Welcome to Part 3 of “THE MEREST LOSS” Blog Tour! @ StevenNeil12 @4WillsPub #RRBC

It is my great pleasure to host fellow Rave Reviews Book Club author, Steven Neil. I have been following his wonderful tour, and I encourage you to follow as well and to visit his previous stops.

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GUEST POST SEVEN
From Steven Neil, the author of THE MEREST LOSS

Book
The Merest Loss by Steven Neil ISBN: 1788039718

Blurb
‘A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.
When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?
Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?’

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Editing the novel

In this post I reveal my approach to editing, developed during the time I was studying for my Masters in Creative Writing. I write straight on to a PC, sometimes using Dragon voice recognition. I write fast and rarely stop to edit as I go. I find the more the editing is separated from the first draft the better the second draft is. I think I need to be in a different, critical mindset when editing. As Hemingway is reputed to have said, ‘Write drunk, edit sober.’ I always edit by chapter. I try to write so that each chapter is a little story of its own. I limit my chapters to no more than 2500 words. My logic is that when I am reading in bed at night, if I get tired, I look to see how many pages until the end of the chapter. If there are only a few pages, I read on. If there are a lot, I put the bookmark in. In my novel, you are never more than a few pages away from chapter end.

Here is the checklist I used when editing The Merest Loss. Feel free to use it as a template for your own checklist and add and subtract as you see fit. I hope it may help some writers out there to fine tune their own drafts.

WRITING CHECKLIST (for each chapter)

Is there enough sight, sound and smell?
Can the reader see what I am describing?
Is there enough movement, action?
Is there humour?
Has emotion been evoked? What will the reader feel?
Has the reader’s attention been captured?
Is the writing elegant, simple?
Have I put in things the reader will skip?
Is there fascination?
Are the adjectives, adverbs interesting? Are there too many?
Is the tense consistent?
Is the perspective consistent?
Is the voice consistent?
Are the verbs interesting enough?
Is the writing grammatical?
Is the punctuation correct?
Are the paragraph breaks appropriate?
Is there enough plot development?
Is there enough mystery?
Is the use of qualifiers and intensifiers appropriate and limited?
Is the reader captivated?
Does the reader think what I want them to think? Is there room for confusion?
Do the speech patterns reflect the person and the milieu?
How does it sound when read aloud?
Is there at least one compelling simile or metaphor?
Is there anything that could be seen as cliché?
Is any of the writing laboured or awkward?
Is the sentence length varied?
Is there any telling that could be shown instead?
Is the back-story necessary and well integrated?
Is there enough pace? Is it too slow or too fast?
Is there tension?
Are any words out of place e.g. too modern?
Is there character development i.e. does the reader learn something about a character that is new?
Is there plot development i.e. is there a new clue or piece of information?
Is there enough dialogue? Is it the best way to advance the story?
Can any words be taken out?
Is there at least one compelling phrase or image with a poetic element?
Is it credible, believable?
Is there too much name repetition?
Is the dialogue separated from the description?
Is it authentic?
Does it feel true?
What is resolved?
What is still to be resolved?
Will the reader want to read on?

© Steven Neil

THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.com/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5
https://www.amazon.fr/Merest-Loss-English-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.ca/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5
https://www.amazon.com.au/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

Follow Steven Neil on https://twitter.com/stevenneil12 for information on how to purchase the paperback through an independent bookseller in the UK.

Genres

Historical Fiction and Victorian Historical Romance

Bio

Steven has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. He has been a bookmaker’s clerk, bloodstock agent, racehorse breeder and management consultant amongst other professions in his varied career. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire, England. The Merest Loss is his debut novel.

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Twitter

@stevenneil12

IAN author page

https://www.independentauthornetwork.com/steven-neil.html

Email

stevenneil1@aol.com

Buy links

https://www.amazon.com/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the
author’s tour page on the
4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click
HERE.
Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

My #RRBC October-ween block party winners

Last month, the Rave Reviews Book Club had a festive little block party that gave the attendees a fairly large group of blogs to visit, each with a wonderful post of the author’s choice.

Each stop had a giveaway, and I am excited to tell you who won mine! 😃

(1) $10 Amazon gift card – Beem Weeks

(1) ebook copy of ZOMBIE DAWN… – Karen Black

(1) ebook copy of MEGAMAX – Shirley Harris-Slaughter

I want to thank everyone who supported the October-ween Block Party! It was a lot of fun and I am already excited about next year’s event.

I especially want to thank those of you who stopped by during my day on the tour. I hope you enjoyed taking a small step behind the scenes of #ZombieDawn. It was such a fun story to right and I’m hoping I will be able to expand it into a full-length novel at some point.

It got pretty crazy in my little world for a while, but now that things have settled down a bit, I hope to get back on track with all things writing. 😁

Welcome to #RRBC’s November “Spotlight Author” Blog Tour!

Today, it is my pleasure to share with you a wonderful author and Rave Reviews Book Club’s SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR for November, D. L. Finn!
I am a fan of vher work and hopefully, you will become one, too!

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Thank you for having me on your blog for day seven of the Just Her Poetry Spotlight Tour!

Finn Facts:

I love nature, and my poetry reflects that.
My favorite genres to read are fantasy, mystery, action, romance, and horror. It’s a bonus when they’re blended.

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Blurb:

Take a journey with D.L. Finn as she blends her love of nature with her deepest emotions. Sit with her on the forest floor observing its tranquil beauty, or stroll along the ocean’s shore admiring the vastness of its horizon. Here in these peaceful moments you’ll be able to experience her thoughts and feelings in the light—and in the darkness. This is a thought-provoking collection of poetry that invites the reader into all the seasons of a soul.

Excerpt from Just HerPoetry:

A BIT OF FAMILY

LEAVE

It hurts less each time you leave.
But still you take a piece of me with you.
I think of you in your youth.
A sparkle in your eyes…
Joy in your laughter…
Holding you in my arms…
It all stays with me.
You grew and became.
I was amazed and perplexed.
At times you brought me joy and pain.
I always knew you’d leave,
There was never any doubt.
I felt a bit of pride and sadness,
When you walked to your car.
You’re doing what you’re supposed to do.
So am I.
You’ll always be:
In my heart…
In my mind…
In my prayers.
Every day.
So, leave as you must,
And become what you are.
Distance doesn’t mean a thing to me,
Because when you go, a part of me goes with you.
You’ll always be my child.
I’ll always be your mother.
I know the world deserves you,
And you deserve the world.
I’ll go back now into my own world.
Watchful now for that text, I made it home safely.
Because mothers never stop worrying.
They never stop being proud.
Or ever stop loving even when their child leaves.

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Amazon Purchase Link

D. L. FINN BIO

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include children’s books, adult fiction, a unique autobiography, and poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Twitter handle: @dlfinnauthor

Facebook address: https://www.facebook.com/d.l.finn.writer/?

Website address: https://dlfinnauthor.com/

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/D-L-Finn/e/B00ZBGJ08Q?

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/D.+L.+Finn?

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/mthobits

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Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. If you’d like to visit past stops on D.L. Finn’s Spotlight Tour, you can do so by clicking Here.

#RRBC OCTOBER-WEEN BOOK, BLOG & TRAILER BLOCK PARTY!

Thank you for visiting my stop on the Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK, BLOG & TRAILER BLOCK PARTY!

Here’s what I’m giving away today:
$10 Amazon gift card

1 ebook – Zombie Dawn

1 ebook – Megamax

Number of winners for this stop – 3

Please Like my post and leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. Good luck!

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Since this party has a Halloween theme, I thought I would share an excerpt from my short story, Zombie Dawn.

Catherine’s house, including the treacherous back steps and the spooky alley, was my house for seventeen years, and Silme was my sweet baby boy for sixteen of those years.

The neighborhood in the story is the one I live in now, and I get a little exercise by walking those streets at least four nights a week, always between ten p. m. and midnight.

Many of the houses are dark by the time I waddle by, and working pole lamps are few and far between.

I have to admit that the little road where the character Bobby dies (not in this excerpt) between my street and the block behind us, is a bit unsettling. There is only one light, and it is often out. My poor vision prevents me from seeing into the alley after dark, so walking that road always gives me a bit of a chill.

One of the side roads on the street behind mine leads to Blueberry Park, the site of a homeless camp and not a safe place to be near after dark.

Sometimes, I see other people on the road, and I wonder what brings them out so late at night.

These figures, shrouded in shadows and mist, add to the overall creep factor of my walks and send my writer’s mind to some pretty ghoulish places.

It was during one of these walks that Zombie Dawn was born.

I hope you enjoy the following excerpt.

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“Toby!” Catherine Peterson’s voice reached the shrill note necessary to be heard through both the bedroom door and the raucous din that currently passed for music. “Why are you still up? Turn that music off and go to bed! Did you take the garbage out?”

The music stopped, and she heard Toby’s door creak open.

“No,” was the shouted reply. “I forgot.”

Catherine rolled her eyes, knowing that it was foolish to expect a ten-year-old boy to do anything that even remotely resembled a chore.

“It has to go out tonight,” she shouted back. “They come early.”

“I’ll set my alarm for six and take it out then.” It was clear from Toby’s voice that he had no intention of doing either of those things.

“Never mind.” Catherine was too tired to argue. “I’ll take it out this time, but you owe me!”

“Thanks mom!” The door closed, and the music began to pound almost immediately.

Catherine rolled her eyes again as she headed for the kitchen to grab the trash bag.

Silme, the family cat, appeared from nowhere and escorted her, somehow managing to be exactly where she planned to put each foot as she walked.

“Silme, you’re not helping.”

The cat meowed his response, letting her know that he didn’t care if he wasn’t being particularly helpful.

He followed her to the back door, hoping to slide beneath the bag that she held and escape into the backyard as soon as the screen door opened. It was Silme’s standard routine, and Catherine was ready for him.

“That’s not happening, dude.” Once the inner door was open, Catherine turned her back to the screen and lowered the bag so that it was between her feet and the cat.

“Stay back,” she instructed automatically. But, as usual, Silme wasn’t listening.

Eyes wide, he gazed past her into the unlit yard. Growling softly, he flattened his ears.

“Don’t look at the possum,” Catherine told him with a smile. It had become another automatic statement when a possum had taken up residence in the plastic tub that had been outfitted as a refuge for stray cats.

Silme growled again, then turned and ran when Catherine opened the latch and backed through the doorway.
She had just a second or two to wonder what the heck was wrong with her cat before a pair of hands closed over her shoulders with fingers that gripped like talons.

Screaming, she dropped the garbage bag and tried to pull away. But the outer step that she stood on was small, and the quickness of her movements caused her to lose her balance.

She tried to recover but fell into the arms of the man who held her.

She had just enough time to recognize Mr. Duncan, who lived across the street, before his teeth sank into the flesh at the side of her throat and tore a mouthful away.

Blood spurted, spattering Catherine’s jaw like drops of rain. Mr. Duncan’s lips pressed against the wound, his teeth chewing at the flesh around it.

He’s eating me! The thought was almost too insane for Catherine’s mind to process. Dear Lord, he’s eating me!

She shrieked, the sound a keening cry born from a combination of pain and gut-wrenching terror.

She managed to put her palms against Mr. Duncan’s bony chest, pushing as hard as she could in an attempt to break free.

Mr. Duncan took two stumbling steps backward, and Catherine grabbed at the door handle with the hand that wasn’t pressed against the wound.

But two steps weren’t enough. Mr. Duncan’s hands grabbed the back of her shirt and pulled her into his vicious embrace.

Catherine voiced a scream that barely seemed human, while Mr. Duncan’s jaws closed on the nape of her neck.

The curtain opened at the window to her left, and she saw Toby’s terrified face watching through the glass.

The window slid open, and she screamed hysterically for him to close it. “Shut it! Shut it tight!”

He hesitated, and she felt a fresh surge of panic. What if he came out to try to help her?

“Call the cops! Now! ”

The window slammed shut, and though she couldn’t hear the latch sliding into place, she knew it had been done.

She felt herself weakening and realized that, as crazy as it seemed, she was being killed by a sweet old man who had every intention of devouring her.

Stay in the house! Her last thought was for the safety of her son. Please, baby, stay in the house…

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Zombie Dawn

In the late hours of a warm summer night, the residents of a quiet little street discover that things aren’t so quiet, after all.

You can get your copy here: Zombie Dawn

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Thanks again for stopping by today. If you would like to visit the other stops along the tour, you can do that by clicking here:

#RRBC October-ween

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Contact

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae

My Books

Shadow of the Drill

Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge!

A Perilous Thirst

A different kind of vampire story.

One Dyke Cozy

“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. HAPPY

Zombie Dawn

A short story with a bite.

I’ve Always Loved Women

Love makes Danny do crazy things.

Megamax

Let the blood flow!

Welcome to the “CHASING THE RAINBOW” Blog Tour!  FRStepnowski @4WillsPub #RRBC

I am so excited to host a stop on Forrest’s tour! I love his poetry, and I hope you enjoy reading this sample of his work.

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“Chasing the Rainbow” Blog Tour
Day 2

About the Book: “Journey to the Rainbow’s End: A Drag Queen’s Odyssey”

A collection of poetry that describes the coming of age and coming out of a man who struggled with his self-worth and identity, in the hopes to show others who share similar struggles that they are not alone.

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Writer’s Q&A

What inspired you to write and become published?
Answer: Many people have heard me say “I like to represent the people who are in the land of misfit toys.” What do I mean by that you may ask? When I use the analogy of the “island of misfit toys” I am talking about people who do not fit inside the heteronormative, fully Caucasian, privileged society. Does that still exist you may ask? If you look at politics in the United States and our current government, you can see these examples fully. I represent the different, LGBT, people of color, the poor, etc. We are all human, however, there are many who are privileged who tend to focus on their own “special needs” and forgetting that they are supposed to represent all people.
“We the people” does not mean you pick and choose who get civil liberties, or cutbacks in taxes. It means all of us. I may live in a utopian mindset, but I believe we can get back to taking care of each other again. As far as why I pursued publishing? Was it to become a famous author that would be a NY Times best seller? No, I never imagined my work would elevate to such levels. Not that I would be opposed to it, however, my goal has always been to inspire others to find and use their voice, to make the world a better place, and to show others they are not alone. I have survived more than most people, so I have been told. I truly believe literary arts help bring people together and brings them into a world of common ground. When we start to see the similarities in each other’s eyes and hearts, we then can become united and complete the tasks that help the greater good.

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Excerpts from “Journey to the Rainbow’s End” by Forrest Robert Stepnowski

Human
I sit here in the silence, complacent, and meaningless.
Am I but a whisper of make believe, a soldier trapped in a world of turmoil and lies,
I am alone,
I walk through a shadow driven by what I believed to be my calling,
An inspirational relic lost in the memes of my successors,
I am lost,
I stare at the night sky wondering where I’ve been, trying not to dwell on the should’ves, could’ves, and would’ves,
Not knowing what exactly I’m doing wrong and why I walk in pensive dreams of those who may oppose me,
I am drowning,
I lay my head down trying to escape the nightmares of existence, of a world that still identifies me as the keeper of rainbows and glitter.
Forgetting I left my heels and tiaras at home in a closet that I thought I’ve long since escaped in distant memories,
a closet which many wish me to return,
The Journey continues,
I wake up and begin to laugh at the adversity being thwarted at my doorstep, for I have survived this demon before.
It attempts to taunt and hinder me, trying to break my will and sparkle,
I am my own utopia.
They say god doesn’t give you more than you can handle, I am broad shouldered after all,
Even the meek can fight the negative blood outpoured from those who say they are true friend,
I am humbled.
I am captured by rejuvenated thoughts and energy, and begin to rise and embrace new beginnings…
I fly like an eagle, soaring out of the darkness and into the light,
For this I say… I am human.

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About the Author:

Forrest Robert Stepnowski is an advocate, a writer, a social worker, and a performance artist in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing poetic works and prose for most of his life. He realized how important is to share his work with others who have dealt with similar pathways of self-hate, self-deprecation, and self-loathing in the hopes they find they are not alone, as well as help them realize they are not deviants, nor are they against “human nature.” They are part of a collective of misfit toys on an island where being different is beautiful. We all have a voice, and the world should hear it. Forrest is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.

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Social Media Links:
Website/Blog: https://www.forresttakesajourney.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forrestrobertstepnowski
Twitter: https://twitter.com/frstepnowski
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/forreststepnowski

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Journey to the Rainbow’s End: A Drag Queen’s Odyssey (Available on Kindle and Paperback)

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To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.

Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

Welcome to the “BOUND’ED BY CHAINS” Blog Tour! 

Today, I am both honored and thrilled to host a stop on Forrest Stepnowski’s tour. Forrest is a fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club and this is his 2nd collection of poetic works.
I have known Forrest for many years and have seen him grow as a man, as an entertainer and as a writer. I’m incredibly proud of who he is today, in all of those areas.

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About the Book:
BOUND; The Lost Romanticism and Eroticism of Gay Men. Allow yourself to give in to your deepest fantasies, desires, and sensual dreams, BOUND is a collection of poetic works exploring the world of eroticism, romanticism, and fantasies of gay men of all ages. Walk through the mind inspired by fantasies, the hopes for romance, the desire to be swept off ones’ feet, and the longing to be touched through this anthology filled with lost romance and passionate memories. Escape into a world that allows you to be one with your desires, feel the heightened sensations and passion through random rendezvous and engagements.

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Poetry Excerpt from Bound: The Lost Romanticism and Eroticism of Gay Men:
The Crystal Tide
I walked the coastline of a crystal tide
Listening to the waves crashing against the jetty of rocks and stones
The water reflects like gems shimmering against the night sky
Lonely and afraid of my own silence
Pondering why I am left alone, never been kissed, never been touched
I am older in my years and aging every day
I play with the soft graying hair that covers the top of my soul
Am I the lost image of romance and the invisible angel of love and music?
Then I see you
You are standing on the jetty as the waves crash around,
Shirtless and stoic
I continue to walk closer
I am stunned by the sound on your operatic voice
Ave Maria flows out of your soul with simplicity and ease
I am entranced by your bravery as you belt out each and every note while standing on the edge of the rocks
The waves caress your skin
Like glistening diamonds dancing all over the night sky
Your song, calls to me, embraces my heart from within
I find myself fixated on your voice and silhouette
Imagining how my touch would affect you
Would I make you tremble?
Would I make you quiver?
You turn your face my direction and I freeze
Did I startle you or make you uncomfortable?
Did I frighten you or cause you disdain?
Our eyes lock, and you smiled
I turn away and begin to walk down the beach once more
I felt my heartbeat dancing inside my chest
Hyperventilating, breathless
I run
Afraid
Unworthy
Your singing becomes louder
I pause in mid-step and you appear in front of me
I am frozen
You trap me in your embrace
I feel your breath against my neck
Your lips caress my skin and I feel… electricity
I am shaking
But excited
What strange power is this that you have over me?
We are now cheek to cheek as you continue to tighten your grip around my waist
You force me to stare into your eyes
We kiss
The electricity becomes lightening force and renders me paralyzed
We begin to fall onto the sand
We are entangled
We continue to kiss, and I find myself naked and unhinged
From never being kissed, to becoming a master of sin and lust
I am pinned to the beach and you begin to go down on me
I arch backwards, and you grasp my body against yours even tighter
You lie on top of me and take me to a world that I never imagined I would travel
You thrust into me and I sing an aria that made the angels cry
I see the stars and hear the fireworks
We lie in our celestial waltz
My breath is heavy and uncontrolled
I feel you getting deeper, deeper, deeper
I lose myself and give in to your complete control
I am a slave to your touch
You kiss every inch of my body and thrust harder and harder
You turn me around and render me helpless in your grasp
You pound into me without hesitation
Pulling my hair back
Using my hips as handles to lunge even harder
Strangers in the night entangled in an unintended meeting,
Not even knowing your name
I do not care
I feared my own virginity would encompass my lifetime
And you literally turned me into a sensual beast
We are lost in each other’s touch all night long
I did not know what a tantric connection was until now
At sunrise, we finally climaxed in a rage and surge of passion
We lie in each other’s arms and enjoyed the morning sun touch our skin, as you continue to kiss and caress me
We stare into each other’s eyes and laugh
You start singing to me
I am utterly lost in your eyes
As blue as the crystal tide.

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About the Author:

Forrest Robert Stepnowski is an advocate, a writer, a social worker, and a performance artist in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing poetic works and prose for most of his life. He realized how important is to share his work with others who have dealt with similar pathways of self-hate, self-deprecation, and self-loathing in the hopes they find they are not alone, as well as help them realize they are not deviants, nor are they against “human nature.” They are part of a collective of misfit toys on an island where being different is beautiful. We all have a voice, and the world should hear it. Forrest is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.

Social Media Links:
Website/Blog: https://www.forresttakesajourney.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forrestrobertstepnowski
Twitter: https://twitter.com/frstepnowski
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/forreststepnowski

Amazon Purchase Links:
Paperback

E-Book

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To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Thanks for supporting this author and his work.

A peek at #Winter – Charlene

Now that Megamax is finished and on the shelf at Amazon, I’m back to work on my main WIP, Winter of the Drill.

I decided to share a moment with Charlene, who is beginning to question her feelings for Rudy Valdez, who happens to be the partner of her lover, Decker.

This takes place in the early morning hours, after Decker and Rudy have returned from a “job” that did not go as planned.

I’ve always enjoyed this quiet, emotional little piece, and I hope you will, too.

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* * *

Charlene prowled through the house while the minutes ticked toward dawn, turning on a small lamp when she left the hallway and entered the living room. The lamp shone a faint light, just enough to avoid falling over the furniture, but Charlene could have navigated the room blindfolded.

   She contemplated curling up on the sofa to watch the stars, which she often did when she needed to unwind, but decided on a quick detour through the kitchen first.

   A cup of hot cocoa sounded wonderful but also seemed to be too much work. She settled on a bottle of peach flavored water and a bag of animal crackers, taking both into the living room and opening the drapes before getting comfortable on the couch.

   The room was suddenly too quiet, and she reached for the stereo remote. Music flowed from the speakers, prompting her to sing along with Barry Manilow while he told the tragic tale of Mandy, who came and gave without taking. 

   Barry followed that song with another of her personal favorites, his voice lilting beautifully when he assured her that he would see her when the good times came again.

   “Sing it, Barry,” she sighed, helping herself to another cookie. “Get me through the night.”

   She knew that she might fall asleep where she sat, wrapped in music, across from the big picture window and the stars that sprinkled the sky overhead. The excellent soundproofing in the basement would prevent her from overhearing anything that went on beneath her feet, and if Decker happened to come upstairs, he would move through the house as silently as a wraith. Either way, she could pass the remaining predawn hours in undisturbed slumber before waking to a new day, rested and ready to handle whatever needed to be handled.  

    She could, but she knew that things would go differently.

   A faint sound caught her attention, and she cocked her head, but it was not repeated. She started to stand, then changed her mind and leaned back against the cushions. Rudy was fine, there was no reason to check. He would call if he needed her.

   Two minutes later, she stood next to his bed and watched his face while he slept. His dark hair lay against the white pillowcase in stark contrast, and she took a lock between her fingers, enjoying its silky feel. His brow furrowed and she rested her other hand on his shoulder, her fingers moving lightly over his skin until his features relaxed.   

   The CD had played through, so she restarted it, knowing that the music would be better for him than any pill. After adjusting the volume, she turned back to the sleeping man, her breathing unconsciously matching the steady rise and fall of his chest.

   A sudden thrash of his leg kicked the blanket away, and she reached to cover him, hoping that he would not wake. He turned slightly, and her gaze fell upon a puckered line that started above his hip and disappeared beneath the waistband of his briefs. She could not stop her hand as it crept forward to touch the scar, nor could she avoid the remembrance of that horrible night.

   Her attempt to push the memory away was unsuccessful, and she was forced to relive those long hours when their kitchen had served as a makeshift OR, and Rudy’s blood had spattered the floor.

   One of these nights you won’t come back, she thought dispassionately. I know it, and I’m ready. But I pray every day that it won’t happen soon, and I’m sure as hell glad it didn’t happen tonight.

   His face was beautiful in slumber, unlined and free of pain. On impulse, she leaned forward and touched her lips to his forehead.

   “I love you,” she whispered, spreading the blanket over his body again. “Right or wrong, I do. I can’t help it, and I’m not sure I want to.”

   Satisfied that all was well, she left the room and returned to her place on the sofa. She sat down just in time to hear Barry tell her that some good things never last.

   No shit, she thought sarcastically.  She was a realistic woman and under no delusions about the life that she lived, or the men who shared the living with her. Memories of picnics and holidays, of summer nights under the stars and light-hearted conversations around the kitchen table were momentarily pushed aside by Rudy’s scar, the blood on Decker’s face and the way that Hunter had favored his shoulder. Listening to the remainder of the song, she felt a chill ice her body that she knew no blanket could warm away.

   “I know it won’t last,” she said aloud, toasting Barry’s voice with her bottle of water. “The good things never do. In this world, only the bad survives.”

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Thank you for stopping by my blog. I will be back soon with a book review of another awesome book.

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My books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge!
A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. HAPPY
Zombie Dawn
A short story with a bite.
I’ve Always Loved Women
Love makes Danny do crazy things.
Megamax
Let the blood flow!

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour With Bernard Foong! #RRBC #RWISA

It is a pleasure to welcome Bernard Foong to my blog! A true gentleman, this wonderful author has given us a glimpse of Paris that is as elegant and exotic as the city itself.

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Vignettes Parisian

Vignettes Parisian is a collection of four short stories about the Author’s past and present experiences in the French City of Love and Romance, commonly known as Paris.

Christian Dior Couturier Du Reve

It is impossible not to have a close encounter with fashion when I am in Paris. Even if I had to wait in the freezing cold for an hour and a half to enter the Christian Dior Couturier Du Reve (Christian Dior Couturier of Dreams) exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts). My husband, Walter, and I were the lucky few who arrived early before the museum opened its doors. The late arrivals were banished to the back of the queue for a five hours wait before admission was granted.

This spectacular exhibition was worth the wait. Not only were the lives, times, and accomplishments of Christian Dior, one of the great French couturier and his successors well documented, the exquisite fashions and well-thought-out displays were equally impressive.

Since my first visit in 1966 to the French capital of romance, luxury, and fashion, my love for Paris has never waned. Before I left sunny Maui, I had designed and made a haute couture gold, silver, and black embossed velvet fleur-de-lis patterned coat to wear during my recent holiday in France. It was at this exhibition that I received compliments for my one-of-a-kind creation.

A stranger approached me at the exhibition to buy the coat off my back because he loved what I wore. Perhaps I should be the next designer to take over the reins for this resplendent Maison – The House of Dior. After all, I am a knowledgeable and seasoned fashion designer who knows every aspect of the international fashion industry.

Shopping In Paris (Then & Now)

I am one of those blessed individuals with a pair of discerning eyes and can detect items I wish to purchase in cramped spaces on my crazy shopping sprees. It was in such a circumstance that Walter and I found ourselves in the middle of the crowded shopping Avenue, des Champs Elysées.

A sole of my shoe had divorced itself from the body of my long-lasting suedes and left me to hobble around Paris like a circus clown with flapping feet. I had to take immediate action to remedy this unanticipated situation before the remainder of my footwear disintegrated onto the wet and soggy ground, while my beloved, sniggered at my fashion malfunction.

I remembered an amusing incident that happened in 1969 at this boulevard. Back then, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed fashion student. Accompanying Moi was Count Mario, an accomplished Vogue fashion photographer, Andy, my model-looking lover and Valet, and Sammy, a flamboyant young fashionista. The four of us were shopping at the avenue, that drizzly day.

To elongate his petite stature beneath his wide bell-bottom jeans, Sammy wore a pair of eight inches high platform shoes. He also donned a fitted denim jacket over a sassy body-hugging bodysuit. To complete his eccentric ensemble, his dyed cornflower yellow, emerald, and turquoise hair flowed behind him like an exotic mane as our quartet floated down the street.

Eyes turned in our direction as we trotted around Paris in style. Before I realized what had transpired, Sammy was flat on the pavement. Colorful socks bounced around him like raptured pom-poms. The lad had stuffed pairs of rolled-up socks inside his footwear so he could fit his tiny feet into the platforms. He had stumbled on the wet and slippery sidewalk.

Mario, wasted no time whipping out his camera to capture this unanticipated fashion faux pas, while Andy and I looked on in shock.

As if modeling for a Vogue fashion shoot, the quick-witted Sam posed this way and that on the wet thoroughfare while the photographer clicked away at the gaffe. A pedestrian circle had formed in the middle of Avenue des Champs Elysées to witness this “fashion happening.” Advertently, our friend had transformed an embarrassing situation into a photo-opt as the applauding crowd showered the boy with accolades. By the time Sammy got on his feet, he had saved his face with poise and grace.

The Magical Power of The Written Word

“Why are there beds located at different corners of the bookstore?” I asked Monsieur Mercier, an assistant at the Shakespeare & Company bookshop.

“The beds are available for writers to stay a night in Paris for free,” the man responded before he resumed, “ Are you a writer? Do you intend to stay the night?”

Surprised by the man’s inquiries, I evinced, “I am a writer. But no thank you to the lodging offer.”

“What genre of books do you write, Monsieur?” Mercier queried.

“I’m an autobiographer,” I replied. “Because of its controversial and provocative contents, my books are often classified under the Erotica genre.”

The bookseller questioned, “What are the titles of your books, and what is the author’s name?”

A HAREM BOY’S SAGA; A MEMOIR BY YOUNG. It’s a five-book series,” I declared.

“I believe we have your books in the store. Are the titles: INITIATION, UNBRIDLED, DEBAUCHERY, TURPITUDE, and METANOIA?” he promulgated.

I nodded, delighted by his information.

The Frenchman led me through a series of narrow pathways covered with volumes and pamphlets of the written word. When he finally extracted five volumes of my autobiography from a shelf, my heart nearly leaped out of my chest.

“I read the series. What a compelling teenage life you’ve led. I wish my school had a secret fraternity program like yours,” the teller quipped smilingly.

He recommenced, “Our store is a focal point of English literature in Paris. Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Richard Wright are frequent visitors. We also host literary activities, like poetry readings, writers’ meetings, book readings, writing festivals, literature festivals, photography workshops, writing groups, and Sunday tea.

“Ms. Sylvia Whitman, the owner, might invite you for a book reading at our store.”

“That will be splendid. Unfortunately, my husband and I are in Paris for a short period. Maybe we can arrange a book reading and signing session when we are in Paris again,” I proposed.

Monsieur Mercier and I had exchanged contact information before I left the Shakespeare & Company bookshop. Hopefully, during my next visit to Paree, I will get to meet Madam Sylvia Whitman with a book reading and signing gig in place.

S.O.W. and R.E.A.P.

Over the years, I have been asked by many, “Why do you love Paris so much?” My reply is always the same – S.O.W.

Although the Parisian cityscape has changed over the years, these three alphabets continue to shadow my existence whenever I am in or out of Paris. S.O.W. is also a reason Walter and I chose France as our home away from home.

In the autumn of 1966, when the Simorgh (one of my Arab patriarch’s private jet) touched down in Charles de Gaulle airport, I had contracted the romance bug. Back then, the ebullient Moi, an inquisitive teenager with a quest for adventure, was whisked to the Paris Ritz Carlton in a luxurious Bentley by my host, Prince P. I had fallen head-over-heels in love and in awe with both the prince, Andy, my then chaperone and Valet, and Paris, the city of romance. That was before our entourage visited the haute couture fashion Houses of Chanel, Dior, Ungaro, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Patou, and the fancy eateries, such as Café de Flore, La Belle Époque, Maxim’s, and last but by no means least, Le Folies Bergers. Back then, these infamous Parisian establishments were places to go, to see and be seen. Nowadays, they are tourist attractions.

Through the subsequent years, I had accompanied many princes, princesses, sheiks, sheikas, and their aristocratic Arabian entourages to the French capital. Most significantly, this city of love and romance had taught me the art of Seduction (S), Originality (O), and Wit (W). Some may say that wittiness is a congenital trait, but I purport it as a learned art of human relationships. Whatever definition one chooses to use, I had returned to this electrifying metropolis of S.O.W.; where I had sown many a wild oat. Now, with my beloved husband in tow, I’m here to R.E.A.P. its rewards.

“What the hell is R.E.A.P.?” you ask.

I will explain:

RRomance continues to exist in this alluring Capital of Love; even amid an influx of foreign refugees and political upheavals. Another series of stories, I will narrate another time.

EElegance in this sordid city of high culture is a trait Walter and I find irresistibly seductive.

AAuthenticity is historicity in this Center of Romance. And I am not referring to the faux reproduction of the Las Vegas ‘Paris’ in Nevada, United States of America.

PParis equals Sophistication, Originality, Wit, Romance, Elegance, and Authenticity. But last and by no means least, this French capital is where Perfection reigns supreme.

PARIS – Mon Paree!

Bernard Foong (aka Young)

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Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Bernard Foong’s #RWISA Author Page

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour with Ron Yates! #RRBC #RWISA

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. Today I am hosting award-winning #RWISA author, Ron Yates. I’m sure you will enjoy his post.

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Burning Out in Tokyo

By Ronald E. Yates

Clayton Brandt stood just behind the glass doors of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry building waiting for a let-up in the storm that pummeled the hot Tokyo pavement. Wisps of vapor rose into the air as the rain hit the warm ground.

He searched the eight-lane boulevard in front of the MITI building for an empty taxi. He knew it could be a long wait before an empty cab came down Sakurada-Dori. Thousands of bureaucrats glutted Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district, and whenever it rained, it seemed like all of them wanted a taxi.

“Son of a bitch!” he said, his words echoing through the lobby. Two middle-aged Japanese bureaucrats standing nearby looked over at the tall foreigner. They understood that English phrase.

Clayton grinned. “Ame-ga futte imasu,” he said.

The two men looked at one another and then back at Clayton as if to say: “Yes, we can see it is raining. But is that any excuse for such a rude public outburst?”

Clayton sighed, opened his umbrella, and stepped out into the downpour. He turned right and hurried through the governmental heartland of Japan, maneuvering his 6-foot, 3-inch frame through the crowded sidewalk glutted with black and gray umbrellas. Sometimes the edge of an umbrella held by a much shorter Japanese man or woman slashed at his throat or slapped against his face. Whenever it rained, and the umbrellas came out, Clayton always felt Gulliveresque—like a giant trapped in a forest of undulating toadstools.

He looked up at the leaden April sky. The rain had drenched Tokyo for the past four days, covering the ground with a pink and white patina of delicate sakura blossoms. A slow rumble of thunder curled between the squat granite structures of Kasumigaseki. Clayton looked at his watch. It was four-thirty and the evening traffic was already crawling. He had hoped to get his story written and filed by six o’clock, but the briefing about Japan’s angry reaction to Washington’s decision to bar the U.S. government’s purchase of Japanese supercomputers had taken longer than usual.

The sky rumbled again, and bolts of lightning streaked overhead. A taxi pulled up outside the Ministry of Health and Welfare and was disgorging three Japanese bureaucrats in dark blue suits. Clayton closed his umbrella and dashed for the cab splashing through rivulets of water as he ran. The three men had barely climbed out before Clayton bolted past them and into the rear seat. He gave the driver his destination, closed his eyes, and rested his head on the seat back as the taxi inched its way back into the gridlock.

Every so often, his eyes opened just long enough to take in the somber Tokyo landscape. The perpetually gray skies of Tokyo didn’t do his already sepulchral spirit any good. In fact, very little seemed to buoy his disposition these days. He couldn’t help it. He felt depressed and probably a bit too sorry for himself. A few hours before the MITI briefing, he had suffered through another of those telephone “chats” with Max, the foreign editor of Global News Service in London about expenses and the need to cut back on costs.

“O.K., O.K. Max,” Clayton had sighed bleakly into the phone. “I get the picture.”

The exchange ended with Max suggesting that Clayton not be such a “cowboy.” A “cowboy?” Why? Just because he was from Oxford, Kansas and not Oxford, England? It wasn’t easy working for a bunch of Brits when you sounded more like Garth Brooks than Sir Laurence Olivier. But he knew what Max meant.

Clayton was an iconoclast in a profession that increasingly rewarded conformity rather than individualism. Newspapers today all looked alike, loaded with the same predictable stories about the same predictable events. It was rubber-stamp journalism practiced by rubber-stamp editors who worked for rubber-stamp publishers who worked for boards of directors who wanted twenty percent operating profit margins above all else—quality journalism be damned.

He went over the notes he had hurriedly scribbled during the MITI briefing, searching for the lead of his story. His pen scratched heavy lines under the words “ill-conceived” and “studying our response.” Then he stuffed the notebook back into his bag.

“It’s over,” Clayton thought to himself as he watched the snarl of cars and trucks crawl along Uchibori-Dori through Kokyo-Gaien, the large plaza that fronted the walled Imperial Palace. It was as if today he had been forced finally to confront the inevitable mortality of his professional career; or at least of his particular brand of journalism. He was writing the same boring stories over and over again. Where was the challenge? The sense of accomplishment?

Clayton exhaled and gazed out the taxi window at the striated, ashen facades of drenched buildings. They reminded him of the mascara-smudged faces of women weeping at a rainy graveside.

He closed his eyes and nudged his mind away from the depressing Tokyo landscape. Soon it was obediently shuffling through old images of another, more beguiling Asia. It was an Asia of genial evenings spent beneath traveler palms; of graceful, colonial-era hotels in Singapore and Malaysia with their chalky plaster facades and their broad verandahs peppered with rattan settees and peacock chairs; of slowly turning teakwood paddle fans that moved the heavy night air with just enough authority to create a light breeze, but not enough to obliterate the sweet scent of evening jasmine. THAT was the Asia he missed; the Orient of the past.

Yes, it was ending. Clayton could feel it. It had been a good run . . . A good career. But now the journey was ending, like a train that had roared through the night and was now pulling into its last station. How many times had he almost gotten off only to be lured back on by the promise of what lay ahead at the next stop? How many times had he been disappointed by that decision? How many times had he been rewarded? At first, the rewards outweighed the disappointments, but in recent years, as he had grown older, the regrets seemed to have gained a definite edge.

For one thing, the passengers kept changing. And the conductors. And the engineers. But what did he expect? Wasn’t that the way the world worked? What was it that Tennyson had written: “The old order changeth, yielding place to new?”

Clayton shuddered. Was he the old order? Should he be yielding? Was he burned out?

Maybe he was becoming the old order, Clayton thought. But he wasn’t burned out just yet. And if there was any yielding to do, he wanted it on his own terms. The trouble was, the gulf of time between his past glories and the imminence of the callow, computer savvy handlers in the home office who controlled his destiny was becoming almost unbridgeable.

Most of his career predated cell phones and computers. For the computer literates at Global, his life’s work might as well be stored on some remote database. As it was, he existed only in yellowing newspaper clips, aging telexes, and letters of commendation that were kept in his personal file back in London. And nobody bothered to look at that stuff anymore.

It made no difference, Clayton thought. In the mutable, evanescent province that modern journalism had become, it was ancient history. Hell, HE was ancient history. He was like a piece of old journalistic parchment—readable, but, unlike a computer, much less utilitarian.

What Clayton needed was another journalistic rush . . . A story he could get hold of and play like a newly discovered Mozart piano concerto. He needed something . . . Not to satisfy the yuppies back at Global, but to give him a reason to get back on the train and to leave the station again.

The taxi slewed to a stop like a wooden bathhouse sandal skidding along a wet tile floor. Clayton looked up. They were in front of the Kawabata Building.

“Kawabata Biru, desu,” the driver announced.

Clayton fumbled in his pocket, handed the driver a one thousand yen note, and waited for his change. Then he bolted through the swirling Tokyo rain and put his shoulder against the massive glass and steel doors of the Kawabata Building. Unlike most of Tokyo’s modern structures, the Kawabata Building didn’t have sleek automatic glass doors that hissed serpent-like and opened automatically at the approach of a human being. It was a pre-war relic—an architectural throw-back with cracked marble floors and a fading art deco interior that had somehow survived the allied bombings.

The building’s deteriorating facade, which was the color of dead autumn leaves, seemed to glower at the world—like the rumpled brow of an angry old man. But the tumble-down building had an undeniable individuality in a country that too often prized sameness, and that was the reason Clayton liked it and had refused an offer to move into one of the new glass and steel “smart buildings” that soared over Tokyo’s Otemachi district.

He paused to talk for a moment with the old woman who operated the small grocery and newsstand tucked away in the corner of the lobby. From his many conversations with her, Clayton had learned that the old woman had operated her little concession since 1938 and knew the building’s history better than anybody.

She smiled as Clayton’s towering frame bent toward her in one of those peculiar half bows that Japanese make when they are in a hurry. Japanese could do it with a certain grace; but not Clayton. When this big foreigner bowed, he always looked like he was on the verge of crashing to the ground like a gingko tree struck by lightning. Nevertheless, she liked this gaijin. Ordinarily, she merely tolerated foreigners, but this one had a solitary charm. He was big, but not threatening; assertive, but not arrogant.

“So, Oba-san, Genki datta?” Clayton asked, combining the Japanese honorific for “grandmother” with the less formal interrogative for “how are you?”

“Genki-yo,” the old woman replied. Clayton picked up a package of Pocky chocolates and placed a one hundred yen coin in the old woman’s hand.

“Sayonara,” Clayton said as he turned and scuttled toward the bank of elevators.

“Sonna ni hatarakanai ho ga ii desu!” the old woman called after him.

Clayton smiled and nodded over his shoulder. The old woman was right. He was working too hard, and where was it getting him? Back on a train to oblivion?

“Oh, get over it,” Clayton thought as the elevator door closed. “You’ve got a story to write. Feel sorry for yourself AFTER you make your friggin’ deadline! Besides, what else do you know how to do, you old hack! Burning out is not an option.”

The End

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Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

#RWISA Author Page for Ron Yates

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour with Karen Ingalls! #RRBC #RWISA

Today, I am privileged to host #RWISA author Karen Ingalls. She’s a wonderful writer,and I know you’ll enjoy her piece.

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NATURE SPEAKS

Why did my life spiral into darkness in a second? One minute I am married to my soulmate, a mother to a beautiful daughter, and owner of a successful bookstore. My friends asked me, “How do you have the perfect life? It is so easy for you.” They were right. I had the perfect life.

My husband was an engineer, and I opened a bookstore naming it Mile High Books offering old and new books, coffee or tea. Leather chairs and couches provided comfort to the patrons. Classical music played in the background. I loved going to my store enjoying the smell of books, coffee, and leather.

We had our first and only child, Lynn who also loved classical music and dreamed of being a ballet dancer.

One Saturday morning, my life changed forever. I had awakened with a migraine headache, which was intolerable. It was best if I stayed in a dark, quiet room until the medication relieved the blinding pain.

My husband, Miles volunteered to run the bookstore that fateful day. “Lynn and I can manage the bookstore today. You stay home and take care of the headache.” He leaned over and kissed me. “I love you,” were the last words I would hear him say.

I curled up, closed my eyes, and waited for the pain to go away.

A pounding on the front door and the continuous ringing of the bell awakened me. “This had better be important,” I muttered while staggering down the stairs. Two police officers with grim looks were standing on the porch. I collapsed when the words, fire, death, husband, daughter floated around my confused mind.

My once perfect life was unbearable with the memories of it everywhere. I sold everything, bought a second-hand Volkswagen Beetle, and drove west with just the clothes on my back and a photograph of Miles, Lynn and me. I didn’t know where I was going, but I didn’t care.

The small cabin in the foothills of Costa Mesa, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean was my new residence. It was not a home. It was a place to sleep, eat and try to escape from my past.

The land was arid with brush, oak trees, scattered thistle weeds, and clay soil. Every evening, I walked down a short path from the cabin to a flattened area where I sat under a large oak tree and watched the sun dip into the ocean. One day at dusk, I leaned against the tree, closed my eyes and dreamed that Miles arms were around me while we watched Lynn ballet dance on a large stage. I could hear the music of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

When I awoke there were two limbs embracing me, and leaves and acorns were swirling around creating Tchaikovsky’s music. “Am I still dreaming?” The bark of the trunk and the limbs was rough and uncomfortable. I squirmed and pulled at the limbs. “What is happening? This is crazy.” I yelled for someone to help me, but the only words I heard were not human.

Ginny, you are a strong woman. Use your strength to get through this storm in your life.

I pulled the limbs off, jumped up, and looked around expecting to see someone nearby. “Is anyone here?” I yelled again. Everything was quiet. A full moon radiated light around me.

Staring at the tree, I brushed my clothes, scratched my head, and said, “That was quite a dream, but how did those limbs wrap around me?” I shook my head trying to clear the confusion. “It was a beautiful dream of Miles and Lynn. I miss them so much.” With the sleeve of my sweater I wiped the tears. “I’ve got to get hold of myself. I’m losing my mind.”

The voice said. That was not a dream. I am here to help you.

“Oh, my God, I am going crazy. Trees don’t talk.”

Ginny, you are not going crazy. All trees talk, but humans do not listen. Do you remember your friend, Meredith who told you she talks to trees?

I nodded. “How do you…?”

I saw a friendly face of a kind, elderly man etched in the trunk. Every flora and fauna communes with humans, but they are too busy or unbelieving to listen and learn from us.

I fell to my knees, grabbed a handful of soil, and watched it slowly stream out of my clenched fist. “This was my life. Time was going by with no troubles.” I opened my fist and let the soil out in one burst. “Then everything changed. My life was never the same. It is now an empty hand.” I sobbed and my whole body shook.

You are strong. Your faith is like my roots: stretching wide and going deep.

The limbs stretched out, wrapped around my shoulders and leaned me against the trunk. Miles and Lynn are speaking to you through me.

Then I heard them say, We love you and will always be with you. Follow your heart.

The limbs were gentle and comforting. The rough bark was now smooth. My tears dried up, and I drifted into a deep and peaceful sleep.

The warm and bright rays of the morning sun radiated through the tree’s canopy bringing warmth to my body nestled against the oak tree. Standing up, I stretched and looked out at the blue waters of the Pacific marveling at its majesty and beauty. I smiled as the words follow your heart floated around. “Wow! That was quite a dream.”

I walked a few steps on the path back towards the cabin. I stopped and looked back at the oak tree. “It might have all been a dream, but thank you.”

A thistle plant with its purple flower in full bloom was further up the path. I stopped. “You are beautiful, but your spikes are sharp.”

The spikes turned inward. Do not let fear hold you back.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. “Now I hear a flower talking to me. I am going crazy.”

The thistle plant swayed back and forth though there was no breeze. It bent forward bringing its flower near my hands. Touch me and accept my gift of peace.

I placed my hand on the purple flower and a deep sense of serenity swept over me. For the first time since the deaths of my family I was at peace. I whispered “Thank you.”

A short distance from the cabin porch, I saw the white silken top of a trapdoor spider’s home. I did not remember seeing it before and bent down to get a closer look. The trapdoor opened and a dark spider poked his head out. I stumbled as I tried to jump back.

The spider was small and ugly with fine hairs covering its dark brown body. He was frightening to look at, but his kind words put me at ease. You have walked by many doors, but you didn’t open them.

“What is going on? I am hallucinating with all these voices in my head.”

You are not hallucinating. Your family is talking to you through the oak tree, the thistle and me. The spider moved back into his home and closed the trapdoor.

For days I paced around the cabin, reliving each moment and the words about strength, peace, and opportunities. I prayed and cried. I read about mysticism and nature.

One morning, I awoke and saw Miles and Lynn standing beside my bed. We will always be with you in your heart. Let nature continue to teach you.

The magnificent oak tree taught how to be strong of body, mind, and heart. Staying healthy and opening my arms to others became my ways of living.

I found beauty in my life and other people after removing my thorns of bitterness and self-pity.

My cabin was a trap shutting out people until I opened its doors and made it a home and retreat center. I added rooms for guests to stay and classrooms for teaching.

I called my new endeavor Nature Speaks, helping people to commune with and learn from all aspects of nature. When people open their hearts and minds to nature there are opportunities for a richer life.

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Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

#RWISA Author Page for Karen Ingalls