#RRBCSpotlightAuthor Blog Tour #RRBC (@mbiermanauthor) Mark Bierman!!

It is my pleasure to welcome to my blog, a Member of Rave Reviews Book Club, Author Mark Bierman. He is in the spotlight today from the Spotlight Author Blog Tour. Here is his story…


Tell Your Story

Imagine, if you will, two scenarios. I will not delve into any more detail in this brief introduction, other than to say that both are set in a prison.

Here is the first:

Steven, the young correctional officer, raced after his fellow officers as they charged through the open doorway and onto the prison range. T Block had exploded into a battlefield. Fifty inmates were bent on sticking and slicing each other with shivs fashioned from the metal pins stolen from the exercise machines in the gym. The sharpened pins weren’t the only weapon of choice, for in the mix were toothbrushes with razor blades melted onto their handles, chunks of plexiglass, glass, and metal window trim. All with hair-splitting edges. Oh, inmates are a creative and stealthy lot. There are thousands of ways to die in prison.

Into that fracas, Steven ran. For him and the others, there was no other choice. Two of their fellow officers were trapped down there. The melee had broken out while the pair were conducting a routine patrol, and with only the defence of hands and wits, their situation had turned dire. The same applied to the Steven, others had grabbed the limited supply mace. No guns were allowed on the range, they were far too dangerous.

T Block was split into two levels. The upper tier, three feet wide, stretched over one-hundred feet in length, and was lined by open barred cells on one side, with a four-foot-high “safety” railing on the other.

The bloody skirmish was largely concentrated on the bottom level, and most of the troops, understandably, went in that direction. But blades were also swinging up stairs and several uniforms were interspersed among the prison blues worn by the clientele. Steven followed John, an experienced officer, onto the top tier, and into sheer madness.

For those on T Block that day, there was no sanctuary, no corner or nook was devoid of violence. The air was thick with hatred and fear, though not impermeable to the cries of agony and the sting of mace. Everywhere, weapons found their targets, blood spilled, and the century-old- limestone walls recorded every act.

A large inmate broke free of the others and had run upstairs. Steven watched the approaching inmate and knew he was in for a fight. The powerful man lived downstairs, so his intentions were obviously not good. The officer knew he couldn’t let the man pass.

“Get back downstairs!” Steven yelled several times

The orders went unheeded.

This was going to be a fight. But would the inmate choose his fists or a knife?

Now sandwiched between a pair of combating inmates, and the charging human moose, Steven had seconds to make a determination that could possibly kill him and others. He wished for time to at least slow down, as he prepared a defence. His old friend, the internal survival coach, the one who’d kept him alive in other incidents shouted a familiar warning. Watch his hands! No weapon yet! But if he reaches for his pocket or the waist band of his jeans . . .!

A scream, came from what seemed inches from behind Steven, it was followed by a heavy thud on the limestone floor, twelve feet below. Someone had been thrown over the railing, Steven knew it without even looking. Would he be next? Would he soon feel the blade or the point of a shiv as it penetrated him?  He wanted to turn around, but he couldn’t. Faith was needed. Enough to believe that his fellow officers would be there, that they would have his back. Danger was coming straight for him. The world became a tunnel that encompassed only the charging inmate.

This reaction too, was familiar. It was the body entering ‘fight’ mode. It was the body doing what it needed to survive.

Here is the second:

The two inmates squared off. From fifteen feet away, Janjak raced to close the distance. He tripped over soiled men and spilled waste buckets. The curses of fellow convicts were ignored. His vision morphed into a tunnel that encompassed only the combatants. Watch their hands! Almost there. Hands! Hands! Something flashed. Knife! The Haitian launched himself as Frantz pulled the weapon from his waistband. Shoulder met chest in a violent collision. Frantz cried out as he was tackled onto a stained mattress.

 

Notice any similarities? You might ask what books did I glean these excerpts from? Or perhaps you may think they are from the same one.

Well, to tell you the truth, the second scenario is from the first chapter of my novel, Vanished. The first is a page taken directly from my life. I changed my name to Steven, for this story.

Now, obviously I survived that experience and many others over the years, and while I personally am happy about that fact, that isn’t the point of this blog.

What I hope you will take away from this, is that you will be encouraged to tell your own. I hope you realize that all us have valuable life experiences that are unique. We can, and should, use them in our writing.

I don’t know about you, but there is no English Degree in my background. I am no expert in literature, or even everyday writing. One thing I do possess, what everyone has, is real life experiences. So, please don’t allow yourself to be convinced that you have nothing to offer readers. You have a life!

 

*  *  *

VANISHED, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E4CZHIO/

9781483448121_COVER.indd

Blurb:

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.

 

*  *  *

BiermanPhoto

Author Bio:

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark’s childhood consisted of chores, horseback riding, snowmobile races, fishing trips to local lakes, and many other outdoor adventures. He was, and remains, an avid reader of many genres.

Transitioning into adulthood also meant moving from the farm into large urban areas that introduced this ‘country boy’ to ‘big city’ life.

Drawing on his many experiences as a private investigator, and later, a correctional officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create stories and characters.

 

Follow Mark online!

Twitter:   @mbiermanauthor

Facebook: Facebook

Website:  markbierman.com

 

Posted in Guest Blog, Spotlight Authors | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

#RRBC #RRBCTreatReads DAY 2 Mary Adler @MAAdlerWrites

“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”

 

MARY ADLER PIC

Author, Mary Adler

 

 

Book: IN THE SHADOW OF LIEShttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K7WYTSU/

 

In The Shadow of Lies by Mary Adler

Book Blurb: Richmond, California. World War II.  Marine Lieutenant Oliver Wright comes home from the war in the Pacific injured and afraid his career as a homicide detective is over.  But when an Italian Prisoner of War is murdered the night the Port Chicago Mutiny verdicts are announced, and black soldiers are suspected of the crime, the Army asks Oliver to find out the truth.

 

He and his canine partner Harley join forces with an Italian POW captain and with a black MP embittered by a segregated military. During their investigation, these unlikely allies expose layers of deceit and violence that stretch back to World War I and uncover a common thread that connects the murder to earlier crimes.

 

In the Shadow of Lies reveals the darkness and turmoil of the Bay Area during World War II, while celebrating the spirit of the everyday people who made up the home front. Its intriguing characters will resonate with the reader long after its deftly intertwined mysteries are solved.

 

 

Twitter: @MAAdlerWrites

Posted in "TREAT" Reads Blog Hop | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Join in the celebration of #RRBCAuthor @sharrislaughter, #RRBC’s November “SPOTLIGHT” Author! #Author of #OurLadyOfVictory

So amazing to have so many RRBC members spotlighting me this month. Thank you Pat.

Walk On

Good Morning Everyone,

Don’t ever say that History cannot be corrected. Where there is a will, there is a way. The second edition of Our Lady Of Victory by Author Shirley Harris Slaughter has been released. It has many new updates on this historic church that will interest many.

Blurb:

This is a second edition with updates on the state of this historic church. In the original publication files were lost then resurfaced with content altered along with missing photos during transition from one publisher to another. Such is the fate of an Independent Author.

This book evolved out of years of frustration at the total disregard and lack of respect for the contributions of Black Catholics in the city of Detroit. The author says, “We are not mentioned in the pages of history along with the other Catholic churches that sprung up during the World War II era, and…

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Welcome to the “GRATITUDE” Blog Tour! @ptlperrin @4WillsPub @RRBC_Org @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

I don’t know about you, but I’m always amazing at the many blessings we enjoy. Putting aside material things, we have family, friends, love, sunshine and rain, love…

Okay, let’s talk about some of the material things. Food is nice. Clothes, shelter, transportation, phones, electronics, etc. Not everyone on the planet has as much as we do, but we hope they have what they need to survive and thrive where they are. Realistically, we know it isn’t so for many. Those in prosperous countries should, and often do, share with those in need. Americans are known as the most generous country on the planet, and we should add gratitude for our country to our list of blessings.

God has something for us that’s even bigger than all the prosperity in the world, and it’s something he wants to give everyone, without discrimination.

This excerpt from Reflections of a Misfit will clue you in.

~~~~~

UNDESERVED FAVOR

During the years before my dad chose to become a believer, one obstacle he couldn’t seem to overcome was his skepticism that Adam and Eve populated the earth. Knowing how long they lived, and how lacking they were in electronics, movies, and other amusements, I never had a problem believing it. What else did they have to do for fun?

Neither of us understood that Adam and Eve had, indeed, thrown up an obstacle to belief in God, but it wasn’t about how many kids they might have had. Paul talked about it in Romans 5, with one notable exception. Paul never mentioned Eve.

He said, “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death.” Death is the chasm separating us from God. We have no hope of crossing it on our own.

“But Adam who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.”

Here’s more of that logic I love so much. “If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing [notice…no Eve mentioned here], can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that one man Jesus Christ provides?”

Who wouldn’t want a wildly extravagant life? I love this about Paul. He kept it simple.

“Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life.”

This is for those who want more laws and bigger government. “All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers.”

Here is the best part, the best news for all of us: “But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands-down.”

Undeserved grace is an aggressive act of God.

“Grace…invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.”

WooHOO! Name one thing that can top that.

~~~~~

Short Bio for Reflections

P.T.L. Perrin (Patty) wasn’t interested in the Bible, but as much as she tried to evade the God of the Bible, she found Him at every turn. She finally surrendered and wondered why she’d run for so long.

Patty grew up as a military brat in Europe, where she attended German and Italian schools before American high school and college. She draws from a deep well of life experiences and has discovered that we are all misfits in some way.

Patty and her husband live in south Florida, the happy grandparents of a fluid, constantly growing family.


List of Social Media Links for PTL Perrin

Blog: https://www.ptlperrinwrites.com

Website: https://www.ptlperrin.org

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

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/ptlperrin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PTLPerrin

Email: ptlperrin8@gmail.com

Books:

Reflections of a Misfit

            Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086XJS9Q4/

            B&N:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reflections-of-a-misfit-ptl-perrin/1120789421

Terra’s Call

            Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XHW6YH7/

            B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/terras-call-p-t-l-perrin/1134398720

Triton’s Call

            Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XHW6JXQ/

            B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tritons-call-ptl-perrin/1124628999

Voice of Viracocha

            Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XJG3PZ1/

            B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voice-of-viracocha-p-t-l-perrin/1134398718

Terra’s Anthem

            Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XKMQF73/

            B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/terras-anthem-p-t-l-perrin/1134398744


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

Posted in "GRATITUDE" Blog Tour! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Welcome to Day 11 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @nonniejules @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

…IN THE WORLD OF WE

We often hear that music is the universal language.  It is the avenue to bridge all divides –

racial divides

gender divides

political divides.    

But, in the midst of all the division,

each party holding court in their respective corners of the ring,

ears lightly tickled by the sound of the simple “IMAGINE” by John Lennon,

wafting through the musky air of tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons –

a mist of standstill calms the noise

…and in mere moments, the eyes of “independent” onlookers are pleasantly greeted by the most beautiful and welcoming sight –

…bodies slowly rocking

…hands collectively raised

…waving side to side

…all in unison  

…chanting

 “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try…”

The 2020 US election has ended. The people have spoken.

What’s left behind?  A world of anxiety and angst – wrapped in feelings of wondering when the bombs will drop, or when the other shoe will fall.  And although I’d like to point fingers here and maybe even call a few not-so-pretty names, my daughter sits beside me as I write this, an ear to measure the “nice” level in my words, the child guiding the parent.  Roles reversed, she gently reminds me that the original goal of this message is unification – therefore, I will stay the course of peace.

In this moment, acknowledging that my conscience of decency is bigger than any emotion that might be stirring the embers of fires that have burned deep inside me for the past few years – neutrality is my cohort, and we will not take sides. 

Instead, all that will be allowed to roll off my tongue is FACT…

one reign is ending  

and another about to begin.

Some exultant…

others despondent

Yet, now is not the time for either.

Yesterday is gone,

today almost a memory,

but what awaits us in tomorrow

is what WE decide it will be. 

This is not the land of us and them –

this is the world of WE. 

WE decide what, who and how WE want to be.  

Do you resemble love, or, are you wearing the likeness of hate?  

What adorns your heart, a choice only you can make … for you. 

So, I have made my choice – and it is firm and true!

I choose love. 

To love,

to be loved,

to speak love,

to exude love,

to live love. 

Because I know that what I send out into the world, will be exactly what the world returns to my doorstep.

It is for that reason that I shall…

remain steadfast in my vigilance –

cognizant of any negativity that might try to seep in or out of my pores –

Skillfully suppressing the desire to gloat in the face of the so-called “losing” side. 

I’ve too much pride…to stoop so low.

The 2020 US election has ended.  The people have spoken.

There were no losers. 

WE are a world of winners.

Remember, WE decide

what

who

and how

WE will be

in this…

beautiful

colorful

everchanging

world of WE

“Imagine there’s no country
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

It’s all easy if WE try.”


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 Profile 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 RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Nonnie Jules’ RWISA Author Profile

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Welcome to Day 10 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @jinlobify @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

IROKO

In the past, nobody would have taken notice of Iroko, the biggest and tallest tree in the forest. But then, cities started to grow and to eat into the forests. Trees were cut to make way for the growing cities. But the Iroko tree resisted being cut down. Any time an axe cut the tree, the axe either broke or the cut bled, real blood., and cries, ear piercing cries, like human cries were heard coming from the tree.

            In the forest, next to Iroko, lived an old woman in a tiny mud hut. Bent by age, she diligently cared for the tree. She was known as the eyes and the mouth of the tree. She listened to the tree, when the leaves rustled and interpreted the language of the tree to outsiders. She was called Nne Oji. Oji is the Igbo name for Iroko, and Nne Oji means Iroko’s mother. Iroko was as tall as a skyscraper, about one hundred and seventy feet high, and the width was as wide as fifty men surrounding the tree with outstretched hands, fingertips touching. Iroko was huge, towering and intimidating!

            The stories surrounding Iroko were such that settlers decided to let it stand and the town grew all around and away from it. Things went on peacefully for a while, but soon it became clear that Iroko did not like the exposure it was getting from the people surrounding it. After all, this tree was the king of the forest, where both trees and animals revered it. Now, standing in the midst of humans, with no one paying it any heed, all of this would change very rapidly.

            People, especially those living close to where Iroko stood, started reporting strange happenings around Iroko in the dead of night. Those who were bold enough to come out and watch these happenings, reported seeing dancing and merrymaking around Iroko by people they believed were spirit people. These spirit people went in and out of Iroko as if they were walking in and out of their homes. They sang and danced in merriment from twelve midnight until two in the morning, after which they packed up and walked back into the tree. Those who observed these goings-on, did so from afar and in hiding.

The story was told of a young boy who had the misfortune of being seen by these spirit people. He was taken and was never seen again. He had heard the stories of the happenings around Iroko, so that night he snuck out of his house and walked toward Iroko to take a closer look. Voices were heard warning him not to come closer, but he continued walking toward Iroko until he entered the sphere of the tree where everything turned grey. At that point, the boy lost control of himself and was pulled along until he disappeared in the mist and was seen no more.

The mother watched everything in hiding in paralyzed shock. The other people who watched in hiding were also mystified. They couldn’t believe their eyes, but they dared not allow themselves to be seen.

The next morning, the mother saw a huge striped cow tied to an orange tree in front of her house. The cow was chewing cud. The woman walked around the cow trying to understand how it came to be there. The town people also took notice and started gathering and questioning the presence of the cow. Out of nowhere, a young boy with only a loin cloth around his waist appeared and spoke to the onlookers.

“Mama, Iroko says you should take the cow in exchange for your son. Iroko says you should not kill the cow. You should sell it and use the money to take care of yourself.” With that, the boy turned and walked through the crowd and disappeared.

Everyone there was seized with shock and they quickly dispersed. The woman cut the cow loose and started shooing it off from the front of her house, but the cow would not budge.

The woman started to weep and pleaded with Iroko to return her son and take back the cow.

“Iroko give me back my son and take your cow!” she implored. “I don’t want your cow!”

The next day, the woman saw the cow at the back of her house, peacefully lying down near her hearth and chewing cud. She ran out toward Iroko.

“If you won’t give me back my son, Iroko, take me too!” she screamed at the top of her voice. Iroko’s leaves started to rustle. Suddenly, the old woman in the hut materialized and stood between the woman and Iroko.

“Go back, Mama!” the old woman said. “What you seek cannot be done. Your son is gone, dead and Iroko has paid you in exchange for him. Go back or you will meet the same fate!”

The woman refused to be stopped. She pushed the old woman down, walked over her and continued to approach Iroko. By this time, people had started to gather and were watching. The woman threw herself at Iroko and just like magic, the onlookers saw sparks of light, like fireworks, all around the woman. They heard her screaming and shouting like someone roasting on a stake. When everything died down and the sparks were no more, the people saw that the woman had metamorphosed. The woman had changed into an animal, something that looked like a dog, or a goat. No one could really tell. The people dispersed but this time they all had one thought in their minds – that Iroko must go.

            Iroko’s fame continued to grow even beyond the immediate town. The townspeople also became bolder. They consulted with diviner after diviner to find out how to get rid of Iroko. They tried everything, without any success … one attempt took the lives of twelve men. They tried to burn Iroko down, but the fire turned against them and burned them to death. One diviner suggested that the spirit of Iroko resided in the old woman who tended it, and that if the old woman was killed, Iroko would quietly and slowly die.

            The townspeople burned the old woman’s hut down with the old woman in it. The next day, Iroko started taking souls. People started disappearing from their homes, both in broad daylight and at night while they slept.

Finally, an Iroko priest from a distant land told the people how to destroy Iroko.

“Humans should not fight Iroko,” he said. “They should appease Iroko. Iroko trees do not live amongst humans. Before you people started building your town, you should have appeased and pleaded with Iroko to leave your town. As you can see, Iroko was simply minding its own business, when you people decided to invade its privacy. Now you have to sacrifice to Iroko to appease it.”

            The townspeople had to pay this priest to come to their town to perform all that was needed to appease Iroko. There is no need to list here all that Iroko demanded, which included the blood of virgins, before it was appeased. The morning after the ceremony by this priest was concluded, the people came out and watched as the inhabitants of Iroko exited one after the other and disappeared; the birds of various families, the giant ants, red and black, dark dangerous black snakes – all came out of Iroko hissing, grumbling, and then poof, like smoke disappeared. But the king of all the animals, a giant Eke python, refused to be dislodged. The people had to pump inflammatory liquid into Iroko and set the python on fire, to dislodge it. It came out rumbling, twisting, and floundering, until it, too, disappeared.

            Finally, Iroko was cut down. Mystery upon mystery, not one single hole existed in the cut tree. It was intact with rings showing how many hundreds of years it had stood there.


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 Profile 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 RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Joy Nwosu Lo Bamijoko‘s RWISA Author Profile

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Welcome to Day 9 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @wendyjaynescott @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

The Crystal Tavern by Wendy Scott

This piece is in remembrance of my Creative Writing student, Gill Pontin, who suddenly passed away in October 2020. Gill was an artistic dynamo whose enthusiasm, creativity and laughter will be dearly missed. She was a key participant when our group developed a new world, Creedland, and this story is set in Vape Town.

“Whoa, boy.” Blade Driscoll tugged on the reins and pulled his destrier to a halt. He surveyed the outskirts of Vape Town, unsurprised by the ramshackle buildings and pock-marked roads. The air reeked of burnt sugar and the back of Blade’s throat tingled. Between his thighs, Stormbolt shifted, wrinkling his equine nose and shaking his head from side to side. The horse’s plated armour clinked together destroying any attempt at stealth. Blade nudged his mount towards the main street, the sooner he finished his business in this cesspit the better for his sanity.

Pink-eyed townsfolk slunk away from the war horse’s hoof spikes. Pastel smoke billowed from a series of chimney stacks and led him to the front steps of the Crystal Tavern. Scantily clad fairies with tattered wings slouched against the verandah railings. Out of habit, Blade scanned their faces but didn’t recognise any familiar features. He didn’t waste his breath asking after his friend as their vacant stares and pink-tinted irises indicated their minds were lost in a kaleidoscopic haze.

Crystal Pink was manufactured from bog flowers and utterly irresistible to fairies. Its euphoric buzz leached away their magic, attacked the delicate blood vessels in their wings, rendering them flightless, before their bodies swelled to human size. The only way to gain their fix was to enslave themselves to Gurezil Flintsunder, owner of the Crystal Tavern, the unofficial mayor of Vape Town, and the largest whore-master this side of the Despicables. Lowlifes flocked from every dark corner of Creedland to sample the unique fairy delights.

Blade dismounted and left Stormbolt’s reins dangling, ready for a speedy exit. Anyone foolhardy enough to try to steal the stallion would learn how hard the war horse could bite.

Blade checked his weapon inventory. If blood flowed today, he didn’t intend any of it to be his.

Before the saloon doors swung shut behind him Blade tugged a bandanna over his mouth and nose. Steam laced with cotton candy sweetness curled through the dimness. Chunks of crystals simmered in heated ceramic bowls, producing bubbles and sickly fumes. Each table featured glass paraphernalia plugged with multiple hoses. Tendrils of pink smoke escaped from the pipe tips.

Pain pulsed in Blade’s forehead and his eyes watered. He sipped shallow breaths as he scanned the front parlour, counting four patrons slumped in the booths. Their hands grasped the tubes as if they were lifelines. Fools; it was death they courted.

A month ago, he’d rescued Maie Quickthistle from Gurezil’s clutches, sneaking her away while the tavern slumbered. When she’d surfaced from the drug’s grip she’d attacked him like a demented harpy, begging for her next fix. He responded by locking her inside a rented room, but she’d broken out the window and hightailed it back to the Crystal Tavern. After that failure, he decided to change his tactics.

A bartender slumped across the bar and ignored Blade as he slid into an empty booth and shuffled into the shadows. From here he had an unobstructed view of Gurezil’s office door and a ringside seat to the drama he knew was about to unfold. The next bog flower shipment was due within the hour, and he wanted to witness Gurezil Flintsunder’s reaction when he learned his entire crop had been destroyed. The poison had cost Blade his life’s savings but the wizard assured him that this would taint the bog for generations. With one application he’d wiped out the only source of Crystal Pink.

Half an hour later, boots thundered along the passageway and a man hammered his fists on the office door. “Boss, there’s a problem with the latest shipment.”

Gurezil flung the door open and stomped into the hallway. “If those imbeciles have stolen as much as one flower I’ll strip the flesh from their hides and feed it to the fairies.”

“There are no flowers.” The man held out a limp vine. “Something’s wrong with the whole patch.”

Gurezil snatched the vegetation out of the man’s hand, lifted it above his nose, and sniffed it. The blood vessels on his cheeks blazed beetroot. “Stinks of spoiled magic. There’s no time to waste, saddle up the horses and the wagons, we need to salvage what’s left.”

Blade stayed in the shadows until they disappeared outside. Whistling, he ascended the stairs two at a time before gently opening every door along the top corridor. A rush of stale air tainted with the drug’s signature sweetness filtered into the passage. Fairies dozed on bunks, oblivious to his presence as their minds languished in a hypnotic blur. He didn’t desire to be anywhere near Vape Town when their mass withdrawal kicked in. Dealing with one psychotic fairy was enough to test a man’s mettle.

He counted his blessing when he found Maie Quickthistle out cold, making it easier to transfer her onto Stormbolt’s saddle. As a precaution, he bound her hands together and checked her pockets for hidden daggers. Earlier, he’d prepared a campsite in the surrounding woods as he understood the next two days were going to be tough on the both of them.

If he’d known how sharp fairy teeth were he might have reconsidered this rescue plan. Bloody bite marks and grazes marred his forearm and face, and he was sure he was missing a piece of his ear. His ears throbbed from Maie’s constant shrieking, and he hoped she’d have no memory of all the things she’d offered him in exchange for a fix.

After a sleepless 48 hours, his eyes were redder than an addict’s and his thoughts foggy. Maie’s limbs contorted into a fetal knot and whimpers escaped her throat. She was quieter than earlier, but he kept his distance as she’d lured him into striking range before. He yawned and struggled to keep awake. Perhaps he’d snatch a moment’s rest.

Something fluttered against his cheek and Blade wrenched his eyes open. Tiny fairy wings whirred close to his face. He held still as Maie planted a kiss on the tip of his nose. “You saved me.” Lightness flooded Blade’s soul. “Of course, that’s what friends do.”


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 Profile 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 RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Wendy Scott’s RWISA Author Profile

Posted in RWISA Showcase Tour | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Welcome to Day 8 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @ptlperrin @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

SUNSET

By P.T.L. Perrin

Eden backed her Boston Whaler, Eden’s End, away from the dock, swung her nose into the current and gave the outboard a little gas. Still in the no-wake zone, her granddaughter hung over the side near the stern and trailed her hand in the water.

“Leigh, a shark’s gonna bite that thing right off.”

“No, it won’t. See the dolphins alongside?” She pointed her dripping finger at a pair of breeching dolphins. “Everyone knows they protect folks from sharks.”

Eden shook her head, grinned, and watched the sleek bodies leap through gray water until the pod outdistanced them. She’d never heard of a shark this far up the intracoastal, but she enjoyed teasing Leigh, even if the girl didn’t like it much. Besides, she wouldn’t have to put up with it after tonight. Her heart dropped at the thought.

Right now, they needed to get into the channel where she could open the throttle and let her fly. They’d need a bit of speed to get through the chop at the inlet’s mouth.

“Where’d you stash the drinks, baby girl? I’m thirsty.”

“Coke or ginger ale?” Leigh reached into the cooler behind the captain’s bench and waited for Eden’s answer.

“We have any bottled water?”

“Yuck.” Leigh wrinkled her nose and stuck her tongue out. At thirteen, she didn’t care for plain water. She grabbed a coke for herself and tossed the water toward the captain’s bench, where her grandma easily caught it.

“Come up here with me.” Eden scooted over, but Leigh grabbed the canopy support bar and stood next to her to wave to passing vessels.

They entered the main channel and accelerated. “Look at them all!” Leigh held tight to the support with one hand and with the other, pointed out small boats like theirs, yachts and excursion ships heading out to sea. “I’ve never seen so many in the channel all at once. Is all this for the sunset?”

Eden didn’t answer. She glanced at her granddaughter and wished she could keep this moment forever. Evening light bathed Leigh’s face in a gentle glow, the pink in her cheeks showing through the Florida tan she wore summer and winter. Her luminous eyes, the same amber as the natural streaks in her sun-bleached hair, crinkled at the corners as she squinted at the water. She’d be a beauty in a couple years and Eden had looked forward to scaring the sin out of any boys with the wrong idea. Just another thing she’d never get to do.

The chop demanded her attention, so she drove while Leigh held on and whooped every time their bow hit another wave. The sea calmed when they reached the Gulf of Mexico, and they found a spot to drift about a hundred yards out, away from other vessels. The current turned the stern toward the northwest, where they had a perfect view of the horizon to the west and the inlet to the east.

Eden moved to the cushioned top of the cooler in the aft cockpit. Leigh joined her, pretended to push her off with her hip, and settled close. She sipped her coke while her grandma threw an arm around her in a hug.

The ocean breeze played with Eden’s short hair and blew tendrils of Leigh’s long hair across her chest. Eden reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a hair tie.

“Turn around, baby girl. You don’t want hair in your eyes just as the sun sinks, do you?” Leigh leaned forward while her grandma caught her hair back in a tail. She reached for a blanket bunched on a corner seat.

“Here, Grandma. The breeze is a little cool.” Leigh pulled it over their laps.

A bank of cumulous clouds towered to the east, each layer a living painting, shifting through pink, purple, orange, and salmon in majestic slow motion. A low swell slapped against the hull, a rhythmic percussion to the visual symphony.

Eden took several deep breaths, enjoying the tang of salt air with a hint of seaweed. The scent of grilling fish tickled her nose. Her mouth watered and her stomach rumbled. They’d eat with Leigh’s parents later, at one of the seafood places on the main dock. A special treat.

Leigh snuggled close to Eden, who pulled the lightweight blanket up to cover her girl’s shoulders.

“Are all endings sad?”

Eden swallowed hard before she could answer. “Not all.”

“Like what? Name some happy endings.”

Eden dug past the lump in her heart to find one or two. “When the prince kisses the princess and they live happily ever after. When the hero escapes from the dungeon.”

Leigh slapped her arm. “I mean for real.” She turned her gaze toward the setting sun, now barely touching the horizon’s edge. “I can think of lots of sad endings. Like when we had to leave our friends in Minnesota. And when Scruffy ran away. And when…”

Eden interrupted. “Farmers are happy when a drought ends. And what about the end of an icy cold winter? You had those in Minnesota, remember.”

“Oh, yeah. But the end of snow wasn’t so happy.”

Eden grabbed her granddaughter’s hand and pointed toward the sun, now a half-circle sitting on a dark line.

“Every ending starts a new beginning.” Just saying it lifted her own spirits a tiny bit.

Leigh picked up on it. “School starts at the end of summer. I like school.”

“And cooler weather,” Eden reminded her.

“Morning comes when night ends. I’ll be fourteen when thirteen ends.”

“And we’ll meet in heaven when life ends.” Eden wanted to take back the words as soon as they left her mouth. She sucked air in thick gulps to keep from bursting into tears. She felt her granddaughter tremble.

Eden turned Leigh’s face toward her and kissed her forehead. She kissed each precious cheek and wiped her tears away with her thumbs. “You know I’ll always love you, don’t you? Everything I have is yours, and no matter what, we’ll see each other again.”

“Death is a sad ending, Grandma. I don’t care what the next beginning is. I don’t want you to go.” Leigh covered her face with her hands, bent over her grandma’s lap and sobbed, shudders racking her body and tearing the heart out of Eden.

“Watch, Leigh. Sunset isn’t over yet.”

Leigh sat up, wiped her eyes, and took a shuddering breath. Eden’s heart swelled with love and pride at her granddaughter’s courage as the ocean swallowed the last sliver of sun, leaving the eastern clouds a gray canvas. There should have been more drama.

Eden returned to the console and started the engine.

“Wait, Grandma. Can’t we wait for the stars to come out? I need more time.”

Eden turned the key off and wrapped her arms around Leigh’s slender body. They sank to the deck, neither trying to control the eruption of grief tearing at their cores.

When their sobs turned to hiccups and they let each other go, Eden lifted Leigh’s chin and pointed to the sky. “Look at that magnificence, baby girl. God’s story written in the stars. You’re there, and so am I.”

“What do you mean, Grandma?”

“Our last sunset is an ending, but tomorrow’s a new day for both of us. I’m going home very soon, and you have a long life ahead with happy endings and beautiful beginnings.

Leigh sighed and snuggled close. “And we’ll meet again. In heaven, right?”

“That’s right.” Eden returned to her bench and turned on the engine. “I’m hungry and your parents must be starving. How about you?”

Leigh nodded, stood, and held on to the support. “I love you, Grandma.”

*****

Leigh backed her whaler, Eden’s Dawn, from the dock and headed to the channel where she joined a smattering of fishing boats, her lights joining theirs on the way to the Gulf. Her daughter snored softly, asleep beside her on the bench. Leigh tapped her shoulder to wake her.

“Faith, we’re getting to the chop.”

The child stretched and yawned, jumped to the deck, held on to the support, and whooped at every wave they hit until they reached calm water.

“Now, Mommy?” Faith pointed at the pretty box on the console that held Grandma’s ashes.

“Soon.” Leigh headed out until land was a smudge to the east and cut the engine. “Now, Sweetie.”

Leigh and Faith held the box over the stern together. Leigh kissed it, and they dropped it into the ocean while the sun rose behind a cloud bank, its golden rays streaming out to paint the morning sky pink and orange.

Leigh hugged her daughter as the box sank beneath the waves. “Goodbye, Grandma. We love you.”

Faith reached up and held her mother’s face between her small hands. “Are you sad, Mommy?”

“A little. But every ending starts a new beginning.”

Leigh lifted Faith to the bench, kissed her, and turned Eden’s Dawn toward home.


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 Profile 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 catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

PTL Perrin’s RWISA Author Profile

Posted in RWISA Showcase Tour, SONGS OF HEARTSTRINGS BlogTour | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Welcome to Day 7 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @Maurabeth2014 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

CHRISTMAS WITH AUNT ALICE AND THE PINEAPPLE

By Maura Beth Brennan

You could say the trajectory to that strange Christmas Eve began on the Saturday before, when Mother and Father took us to Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia. There were five of us, counting my two little brothers and me, and we were there on our yearly trek to see the renowned Wanamaker’s Christmas tree and hear Christmas music played by a live orchestra.  

After the concert, we wandered around the store, admiring the decorations. Mother was especially taken by the centerpiece on one of the tables in the furniture department. There, a pineapple, resplendent in a coating of golden spray paint, nestled on a platter filled with fresh pine boughs and sparkling ornaments.

“Oh, isn’t that lovely,” exclaimed Mother.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Father. Father was usually a cheerful person, full of jokes and funny stories, but that day he was grumpy, facing the prospect of having to eat lunch in Wanamaker’s Mezzanine Restaurant, where, as he put it, “They only have lady food.”

Mother rolled her eyes at me like she did sometimes, now that I was thirteen, and apparently had been admitted into the Sisterhood of Aren’t Men Silly. I rolled my eyes back at her, straightened my shoulders, and stood straight and proud.

Mother worked feverishly all that week to prepare for the holiday and finally, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we all decorated the tree. In those days in our house, the tree was brought into the house on Christmas Eve and not a day before. Father would spend hours groaning, shouting, and trying not to curse as he secured the tree to the walls. You read that correctly. Father was sure that the tree would escape its confines when left to its own devices, wreaking havoc, and so would place it in a corner and tether it to each wall with nails and the thickest string he could find. Only then could our tree, safely restrained, be adorned.

The tradition was that we would listen to Christmas carols as we all performed our assigned decorating duties. Finally, Father would finish with gobs of silver tinsel and, with a flourish, turn on the lights. After the “oohs” and “aahs” died down, we would head to the dining room for Christmas Eve dinner.

That’s how things usually went. On this particular Christmas Eve, though, as we were filing into the dining room, a loud shriek emanated from the direction of the kitchen.

“Oh, SSSSSHIP!”

Mother shot Father a look. “Aunt Alice.” she said.

I should have mentioned that my Great Aunt Alice was visiting. She was extremely old and, on holidays, came to stay with us. We kids loved Aunt Alice. She was funny, though not always intentionally so, told us fabulous stories which she made up herself, and she loved to curse. This was a great learning experience as I saw it. However, my parents had recently had a discussion with Aunt Alice about this behavior. I listened in, rooting for Aunt Alice, and it went like this:

Father said, “There are children here, Aunt Alice. Think of the children.”

“But you curse, and you’re my favorite nephew,” Aunt Alice replied.

Father countered with, “Look, Aunt Alice, that’s different. I’m a man, and I was in the Navy during the War.”

Aunt Alice, voice rising, shot back, “Oh, come on. What a crock of—”

“Stop!” yelled Father.

“POOP,” Aunt Alice screamed. “I was going to say POOP.”

Mother chimed in, “That was better, Alice. Crude, but better.” Then she swooped in for the finish.  “Alice, Dear, you are so creative! Why, all those stories you tell, I’m sure you will have no trouble coming up with interesting things to say when you’re upset. If you want to keep coming here to be with us and the children, that is. It’s completely up to you.”

“Dag blig it,” said Aunt Alice.

So on that night, hearing that strange cry, Father rushed in the direction of the sound and we all followed. I, for one, hoped it meant a ship was visible from our kitchen window, though we lived nowhere near a body of water. That would have been a treat.

But there was Aunt Alice in the kitchen, crawling along one of the counters and opening and closing the cabinets, a fairly tricky situation. Father caught her just as she was tumbling from the counter, having been pushed off by the cabinet door she was trying to open.

“Aunt Alice, what are you doing?” Father shouted. “You could have broken your hip.”

“Forget my bleeping hip,” Aunt Alice shouted back. “Where did you people hide my flipping glasses?”

Father pointed to the glasses dangling from the ribbon around her neck.

“Oh,” she said. “Well, it’s about frogging time.”

Finally at the table, all proceeded well, although Mother seemed distracted. She cleared the dishes and started toward the table with our desert, at which point Aunt Alice laid her head on the table and moaned, “Oh, why won’t they let me have a beer?”

“You knowwhy, Aunt Alice,” Father said. “You’re on that new heart medication and the doctor said you can’t drink.”

“But you’re drinking,” she said, pointing to Father’s glass of wine.

“Now, look Aunt Alice,” Father began, but Mother interrupted him.

“Don’t worry, dear, I’ll get you something,” she said, patting Aunt Alice on the shoulder,  and winking at Father. She signaled to me to follow her into the kitchen.

“She’s been so good, with the non-cursing,” Mother said. “I better come up with something. Do you think we could fool her with some grape juice?”

I was honored to be included in this weighty decision and offered my solution. “Let’s add vinegar,” I said. That will make it taste like wine, I bet.”

“Hmmm,” said Mother. “Well, I don’t drink, because I think it tastes terrible, so I’m not sure . . .”

She filled a crystal goblet with grape juice and topped it off with a splash of white vinegar. She handed the glass to me. “How does it taste?” she asked.

I took a sip and immediately spit it out. “Yuck!” I said. “It tastes terrible.”

“Well then, that should do,” said Mother.

She took the glass to the dining room and handed it to Aunt Alice, who brightened up and took a sip.

“Ah,” she said. “Now that’s more like it.”

After we settled again, I noticed that Mother still seemed distracted, which I attributed to all the work she had been doing the past week. But suddenly, after desert, she threw her hands to her face and cried out, “Oh, no! I forgot to spray a pineapple!”

Father sat back, threw his napkin on the table, and burst into hearty guffaws. “Oh, Mary,” he said, “now that’s a good one. A pineapple! Heh, heh, heh, like that silly thing we saw last week?” He shook his head. “Mary, I have to say, every once and a while you come out with a good one.” He wiped his eyes and grinned in Mother’s direction, then stopped cold when he saw her face. “You were kidding, Mary, right? Kidding about that funny pineapple thing? Mary? Sweetheart?”

But Mother rushed from the room and we could hear the sounds of things being thrown around in our pantry closet—pots clanging, wrappers rustling, cans and boxes colliding. Before long, Mother emerged, a look of relief on her face, displaying the elusive fruit—one glorious pineapple. We all applauded, and Father sprang from his chair to escort her back into the room. But Mother glared at him. “I have things to do,” she said.

Father looked like he wanted to go after her, but Aunt Alice tugged on his sleeve. “Can I have more of this wine?” she asked. “It’s delicious.”

I washed and dried the dishes, and soon it was time for my brothers and me to go to bed. I heard Father call to Mother once, asking if he could help, but she shouted back, “You just leave me a-lone.” I imagine after that he kept what is known as a low profile.

On Christmas morning everyone jumped out of bed, eyes shining, faces bright with smiles, even Mother.

And what a beautiful sight lay before us. The Christmas tree glimmered in the darkened living room, surrounded by gaily wrapped gifts. And visible through the archway was the dining room table, draped with a golden cloth and graced with an arrangement of fragrant pine boughs and glittering gold Christmas ornaments. Nestled in the greenery sat the singular, spectacular, gilded pineapple.

“Oh, Mary,” said Father. His face flushed and his eyes looked a little watery. “It looks beautiful.”

“Well, I’ll be a son of a—,” began Aunt Alice, but Mother grabbed her elbow.

“Don’t even think it,” she whispered. Then she smiled her lovely smile and said, “Let’s all just wish each other” and we all chimed in—

“Merry Christmas!”


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 Profile 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 catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Maura Beth Brennan’s RWISA Author Profile

Posted in RWISA Showcase Tour | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Welcome to Day 6 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @healthmn1 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

Unleashing the Advocacy Warrior

By Harriet Hodgson

My husband and I live in a retirement community that has a continuum of care. He is paraplegic and I have been his caregiver since 2013. Several months ago, my husband was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. A bone scan showed the cancer had spread to many parts of his body. As my husband became weaker, I realized I needed help to care for him.

Now my husband is in a rehabilitation unit. Unfortunately, COVID-19 prevents me from seeing him. I live on the 18th floor of the high-rise and my husband lives on the third floor. We are near each other, yet so far away. Being apart from each other made us feel stressed, frustrated, and down.

Then I received a notice in my mailbox. A new program was starting. Family members could make appointments to see their loved ones. Only two family members could visit at once and they had to follow strict rules. My daughter called the contact number and was given an appointment date and time. We were super excited.

Before my daughter arrived, I talked with my husband’s physical therapist. It was difficult to understand him because of his mask. He had difficulty understanding me because of my mask. I felt like we were going to do charades at any minute. Still, meeting the therapist gave me a chance to ask questions. Every question yielded the same answer: “That’s not in my pay grade.” What the heck did that mean?

A nurse came into the room and greeted my husband with, “Hi Handsome!” She seemed proud of her greeting. In fact, she turned to my husband and asked, “Every time I walk into your room, I say that, don’t I?” My husband answered “yes” in a flat, discouraged voice. The nurse didn’t pick up on his voice inflection and seemed validated by my husband’s reply.

My daughter and I stayed for two and a half hours and my husband coughed most of the time. As we left the rehab floor, we met the director of nursing. Of course, we grabbed the opportunity to talk with her. We made sure there were six feet between us. The director was patient, attentive, sympathetic, took notes, and said she would give the matter her attention.

Did I have the power to change anything? This question rattled around in my mind for hours. That evening, I sat down at the computer and wrote a heartfelt email to the director of nursing and carbon copied the director of the retirement community. This is the letter. I modified the wording to maintain confidentiality.

Dear ______________,

Thank you for meeting with me and my daughter this afternoon. I am aware that my husband may have declined physically and mentally. I am also aware that he doesn’t feel well, hasn’t slept well since he was admitted to the rehab unit, and feels isolated and depressed.

My husband has been coughing for three weeks. He feels so badly I don’t know how he could endure physical therapy, let alone benefit from it. He feels so badly he would just as soon die. Before we make a final decision on Supportive Living, I would like him to get some sleep and for his cough to subside.

I have gotten confusing information from nurses. Yes, my husband has pneumonia. No, he doesn’t have pneumonia. Communication is my business and the communication from staff on the unit has been poor.

The physicians who founded the clinic believed the needs of the patient come first. After I talked with the physical therapist I was confused and sad. I asked him several questions and his answer was always the same: “That’s not in my pay grade.” This is not the answer I expected from a clinic employee or physical therapist. I was also upset by the attitude a couple of nurses exhibited. They treated my husband like a foolish old man in a wheelchair. Like every patient, my husband deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

I share these thoughts with you out of concern and love. My husband and I have been married for 63 years. We went together for four years before we married. This is a difficult time of life. At a time when we are most vulnerable, life demands the most from us. I am my husband’s wife and advocate and will not fail him as his life draws to a close.

The next day I received a call from the director of nursing. Since I had been tested for COVID-19 twice and the tests were negative, administration did not think I was a health risk and could visit my husband daily. I was astonished.  “I’m going to cry,” I admitted to the nurse.

My story is not unique. There is an advocacy warrior inside you—a person ready to stand for love, quality care, and human dignity. But we must assume this role thoughtfully. Note important dates, such as hospitalization, on the calendar. File important documents in a safe place. Keep a log if you think it is necessary. Follow the chain of command. Speak in a calm voice and be civil. Remember, there is a difference between being persistent and being pushy.

You and I do not know our strength until we are tested. We are stronger than we realize. Most importantly, our loved ones need us. As my husband asked, “What happens to people who don’t have an advocate?” The famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss, explained advocacy better than I. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Advocacy takes many forms—better healthcare, better transportation, better education, better architecture, better laws, a welcoming community, and more. One person can make a difference. Maybe the time has come to unleash the advocacy warrior in you.


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 Profile 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 RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Harriet Hodgson’s RWISA Author Profile

Posted in RWISA Showcase Tour | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Welcome to Day 5 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @hmkindt @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

The Insect Incident

By: Heather Kindt

            “Good morning, class.” Josie smiled, but her heart beat out of her chest. “Today, we’re going to learn about insects.”

            Twenty first graders erupted into a volcano of chatter, sitting crisscross on the floor in front of her.

            Mrs. Randall, the principal, sat primly in the rear of the classroom, scribbling something down on a piece of paper. Had Josie done something wrong or was her boss acknowledging her use of a learning target?

            While she normally allowed her students to express their excitement, this was Josie’s first formal observation, and she wanted to make a good impression.

            She held her hands above the students. “Shhh… I know you all want to see the insects, but we need to learn a couple of things about them first.”

            Josie had spent five hours of her Saturday setting up the butterfly enclosures, carefully attaching the chrysalis pods to the top of the netting. Her teammate, Ms. Barker, had been teaching for twenty-five years. She warned Josie about Mrs. Randall’s ability to put first-year teachers through boot camp. Many had left the profession in tears.

            Taking in a deep breath, Josie uncovered the poster she created on the floor of her apartment the week before. It detailed the life cycle of a butterfly—a perfect circle on the poster board. She had bought a new package of markers to create the masterpiece.

            The students resumed their chatter when they realized they’d be learning about butterflies. Josie glanced at the clock and back at Mrs. Randall. Her pen moved quickly across the paper on the clipboard.

            “Right.” Josie smiled at her students. “I need your attention up here. A butterfly is a magnificent creature. It goes from an egg, to a caterpillar, to a chrysalis…”

            “Miss Jackson! Miss Jackson! What’s a cri—so—lis?” Hunter waved his hand in the air, sitting up on his knees. He was prone to asking questions without being called on.

            “Great question, Hunter.” She paused, looking back at the principal. “Please remember to wait until you’re called on next time. A chrysalis is the place in the butterfly’s life cycle where the magic happens.”

            There were a bunch of oohs and aahs from the students.

            Josie crouched down to their level and used a quiet voice, as if she were telling them the mysteries of the universe. “Within the chrysalis, the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly.”

            “How?” Hunter piped in again.

            “It’s God, dummy.” Elizabeth glared at Hunter. “My mommy told me that’s how babies are born, too.”

            Josie stood back up. She expected to see a horrified look on Mrs. Randall’s face, but instead there was a smirk. The old devil wanted to see how the newbie was going to talk herself out of this situation.

            Straightening her back, hands on her hips, Josie drew in another deep breath. “It’s a miracle of nature, Hunter. And so are babies, Elizabeth.” To divert any further questions, she hurried over to the counter to the enclosures. “We are going to care for our butterflies until they are ready to be free.” Josie lifted one of the habitats and carried it to the front of the class. She removed the covering. Two butterflies, that hadn’t been there on Saturday, clung to the apple slices she’d placed on the bottom.

            Josie pointed out the chrysalis attached to the top of the enclosure. “A butterfly is still growing and changing inside.”

            “One of the chrysalises died!” Rachel pointed to a chrysalis on the floor of the cage.

            Josie bit into her lip. What was she supposed to do? Ms. Barker had said they needed to be attached to the top to form correctly. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix it.”

            Inside one of her cabinets, Josie found a hot glue gun. She plugged it in to let it heat while the students observed the butterflies. If she fixed the chrysalis, she was sure to get high scores on her observations. But what if she took the students outside to set one of the live insects free? That was sure to put an exclamation point on a perfect lesson.

            She tapped her fingernail on the counter, waiting for the gun to heat. The children crowded around the butterflies, pushing and shoving, trying to get a better look. Josie unplugged the gun and crossed the room to crouch beside the enclosure.

            “Move back, I’ve got a hot glue gun.” She stuck her hands through the netting, careful not to release the two butterflies. Applying a dot of glue to the top of the cage, she reached down and pinched the chrysalis between her fingers then held the tip of it in the glue.

            Twenty pairs of eyes watched in awe and it was quiet at last.

            In the hushed atmosphere of her first-grade classroom, Josie dared to speak. “Do you think we should release one of the butterflies?”

            “Yes!” the students called out in union.

            Josie glanced back at Mrs. Randall feeling elated with her performance, expecting to see joy on the principal’s face. Instead, the woman hid all emotion, her lips set in a straight line. Josie would show her. This was going to be her magnum opus—her masterpiece.

            Skipping and jumping, the students herded out the side door to the playground. It was a beautiful fall day and Ms. Barker’s class was out for recess. The more the merrier, thought Josie. She was elated to show, not only the principal, but her teammate what she was capable of—providing the students with learning, joy, and excitement.

            Seeing Josie carrying the enclosure, many of the first graders stopped what they were doing to witness the culminating moment of her lesson.

            “This butterfly will continue its life, by finding a mate, laying eggs, and starting the circle again.” She had to speak loudly over one of the lunch bells.

            Mrs. Randall sat at one of the picnic tables; her pen never seemed to stop.

            “What shall we call her, class?”

            Many hands shot up.

            “Betsy—Rosie—Bumblebee—Dora—Emily—Kate.” The list went on and on.

            “I think we should name our butterfly, Ann.” Josie put on a huge smile and looked directly at Mrs. Randall. “After our principal.”

            The children cheered. What a perfect ending.

            Josie reached into the enclosure, coaxing one of the butterflies to the opening. It flitted to the outside of the netting then took flight above us. Tears threatened to fill Josie’s eyes with the beauty of the apex of her lesson.

            But just when she was ready to take a bow, a bird swooped down from above and swallowed the butterfly whole. The wretched creature flew off with her A+ lesson in its mouth.

            Students were reduced to tears around her. Ann was dead.

            Knowing the perfect lesson was reduced to a pile of bird poop, Josie managed to calm the students down. She gave Mrs. Randall a half-smile and said, “Tomorrow, we’ll learn about insect adaptations.”


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 Profile 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 RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Heather Kindt’s RWISA Author Profile

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Welcome to Day 4 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @LinneaTanner @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

The King’s Champion

by Linnea Tanner

At dawn tomorrow, I compete with every reputed warrior in our kingdom to become the King’s Champion. Defeating my opponents is almost an impossible feat for any man, much less a woman. Even so, I will triumph and win my father’s respect.

As the king’s eldest daughter, I vow to protect him and everyone in his kingdom. I stand ready to defend my father in mortal combat against any challenger vying for his crown. A true champion emblazons courage, loyalty, and sacred love for her king and family. But first, I must tell you my tale that seeded my desire to combat every warrior in the kingdom and stand by my father as his champion.

 When I was barely five winters old, my mother and I gathered with villagers to greet my father, astride his coal-black stallion. Returning from war, he was like a god towering over his worshippers as he rode through their midst. They welcomed him with chants and cheers. Snowflakes danced around him, also celebrating his return.

Shivering, I covered my mouth with both hands, suddenly ashamed about my appearance. Boys had earlier taunted me, “You have a donkey’s jaw and bray like one, too.”

 My nursemaid, a woman with ample bosoms spilling out of her low-cut dress, shooed the boys away and told me, “Don’t listen to them. You have an overbite, that is all. They’re jealous of you. You can beat anyone of those whelps.”

Her words didn’t make me feel better, though, as I studied the reflection of my face on a polished metal mirror. My upper jaw hung over my bottom lip. My upper front teeth protruded outward, making it hard for me to eat and speak clearly. Hence, I remained quiet most of the time.

When my father approached us on his horse, I drew out of my muse and swallowed hard with anticipation of speaking to him.

“What do I say to him?” I muttered to my mother.

“Only speak when he tells you to do so,” my mother instructed.

Fiddling with my plaid cloak, I recalled waving good-bye to my father in a season of blooming wildflowers before he left for war. My mother told me then, “He sails across the narrow sea to fight for a foreign army. By winter, he’ll return home.”

During the summer and fall seasons, I never gave my mother’s words consideration about my father’s return. He was out of sight and ceased to exist in my mind.

My little sister’s soft touch on my hand grabbed my attention. She looked at me with pathetic-looking eyes. The day before, she had fallen into the hearth and caught on fire. The queen’s guard—my only true adult friend—pulled her out of the flames.

After my father dismounted onto the soggy ground, he no longer appeared a giant. He didn’t look like other men in the village with a clean-shaven face and cropped wheat-golden hair. He also didn’t resemble me one bit. My hair was dark like my mother, and my acorn-brown eyes were the same color as the warrior who saved my sister.

Father embraced my mother, then pulled away and stared at her bulging belly. “Gods above, how did you get so big?”

Mother’s burning scowl made my father whither like a green sprout under a hot sun. At that moment, I didn’t like my father for his cruel comment. He must have seen the displeasure on my face because he apologized, “Forgive me, my love. Battle hardens a man’s words.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, my mother turned to me and said, “Vala, greet your father.”

I felt like a fish gulping for air as my father bent over and squeezed my chin with his fingers. “Hmm, you look as strong as an ox,” he said amiably, but the disappointment on his face shouted, You’re as ugly as a donkey!

Conflicting emotions grappled with me. I only wanted Mother in my life, not Father. I  burst into tears—a sign of weakness.

Father gave my mother a contorted, baffled look. “What did I do to make her cry?”

Mother’s eyebrows arched in a warning for me to stop my bawling. I bit my lower lip and fought back sobs.

He shifted his ice-cold blue eyes to my little sister. “What happened to Morgana? She looks like she was in a dogfight and got the worse of it.”

My sister’s wails spurred mine. Neither of us could stop crying despite my mother’s glower. The nursemaid’s hefty bosoms smacked against my face as she grabbed my hand and reached for my sister’s arm. She dragged us both away from the people’s peals of laughter to the silence of the Great Hall. Halting near the central hearth, where my sister had fallen, she thumped my forehead with her fingertips. “Shame on you. Why did you make such a fuss in front of the king? I learned you better than that!”

I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, “I didn’t do anything wrong,” but snapped my mouth shut when I saw her eyebrows rise like a storm. She would answer my protest with a swat on my rear end.

The nursemaid marched us through the high-vaulted, feasting hall into the adjoining living quarters where she corralled us like cattle in our bedchamber. “You get nothing to eat,” she bellowed and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

My sister covered her face with both hands and wept. Sitting on our straw-mattress bed we shared, I cuddled her like a baby in my arms to calm her.

“Shh … shush. No cry.”

She nestled her head against my shoulder and whimpered, “Vala, my Vala,” like a mantra until we both fell asleep in each other’s arms.

*****

Later, the bang of a closing door awoke me. I wiped the drowsiness from my eyes and found Mother sitting on our bed.

“Why did you cry when your father greeted you?” she asked.

“He … he’s so mean!”

Mother frowned. “He never said an unkind word to you.”

“He thinks I’m ugly!” I declared.

“That is how you see yourself,” she said, stroking the top of my head. “Your father only sees goodness in your heart.”

I looked down at my chest in bewilderment. “Father sees my heart? Can he also see the babies in your tummy?”

Mother sighed. “No. He knows”—she touched her belly—“they are in here. That is why he has returned. To make sure I’m safe. It’s hard bringing two babies into the world.”

“When will they come?” I asked, recalling how bloody a calf looks after being squirted out of its mother’s rear end.

“Too soon, I fear.”

I could see the angst in my mother’s eyes as her gaze drifted to the closed door.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“You must always obey and love your father,” her voice cracked. “I may not always be with you.”

My stomach dropped into what felt like a tidal wave. “Where are you going?”

“I want to stay here with you, my dear. But we don’t always get our wish.” She sighed as if trying to lift the worries of the world off her chest. “Your father is outside. He wants to give you something.”

“A gift,” I squealed with excitement.

Mother turned her gaze to the door and called out, “My king, you can come in now.”

When my father poked his head through, his face burst into a big grin. “Good aft, my precious daughters. Look what I’ve brought you from my travels.” He bound into the room like a frolicking fox and held out two carved, alabaster horse heads in the palm of his hand. He offered each one of them to my sister and me.

I took the horse head and fingered the attached leather strap. “An amulet?”

“Yes. Let me tie it around your neck,” my father suggested with a smile. “The horse is our family’s sigil—an animal guide that protects you.”

After he placed the amulet around my neck, I beamed with pride and clasped the carved horse head against my heart.

My father’s leathery face softened. “Vala, you must promise to watch over your little sister and the babies in Mummy’s belly once they are born. Can you do that for me? Will you protect them with your life and be the King’s Champion?”

A sense of pride swelled inside me with the honor he had bestowed upon me. “I am the King’s Champion.”

“Truly, you are,” he said, embracing me.

“I promise to protect my sisters,” I vowed, hoping the babies were girls.

And from that moment on, I aspired to be my father’s champion, embracing the strength to protect the weak and the oppressed. 


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 Profile 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 RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Linnea Tanner’s RWISA Author Profile

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