Recent Writer’s Conference Recap

Last weekend, I attended the Agents and Editors Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Writer’s League of Texas.

This is a yearly conference geared toward traditional publishing as well as the craft of writing.

I had the opportunity to pitch “When Two Worlds Collide,” to an agent with the Wendy Sherman Agency.

She loved the story premise and the characters. She loved my excitement about the story as I talked about it. She loved everything about it, except the paranormal aspect. Her response was, “I cannot sell a paranormal romance.”

Really? Deep sigh. Oh well. Back to square one with that book and the White Rune Series. Who knows. Maybe I’ll eventually self-publish all three of them.

But, I digress. I want to share some of the nuggets I took away from the conference.

One of the workshops I sat in on and enjoyed was all about crafting irresistible opening pages. These are the tips that were presented:

  • Immediately immerse the reader in something they will want to find out
  • Gorgeous writing (which, of course if subject to interpretation) and great use of metaphors
  • Be clever – something you haven’t seen before
  • Make a promise to the reader with your opening lines that you can keep

They talked a little about what an opening actually is. Some said it was the first few lines or the first page, but most concurred it is the amount of reading you can see when you use the Amazon “Look Inside” feature.

The pitfalls to avoid are all things we’ve heard before.

  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Don’t spend pages explaining things to the reader
  • Eliminate ALL typos
  • Avoid cliches

I moved on from that workshop to one about “Connecting Character and Setting in Compelling Fictional Worlds.”

One statement really stood out in this workshop, “Make the characters YOURS! Own them.”

Character derives from both world-building and setting.

Use Layering in connecting the characters and settings. Use Exaggeration.

Avoid Info Dumping.

Keep surprising yourself when you are writing!

Don’t talk about what you’re writing. Keep it to yourself.

And this one, “Fiction, whether it is about the past or the future, has to be about the present – the reader!”

Another workshop that I gleaned some great tips from was “Writing The Quiet Moments Between Plot Points.”

Plot and pacing go hand-in hand.

Write the scenes you are excited about, regardless of where they fall in the chronological sequence of your story.

I learned about something called “Dan Well’s Story Structure,” which is a set of videos on YouTube. I have not had time yet to go watch them, but it came highly recommended, so I will be checking it out.

In regards to editing, a tip I picked up that I have not used before is the Text To Speech feature in Word. Listening back to your writing, you can hear echos, repetitions and where punctuation might need to go. I will try it out for sure. If any of you have used it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In a Digital Marketing workshop, I learned that Tuesdays or Thursdays are optimal for making the biggest impact on social media, and between Noon and 1 pm.

I also learned that Facebook has shifted and is not a good platform for marketing yourself or your books. However, Twitter is the #1 Platform for this type of marketing. The presenter suggested that we find famous authors we admire and follow them.

Pinterest is primarily used by female audience and keywords are super important with Pinterest posts.

Instagram is dominated by the millenials. The one thing she stressed, was the use of hashtags. She said 10 – 12 per post is a must. Wow! Who knew?

LinkedIn has become a good advertising platform. She mentioned a publishing feature on LinkedIn that was optimal for sharing blog posts instead of posting links. (I have yet to check that one out.)

Groups are where everything in social media is headed. She suggested joining groups, or starting your own.

It was a good conference with lots of information shared and lots of great contacts made. I didn’t come away a step closer to publishing The White Rune Series, but I did come away with more great tips to help enhance my writing and marketing.

And, for fun, the author with whom I shared a room and myself walked down to the bridge where the famous Austin Texas bats come out nightly. Thousands of people line the banks of the river and bridge each night to watch the phenomenon.

This is a photo I took before the bats came out. It gives you a small peek at the number of people who come to watch. None of my photos of the flying bats turned out, so I am using one I found on the internet.

It was a great weekend of learning and networking! That’s what conferences are all about!

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 6#RRBC #RWISA

Today is Day 6 of the WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Blog Tour.

And, it is my pleasure today to bring you a piece of writing from Author, Linda Mims!

Solace

by Linda Mims

Eighteen precocious kindergartners stared as Carly walked into the colorfully decorated classroom. Carly hoped her smile was more reassuring than she felt. Was this a mistake? She spotted two six-year-olds who’d been in her charge on the first field trip she’d chaperoned. They gave her a friendly wave, and a true smile parted Carly’s pursed lips and lightened her heart.

Ms. Jones, the principal, asked all of the children to file around and shake hands with Carly, but some of them hugged her around the waist and Carly bent to embrace them. The huggers stared up at her and quickly turned away unsure how to behave.

After Carly shook hands and hugged them, she asked their new teacher’s permission to lead them to the circle in the back of the room. She’d read that schools were frowning on seating students on the floor, but their former teacher, Miss Mason, had valued the practice.

Miss Mason sat smack dab in the middle of “her kids” and shared her own childhood or read to them from her favorite stories.

So, hovering above the painted line, Carly squatted until she dropped. Sitting crossed-legged wasn’t as comfortable or as easy for Carly as the children made it appear. She smiled as they sank to the floor on legs like rubber bands.

The children sat on the painted circle touching their neighbors with legs, arms, or elbows. There was no jostling or whining from anyone about invasion of space. They needed to connect in this strange time, so it was okay for someone to sit too close.

Two little ones, seated across from Carly, couldn’t stop sniffling, so she held out her arms, and they came over. She pulled them down on either side of her and nuzzled them there. She wanted to join in. Be as free and uninhibited as they, but she held her feelings in check.

The children bowed their heads, but a few raised their eyes to cast envious glances at the two burrowed beneath Carly’s arms. She smiled around the room, looking for the ones Miss Mason had told her about. Johnnie, who was the biggest discipline challenge. Grown-ish Jenny of the fresh mouth and Einstein mind.

Carly recognized little unkempt Anna who caused Miss Mason enough anxiety to refer her family to DCFS. Diana Mason loved these children, and they loved her. The students spent more time with Carly’s daughter than with their own parents.

“Listen and I’ll tell you about the day little Ms. Mason broke the rules and made cookies for herself and her little sister,” Carly said.  “When her father and I were away from home, she wasn’t supposed to fool with the stove, but you guys know how feisty Ms. Mason can be.”

“She was a mischievous little girl,” Carly said with exaggerated feeling.

One of the little ones giggled and hurriedly stifled it when the others swiveled their heads to stare at her, disapprovingly.

“Children,” Carly said. “Ms. Mason would want you guys to smile as you remember her. She’d want you to remember the stories I’m about to tell you and think of her with love.”

***

Joe Mason waited outside the old brick building where, four years ago, his daughter and some of her colleagues had started their own small school. His wife was inside visiting his daughter’s kindergarten class, but Joe remained in the car.

He hadn’t agreed with Carly that this was a good idea. His family had spent a crushing two days grieving Diana’s sudden death and just when—maybe—the weight was easing, his wife sprung up.

“Oh God, Joe! Her kids.”

“I’m sure someone has told them,” he assured her, but Carly wouldn’t be comforted.

“They’re five and six years old, Joe. They don’t understand death. Can you imagine the confusion and anguish for those children? I have to go,” Carly said.

“They need to hear from me and know that it will be all right.”

She had made up her mind and Joe didn’t try to talk her out of it. Perhaps she needed this, too. He, on the other hand, couldn’t bring himself to think about Diana without feeling guilty. There was no peace for him as he shouldered the weight of his daughter’s death.

The night Diana died alone in her room, Joe had convinced himself that he’d heard her knocking for help. He’d been dreaming and in the dream, Diana had knocked on the front door. He was upstairs, and he wondered why Carly didn’t go to the door and let their daughter in.

She knocked in random succession maybe three times, but when Joe woke, he heard nothing. He lay there for a long while listening and wondering if someone had been knocking on the door for real.

It was 1:45 a.m. and outside, the sounds of jazz music told him his neighbor Jimmy was in his parked van, again.

Jimmy did that after a spat with his wife, Vanessa. That’s what the knocking had been. A radio commercial. Satisfied, Joe turned over and went back to sleep. It never occurred to him to wake Carly or to go check on Diana. If he had, his daughter could have gotten help, and she’d still be alive.

Joe couldn’t tell anyone. Carly and Diana were more than mother and daughter. They were best friends. Carly would never forgive him for, if nothing else, letting her remain asleep. God! The pain of losing Diana, compounded by his guilt, was eating Joe alive.

Inside, Carly carried her own guilt. Diana had been working herself to the bone raising money to keep the school afloat. More than just exist, Diana and her colleagues wanted the school to make a huge impact on the lives of their students and their families.

Diana wasn’t sleeping. She was losing weight, and more than a few times, Carly argued with her about taking care of herself.

“If you don’t take care of your own health, you won’t be any damned good to your students!”

“Mom, relax! What am I going to do? Die?”

“Your heart, Diana. Please remember your heart.”

“I do, mom. I think about my heart all the time. School is the only thing that prevents me from thinking about my heart. Can you give me a break? And don’t go to Dad with your suspicions.”

So, Carly gave her a break and she didn’t tell Joe that she suspected Carly was sicker than she was letting on.

***

“You smell like her,” said a little one who’d scooted over and was hugging Carly from behind.

“Let me smell,” said another, peeling his classmate’s arms from around Carly and nudging the child over to squeeze in.

“I wanna smell,” cried a young girl who had stopped twirling her hair around her finger and now stood.

Soon they clustered around Carly, talking and gesturing. Their little voices serious as they shared stories of the times Ms. Mason had been kind, or funny, or very, very stern. Their beautiful faces weren’t so sad now and they made Carly laugh. An hour passed and the pall over the room lifted.

Outside, the breeze blew leaves from the young trees Diana had planted across the grounds. Joe trained his eye on a leaf that floated across his windshield on the gentle breeze. Instead of drifting along, the green leaf frolicked and rolled on the air in front of him.

He’d never paid attention to leaves, and he wondered that this one seemed determined to hang right there, tumbling and playing in front of him. While Joe watched, the leaf floated down and lay on the hood as though spent. Then, to Joe’s amusement, it blew flat against his window and stuck there for a few moments.

The leaf stood on its stem and Joe bent to see it flutter across the car and brush Carly’s face just as she opened the passenger door. Carly started, then laughed and touched her face. Smiling, without even knowing why, they watched the little leaf fly off over the building and out of sight.

THE END

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:

LINDA MIMS’ RWISA AUTHOR PAGE

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 5 #RRBC #RWISA

It’s already Day 5 of the Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour!

Today I’m thrilled to bring to you, Gwen Plano!

THE ROSARY by Gwen M. Plano

Young or old, we are all children at heart. This truth became apparent to me last December when I had neurosurgery.

Prior to the operation, a clerk handed me a stack of documents to sign—billing forms for the hospital and the doctors and several medical release forms that included a list of potential risks. My apprehension grew as I fingered through the papers and provided my signature. It was then that I wished that my mom could be with me. Like any child, I thought she could make it all better. But sadly, she had passed away nine months prior.

My mom was a person of prayer, and when I was young, she’d gather her seven children, tell us to get on our knees, and then proceed to pray. We’d follow her lead—usually protesting—and pray for family members, friends, and the unknown masses. Often, she led us in saying the rosary. Prayer was my mom’s response to any challenge or difficulty, and we had plenty of both on our farm.

Mom’s most common expression was, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” While some of us might curse or yell in frustration, Mom would say this phrase instead.  So, when one of my brothers sent a golf ball through the picture window, Mom called out “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” before scolding him. When we siblings squabbled with one another, Mom would mutter, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” before sending us to our bedrooms. Without exception, we grew up knowing that when Mom said “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” we were in trouble.

I can’t remember a time when Mom wasn’t praying. Whether washing the dishes, hanging the wash on the clothesline, working in the garden, or driving us to a sporting event or a 4-H meeting, Mom quietly prayed. I asked her about this once, and her response left an indelible impression.

“Life is short,” she began, “and we must use every moment to the fullest. People need our prayers, and some don’t have a family to pray for them like we do.”

 I didn’t understand her comment about using every moment to the fullest until I grew older. But her explanation helped me grasp why she rarely watched television and why she rushed from one room to another throughout the day.   

When Mom passed at ninety-two years of age, she left a legacy of beliefs and practices that had found a place in the heart of each of her children. We may have complained about kneeling on the hard floor, but even as little tykes, prayer became part of our lives because of our mother.

At her passing, we were bereft. Mom was our strength, our compass. She was the one we called about concerns, both large and small; she was the one we talked with about our hopes and dreams. Her passing left a huge emptiness that still echoes in our memories. When we sorted through her belongings, not so surprisingly, we discovered she had a dozen or so rosaries. I received two of them.

When I checked into Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, I took my mom’s wooden rosary with me. I felt her near when I held it, and this sensation gave me comfort.  I held the beads tightly and imagined Mom with me.

After the surgery, I was rolled into a room on the Pain Floor where all neurosurgery patients were housed. Next to me was an adjustable overbed table, and when I awakened, I realized that my mom’s rosary rested on it.  

My nurse, Lucy, regularly came in to check on me, and each time she walked through the door, she sang a refrain which included the words, our lady of the rosary. I was surprised by this, because Cedars Sinai is a Jewish hospital. After Lucy left, an aide visited, and she explained that her sister was a nun, and my rosary reminded her of this sister. Later, the night nurse came in and told me about immigrating to the US and how she loved the rosary.

During my hospital stay, one staff person after another visited me and shared family stories and photos—all evoked by the rosary that rested on the overbed table. As I was preparing to leave, Lucy came in to say her goodbyes. She pulled a photo from her pocket.

“This is my mom,” she proudly stated. “I thought you’d like to see her.”

The image was of a petite woman, hunched over by time, smiling broadly at the camera. She stood next to her much-larger daughter, Lucy. I was stunned; she looked like my mom.

As the hospital staff came to say goodbye and wish me well, I suddenly realized that Mom had been with me the whole while. I had been loved and cared for by many at the hospital, but it was Mom who drew them near with her rosary.

THE END

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:

GWEN PLANO’S RWISA Author Page

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 4 #RRBC #RWISA

It’s Day 4 of the Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour!

Today, I bring to you amazing RWISA author, Rhani D’Chae!

EXCERPT FROM UPCOMING NOVEL, “WINTER OF THE DRILL”

By Rhani D’Chae

Decker leaned against the hood of his car, talking to JT in a low tone of voice. His face wore a pleasant expression, and a casual observer would have had no clue as to the seriousness of their conversation.

    “Second floor, third from the left?”

    JT nodded without turning, keeping his eyes focused on Decker’s face. “That’s what Hunt said, and it does make sense.”

   “Are you sure?”

    The boy closed his eyes, remembering Hunter’s words immediately after the shooting.  

   “I think it came from that window over there!” Hunter’s eyes zeroed in on a building across the street. “Second floor, three in, left.”

    JT nodded his head, confident that he had given the correct information. “Third from the left. I’m sure.”

    Decker dipped his head almost imperceptibly, flicking his eyes quickly over the row of windows on the second floor of the nondescript building. Nothing seemed to be out of place, but he had not expected to find anything. However, the address of the building, as well as the location of the window and anything of interest nearby, went into the small notebook that he always carried with him.

   “Well?” JT’s voice held a touch of impatience. “Do you see anything?”

   “Yes.” Decker laid one hand on JT’s shoulder. “I see a boy who needs to learn that some things take more than a minute.”

    The addition of a friendly smile took most of the sting from his words, and JT responded with a smile of his own.

   “Okay.” Decker rose from his perch and stepped on to the sidewalk. “I’m hungry, and you never got to the Olive Garden. Let’s find some food.”

* * *

    From his vantage point at the front window of the Greyhound station across the street, the man known only as Rhegan, watched them head toward a small cafe. He had returned to the strip in search of street gossip but had surprisingly heard almost none. And what he did hear was not worth listening to.

    As he watched the pair walk slowly along Pacific Avenue, he thought back to when he had sighted on the boy and pulled the trigger. He had aimed carefully, not wanting to kill, but even so, he was surprised to see JT back on the street so soon.

    After the shooting, he had taken a few minutes to watch the fireworks, knowing that the police would not be called. 

   His victim had fallen hard, his panic obvious as he managed to scrabble behind the nearest parked car.

   His companion had reacted with cool precision, slipping one arm behind the boy’s shoulders and speed-dialing his cell phone with the other hand.

    Even from a distance, Rhegan could see that the man was scanning the street. When the steel-blue eyes passed over the window that he looked through, he felt a sudden chill, as if those eyes had looked directly into his and issued a challenge.

    A few passersby stopped to offer assistance, but Rhegan could tell that the man was dismissing each with a plausible excuse, for there was none of the panic that usually accompanied a public shooting.

   Within minutes a car had pulled smoothly to a stop, collecting both men before exiting at a sedate speed that would not attract attention.

    Rhegan had expected the part-time bouncer to run crying to Valdez, resignation in hand. Hopefully, the news that another person had taken a hit in his name would force a desperate Valdez to sign his club, the Toybox over to Malone, at whatever terms had been typed above the signature line.

    Malone had told Rhegan that desperation was the only thing that would put a pen in his rival’s hand and had given him a list of potential targets. Malone had laid out his plan of attack, and Rhegan had no problem with any of it.

    But, instead of running, his first victim had returned to take care of business. Head high and shoulders straight, he walked the sidewalk that still bore spatters of his blood, not even glancing down when his boots passed over the red splotches.

    He was doing what Reagan himself would have done, and the hard-eyed gunman respected that, even while he planned when and where to take the boy out for good.

THE END

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:

Rhani D’Chae’s Author Page

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 3 #RRBC #RWISA

It’s Day 3 of the Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour!

Today I’m thrilled to bring to you, A.M. Manay!

“Mirror, Mirror” by A.M. Manay

Set in the world of The Hexborn Chronicles

Shiloh stood in her teacher’s doorway, pulling anxiously on the end of a pink braid that had snuck out of her hood. Brother Edmun was in high dudgeon, ranting about insults and ingrates. A wooden crate sat upon the table, straw peeking through the slats. She could feel magic pouring out of it like waves of heat; it wasn’t dark magic, but it didn’t feel like good magic, either.

“Master?” she ventured. “Would you like me to make your breakfast?” She didn’t bother to ask about the box. He’d tell her if he wanted her to know – and, in his own good time, not before.

Edmun looked at her as though she’d appeared out of thin air. He waved her off. “Don’t bother, poppet. I couldn’t eat.”

Shiloh’s eyes strayed to the crate, but she said nothing.

“Go finish your essay from yesterday,” Edmun barked.

Taking her seat at her little desk with her back to the table, Shiloh could hear Brother Edmun unpacking the mysterious arrival. It was all she could do to resist the urge to peek when she heard the sound of a hammer. Under his breath, Edmun muttered a constant patter of unintelligible complaints. At last, she heard him pull out a chair and collapse into it. Carefully scanning the page once more for any mistakes, she stood to present her work to her master. 

He looked down at the offering in her little hand, her words marching neatly across the page. Pen in one hand and her paper in the other, the glower slowly disappeared from his face as he read, leaving behind a hint of satisfaction. At last, he nodded, resting his unused pen. Shiloh exhaled in relief.

“Well done. A princess at the Academy could not have done better at twice your age.”

“Thank you, master!” Her smile lit up her eyes, which then strayed over Edmun’s shoulder to a mirror with gilded leaves and lacquered flowers hanging on the wall. The ornate frame looked out of place in the rustic mountain cabin.

“Don’t look in it more than you can help it,” Edmun ordered, calling attention back to her teacher’s face.

“Yes, master,” she replied. “May I know why not?”

Edmun hesitated.

“I can feel that it’s magic, master,” Shiloh continued.

He snorted. “I’m sure you can.” She waited for more, but knowing well enough not to press him.

Edmun heaved a sigh. “A man can give you a gift out of love, to please you. Or, he can send it as an insult, to remind you of errors and to caution you against repeating them. This mirror is the latter.”

“What does it do?” she asked.

“That is none of your concern,” he replied. “And that is all I will tell you. Go get a wand from the cabinet.”

Excitement sheathed Shiloh’s face. “We’re using wands today?”

Edmun glanced down at her from beneath his eyebrows. “Is there another reason I’d ask you to get one? Now, do it quickly, before I think better of it.”

***

The following evening, Shiloh picked up a clean rag and set about the dusting. Edmun was busy in the temple, preparing for the upcoming Feast of the Father. As soon as she was done in the house, she was to join him there. As usual, the red cabinet took most of her attention. The many books, wands, and magical curiosities inside had to be carefully wiped and returned to their accustomed positions. It was tedious work, but she was pleased that Edmun trusted her with the task.

Her work on the cabinet finally completed, she turned to dust the mirror and gasped. The silver surface had turned to black. A face appeared, and not her own. Shiloh took a step backward.

A man cocked his head to the side, a slow smile spreading across his face. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but Shiloh did not wait to hear the words. She ran, her head scarf flying behind her all the way to the temple doors. She threw them open.

“What?” Edmun demanded, looking up from the altar.

“The mirror,” she panted. “It turned black, and then there was a man…”

Edmun crossed the floor and took her by the shoulders. “What did he see? What did you say?”

“Nothing! I ran as soon as I saw him. I was only finishing up the dusting. Who was he?”

Edmun ran a hand over his mouth and chin and took a deep breath. “The most dangerous man in the kingdom. Silas Hatch.”

“The Hatchet?” Shiloh shivered. “The king’s spymaster? Why would he appear in your mirror?”

“Who do you think sent it? Hatch likely meant to speak with me, to threaten me. The king hates and fears me for reasons you well know.” His brows drew inward. “He gave you a right scare, didn’t he, poppet?”

Shiloh nodded. Edmun knelt to look her in the eye. “Now, if I were a kind man, I’d tell you that you need not fear him. But I’m not, so I’ll tell you the truth. You should be terrified of him. If you ever give him reason to believe you are disloyal to the crown, he will slit your throat with his own hands.”

“Why would I ever be disloyal to the crown?”

Edmun placed a hand on her head. “Good girl. Now, put that man out of your mind and help me ready the temple for tomorrow.”

Shiloh nodded, yet the ice of fear in her stomach remained; as did the look of worry on her beloved teacher’s face.

***

Shiloh sat on her bed in the loft above her father’s smithy. Upon her blanket lay an array of charms she’d just made for protection against all manner of hexes or ill-wishing.

The look upon the mirror man’s face had chilled her to the bone—something about the smile. It had been predatory. Proprietary. Wary. It had given her the distinct impression that the man’s interest lay not only in her master but in herself, as well. I will not leave my teacher unprotected.

She pinned one charm on the linen beneath her tunic. The others she gathered into an old handkerchief. She tied it tight and placed the bundle in her pocket along with a jar of paste.

She knew Edmun would already be in the temple performing his ablutions for the feast day. She let herself into his house and crossed warily to the mirror. She exhaled with relief to find it clad in its ordinary silver.

Carefully, she lifted the mirror off its nail and turned it face down upon the table. She held the pot of glue in the crook of her elbow and pried it open, then affixed seven charms to the back of the Hatchet’s “gift” to her master, one for each of the Lords of Heaven. She returned the mirror to its proper place and hurried to the temple before Edmun could scold her for tardiness.

***

At dusk, Edmun sat his tired bones into his favorite chair and looked balefully at the mirror. Given the visitation to Shiloh the night before, Edmun expected to see Silas Hatch’s face, yet as the pink light of sunset faded, the man did not appear.

“Perhaps tomorrow,” Edmun murmured. “I had hoped to get it over with.” He looked up at the mirror and realized that it was just slightly askew. Standing, he removed it from the wall. Turning it over, he found Shiloh’s handiwork.

Edmun smiled and shook his head. “My sweet, clever poppet. Too clever by half.” Sighing, he plucked the charms from the backing and set the mirror on the table, leaning against a water pitcher. Silas appeared in moments.

“Master Edmun, I feared you had forgotten the terms of our arrangement. There was to be no meddling with the mirror.”

Edmun swallowed heavily. “It was a momentary lapse,” he lied. “I thought better of it.”

Silas grinned. “You don’t have lapses. It was the girl, wasn’t it?”

Edmun said nothing.

Silas laughed. “It was. Ha! And what is she, only eight years old?”

Still, Edmun said nothing.

“She must love you as much as I did,” Hatch mused.

“What do you want?”

“Are you really teaching her mirror magic this young?” Hatch asked, brow raised.

Edmun closed his eyes and sighed. “Of course not. Evidently, I didn’t teach you your own well enough, as she defeated you with a handful of charms and some paste.”

The young man’s ears flushed. “Well, then,” he managed, “I shall have to redouble my efforts.”

“You do that. And Silas?”

“Yes?”

Edmun leaned in. “The next time you frighten that girl, it had best be after I’m cold in the ground.”

THE END

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:

A.M. MANAY’S RWISA Author Page

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 2 #RRBC #RWISA

Welcome to Day 2 of the Watch RWISA Write Showcase, where each day a different author will be featured!

It is my pleasure to introduce Author, D.L. Finn!

POETRY by D. L. Finn

ICICLES 

The icicles dangle downward

Reaching for the substantial snow

Each drop bringing them closer

As the landscape merges into itself

It is silent in its existence

Until a raven reveals itself

Wondering what’s in the trash

Yet, the moment remains peaceful

Sitting and surveying in the chill

An instant promising potential

When there is no celerity

When crackling fires call

When surroundings are concealed

Soon, the renewal will be revealed

But now it’s the stage of contemplation.

For sustenance

For solace

For soul

To live on our abundance of the past

This is the gift of the snow

When we can replenish our hearts

In the silence of the icicles.

FREEDOM (Musings from the back of a Harley)

The freedom of the blue skies

Welcome us warmly back

Our path is asphalt

Our vehicle a mechanical horse

Our guide is the wind

Lush green walls soar

The sun illuminates the way

Oaks are waking up after a long nap

And I…

I fill my soul

With nature’s flowering renewal

Bursting with beauty and abundance

In the freedom of spring.

WHERE THE RIVERS MEET
Roaring white, pounding the granite

Swirling, swelling, splendor

The air is heavy with anticipation

It blows over me like a lover’s touch

Filling my heart with sweet floral ecstasy

I relax into the experience

Each breath carries away my worries 

My eyes fill with abandonment

As the rushing liquid serenades me

Singing the praise of this paradise

Until the different directions converge

After a brief resounding rumble

They combine and continue on their way

Leaving the moment where the rivers meet.

OCEAN

As I sit perched up high on our lanai

Comfortable on my recliner in the shade

The ocean draws my gaze

Its sapphire and emerald water calls me

While the blue pool floats in its space—uninviting

I hear the sea’s song as it smashes onto the shore

The surfers ride its motion

The snorkelers gaze into its depth

And the swimmers float on its perception

Our attraction is undeniable

Opposites: one of air, one of water

It beckons, and I must respond

Offering myself up to the hidden world

Under the cerulean summon

I answer, embracing the ocean completely.

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:

D.L. Finn RWISA Author Page

#TarotTuesday – 7 of Wands

It’s #TAROTTUESDAY again!!

This week, the card I drew was the Seven of Wands.

The suit of Wands in the Tarot deck represents primal energy, spirituality, inspiration, determination, strength, intuition, creativity, ambition and expansion, original thought and the seeds through which life springs forth. The suit of Wands is ruled by the element of fire.

The Seven of Wands shows a man on top of a hill, armed with a wand in his hands, and fighting off six more wands drawing up from below. He appears to be defending his territory and his successes. However, notice that the man is wearing two different shoes which indicates that he may have been caught unaware or unprepared for battle, or he may be unclear of his own stance and opinion.

The Seven of Wands indicates that you’ve worked hard to get to where you are, but some people covet what you have and are prepared to fight you for it. While it is flattering that they strive for your success, it also makes for a tense and competitive environment because you need to protect what you earned and must continually prove yourself.

The more visibility you have as a leader in your field and the bigger your audience, the more likely it is that you will need to grapple with this kind of pressure.

The Seven of Wands can also mean a challenge to the success of a creative project from an external source. Someone or something may get in the way of you being able to pursue your goals and dreams. While it appears to block your path forward, you can overcome this obstacle by drawing upon your strong self-confidence, self-belief, and continual self-improvement. Establish clear boundaries and then protect them. Hold your ground, take a stand, and defend your position at all costs. This will require courage and persistence, but you have the strength and determination to do it. Keep fighting for what you believe in.

While this may seem like a challenging card, I see it as a positive confirmation of each of us growing better in our craft of writing. I am not the kind of person who is easily drawn to any kind of confrontation, but if need be, I can draw on my experience and stand firm in my beliefs, as can we all!

I also want to note the significance of the number 7 on the card. In Tarot readings, numbers can indicate a passage of time such as 7 days, weeks, months, years, etc. But on this card, I see it as the combination of the hard-working #4 and creative #3 to bring together both practical and mystical indications.

I sincerely hope this card brought you some sort of message that makes the way more clear on your journey!

Thank you for joining me for another #TarotTuesday reading!

As always, my reference source is BiddyTarot.com.

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 1 #RRBC #RWISA

Welcome to Day 1 of the Watch RWISA Write Showcase, where each day a different author will be featured!

It is my pleasure to start off this tour with Author, John W. Howell!

The Road

by John W. Howell

Just a couple more hours and I’ll be able to rest my eyes. Been on this damn highway for what seems like forever. His head slowly nods until the rumble strip noise causes him to jerk awake. “I have been asleep,” he yells. He yanks the wheel, and the tires screech in protest as he swerves back on to the highway. He can feel his heart in his chest and pressure in his eyes. In an instant, he regrets being so weak as to give in to the physical need. He also becomes alarmed since now he knows that sleep could overtake him without notice.  One second, his eyes could be open and the next closed. Thank God for the jarring and noise of the rumble strips since without its alarm, he is sure he would have ended up piled into a tree.

As his heart settles down, he concentrates on the road ahead. There’s someone at the side about a half mile away. A hitchhiker by the looks of a backpack. A sign in the person’s hand is not readable at this distance. The thought occurs that It would be a good thing to have someone else in the car to help him stay awake.  Of course, there are dangers in picking up a stranger. As he gets closer, he can see that the hitchhiker is not a guy like he thought. It’s a young woman about his age.  She is wearing some kind of overalls, but the distinctive female form still comes through. He decides to slow down and assess the situation. A girl makes all the difference in trying to reach a decision for or against a pickup. After all, who knows where this could lead? He does know that in all probability, she is not likely to stick a knife in his ribs and demand his wallet after a couple of miles down the road.

He eases the car to the shoulder and can’t help kick up some dust in the process. The sign is facing him even as the person turns away to avoid the dust storm he has created. Kansas City in black marker on cardboard is all it says.

He opens the passenger door and waves her over. “I’m going to Kansas City. Want a ride?”

The young woman looks back at him, and he can tell she is doing an evaluation on the safety prospects of accepting a lift. She slowly hoists her backpack on to her shoulder and walks with hesitant steps toward the car. She puts her hand above her eyes to cut the glare of the sun and stops short of the door. She leans in. “Did you say you’re going to Kansas City?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. I also asked if you would like a ride.”

“That all depends on your intentions?”

“My intentions?”

“Yeah. You are offering a ride. How much will it cost me?”

“Cost you? I’m going to Kansas City. Your sign says Kansas City. Why would it cost you anything?”

“Just want to make sure is all.”

“No charge. I’ve been on the road forever, it seems, and I would welcome the company. My name is James.”

“Sorry, James. I know I sounded a little ungrateful, but I have also been on the road and have met several guys that think I owe them something for a ride.”

“I can understand that. Let’s just say you can ride or not it’s your choice. No other decisions to be made.”

“Fair enough. I accept your offer. My name is Sarah.” She slides in and slams the door.

“Nice to meet you, Sarah. You want to put your backpack in the rear?”

“No, I’ll just keep it here in the front with me. You can never tell.”

“Tell what?”

“When I’ll have to bail. Everything I own is in this pack, and I sure wouldn’t want to leave it behind.”

“I get it. No use trusting someone just cause they say you can.”

“Right. I think I like you, James.”

“Wainwright. My last name’s Wainwright. How about you?”

“Not sure I have a last name. I go by Sarah.”

“No last name? How can that be?”

“You going to start this car or is my fear well founded.”

James flushes as he turns the ignition. “Yeah, here we go.” He looks in the side mirror and signals as he pulls back on the highway.

“You are a cautious one. There’s no one for miles.”

“I guess it’s a habit from city driving.” He keeps checking in the mirror until he is up to highway speed

“Where you from, James?”

“New York. You?”

“I think I was originally from down south somewhere.”

“You don’t know?”

“Well, it’s been a long time.” She pauses.

James glances at her and sees that she is lost in thought somewhere. Her skin is fair, and she has the high cheekbones and lips of a runway model. She looks vaguely familiar, and he compares her looks to Joni Mitchell. There is that innocent, fragile look that makes you want to take care of her.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?” She is back.

“I didn’t say anything. I’m amazed you don’t know where you are from.”

“Well do you remember where you’re from or is it someone told you?”

She has a point. James only knew he was born in Chicago because his parents told him so. He lived in New York for twenty years so unless clued in he would have thought he lived there his whole life. “I guess I should rephrase the question. Where did you last live?”

“Yes, James. That makes a little more sense. I last lived in Dubuque, Iowa.”

“What a coincidence. I am driving from Dubuque. Do you believe that?”

“I can believe that. Someone once said there are only six degrees of separation of everyone on Earth. You and I traveling from Dubuque at the same time certainly falls into that realm.”

“Aw come on, Sarah. We are both going from Dubuque to Kansas City. That has to be more than a coincidence.”

“I never said I was going to Kansas City, James.”

“Wait. You have that sign that says Kansas City.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m going there.”

“What does it mean?”

“You think I know?”

“I’m getting a weird feeling here, Sarah. Like you aren’t telling me something.”

“Do you remember swerving after you ran off the highway?”

“What? Back there. Yeah, I remember almost falling asleep. Hey, wait a minute. How would you know about that?”

“Think a minute, James. How do you think I would know about that moment?”

“Sarah I’m too tired for guessing games. What is this all about?”

“Do you feel okay, James?”

“Yeah, just tired.”

“Look around. Do you see any other cars?”

“No, but I haven’t for a while. What are you trying to tell me, Sarah?”

“You fell asleep, James.”

“When did I fall asleep? I know I nodded off, but when did I fall asleep?”

“Just before your car went off the road and you hit a cement culvert.”

“Now, you are joking. Right? Right, Sarah?”

“No joke, James. Look ahead. What do you see?”

“Uh, up the road, you mean?”

“Yes, up the road.”

“Nothing, but what looks like a sandstorm.”

“It’s no storm, James. It is nothing.”

“Who are you anyway?”

“Do you remember that little girl who went missing in the second grade?”

“Yeah, what does that have to do with you?”

“Does the nickname Jimmy Jeans mean anything?”

“That’s what Sarah called me in the second grade.”

“How did I know that?”

“You wouldn’t unless.”

“Unless I’m Sarah.”

“Oh My God. Sarah. It is you. Where have you been?”

“That’s not important. What is important is you were broken-hearted when I vanished. You prayed for my return and made promises to God if only I would come back.”

“I never got over that either. I think of that little girl. I mean, I thought of you almost every day. Why didn’t I recognize you?”

“’Cause I’m all grown up. There would be no way.”

“Where have you been, Sarah. I have missed you so much.”

“Don’t cry, James. I’m here with you now.”

“Can you tell me what happened to you?”

“No, James, it’s not worth the time.”

“So why now? Why are you here now?”

“To help you, James.”

“To help me. How?”

“To understand what your life is like now.”

“Now? What do you mean?”

“You were in an accident, James. You ran off the road, and I am sorry to say your body didn’t survive. You are now going with me on an eternal trip.”

“You are saying I’m dead. I can’t believe that.  Look at me. I’m just as alive as you.”

“That’s right. You are.”

“Um, Sarah?”

“Yes, James.”

“You are dead too?”

“Yes, James. A man took me from school and killed me. They never found my body.”

“W-what?”

“Don’t think about that now. Think about the future. Because you prayed so hard and missed me so much, I was given the honor of escorting you to the other side.”

“Other side? There’s a future?”

“A wonderful one.  You and I for all time.”

“I would like that.”

“Take my hand then. Let’s be off.”

“I have more questions.”

“All in good time, James. All in good time.”

THE END

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:

John W. Howell RWISA Author Page

NEW RELEASES – SHORT STORIES #RRBC

I am SO excited to release three new short stories as a result of the 2019 90-Day Alpha/Omega Beginning to End Short Story Contest at #RRBC!

I love how this contest pushes me out of my comfort zone and gets my creative juices flowing!

I’ll list the three short stories in no particular order. I sincerely hope that at least one will pique your interest!

BLURB:

For almost eighteen years, Jewel has known little beyond hopelessness and hunger. Barely existing in a ramshackle cabin, on the edge of a Louisiana swamp with her little sister and their mother, she sees no way to stop the downward spiral. When her mother falls gravely ill, Jewel learns that her life is about to take a drastic turn. But will it lead to joy or more devastation?

Take a heart-warming journey with Jewel as she struggles to rise from the clutches of poverty and shame.

PURCHASE LINK:

BLURB:

At the tender age of fourteen, Jennifer shoulders the full responsibility of running a household and caring for her seven-year-old sister. It’s bad enough that their father is lost at war in Afghanistan, but troubles multiply when their so-called mother abandons them for another man. Hardships and struggles are constant companions. Family is whatever Jennifer can make it. That’s the way the cards have been dealt, and that’s the way she’ll play them.

This strong young girl meets every obstacle head-on, while never losing hope for a better tomorrow.

PURCHASE LINK:

BLURB:

Claire Winters is heartbroken when her husband of many years says he’s found a new love and wants a divorce. While having a pity party with her best friend, Jade, they come up with a daring idea. Together, they construct a Voodoo doll and with the help of several bottles of wine, create a ceremony to bring the same heartbreak to Daniel Winters as he brought to Claire. But do they go too far? You decide!

PURCHASE LINK:

I enjoyed writing these vastly different stories and I hope you enjoy reading them!

TAROT TUESDAY – WHEEL OF FORTUNE

It’s TAROT TUESDAY again and the card I pulled today is one that gets me excited!

The card I pulled today is from the Major Arcana. A Tarot deck consists of 78 cards – 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana.

Let me provide a brief explanation about the two.

The Major Arcana Tarot cards represent the life lessons, karmic influences and the big archetypal themes that are influencing your life and your soul’s journey to enlightenment.

Minor Arcana cards tell us about the day-to-day goings-on in our lives and the issues and challenges we face along our journey. Within the Minor Arcana are Swords, Cups, Wands and Pentacles.

So, on to our card today – WHEEL OF FORTUNE!

As you might guess from its name, this card represents good luck, karma, life cycles, destiny, or a turning point.

The Wheel of Fortune reminds you that the wheel is always turning and life is in a state of constant change. If you’re going through a difficult time (from the card we had last week, that may surely be the case) rest assured that it will get better from here. Good luck and good fortune will make their return in time. Similarly, if things are going well, know this, too, will change and life may return to ‘normal’ soon. This cycle shows why it is so important to cherish the blissful moments in your life and make the most of them while they are within reach – because in a flash they could be gone.

The Wheel of Fortune is also known as the wheel of karma and reminds you that ‘what goes around comes around.’ Be a kind and loving person to others, and they’ll be kind and loving to you. Be nasty and mean, and you will get nasty and mean turning back your way. So, if you want happiness and abundance, make sure you’re sending out that positive juju in kind. What you send out into the Universe will come back your way.

The Wheel of Fortune card asks you to be optimistic and have faith that the Universe will take care of your situation in the best way possible.

What a beautiful card!

Finally, the Wheel of Fortune can show a critical turning point in your life. Opportunities you could never imagine are suddenly available to you, and you have the chance to make a significant change in your life. While it may be unexpected and unfamiliar, see this as an invitation to turn things around and take an entirely new direction in your life. The more you tune in to your intuition and allow the Universe to guide you, the better the outcomes will be.

Thank you for joining me again today for another TAROT TUESDAY! See you next week!