2018 The Year of the Short Story!

I’m still looking back at 2018, and one thing that stands out for me, in the literary world, is the number of short stories that were published.

Part of the reason for the large surge was a 90 Day Alpha/Omega Beginning to End Short Story contest sponsored by the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

While I didn’t read every entry, I did devour a good many and was completely amazed at the writing talent!

I’m going to list a few of the top reads I found and hope you’ll check them out.

I have to start with some shameless self-promotion. “Two Shorts and a Snort” won the GRAND PRIZE in the contest! Needless to say, I was speechless.

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This book consists of two short stories and a poem. The first story, “Obsessed” is a story about a man who will do anything, even commit murder to win a lady’s hand in marriage. The second story, “Maggie” is about a baby found in the snow. Could it be that Frank and Mary prayed this baby up? The poem is one that is all-too-familiar. When friends of the opposite sex cross lines and become lovers. “Well, I think I liked you better when we were friends instead of lovers.”

Next up is the first-runner-up from the contest, “Tequila Rose Virginity Blues” by Wendy Jayne!

Purchase Link

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of Wendy Jayne Scott’s writing. And this short story grabbed me from the first page!

Here’s a short excerpt from my review:
“When Tequila Rose wakes up one morning with a hangover and no memory of the night before, things get even more complicated as a strange man is there with coffee and soup. Who is this incredibly hot and handsome man?”

The author of this next great short story is Rhani D’Chae. “I’ve Always Loved Women” took me by surprise and the twist that came was unexpected.

Purchase Link

Here’s an excerpt from my review:
“When a man falls in love for the first time and she is married to an abusive man, it can’t possibly end well. But, what happens next shocked and surprised. Is he an angel of mercy or a cold-blooded killer? You decide. Well-written and easy to read in thirty minutes or under.”

Another short story I read that was absolutely fantastic was “Open, Shut” by Nonnie Jules. It tells such a compelling story of the power of faith.

Purchase Link

Here’s an excerpt from my Review:
“This is an easy-to-read short story you can finish in around thirty minutes. It shares of one girl’s unwavering faith and the ripples of that faith long after she’s gone from this life. I loved the way so many people were deeply affected and changed in the short duration of this story. “

Another short story I thoroughly enjoyed came from Author, D.L. Finn entitled, “Bigfoot – A Short Story.”

Purchase Link

Here’s an excerpt from my Review:
“Many stories have been told about the mythical Bigfoot, but in this short story, D.L. Finn presents a different twist on every theory out there. With only a few characters, the author manages to weave an entire story including some backstory. Could it be that Bigfoot was from another planet in our galaxy? I don’t know. Read this short story and find out. This is a quick read and can easily be done on a lunch break. It will leave you wondering.”

I normally wouldn’t list two short stories by the same author, but this story was that good and I wanted to include “Hexed: A Purr-fect Catastrophe” by Wendy Jayne.

Purchase Link

An excerpt from my Review:
“I loved, loved, loved this short story! It has a bit of everything in the mix from magic to shapeshifters. When Cassidy finds herself with a big problem, she is determined to find out who has put this damnable hex on her and what she can do to reverse it. Warlock, Hunter Rutherford, wants Cassidy. He’s courted her for months and is no closer to getting intimate than he was at the beginning, but why? He can see the desire in Cassidy’s eyes.”

That’s six short stories you can read in a short period of time and be thoroughly entertained. I hope I interested you in at least one.

All these authors are members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and RAVE WRITERS INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS.

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Day #9 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

PLEASE READ TO THE END FOR A NICE SURPRISE!

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Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: SUZANNE BURKE


Suzanne_Burke

“Shielded”

By

Suzanne Burke

I welcome the shield provided by darkness. Those sweet moments when I allow myself to sit in the velvet depth of silence and dwell only on what is to come.

For the past only exists to remind me of the challenges I failed to meet. The things I thought myself powerless to change. I know better now.

I have no room for failure here as I sit wrapped in the warm blanket of my darkness-inspired illusion of safety.

The soft glow of the clock now heralds your arrival. I feel my pulse jump in anticipation.

I check the window … again. No vehicle yet slows to a stop on the rain-drenched streets so many floors below.

I feel the twitch of the nerve in my jaw and suck in the air in an effort to still it.

I remind myself once more that external factors are likely responsible for your late arrival. I know you too well to ever believe that you would be late by choice. You are eternally predictable. That comforts me somewhat.

My neck muscles clench and I stand, stretching my arms and softly willing them to relax.

The clock rolls through another hour, and my calmness begins to falter.

I check through everything that I have prepared in anticipation of our meeting.

Grunting with approval at my readiness, I check the window one more time, and I gift myself a smile as your vehicle draws up and parks on the opposite side of the now quiet street.

The excitement begins to make itself felt and I shiver.

You will arrive soon, and all the waiting will end.

I lick my dry lips and take a deeply satisfied breath.

I hear the sound of the ping the lift makes as it stops on this floor. I hear your key turn in the lock.

I wait as you fumble for the light switch and flick it on. You swear in displeasure as the room remains dark. Now you search for your iPhone and seek out the torch app. The room in your immediate vicinity is caught within the boundary of its fractured light.

I smile.

My surprise still awaits your discovery.

You feel your way slowly along the wall and take a faltering stumbled step into the kitchen. The light switch disappoints you once more.

The language that follows that discovery explodes in the air. I hear you open the refrigerator to confirm to yourself that this lack of light has permeated the entire apartment. You shrug out of your coat and drop it to the floor, uncaring of the dirt and clutter it now lay amongst.

You find the bottle of scotch and slam cupboard doors seeking a glass. There are none. They lay in a disordered mess of unwashed utensils still awaiting attention on the food scrap cluttered kitchen bench.

I hear you curse as you stagger. The booze you’ve been consuming for hours rattles your movements and makes them disjointed.

You sit heavily in the easy chair uncaring of the scattered and dirty clothing that cushions your weight.

You unscrew the lid of the scotch bottle and take several satisfying gulps.

The anticipation makes me quiver now.

I have waited so long for this.

The cigarette lighter grants you a drag of the nicotine that is but one thing on your list of addictions.

The clock ticks over again and moves time relentlessly forward.

The bathroom awaits your imminent arrival and you curse again at your now shaking hands as you seek out your ever-present stash of heroin. You scream in rage and frustration when you finally acknowledge that there is none to be found.

I hear you slamming the walls with your now white-knuckled fists.

I reach across and flick off the power override switch. I illuminate the apartment.

It takes brief seconds for you to lurch back into view.

“Melody? Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were here? What the hell! When did you get back?”

“I discharged myself from the hospital.”

“Oh. Good. This place is a mess. It needs cleaning.”

“Yes, Charles. Yes, it does.”

I watch you nod your head, pleased at my response.

You check your wallet, quickly counting the bills waiting inside. You confirm your decision, “I  need to go out. Fix me something to eat. I won’t be long.”

“Why do you need to go out again? It’s raining.”

I watch you glare at me for daring to question you. “I need a fix. I’m heading to see Freddy.”

“There’s no need. I stopped by and saw him on the way home. I wanted to give you a surprise.”

You smile for the first time. “Well, now. That’s fine. That’s good.”

“Do you want me to get it?”

You now wear your frustrated look. “Fuck yes. Of course. Hurry up.”

“Sorry. It’s a little hard to walk with my ribs strapped.”

“You’re always sorry. You’re pathetic!”

I access the bedroom and return with his fix, and watch as he draws it up and applies the tourniquet to his upper left arm.

“You broke my jaw again, and two ribs this time.”

You glare at me as I dare to disturb your concentration, “You shouldn’t aggravate me like you do. You know you asked for it.”

The smack hits you, and I watch as your pupils dilate. The sickly smile that you now wear is most unattractive.

I wait.

You look suddenly startled. I watch the confusion on your face turn to fear … and then a moment of understanding colors your now bulging eyes. “Fuck! Fuck, Melody! What did you d…………….”

I wait.

You make a gargled choking noise as you begin to foam at the mouth.

I wait for five minutes and then check for a heartbeat … I smile … there is none.

I need to be certain that reviving you is not possible. Fifteen minutes should do it.

I punch in a number on my iPhone.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

“Oh, God … help me, please! Please! I’ve just found my husband. He’s not breathing. Please … I think he’s overdosed.”

The kind operator took my address, “Okay. Stay calm. I have paramedics on the way.”

“Hurry! Hurry, please, please hurry.”

I turn off the lights and sit within darkness’s velvet cloak. My iPhone torch casts a spotlight on your rapidly cooling body.

I smile.

The rigid look of fear on your now strictured face brings me comfort. “Did you like my little surprise, Charles?”

I hear the sirens approaching.

I laugh in delight as the heady rush of adrenaline-fuelled relief floods my system.

The dawn light is just filtering through the balcony windows. Soon now I’ll have no need to seek the comfort of darkness.

I wait now. I have finally regained control.

 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:

SUZANNE BURKE RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!

500th

THIS IS MY 500TH BLOG POST!!

TO CELEBRATE, I AM GIVING AWAY TWO EBOOKS (YOUR CHOICE) FROM AUTHOR, SUZANNE BURKE (AKA STACEY DANSON). LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAWING!

 

 

Day #8 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

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Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: JOHN W. HOWELL

John_Howell_Headshot 2

Trouble by John W. Howell ©2018

I know its morning, but I don’t want to open my eyes. I am starting to remember what went on last night and I don’t even want to imagine who might be sleeping next to me. Not that I think there is anyone there since I’m pretty sure I came home alone. I didn’t want to go back alone, and god knows I tried hard to prevent sleeping by myself. I do remember coming on to the beautiful woman in the bar. Wait a minute. I remember it because it was so early in the evening, I didn’t have a lot to drink then. I know I drink too much and lately, I have been having a hard time getting the events of the previous night together. Okay, so before I open my eyes, I will give a thought to what I believe the evening turned out to be.

First, I met David at the bar, and we had a drink. I ordered gin on the rocks and David had bourbon. So far so good. David and I were discussing something about workout shoes, then he left for the bathroom. The woman came in and asked if I would mind buying her a drink. She had some story about losing her purse and being pretty much stranded. I remember asking her if she had someone she could call. I think she told me, no, but I’m not sure. Anyway, we had a couple more drinks, and sometime in there, David came back. I introduced the woman to David. I think her name was Chloe or Carolyn. By this time, I am starting to feel pretty good. I ask her if she would like to stay over and I remember her telling me she was not that kind of girl. We had some more drinks and then decided to go to dinner. I asked the woman if she would like to join us and she was pretty definite about the decline. I chalked it up to my usual déclassé, and David and I left.

Now from there, it is a little fuzzy. I remember ordering dinner and a couple more drinks. I really don’t remember finishing the meal or leaving the place. This lack of memory is foretelling me that from experience the outcome will not be good. I’m sure David and I went out after dinner as we always do and so there are some blank places where mayhem could have occurred. I am now sweating quite hard, and it isn’t the heat either. The room must be fifty degrees if it is one. The sweat is as a result of the sinking, bottom of stomach pit nervousness coming from the fact I have no idea what I did after we left the restaurant. My head is also beginning to ache as a warning to my body the caffeine level in my system is getting dangerously low. I am afraid I have no alternative, but to get up and face whatever needs facing so I can get some coffee. I know I will also need some painkiller as well. I will try aspirin and know from previous headaches I will need to wash it down with about three fingers of vodka. No ice just the ice-cold vodka from the freezer in a glass with no ceremony. Get it into the system fast so the memory will come back, and these infernal shakes will slow down for the moment.

I steel myself and get ready to get out of the bed. I will need to move my body slowly, so I don’t cause a situation that inevitably leads to nausea and the arrival of the dreaded throw up that doesn’t have the decency to come when I’m numb and in the bag. I know my body would prefer if I did, in fact, throw up, but my mind still considers throwing up the sign of someone who can’t hold their liquor. God knows I can hold mine even if I can’t remember a damn thing about the night before. Now is the time to open the eyes and have a look around. I do the left one first since I think I am closer to the left side of the bed and I’m sure no one is there. When I open my eye, I can almost hear the tearing of the lids as they try to separate. Another joy of falling asleep drunk; the eyes feel glued shut. I look with my left eye and see nothing but the bedroom window looking reddish and covered in the gauzy curtains one of my past loves put up there. The red glow must be the bloodshot view my iris gets looking out of my eyeball.

I open the right and almost scream out loud. My worst nightmare has come true and is lying next to me. That beautiful Chloe or Caroline is sound asleep, and now I have to wonder why I didn’t feel the heat of her body before I opened my eyes. Immediately the old Coyote ugly joke comes to mind about chewing off an arm to get away, but this woman is not ugly and not on my arm. I begin to hyperventilate since no good can come from not remembering how this lovely creature ended up in my bed. I can see she doesn’t seem to have a shirt on either. I am not about to probe to understand about the pants and must try to get to my medications before I actually throw up right here in the bed. I roll to the left and swing my legs over the edge of the bed and sit up as gracefully as I can. I see I am completely naked and instead of feeling free, I believe I feel more like someone who has a clamp around the midsection. I rise off the bed very slowly.

“Morning darling,” she says.

“Uh good morning,” I say. “Would you like some coffee?”

“Ummm that sounds so good right now.”

“I’ll be right back. Don’t go away.”

“Oh, don’t worry I won’t.”

Son of a bitch. What the hell have I done now? I can feel my gag reflex starting to go into automatic drive, so I rush to the kitchen and open the freezer. The vodka is right there, and I am not even going to wait for the glass. I take three big swallows and hold my breath. My stomach gives a lurch like I just dropped an explosive down the hatch but retains the liquid in place. “God thank you,” I say out loud. It Looks like I can go to the coffee machine and brew some strong stuff. At times like these, I am so thankful I quit smoking. As bad as I feel, had I consumed a couple of packs of smokes, I would have wanted to kill myself about now. I hold on to the counter as the coffee begins its cycle.

“How do you feel?”

I wheel around and almost lose my precious vodka which is just starting to worm its way into my brain. “I feel like shit.”

“I am not surprised. When I ran into you again, you were pretty wasted.”

“Whoa, I sure was. Where is David?

“You and David got into a fight.”

“A fight? What were we fighting about?”

“You wanted to take me home, and David didn’t want you to do so.”

“So, where is he?”

“I really don’t know. We left him on the street.”

“What? Left him on the street? Why the hell did we do that?”

“As I said you were pretty wasted.”

“Yeah but leaving him passed out on the street.”

“Oh, he wasn’t passed out.”

“What was he?”

“You shot him. I believe David is dead.”

“Shot him? How is that possible. I don’t own a gun.”

“That didn’t stop you from finding one.”

“Finding one? Where did I find a gun?”

“I loaned you mine.”

“And I shot David with it?”

“Yup. Right in the back as he tried to walk away.”

“Oh my God. What on Earth made me do that? He’s my best friend.”

Was. I wouldn’t say it was an Earthly persuasion. I do believe my work is done here.”

“Your work?  What do you mean?”

“Hear those sirens. They are coming for you. I called them. I would get some clothes on if I were you. Oh, and a piece of advice.”

“Advice?”

“Yeah. Think twice before you decide to mess with the devil. See you on the other side.”

 

 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

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!

 

Day #7 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

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Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: WENDY SCOTT

wendy-scott

The Cowgirls of Serratogha.

By Wendy Scott.

A companion scene to my fantasy WIP, ‘Rainmaker’.

My spirits lifted when I spied structures rising above the prairie. For the last three days, the landscape had consisted of uninterrupted cornflower skies above an endless sea of grassland. Occasionally, a wild cow had burst out of the greenery and trotted alongside the horses, before abandoning our company to munch on the juiciest shoots lining the roadside.

I grasped the seat as my boss snapped the reins, urging the horses to quicken their pace. The wooden wheels creaked, and the glass bottles in the back of the wagon chinked together, but Zachery didn’t ease up. Towns equalled business and Dr. Zachery Theopold Montgomery knew how to charm the purse strings open from even the most sceptical non-believers.

This place wasn’t like any of the other towns Zachery plied his lies. Most townships’ main thoroughfares consisted of churned sludge. A medley of mud and manure, with a few planks placed precariously over stagnant puddles. Dried splotches marked my breeches from where I’d previously stumbled into a knee-deep pothole filled with slush I hoped was only mud and water.

Up close, there were only a handful buildings, but a freshly painted signpost declared we’d entered the township of Serratogha. The horses’ hooves clip-clopped on a smooth expanse of cobblestones. Pastel pink paint coated the hotel, tubs overflowed with rainbow-hued pansies and white roses entwined the veranda posts. I breathed in the floral scents. It sure smelt sweeter than any of the other places we’d passed through.

Laughter tinkled from above, and a feminine voice purred, “Theo, you old snake charmer, about time you came back for a visit. Ya’ll make sure you mark my dance card.”

A lacy handkerchief dangled out of another upstairs window. “Forget dancing, come and play tie-ups.”

Zachery straightened and pushed his shoulders back, but the brass buttons on his red jacket strained across his chest and stomach. “Gals, no need to fight over me. I plan on being here for a few days, so plenty of time for us all to get acquainted.”

A blonde head peeked out a third window. “Don’t be shy. Bring your good-looking friend.”

Zachery’s ginger eyebrows arched as he coaxed the horses around the corner. “Shame on you, ladies. Harper’s a mere lad of fourteen.”

“Not for long. We’d make a man out of him.”

My cheeks reddened, and I slunk down on the wagon seat.

Window boxes, bursting with sunflowers decorated the stables, and the same shade of pink paint glazed the boards. As soon as we pulled up, two teenage girls, garbed in tight legged chaps, pink and white checked shirts, and cowboy hats darted up to the side of the wagon. Zachery climbed down and tossed the reins at the tallest girl.

One leather-gloved hand caught them. “Jersey-Jayne said for you to go on up to the bathhouse first, as she wants to discuss business. Daisy and I will see to your horses, and we’ll secure your wagon out back.”

Zachery flicked a couple of brass coins toward the other girl. “Young ladies, I’m much obliged.”

He unbuttoned his coat, stuck his thumbs inside his suspenders, and whistled as he pranced towards a third pink-frosted building. I scrambled after him.

Bells chimed on the door, announcing our entry. A placard on the wall listed the range of bathing services available at the ‘Squeaky Inn’. I wasn’t sure what they all meant, and the lowest price was more than I’d earn in a month. Back home, our mamma had insisted her seven children all bathe monthly. We had to share the tepid, murky water and I reckon sometimes I emerged filthier than before I took a dip in the tin tub.

Beaded curtains swished aside, discharging a fully grown woman. Under her pink cowboy hat, dark chocolate plaits swayed on either side of her doll face. Her checked shirt was unbuttoned, but hog-tied under her breasts, revealing a mountainous cleavage, and tanned midriff. Zachery licked his fingers and fussed with his ginger moustache, smoothing the ends until they resembled feline whiskers.

She slipped her arm through his elbow. “Welcome to Serratogha. I’m Jersey-Jayne, Head Wrangler for the cowgirls. Come through, and let’s get you all cleaned up before we discuss business. My girls report that you specialize in elixirs that are beneficial for enhancing particular social activities.”

“You’re well informed, little lady.” He patted a bottle-shaped bulge in his jacket pocket. “Fortunately, I have brought some samples with me. May I be so bold to suggest we partake in a demonstration where we can mix business and pleasure?”

My face flamed, wishing I’d never agreed to be his assistant. I shouldn’t have left the family farm. Zachery turned to me and made shooing motions. “Harper, out back there’s facilities for the hired help. Go and wash up. I’ll see you at suppertime in the hotel.”

Outside I found tendrils of steam escaping from a trough of frothy water scented with lavender. I’d never had a bath all to myself before. No one was around, so I stripped off my stained clothes and slid into the water. Travel-weary muscles unwound, and I closed my eyes. Bliss.

“Is that a tattoo?”

A tidal wave sloshed over the side as I bolted awake. Daisy, the shorter stable girl, peered at the feather shape on my arm. I was thankful for the camouflaging layer of bubbles.

“No, it’s a birthmark.”

She pulled back her shirt sleeve and compared the tanned, but unblemished skin on her forearm, against my cinnamon tones. “Are you from the Tribes?”

I shook my head. “I’ve never laid eyes on a native. Zachery mentioned he’d once taken one on as an assistant, but he didn’t last long as he was a drunkard. Reckons they’re all horse-thieving savages.”

Daisy shrugged. “I dunno about that. Anyways, I brought you some clean clothes and a towel.” She scooped up my discarded outfit. “If you want, when you’re done, I can show you around.”

I leapt out of the cooling water and scooted into the garments before she returned. They fit well and were of a better quality than the ones I’d been wearing. I wondered if I’d get to keep them. Zachery wasn’t fond of spending coins on anyone but himself.

Five minutes later, Daisy appeared. “Come on. Follow me, and I’ll show you the real Serratogha.”

A path, well trampled by many boots, cut through the tall grass and led away from the township. We threaded past corrals filled with cattle. Further afield, cowgirls on horseback steered herds of cattle in and out of the larger pastures. Ahead, smoke rose from several chimneys and mingled with the smell of manure. This settlement was much larger than the sugar-coated town we’d come from. There were over fifty dwellings, including a church, and trading post. Bright flags fluttered from posts, wind chimes swung in the breeze, and cow horns adorned gates.

Daisy grinned. “Most gentlemen visitors don’t know this place exists. They don’t tend to venture far from the bathhouse or the hotel.”

High-pitched giggles followed a horde of barefoot children who skipped around the houses. Their contrasting shades of hair and skin reminded me of my cavalcade of brothers and sisters. Annabel and Sue-Ellen, blue-eyed and fair, like our mother. Ginger curls and green eyes complimented Katie’s pale skin. The twins, Billie and Willie, sported light brown hair and hazel eyes. Jimbo was the spitting image of our Pa, with his darker shade of brown hair and grey eyes. And then there was me with my straight raven-hair and amber eyes.

One small boy with feathers threaded in his dark hair paused and stared at me. Amber eyes met amber eyes for a brief second before he raced off and joined his friends. The feather mark on my arm tingled.

“You sure you’re not part native?” asked Daisy.

Pa’s leaving words flooded my thoughts. Is this what he’d been hinting at? Could it be that he wasn’t my real father? And if he wasn’t, who was?

 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:

WENDY SCOTT RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

 

Mountain Laurel – Segment 6

As we closed out our segment last week, Andy Roberts had a vision and a visit from his father telling him to get his ass back in the fancy car and go make some music. But, he’s also leaving the cabin with a priceless bit of information about his brother, Timmy. Let’s see what he does next.

###

I pulled into a truck stop not far down the road.

truck stop

With a steaming cup of coffee in hand, I fished the yellowed paper out of my pocket, located a pay phone and dialed the number on the letterhead.

Pay Phone

“It’s a great morning here at the Blackmon Children’s Home,” a cheerful voice greeted me.

After I finished explaining who I was, I heard excitement on the other end of the line. “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that you called. We thought Timmy’s family was dead. He’s just about to turn eighteen, you know. He had an obsessive fascination with the banjo when he first came to stay with us, so we taught him to play. You should hear him. He’s nothing short of genius.”

I choked back tears and promised to be there within two hours. I told the kind lady I would be taking my brother home with me as soon as paperwork could be processed.

Just before I turned onto the highway, I rolled down the window, hung my head out and shouted, “I love you, Papa. Keep watching because I’m going to get this right!”

I thought about the fragrant blooming tree in front of the cabin and how Mama’s eyes shone the day Papa planted it. I began to write.

She is like a Mountain Laurel

A breath of pure fresh air

Her hair the scent of floral

Her eyes so bright and fair…

   THE END

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this short story. It won first place in a short story contest sponsored by the Texas Associaton of Authors in 2016.

It is part of a printed and eBook, “Short Stories By Texas Authors Vol 2.”

Tx_Shorts_Vol_2

If you’d like more information about The Texas Association of Authors visit the WEBSITE.

For more on this short story contest for 2019, click HERE 

Mountain Laurel – Segment 5

As this story has progressed, we met Andy Roberts, who has made it big in the country music world of Nashville, but is tortured by demons and memories that won’t leave him alone. We first met him in a bar where a reporter was trying his best to get a feature story out of him and we left him last week at the remains of the cabin where he grew up and where so many memories, both good and bad still linger.

###

The porch and most of the walls still stood, and the Mountain Laurel tree Papa had planted for Mama at the corner of the porch gave off a sweet tantalizing fragrance. It seemed to be the only thing left alive.

mountain laurel

 

Inside, I found decaying ruins inhabited by varmints. I took in the familiar rough-hewn board walls and kicked at a tin can that rolled across the dirt covered floor. A mouse streaked across the floor and into a hole.abandoned_Cabin

I sank down on my haunches and put my head in my hands. Somehow, I had to find a way to get past the guilt that gnawed at my insides like a rabid animal. Papa would be sorely disappointed. I’d been handed an opportunity that few people ever get in a lifetime. And yet, I was dead inside.

 

 

Papa’s flashing eyes and wide smile were in front of me. I could almost feel his breath on my face and hear him say, “Son, get my banjo. Let’s pick a little.”

banjo man

After some time, I got to my feet and poked around the house in the fading sunlight. A yellowed envelope tucked carefully away in Mama’s top dresser drawer caught my attention. The address showed Blackmon Children’s Home in Bowling Green, Ky. I carefully slipped the letter out of the envelope and my heart jolted. I never knew where they’d taken Timmy until now. I folded the letter and slid it into my pocket.

In the back corner of the kitchen pantry, I found Papa’s banjo covered with a thick layer of dust. I picked it up and wiped it off with the tail of my expensive silk shirt.

It wasn’t until minutes later I realized tears coursed down my cheeks. I tuned the rusty strings, picked out Papa’s favorite song and talked to him. I felt like a real person for the first time in many years. A man needs roots no matter if they’re only in his mind.

“I’m sorry, Papa. I let you down. I let Mama die and I let the welfare lady take Timmy”…the words poured out of me like water from a spigot. The louder I played, the louder my voice got until I was fairly shouting.

The room began to spin. My knees buckled and I went down with a thud.

When I opened my eyes, the room was pitch black. Where was I? I groaned and rolled over. I was going to be sick. I stumbled out onto the porch and let the whiskey spew from me. When had I eaten last? With knees like Jello and only pale moonlight to guide me, I made my way down the rickety porch steps to the Jag. With any luck, I’d find a package of crackers in the glove box.

 

I returned to sit on the porch with half a bottle of water and two crackers in hand. I knew I had to rid myself of this demon. I needed a sign, something to tell me Papa forgave me. I reached inside my pocket and felt the letter. It was too late for Mama, but maybe not too late to do something for Timmy.

I lost track of time as I sat cloaked in the darkness. A flash from the sky got my attention. A shooting star streaked across above me, followed by another and another.

shooting stars

I felt a familiar hand squeeze my shoulder. Was it really Papa’s voice, or did I imagine it? Then I heard his easy-rolling laughter when he told me to get my ass back in that fancy car and go make some music.

I stood, brushed the dirt off my clothes, retrieved Papa’s banjo, threw it in the back seat and turned the car around just as the sun peeked over the horizon.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Mountain Laurel – Segment 4

Last week when we left Andy Roberts and Lewis Washington in a Nashville bar, a voluptuous brunette had caught Andy’s eye and, we were just starting to hear the story of how Andy got to Nashville. I have a feeling this is going to be juicy. Of course, Andy is lost in his thoughts and sharing very little of this with the insistent reporter.

###

The brunette managed to bump into me as she brushed past on her way to the ladies room. “Oh I’m so sorry,” she tittered.

I silently tipped my black Stetson and turned away.

“Pardon my French, Mr. Roberts, but what in the hell does a fifteen-year-old kid do in Nashville?”

A smile crossed my face as I remembered the lady who took me in off the streets. She was a beauty with flaming red hair and fourteen years my senior. But, she could sing. She was already a star, performing on the Grand Ol’ Opry and recording on Columbia Records. She would tell me I was the prettiest thing she’d ever seen and I’d blush.

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I raised my head and stared long and hard at my reflection in the mirror behind the bar. I never thought of a man as being pretty. My eyes weren’t violet like April’s, they were more of a blue-gray and I had a head of dark wavy hair.

cowboy black hat

I was tall and slender and she loved dressing me in expensive rhinestone suits. She was as fine a lady as had ever been born. She took me with her everywhere she went and introduced me to all of the Nashville players.

And at night, when the curtains fell and we were alone, she took me to her bed. She made me a man…a real man. She taught me how to please, exactly how to touch all the right places and what made a woman lose control. By the time I turned seventeen, I opened shows for her and warmed her bed when her husband was away.

Corinna South was on top of the world. She drank heavy, fought hard, loved harder and sang with all of her heart and soul. Then a car wreck took her from me and from the world. There would never be another Corinna South and I’d never give quite as much of myself to another woman.

Despite the thoughts that flooded my mind, I managed a civil reply to the insistent man. “I was lucky. Corinna South needed an opening act and I auditioned.”

After a long moment, I stood, threw some bills on the bar and headed for the door.

tip money

Lewis shouted after me. “But, I’m not done yet, Mr. Roberts. We’re just getting started.”

I waved at him over my shoulder and dug the keys to the Jaguar out of my pocket. Without a second thought or backward glance, I turned the car onto the highway and gunned it. I didn’t let off the gas until the speedometer hit one-hundred. When it slowed to ninety, I hit the cruise control.

It didn’t matter that I had a show to do twenty-four hours from now, or that a pretty blonde waited for me at my uptown Nashville apartment. I located a half-empty bottle of whiskey under the front seat. A quick twist of the lid and the amber liquid burned its way down my throat.

Jack Daniels Half Full

The sun was starting to slip behind the mountain when I turned down the rutted lane that led to the familiar miner’s shack. My Jag hit bottom as the tires slid into deep ruts. I maneuvered it the best I could and rolled to a stop in front of what was left of our cabin.

TO BE CONTINUED………

Mountain Laurel – Segment 3

Andy Roberts is a singing star in Nashville, Tennessee. He is sitting in a bar drinking and wanting only solitude, but an insistent reporter keeps interrupting his thoughts. So far, we know that Andy Roberts isn’t his real name and we know he lost his father to a coal mining accident when he was a young boy. He has a little brother, Timmy, who is mentally disabled and a sister, April, who is beautiful with long dark hair and violet eyes. When his father died, his mother fell into a deep depression and stopped functioning for the family. Let’s check back in and see how things are going. When we left them, Andy was about ready to punch the reporter in the face for insisting that Andy tell him his real name.

###

No kid should have to go through life as Norbert Angus. If I lived to be a hundred years old, I’d never understand what possessed Mama and Papa. At least, Papa had shortened it to Bert, but that wasn’t much better in my way of thinking.

From the corner of my eye, I spotted a voluptuous brunette who wiggled through the barroom door. For a split second our eyes met and she tugged at the fringed sequined tank top giving me an unobstructed view of her cleavage.

brunette

I sighed and looked away. It was all the same. The shows, the reporters, the whiskey, the women and worst of all, the memories…the memories that haunt me and won’t let me be.

The day the welfare lady returned to take Timmy was the one time I saw Mama show a spark of who she’d once been. She grabbed the lady’s dress screaming at the top of her lungs, fighting for her child. Timmy’s wails only added to the chaos. But, in the end, the welfare lady won and stuffed Timmy into the back seat of the Ford, spinning rocks and dirt as she took off.

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We never saw him again. Guilt and shame rolled over me in waves as I gripped the whiskey glass, finally setting it down before I shattered it. Here I am, a big Nashville singing star, and never once have I tried to find Timmy.

Not long after that horrible day, April married the first soldier that came along and moved to Toledo, leaving just Mama and me. The memory of Papa placing his hand on my shoulder a few days before he died, and making me promise to take care of Mama, April and Timmy if anything happened to him, stuck in the back of my throat now like a bitter quinine pill. I failed him. I failed myself and I failed Mama.

The awkwardness of those days that followed would be forever branded in my mind. The way Mama stared through dull eyes into nothingness, the way I made clumsy attempts to feed us and the way I longed to escape.

Within a few months, Mama took to the bed sick. She never got up again.

Just before my fourteenth birthday, I was an orphan, facing the world alone.

The reporter’s whine jarred me as he dove into his second beer. “I understand that you came from Kentucky, Mr. Roberts. How did you get all the way to Nashville?”

I pushed the memories aside and faced Lewis. “I walked.”

“Walked?” He scribbled furiously.

“Got a hearing problem, Lewis? After my mama died, I went to Toledo to live with my older sister and her husband. I was almost fifteen when I struck out for Nashville. All I had were the clothes on my back and a beat-up Harmony guitar.”

guitar on back

“That’s a hard walk.” He took a long draw from his mug.

“You have no idea.”

TO BE CONTINUED……….

Mountain Laurel – Segment #2

We met our main character in the first segment of Mountain Laurel last week. So far, all we know about him is that his name is Mr. Roberts and he’s obviously a country music star in Nashville.  We also know he lost his father in a coal mining accident when he was a young boy. A reporter is trying his best to get an interview out of him and so far that isn’t going well. Let’s head back to the bar and see how he fares.

###

I had a little brother, Timmy, seven years younger. Timmy had been born different. They said his brain never developed the way it should. He’d sit for hours and play with the dust that danced on the sunbeams through the windows, lost in his own little world. Oh, how Papa doted on him.

After that fateful day in the coal mines of Kentucky, the life we’d known as children of Robert Anderson was over. Mama fell into a deep depression and locked everyone out. If it hadn’t been for April, us Anderson kids might’ve starved to death.

My one solace was music. I’d often disappear for hours at a time, taking my guitar with me. A stream ran a few hundred yards from our miner’s shack on the side of the Cumberland Mountains. That’s where I’d go. I played my guitar and sang to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log and frogs that leaped from stone to stone.

The fat man cleared his throat loudly. “Mr. Roberts, I don’t think you’ve heard a word I’ve said. Would you at least answer one question?”

Oh yeah, I’d forgotten all about the insistent reporter. I turned to look squarely at him. “What’s your name?”

“Lewis Washington, sir. What inspired you to write your hit song, Cumberland Mines?”

“It was a tribute…to my father.” I motioned to the bartender and returned to my thoughts.

Not too long after we lost Papa, the local welfare lady came. I hid under the porch and listened.

Mountain_Shack

“Mrs. Anderson, we’re sorry for the loss of your husband, but it has come to our attention that your young son, Timmy, may need to be placed in an institution where he can get the kind of help he needs.”

I didn’t have to see Mama’s face to know she gave the lady a blank stare. That’s all she’d managed to give any of us for months.

The welfare lady droned on and on. By the time she drove her ’49 Ford down the dirt road that had brought her to our shack, I knew she’d be back to get Timmy. I crawled out from under the porch and kicked at the dust that settled under my feet.

1949_ford_carros_antigos_19

 

Anger took over and I bounded up the porch steps and into the house. Brushing past April, I went straight to Mama. Nothing I said would make her look at me. She was gone.

The worst thing a boy can do is cry in front of his older sister. Once I’d said my piece, I grabbed my guitar and headed for the creek as I’d done a hundred times since Papa died. Oh, how I pounded on the guitar that day. The more I cried, the harder I hit the strings. But, by the time I dragged myself back to the house, I’d written my first song about a tragedy in a Cumberland Mountain coal mine.

“Ahem. I heard Andy Roberts ain’t your real name.” The reporter didn’t give up.

I glanced at his flushed face. “Nope.”

“What’s your real one?” The way he held the pencil over the paper reminded of me a bird about to dive for its prey.

“You’re getting awful personal,” I growled. For a long minute, I considered punching him in the face.

TO BE CONTINUED……

Do Press Releases work?

Press Release Crossword

As a staff writer for two magazines, I receive a plethora of Press Releases every day.

I can tell you some grab my eye immediately and some I never open. So what is the secret?

First of all let me answer the question: Do Press Releases have value?

The immediate and short answer is “Yes.”

The longer answer is:

  • Press Releases are a great way to shout out an accomplishment
  • Press Releases can open doors for interviews
  • Press Releases can gain you new followers and fans
  • Press Releases offer a way to reach many with one click

So, what is it about these Press Releases that prompt me to open or delete them?

The first thing I watch for is relevance. I write for music magazines, so a press release about a new company opening down the street will not get my attention (unless it is a recording studio or music store).

That is the number one point I’d like to make. If you are considering sending out a Press Release about an award you received for a book, don’t send it to a publication that only specializes in politics (unless your book is about politics). You wouldn’t want to send your press release to a publication that only does music reviews (unless your book is about music.) I’m sure you get the idea.

In my case, if the press release I receive is not about an artist relevant to Texas or Oklahoma, I delete it.

The headline of the press release is the next most important aspect to me. It can make or break the effort. A boring headline won’t prompt me to open it, but an excited, energetic headline will draw me every time. I’ve even opened Press Releases that I knew had no relevance to me just because of the compelling subject title. They made me want to know more. That is probably the single biggest challenge for anyone writing a Press Release.

Here is a formula that might be useful.

Headline Formula

If you can get them to open it, you at least have a 50-50 chance of some follow-up action.

Since my book of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort,” won the Grand Prize in the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB 90-day Alpha/Omega Beginning to End Short Story contest, I will be sending out press releases locally and statewide.

Here is my headline for local media:

Local Indie Author wins the Grand Prize in an International Short Story Challenge

And for statewide media:

Texas Indie Author wins the Grand Prize in an International Short Story Challenge

Then, in the body of the ONE page Press Release, I can give more details. To me, the draw in the headline is three things – One that I am a local author, two this was not a local contest and three I am an indie author.

What are your thoughts? Have you sent Press Releases in the past? Did you get any results?  I’ll keep you posted as to my results. I’ve had a good response in the past, getting two newspaper features and a TV appearance.

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In the meantime, if you haven’t yet picked up your copy of “Two Shorts and a Snort,” here is the purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Shorts-Snort-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B07DY8FSWL/

TWO SHORTS&A SNORT_Final2