Category Archives: books

The Spot Writers – “Inspiration” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was created using a random generator. Use these five words in a writing: suntan, paint, waterfall, inflation, exposure.

This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently quarantined in Berlin, Germany, and doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects.

***

“Inspiration” by Chiara De Giorgi

You’ve probably heard of the “writer’s block” before. I’ve never suffered from it. Not one time. My inspiration is always sharp and present, come rain or shine.

Except the one time when it was not.

It was a supremely unusual feeling, and a supremely annoying one too. Where had my inspiration gone? Why play hide and seek then, of all times?

 

I had acquired a lovely cabin in the woods, facing a waterfall. Since it needed refurbishing, I had bought three cans of paint and spent an enjoyable three days painting it anew, inside and out. I hanged laced curtains at the small windows, threw knitted blankets and pillows on the sofa, put a brightly colored, woolen carpet on the floor. I spent the days on the porch and gained a perfect suntan. With no exposure to the media I forgot everything about elections, economy, inflation, and other equally worrisome news from the outside world.

One night I talked to the fire that was crackling in the fireplace. I was cradling a glass, half full with red wine, and moaned. “Where is my inspiration hiding?” I asked.

“It was never yours”, the fire replied.

Since the half full glass was my fourth, the fire talking didn’t bother me in the least. “How do you mean?” I asked.

“Inspiration is a free creature, a living creature. She goes where she wants, not where she’s wanted – or needed, for that matter. You may try and call on her, though. What do you want her for?”

“I’m not sure”, I confessed. “I guess I’m just waiting for her to come to me.”

“And why would she?”

“I don’t know. She’s done that before.”

“Maybe you’ve done something to upset her and now she’s eluding you.”

“Maybe. I’ve no idea, though. But I don’t think so.”

“Maybe you don’t need her, then.”

“Of course I need her! How can I write, without her?”

The fire crackled a bit, before answering.

“Do you remember what the world is like, outside this cabin?”

I grimaced. “I try not to. So many problems.”

“Exactly. And how is it here?”

I smiled. “It’s great! I wake up every day to the smell of pine and the sound of birds chirping and water falling. I love every minute of my days here.”

“So, maybe the people out there need inspiration more than you do. Don’t you agree?”

“Maybe…” I whispered, unconvinced. “But what about me? How will I write again?”

“Well”, crackled the fire, “I guess you’ll have to make a choice. Stay here and live in your dream world, or go back and write about it.”

I pondered its words for a couple of seconds, then gulped the rest of the wine. I didn’t answer.

“So: which one will you choose?”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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“My Support” (even in death)

I spent agonizing hours yesterday trying to compose this month’s poem. To no avail. I left it and came back to it a few hours later, when this poem just flowed. Same topic; just couldn’t write it at that particular time, I guess.

(37 months)

“My Support”

You supported me

When I couldn’t stand,

You were there…

Waiting…

Unknown to me

When I fell

On the third anniversary

Of your death,

When I crawled like a baby—

Or an old woman

Without wits—

Over the icy snow

To reach your headstone,

Where I could haul myself up,

Leaning with my good arm

On your stone.

 

We laughed,

Elizabeth and I,

For it was funny—

Funnily sad—

She had fallen seconds before I had,

Bruising her bum,

And me: breaking my wrist,

My first broken bone—

An old woman

Even older a month later—

A mother

Who just wanted to visit

Remains of her son—

Remnants from a dreadful day

Three years ago—

But unable to accomplish a simple feat

Without mishap.

 

I swear I heard you laughing

And your words, “Oh, Mom!”

And then, “I gotta go.”

Matt hunting

If you enjoyed this poem and would like to read more, check out the book I published on the third anniversary of Matthew’s death.  MY HEART IS BROKEN

Matt book of poems full cover for wp

 

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Ticky Tacky” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was created using a random generator. Use these five words in a writing: suntan, paint, waterfall, inflation, exposure.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“Ticky Tacky” by Phil Yeats

When I was a young man in university, I imagined I’d make enough money to guard against inflation eroding my nest egg and killing my dream.

And my dream? To sail to a tropical island where I’d live in blissful isolation. Not a coral atoll where the maximum elevation was four feet, and I’d constantly fear exposure to global warming and sea level rise. No, I dreamed about an isolated spot on the flank of an extinct volcano where I could paint a waterfall and maintain an all-over suntan.

It didn’t work out that way. When I awoke from my university dream, I found myself in suburbia with a house, a wife, and two kids. If you want the gory details, you can look up the words to Malvina Reynolds song Little Boxes. It describes my life—the one I lived, not the one I dreamed.

 

‘Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky tacky

Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes all the same’

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

 

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My Heart Is Broken – It Needs Fixing

My book of poems (the first three years) memorializing my son Matthew, who died of a rare heart cancer on March 11, 2017, is now published.

 

Matt book of poems full cover for wp

The book is available on

Amazon

or from me.

I am donating all profits from the sale of this book to the Kenzieville Cemetery, Kenzieville, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where Matthew is buried. Matthew’s GGGG grandparents, who emigrated from Scotland in 1803, are buried there, as well as several branches of the MacKenzie line. The cemetery is run by volunteers and is always in need of funds.

 

 

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The Spot Writers – ‘Kiss this Right’ by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

 

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

“Kiss this Right” by Chiara De Giorgi

 

There’s a memory I chase,

One which times threatens to erase.

 

We were kissing in the moonlight,

It was on midsummer’s night

And the wind blew soft and warm

Who could foresee the storm?

Quick the mist surrounded us,

Sudden chill clung like a mask

To our bodies and our minds.

Still today the terror finds

Its way to my poor, weak heart.

Did I think it would not hurt?

Then the memory gets shattered,

I don’t know what I remember.

It’s like an old-fashioned mosaic,

Like a page with splattered ink

And to this day I cannot say

Why the kiss did break away.

Have I dreamt or have I lived?

Was it real, or have I wished?

 

Once a year’s midsummer’s night

Maybe I can kiss this right.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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The Spot Writers – “Mistaken” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon! As well as MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

“Mistaken”

Mist masks
Memorable memories
But moonlight
Magnifies
The mosaic—
Moody,
Muddy.
Mortuarial.

***

 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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“I’m Still Here”

It’s another 11th. Thirty-five months today since my son Matthew died from a rare heart cancer. I cannot believe it’s been almost three years. It seems like yesterday; then again, it seems like forever. This is the last monthly poem memorializing Matthew in the poetry book I’ll be publishing next month, the third anniversary of his death. The poems deal with my loss and grief as a mother. 

Matt hunting

“I’m Still  Here”

I’m the sun shining down,
Warming without sound,

I’m the wind in your hair,
Caressing you with prayer,

I’m the touch on your shoulder,
Celebrating every year older,

I’m the ladybug on your arm,
Protecting you from harm,

I’m the cardinal red,
Lessening your dread,

I’m the drop of rain,
Diluting your pain,

I’m the blue sky,
Calming your cry,

I’m the fluffy cloud,
Shrouding you in a crowd,

I’m the moon above,
Sending down love,

I’m the bird chirping,
Healing your hurting,

I’m the air you breathe,
Helping you to not seethe,

I’m waves crashing on shore,
Knocking at your door

With hope for the future
And wounds to suture:

Life is too short,
Be a good sport,

Don’t grieve,
I’ll never leave,

I’ll never forget,
So don’t you sweat,

I’m still your son,
Though my earthly life is done.

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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The Spot Writers – “Head Games” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “someone always wears the same hat because of some secret and/or mysterious reason”.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“Head Games” by Phil Yeats

Yesterday was momentous. Not globally momentous, but a day that was destined to alter my life for the coming decade, maybe longer. It began like most days over the past two years, eleven months, and twenty-seven days. Back then – we’ll approximate it as three years ago – I lost my secure job as a tenured university professor. Firing a tenured professor is almost impossible, but I found myself unemployed. The School of Neural Psychology, a university department, closed its doors. All staff, including tenured professors, were terminated.

Fast-forward to yesterday. After breakfast, I plunked my dilapidated Tilley hat on my head and stepped onto my front porch. While completing my errand – its purpose isn’t important – I encountered two neighbours. I was pleased but careful not to show any emotion when both kept glancing at my bedraggled hat. For those three years, I’d worn it in sun, rain, or snow in spring, summer, fall, or winter every time I left my house. No one mentioned it, but everyone noticed my tattered headgear, and I never explained why I always wore it.

Back home, my old boss, the school president from when it was disbanded, followed me to my front door. She broached the reason for her visit after I made coffee. “I’ve finally fulfilled the promise I made to everyone when our research institute closed. New school, new university, new name – I never liked the one chosen to please our original sponsor – but a similar mandate. Are you interested in rejoining your old colleagues?”

I hesitated. “I’m okay. Inexpensive lifestyle, and adequate resources from severance, savings, and rent from two apartments on this property. My needs are covered, and I have no dependents or expensive obligations.”

“Fine, but that fails to address my question. And before you confuse matters with additional dissembling, I’ll mention two things. First, I’ve read the two papers you’ve published since your forced resignation. Both are insightful contributions to your field—”

“Loose ends, papers that described work completed while I was working.”

“Garbage. Those weren’t tidy-up-after-I-retire papers. They’re forward-looking, raising issues that demand further investigation.”

“Whatever. And your second point…”

“That stupid hat! A meaningless game you’re playing, teasing your neighbours with the mystery of why you always wear that decrepit rag on your head. You’re bored. You should return to your chosen career and leave your neighbours in peace.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Mystery of Hinklehorne’s Hat” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “someone always wears the same hat because of some secret and/or mysterious reason.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon! As well as MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

“The Mystery of Hinklehorne’s Hat” by Cathy MacKenzie

Mr. Hinklehorne was a short, stout man. Looked old, but every adult looked elderly to pre-teens. I discovered that fact when I turned sixty-three, became a grandfather for the first time, and suddenly realized how ancient I was.

We never knew his first name. Back then, kids respected elders. No need for a child to know an adult’s first name, not with Mr. and Mrs. the norm.

Hinklehorne had been the school janitor for as long as I’d attended Hillcrest Elementary. I’d heard he’d been hired while the school was being built, which meant he’d been there for over forty years. I couldn’t imagine someone choosing janitorial work as a career. Or perhaps he’d fallen into it accidentally, never intending to stay. Watching him doing menial work at his age spurred me on to better myself.

He never removed his hat. At least, not that we ever saw. But he must have when he showered or slept. Still, Pierre and Bruce, my two best friends, and I always surmised about the odd-sized floppy, grey atrocity that seemed glued to his head, for even wild gusts of wind didn’t dislodge it. You know—how a person’s hand automatically goes to his head when he senses a breeze. Nope, no matter the strength of the wind, that old hat remained steadfast, and Hinklehorne never reached to his head to keep it on.

Pierre, Bruce, and I made up numerous stories explaining why Hinklehorne continually wore that hat, and we imagined every one of them to be true. We had so many explanations, though, that we couldn’t choose just one.

We shared our stories while we lazed under the largest oak tree in front of the school. For some reason, we never discussed Hinklehorne when we were elsewhere.

Pierre believed that Hinklehorne fell asleep under that very tree we sat under, and when he stood, a low-lying branch plunged into the top of his head. His parents took him to the hospital a few days later, but by that time, its roots had entwined around his brain, so the doctor couldn’t remove it. Pierre reasoned Hinklehorne didn’t remove his hat because he wanted to hide that piece of wood sticking out from his head.

Bruce thought Hinklehorne’s mother had repaired the inside band of his hat with Krazy Glue and he put it on his head before it had dried. Thus, his hat was stuck for all time. Yes, the hat looked that old!

My story had a fairy tale feel to it. I liked the idea that while Hinklehorne sleepwalked one night, he gazed out the window and wished upon a star, asking for a hat to cover his deformed head. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize he’d be stuck with it forever.

The others thought my story was silly, but theirs weren’t much better. Bruce added a second explanation, which made me think he was just trying to one-up me. As if it was a competition.

“He was in a fire,” Bruce said. “His house burnt down and he just barely escaped. Except, when he was running out, stuff fell on him. His entire head fired up. Left him with a zillion scars. Ugly scars. He can’t show his head because his hair doesn’t grow there anymore.”

I had to admit that Bruce’s second explanation was the most plausible—though in a way it was similar my story with Hinklehorne’s deformed head—but we still didn’t know for sure.

I enjoyed sharing these stories with Jason, my first-born grandchild, and he’d laugh. Kids are so much smarter today than in my time—too smart for their britches at times. Though Jason giggled at the silly stories, he seemed enthralled with my words. Took him away from his electronics, if only for minutes out of the day, and my daughter praised me. She’d long ago quit harping at him.

I was seventeen when Hinklehorne died. We lived in the small community of Ashville, where everyone knew everyone. My parents were adamant we attend the viewing and funeral, especially since he’d worked at the school for as long as he had.

The summer he died was my last summer home before I would start university. Brian’s family had moved away two years before. Jason? He’d been in prison since he was sixteen.

Though I didn’t particularly want to see a dead person, I was excited. A “viewing” meant there’d be an open casket. I could solve the mystery of Hinklehorne’s hat!

The funeral home was packed, making me claustrophobic. But once I had a good look at Hinklehorne’s head, I’d be history.

I slowly approached the coffin, wishing Pierre and Bruce were with me. Solving the mystery would have been more fun with them by my side.

I stopped in my tracks. My heart thumpety thumped against my chest. I couldn’t believe it. The hat was still on his head!

I took another step closer. Hinklehorne was definitely dead. No heaving chest. No twitching lips. His hands were clasped tight, resting on his chest atop the pristine silk sheet.

The hat! I needed to lift it a bit. So I could see underneath. But could I do it? Come on; you’re seventeen. You can do it!

Various scenarios rushed through my head. The stories my friends and I had shared. I couldn’t believe I’d finally be solving the mystery.

I glanced around. No one was watching me. I could easily reach in and out of the coffin in two seconds.

I raised my arm. Stretched out my fingers. I was inches away.

I stepped backward.

I couldn’t do it. Too spooky. It was bad enough looking at a dead person, let alone touching one.

Let Hinklehorne take his hat mystery to his grave. Everyone, even in death, deserves a secret, right?

When I told Jason the funeral home story, he agreed with me.

I did solve one mystery, though. Hinklehorne’s first name. Hector. Hector Hayes Hinklehorne. Kinda had a nice ring to it. Jason thought so, too.

***

 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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The Spot Writers – “Hatless” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about someone who always wears the same hat for some secret and/or mysterious reason.

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com.

***

“Hatless” by Val Muller

I hate the cold. Absolutely hate it. Nome, Alaska? Not exactly tropical. You’re not allowed to complain about the cold until you’ve wintered in Alaska.

What I wouldn’t give to get out of here.

Sitting here in my car, heat blasting, I wonder: Am I really going to leave? I’ve got a security deposit, but it’s kind of like chewing off your arm in desperation, right? Just leave that and run. Heck, the landlord deserves that bonus. Never going to find a new tenant in the middle of this Ice Age.

But part of me thinks I’m crazy for doing this. A plane ticket and two suitcases. And that’s it. Just fly somewhere tropical and start over.

Crazy.

But crazier than moving to the coldest town I could find as soon as I came of age?

I pull my hat lower and grab the door handle. I could just as easily walk back into my apartment. Status quo is easiest. And the cost of leaving this ice prison is a high one. Even though I hate the cold, there’s something about your own bed, your own clothes. Am I really just going to leave it all?

I pull the hat away just for a moment and cringe as I look in the rearview mirror. This is what everyone will see. This will be their first impression—everyone’s first impression—for all eternity. I’m not sure which is worse, the ones that try to ignore the scar but just end up staring at it, or the ones who ask about it outright. You’re not allowed to complain about fitting in until you’ve lived with this kind of atrocity etched into your face by your own father.

But 30 hit hard. On the way to work, glancing in the mirror, I wondered: am I really going to wear this hat forever? Am I really prepared to hide from this scar for the rest of my life? To the extent that I will remain in self-inflicted exile? For what? To wait for death?

Really.

And then I saw it on TV. A commercial for a cruise line. Those palm trees, the warmth of the sun on those bronzed bodies. What I wouldn’t give to live there. I think once I knew what warm sunlight felt on the skin. It’s like a nearly-forgotten dream.

But they don’t wear winter hats in the tropics. Everyone I meet will ask me about the scar. And then I’ll have to get into it: the alcohol, the abuse, the countless foster homes, the point of life being simply to survive. And then I’ll endure the pity, the embarrassment for having asked.

I cut the engine and pull the hat back on. Jingle the keys. Take a step toward my apartment. And then a demonic gust comes out of the north and chills my soul. So I hurry back to the car, turn on the engine, and gun it toward the airport.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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