favorite jewel in the crown of clichés.  I’ll be waiting with bated breath.

I should tell you I’ve shared this before. I added a few more to the original post, but I thought it was a good “SHARE” for the letter S in today’s a-z blogging challenge.

S

 

 

Gizzard & Guts

Gizzard & Guts

I thought this would be an appropriate title for today’s post. Please accept this shout out to all of my fellow bloggers who are partaking in this challenge. We as writers use our gizzard to grind our ideas, our thoughts and ponderings. We take to heart what other people say, or worse, what people don’t say about our offerings. It takes guts to share with the world what we think or don’t think. Everyone has an opinion and more people are quick to tell you what they think about your opinion, yet they have not shared one of their own.

This is the second year in the A-Z Challenge and I love it. I love reading my fellow writers posts and being a part of this community. Sometimes I forget to leave a comment (I know that’s part of the challenge so let me apologize for reading without commenting).

When I first started putting my thoughts and ideas out for others to read it was very hard to take the criticism. Most of the criticism came from people I knew and it hurt deeply. Too many times I wanted to give up and delete all of my pages, blogs, etc. But every time I came to the moment of “are you sure you want to delete?”,  a comment would show up thanking me for the inspiration or the laugh or the encouragement. It would change my mind and I would continue sharing my thoughts and ideas. You see writing for me is like therapy. I have to do it. It isn’t so much sharing but the physical act of writing is something necessary to my spiritual being. If I can help someone or encourage someone, I tag that as a bonus.

When I published my first book, I was so excited and I thought I’m going be the next Stephen King. Ha ha ha. Too funny seeing how it’s not even the same genre. But dreams are good and that was my ultimate goal: to get published. For a spell, I misinterpreted getting published with getting rich and getting famous. I was quickly elucidated as to what the difference was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of my accomplishments with the books even though they don’t make any money. That wasn’t the point… the point was having a goal and achieving it. Not to mention everything I learned in the research of writing them.

These blog posts are entertainment for me and my readers. I enjoy what I do and I will continue to do it as long as I come up with ideas. I hope you will continue to do so as well, be it writing, reading or whatever your goal may be. If you work hard enough at it, you can achieve it. It just takes a little Gizzard and Guts.

The Challenge

G

Let the Countdown Begin

 

cracker challenge

One week from today the challenge begins. My last post was in January! Wow, I let two months pass without posting a word. What in the world am I thinking? Am I really going to come up with something every day for a whole month? Where will I find the time? Do I really think I can complete this challenge? I need some moral support, people! I need some “atta girl, go get ‘em! You can do this”.

I know I have said it before, writing is hard, writing is lonely, writing is work. But I can honestly say from experience, it was a heck of a lot easier without a real paying  job, let’s be clear on that. The hard, lonely work is easy compared to making the time, or let’s be honest, taking the time!  I miss writing. I miss story telling. I’m going to take the time.

I am up for the challenge and looking forward to writing again on a daily basis. I sure hope you’ll join me to find out where this road may lead us. I plan to share some funny stories, poignant stories, as well as some “how to” stories.

Enjoy your Easter weekend. Join me here next Friday and we will begin a journey through the month of April. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Until the next post,

cropped-promo-cracker.jpg

Imperfect I Am

 Invisible

I want to rant about what I think. There are lots of words that I could have IMPOSED on. I prefer to do IT a little differently and INJECT what I feel about several I words. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’ll give you a little hint on what the common denominator is.

We live in an “I am so IMPORTANT, self-absorbed with what I think” world. INCONSIDERATE IGNORANT IDIOTS surround us on a daily basis. I am guilty of being IMPERIOUS and I’m also very IMPATIENT. I find it is necessary in certain INSTANCES. I’m not a doormat, for crying out loud.

How many times do you get a phone call from someone and all they want to talk about is themselves? I this, I that, I want, I need… How many emails or text messages do you receive from people who are asking for a favor to be done? All of them?

These IDIOSYNCRASIES I speak of are something I am guilty of. INSTEAD of taking a minute to say “How are you?” or “Is there anything I can help you with today?” or “I’m just texting to say ‘Hi, have a great day!”  I usually jump right into what I want or desire from you. Boo-hoo, poor me. I not much of a donkey….

I came up with short list of how to focus more on others rather than always thinking it’s about me and what I want. Feel free to use it yourself. I’m going to try to be better at it on a daily basis.

  • Respond to emails and return voice messages IMMEDIATELY!
  • Never be ILL-TEMPERED when things don’t go the way you planned.
  • When something is bothering you communication is IMPERATIVE.
  • Don’t IGNORE requests for help.
  • Accept IMPERFECTIONS in the people you associate with. No one is perfect, not even you.
  • IMPLEMENTING these simple tasks will make the day go smoother, but realize there are still going to be IGNORAMUSES to deal with.
 

Another I word I love is Irene!

 

And let’s not forget Toby Keith wants to talk about I.

This is my “I” poem.

I

I am so great,

why can’t you see

What’s important

 to me, is me

I wear the finest

clothes there are

I drive the biggest,

maddest car

Golden rings

adorn my fingers

I walk by,

my perfume lingers

Love to promote

myself at work

My colleagues think

I’m such a jerk

That’s not the case,

I’m just trés vain

Cuz’ when you fail,

it helps me gain

You can’t do this,

I can do that

I will connive

just like a cat

Self-serving is

my middle name

It helps to

elevate my fame

I’m the top dog

on the ladder

Trust in me,

your dreams I’ll shatter

My opinion

you see is true

Things I do

are better than you.

Hope you enjoyed my I rant. Please be sure to leave your comments and check out some of the other great bloggers who have joined the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

I

Chautauqua

 

cat

I seem to be having a problem with Day #3, C. Just one C-word is not capturing my attention, so I thought I’d capitalize the characterization and/or creativity with several certain C-Words. Hopefully that will cast out any doubt that I am not up for the A-Z Blogging Challenge. So with great pleasure and care I offer my Chautauqua (so to speak) with the company of my casual cyber friends. ☺

I do not live in a castle with a charming prince. Instead I spend time in a charming cabin with two cats that believe they are cougars. They keep me company during the day while I create cosmetic characters for corporate entertainment. Chocolate and coffee are two luxuries I cherish. Candor is a characteristic I hope to be remembered for. My husband gets annoyed when I chew gum in his presence. I am a chicken-shit when it comes to the dark and creepy-crawlers. I had a dog named Charlie that was killed when he was hit by a car. Cod-Liver Oil used to be the cure-all medicine back in the old days. I used to love to use Crayola Crayons and color cool pictures in color-books when I was a child. I try to stay away from contentious people. However, I will get into a controversial conversation when instigated. Coincidently, the C-words have come consistently for the content of this challenge. Peter Cottontail comes on Sunday, but the real crowd-pleaser is acknowledging Christ was crucified on the Cross for our sins.

 

C

Asking for Help

help

So I’ve decided to try something new. I’ve never actually done this before so it will be a new experience for me. Next week my husband begins a new adventure and will on a four-week course. (That’s all I’m going to say about it because this is not about him, although feel free to pray for Gods will to be done for him while he is on this life changing course.)

While he is completing his goal, I have one myself that I want to complete. I want to finish my novel The Salt-Water Killings, and I need your help. In the midst of completing my novel, I’ve also signed up for the Blogging A-Z challenge, which is writing a blog on a daily basis for the month of April. There is still time to sign up if you haven’t.  OH and I’m a little bit of a twit on that note, because when I signed up I did it twice. (Pay attention to the instructions!) The first time I forgot to add the code at the end so people would know what my blog is about. I meant to put in WR for writing and storytelling, but somehow I got AC for adult content. I should apologize here because there will be no adult content unless you consider an occasional swear word adult content. Sorry for the confusion. And let’s not forget to mention my daily chores and tasks that go along with keeping a household in order that need to be completed.

My sister once said, “Your need for attention has no limit.” She is correct, it has no limit. The only thing that makes me different from ninety percent of the rest of the world is I can admit it. We all want and crave attention.

Why do we have Facebook? Don’t give me that horse shit answer “to stay in touch with distant relatives.” Write a letter! The reason people have Facebook is because they want to be in everybody’s face to tell them what is important in their life. Why do we blog? To share our opinions. Why do we write books? Because we have so much inside us if we don’t write it, it will make us explode.

For the next four weeks I need your help. I need support and encouragement. I want people to ask me how I’m doing. “How many words did you write today?” and “How many chapters were you able to edit?” or “Did you get that chapter tweaked that needed to be changed?” I want people to encourage me every single day. “Hey, I have a great idea for the letter ‘G’ if you don’t have a topic.” Even just a simple, “Hope your book editing is going good today.”

It is so true that writing is a sad and lonely career. Too many people think it’s a hobby. Trust me, if I were choosing a hobby, it wouldn’t be sitting around pulling my hair out trying to come up with just the right words to tell a story so that it is meaningful and interesting. I’d be socializing and drinking and playing golf at some fancy-schmancy country club.

So help me out, help me reach my goal by being encouraging, motivational, supportive. You might even pray for me if you are so inclined. I know it is a lot to ask of people because you have your own lives and your own goals and desires. But I figured I might as well ask. The worst thing that can happen is nothing happens and I go it alone, just like I always have.

Chapter 7- The Salt-Water Killings

 

Fotor_142566612781380

Brianna Pike and her husband moved from Hemet, California to the east coast in the late nineties. Although she had lived in California all her life, for some reason she felt New England beckoned her. When she met Tom the store manager of Wal-Mart was making a very big deal of the situation. Tom saved Brianna a lot of embarrassment by discreetly talking with the manager and the police officers. She still had to go through being booked and the mug-shot session and fingerprinting down at the station. She also would be on probation for the next year, but Tom saved her the humiliation of being handcuffed and taken away like a criminal. It wasn’t the first time she was in trouble with the law. She had been caught shoplifting at other places but this was the first time she had actually been booked for the crime. It wasn’t that she couldn’t afford the items. It was an addiction. It was a game to her to see if she could do it without getting caught. It made the adrenaline flow inside her, and getting caught was more intense than the excitement of getting away with it. Now her record and fingerprints were in the system for the world to know.

When she found out that Tom was from Maine, she knew it was fate. The desire to move east summoned her even more. It would be a place to start over. To stop the steeling and do something different with her life. Tom, a truck driver, was able to get a transfer to a New England trucking company. Brianna took correspondent courses to get her real estate license for Maine and New Hampshire, and they found a quaint cape in the town of Camp Eaton. She had been working for the Tidwell Company in South Portland for about three years when she first heard the story of the Salt-Water Killer.

It was just after lunch when Brianna punched in the code for the lock at 221 East Atlantic Avenue. She remembered looking at the house when she and Tom first moved to Camp Eaton. She was kind of surprised it hadn’t sold yet. It was a cute little cottage, but not big enough if children were part of the package. She and Tom were planning to have children at some point in their lives, but hadn’t gotten around to it.

The dust bunnies floated through the air in the afternoon sunshine. She wrote herself a note to have the Merry-Maids come in and do a quick once-over sweep and dust. She pulled open the drapes that gave view to the harbor and the jetty, and smiled, pleased the tide was in. It was so much prettier when those ugly mud flats were covered with water, and the scent of fish wasn’t quite as strong. The white caps crashed against the stone wall that crept out into the Atlantic Ocean.

John and Martha Beckett pulled in the yard right on time. Brianna loved new clients who actually showed up when they said they were going to. John and Martha’s credit checked out very well in the low seven hundred score. Not many people fell into that category these days. That was a huge plus when it came to commission. More times than not, people would come to view a house, and not even have the preliminary paperwork done. There were more these days who were no-credit, no-shows, and didn’t even bother to call to cancel. She hated that aspect of selling real estate. When she found what looked like a good prospect to sell to, she did all she could to make her sales pitch a winner.

“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Beckett?” She offered her right hand. “I’m Brianna Pike. Nice to meet both of you.”

Mr. Beckett shook her hand, Mrs. Beckett did not. This struck Brianna oddly, but she brushed it off. Maybe Mrs. Beckett was shy, or maybe she was just in a mood. Women were funny that way, and that was one thing Brianna learned quickly in the business of real estate. Go for the one that is interested, but try not to ignore the other. Don’t let the detached one discourage your sales pitch either.

“We’ll start with the kitchen. Would either of you like coffee or a soda? It’ll only take a minute, I have a Keurig in the kitchen.” She always brought the Keurig with whenever she was showing a house. It usually impressed her clients when they could have whatever flavor coffee they wanted while pondering thoughts of signing a 30-year mortgage contract. She also was an avid coffee drinker and liked that every cup was fresh, never that sludge that typically came from the bottom of a coffee pot.

She guided them towards the kitchen. “Unless you have any questions?”

“I have a question,” Mrs. Beckett said, still standing just inside the front door.

“Marti, come on, we talked about this.” John put a hand on her shoulder.

Marti pulled away from her husband. “Tell me, Ms. Pike, what do you know about Sheila Nelson?”

Brianna looked at Mr. Beckett, and back to Mrs. Beckett inquisitively. “Should I know Sheila Nelson?” She looked at the notes on the clip board of the house.

“You don’t know anything about her?” Mrs. Beckett’s question was more like an interrogation. She scoffed and walked over to the bay window, arms crossed over her nonexistent chest.

“That’s enough, Marti.” Mr. Beckett put a hand on his wife. “I’m sorry Ms. Pike, you’ll have to excuse my wife.”

“Do you know Sike Nukpana?” She pressed.

“Marti, enough.”

“I’m really sorry, but I don’t know who you’re talking about or why I should know these people.”

“Well, maybe you should have done your homework before you decided to sell this house. Why do you think all these houses along here are for sale?” She pointed up the street.

It was true, there were four or five houses just on East Street alone that were for sale. Not unusual for a small town. A lot of times families would live in little compounds together. When one family decided to move, a lot of time the rest would pack up, and follow suit. But, it wasn’t the case for these houses. None of the residents were related. Brianna did know that, because she had the names of the other homeowners as well as the agents who were handling the sales. Sometimes agents would barter with each other to get sales, so they all took turns at showing the houses to their clientage.

“It’s my understanding that the quarry has a lot of people upset, and that is the reason they have decided to sell.” Brianna reviewed her notes on the house. “Am I missing something?”

“No, you’re not. That is why all of these houses are going so cheap. Most of the people have been here for years and having the traffic, not to mention the dirt and dust from the quarry have people packing up and leaving. They tried to fight it, but more people want the revenue than the neighborhood.” Mr. Beckett had done his research.

“Shelia Nelson was raped!” Mrs. Beckett huffed. “And then as if that wasn’t enough after he finished doing his business with her, he slit her throat and then tied her body to the buoy out there where the mud flats start just before the lighthouse.” Mrs. Beckett pointed out the bay window.

“What? That’s horrible.”

“Alright, I think we’ve taken up enough of your time. Obviously my wife is not ready to take advantage of the low price this house is selling for.” Mr. Beckett directed his wife to the door.

“But wait, I don’t understand.” Brianna, flabbergasted, didn’t know what to say, or ask.

“The Salt-Water Killer. You should have known about that before coming down here telling people what a great deal they are getting you should be telling them how a young girl lost her life on the beach out there and then as if it weren’t enough that she was brutally raped by an older man, he tied her body to a buoy as if he were showing off his kill.” Mrs. Beckett literally spit the words out of her mouth.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Pike, that we have wasted your time.” Before she could ask any more questions the Beckett’s were in their car, backing out of the drive-way.

 

 

The Salt-Water Killings is currently in proofing stages and should be available later this year.

Puppy Breath

March 6

Instructions to live by from Puppy Breath


When enjoying the pleasures of life:

Sleep soundly
Live simply
Eat enthusiastically
Play vigorously
Love wholeheartedly

When something is not right:

Stand your ground
Grit your teeth
Bark fervently
Don’t back down
If that doesn’t work, pee on the floor

When you greet someone you like:

Run to welcome them
Smother them in sloppy kisses
Dance around and shake your whole body
Make silly sounds from your throat
Always be loyal

When there is opportunity:

Never pass up a chance to go for a ride with a friend
Always be willing to take the scenic route
Romp, jump and play, go for a walk every day
Dig until you find what you’re searching for
Learn new tricks, even if you’re an “old dog”

We all can learn something from our faithful friends… we should give them more credit than we do.

Leo

Leo

Is not judgmental, won’t ever hold a grudge,

If it’s attention he wants, your hand he’ll nudge.

Bringing joy all day long into the wee hours of the night,

So smart he knows when things are not quite right.

A comforting paw laid gently on your knee,

And a whine at the door when he has to go pee.

While sleeping his leg twitches as he chases rabbits,

Waking up with a wagging tail waiting for giblets.

Riding in the car with his head out the window

Where ever you go, he’s committed to follow.

There’s something special between master and dog,

Not a word spoken, instead silent monologue.

Loyal and faithful he’ll be till the end,

He’s not just a dog, he’s man’s best friend.

Dedicated the best dog friends in the world.

Kildare

Kildare

Kildare is the sister of the popular Kilroy graffiti from the fifties.  She is being introduced as the new icon for “READ MY STUFF” … I’ll tell you why.

I don’t know how many writers groups and forums I have been a part of throughout the years. I realize we, as writers, all experience a lot of the same things.  The people we think we are the closest to (other than our spouse or significant other) are typically not supportive, and don’t take the time to read what we write.  They don’t have time, they don’t care what we have to say, they have eight million excuses. I’m sure you’ve heard them all.

It’s been a long process because I’ve been writing for years, okay decades.  I’ve written letters, emails, books, newsletters, brochures, greeting cards, and essays. You name it I’ve written it.  All that happy horseshit usually doesn’t even amount to an acknowledgement from “the people we think we are the closest to” most of the time.  But I’ve figure out how to get them to notice and take interest in what we write.  Once you compose a letter and include some fabricated BS … such as, I found out that my sister had a different father than me.  It was a secret that my aunt spent a year in an insane asylum for killing her first husband so that she didn’t have to go to prison.  My grandfather owed the mafia huge amounts of money for betting on the horses, so he had to sell off the family land that was supposed to be divided among all the heirs. My uncle married his niece, and they have children that are a few cans shy of a six-pack.

Once you take the time to point out some of these real life (fabricated) situations and mail it to the whole family, they begin to wonder if it’s really true, because, you know, fabrication all comes from a little truth anyways.  At that point everyone wants to purchase your book(s) and read what you have written. They are afraid you might have put something about them in it and they want to make sure you didn’t portray them in a bad light (which I always do).  So, get on board with Kildare and let everyone she was here… or there. Somewhere!

Cheers! ♥

Christmas Stockings

IMAG3548

The Christmas Stockings

Well, it’s that time of year when we dig out all of our stuff: Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas recipes, Christmas cards, Christmas movies, Christmas books, and my favorite, the Christmas socks. As I dug mine out of the storage box and smiled at how they made me feel to put my little piggy-toes in them at Christmas time I recalled a story about two brothers named John and James.

John, the older of the two, and James played on a little league baseball team many years ago. Even though the two played on the same team they both were in competition with each other, always trying to be better than the other one. James could hit a home run like it was nobody’s business, and John could pitch strikes all day long. James couldn’t run, and John couldn’t catch, but the coach always did his best to help each of them excel at what they did best.

One Saturday afternoon game, it was the bottom of the ninth, and the brother’s team was down by two runs. There were two men on, and James was up to bat. John was coaching at third base. If James could hit the ball far enough into the outfield he could have plenty of time to run the bases and make it to home base. He stepped up to the plate and the crowd was cheering him on while others were making fun of him because they knew he couldn’t run that fast. He whacked that ball as hard as he could, and it flew right out into the bushes at the edge of the outfield.

“Run! Run!” everyone was yelling.

James took off running, tagging first base, while the outfielders were searching frantically in the bushes for the ball.

“Run! Run!” James kept on running. He tagged second base.

The crowd started yelling more and clapping. “Throw it! Throw it!” and “Run! Run!”

John saw the outfielders throw the ball into the short stop player. James kept on running.

“Run, James! Run!” John waved James past third and onto home plate.

James was running and the short stop player threw the ball. James was running so fast, and the ball was coming so much faster. Instead of the ball going into the catcher’s glove it hit James right in the head, and knocked him out cold. He ended up in a coma and after six days, his parents took him off the life support and he died, without ever waking up.

John grew up always feeling responsible for his brother’s death. Even though he married and had children of his own, he missed so much of their lives because he spent more time in the bottle than he did at birthdays and other memorable occasions. Eventually his wife divorced him and he grew into a lonely, grumpy old man.

One Christmas Eve, John was by himself, as usual, when a knock came on his door. It was one of his grandsons. Ironically it was the one named after his brother, James. He came in with a book in one hand and a thermos in the other.

“Grandpa, I have to share something with you before it’s too late.”

The old man gruffly said, “I don’t want to hear it.”

James was persistent and he took two mugs down from the cupboard and filled them with hot chocolate from the thermos.

Then he opened his Bible, and he spoke.

“One night there was a bright star which guided three men who were the three wise men to the birth of Jesus, who later in life became a carpenter and would be known as a fisher of men and souls. He had twelve apostles who spread the Word of Christ. But on one black day of hatred, envy and death, He was crucified. He shed His blood for us to purify and save us. He rose and is now in Heaven seated with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He did all of this because of His great love for us.”

“Grandpa, everyone says you’re a mean old man because of what happened to your brother. What happened to him is not your fault and Jesus loves you and forgives you. You don’t have to feel like it’s your fault, just talk to Jesus and tell Him how you feel.”

Of course John, being the grumpy drunk that he had grown into wasn’t going to listen to what anyone had to say and he kicked his grandson out of his house and told him if he was going to preach to him not to bother coming back again. That night, John died in his sleep.

There is a lot more to that story, but that is enough to make us contemplate what we are holding on to this Christmas. As I started to write out our Christmas cards, I thought about whom I had to forgive and who I needed to speak a kind word to. There is so much stuff that gets in the way of our lives that sometimes we lose sight of the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas. It is not about the stuff. It is not about whether or not someone acknowledges the kind things that we do. Kindness can go unnoticed for a lifetime.

This little baby boy born in a manger came to live a sinless life only to die a brutal death on a Cross in order for us to have eternal life. We celebrate His birth for that. When we get “wrapped up” (no pun intended) in all the other stuff, when we forget to forgive someone, when we over eat or over drink or over spend, or when we get so involved in the materialistic things of the season, we lose sight of what is important. This year when you dig out your Christmas stockings think about why you are wearing them and remember WHO the celebration is all about.

 

Fabulous Fiction Fridays — W.H.Matlack

 Q-1AhAmY

 Ebook cover - WTR                          Noir Town Full Cover Art

Today we are sitting down with W.H. Matlack, Solstice Publishing Author of Waiting to Run.  He agreed to be interviewed for Friday’s Fabulous Fiction Author.  He only has a short bit of time because Mowry has a routine and he will be expecting Mr. Matlack to take care of the feline duties at the office.

ME: Mr. M. would you be so kind to tell us about your latest book?

W.H. Matlack: Waiting to Run is a suspense thriller that brings in elements from the JFK assassination conspiracy theories. It features a young lady who becomes a very powerful, although reluctant, witch who must fight the deadly ghost of Lee Harvey Oswald. Her power is based on manipulating Quantum states and Dark Energy in a Holographic Universe. She is aided by the ghost of Dorothy Kilgallen, who was the last person to interview Jack Ruby before his death. The very fate of the universe itself lies in her hands. Thank God it’s only fiction.

ME: Wow, you can say that again. Although, so many books and theories have been written about the JFK conspiracy it’s hard to know what is real and what is not, if you know what I mean.  So what can we expect from you in the future?

W.H. Matlack:  More suspense thrillers based on real scientific theories. I might try a ghost story at some point. I like the idea of scaring people before they turn out the lights.

ME:  I don’t know about anyone else, but those are my favorite books to read.  So how do we find out about you and your books?

W.H. Matlack: I’m published by Solstice Publishing, and my books are available on their site as well as on Amazon. Go to http://amzn.to/1jwSMgq for Noir Town, my mystery, and http://is.gd/tJoW1Y for Waiting to Run, my suspense thriller.

ME: How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

W.H. Matlack: Like most authors, little bits of my real life show up, but they are almost always heavily covered in fiction – to avoid law suits, mainly.

ME:  Ha ha, that’s funny. No writer wants a law suit do they?  When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first book?

W.H. Matlack: I’ve always written short stories, and I even published a line of comic books, but it was fellow author, Andy MacRae who encouraged me to turn to novels. I really didn’t think I could do it, but I’ve put out two of them, so…

ME: So keep the momentum going right?  I hear ya.  Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?

W.H. Matlack: Depending on how much effort I have to put into the plot, it can range from six months to a full year.

ME:  That makes sense. Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

W.H. Matlack: I maintain actual business hours. I don’t write at night or early in the morning because that takes time away from my family (terrific wife and two cats who need almost constant attention).

ME:  That is probably good practice for any writer.  I know about two cats that need constant attention.  What is your writing routine once you start a book?

W.H. Matlack:  I just face the “void” and start writing. My favorite quote is from Lewis Carroll who said, “I sent Alice down a rabbit hole with no idea of what she would find there.”

ME:  I like that…kind of like getting on the horse and not knowing where he’s taking you.  What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing – or are there constant interruptions?

W.H. Matlack: Having a family means you’re going to get interrupted. My training in Journalism helps me concentrate amid the noise.

ME: What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?

W.H. Matlack: I’ll put on a Netflix movie or television series. It’s just as important to know when not to write as it is when to write.

ME:  That is a good point.  What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?

W.H. Matlack: It’s more fun creating worlds than just about anything else.

ME: I hear that a lot with authors. “If you don’t like the world you’re in, wait a minute, I create a new one.” Where do your ideas come from?

W.H. Matlack: They just spring up unbidden. I have no idea where they come from, except I have a theory that there is a place called “Idea Town.” If I knew where it was, I would move there.

ME: Ha ha, that sounds like a cool place. If you find it, let me know.  Do you feel humor is important in mysteries and why?

W.H. Matlack: Humor is vital. I write more humor than anything else. It keeps mysteries from bogging down and taking themselves too seriously. My example is Noir Town. It features a cynical private dick (that’s short for detective) who is pretty funny most of the time.

ME:  Private dick, now that is funny.  What about love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?

W.H. Matlack: By “love scenes” can I assume you mean “sex scenes?” Yes, they are difficult, but I think it’s wrong to over-write them. The challenge is to have them advance the plot or develop character.

ME:  You are probably right there, however a lot of people don’t do that.  What kind of research do you do?

W.H. Matlack: I don’t spend a lot of time researching my books. I just include enough reality to make them feasible. I start with the Internet. Google Maps is invaluable for looking at places I’ll never actually visit, which is almost everywhere.

ME: Where would we be without Google Maps?  Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?

W.H. Matlack: My hero is Michael Crichton. You never knew what would interest him next. I like to think of myself as that kind of writer. I know I would be better off sticking to one genre, but I just can’t seem to be able to do that.

ME: What does your wife think of your writing?

W.H. Matlack: My wonderful wife gives me nothing but encouragement even if she doesn’t really like the book’s subject.

ME:  Awwe, that’s so sweet.  Do you ever ask her for advice?

W.H. Matlack: I do ask her for advice, but I don’t really reach out to anyone when I’m writing. I don’t like Beta readers or critique groups. I want what I produce to be MY work, not OUR work.

ME: I get what you are saying there.  My husband tells me that all the time…make it your work!  So why not tell me about your family and what you all like to do.

W.H. Matlack:  I’m married and we have two cats. I’m a musician (drummer) and writer. I have a degree in Journalism from San Jose State. I like talking to people (maybe a little too much). I love sharing ideas about things – all kinds of things. I especially love learning about the Cosmos. Call me a nerd if you like. I don’t mind.

ME:  You do sound kind of geeky.

W.H. Matlack: What? You were the mascot for the football team in high school, so you weren’t a nerd? Do you still mascot for the football team? I thought not. Guess what? I still write.

ME: Touché. Just a few more things Mr. M., and I’ll let you get back to Mowry and his brush.  Could you tell us some of your favorite things?

W.H. Matlack:  – Dessert: cherry pie.

City: Any small town. Not impressed with New York, although I do like LA.

Season: summer.

Type of hero: seriously flawed.

Type of heroine: powerful, self- assured.

Favorite book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Favorite authors to read? Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Nelson DeMille

ME:  What are some of your favorite things to do?

W.H. Matlack: My wife and I like walking to our little downtown.

ME: What do you think of critique groups in general?

W.H. Matlack: So that’s how you would write my novel? Well, here’s how I’m going to write it.”

ME: I love that answer. This next question I hate to ask because I always hated it when I was asked it in job interviews.  But the powers that be dictate the questions so where do you see yourself in five years?

W.H. Matlack: Right here.

ME:  Have you always wanted to be a writer?

W.H. Matlack: I’ve always been a writer. All my life.

ME:  How many books have you written, how many have been published?

W.H. Matlack: I’ve published two novels, nine comic book titles, and written countless short stories (most of them not published)

ME:  After you’ve written your book and it’s been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?

W.H. Matlack: I always purchase a box or two for signings. I don’t really like reading them. I always think, “Who the hell does this guy think he is? Oh. Yea.”

ME:  Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?

W.H. Matlack: I do love Jhona, the central character in Waiting to Run because she is a very strong woman. Even as she gains strength as a witch, she doesn’t lose her femininity. Lee Harvey Oswald is pretty cool, too. He’s just pure evil…and a total idiot.

ME: Oh I think he probably always was a total idiot.  I’m really looking forward to reading it…in fact I’ve already started it.  What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

W.H. Matlack: I whipped out Noir Town pretty quickly although I had to completely re-write it after discovering other books with the same plot. The hardest is the one I’m working on now. I had a lot of fun with Waiting to Run.

ME: What the heck is that sound?  Do you hear that?  Let me get the door.  Oh, I didn’t know you brought the cats with you.  Aren’t they adorable and look at that tiger, he’s got his brush in his teeth!  Okay I better this interview wrapped up. Are they going to be okay in here? Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

~ Both cats jump up on the desk and make themselves at home. The yellow tabby start cleaning his paws.

W.H. Matlack: This is Mowry with the brush and this is Alex with all the hair. He doesn’t like getting brushed, and he doesn’t hesitate telling me so. On the other hand, Mowry, the Orange one, likes getting brushed so much that he comes into my office and demands that I take a few minutes out of writing, or whatever I’m doing, and give him a good brushing. My cats are fine with being interviewed, but bear in mind, they still don’t understand this whole writing bit where I stare at a computer screen and only occasionally tap at the keyboard. Hey! I could be petting them! See look, they want to be petted!

I  think about the story angle first. Characters next, and then I need to figure out where they are, so that’s setting I guess.

ME: I guess we’ll finish up this interview with company.  What are the elements of a great romance for you?

W.H. Matlack: Maureen O’Hara, the greatest of all Pirate girlfriends. She was so awesome, and girlfriend to so many pirates. Does that make her an element? I think it does.

ME:  What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?

W.H. Matlack: Hardest: getting my edits back and realizing that I don’t have even the most rudimentary grasp of English grammar. Easiest: There’s really nothing easy about it. It’s mostly pure torture mixed in with a few chuckles and a lot of nail trimming.

ME: Have you experienced writer’s block?

W.H. Matlack: Every time I finish something I become convinced that I will never have another original idea again. NEVER!

ME: How do you work through it?

W.H. Matlack: I work through it by sitting down, facing the void and writing whatever comes. It’s scary at best.

ME: What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

W.H. Matlack: Knowing that I can totally get revenge on anyone I choose just by putting them in one of my books. I confess. I’ve done that more than once.

ME:  If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

W.H. Matlack: The same thing I do when I have writer’s block: clipping my nails

ME:  Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

W.H. Matlack: It only takes one agent or publisher to like what you do. Just one. You just have to find them.

ME: That’s the hard part, finding the one, right.  Okay, Mr. M. I’ve enjoyed having and the little fur-balls here. I suppose is time for you to get back to your office.  Can you give us your links of how to find you again?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noirtown?ref_type=bookmark

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WillMatlack

The books: Noir Town  and Waiting to Run

Fabulous Fiction Fridays: Chrystal Vaughan

chrystal

 Dead in the WaterSideshow

Fridays are for Fabulous Fiction Writers and today we are celebrating with a bang because it is also Independence Day. Please welcome my guest, Chrystal Vaughan.

Me: Hey Chrystal, nice to have you here. Glad you could come with it being a holiday. I won’t keep you long because I know you have family waiting for you to do the big BBQ and cook-out thing. So tell us what do you write?

Chrystal: I write paranormal horror and sometimes paranormal YA; actually I write a little bit of everything but typically not erotica though I might change my mind on that ha-ha.

Me: Oooh erotica sounds like fun. Now I’d like to ask what inspired you to write a book.

Chrystal: I have been a writer since I was very young. Dead in the Water was inspired by my students (I work in a high school).

Me: You work in a high school? It takes a special person to work with students and have the patience for teaching. I applaud you for that. Next question, two-part: What is your favorite part of writing and what is the most difficult part?

Chrystal: My favorite part of writing is the creation of new people and their worlds. I love when the characters decide to break out of the mold I have created for them and take off in different directions than I’d planned. The most difficult part of the writing process for me is editing and marketing. Editing is a necessary part of writing but I enjoy creating over editing. Marketing is the worst part for me; I’m really not a salesperson.

Me: I’m there with you as far as the editing is concerned. Not much fun doing that. So how long does it take you to write a book?

Chrystal: It took me about a year to write Dead in the Water, my second book. That doesn’t include editing, publishing, or marketing.

Me: And why did you choose to write books from the Young Adult genre and why not anything else?

Chrystal: Actually, Dead in the Water is my only Young Adult novel. My other two books (Sideshow, out now, and Conspiracy of Ravens, due for release very soon) are both horror novels for adults.

Me: Conspiracy of Ravens, that sounds really interesting. How was the impact (or desired impact) of your book on the Young Adults, like your students?

Chrystal: I wrote Dead in the Water for my students at the school where I work. I wanted to write something for them that was appropriate but also entertaining, something that my little sisters could read (they are teenagers and pre-teens) without too much graphic content or language.

Me: What was your favorite scene or character to write?

Chrystal: My favorite character is Evalyn (Eva) Dunbar. She is such a typical teenage girl, particularly in my neck of the woods. I love how she blossoms from an introvert who thinks of herself as a freak into a young woman in love.

Me: She sounds like my kind of character. If you gave one of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

Chrystal: In the book, Eva does speak for herself, and so does her boyfriend Jesse. I think I would give Natasha (the antagonist) the chance to speak. I’m sure she would apologize for what she did to Alex and for what she tried to do to Eva. Natasha had a very hard life; that doesn’t condone killing anyone, but it helps to understand some of the reasons behind her actions.

Me: Well, Chrystal, it has been a pleasure having you here. I know you have big plans for later today, so I won’t keep you much longer.  Can you give us a hint as to what Conspiracy of Ravens is going to be about?

Chrystal: Sure, here’s a link to the trailer:

Me: Fabulous, now grab yourself a burger or a cocktail on your way out. There’s always something to eat and drink around this joint. One more thing before you go. Could you give us a list of where to find you on social media and to purchase your great books?

Chrystal: You can purchase all of my books at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=chrystal%20vaughan&sprefix=chrys%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Achrystal%20vaughan

You can purchase Sideshow at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sideshow-chrystal-vaughan/1117375038?ean=9781492935629

You can purchase Dead in the Water at Amazon and Solstice Publishing:
http://solsticepublishing.com/dead-in-the-water/

I’m also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/chrystalwrites), Twitter (@TheChrystalShip), and Goodreads (Chrystal Vaughan). You can find excerpts and book information on my blog at http://www.mermaidsandmayhem.blogspot.com.

Me: Great, thanks again for being one of my Fabulous Fiction Friday Authors. I sure do appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule. Have a happy and safe 4th!