My #Christmas on The Streets: 1966. A sweet memory.#Memoir #RRBC @pursoot

CHRISTMAS BLOG BANNER

Thanks so much for stopping by. I like to share this post every Christmas. It remains one of my sweetest memories.

CHRISTMAS MORNING 1966: 2:00 AM.

The Christmas season is the harshest of all when you live on the streets.

On ANY streets. In ANY town. In any Climate.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago. I’d not yet turned twelve years old. Yet I felt older than time.

It was not a ‘miracle’ of biblical proportions. Yet for the fifteen of us that lived in the damaged shipping container, it was a miracle that we would hold in our memories forever, to be taken out and looked at whenever life grew harsher.

I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding. I hope that it reminds you of what joy your smile and a simple hello can mean to the lost and the lonely.

I am smiling through my tears as I remember…..

***

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood in ‘the palace’ wasn’t good. That’s what we’d named our rusty old shipping container. ‘The Palace’ was exactly that to us. We constructed our own safety barriers, dodging between smart-mouthed bravado and silent despair.

Christmas out here meant different things to each of us I guess.

My memories of Christmas’s past were all bad. Even last year when I’d been on the streets alone for barely a month had bad stuff attached to it, yet it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the ones I had lived with back in the home I called ‘hell central’.

I asked ‘Baby Jenny’ our youngest member to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. The guy was built like a mountain and I never did learn his last name. He was the go-to man for everything here on the Sydney docks. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some left over decorations to put up in the palace to lighten the mood a little.

He gave me a thoughtful nod, and said he’d “see what he could do.”

He bent down and spoke to Jenny, “I swear you get prettier every day, Jenny. Don’t let Sassy here teach you any bad habits.”

Jenny grinned at him too afraid to respond.

I kept my mouth shut for a change, except for a “Gee thanks, Big Mike.”

He smiled and wandered off, and we headed back up to the palace. We spent a lot of time outdoors during the heat of the summer. The cooler breezes drifting in from the water gave us a little welcome respite. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful. It was difficult to breathe in the late afternoons. We complained to each other long and loud. But I had to shrug and smile at our bitching. Winter was far worse.

We figured Big Mike had forgotten when a week passed with no contact. It was disappointing, but the man didn’t owe us anything. He’d already rushed one of us to the hospital and probably saved her life and the life of the baby that she’d been giving birth to. So we didn’t really expect the decorations, we just hoped for them.

Jenny was extra quiet. I wondered if she would ever be able to talk about why she was here. I didn’t ask her. I hadn’t discussed my background with any of them, even Jamie. So I understood that it was not open for general discussion. These streets were harsh and difficult regardless of why you found yourself here.

Christmas Eve dawned fiery red. It was going to be a very, very, hot day according to the radio forecasts, with a cool southerly change expected later in the evening.

We all headed up to Hyde Park very early and took a Christmas bath in our favorite fountain. At least the palace wouldn’t stink quite so badly for Christmas day.

It was tempting to just jump into the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.  We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a dip in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around at that time because it was Christmas Eve and they’d be home with their families. It was a sad thought until we reminded each other that we too were a family.

The sky began to darken and the thunder rolled in early in the afternoon. The southerly buster was heading up the coast rapidly. We were all unusually quiet and sitting around outside in the shade of the container when we heard the sound of vehicles heading toward the palace.

We headed around the front to see who had arrived and watched in stunned amazement as Big Mike and two of the other guys whose names I can’t recall, began unloading boxes of stuff from their cars and placing it in the shaded opening of our tin home.

Big Mike looked uncomfortable, if possible, he was even gruffer than usual. “You lot need feeding up, so we brought you some stuff.”

We were all too stunned to say much at all, these hard men were all smiling and a little red-faced. I swear if they could have, that they would have scuffed their shoes in the dirt like little kids with embarrassment.

Big Mike shook Jamie’s hand and accepted the ‘thank you’ from him.

I was speechless which wasn’t a common occurrence. I just grinned at them all. and gave the guys a hurried “Thanks.”

They were the unlikeliest Angels you would ever see, sweaty and dirty after a long hot day’s work, but the sight of them unloading the Christmas goodies and punching one another in the arm in a gesture common amongst males remains etched starkly in my memory.

Big Mike reached into the front seat of his car and pulled out a parcel that was wrapped in Christmas paper, with bright ribbons attached. He walked over and handed it to Baby Jenny.

She looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“The women picked this out for ya, little one.” Big Mike said in a voice strictured by emotion.

Jenny still wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead and open it, Jenny,” Jamie said.

“Um, later. Later. Okay?” she replied looking very unsure of herself.

She looked at the men, and gave them one of her sweet smiles, “Don’t matter what it is. I never had a present before, so, um, yeah. Thanks, thanks a lot.”

The men seemed to understand that she needed to be alone when she opened it.

As for the rest of us, we tore into those presents and boxes like there was no tomorrow, squealing in delighted surprise with everything we found.

There was more food than any of us had ever seen.

There were tinned hams, fresh pineapples, cherries, and plums. Cooked Turkey and Cranberry sauce, with all the trimmings. Fifteen red t-shirts all large sizes. Paper plates, and plastic knives and forks, a can-opener. A Cooler packed with ice, and a new radio with spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of cold Coke rounded out the feast.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio. It was much bigger and put out a better sound than the small transistor we had been using. We sat drinking the beer and singing our version of Christmas carols, none of them repeatable. Trust me.

Jenny sat on her sleeping space of folded layers of newspaper. She was a little tipsy having been allowed one-half of a small bottle of beer. We glanced at her as she picked up her present and watched the look on her face as she unwrapped it.

It was a baby doll, all soft and dressed in bonnet and booties with a pretty pink knitted dress. “Just what we needed, another fuckin’ mouth to feed,” she said. But the smile on her face could have lit up the entire city.

We were fed, content, and a little overwhelmed and unsure at the kindness of these people.

We all wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, they had done it for no motive other than the wish to make this Christmas a better place for us to be. It was an alien experience to all of us,but a welcome one.

We had only sampled a little of the huge amount of food, deciding to save the rest for Christmas Day

That night we were all tipsy, yet strangely quiet as we bedded down for the night. I think we were all a little overwhelmed by the generosity of these men.

It was around 2.00 am Christmas morning I guess when I felt something was wrong. Whatever the something was, it wouldn’t let me sleep. I couldn’t place it immediately. It was a strange sense of something missing, and it troubled me.

Jamie was on watch. I climbed over the others and hunkered down next to him. Jamie smiled at me and said, “You too hey, Sassy?”

“Yeah, I guess. What is it? Something’s different.”

We sat a while just listening. Then Jamie said, “Oh shit! It’s Jenny, she’s not crying!”

My heart was in my mouth. Jamie grabbed the torch and we played it across the others, several of them were already awake, and wondering what the hell was happening. Jenny had cried herself to sleep every night since she’d come to this place. It was a sound we all tried not to hear. She couldn’t be comforted, we weren’t permitted that close. She’d been here for two years now. Jenny was only around eight-years-old and the sounds of her despair echoed through the palace every night.

We stood looking down at her. Jenny lay on her side, sound asleep, with both arms wrapped around that doll so tight there was no space between them.

That was the first time I had cried in a very, very, long time. I glanced at the others, without exception we were all affected the same way. No one wanted to look at anyone else, shit we were supposed to be the toughest kids on the block! Hell, we were the only kids on the block. That Christmas was the first real day of Jenny’s childhood. From then on, Christmas became Jenny’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you that a miraculous change came over her. That she was instantly transformed. In a make-believe world she’d be outside singing all the hits from ‘The Sound of Music’ and wearing a pretty new dress and shoes.  But this is the real world, and the changes took place over time.

Jenny named her doll, Francine.

The greatest change of all, was that, from that night, for all the years that Baby Jenny remained in our world, she never cried herself to sleep again.

 ***

Many years have passed since that long ago Christmas Eve. My darling Jenny has gone.

So many of my Christmas Eves over time have been special ones. But the one I recall with tears of happiness on my face, and a smile in my heart, is this one.

Jenny lost her battle with life in September of 2008.

The doll Francine was buried with her.

#

Thanks so much for stopping by and helping share my memory.

Have a joyous and memorable Christmas Season.

 

My Top 10 Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018: Part 2: My Top 5. @StephenGeez @FreshInkGroup @MaeClair1 @VashtiQV @HowellWave @gmplano @dlfinnauthor

TRUMPET

Hello and thanks for stopping by to take a look at my TOP TEN Fiction Reads of 2018:

Part 2: My TOP Five.

The following five books ticked all my boxes. They all possessed that marvelous  X-factor for me.

So, what is my version of the X Factor? Ah! For me it’s that shining place outside of myself, a wonderous reality that some authors take you to as willing captives. A place where the story has me so utterly committed to it that putting it down would be followed by a rebellion against my need for sleep.

It’s when an authors words linger in your memory in a voice you could clearly hear as their characters voices.

It’s those pristine moments when you find yourself invested in the outcome of the journey.

It’s when ALL of your senses become heightened, it’s when the pleasure of reading it comes to an end, and you feel richer for having read it, yet bereaved by its absence.

That’s MY X-Factor.

Counting down from Number 5:

 

 THIS SECOND CHANCE BY D.L FINN

BOOK REVIEW COVER THIS SECOND CHANCE BY D.L FINN

 

 BLURB

Newly married Rachael Battaglia finally had it all. The only detail that stained Rachael’s perfect wedding was a gift she received. It was the exact present that her late ex-husband had given her on their wedding day — a snow globe. That marriage was not what she had envisioned, and she endured years of his abuse and charm until one night she escaped with two kids and one on the way. Now Rachael was headed to Hawaii with an amazing man and her chance at happiness. Unbeknownst to Rachael, she had an Angel on her side, although this Angel might not be able to save Rachael and her family from the evil that surrounded them. This is a tale of love, past relationships, things unseen, and redemption. Will Rachael find her happy ending, or will this evil thing get its way?

MY REVIEW: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Great read for all those who enjoy romance with a supernatural element.

Life doesn’t always offer us second chances to get it right. When it does we treasure and hold on to it with both hands. That is the premise on which this well-written book is built.

Author D.L. Finn takes us on an intricately woven journey. The characterizations of both Rachel and new husband Tony are beautifully depicted, so much so that we as readers care about them and want their future to grant them the happiness they have thus far been denied.

This author has that marvelous gift of bringing our emotions to the forefront of the reading experience.

Rachel’s first marriage was a tormented and violent nightmare which ended as her then-husband died in an alcohol-fueled car crash.

She has finally learned to trust again with the love and support of her new husband, but the package she receives on her wedding day threatens the very fabric of their new found love as she is catapulted back in the nightmarish memories of the violence that characterized her first marriage.

Forces unseen are waging a battle, the eternal joust between good and evil plays out its hand as Rachel’s eldest child Eddie, fathered by her first husband, heads down the same violent destructive path that his father once walked.

The author caught and held me captive as the paranormal elements of this book were woven so cleverly into the story. The plot twists were both unexpected, continuously engaging and introduced with an assured hand.

If you enjoy a love story with depth, the chance of redemption and hope for the future happiness of the characters you have come to care about this book is for you.

I recommend it for all those who enjoy a great read with a supernatural element.

CONTACT DETAILS.

Contact via:

Twitter:  @dlfinnauthor

Blog/Website:

Embrace Your Inner Child

Titles:

“NO FAIRY TALE”

“ELIZABETH’S WAR” 

This Second Chance on Amazon.com

Number 4:

“The Contract:between heaven and earth” By Authors Gwendolyn M Plano and John W. Howell.

BOOK REVIEW THE CONTRACT COVER

Blurb

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Fast paced and action packed. This book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.

I was both excited and curious to read a book co-authored by two authors who have earned my admiration for each of their books. Authors John W. Howell and Gwen Plano both have resoundingly earned five-star reviews from me for their individual works.

Their total diversity of writing styles and genres would have presented them with a challenge when undertaking to co-author this work.

I’m delighted with the outcome. They’ve met and exceeded my expectations.

This book goes beyond man’s earthly desires to dominate and control his environment. It takes you to the dark places fueled by man’s thirst for absolute power.

It shows you the joy of the heavenly plane, and the release from pain that it offers.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien a nurse are chosen by the divine council of heavenly elders to become their representations on earth.

The reader is taken on a thrill ride as the story develops, each of the characters are beautifully crafted and intensely visual, with wonderful dialogue moving the book along at a great pace. The character development is outstanding.

The relationship between Brad and Sarah develops over a relatively brief span of time, as they are thrown together by circumstance, and make the decision to stay together by choice. Their tender and developing love for one another is deftly handled, adding the depth of warmth that the story demands.

This work has been meticulously researched, and all references within it add to the utterly convincing terrorist threat, and the dark forces at work in the corridors of power, bringing into question the motives of players that may have been seen initially to have no hidden agenda whatsoever.

Fast paced and action packed. This book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.

The conclusion was intense and utterly believable. These authors have amalgamated their individual skills into a first-rate work of fiction.

This work stands tall in celebration of good people willing to lay down their lives to protect and defend their country and the principles on which it was founded.

I found this to be a riveting reading experience, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Contact information: John W. Howell

Contact via:

Twitter:  @HowellWave

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Blog/Website:

Fiction Favorites

Contact Author Gwen Plano;

Email:  gwenplano@gmail.com

Twitter: @gmplano

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GMPlano

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/gwendolyn-plano-7046b114

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/O/+GwenPlano

Blog/Website:

From the Desk of Gwendolyn M. Plano

Purchase The Contract on Amazon.

 

Number 3: The Fall of Lilith by Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

BOOK REVIEW The Fall of Lilith by Vashti

BLURB.

In The Fall of Lilith, Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts an irresistible new take on heaven and hell that boldly lays bare the passionate, conflicted natures of God’s first creations: the resplendent celestial beings known as angels.

If you think you know their story, think again.

Endowed with every gift of mind, body, and spirit, the angels reside in a paradise bounded by divine laws, chief of which are obedience to God, and celibacy. In all other things, the angels possess free will, that they may add in their own unique ways to God’s unfolding plan.

Lilith, most exquisite of angels, finds the rules arbitrary and stifling. She yearns to follow no plan but her own: a plan that leads to the throne now occupied by God himself. With clever words and forbidden caresses, Lilith sows discontent among the angels. Soon the virus of rebellion has spread to the greatest of them all: Lucifer.

Now, as angel is pitted against angel, old loyalties are betrayed and friendships broken. Lust, envy, pride, and ambition arise to shake the foundations of heaven . . . and beyond. For what begins as a war in paradise invades God’s newest creation, a planet known as Earth. It is there, in the garden called Eden, that Lilith, Lucifer, and the other rebel angels will seek a final desperate victory—or a venomous revenge.

“[A] compelling narrative that . . . strays far from traditional biblical text . . . A well-written, descriptive, and dark creation story.”—Kirkus Reviews

MY REVIEW 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Dark Supernatural Fantasy at its Best!

When I had finished reading this book, I sat back and thought about what exactly it was about it that had totally captured my attention and kept me riveted until the early hours of the morning, long after I should have flipped off the light.

Author Vashti Quiroz- Vega has undertaken a mammoth task in “The Fall of Lilith”  and she could have quite easily opted for the easy road in depicting the eternal battle of Good .V. Evil. The fact is that she has not done that. Make no mistake, that is indeed the premise on which this well-written book is based, but this author has none of the stereotypical tried and true characterizations that frequent many books attempting to cover that dark premise.

Instead, we are given a deeper insight into the urges that drive these characters, with Lilith’s character being only one of many that frequent this epic. Lilith, of course, is pivotal and as such her driving characteristics are what influence the narrative. She is multi-faceted with her initial desire to do as her ‘God’ had instructed being overridden by her passionate nature, her guile, and her inability to accept that she was all she could ever hope to be in the ‘heavenly’ sphere.

It is that dissatisfaction, that boredom, and her driving and at times overwhelming desire for something more that drives her. Her clever manipulation of the other supernatural beings (Angels) is a joy to read. There are no boundaries that she does not attempt to tear down by the sheer force of her will. She uses her beauty as a weapon, and the forbidden acts only lead her forward with her need to experience more than this life in ‘heaven’ permits.

I have long been fascinated by the supernatural. This author has delved deeply into the religious aspects that permeate any story that focuses on the ‘angels’ being cast out from heaven, she has acknowledged that, and then taken those understandings and beautifully crafted a vision of the alternative  possibilities.

Much has been written by other reviewers that cover the plot very adequately, I prefer to focus instead on the driving force behind the individual characterizations.  None of the characters in this book fail to engage me as a reader, they are each capable of arousing my understanding of the ‘demons’ that drive them. I by turns laughed at the dialogue, then caught myself tearing up when hurt was dealt out in the coldest of ways.

This book is not for the faint-hearted reader. The author has clearly stated that it is written with an adult audience in mind.

The scenes in this book that capture the essence of lust and desire are written with a clever hand, I found them totally necessary in the plot development and as such, they were never a grab for the ‘sex sells’ probability we so often find in fiction.

We witness the struggle to overcome the initial hardships on a dangerous ‘Earth’. The need to belong to another being, and the ultimate desire to survive at all costs, regardless of who may get caught in the trap of our own making along the way. The thirst for revenge is hovering darkly as the book reaches it final pages.  This is the first book in a series. I will most certainly be back to read the remainder.

Author Vashti Quiroz-Vega has captured the essence of Dark Supernatural Fantasy. She should be proud of her accomplishment.

Contact Vashti

TWITTER

Purchase The Fall Of Lilith on Amazon

WEBSITE

The Writer Next Door

 

Number 2. Cusp of Night by Mae Clair.

BOOK REVIEW COVER CUSP OF NIGHT

BLURB

The truth hides in dark places . . .

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟A Book that held me spellbound from page 1.

I love the Paranormal genre, and when it is written with deep insight into the darkness of human behavior it becomes a welcome crafting of thriller and suspense to add to the mix.

Author Mae Clair is unafraid to take her readers to those dark recesses, she challenges her creations to give us a reading experience we simply must finish and can never forget.

For the images she creates here linger in memory long after the final page has been read.

The combination of times past that are inextricably connected to the present is delivered with skill, as we are taken on a journey from Pennsylvania today back to the late 1890’s.

I enjoyed meeting Maya, and her understandable need to discover the truth behind the deaths of seemingly disparate people. Her discoveries will place both she and those she holds close in peril, but the fear that threatens to overwhelm them, drives them onward.

If you love a read that challenges you, a read that leaves you gasping and hungry to keep reading, then Cusp of Night is for you.

You will discover that the hour of 2.22 am will take on new meaning. Turn on all the lights, lock all the doors, and keep your cell-phone handy.

This book will take you on one hell of a ride.

Mae Clair can be found on the following links.

Website and Blog
MaeClair.net

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/MaeClair1
@maeclair1

Facebook Author Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mae-Clair/219356774828949?ref=tn_tnmn

Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/Mae-Clair/e/B009I61ND0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1394989885&sr=1-1

Kensington Publishing: 
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/29541

NUMBER 1: What Sara Saw by Stephen Geez.

BOOK REVIEW COVER WHAT SARA SAW by STEPHEN GEEZ

BOOK BLURB

The boy looked back.

A simple pencil drawing, this depiction of a child watching from the reeds of a country pond frustrates and angers Geoffrey, unexpected reactions that stir Phrekka’s lifelong passion for understanding the elusive power artists infuse in their creations.

Their only clue a “Sara” signature, the unemployed graphic designer persuades the enchanting Korean-American curator to help him discover more images by this enigmatic artist. From her world of privilege and mystical spiritualism to his of heartland farms and fundamentalist values, they will cross the country in search of the meaning in Sara’s sketches, an odyssey to divine one extraordinary person’s singular secret for touching people’s souls.

Staggering revelations entangle them with issues of mortality and faith, sexuality and family violence, obligation and responsibility, deception and truth. Only by looking close at the dark and profane will they have any chance of coming together to create a legacy more beautiful than either ever imagined.

What Sara Saw paints exquisitely vivid portraits of two young people who must follow their hearts to recapture that innocent grace long lost to the whims of circumstance and fate.

MY BOOK REVIEW: “WHAT SARA SAW” BY STEPHEN GEEZ

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.

Every once in a while an author comes along that taps into my vulnerability and causes me to willingly expose my jugular vein in doing so.

Stephen Geez has done this with What Sara Saw.

This book is a journey to be undertaken with no pre-conceived notions of comfort. For Stephen Geez dares us to go beyond the familiar. He invites us, via the characters of Geoffrey and Phrekka to take a chance, and in doing so he gifts us with characters rich in contradictions and as afraid of their own reactions to one another as any of us are when undertaking a journey into unknown or previously unexplored emotions.

I was re-introduced to the complexity, joy, and fear we mortals undertake when we first venture into the world of each other’s experiences. There is a depth of feeling and keen sense of awareness within these pages that touched me

What Sara Saw is both a joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.

I recommend it to all that want their reading experiences to linger with them, and cause them to explore their own vulnerability.

Contact Author:

Watch for his essays, stories, books, and blog posts at www.StephenGeez.com Find him and his author friends at www.FreshInkGroup.com. Send him a note from his member page or the Contact Form.

The author on TWITTER

What an awesome reading year it has been. I thank all of these authors for granting me many pleasurable hours of marvelous escape into each of the journeys they have taken me on.

And a huge thank you to the many folks that have taken the time to stop by to help me celebrate their works.

 

 

My Top 10 Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018: Part 1: Numbers 10 thru 6: @BeemWeeks @Lizzie_Chantree @riverrmann @boom_lyn @rijanjks #RRBC #IARTG #ASMSG #REVIEWS

TOP TEN READS ANNOUNCEMENT

Hello and thanks for stopping by to take a look at my TOP TEN Fiction Reads of 2018.

AS this will be a little too lengthy for one post, I’ll be sharing it in two parts. Today I’m delighted to share with you Numbers 10 thru 6. Tomorrow I’ll share the Top Five.

It was such a difficult task selecting My Ten Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018. I have read and reviewed many books in this rapidly disappearing year. I select my reads from diverse places. Yet it doesn’t surprise me at all that many of those I ranked in my top ten Indie-books of the year are to be found at Rave Reviews Book Club. Why? Because the standard of excellence of each book is outstanding.  That is what I’ve come to expect with each book I purchase. The reviews are always honest and constructive.

What is the X Factor for me? Ah! For me it’s that shining place outside of myself, a wonderous reality that some authors take you to as willing captives. A place where the story has me so utterly committed to it that putting it down would be followed by a rebellion against my need for sleep.

It’s when an authors words linger in your memory in a voice you could clearly hear as their characters voices.

It’s those pristine moments when you find yourself invested in the outcome of the journey.

It’s when ALL of your senses become heightened, it’s when the pleasure of reading it comes to an end, and you feel richer for having read it, yet bereaved by its absence.

That’s MY X-Factor.

Counting down from

Number 10: Slivers of Life by Beem Weeks.

Slivers

 

Book Blurb:

These twenty short stories are a peek into individual lives caught up in spectacular moments in time. Children, teens, mothers, and the elderly each have stories to share. Readers witness tragedy and fulfillment, love and hate, loss and renewal. Historical events become backdrops in the lives of ordinary people, those souls forgotten with the passage of time. Beem Weeks tackles diverse issues running the gamut from Alzheimer’s disease to civil rights, abandonment to abuse, from young love to the death of a child. Long-hidden secrets and notions of revenge unfold at the promptings of rich and realistic characters; plot lines often lead readers into strange and dark corners. Within Slivers of Life, Weeks proves that everybody has a story to tell—and no two are ever exactly alike.

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Beautifully captured moments in time. A must read.

Moods of darkness and light within these pages take the reader on an emotional roller coaster. Author Beem Weeks first captured my attention with “Jazz Baby” a full-length novel which introduced me to his marvelous and gritty writing style.

“Slivers Of Life” grabbed my attention from paragraph one and held it throughout. This collection is at times devastatingly honest in its portrayal of man’s ability to disown some emotions and replace them with a more acceptable truth.

Author Beem Weeks has crafted tales reflective at times on the outcome of human disinterest and a thirst for vengeance, or the craving for a connection to each other that humankind needs … and he has done it beautifully.

His innate ability to hear every nuance of spoken dialogue and reproduce it so well is his gift to us as readers.

These stories touched me, they evoked thoughts and remembered feelings so strongly that I was saddened when the collection reached its end. That for me is the X Factor! That intangible something that will have me reading and re-reading Slivers of Life for the pleasure it brings and the questions I ask myself when it’s done.

Contact Beem Weeks:

Purchase Slivers of Life on Amazon.

Beem Weeks Amazon Author Page

Contact via:

Email

Twitter: @voiceofindie & @BeemWeeks

Blog/Website:

The Indie Spot!

***

NUMBER 9: The Convict and The Rose by Jan Sikes.

RRBC HOP The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes (2)

 

BLURB

Award winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.

When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.

How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.

Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.

Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.

In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.
Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.

The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

MY REVIEW:🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. This book is one of them.

I have read and reviewed Flowers and Stone and was delighted to do both. The book lingered in my memory long after I completed reading.

Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. Flowers and Stone was one … and The Convict and The Rose has captured me again.

This journey towards growth and a deeper understanding is one very special reading experience.

The anguished struggle of two-fallible, and all too human people as life hands out its own deranged sense of justice is at times painful to read.

This book provoked anger, sadness and a deep sense of empathy in me. It in turn delighted me, and made me cry, and then continued to invade my senses long after the ending.

There is a depth of love between these two damaged souls that defies the limitations of time.

The drug abuse is a road many of us have taken in times of the darkest despair, the struggle to overcome it and move clearly distant is an epic one, as is the final understanding of the violent reactions of Luke to his imprisonment.

Life knocked these valiant people to the ground again and again.  BUT they didn’t stay down for the count.

It takes guts to do that, and to keep right on doing it.

We are permitted to glimpse inside their darkness and anguish …and grow with them as the love and faith that they share takes them from that darkness and into the warmth and the light.

A wonderful, moving and intensely memorable story of love!

The Convict and The Rose on Amazon.com

Book 1. Flowers and Stone on Amazon.com

Book 3. Home at Last on Amazon.com

Contact via:

Email:  rijan21@gmail.com

Twitter:  @rijanjks

Facebook:  Author Jan Sikes Books

Blog/Websites:

Award Winning Author Jan Sikes

Writing & Music

NUMBER 8: Into Spring by Larry Langraff.

“Into Spring: The Next Generation (Four Seasons Book 2) by Larry Landgraf @riverrmann

 

BOOK REVIEW COVER INTO SPRING BY LARRY LANDGRAF

BLURB

Twenty years after Into Autumn, Sean and Robbie leave Peaceful Valley for Corpus Christi, hoping to find women who will join their fiercely protective group back home. What they find is a fight to survive the violent dictatorship of ruthless Sandra Hawkins. Meanwhile, a new family joins the group in the Valley, except that what seems like a safe addition might bring the worst kinds of change. Into Spring continues the Four Seasons saga about building a new life in Texas after the collapse of civilization.

MY REVIEW of “INTO SPRING”

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Larry Landgraf delivers again with a story both complex and fascinating.

I was eager to begin reading “Into Spring” having read and enjoyed the first book in this series so much. There are times when the next book in a series can let me down. This is NOT one of those times.

Larry Landgraf delivers again with a story both complex and fascinating.

‘Into Spring” picks up the story twenty years after the ending of book 1.

Society had already broken down irreparably. Long-held belief systems suffer at the hands of a cruel fate, in a place that has no room left for dreams. Survival is the paramount purpose of the character’s existence.

The male children introduced in book 1 learn fast that the survival of not only themselves but their species is dependent on the availability of females to carry the next generation.

Robbie and Sean are both afraid and excited when they leave the familiarity of Peaceful Valley behind them. They have hope, good instincts and the vague imaginings of what life may turn out to be with a female to share it with.

Corpus Christe beckoned. Nothing in Robbie and Sean’s experiences of life could have prepared them for the nightmare that followed.

Author Larry Landgraf enriches his writing with well-developed characters that the reader may empathize with …  and still other characters that I learned to loathe as they displayed their loss of humanity.

This series has me hooked. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys a well-written journey into a darker vision of our future.

Larry Landgraf on TWITTER

Purchase “Into Spring” on AMAZON.COM

PURCHASE INTO AUTUMN on AMAZON.COM

Author website.

NUMBER 7: The Neon Houses by Linda Mims @Boom_Lyn

BOOK REVIEW COVER THE NEON HOUSES BY LINDA MIMS

BLURB

Murder, mayhem and suspense abound in this action packed page-turner set in 2087 Chicago. Our heroine, Dr. Noel Kennedy hears screams inside her head. They are the screams of her young friend, 20-year-old Zarah Fisher. She’s miles away and screaming for her life!

Noel knows the exact moment Zarah takes her last breath because Noel has a secret that not even her husband, handsome mayoral aide, Richard Kennedy, shares.

As the youngest Deputy Chief of Schools of Gang Territory, Noel has perfected her life. She is a solid, middle-class citizen from New Chicago, Incorporated. New Chicago and Gang Territory have become vastly different societies since the early Urban Wars. Now, year 2087 finds New Chicago’s military-trained police determined to enforce laws that keep “gang people” out.

Harlem Pierce, a New Chicago police detective, has been warned to stay away from Zarah Fisher’s murder investigation and he urges Noel to let it go, too. But a new killing involves Noel’s cousin and her boyfriend and links Noel to it in a startling way.

Who can Noel trust? Should she turn to Warren Simpson—the menacing, treacherous boss of Gang Territory? Or … could he be the killer?

If you like flying cars, robots, androids, dystopia and utopia mixed in with your thriller then this is the story for you!

MY REVIEW:🌟🌟 🌟🌟🌟 A delightful read that any lover of Dystopian & Paranormal fiction is certain to enjoy.

Finding a book that blends the genre’s of Dystopian/Paranormal and Thriller together is rare enough, finding one as well written as this one most assuredly is pure delight for an avid reader such as myself.

Author Linda Mims has woven intricate threads throughout this book, luring the reader down one path and suddenly throwing a curveball that was not anticipated, keeping me relentlessly turning pages right from the first chapter.

Although set in a Chicago of the future time of 2087 this book is highly relevant right now, if we are honest about the monstrous differences our world already permits to exist between those that ‘Have’ and those that ‘Have Not”.

I rate the believability factor into my enjoyment of reading any book. Everything this author has created within these pages it utterly plausible and as such believable.

From protagonist Dr. Noel Kennedy’s strong, resilient, and determined persona, to the convincingly portrayed streets of the ‘Gang Territory’ this talented author weaves a tantalizing scenario.

All the characters portrayed here are multi-dimensional, they are each flawed by the lives they have had no choice but to live.

There are many characters to meet along this journey, but the author has done a remarkable job with each of them, one of my personal favorites is the treacherous Warren Simpson, head of ‘Gang Territory’ his presence is menacing, threatening, and decidedly dangerous.

The many plot threads are handled well and the book is not difficult to follow. I loved being constantly surprised by a character’s actions.

A delightful read that any lover of Dystopian & Paranormal fiction is certain to enjoy.

***

CONTACT DETAILS:

Contact via:

Twitter

Facebook

Blog/Website:

Linda Mims

Title:

“THE NEON HOUSES”

***

NUMBER 6: Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree @Lizzie_Chantree

BOOK REVIEW COVER NINJA SCHOOL MUM

 BOOK REVIEW: “Ninja School Mum” by Lizzie Chantree

Blurb

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Utterly captivating and intensely readable!

I believe we are all a little wary of stepping outside our usual reading comfort zone. I wasn’t certain what to expect when I sat down to read this book.

What I found within its pages was pure entertainment. Author Lizzie Chantree has gifted the reader with some marvelous characterizations.

The stand out for me was Skye. I love strong female characters, especially those who stand tall and fight back. Skye is a wonderfully blended character. The author has woven her with a fine hand and a keen observation of human behavior. Skye has a delicious sense of humor and times of intense tenderness. I fell for the character totally.

This author has introduced us to the others such a Thea and Zack, and allowed us to both visualize and hear them. A perfect example of, show … don’t tell.

I  laughed often during this read, only to find myself suddenly thrust into a world where survival comes at a cost.

The twist caught me unprepared! That in itself made the book worth reading.

Author Lizzie Chantree has a winning combination in this her latest book.

I found it utterly captivating and intensely readable.

LINKS TO THE BOOK AND THE AUTHOR.

PURCHASE NINJA SCHOOL MUM on AMAZON.Com

LIZZIE CHANTREE AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Connect on TWITTER

LIZZIE CHANTREE on FACEBOOK

Thank you for stopping by and don’t forget I’ll be sharing MY TOP 5 Tomorrow.

Welcome to The Watch #RWISA Write Showcase Tour: Featured author Nonnie Jules @NonnieJules #RRBC

RWISA BLOG TOUR BANNER

Hello and a warm welcome to this final day of The Watch #RWISA Write Showcase Tour.

I’m delighted to be featuring Nonnie Jules here today.

EXCERPT FROM THE SEQUEL TO DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER

(I’ve decided not to preface this piece with any details.  I’d like for the readers to try and “figure” out the direction this piece is going in.  Have fun!)

***

 

LEEZA

“Are you gonna buy me a drink or, are you just gonna sit there and stare at me?” Leeza asked the stranger at the bar.

“Uh, sure.  What are you drinking, pretty lady?”  Swirling to and fro, the man gripped the ridges of the bar to keep from falling off the bar stool.  “Hey, bartend, give this pretty lady what ‘er she wants and put it on my tab.”

Leeza looked him up and down.  Although not bad on the eyes, he didn’t strike her as a man with deep enough pockets to have a “tab” anywhere, but, who was she to judge.

“Vodka on the rocks,” she said, waving her hand at the bartender.  When her suitor heard her request, his eyebrows raised.

“Sure you can handle that strong of a drink, pretty lady?” he asked, still teetering.

“That’s not all I can handle.” Her suggestive wink was all the invitation the stranger needed to move a little closer, even though he could barely stand.

“So, what’s your name, pretty lady?” he slurred.

“Anything you want it to be, honey,” she replied.

“Really?  Well, I want your name to be Available.  So, are you?”

As he sat waiting for her response, he reminded her of a puppy, paws perched on a windowsill, who has just noticed his master’s return home from work.

“You gotta pay to play with me,” she nudged.

“Well, honey, you finish up that there drink of yours, and let’s head up to my room.  I’m in town on business and I would love the company of a beautiful woman going by the name Available.”

In one fell swoop, she turned the shot glass up and the vodka was gone, causing the stranger’s eyes to bulge again. He’d never seen a woman down a drink as strong as that before.

Turning away from the bar and grabbing hold of his tie, Leeza lead the way to the elevator of the hotel…the stranger following close behind, like a leashed dog.

“What’s your curfew, pretty lady?”

With doors partially closed, she took her hand and grabbed his penis through his pants.

“I’m a big girl, single with no kids…does that sound like someone with a curfew?” she asked as the beep of the elevator signaled the arrival to their destination.

Stumbling ahead of her, the stranger swiped his key and pushed opened the door.  Leeza walked past him, falling backwards onto the bed.

“C’mon over here and let’s finish the party we started downstairs,” she said, kicking off her heels and propping her legs up on the bed…spread-eagle.

Balancing as he walked, the stranger reached the bed with a huge grin plastered across his face.

“C’mere.” Leeza forcefully took him by the tie once again and pulled him on top of her.

“Whoa, filly…what’s your hurry?  You said you didn’t have a curfew so why the rush?  Don’t you even wanna know my name?” he asked.

“Well, I thought your name was Ready since that’s the way you came across downstairs at the bar.”  Leeza was no longer smiling, feeling a bit toyed with, and being toyed with was the one thing she hated most.

“You’re a funny one, aren’t cha?” he chuckled.  “Ok, well let’s ‘git to what we came here for!  By the way, my real name’s Jim.  Now tell me yours…”

“Nothing’s changed,” she whispered in his ear.  “I’m still Available.”

Switching off the lamp, she proceeded to undress the both of them by the orange glow of moonlight trickling through the window.   This was a typical night for Leeza.  Raunchy sex with yet another man she didn’t know, nor cared to.  After a while, she just lay there and let him have his way.

Then, just as quickly as it had begun, the party was over…for her, at least.  The banging inside her head warned of the onslaught of another massive headache and there was no getting away from it.

She could no longer enjoy herself as the next one started to take over.

 

CHRISTY

Jim opened his eyes to a blonde pointing a gun in his face.  Startled, his eyes scanned the room for the brunette he’d brought back with him the night before, but she was nowhere to be found.

“Give me your wallet!” the blonde demanded.

“Who are you?  And, where is Available?” he asked, his eyes still searching.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t want to know what you’re talking about, capiche?  My name is Christy and I’m not going to ask you again.  Give me…your wallet.”

Jim pointed to his clothes that he’d been stripped of the night before, strewn across the floor.  “You didn’t ask me the first time,” he said“My wallet’s in there. Take whatever you want, just get outta my damn room.”

Christy stooped to pick up the pants, throwing them at him; the gun, nor her eyes, ever leaving their target.

“Hey, I don’t take orders from you. Remember that. Now give me everything in there that’s spendable.”

Jim took the cash from his wallet and threw it at her.  “Here, this is all I have,” he muttered, anger lacing his tone.

“I saw plastic.  I want those, too.  And don’t make the mistake again of throwing anything at me,” she warned, raising the gun to remind him who was in charge.

Jim mumbled something, as he gently placed three credit cards on the bed.  Christy snatched the cards up and backed slowly towards the door, but her hands had barely touched the doorknob when she heard Jim yell, “Get out, you bitch!”

Closing the door, she calmly walked back over to the bed.  She could see the new fear which had quickly taken up residence in his eyes.  Smiling, she put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

“Don’t you ever call me a bitch again.  I told you my name was Christy!”

#

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: Nonnie Jules

Contact via:

Email:  nonniejules@gmail.com

Twitter:  @nonniejules & @AskTheGoodMommy

Facebook:  BooksByNonnie

Blog/Websites:

Books By Nonnie

Watch Nonnie Write!

Ask The Good Mommy

4WillsPublishing

A Christmas Story: “Making Sweet Memories” @pursoot #Christmas #RRBC #RWISA

KOALA CHRISTMAS

Making Sweet Memories

A Short story for Christmas

By

Suzanne Burke.

 

It was already late December before Ellie remembered the season. She had been in her comfortable hiding place for so long alone, that dates just didn’t seem to matter much anymore.

The sudden explosion of the sound of cicadas serenading loudly in the trees beyond her windows to the world jolted her.

It was Summer already? When had that happened? She hadn’t paid much attention to the heat that had been building up for months. Now it was launching its presence into her space with all the vengeance at its command.

Maybe it was time to use the air conditioning she’d had installed a year or so earlier.

She shrugged and made a mental note to seek out some cooler clothing from the depths of her wardrobe.

Ellie looked around her, moving as she did and reaching out to touch the nearby objects familiar and comforting to her. The framed photograph of the family, taken so very long ago hadn’t yet begun to fade. Their happy smiles were fixed forever in place and frozen for all time in that moment.

It had been the same time of year, she recalled, as she wiped a smear from the glass.

Ellie smiled as the memory of it surfaced unbidden.

They had all been gathered under the pine tree in the front yard, it was a tradition every year for them to all come together to decorate that big old tree.

Every year since she’d been a small child that magic had happened, with tinsel and shiny baubles, and spheres of multi-colored glass, and at the very top of that great old tree had always been the angel and the star.

Her mother had made the clothing for the angel. Oh, it was glorious, and neighbors would often stop by just to admire that angel and all the hand crafted decorations, and to absorb perhaps just a little of the love that had gone into creating it.

The sound of Carols and much laughter had filled the air every year at the same time. Some years not all of the family could make it, time and other commitments changed all their lives, as it was want to do.

For the most part though they were all together.

The decades flew by on a whisper, and her mother and father had passed within weeks of each other. After fifty years of marriage neither of them had been able to contemplate the thought of the other being gone, leaving them empty and alone. Ellie had lost her sister and her brother in the years that followed. She was the youngest. The old house was now hers. It became her castle, her safe haven, her forever home.

Ellie placed the photo back on the mantle above the stone fireplace. She grinned in the knowledge that it would blaze brightly in the icy cold winters of this small coutry town.

It didn’t do to remember too much. Memory could play tricks with the mind and damage the soul if you let it.

She walked into the master bedroom. The old bed was still her favorite. It was high off the ground and the mattress was lumpy with so many years of use. She recalled without meaning to, the nights she and her siblings had laid there with her mother. Mom would always read them that one story on that same night every year until Ellie declared herself too old to be hearing it read anymore.

She opened the closet, and stood for a long time, before she reached in and pulled out the huge carved wooden box that her father had made.

She carried it across to the bed and sat propped on the multitude of cushions to open it. She lovingly ran her hands across the top of the box. How could she have forgotten the way he carved? She ran her fingers as if reading in braille across the carved name etched into the wood with such love and precision, ‘Alice’. Her mother’s name. She opened the lid and was clothed in the faint smell of Lavender still emanating from its contents. Lavender, mom’s favorite perfume of all. It carried with it the essence and sounds of a century long gone.

Ellie hesitated for a moment, then lured by an irresistible need, she removed the first layer of tissue paper, and caught her breath. The Angel lay there, in a gown that still shone gold. Ellie’s hands shook as she gently lifted it from the folds of protection around it. Snuggly tucked in behind it lay the star. Each layer she lifted revealed more and still more of all those handmade decorations from her memories.

Ellie lay there for a long while, surrounded by yesterday.

When she returned to the sitting room she carried the box with her.

She felt a trembling excitement building in her blood. What was the date? She had to know. Maybe it was already too late.

She hurried across the room and opened the front door, and looked at the old tree still standing tall and proud in the front yard.

The street had altered over the years. But she knew the neighbors on one side, and they had been there for a very long time.

She crossed the yard, and climbed the steps up to their front door. She rang the bell and held her breath as the door opened.

“Michael, it’s just Ellie, from next door.” She was at a loss for what else to say.

“Well now, yes indeed it is. What is it, Ellie, do you need help?” The look of concern on his face caused her to smile.

“Oh, well no … that is, I’m doin’ just fine, Michael. Thank you for asking. I’m just wondering, could you tell me what the date is please?”

“Why, it’s December 24th I believe.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you so much. I still have time! Thank you.”

“Time, Ellie?”

“Oh, I know it’s strange, but I’m going to decorate the pine tree in the front yard.”

“Oh. That’s marvelous. It has been such a long time since I have seen that old tree look happy.” He put his head on one side, “A long time indeed.”

Ellie grinned at him, feeling ridiculously pleased that he remembered.

She took her leave and found herself almost running back to the house; she could have sworn she could hear Michael Thomas laughing behind her. It had always been a good laugh.

It took a while to gather everything she needed together, and then she manipulated the ladder from the garage, and leaned it up against the solid comfort of that tree.

The lower branches were easy, they were done in a flash of time, but even Ellie was a little daunted as her gaze lifted higher.

The voice from behind her startled her a little, and she rocked a little uncertainly on her perch on the ladder.

“Ellie? Oh, I’ve given you a fright. I’m so sorry.” Michael Thomas held the ladder firmly as she wobbled her way back down.

He looked very pleased with himself, however, and the three smiling faces with him had that inescapable look of anticipation that young people wear so well.

Ellie didn’t ask, she just waited.

“We, that is, I, was wonderin’ if maybe we could help, with the tree? These are my grandson’s…The twins are Peter, and David, but don’t ask me which is which, cause after fifteen years I still can’t tell ‘em apart. The taller one of the boys is Mitchell, he’s just got his first car, which no doubt you will hear over the next few days.”

The boys all stepped forward and shook her hand in turn.

Then they waited, trying to gage the look on her face as they did.

It didn’t take long. Ellie clapped her hands in delight, “Oh, I would be so very happy to have the help and the company. Wonderful, just wonderful.”

The heat was building, and Michael headed back to his place, returning with a large stripped beach umbrella, and a cooler filled with bottles of soda and chipped ice. Ellie added a folding table and some chairs to the collection. She and Michael sat in the shade after they had decorated as high as they could manage. They just sat, in companionable silence, slurping down ice-cold Coca Cola and watching the healthy young men clambering like monkeys in the higher reaches of the tree.

The busy scene had created somewhat of a distraction for some of the children on the street, who now stood in every increasing numbers, clutching their bikes and watching on in fascination. Some parents joined in the onlookers, and before too long they were asking if they could help as well.

Each of the family groups hurried home and brought something back with them, and the sound of Christmas Carols was soon added and sung along with, not in tune, but nobody cared.

Ellie looked around her in amazement. It was different, but the same. How could she have thought for so very long that it had ended. When, for so many of them, it was just beginning.

One of the twins, she wasn’t sure which, called down from high in the branches, “Ellie? What goes on the top? The Angel or the star?”

“Both of them, sweetie. They’ll fit together, you’ll see.”

“Ellie?”

“Hmm, yes, Michael.”

“Can we add some lights? I mean I remember all the other Christmases, and I know that lights weren’t part of it, but they would just add to the beauty of it, I’m thinkin’ … maybe?”

Ellie considered for a moment, then gave him her big smile, “Y’know, Michael, I guess it past time for something new to be added, do you have any?”

“Oh, brother, do I have any!”

When he and Mitchell returned it was with a huge box of outdoor fairy lights. “How’s this?”

“You weren’t kidding. Wow. String ‘em up, boys.” Willing hands soon emptied that box.

“Thanks for this, Ellie. You have no idea, just how much I’ve missed this stuff. I mean, the kids come over and the grandkids and all, and we eat ourselves stupid. But I haven’t felt much like Christmas for such a long time. Not since my Maggie passed. This … well,” his voice thickened with tears. “Thanks for giving me back Christmas.”

Darkness takes a while to fall in the Australian summer, but when it does, it is absolute.

Everyone gathered back against the edge of the road in the cool of evening, and Michael was given the honor of flipping the switch.

The place lit up. The adults breathed out an ‘Ah’ of satisfaction. The younger children still watching on, squealed with delight.

It was glorious.

Her folks would have loved this, Ellie knew with a certainty.

The sound of laughter echoed through the street.

Later that night, when everything was done, and Ellie had gratefully accepted the invitation to lunch tomorrow with Michael Thomas and his family, she lay curled up on that big old bed, the pine box was open and ready. She extracted the one remaining item; and began to read aloud, “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…………………….

#

Wishing my friends everywhere a memorable and joyous Holiday Season.

#KOALA CHRISTMAS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to The Watch #RWISA Write Showcase Tour: Day 15: Featured author Beem Weeks @BeemWeeks #RRBC

RWISA BLOG TOUR BANNER

Hello and Welcome to the Tour: I’m delighted to be featuring talented author Beem Weeks.

Meet BeemBEEM WEEKS BIO PIC

My name is BEEM WEEKS.  I am the author of the historical fiction/coming-of-age novel called JAZZ BABY,” and a collection of short stories entitled  “SLIVERS OF LIFE.”   I was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan, USA. I am the third of four children – two brothers and a sister. My parents divorced when I was seven years old.

I’ve been a writer since my earliest years, having co-authored a play that found its way on stage at my elementary school. This play, a work in the time-travel genre, taught me that with nothing more than pen, paper and imagination, I have the power to create worlds and characters that would not exist without me.

When I reached high school, I enrolled in a journalism course, which led to my joining the school newspaper staff, where I wrote concert and record reviews, conducted interviews with student athletes, and anybody else who’d experienced something worth sharing. It was through my journalism class that I saw some of my music reviews make it into the local newspaper, giving me a nudge toward a career in journalism.

Unfortunately, I chose the path of drugs and alcohol after graduation. During those years, I wrote very sporadically, often going months without producing a single page of new work.

I eventually got sober, moved forward, and re-joined the living.

On November 4, 2010, I lost my little brother to the side effects of chemotherapy in his battle with leukemia. On May 30, 2012, a month after “JAZZ BABY”  saw release, my father passed away following a massive heart attack. This drained much of the excitement from my accomplishment. Neither my father nor my brother had the opportunity to read it.

But death is as much a part of life as is living. We are each of us born to die. It’s what we choose to do in the limited time we are afforded, that determines who and what we really can be. I am a writer. I shall write while I am here

 

Nightly Traipsing

By

Beem Weeks

 

There might’ve been a dream. Or maybe not. Violet Glass really couldn’t recall. Probably, though. A dream concerning some stupid boy—or even a girl.

Whatever.

Can’t control what creeps through your sleep.

Her body stirred awake as the blackest part of night splashed its inky resolve across that part of Alabama.

Violet stared at the ceiling, tried like the dickens to recall a face, perhaps a voice—anything belonging to the one responsible for this latest agitation.

Nothing came through, though.

Even dead of night did little to lay low that sticky heat. Old-timers in town swore oaths affirming this, the summer of 1910, to be more oppressive than any other summer since before the war between the states.

Violet eased her body from her bed; the soles of her feet found cool the touch of creaking floorboards.

There’d be nobody to catch her—not at this hour.

Nobody, but Ruthie.

And Ruthie Sender?—she’d never let on of these doings.

Violet scampered through the kitchen, flung her blue-eyed gaze against the darkened parlor. Only shadows and silence bore witness to her planned escape, a girl’s nightly traipsing.

The back door gave up with only minor provocation.

Dripping moonlight splashed the yard with a silvery sheen; promising secrets lingered among the gathered glow.

Around the rear of the house she skulked, careful to hold close to the shadows, to remain hidden from the ones who’d blab, those others who’d hold it over her head for gain.

Back behind the barn she found her crouching spot, fell low to the ground, fixed sight on the direction of Ruthie Sender’s place a few hundred yards away. Traipsing just didn’t hold its fun without Ruthie tagging along.

Violet rushed her granddad’s cotton field without that hesitation she’d known only a summer earlier.

Shadows stirred and wiggled in the distance. Figures formed, made shapes around a low-burning fire. Even at the center of all that cotton, Violet could pick out words of songs sung by the coloreds, those kin to Ruthie Sender.

They sang about standing on wood, an old slave’s saying, drawing up recollections of a time they themselves belonged to someone else.

Belonged to Violet’s kin.

Wood smoke fogged the night air.

Violet hunched low, skirted the yard where those coloreds took up with their fire and song and whiskey. Friendly sorts, all of them. Always first with a kind word, an interest in Violet’s family, how the girl’s folks were getting on—even if that interest leaned toward pretend. But that’s the nature of the matter. It’s Violet’s great-granddad who’d once owned all those souls that gave creation to the very ones now singing and drinking.

She broke through shadows collected beneath an ancient willow tree, found respite behind the Sender family’s privy, and waited for the girl to either show or not show.

The colored girl’s legs appeared first, dangling from the pantry window, bare feet scrabbling at the air, searching for a solid thing to set down upon. The thud of her sudden drop wouldn’t wake anybody.

A dingy gray nightshirt clung to Ruthie’s body. Her dark-eyed gaze landed out where she knew to find Violet. If the girl offered a smile, it couldn’t be seen—not from this distance.

“Go out back of Tussel’s, maybe?” Ruthie asked, finding space in Violet’s shadow.

“Catch a strap across my butt, I get found by that saloon again,” Violet promised. “Daddy don’t say things twice.”

Ruthie said, “Chicken liver.”

Violet backed down a notch, weighed her options. “Who’s gonna be there?”

“Fella named Ferdinand something. Plays piano.” Ruthie tossed a nod toward those others out by the fire. “They won’t share us no whiskey.”

“Won’t share up to Tussel’s, neither—unless you got some money.”

*      *      *

They were born the same night, Violet and Ruthie, back during spring of 1895. Only a few measly hours managed to wedge in between them, separated the girls from being twins of a sort.

Close enough, though.

Ruthie came first—if her folks were to be believed.

“Where we going?” Violet asked, following after Ruthie’s lead.

“Lena Canu’s place,” said Ruthie.

“How come?”

“She got stuff to drink, mostly.”

Droplets of sweat ran relays along Violet’s spine, leaving the girl’s skin wet, clammy. “Awful hot, it is.”

“She a conjure woman,” Ruthie announced, laying her tone low, protected. “—Lena Canu, I mean.”

Midnight’s high ceiling lent sparse light to the path splitting the two properties. Violet’s kin, they’d once owned the entire lot. Her great-granddad, he’s the one took notion to make things right, gave half of his land to the slaves he turned loose after the war.

Ruthie’s kin, mostly.

Senders and Canus.

Couldn’t ever really make a thing like that right, though.

A small cabin squatted in the brush; the orange glow of a lamp shined in the window. Used to be a slave’s shack, this one here.

Moonlight dripped on the colored girl’s face, showed it round and smooth, lips full and perfect, eyes alive with life and mischief. “Gonna see does she have any drink.”

Violet leaned closer, her bare arms feeling the other girl’s heat. She asked, “Can she tell fortunes?”

“Like reading a book.”

That dark door yawned wide; Lena Canu peered into the night. “I’ll tell your fortune, white girl,” she said.

Ruthie gave a nudge, guided Violet up the walk and into the shack.

A table and four chairs congregated at the center of the bare space. Kerosene fed a flame dancing like the devil atop the glass lamp. A pallet in a corner threw in its lot with the scene.

Lena Canu tossed a nod toward her rickety table. “Have you a seat, now,” she ordered, “—both of you.”

Violet sat first. Ruthie found perch across from her friend. Beneath the table naked feet bumped and rubbed, each girl assuring the other this would be a good turn.

“You one of them Glass girls, ain’t you?” Lena asked, dropping onto a chair of her own.

Violet said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Lena waved her off. “Ain’t no ma’am. Call me Lena, is all. You the one runs wild.” A pronouncement rather than a question.

Ruthie asked, “You got any liquor?”

A clear pint bottle came into the moment; its bitter amber liquid promised that sort of burn a person won’t mind.

Each girl drew off a long pull, let the heat mingle with their blood. Neither girl had ever gone full-on drunk; only a swig or two is all they ever dared.

Lena Canu, conjuring woman, spread a pile of bones over the table and commenced to ciphering future happenings a girl might need to know.

Things about boys and marriage didn’t come up. Neither did mention of babies and such. All Violet heard portended mainly to trouble.

“Quit you runnin’ wild,” Lena proclaimed, “and you be just fine.” She took up her narrow gaze again, aimed to settle matters. “But you keep doin’ what you been doin’, things gonna go bad.”

The suddenness of gunfire echoed through that sticky air. Three quick shots chased by a lazy fourth that staggered along a moment later.

Lena jumped first, ran for the door. Ruthie followed after, peering into the dark, no doubt expecting to put a face to the one pulled that trigger.

Violet remained stuck to her chair, attentions tugging between the matters outside and those sayings left to her by that conjuring woman. Did she really believe in such things, or was it all just a mess of nonsense?

“What am I gonna do to make things go bad?” she asked, supposing it wouldn’t hurt to know—just in case.

But Lena had other notions to work over. “Sounds like they come from over to your place,” she said to Ruthie.

Ruthie tipped a nod, said, “Could be they gettin’ liquored up too much, huh?”

“Might could,” answered Lena.

It happens that way, boys and their whiskey, wandering along crooked paths of discontent, blabbing things not really meant for harm—just boasting, is all.

But boasting to a drunken fella is as good as a punch on his nose.

“Gonna go see,” said Ruthie, pushing past the threshold, pressing on toward home.

Violet held her ground, let the colored girl disappear in the night. Attentions ceased their tugging, settled on the one making proclamations concerning bad manners and trouble to come.

Lena came loose of her thoughts, brought one to words, said, “Go on home now, white girl. Nighttime belongs to devils.”

*      *      *

Clouds laid a brief smudge against the moon, stripped its shine right off the night, left Violet to wonder if it really might be footsteps stumbling along behind her, following that same narrow path toward home.

“Fool boys,” she muttered, tossing nervous glances over either shoulder.

Footfalls fell heavy—like boots hammering the earth. An eager thing born of desperation.

Violet bolted left, squatted low behind a pile of brush that had the makings of a snake shelter. She held her breath and waited for the one at her back to pass on by.

A piece of tree limb came to her hand, a long and heavy thing, able to put a soul right should he come at her with wrong intentions.

That smudged moon went shiny again, dripped light across the path, showed off the shape of a man loping toward home. Tall and thin, this one; he moved quick with purpose.

Going the wrong way, though, Violet thought, waiting for the man to pass.

She gained her feet, charged his retreat, swung that heavy piece of wood and caught that interloper straight between his shoulders.

“Jay-zus!” the man hollered, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes.

“This is private property!” Violet informed him, fixing up for a second swing.

The fella pulled up on his knees, tried to reach for that spot on his back no doubt gone swollen. He said, “It’s private property only ’cause I say so.”

Foolishness seeped into the girl. She squinted against the dark, drew recollection of his face. “Granddad?” she said, hoping her recollections proved wrong.

“What the hell are you doing out here?” he demanded, giving his legs a try.

“Came out to use the privy,” she fibbed. “Heard gunshots, came to see, is all.”

“Liar!” the old man spat. “You been gallivanting again, ain’t you?” He moved closer to the girl, sized her up, made a big fuss over her running around in only a nightshirt and nothing else. “Your daddy’s gonna hit ya where the good Lord split ya—then he’s gonna move you to your sister’s room upstairs. Won’t be no sneaking out from there.”

Her gaze caught that glint at his waistband, a familiar hunk of blued steel. “Don’t matter,” she said. “Daddy’s gonna put you in the county home.”

“On account of what?”

“On account of you’re going senile, traipsing off, bothering colored folks again with that pistol of yours.” Violet leaned closer, continued her spiel. “Heard him and Mama talking just last week, saying how you’re a danger to yourself just as much as to others.”

The old man’s jaw fell open and slammed shut; intended words went lost to the night. He couldn’t tell on her now—not without personal risk.

Defeat fogged his eyes. “I won’t tell your business if you don’t tell mine.”

Violet seized the moment with both hands. “That depends,” she informed him.

“On what?”

“Who’d you shoot tonight?”

“Nobody. Just meant to scare, is all.”

“Gonna kill somebody one day—if you ain’t already.”

“Ain’t in my blood, killin’.”

“Don’t have to mean it to do it.”

The old man pulled back, let frustration have its way. “We got a deal or don’t we?”

“You gonna leave Ruthie’s people be?”

“Just want what’s mine,” he complained.

“But it’s their land, Granddad—been so for forty-five years. A hundred guns ain’t gonna make it not so.”

He never did wear misery well.

Violet’s arms went easily around the man. She pulled close to him, breathed in that familiar odor of sweat and tobacco.

He said, “I won’t bother them no more.”

“Then we have us a deal.”

#

 

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The Indie Spot!

Welcome to The Watch #RWISA Write Showcase Tour: Day 14: Featured author Gwen Plano @gmplano #RRBC

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Hello and a warm welcome to this wonderful Showcase of talented writers. It’s Day 14 and I’m delighted to be featuring author Gwen Plano here today.

GWEN BIO PIC

Hello, my name is GWEN PLANO. Presently, I live in Branson, MO, where my husband and I enjoy live theatre and musical performances in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. After spending our working years in California and the greater New York area, we decided to take the leap and settle in the heartland of the United States. It is no surprise that our seven children remain on either coastline. They, along with our ten grandchildren, are our biggest reason for traveling throughout the year!

My book,LETTING GO INTO PERFECT LOVE,” is a memoir that covers an expanse of time, as well as a breadth of experiences both challenging and divine. My second book, “THE CONTRACT between heaven and earth,”  is a thriller co-authored with John W. Howell.  It focuses on some of the same mysteries mentioned in my memoir but through a thriller genre.  I’m excited to announce that I’m writing its sequel now.

MOM’S FINAL WORDS

By Gwen M. Plano

Worn out by time, mom lay motionless on the sheets. Life lingered but imperceptibly. At ninety-one, she had experienced the full range of life’s challenges. And, now, she rested her aged shell of a body and waited.

A farmer’s daughter and wife, her life was marked by practicalities and hard work. Always up before daybreak, she prepared the meals, washed the clothes and hung them on the clothesline, and otherwise attended to the needs of the household.

Her garden was a cornucopia of tomatoes and corn, of squash and lettuces. And the refrigerator always had freshly gathered eggs and newly churned butter.

Mom rarely paused, to catch her breath, to offer a hug, or to sit calmly. Time is not to be wasted, she taught. And so, she was always busy.

Over the years, there were multiple times that she almost died. But, with each surgery or ailment, she emerged from death’s clutches more determined than before – to surmount her difficulties, to forge a path, to care for her family. “Life is a gift,” she would say to us.

Mom knew poverty and uncertainty. Ration coupons from the war lay on her dresser, a reminder of harsh realities. Nothing ever went to waste in our household, not food, not water, not clothing. “Many have less than us,” she claimed. She would then insist we be conservative and share.

She knew sorrow well, having lost her parents when she was young, and then two of her nine children. As the years passed, she also lost her sisters and many of her friends.

Mom was a woman of faith. Throughout the day, you could hear her quiet entreaties. Prayer was always on her lips. When mom walked from one room to the next, she prayed – for this person or that friend or for our country. She’d stand at the sink washing dishes and invoke help, from the angels, from Mary the mother of our God, and from the Holy Spirit. “Pray always,” she’d remind us.

This busy mother fought death to the end, but when the doctor finally said that nothing more could be done, she simply responded, “I am ready.”

It was then that she met with each of her seven children. Barely managing each breath, she whispered her I love you and offered a few words of guidance.

When I was at mom’s bedside, she told me she loved me, mentioned a few family concerns, and then in a barely audible voice she said, “I don’t know what to expect.”

This precious little woman, who had spent her life busy with raising a family and helping with the farm, now was unsure of what would happen next. I was surprised by the words.

She taught me to pray when I was quite tiny. “Get on your knees,” she would instruct. “Offer up your pain for the poor souls in purgatory,” she’d suggest. Then, she’d lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. Mom had us pray for family and friends, for anyone suffering, and always for our country. She’d share stories of angels and saints, of miracles and wonders, of midnight visitations and afternoon impressions. This fragile diminutive woman had instructed my siblings and me of the invisible eternal. And, I lived with those images as a child until they became as real to me as the world we see.

Yes, I was surprised by mom’s words to me. “I don’t know what to expect.” But then I wondered, did she know? Did she know that I had studied near-death experiences? That I had written of the dying process? Had I ever told her?

I don’t know what to expect. Simple words, but a storm of thoughts followed. I held back my tears and took her hands in mine.

“Mom, I will tell you what friends have said and what the research has shown. The angels are coming soon, mom. You will see them in the light. Just follow their lead. Your sisters will join you, as will your mom and dad and your babies. Your whole family is waiting for you. It will be a wonderful reunion. There will be much joy.”

Her breaths grew slower.

I told her of Charles, a friend I met in my prayer group. He had died twice and because of that, he had no fear of his final death. Through his experiences, he saw that life continues. He spoke of celestial beings, of extraordinary love, of boundless joy. And, he told the prayer group that he looked forward to death.

I shared these things and more. And, as I spoke, her eyes closed, and her breathing slowed. She had fallen back to sleep, to the middle ground between this world and the next. And I wondered, did she really need to know what to expect or did she want me to remember that life never ends?

#

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: Gwen Plano

Email:  gwenplano@gmail.com

Twitter: @gmplano

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From the Desk of Gwendolyn M. Plano