After the horrific tsunami in Japan a few years ago, taxi drivers began to have unearthly encounters with ghosts climbing into their cabs and asking to be taken to various destinations. When the drivers were questioned by someone chronicling the numerous events, the stoic professionals were quite matter of fact about their experiences. Many said they didn’t discover they had a ghost for a passenger until they glanced into the back seat to find their passenger had disappeared, the experience that real. Some even conversed at length with these ghosts while driving, and when they reached their appointed destination, the passenger just vanished. But ghosts are no strangers to the Asian world. Stories of ghosts surrounding the ships found drifting from North Korea into the China Sea with every passenger dead have been added to the strange mix of legends regarding ghost ships. The Chinese have bizarre ceremonies where a bride or groom will marry their betrothed who is dead in order to make them a part of their prayers for their ancestors, but also to prevent the ghost from haunting them. Myths of the spider woman who weaves a web to trap a man or woman is found in Japanese and Navajo cultures, or the woman in white who seems to transcend cultural boundaries all over the world. She inhabits houses, can be seen on roads, or may pick a particular individual to haunt because she holds a grudge against them. And this woman seems more frightening than them all. Why? Well, here’s a deeply philosophical look at the phenomena.

Classic literary history is rife with ghostly female spectres. Think of the sirens who sang to sailors and fishermen, luring them onto the rocks to die, or how about the Erinyes, who we’ve come to love as the Furies. These delightful creatures were designed as a mechanism to punish those who’ve broken with cultural norms. One of my favourites in literary history is Clytemnestra who saw herself as the “angel of blood and god’s vengeance,” when she executed Agamemnon while he helplessly bathed. But who wouldn’t slice and dice a monster like that for sacrificing their daughter in order to have fair weather to launch an attack? However, she got her comeupance when Orestes kills her for killing his misogynist cretin of a father. Then there’s the quintessential vengeful spirit known as Medea, who not only kills her brother to escape her island home, but then kills her husband’s new wife with a poisoned dress, and murders her children so they wouldn’t be influenced by their father Jason. And she went on to become part of the pantheon of gods? Yikes!

And there are many more, like Phaedra in Euripides’ play, and India’s goddess Shiva, etcetera. You would think that the variety and number of these stories would make the female ghost more common, a little less frightening, but, in fact, it makes her ghostly presence all the more terrifying. A recent survey was taken where the surveyed were asked about what film characters in horror stories frightened them the most. Without question, the top candidates most voted for were the little girl in The Ring, the woman in The Grudge, and Regan in The Exorcist. It’s no surprise to me that female ghosts or spirits have always been the top contenders for the most terrifying of creatures, and the why is most fascinating. I offer my humble answer to that ticking question of why, by taking you on a mystical journey, and waxing a little philosophical.

Let me begin by admiring the female’s role in the history of the world, in every culture across time, because she can do something men can’t. Women are the nurturers of society, and for nine months out their lives they carry the future in their bodies. We not only help a child to grow within us, but we have the means to feed them for the first year of their life, a feat only assigned to the female of nearly all the species. It’s noteworthy to mention that there’s even a scientific formula that gives new meaning to the woman’s profile when she’s heavy with child. I absolutely love this, and if you’re a woman, then this should be beautiful to you. Mathematicians have determined a woman’s pregnant belly is the Divine Proportion, or known as The Golden Mean. Aristotle is attributed to have postulated this mathematical formula first, and Plato taking it to the next level, and onward… What is the golden mean? In short it represents the following : Two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. Here’s an illustration of that formula:

I find it fascinating that the figure above resembles the child curled in the womb, adding to the mystical nature of this mean. You’ve probably seen this curving line drawn on Da Vinci’s Man, and/or a Nautilus shell, however, I believe the mean is most perfectly expressed when calculated on the woman’s pregnant belly, the formula reaching its zenith in a woman, perfectly poised to change the history of the world with the birth of her child. That to me is not only miraculous, but a beautiful divine ideal.

At this point, let’s take a little bit of a journey back to the story of creation to present a touch of Hebrew mysticism in this commentary. In Genesis, Adam was created on the sixth day, after the animals. He was fashioned by God out of clay, possessing both a male and female body; an androgynous being. The narrative continues to say that a soul was breathed into this clay, and they — yes, I said they — became a living soul. The name Adam is from the word adamah, meaning clay, and isn’t a name for the Dude, but specifically explains what he was made of, that he was tied to the earth until the soul was breathed into him. Within the next narrative that goes into more detail, the Woman (later named Eve in the story) was separated from Adam’s side (the Hebrew word does not mean a rib, but side), and she became a complete human by herself. The act of separation was the final act by God, and therefore, she became the crown of creation. Adam’s expression of admitting that the Woman was taken from him, a letter of God’s name is added to their genders: A Yod for man, himself, and a Heh for woman (taken from God’s name; YHWH). Man was created in God’s image, or his likeness (this does not refer to God’s shape, as if he were an anthropomorphic being), because Adam was given a touch of the divine breathed into the clay, a soul, and was given the ability to reason and to have faith. Only man has this ability. The terms ishah and ish’s root (woman and man) is in the word fire. I’ve always found that fascinating. It certainly explains why a relationship between a man and woman gone wrong is like scorched earth.

In a deeper probe into the word origins, the Hebrew word knegdo is used in this part of the narrative. This means the woman was created to oppose the man if he is found to be unworthy, but a helpmate if he is worthy. Woman was specifically designed in her nature to oppose man, even to fight him if he proves to be too earthy, too tied to his animal nature (the same clay animals were created from), or militaristic, denying the spiritual nature of man, and his crucial elevated pursuits. This is why she is the crown, the ishah with the double Heh. She is the more spiritual of the two, and man is meant to listen to that perspective, to take heed, and not always wallow in the mud from which he is fashioned. He is to be human, above the animal, to adhere to the sacred and not animal desires. But she can mislead, too, and the gift of being in tune with the spiritual can be turned toward evil in a greater degree. Yet, within her higher pursuits, she is the crown of creation, the penultimate Queen of Heaven, taking humanity to its highest heights.

Science has shown the brains of men and women function differently. Women are more empathetic, more apt to judge the world through their feelings. They also interpret their feelings in a different way from men. One of my favourite sayings comes from the Kabbalah (the Hebrew book of creation), “God counts women’s tears.” What that means is they feel the sadness of the world more deeply than men. This isn’t to say that men don’t feel deeply, it’s that women see the spiritual nature of sadness and weep for the world, for they carry the world in their wombs and possess the ability to touch the souls of their children when pregnant. A man simply cannot do this, but then, he wasn’t meant to. Men and women together create a balance, a lovely partnership that when exercised in love are capable of many great things, or even simple ones like family.

What does all of this have to do with ghosts? The power of the opposition between males and females lies in our unconscious mind, in a joy and fear so engrained in our makeup that we couldn’t excise it with logic even if we wanted. The story of creation exposes the idea to us, to help us understand our natures. Interestingly, the fear of being opposed by a woman seems to cross all cultural boundaries, in spite of our great religious differences and belief systems. If the nature of a woman is to feel more profoundly the spiritual side, then a ghostly woman who brings the power of the spiritual down on the heads of those she haunts would be a force no man or woman could fight in the material world. Her spirit can live on to wreak her vengeance, which would be considerable in regards to the depth of her spiritual nature, and both men and women would naturally fear her. It must be played out, for the spiritual world flows through this world, unseen, but always trembling near, heightening the fear factor. The female spectre is the opposite of the nurturer, the mother, the helpmate. She becomes the destroyer, stoking the fire to purge her victims from the earth. Innocence, motherhood, and love are all turned upside down, and a terrifying force of destruction flourishes in place of those values. It’s a powerful narrative not likely to go away any time soon.

I don’t agree with the commentaries that claim women ghosts are conjured up by men as a misogynist means of controlling women. That’s hyperbole that is factually false. I think there’s a natural fear of the nurturer turned destroyer. Do we not hate a woman who is cold toward their children, or abusive? She is the epitome of evil, a terrifying creature. We expect that mothers will naturally love their children, but we know that isn’t always true, and that frightens us. People are not just flesh and bone, but have a spiritual nature. We have a sense of eternity knitted inside of us, and we tend to pay more attention to it in our fears. It’s also why we write and tell so many stories that transcend the physical world, why we tell tales of faeries, ghosts, and jins, of witches and wraiths that steal babies and haunt us. And that terror of the other world intruding into our mundane existence is difficult to ignore, and no amount of logic seems to take it away. Naturally, when we see a little girl climb out of a well to come after us, we’re absolutely terrified. So the next time you climb aboard a taxi, strike up a conversation with the ghost next to you. Be kind, and maybe they won’t come after you, particularly if they are a woman. (Wicked laugh and cackle here.)

- Chéri Vausé is the author of the Noir Mystery Thriller. She taught theology for more than 25 years, and lectures on many literary subjects using mysticism as a means to explain a reader’s reaction to certain stories, and the meaning behind the stories that haunt us. This was a part of her lecture series. For more information on her books, go to her book site: Noir Mystery Thrillers to Die For.

They were but masks.

Imitation wood.

From the trunk of a

Dead palm

With a countenance that said


And I searched for a trademark.

Made in Japan

Or Taiwan

Or Korea.

For the symbolism they alleged

Were too important

To be forfeited, profaned, or sullied

For profit

By any men

Occidental, Oriental, Or Asian

Who understood not

What it meant

To be violently uprooted

And brutally deprived of

Your roots

And the knowledge of your beginning.

So the faces remained.

One male. One female.

Not ebony

But stained mahogany.

With a countenance

That said


The only symbols

In a sterile American apartment

To remind us

One male. One female.

Of another land.

Of another time.

Copyright Bennie Wiley 2014. All Rights Reserved. Black Embers Poetry

Maria was a nice young lady that did everything her parents asked of her, the same can’t be said about her trouble maker big brother Adam who only wanted to play games and hide in that world where nothing bad ever happened.

Maria was also hiding something her class was going on a weekend trip to New Orleans, the community and the school wanted to teach the kids that helping others is the best feeling a person can get, because you see how you’ve changed another human in an immense way even if what you did was little, everything amounts to something much bigger.

Maria was very scared of flying, but she couldn’t get out of the trip so she had no choice, she even talked to her mother maybe she could talked to the teacher, and get her out of it.

Adam was the popular kid in town, when he enter a room everyone noticed him, but inside he feared that he would lose that at any minute, because there were other kids, hot kids that were begging, waiting until the day the great Adam Heckman would lose the thrown of popular kid in high school, and maybe for once the stupid bastard would lose and cry like a little girl, all of them wanted him to become invisible.

The sibilings had a surprise coming there way…

to be continued

Music surges through my brain

As Beethoven lives on 140 Watts of Hi-Fidelity

Stereophonic Surround-Sound.

Images fill my head

With him, Without him.

I close my eyes.

Open them.

Doesn’t matter.

Images dominate me

As something else controls what my mind sees.

Punishing needs.

Desire for power.

More often,


Consumes me.

But my energy is nil.

Creative and kinetic.

I feel empty,

Wanting to know if I am different.


For that which would make me special.

And not finding it.

Perceiving nothing extraordinary

In me, About me,

Except this feeling.


Sometimes euphoric with anticipation

Of greatness,

Material acquisition, control, power, and

Magnificent worth.

Something profane makes me run,

Inside my head,

Inside whatever is the soul that defines me,

Inside whatever I am.

Too often.

Rapidly loosing control. (Sic)

Acquiescing a required deference to

Whatever is becoming my master.

But I sense I must deal with

These things in my head

And not lose touch

With reality.

With Life.

Remembering Mary’s words.

Some of them.

And wondering what she would say

If I did lose touch.

Or what certain friends would say

If they could visit inside my head.

If they could see beautiful scenery

Transmogrified into grotesque pictures.

Some moving. Some Stagnant.

Beautiful faces mutating into

Atrocity stories

Or pictures that won’t be described.

Merely seen.


Knowing I should try to describe them.

Especially now. If I close my eyes…

Not now. Too frightened to look.

Too tired to Sleep.

Or care.


And music surges through my brain

As Beethoven lives on 140 watts of Hi-Fidelity

Stereophonic Surround-Sound.

And I ride the crest of good feelings

Compliments of a friend’s admiration

Or an adversary’s respect

Or a different woman’s request for my company

With allusions to erotic delight.

Or some other egotistical absurdity.

And music surges through my brain

As Beethoven lives on 140 Watts of Hi-Fidelity

Stereophonic Surround-Sound.

Images fill my head

As the need for power,

More often, Creativity,

Consumes me.

My energy struggles to be.

Moving me.

Agitating me.

Making me hurt.

So I work.

Or create fantasies.

To take away the pain.

Black Embers Poetry Copyright Bennie Wiley 2014 All Rights Reserved

Great sadness has entered Mary’s mind, body & soul. Mary has been married for almost thirty years to John. About ten years ago, John stopped wanting to be intimate with Mary. This was alarming to her and she questioned him often at the beginning. His reply, he is tired. He is just not in the mood. He has alot going on at work. He is stressed.

Mary was not okay with this at all. Is that it? Are we done with intimacy? Am I not attractive to him anymore? She wondered often.

You see, in their relationship, this was where most of their communication was. Without that, they are not man and wife. They are simply two people living together. This went on for many years.

One night as Mary was getting into bed, John rolled over to her and began kissing her so passionately. The kissing went on for a long time which led to a night of incredible love making. Mary was shocked! As John was kissing her, she felt so beautiful. Wow! she thought, I am attractive to him! It was magical for Mary.

The next morning she was floating as she reminisced over the night before. She felt beautiful, loved and so special. These extraordinary love making experiences continued for weeks.

Mary was still very surprised at this sudden awakening from John but she wouldn’t dare question it. She was truly happy. She didn’t know where this all came from but she was convinced that John became very attracted to her once again.

One day Mary noticed John’s cell phone on the table. He had recently bought this brand new cell phone with all the bells & whistles which included Internet and picture messaging. John’s phone was always dinging with calls, and messages. He would always say that it’s his work.

Well, on this particular day, Mary picked up the phone off the table and looked at it. She decided to play around with it. She has never been one to snoop but something made her start snooping anyways. Her heart fell into the pit of her stomach!!! There was picture after picture of graphic pornographic images. One after another, numerous pictures of women in such graphic poses. She felt a sudden rush of an awful and dark feeling going through her body.

She started to put things together in her mind. John had gotten this new phone not too long before he began his new intimate revelation with Mary. Oh what sadness has entered Mary. It wasn’t me he was thinking of when he was kissing me? He was thinking of these women as he was making love to me. I am not beautiful to him? It really wasn’t me at all who he was attracted to? She was deeply hurt. She cried and cried.

She thought about how beautiful, loved and special she had been feeling. It was all a lie! Mary was feeling so awful about herself. He has to look at porn to be with me? She asked herself many questions as she was sulking in devastation. Her dreams of being beautiful to her husband were now shattered forever.

It’s not me he see’s.

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Jazz Dancer


brassy bronze

jazz sax solos

with your

ballet shoes

Notes in the air

scoop up

your feet

and you dance

beams of wood


bars of music

Ah, there you are,

Spinning en pointe…

En garde, my heart!

(but I’ve already lost this fight;

in fact, I’ve taken a dive for love)

In your movements

I hear Beale Street

In your eyes I see






Your feet write rhythms

Your hands transpose keys

Your elegant fingers twirl them

together into something

Transcendent and Divine

You are a

Jazz Dancer

and I

a mere mortal

crying with gratitude

at the


you’ve given


Author’s Note: This was taken at the Slave Museum. When the little girl’s mother explained to her what happened, she hugged the statue and said, “Everything will be okay.” This is a poem that reflects that faith…

They sure tried:

To strip us culturally

To bend us spiritually

To break us physically

To give us second best

To question our humanity

To question our intelligence

They sure tried:

To stop us from voting

To stop us from organizing

To stop us from demanding

To stop us from marching

To stop us from praying

To stop us from fighting

To stop us from protesting

To stop us from singing

They sure tried:

To deny us access

To reduce our numbers

To convince us we don’t belong

To tell us we had nothing

they didn’t give us

To stop us from voting

To erase us from history

They sure tried:

To tell us to get over

the very history they


on us

They sure tried:

To tell us we’re violent




Sexual predators



and Pimps



They sure tried:

To keep us illiterate

To keep us afraid

To keep us unaware

To keep us drunk

To keep us in vice

To keep us down

They sure tried:

To keep us enslaved

We tried too:

To be patient

To be non-violent

To suffer

To fight through the system

To die on our feet

But we got tired of trying

because they mistook


for weakness

So we said


and we said

No longer

And we said

No more

And we said

Our lives matter

And now they try

to say it’s our fault

they have to kill us.

And now, in 2016…

We find that



is far from over

But if we stand

and work

and build

and teach

and love


the verdict


Author’s Note: I remember standing on the stoop of my grandmother’s brownstone in Harlem, and we watched a line of people form because the drug supply had come in. There were young men in business suits, mothers with baby carriages, and wide mix of ages. My grandmother turned to me and said, “This sure is a weak society out here.” Given the time she grew up in, and the circumstances she had to endure, I had no answer. Did our ancestors really fight so hard, so long to survive, so we could kill ourselves, and say it was someone else’s fault?

“The CIA put drugs in our neighborhoods.”

And we used them.

“The government put guns in our neighborhood.”

We used those too.

So let me ask you: If I put a bomb on your doorstep,

and you take it inside, and it blows up on you,

who’s responsible for the damage it caused?

The key to countering conspiracies is sabotage,

not compliance.

Break the strings

Become a real man

instead of a ‘real nigga’

And free yourself.

For real.

In my dreams I watched her dance

Without rhythm and without sound

Sweat dripping down the nape of her neck

Her black gypsy dress almost undone

Adorned with silver moon rings and ruby piercings

In my dreams I watched her dance

Trapped in a desolate room with tainted glass windows

Where the walls were filled with blades

Ever so often she cut herself as she moved

Yet she smiled to herself and danced even more

In my dreams I watched her dance

With bare feet stepping on the droplets of red

Face full of glee she looked far too young

Skin the color of sweet caramel

Breath the scent of a primrose garden

In my dreams I watched her dance

Movements slowed as her strength faded

Scarlet pool slowly filled the room staining the drapes

If only I could find my feet

But I had no body, I could only see

In my dreams I watched her dance

On her knees still swaying from left to right

Someone needed to make her stop

Falling face flat on the concrete floor as her breath stilled

Looking closely I still saw the smile on her beautiful face

In my dreams I watched her dance

Simply because I could do nothing more

Science fiction and fantasy author David King recently sat down to discuss his writing process, the world of publishing, and his latest book.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I love writing science fiction because you start with complete freedom, then you have an immediate and complete responsibility to what you have created. Starting from a blank slate, you can create an entire world, the point of your story could be “What would life be like on a dark planet?” or “What if the dead stayed omnipresent with the living?” and you begin to set down rules about how your world works and what everyone in the story has to deal with and do. From that point on, after you have written a rule down, you either have to enforce it, or you have to go back to the beginning and reform your entire universe, and then you have to enforce those new rules.

What have you written so far?

So far, I have self-published five novels: Utsukushii Kuro (lesbian vampire romance); Licantropa Sogno (lesbian werewolf romance); La Zorra Ciega (lesbian fencing pulp-style action romance); Vox (sword-fighting pirates vs. religious crusaders fantasy in a world where humans can’t speak); and MC (futurist horror in the age of downloading human brains into computers). A sixth is completed and currently in editing.

Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?

First one, then the other. I start with the general idea, letting it take its own course for a while. Following that, I begin asking questions about how things should progress if they are going to be logical and get together the major events in a set of notes. As things progress and a few chapters get written out, chapter-by-chapter notes take shape. From that point, I just write one chapter at a time.

How do you feel about indie/alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Indie publishing is a double-edged sword, both for the reading public and the author. For the reading public, you don’t have your choices limited by a publishing executive who thinks they know better than you what you would like to read, but the is a risk that what you buy or borrow may not be as polished as those that went through the professional process. For the author, you don’t have to hope and pray for approval or compromise what you want to write, but when it is all in your control, there is much less sense of accomplishment or achievement from clicking a button that says “Publish” rather than having someone willing to take a risk on you.

Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?

My latest release is MC. I try my hand at describing the futuristic medical science of Cyberneurology, the transfer of a person’s mind, memory, and personality into a specialized computer. The procedure has become so normal, Dr. Langas, our lead character, has begun feeling the tedium of his apparently glamorous job. The new case that comes up, however, is going to prove the real test of his skill and patience for this job.

Tell us more about your main character. What makes him or her unique?

Jessika Kendall (Utsukushii Kuro) is an open-minded exchange student, and Aiko Kuroki is the Japanese vampire she falls in love with. Lia D’Ortano (Licantropa Sogno) is the last female werewolf in the world. Nina Moreira (La Zorra Ciega) is a blind fencer of great skill. Omina (Vox) is a desert-born master of the seas who wishes life for her friends and revenge for her family. Dr. Jeffery Langas (MC) is a trusted Cyberneurology doctor who tries not to let the tedium of downloading human minds into computers overwhelm his wish to care for his patients. That is what they are, for what they do…you would have to look into the stories.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast?

I would prefer to cast unknown, new actors. I will admit that I have indulged in the delusion of grandeur about my books becoming movies…many times. I figure that if I am given the chance to make a name for myself that way, why shouldn’t I let others have their chances? Even if the movie ends up a flop because people don’t like my story, the actors might get a second chance when someone sees their skilled performance.

What role does research play in your writing?

For some stories, it didn’t. For more recent ones, I’m trying to make things more believable. For Utsukushii Kuro, you could say it was researched because I had studied Japanese and was living in Japan at the time. For Licantropa Sogno, I really didn’t research much of anything but a few words in Italian and German. La Zorra Ciega, I had experience with fencing, but didn’t look into much else, and purposefully so, since I was going for the “pulp fiction” feel. That, it should be noted, was a mistake. In Vox, I was crafting my own universe, but I did have to research a bit about ships to get it right. In MC, I consulted with my girlfriend, who is much more of a scientist, about the theoretical ideas of what parts of a brain need to be transferred into a computer, versus which can be substituted with programming. I also disagreed with her hard-science objections in some places. Good thing she is VERY understanding towards me. For my most recently completed [work], I mostly only mapped things, but my experience with Korean language did also help. And [for] the next project, I am throwing myself quite heavily into research about Mars.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I am not sure if I should include Rebecca Sugar as either new or an author, since her primary medium is television, but she and her crew on “Steven Universe” are crafting a universe very well. While we are all starting out at an “Innocence” point, we are gradually understanding how complex, how cruel, and how wonderful life can be, with small, jarring glimpses into the “Adult” world. I like it.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?

Help everyone become literate in their own language. Not only for the obvious “education is good” reason, but also because literacy is the first major educational step and leads, for many, directly to critical thinking. A literate populace is less likely to believe propaganda, because, especially now with the internet, they have the self-driven ability to research and question. And I would wish for everyone to be literate in their language because each language has its own stories and feelings and concepts that can only truly be understood and expressed within that language. Having that many people be literate in that many languages would make the tapestry of human culture so much richer!


How can you connect with David King?



Amazon Author Page:

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(Negasi is Ethiopian for ‘Royalty.’)

The jungle rains

make smooth

the tracks of

his journeys,

and hide away

his bones

His kingdom

long emptied

of treasure

and people

and time

His throne

succumbs to

the loving embrace

of encroaching

tree branches

Vines of ivy

and small berries

the birds glean

in high summer

spiral round his

decrepit scepter

vernal abandon



in the








of celebration

have turned to



The moonlight



as he passed


the mourning throng

has become

the chirring

of crickets

and the


of toads

But the


of his





this land.

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Last summer I took the bold move to write a blog while on holiday rather than preparing one in advance. Bold because a) will I find something to talk about? and b) the risk of holiday brain freeze. But it worked. The first of those holiday blogs was inspired by a visit to a Roman villa. It struck me that despite how much our world and everything in it had changed, if those Roman’s had looked at the view from their villa in the 21 century there was much they would have recognised, the fields, vineyards, rivers and copses of trees. Even the nature of the farm building in the distance would have seemed familiar with their sand stone walls and terracotta roofs.

How more timeless can you get than mountains shrouded in snow. For more follow the link

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So I decided to publish a novel. Self-publish to be precise. After all, who needs all that rejection from established publishing houses and agents. Hours of query letter writing, weeks of waiting, days of angst and all those sleepless nights. No thanks. I reasoned that by self-publishing my novel, the only people who can say no to me are me and my readers. If I can get any. But that’s another issue entirely and we’ll get into that later. For now, we’ll begin at the beginning.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Stemming, I suppose, from my intense enjoyment of reading. I started writing in my early twenties. And I sucked. Really bad. But like anything, you have to work at it to approach anything nearing decent. I’m not saying that I’m a good writer now, that is ultimately for the reader to decide, just that it has become a little (just a little) easier and I have become more (hopefully much more) polished over the years. They say it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. I passed that number over two decades ago.

My first failed attempt was a novel that was and never will be finished (because it was so awful). It was during film school that I turned my (talents? efforts?) attention toward screenplays. My first screenplay was called THE RECOMBINANT and was co-written with my classmate, Robert Sloan. We had some success with it in that it was read by several production companies. One even showed interest, forcing us through several nonsensical and unpaid rewrites until we told them to basically go fuck themselves.

THE RECOMBINANT was my second attempt at writing a novel. I started adapting it about a dozen years ago, and then simply lost interest. My third attempt at a novel is still a work in progress. My GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. After about a hundred and fifty-pages in, I decided that it is such an undertaking that I will wait until after I retire to attempt to finish it. That sounds lazy, I know, but a lifelong perspective is the POV I really want, and feel I need, to do it justice.

Since graduating from film school, I have written many screenplays. One I actually produced and was co-written with another classmate, Tony Jiti Gill. The title of that success was MURDER-IN-LAW, starring Joe Estevez, Marilyn Adams and Sandy Snyder. You can visit the IMDB page here: Murder-In-Law IMDB Page if you’re so inclined. I call it a success because it actually got made and was seen by the public. It is so difficult to make that happen, that I am of the opinion that any time it does happen, it is a success.

I’ve had other successes as well. Minor ones. Winning a Page Award Bronze prize for my screenplay, PEEKER. Getting representation from a management company based on that. Actually being paid to write a short film, WHEELS LOCKED. (That credit can be viewed here on my IMDB page: Stephen A. Carter’s IMDB Page.) Being paid to do re-writes and to ghost write others’ screenplays. And writing the screenplay for THE DOORMAN, which can also be viewed on my IMDB page. Though I must admit that I had my name removed from the credits because I didn’t agree with and appreciate the changes made after I had turned it in. I did, however, keep my credit for cinematographer because it is (if I do say so myself) nicely shot.

If you count success simply as riches and glory, then I have had none. However, I do not value myself and what I do solely in that way, and I do count all of the above as successes. I count every one of my completed screenplays a success. I count the fact that I have lived (and continue to live) my life doing what I love as a success. The fact that I have been able to make a living and survive as a producer, writer, director, editor and cinematographer in a brutal and some would say soulless industry as a success. And I count the fact that I consider myself a “writer” to be a success.

Writing is hard. Anyone who says differently is a fucking liar. In my experience, (of course this may be different for others,) you have to be somewhat selfish and more than a little self-absorbed, and you live your life perpetually distracted by some thought or another. You have to be willing to sit alone in a room for hours on end plugging away at a keyboard. You have to realize that some of the best writing is really done during the rewriting process. And you must be okay with the fact that no one other than you may ever read your material. Most of all, you must write. Relationships will suffer along with your self-esteem, health and well being. For much of your life, you live in your mind. People who don’t write don’t understand you, your obsession and often your humor. In the middle of writing you have to force yourself to eat, shower, answer the phone, interact and ultimately step away from the computer.

But back to the topic at hand.

Over the years many of my screenplays, though not all, had some type of horror or sci-fi element to them, (along with action, comedy and of course a love element,) so it was only natural that my first finished novel, (because I will finish this one, I swear,) fall into the sci-fi/action/thriller genre which Germ Line: Revolution does. Germ Line: Revolution is also an adaptation of my screenplay, GERM LINE.

Once I made the determination to self-publish, and decided on what that project would be, I started doing research. It’s amazing how many self-publishing companies are out there. Companies like Lulu, Createspace, Smashwords and Xlibris to name just a few. For a list of the “10 best” you can follow this link: There you’ll find star ratings for each company, plus a couple of pros and cons, some pricing detail and some general information on features. If you’re looking to print hard copies of your book, this is one way to go. Bear in mind that they are all in business to make money and the more money you make the more money they make, if you make any money at all. If not, they are the only ones who make money. Either way it’s a win-win for them. If you make the mistake of contacting any of them before you’re actually ready to publish, be prepared to be bombarded with phone calls and email by sales reps wanting to “discuss your book”.

I decided this wasn’t for me. To begin with, it’s very expensive. A sample book can run anywhere between $500 and $2500. Printing costs get cheaper the more books you print but having boxes of expensive, unsold books sitting around in my basement while I decided what to do with them didn’t seem very appealing to me. Besides, in 2011 Amazon announced that they were selling more kindle books than printed books. I figured I was on to something. The future of publishing the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL just may lie with the eBook.

So that’s where I’m at. I am going to finish adapting my screenplay, GERM LINE into an eBook entitled Germ Line: Revolution. Why did I tag on Revolution? Because if all goes well this book will be the first of a series.

As of this writing, I have just begun chapter 20. I am well on my way. About half way I figure. Once I get it completely adapted to novel form, I will start the re-write and fleshing out process.

If you’d like to be notified of the launch of Germ Line: Revolution visit the launch page at: Germ Line: Revolution Launch Page

You can also like Germ Line: Revolution on Facebook

Thanks for reading. Check back often if you will. In upcoming posts I’ll talk a little about the differences in screenplays and novels, post sample chapters, and continue discussing my experiences with the nuts and bolts of self-publishing like creating the cover, and marketing & promotion.

This is my first stab at blogging so please share your thoughts.

Your mind is only playing tricks on you

Ultimately, you always do what you want to do

Maybe you wake up late in the morning

Rush through the morning rituals before your boss starts calling

Decide on a whim to skip breakfast

To give you more time for the day’s task

But your wife comes in and makes you eat

She says ‘You need your strength and I made quite a treat’

You cave and chew for a little bit

Then head out remembering you have clients to meet

Whatever happens at work for the rest of the day

Good or bad, know that she didn’t make you stay

Because your mind is only playing tricks on you

Ultimately, you always do what you want to do

Maybe you’re in school and your grades are about average

But your parents keep saying your scores are garbage

Just because the neighbor’s kid is king of the crop

And the comparison almost makes your heart stop

So that night you plan to break into the principal’s office

Get the questions out when no one will notice

Good or bad, whatever happens at the end of that night

Know that your parents didn’t cause your plight

Because your mind is only playing tricks on you

Ultimately, you always do what you want to do

Maybe you’re dating a calm nice guy

But your friends don’t think he’s fly

They feel like you should have better taste

And they wanna save you from the time you’d waste

One night you’re hanging with the girls at the bar

A young man walks up to your table looking like a star

The rest of the girl all start to get up

At this point you realize its a setup

Ten minutes later he asks if you wanna leave

Glance at your girls knowing what they want to achieve

You tell yourself he’s probably harmless

Just one night away from all the calmness

Good or bad, whatever happens after the bar

Know that your friends didn’t cause your scar

Because your mind is only playing tricks on you

Ultimately, you always do what you want to do

Advice is only an illusion

The mind can only process information

No matter what another human being ever suggests

The only person that can convince a man, is the man himself.

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The story being told is true. Long before cat fishing was even a popular common knowledge word, before MTV had a show on it, this catfish was more active and years into it. For 8 long years this person played the roles of three main people and around 6 minor personalities. The girls this catfish played are real. They lived in the same area and we’re friends. This catfish formed relationships, planned futures, forged friendships and destroyed some too. This is he story of how it happened in the eyes of the boys this catfish played. I hope you enjoy the story and comment with likes and dislikes. But remember everything that happens in the story actually happened in real life…..

Twitter-Lastwords187 @authorjessie189

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look around; see all the wrong;

white America must make atone.

know the reasons; cause we’re black;

make it first and then come back.

Stay in school; work somehow;

education; get it now.

college graduate; got a job;

congrats all around; you’re loved by all.

Back to school; advancement’s pat;

desegregation is where it’s at.

grad school sure does hits the spot;

you’re a bright young black; you can’t be stopped.

Study real hard to prove your worth;

make up for time lost at your birth.

be low key to solve you plight;

be very militant when the time is right.

Give whitey hell when black he opines;

your sterile aggression frees his mind.

things are fine with the academic crowd;

integration’s great; you’ve done us proud.

Grad school graduate; got a job;

congrats all around; you’re loved by all.

it’s Doctor this and Doctor that;

this Doctor-Cation is where it’s at.

Universities and ivory towers;

you’re taking part in white folks power.

search suburbia to find a home;

be deaf to the Realtor’s racist drone.

University officials intervene;

this white folks power sure makes the scene.

it’s the perfect house; ten percent down;

the Doctor did it; hell, you’re no clown.

You’re kind of accepted in your neighborhood;

this integration sure is good.

read in the papers of whence you came;

watch others like you endure the pain.

It’s ghetto this and ghetto that;

being poor and black ain’t where it’s at.

remember the vow made in your youth;

you’ve made the top; now what to do?

Back to the streets; let’s communicate;

funny, these people don’t think you’re so great.

you’re out of it man; get out of their way;

in this kind of life you’ve nothing to say.

Retreat back to your suburban home;

remind yourself that you’re not alone.

but even this comfort doesn’t make the grade;

because of the vow you know you made.

It’s brother this and brother that;

but when you say it, it comes out flat;

give whitey hell when black he opines;

your sterile aggression frees your mind.

But your early vow will not free you

from the pain and wrong you left behind you.

And the guilt that racks you is there because

you’re a brother saved and a brother lost.

Black Embers Poetry. Bennie Wiley Copyright 2015 All Right Reserved.

Brick by brick a man devoured his house last week in an attempt to keep his bank from reposing it. Walter Briggs of East Elmhurst Queens got the idea after he was turned down for the tenth time trying to re-finance his 1950’s cape style home. After the bank took him to court Walter said, “Fuck em’. They ain’t getting my house even if I have to eat it.”

Walter started on the obvious place, the shingles. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy so I started with the roof cause’ that’s what I did when I ate my first house. That one was a three-month old gingerbread house that was left on the windowsill in our fifth grade class. The real one was just as hard and stale as the gingerbread one.”

Walter’s building materials binge started on the day that a sheriff’s vacate notice was nailed to his front door; one of hundreds of thousands that were posted on front doors around the country. The lender, Bank of America was all to eager to repossess Walter’s house even though they knew they weren’t going to be able to sell the house for a profit and it would remain empty for a long time. A spokesman for BOA said, “We’d rather let it rot than have someone living it for less than the monthly mortgage payment.”

Walter just couldn’t make the monthly payments after he lost his job at the local supermarket due to other homeowners losing their homes and having to leave the neighborhood. Walter’s wife and four children took the car and the family dog to live with relatives in Monroe, NJ.

“I just didn’t see any other options,” Walter said from his bed at Elmhurst hospital where he’s recovering from internal injuries. “Besides, the fridge was empty and I was hungry.” When reminded that there were other safer options, Walter proudly said, “I thought of torching it but I knew I’d end up in jail. But I just didn’t want those bastards to have the satisfaction of takin’ my home from me, especially since I worked so hard to get and keep it.” When asked which was the hardest portion of the house to consume Walter responded, “The front porch. It’s where we laughed the most. It made me cry thinking that we’d never be able to sit and rock as a family again on that porch.” Walter didn’t seem to mind that he lost most of his digestive system and would never be able to eat solid foods again. “It was worth every single nail and piece of wood I swallowed. Whadda’ those bastards gonna do now, foreclose on my ass? Fuck them!”

Paul Phillecroix surely would have been asphyxiated if he hadn’t broken through the last and final layer when he did. His arrival to the world was announced by a blood curdling scream that pierced an opening in the pre-dawn light when he cried out, “Mère?!!” Où êtes-vous mère?!”

The next sound to be heard was that of a meadowlands’ reed snapping as it yielded to the weight of Paul Phillecroix’ oversized and powerful body.

The love and comfort that Paul Phillecroix was searching for was long gone, but that didn’t stop him from crying out for hours and hours until the light slipped past the day and the frogs, crickets and other unknown creatures spoke through the dark of the night keeping Paul in a hushed panic.

It’s still a mystery as to whom Paul’s parents were and what drove them to leave their newborn to fend for himself in such a thick and lush marshland. And if it wasn’t strange enough that the newborn was left on his own, Paul Phillecroix was emblazoned with a bright blue streak. Starting at the top of his neck, it spilled down and through his thick and barrel like chest and came to an abrupt stop at the base of his belly. The Phillecroix Streak, as it would come to be known throughout the world, put great demands upon that of its bearer.

The Phillecroix family history has been passed down generation to generation in oral tradition and now resides with its sole heir. No one knows to this day why or how the family’s nom de guerre, the brilliant blue streak came to be. What is known, or so legend has it, is that during his first cold, hungry and frightening night alone something spoke to Paul Phillecroix with a voice as pure and light as a Mayfly’s wing.

The message, or maybe it was a command, floated in and down through the narrow canal of his tiny ear and created enough momentum and might for Monsieur to vacate his grassy nest. In an unprecedented five days’ time from the exact moment he was born, Paul Phillecroix took flight from what King Louis XVI would one day deem the most beautiful place on earth and headed for Paris.

The miles of wingspan that separated Paul Phillecroix from Pipio Pibionem are unknown. Pipio’s qualities were rare; she was one in a million. She possessed many but having the perfect aerodynamic body was what she used to her advantage most, both on and above the ground. The shape of her distal wings gave her enormous thrust for takeoff along with the ability to soar long distances. Her form also had the unintentional effect of attracting a lot of attention from male suitors. Gentleman birds from all over the world had a Pipio Pibionem-like vision in their heads when they fantasized about their future brides. Many young males spent sleepless nights dreaming and fantazing about Pipio and her subtly sashaying tail. With glassy eyes they peered through cracks in grass nests late at night and wondered if the crown feathers of their future brides would glisten in the late afternoon sun in the same mesmerizing way as mademoiselle Pibionem’s once did. It was enough to keep an excited young bird up all night and the females of the flock in a jealous rage.

To keep Pipio safe from lurking eyes and clawing claws, Pipio’s father connected with his connections and arranged for her to fly and flock with the famous D’Artagnan of Gascony. Not much needs to be said about D’Artagnan except that he was a pioneer of his time and was responsible for the development of the first organized pigeon flight paths.

The year 1785 sent Pipio east to Brittany as part of a habitat and flying experiment on behalf of her new mentor, D’Artagnan. D’Artagnan was testing his theory that fellow pigeons had the ability to fly long distances and return to the exact latitude and longitude from where they embarked. D’Artagnan wanted to prove and record the results of sending birds long distances tracing their way back to where they started. D’Artagnan also set out to prove the unconscious process that he and others like him would use to chart the skies they fly and then relay their coordinates to any bird of any color at any time.

No one knows what D’Artagnan must have been thinking or feeling the day he encouraged his young charge, Pipio, to take to the air and watched her fly into the sunset never to return. A dejected D’Artagnan waited for days on end without food, water or sleep until his legs buckled and he froze to death on the granite coast.

Pipio did return to her point of embarkation just hours after D’Artagnan perished, feathers and bones cracked by the icy air. She wasn’t alone. Joining her was a young, strong and handsome bird that had an unusual and yet distinguishable bright blue streak running down his chest. Six months later in the Norman town of Vattetot-sous-Beaumont near the English Channel, Pipio Pibionem married Paul Phillecroix I. Their meeting had been designed in the heavens, painted with bright and passionate colors. As it turned out, Pipio and Paul met when their flight paths crossed — he was traveling from the east and she from the west. At six hundred feet, the young and dashing Paul Phillecroix I dipped his wing to Pipio and said, “Vous êtes beau! I shall follow her tail if she’ll allow me the pleasure.” Paul’s wish to trail Pipio’s tail feathers was quickly granted when the mortified Pipio fell flush and went into a tailspin sending her straight to the concrete waters below. Paul went after her like a speeding bullet and clutched her in his claws just inches from the water’s crust. As they ascended from the watery grave, blood rushed to Pipio’s head and the usually reticent mademoiselle Pibionem let fall from her beak, “C’est l’amour.”

Yes, it was love and not long after their wedding Pipio gave birth to a daughter and she and her slightly disappointed husband Paul, who had hoped for a son, named the young squab, Penelope Phillecroix.

Following the birth of Penelope, Paul’s wish for a son was granted when Pipio delivered Paul Phillecroix II. He was much like his father: strong, powerful and handsome. A lot of expectations were thrust upon young Paul, not the least, carrying on the Phillecroix name and tradition of flying excellence. Paul Phillecroix II eventually had the opportunity to bear the pride of his family on each wing when he became the youngest pigeon ever to pilot himself to the South Pole and back in twenty-nine days. Upon his return he was showered with affection and admiration from flocks across Europe. At the end of the reception line was a young and beautiful bird named Agnès Amalric. Paul Phillecroix II immediately swept her off her pretty pink feet and they soared into the setting sun. Not long after their marriage was consummated another Phillecroix was born and was named Paul Phillecroix III.

The third Paul Phillecroix was hatched on a warm and sunlit day much like his great grandfather before him. And like his great grandfather, his mettle was tested early on a blustery day in March 1815. Young Paul Phillecroix III was summoned by France’s highest military authority to deliver news to Napoleon Bonaparte who was recently exiled to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean Sea. Paul successfully flew the seven hundred sixty-five miles non-stop from Paris in order to relay a message from Napoleon’s beloved wife the Archduchess of Habsburg, Marie Louise. Marie Louise, who was sick and tired of spending countless nights alone while little Napoleon was out conquering the world, insisted that he escape at once, go to the patisserie and bring home her favorite chocolate croissants. “Napo,” as Marie Louise referred to Napoleon, quickly scribbled a note notifying Marie Louise that her sweet and flaky confections would have to wait as he was headed for Belgium. He then tied the note to Paul’s left leg and threw him skyward.

M. Phillecroix made the return trip to Paris in the record-breaking time of twenty-three hours, five minutes. Although Paul Phillecroix III’s time was quite impressive, he would have actually completed the trip much more quickly had not his fancy been tickled by an athletic looking gal named Theresa Morin. Theresa, who came from impressive stock, was the byproduct of a mother and father who were also employed by Napoleon to deliver messages to his league of fighters during the Revolution. Paul Phillecroix III was immediately smitten with Theresa’s innate sense of courage and honesty. The pair of lovebirds sealed their devotion and soon after Theresa Morin gave birth to Paul Phillecroix IV.

Long before Amelia Earhart made her historic transatlantic journey, Piette Delacroix, a distant blood relative to Pipio Pibionem, completed the reverse flight in twenty-four hours with a stop-over in London. On a warm spring day in 1933 Piette left her rooftop perch in Paris with a request strapped to her thin left leg. Addressed to President Roosevelt it began, “Monsieur, s’il vous plaît, please send more of those delicious biscuits that my wife and I so thoroughly enjoyed when you were here last.” It was signed by the then Prime Minister of France, Albert-Pierre Sarraut.

The last daring and heroic flight from the now famous Phillecroix family of pigeons occurred on June 3, 1947 when Paul Phillecroix V the offspring of Paul Phillecroix IV and his wife Alexandria completed an around-the-world trip in just under two weeks’ time. What’s noteworthy is that the courageous flyer stopped only twice to peck at fresh water ponds to replenish lost fluids. While being honored by his nation’s ally, the United States, Paul Phillecroix V cast his eyes upon, as he put it, “The most beautiful bird I have ever seen.” That beautiful bird was Piette Delacroix who had also recently been honored upon the same Capitol steps for her wartime bravery. A small wedding was quickly arranged where several diplomats and dignitaries gathered to share the couple’s vows.

At the end of a brief honeymoon along the cool waters of Niagara Falls, the newlyweds returned to France and settled on a prestigious nesting place atop the l’Arc de Triomphe overlooking the Champs-Élysées within the City of Lights. After many years of attempting to conceive and carry on the Phillecroix name, the pair of lovebirds finally laid an egg filled with promise. They hoped and prayed that this egg would be the answer to their prayers. Piette knew that her body could not bear another hatch and that both she and Paul Phillecroix V could not bear another loss. Their last, a male, died in his shell just like the three before him, which brought the decorated war hero to his knees. Even before this yet to be hatched squab saw the light of day, there were expectations to uphold.

With a possible heir to the Phillecroix name just moments away, the entire flock was counting the minutes on the rooftop nest in hopes of a successful and healthy hatch. They had been through this before and those that didn’t judge waited in hope and those that judge tapped their feet to match their impatience…..

From the author: I truly hope that this book helps others who have or who are trudging through the Journey.

Copyright 2007–2016 by Bruce Katlin All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author/publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

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These chains


my hands


my feet

Forced my eyes

to look up

at the searing sun

of my homeland

retreating as the

waves took me

to foreign, hostile


Long did I wear them

and suffer under their weight

Long did I fight against them

and when they resisted me,

I fought some more

Against my flesh they

burned and chafed

and pressed me down

Against the stones I

slammed them

over and over

We fought for days



And yet you do

not understand…

I was forged

into a weapon

by these chains

You carried me

and used me,

made me privy to

the intentions

of your heart

and the schemes of

your mind

And now

after all this fighting,

the chains are loose.

But if you think to bind me


to your service

at my life’s expense

You will see

that I am a



and no man’s


My mind,


My flesh,


Not to your peril,

but to my own


And these

broken chains

no longer have


over me.

After nearly two decades of moving towns, cities, countries and living out of a suitcase or suitcases, to be precise, a time to settle came. So I settled. Not only did I settle with husband, two kids, a cat and a dog, but I settled with all that plus a Library Card. With capital L and C.

That card signifies that I created my Oasis on this planet and I am here to stay. And read.

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For this week’s book recommendations I have a tale set in Japan by an Australian author, and it looks positively epic. I’m very much in love with its cover as well! Another offers four characters the chance to relive their lives in genetically perfect bodies, but is what they lost worth it? There’s the story of a young man falling in love and navigating the consequences of the death of his sister at the same time, and last a tale of magic, which is actually a reimagining of HP Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook. And last, because there’s a new show coming with James Franco about it, so I’m going to rec an oldie but a goodie.

11. 22. 63: By Stephen King. This one is about 5 years old now, and I have to admit I only found out about it because I was talking to a streaming station on Twitter and they listed it as as upcoming to sign up. I didn’t sign up, but I did sign up for the free trial that would let me watch it, and then went looking for the book. Not sure about James Franco, but I am hoping the book holds up.

The Emperor of the Eight Islands: By Lian Hearn. This is the story of rival clans, fighting over who will be crowned Emperor of the Eight Islands in Japan. I’m getting GOT vibes here, and since I’ve never read that I am eager to get into this one.

The Great American Whatever: Quinn has lost his sister in a car accident, and when things are falling apart, his best friend introduces him to a hot guy at a party and he falls hard. But this is what grabs me: Quinn starts imagining his life as a screenplay, one in which he gets to have his happy ending. What do you think?

The Ballad of Black Tom: This is a retelling of HP Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook. When I was reading through the reviews, I found this that immediately piqued my interest: LaValle has done something incredible. He’s written a Lovecraft novel with themes of racial injustice at its center, turned Lovecraft’s legacy on its head. And his real feat is that by giving his book a strong emotional center, he’s surpassed Lovecraft.

I didn’t know Lovecraft was racist, but I’m all over an author subverting that.

And again: What if you could get the most perfect bodies? None of the aches and pains you once had? Would that be worth the cost you have to pay? THAT is the question this book asks, and I am extremely intrigued by it. Reminds me of The Island, but not so big and explosive. Would you give up everything to be perfect?

Which one gets your vote this week?

Midnight Movements

“Where is it?” Alex shouted irately standing in the living room of the generous sized beachfront house.

Bright tones brought light into the room while the rest of the world was dark. Fresh cut yellow roses floated in clear hand blown vases on the coffee table. Joseph Wright’s Cave at Evening took up the entire wall above the brick, wood-burning fireplace in front of them.

Alex’s face burned as chilly ocean breezes flew through the open French doors blowing up the red floor length ribbon-like curtains. His hazel eyes bore down on Faith trying to study the thoughts in her mind. He longed to know why she did the things she did; broke the rules whenever she wanted.

Faith cocked her head back on the white fabric sofa as she inhaled the rich nicotine from the thin, dwindling cigarette hanging between her middle and pointing finger. Her silk half-length robe slid down her shoulder as she leaned forward dropping ashes in the crystal ashtray atop the hand stained dark mocha coffee table. Next to it was an empty wine bottle, with two wine glasses. One glass was sucked clean dry; the other filled with the red elixir.

She slowly exhaled a stream of faint white mist, turning her head to the side. Her azure eyes gazed calmly at his frantic state towering above her. The knotted wrinkles in his forehead, stern frown to his mouth and tightly folded arms showed the tension he was not trying to hide.

“You parked your Bentley in my driveway. You stand in my living room. In my house.” She rose to her feet; the red pillow that was wedged between her side and the arm of the couch fell to the floor. “RESPECT ME!”

Alex blew air from his flared nostrils like a steer in the open arena spotting the matador waving the silky red cloth at his side. “Respect you! FUCK YOU! FEAR ME!”

“I fear no man.” She snapped.

Alex broke out in laughter. One would be at ease from the sound; so jovial. However, she knew better. Having fear of no man was right. It wasn’t a man that caused mammoth sized butterflies to flutter in the pit of her stomach.

Alex pulled his phone from the back pocket of his blue jeans. “I’ll just tell Isabeth.” He scrolled through his smartphone. “Call her, wake her up and tell her you fell…off…the…wagon.”

“Wait!” Faith jumped. She nervously slide her hand through her free flowing, voluminous sun-kissed blonde tresses.

Alex’s finger hovered over Isabeth’s number. “Then where is it?” he asked again.

Faith looked up to the high vaulted ceilings painted sunshine yellow as shame stormed through her spirit. She was remorseful that she did it, that she let herself go that far without pulling the brakes.

“The kitchen.” Faith muttered.

Alex fled from her sight. He slowly placed one foot in front of the other on the creaking wood floor. He followed the coral rug rolled out down the dark narrow side hallway in front of the front door. Black and white photos of happier times during mind-blowing trips hung on the crisp white walls. His stomach raised up pushing his throat into his mouth. He swallowed trying to push his inners back to their rightful places. This was something he would never get used to. No one could get use to this. The bright kitchen light shined on his almond beige face, the red rage that painted it now gone. Alex turned a ghostly pale, seeing the past like he seen the past playing vividly in front of his eyes, unwinding like a movie on Turner Classic.

Alex’s feet stepped onto the faint grey tiles of the kitchen floor. It was a beautifully designed kitchen, white like all the furniture in the house. Sleek silver appliances, black granite countertops kept clear of the clutter most people stored on them. There were no dishes stacked miles high in the sink, no stains on the white cabinets or its sliver handles. A sign of a kitchen never used or one belonging to an anal, OCD owner; the latter was right.

His eyes rolled down in their sockets, focusing on the clean grey floor. His muscles tensed and his heart shook. There it was, what he bailed out early on work for. He should’ve felt bad, shed a tear for all the hard work that was erased like a blackboard at the end of a school day, but he didn’t. Instead he felt relief; relieved this would be easy. Easier than the time before, before she went clean, before they got her to stop. Naked and limp the man’s body laid on the cold hard floor. No blood. Thank God, there was no blood.

Faith stood in front of the gold square arched mirror hanging on the wall above a vase of yellow roses. Her deep-set eyes examined her flawless face. She had the face of innocence meandered with an essence of deception and the body of a vixen aiding in her ability to lure you into her lair of affliction. The mascara on her long eyelashes didn’t run; there was no trail of dried tears running down her flushed high-cheek bones. Through the mirror she saw Alex standing behind her, his hands resting at his side, his face void of emotion.

“Nightshade in the wine, classic.” Alex disclosed.

“It had to be done.” She turned around. “Look at my face.” She pointed to the dry blood on her busted bottom lip.

“This shit was supposed to stop. No more death, no more graves!”

“I did stop. You know that. For a year, I have been good. No blood spilled. He put his hands on me! He didn’t follow the rules!” She pointed her finger to the kitchen although he couldn’t be seen through the wall, blaming the man for his own demise.

Alex peered down at his feet. His heartbeats vibrated in his chest.

“It’s Fulton’s fault I’m this way.” She walked back to the coffee table picking up the almost empty cigarette box. She slid out a new cigarette flipping it between her fingers. “It’s the same with Isabeth.”

Alex remained speechless looking down at his new brown oxfords. He just brought them two days ago when he went shopping with his brother and girlfriend. Two days ago his wish for normalcy was finally granted by the powers that be. This was the first time he wore them and this happened. He would have to buy new shoes. They can’t be kept after he’s finished doing what he was about to do.

“Okay, Alex. I’m sorry. He sent me to a dark place, a place where I turn into a monster. I know. I’ll do better next time or kill trying.” She devilishly smiled.

Alex lightly nodded to the thoughts racing in his own mind looking at her blankly. She was right; the dead man shouldn’t have hit her. That was wrong. Was it punishable by death? Her lip was busted. She would have to sport that blemish around their small, gossiping, aristocratic town. For him the answer was “No”. But using Faith’s logic, it was a, “Hell Yes!”

Alex began rolling up the sleeves of his pinstriped green shirt. “Let’s bury the dead before the sun comes up.”

He walked to the front door, slowly turning the brass knob. He stared at his car judging how much this could cost him. This was the life he worked so hard to get back. He changed his name from “Benny” to “Alex” to avoid the stigma of being the once asylum patient to the now son of the crazed, incarcerated ex-governor of Rhode Island. He already knew the pain of losing his close-knit, politically powerful family. But, there was one thing he couldn’t stand to lose. And if this got out, if she knew he helped Faith cleanup once she slipped, it would cost him. It would cost him something priceless. It would cost him her love.

“This is between us.” Alex pointing his finger at her then to himself.

“I’ll tell her nothing.” Faith assured trying to emit a flicker of flame from the gold lighter.

Alex slammed the front door behind him. He ran down the wood steps of her house and then to his car. He sped out the driveway down the sand covered street. There was work to be done, secrets to be hidden and only four hours of night left. Murder, lies, and deceit; oh what one will do for their friends?

What If There Was A Monkey In My Swimming Pool?

Skeptic. So as you can see I’ve started my monthly Blog with a very serious word. Mega serious. Titanium (which is more precious, hence more valuable than platinum, which a few years ago was one leg up on gold), serious. Picture me, mouth pointed down, brows furrowed, teeth nattering, eyes pinpricks of squinty fire, that’s how serious that word is.

Okay, done, back to my usual mad as a thimble-full-of-olive-oil look. Man, that first paragraph is a killer. You’re probably skeptical of me, but I’ll stick to serious in my novels from now on.

So one of the best books on writing I ever read was titled, ‘There’s A Monkey In My Swimming Pool’. The opening page simply read, ‘What If?’ In big letters.

My mind was racing on ten different tangents. I wanted to grab a pencil and start jotting down what was ricocheting around in my subconscious. Not to mention that I had just eaten my Frank’s ‘He puts that hot &$@*’ stuff on everything meaner-than-junkyard-dog-fed-a-cordon-bleu-chicken-burger taco wrap. So needless to say, there were a few other things wanting to blast out of me as well. But that is a tale of gastric malodorous woes for another day.

The next page simply read, ‘Is your mind racing?’.

It was. I was hooked and bought the book.

Next page read, ‘Congrats, you are a born writer’. Which when I got home I was beginning to think, I got ripped off for buying a book for $15.95 and getting three words a page, why didn’t I think of it?

Next page, ‘Now write, damn it, write’.

And I did, filling twelve pages with some silly story that didn’t win me a Pulitzer Prize (and for those that know me, know I’m a very serious chap). See beginning paragraph if you don’t believe me.

Well I’m serious at least on the 9th and 14th of the month, between the hours of 3:14–4:48 AM. Which thankfully I’m usually asleep dreaming of being on the planet from the movie ‘Amazon Lust Slaves From Hell’ and my job is to service the kitchen dishwasher, while the other denizens of the planet (all female of course), run around naked. Well I did say, ‘From Hell’. If the movie was titled ‘From Heaven’, I’d be the only serviceable male and I’d be raking in the dough unplugging all of the toilets.

So some are probably thinking what is the point of this blog by now. Give me a moment to think of something….

Got it.

When something unusual catches your eye, you hear a great story or are stuck with writers block, as a writer ask ‘What If’.

I had writers block once. Think it was the letter F, could have been K, but sure it was the letter F.

So if stuck in a dilemma on a plot outcome, just ask ‘What If’ or if not a writer than simply call in the SPCA, throw a dozen bananas in the swimming pool for the chimpanzee and watch the fun begin.

As for the monkey see END NOTE below.

END NOTE: No monkeys or other animals were hurt, tested on, read to or compromised in any way during the usage of this blog. This blog has been approved by the WWF and Lovers of Furry Critters In New Zealand Society.

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The Dumpster Diving Sliced Bread Theory Of Writing

Often a writer is asked what word or words of advice to give a new writer? I think I’d give “Scramble” or my personal fave “Dogtrot” both good useful words. Of course there’s the cult classic, “Swank”. Those are the words I’d give a new writer.

Please don’t send me any thanks, well, just a like on facebook would be okay.

Nor any chocolate, my wife breaks out in hives, then we get bees everywhere and the cats get stuck to the patio from all the honey.

Okay serious now, the best thing for beginning writers to get into is flow and a set writing pattern. Some get up at 2AM, chuck lots of garlic about, to ward off the vampires and write until the sun comes up. Whatever works, I myself make tea and feed the cats. Number one rule in our house; don’t forget to feed the cats or you’ll need more than garlic to keep you safe. PS. Silver bullets don’t work on hungry cats, I tried and they just whacked me upside the head with the pistol and traded the silver for lots of canned tuna.

Oh, I forgot, the serious part. Remember this, five percent of writing a story or novel is the actual writing. So you ask naively, what’s the rest?

Editing, more editing and more darn editing. Then set the manuscript down for a month or two reread it and (no secret here) more editing.

The best thing to do with all of your writing is to read it out loud. Preferably in a room on your own, with no one around otherwise someone will think you’re absolutely bananas. You can catch a lot of awkward sentences, poor flow and grammatically incorrect phrases this way.

The biggest gift a writer can have is humility. As much as your mom said, “Your book is the greatest thing since sliced bread,” IT AIN’T. There are very few writers who word for word, paragraph by paragraph are word perfect. If you check the garbage cans of even great writers, you’ll find a lot of worn to the stub erasers.

Also join a writers group, or two. Could join a knitting class. I’m told knitters are a humble lot.

A group where you edit (see earlier paragraph), and read each other’s works. Out loud, of course. If several people point out a paragraph or page that doesn’t work, analyze it, break it down and rewrite it or, this is the major humbling part, chuck it out. Guess what, even Gandhi made mistakes.

If several writers (they have a more critical eye than Joe public or your mom) say a sentence or paragraph is brilliant, that’s the Muses calling your number, so get up, do a dance and pat yourself on the back. Unless you have some kind of degenerative disc back disease, then just mentally shake your hand and say “Thank you, thank you very much,” and back at it. Okay, even the humblest are allowed to crow sometimes.

Know this, there’s a lot of schlock out there that should reside in a large sealed dumpster. War and Peace went through one hundred and one publishers before being accepted. What if Tolstoy threw it into a dumpster after one hundred?

Stephen King did. He dumped his novel “Carrie” into the trash and said, “I give up. I’m going to stick to being a teacher.”

Thank God his wife had the guts to say, “You tell me you’re a writer. Dust off that blown, crumpled and withered ego and put it out there. AGAIN.”

The next publisher accepted the book and the rest is well, “Salem’s Lot.”

I went through 398 rejections before my first novel got accepted. I know, I’ve logged every one in a book. A word here to the smarmy git who brags about being accepted on the first submission. I politely smile and say to myself “Lucky Bastaddose.” I shake your hand in humble subjection. Sometimes it can be as simple as the right article at the right time to the right editor. Or, and I’m going to choke a lot here, you could just be damn good.

There’s a picture that’s hangs over my writing desk given to me by someone so long ago I don’t remember. I dust it off every time I get another rejection and go at it again. The picture is of a man sitting alone at a piano in a huge empty room. There’s stacks of papers strewn about, empty coffee cups and worn pencils all around him. The caption above him reads, PERSEVERANCE. The quote below is from Samuel Johnson: “Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”

That’s one thing that makes a true writer humble. Want to know another? Ask yourself this question. How many literary American Classics worthy of a Noble Award lie in dumpsters?

This goes back to my theory. Only dumpster divers will ever know, and after six bottles of aftershave I doubt they’d sit up and spout, “Wow, best thing since sliced bread.” Before they’d probably use the papers to keep themselves warm at night around a fire or worse humiliation, wipe themselves after a number two.

Remember that when you give up. That’s humbling.

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