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The Spot Writers – “Goodbye” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story about “Someone, not a stranger, standing on the edge of a precipice.”

Today’s story comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. You can learn more at www.CorgiCapers.com.

***

“Goodbye” by Val Muller

The wind whipped her hair. It whirled past her ears, crisp and brutal, just the way it would sound in a movie. In fact, that’s just how she felt—like one of those wives in a movie, the ones waiting at the top of the hill to catch a glimpse of her husband’s ship coming in after months at sea. The wife of a whaler, maybe. Or a colonial bride waiting for her lover to return from a jaunt to England.

But that wasn’t what she waited for, was it? Her toil was quite the opposite. No one was coming home. Certainly not Greg. How could he come home to her if he’d never been hers in the first place? Her brain itched with the questions.

Her hand twitched, eager to type them out, to allow the angst to flow through the keyboard onto the screen. She needed to create more words, words, words.

No. Dr. Moore told her she’d written enough.

She clutched the pages in her hand. They tattered in the wind, and her hand threatened to let go. The words were sentient, like little beetles dotting the page. Size 9, single spaced, beetles, confined in margins as wide as the printer would allow. She’d done what her therapist said, after all: She’d printed them out and deleted the files. All those months of journaling, hundreds of pages condensed into a hundred and ninety-seven double-sided pages. Each page a saga. Each page wrinkled and tear-stained. She’d read the whole manuscript—that’s what she called it now—once over before coming out here. She’d touched the words, surprised they didn’t stab her fingers as they’d done to her heart, spoken each one aloud. And then she’d driven here.

She had to let go, Dr. Moore said.

And so she’d driven here, to the overlook, the site of her one and only date with Greg.

It was only once, Dr. Moore had told her. One date didn’t constitute true love.

True love didn’t need any dates, she’d told him. True love was true love, and Greg was her true love, plain and simple. The problem was that Greg didn’t yet realize that it was true love. She’d gone to Dr. Moore to ask how to make Greg aware. How to wake him up, to make his heart sentient.

But Greg was married now. She’d had to admit that at her last session. She’d used her alternate account to view his Facebook page, as she did every day and when her insomnia hit, and her heart sank when she saw the big announcement. There it was, posted by his wife. She could barely think the words—his wife! His wife? That was her! It was supposed to be her. But it wasn’t her in the flowing white gown, arm strewn around Greg. Greg, so handsome in his midnight black tuxedo.

And the comments. People had the audacity to congratulate him. Congratulate him? On what? On finding the wrong woman? On taking a step away from true love? And some of the subtleties, asking about children? Babies? Those were supposed to be her babies!

The wind whisked her tears away as quickly as they could come. This type of thinking was not productive, Dr. Moore had said. She needed to move on.

Move on.

Move on.

She peered over the cliff. It was so far down. If she were a bird, she could leap and soar across the ocean, find a new continent and a new lover. But she wasn’t one.

The wind licked the first page of her journal, and she loosened her grip. It was the page describing the first time she saw him, walking into the deli at college. His eyes had caught her immediately, though he didn’t see her. He was like a supernova. How could she look away?

Dr. Moore said he was more like a black hole.

The beetles on the page protested. They did not like being trapped on the page. The wind called to them. They wanted to be free. Free, just like she should be, Dr. Moore had said.

The page loosened and hovered in the air in front of her. She caught only frantic phrases. “Eyes like stars.” “His name is Greg.” “He’s majoring in biology.” Then the page lost its battle with the wind and was whisked out into the air.

Its journey to the sea took eternities. She wanted to jump out after it, to rescue it from its watery fate. The wind seemed strong enough to hold her, after all. But she knew what Dr. Moore would say. That would not be healthy.

So she stood firmly at the precipice, watching the page fall impossibly far out to the sea. She could barely make it out in the glossy sun on the water as it finally hit.

She released the breath she’d been holding. With the exhalation, her grip loosened, and more pages took flight. One, two, ten, two dozen. More, more, more. The thirty pages written about the night Greg told her it just wasn’t working. Her musings about how wrong he was, how he could not possibly know it wasn’t working after just one date. Her frantic sonnets about his knit hat and how it fell over his brow. Her haikus about each beautiful curl on his head. His wife would never appreciate him with that level of detail: she didn’t deserve Greg.

All that beauty, captured in words, now flew out to sea like a flock of birds. They landed peacefully on the waves. Her fingers twitched, thinking of what to say about that, about her urge to follow them.

But that would not be healthy. She could hear Dr. Moore tell her so.

So instead, she sighed once into the wind and mouthed the words as she returned to her car to find a way to move on, somehow, with her life minus her soul mate. “Goodbye, Greg.”

***

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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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, avail

 

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The Spot Writers – “Transitions” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “Winter to spring—a time of transitions. Write a story that takes place in a train station.”

This week’s fiction is from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, available on Amazon and other retailers. www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

Transitions by Cathy MacKenzie

The whistle shrieks from around the bend. Sally sits on the bench, debating whether to stand or wait until the train pulls into the station and everyone alights. People are in such a rush today that they can’t be polite and let people exit before charging in, whether in an elevator or a train. Her mother taught her better manners than that, but she can be impatient, too, depending upon her mood.

The brakes squeal, metal against metal, and the waiting throng descends upon the train as if vultures at a firing squad. The doors open, and bodies squirm to the platform while others squeeze inside.

She stands and adjusts her heavy wool coat over her arm. The station is warm though the last dregs of winter linger outside.

The train rumbles in preparation for departure. Stragglers jump aboard, latching to the stanchions and grab rails.

She has seconds to cover the remaining distance and slip inside before the doors close.

She moves slowly, deliberately. Wedged like a rubber mannequin in a metal packing crate doesn’t appeal to her, nor does the stench of people heading home after work.

The vibration beneath her feet calms her nerves. She dislikes this period—these undefinable days; not winter but not spring despite what the calendar states. That elusive space in between. The storm before the calm.

But winter transitions into spring, and spring shifts quickly into summer, her favourite season.

Abruptly, she turns the opposite way, takes a few steps, and dons her coat.  She’ll walk the forty-two minutes to her apartment on Mason Avenue.

***

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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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 – “Departure” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “Winter to spring, a time of transitions. Write a story that takes place in a train station.”

This month comes to us from Val Muller, author of the young adult novels The Scarred Letter, The Girl Who Flew Away, and The Man with the Crystal Ankh. Learn more at www.ValMuller.com.

***

Departure by Val Muller

The list of arrivals and departures flashed on the screen. Abby shook her head, remembering the last time she’d been in a train station. It was way back in college, even before her parents gave her the clunker, that old Chevy that somehow got her the six hours to and from school.

Back in those days, the arrival and departure listings were still analog. The click-clack-shuffle as they updated the board was calming and exciting all at once. How many times had her heart raced as she saw how close she was to missing her transfer? And how many times her heart had sunk as she saw her train delayed.

With hours to kill during those college years, she learned her way around the train station. Knew the delicious sin of a McDonald’s meal followed by a coffee from the bakery stand. Or a pretzel and a lemonade. Then some window shopping at the high-end boutiques. All this without leaving the station, without being more than a glance away from her boarding instructions.

Then, of course, there was Joseph. Joseph Arden, professor. Lover. Deity. How many times had she merely sat in the station and fantasized about him? Their fling had been too brief. The spark was there, but he was worried about the ethics of it. Less than a decade separated them, but the caste of university culture made her untouchable. Their encounters, if they continued, would have to remain secretive, limited to late-night coffee and stargazing at midnight while reading poetry. They’d read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” in the moonlight and speculated on how their love was so much stronger for its secrecy, for its inability to turn mundane with the Everyday.

That was only days before he’d ended it.

He could never invite her to faculty functions. Their trysts would always end with shameful walks home at five in the morning, with loaded glances during lectures. It could never work, he’d said.

She’d moved on, of course, dating several guys since Joseph. None of them stuck, though. Not like him. He was the one—the one whose face visited her randomly during some cheesy romance flick, whose warm touch visited her in dreams without warning or provocation. He was the one she couldn’t forget, not after all the years.

She didn’t dare email him. She’d seen his face pop up a few times on social media in the “people you might know” section, but she didn’t dare click “invite.” She could never just casually be his friend. She would analyze every word, every post, for hidden meaning.

It had taken years to forget him just enough, and now the train station brought his memory racing back. She sighed as the electronic sign blinked. OAKTON—ON TIME—TRACK 4.

Oakton. The stop closest to the university. How many times she’d seen it. She glanced at the people seated in the waiting area for track 4. Many were college-aged, likely the newest generation of students at her alma mater. She watched their youth, the energy in their eyes.

And then her throat caught. There he was, Joseph Arden in the flesh. He was unmistakable. The same, save maybe some graying at the temples. The same kind eyes, the same warm shoulders bent over a book. He was alone. His left hand, the hand that held the book, was naked.

No social chasm separated them now, only a few years. She was a professional, on her way to a conference. No shame anymore. Could she do it? Could she just walk up to him? Would he just nod and smile and welcome her into his arms and his life?

She didn’t hear the click, but the shuffle of passengers at track 4 told her the Oakton status had changed to BOARDING.

She watched him, paralyzed. He finished the page and carefully placed a bookmark. Then he grabbed a satchel, threw it over his shoulder, and sauntered down the platform steps.

When the train boarded, she hurried to the waiting area and sat on the bench he’d been on. It was still warm. She watched the train pull away down the staircase in front of her, watched Joseph Arden once again depart from her life. His presence, she suspected, would be even stronger now in her dreams. He was her Grecian Urn, after all, their eternal potential never met. A relationship etched so far into her soul that it transcended the real world. The train disappeared from sight, saving them from the threat of an ordinary life together.

So she shouldered her bag and traversed the station to await her train.

***

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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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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Writer Wednesdays – Suzanne Seddon

Today, Writing Wicket interviews Suzanne Seddon, author of A Fool’s Circle.

book pic 3

I asked Suzanne:

Q. Have you ever cried with one of your main characters?

Yes. I cried for Kate and Sophie. Mainly because I could understand and relate to both characters. The book is a hard read. But it was really hard for me to write.

Q.  Do you believe in writers block?

I knew where this book was going. In fact, the characters more or less led me through the whole book. So, I never experienced any writers block although there were moments I had to shut down my laptop and take a break for a few days.

Q. What genre do you favour?

I definitely favour crime fiction and thrillers. although I’m quite partial to the odd autobiography.

Q. What is your favourite childhood book?

My favourite childhood book was definitely The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I had them all. My favourite character was Timmy the dog.

Q. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Having so many ideas swimming around in my brain and trying to get them down on paper as fast as I can. Not being able to switch off is also hard. Sometimes I have woken up in the night with an idea and had to get up and grab a pen and paper.

Q. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I think it’s a bit of both, to be honest. The thought process seems to exhaust me. But once I have a chapter finished, I feel totally energized and ready to start over again.

Q. What is your writing Kryptonite?

I’m a bit of a perfectionist and worry that my scenes are making perfect sense to the reader. So, I tend to go over them more times than I should. I’m also not a lover of writing sex scenes and let my friends read them first to get their opinions, which have been very good. They all agree I have a very vivid imagination.

Q. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I wanted this book to raise awareness about Domestic Violence and Mental Abuse, so I didn’t even contemplate writing under a pseudonym.

Q. Do you think someone can be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

That all depends what the subject matter is they are writing about.

Q. If you could be any author, who would it be and why?

Charles Dickens, for sure. I would love to get inside his head. I love the way he developed his characters. I get transported to a different time and really enjoy the journey.

Q. What was the first book that made you cry?

That was definitely the Lassie books, about a border collie, by Eric Knight. They made me smile and cry at the same time. But recently, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and found myself in floods of tears when Dobby died. I had to pull myself together before my daughter returned from school.

Q. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think a common trap for aspiring authors is that they worry if their work is going to be good enough or interesting enough. They also worry that it has all been said before. It probably has. But just not been told by you.

 

Check out Suzanne’s links:

https://wallacepublishing.co.uk

https://bit.ly/2VJt5C1 (Goodreads)

https://amzn.to/2TJa54E ( Amazon)

https://bit.ly/2FwUO3M  ( Barnes&Noble)

 

Kindle.jpg

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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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Writer Wednesdays – Bill Thomas

Today, I interview Bill Thomas.

Bill lives in Washington, Missouri, and is on staff at First Christian Church there. He’s been in ministry for over twenty-five years. He is also an adjunct instructor in history, Bible, and education for St. Louis Christian College and Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, MO.  He’s authored two novellas, From the Ashes and The Sixty-first Minute published by White Feather Press of MI and three Bible studies, Surrounded by Grace,The Critical Questions and More and The Road to Victory published by CSS Publishing of OH. He co-wrote Give God and Me a Chance with Laney Jeans from Hear My Heart Publishing and wrote a YA book, The Adventurers: The Store Robbery published by DWB Children’s Line, to be released in the spring of 2019.

I asked Bill:

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The first book I wrote that was published was a Christian book. When I first started writing, I felt like it was an extension of my ministry and I’ve tried to view it that way ever since. Like with anyone who writes, I’d like to write a best seller. That’s not been the case, but I do think some of what I’ve written has helped people in their walk with the Lord.

Q: Do you Google yourself?

I am a bit embarrassed to say that I do. There is something cool, I think, about seeing your name in the search engine by the work that you’ve done.

Q: Which means more to you in your writing career: fame or fortune?

I’d like both 😊. Seriously, I don’t know that either is all that important, at least for me. I will try to keep writing to encourage others and improve as much as I can.

Q: How do you know a story/book is finished?

I usually see a story in my head and try to outline it. I try to write what I see. Sometimes, in the process of writing, the story changes. The events turn out differently than what I’d outlined at the beginning. I usually hope to end the story with the reader wanting to have more.

Q: Does your family support your writing?

I’m single, so there isn’t an immediate family, but my family (at large) and church family are encouraging.

Q: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I think it would have been helpful if I’d taken a few classes in creative writing and been a bit bolder in writing when I was younger. I lacked confidence in what I was doing.

Q: Is there a genre you wish you could write that you can’t?

I write in different genres over the years. I suppose I’ve tried many of them. I like the variety of writing it affords. I’ve done some Christian novellas, a YA book, three Bible studies, a couple of plays (Christmas), and helped with a non-fiction biography. I’ve also written for three political websites and written devotions for both online publications and magazines. I think I’ve tried to write in several different ones, but one that I haven’t done that would be interesting, I think, is Science Fiction. I suspect that will remain a “wish,” however. I don’t think I have a good feel for that and how it might connect with faith.

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I would say between six months and a year, depending on the length and the type of book.

Q: How does your life unfold in a normal writing day?

I work at the church and college, so rarely do I get to dedicate a day to writing. For me, writing comes in spurts. Sometimes it flows easily and other times it doesn’t. While working on a project, I try to write some everyday.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

No, I don’t think so. I’ve reread emotional scenes I’ve written and felt that, but as far as tears, no.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes. For me, it isn’t so much a lack of story, but more a lack of how to get it down in the best way. That can be challenging and frustrating at times.

Q: What genre do you favour?

I don’t know if I have a favorite. I enjoy the various kinds of writing I get to do.

Q: Is writing your full time job? If not, what is?

No. I am a minister and Bible college instructor.

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

I haven’t done any historical fiction, but I have read it quite a bit. In my mind, the writer must be true to the actual character of whom he/she is writing. Abraham Lincoln, in your story, has to act consistent with the real character of Abraham Lincoln.

Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read them. I don’t know that I’ve had a ton of them. Most of them have been good and a few have been not quite as good. I take that the same way I take feedback on sermons or lessons. I think you have to not dwell too long on either the good or the bad. Take it for what it is. Learn from it and move on.

Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

In my fiction stories, I like for there to be a bit of a mystery, so there’s that. I don’t know if they are secrets, per se. I do like to have clues that lead up to a reveal later.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write?

I’d say the scenes in the kids’ book I’m working on that involve a character that has special needs has been the most challenging. I want to do it in a way that is realistic and doesn’t “gloss over” or “mock” the character.

Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I suppose one has to have some ego to put himself/herself out there in writing to be read by and discussed by others. I think that kind of ego is important. You have to have the confidence to do that. At the same time, there is always someone (or many someones) better than you, so don’t get too big.

Q: Have you set goals?

I have goals for when doing a writing project but not necessarily for what projects are next.

Thank you, Bill, for this interview!

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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 – “Home” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that involves a snow globe. The snow globe can contain anything and doesn’t necessarily have to do with or take place around Christmas.

Today’s prompt comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Check it out at www.CorgiCapers.com.

***

“Home” by Val Muller

He’d finally done it. Finally cleared out the whole house. Four dumpsters worth. Seriously. Decades of accumulation from Mom and Dad. Toys they saved, some his and some Maggie’s. Years of school artwork, paintings, grade school worksheets.

Scrabble. Operation. Toy water guns. Flashlights with leaking batteries. Mildewed stuffed animals. The glue that had bound him to Maggie growing up. Things Mom and Dad refused to give up. The toys were too degraded to be worth much, and honestly, the memories were things he’d rather keep buried.

So he’d done a quick Google search and chosen the first company that popped up, a company that brought empty dumpsters and collected them once full. They’d come four times already, and he watched out the window as they left for the last time.

He’d tossed things in remorselessly.Anything that couldn’t be donated had been tossed. He wouldn’t have any metaphorical ghosts on his back, nothing to haunt his home with memories of his sister or parents. Those days were in the past, and they lived on in his memory only. He didn’t need a daily physical reminder of the pain of loss.

Funny, he’d always thought Maggie would be the one stuck with the task. He imagined her old and gray, with children of her own, or possibly even grandchildren, cleaning out the hoarder’s paradise that Mom and Dad built. He’d always thought he’d have gone first, not his sister. But there’d been the car wreck. Maggie never married, never had children, and now the task was his alone.

He returned inside, noticing the creaking groan of the front door. Funny, he hadn’t noticed it the hundreds of times he’d been in and out clearing years of possessions. It had seemed like someone else’s door then. A relic from a past that no longer belonged to him. He’d grown since he’d lived in the house, and he was a new person, all around.

Didn’t they say a body’s cells regenerated every eight years or so? It had been more than thrice that since he’d lived at home. He was a different person, twice removed. No need to dwell in memory.

But there was something about the creaking door.

The living room was empty now, only the faded carpet remaining. But he glanced at the fireplace and was transported back to a Christmas years ago. The darkened room illuminated with the warm glow of Christmas lights against a crackling fire. He and Maggie had been sitting under the tree, guessing at their gifts based on the shape of the packages.They knew, absolutely knew, that Dad had gotten them a train set, and they were secretly plotting where they would set it up. When Mom and Dad finally woke that morning, he and Maggie tried to act surprised when they opened the huge box of train tracks and locomotives. Their feigned surprise was so ridiculous that they simply ended up laughing instead. Simply laughing and smiling, and before they knew it, the room was full of contagious laughter and Christmas morning hugs. That was his quintessential memory, the pure essence of childhood.

He reached to brush something off his face and pulled his hand back when he found a tear. Here was what he held back years ago when his father died, and a year later when Maggie got in the car wreck.She’d never really gotten over Dad’s death, and she’d had a few close calls prior to the crash. He hadn’t cried at her funeral, either, nor when she was conferred a posthumous honorary degree from the university. Relatives commented on how stoic he was, how strong he was being for his mother. But the truth was,he’d simply buried it.

When he learned about Mom, it was more of the same. He’d cleared the house quickly and efficiently, allowing only superficial thoughts to enter his mind. Was it valuable enough to sell? New enough to donate? Old enough to trash? It was only triage and vacuuming and getting the house ready for market by December 26, as the realtor had requested.

But now, standing in the empty room and hearing the creaky door, he mourned. He longed for the possessions he’d thrown out. Not all of them, but some. Just one. If he only had one, he could make it.

He stared into the fireplace, and the memories of crackling fire faded to the darkness of the fading evening. But something glittered there in the fireplace. Hadn’t he cleared out everything?In her later years, Mom had used the fireplace to store Tupperware boxes full of sewing supplies. Maybe he’d missed something.

He reached toward the sparkle and retrieved something cold and heavy. A snow globe. He’d forgotten about it. It had been a staple of Christmastime growing up. They’d placed the globe on the end table near the couch so that it caught the lamplight. The snow was made of white specks and blue glitter, enclosing the globe’s residents in winter magic.

Dad had bought it on a business trip. He remembered because it was a Christmas when money was tight, and Mom questioned the purchase. But Dad couldn’t resist, he’d insisted. The globe not only contained a snowman, Maggie’s favorite, but a boy and a girl who looked almost identical to him and Maggie. The little girl in the globe was pointing at the snowman in awe, and her brother was holding her hand, looking at her. It captured their personalities almost perfectly.

He dropped the globe in his coat pocket and hurried out the front door, locking it behind him, ready for house hunters. His eyes watered in the cold winter evening, but he didn’t mind. The weight in his pocket felt like the tug of nostalgia, the tug of a home that would always be his.

***

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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Writer Wednesdays – Drew Lankford

Today, I interview Drew Lankford.

Drew at Pa Bunks 2 (2)

Drew lives in Murfreesboro, TN, with his three beautiful children and sometimes beautiful cat. He has published four books of poetry: For You, Limitless, Lollipops, and Fluffy Socks. He has also published widely in journals such as Skive, 34th Parallel, and Living with Loss.  Unclear of its tone or direction, he is currently hard at work on his fifth collection of poetry.  Most of his encouragement as a writer comes from his friends at the writing workshop that meets weekly at the local library. Besides writing, Drew loves listening to music, going on long walks, and playing with his children in the backyard.

Q.  How long do you write daily?

I write between 2-3 hours daily depending on how well things are going. If the writing gets tense and seems to be going nowhere, I go for a long walk.

Q.  What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is graduating from Austin Peay State University with an MA in English Creative Writing. That was tough study, and I’m proud to have made it through.

Q.  What is your major emphasis now?

Right now, I’m working on writing. Besides caring for my children, it’s all about writing. Nothing will get written on its own.

Q.  What are you currently reading?

I am reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Her writing looks so simple it’s amazing. She’s one of the best, ever. Besides Austin, I’ve started re-reading some of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Q.  What is your favorite book?

I’ve got to go with two here: The Call of the Wild and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Q.  Which contemporary authors are you reading now?

Billy Collins is one of the coolest authors we have with us today. His imagination is incredible. Also, I enjoy reading the playful and lighthearted M.C. Beaton mystery books.

Q.  What are your goals?

One goal is to have ten collections of poetry finished by the time I’m fifty. That sounds like a good number to me. Also, I’d like to try writing something off the grid: a collection of essays, humorous tales from the classroom, things like that.

Q.  What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working hard on the fifth collection of poetry. If it makes sense, the collection is lifting off a bit–its shiny head in the wind–and I want to keep it down, but I know I can’t restrain it. I’ve got to let go and see where it leads. That’s what I’m working on.

Q. What do you hope to get from writing?

I always want to learn more about myself and others. I love to see how far we’ve come and the possibilities of the future.

Q.  If you could tell your younger self something about writing what would it be?

I would tell my younger self that writing is like life. There are unpleasant times and there are pleasurable times, and the trick to the whole thing is to stay at it, no matter what.

Q.  What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was a child I wanted to be a Major League baseball player. I made it to high school, not bad, considering.

Q.  What do you do for a full time job?

At this time, I’m between jobs and that gives me time to write. Trust me, I’m taking advantage of the time.

Q.  What are your feelings about ethics used in writing about historical figures?

Accurate history must be based in truth or it becomes fiction. If the author is honest and tells us if his or her work is based in fact or fantasy, that would ease much tension.

Q.  Where can we find your work?

www.dwb.publishing.com

or through any normal online locations.

+++

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 Booklet” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places.

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.

***

The Booklet by Chiara De Giorgi

I am a small booklet: just a few pages bound together, home-made style, with a blue, battered cover.

I was written by an elderly woman, who gave me to her grand-daughter. She had written her verses and thoughts on my pages, she even put in a couple of beautiful drawings.

Her grand-daughter had just moved to a country far away and was feeling bewildered and a bit dazed by the different language and habits, by all those unfamiliar faces and places. She cherished her grand-mother present, reading and re-reading the short poems and being comforted by the woman’s words.

Every time she flipped through my pages, she smiled softly to herself; she even shed a tear of two, thinking of her grand-mother. From my pages she drew the strength to face her daily challenges with a brave heart.

One day I realized she didn’t need me anymore. I was lying on her bedside table, as usual, and I watched her cuddle her newborn baby, while her husband lovingly hugged them both.

That afternoon, while we were at the park, I discretely slid from the stroller’s blanket, landing on the grass and waiting for someone to find me.

A young boy saw me and tenderly picked me up, a big smile growing on his face. He put me in his coat’s pocket and off we ran.

He wiped my cover and straightened my pages, then put me on his sister’s bed, half hidden under a giant stuffed panda bear’s foot. He watched unseen, as the little girl found me and started flipping through my pages, stopping to admire the beautiful drawings.

The little girl had just moved to a new school and was distressed because she couldn’t make new friends, nor forget her old ones. From that day on, she always brought me with her. I reminded her of her big brother, and every time she felt lonely or afraid, she just opened me, finding a poem, or a few lines in a short story, that helped her feel comfortable again.

One day I was watching her from the bench in the schoolyard: it was summer and she was playing with her school-mates, running around and laughing happily. I understood my time with her had come to an end, and let myself fall under the bench.

The old janitor found me. He picked me up and brought me home. He put me on the table while he ate a quick supper, then we went to his sister’s, all the way across the city.

His sister had recently been widowed and was feeling very sad and lonely. She was unable to sit on her husband’s favorite armchair, or to sleep on his side of the double bed. Every single object reminded her of the man she had shared so many years with, and she could only sit next to the window in the small kitchen, looking out and remembering the time gone.

She didn’t care much for me, at first, but then she decided to open me and read a few words here and there, until she started doing so every morning. One poem, one memory, one aphorism a day, I kept her company and showed her there were still thoughts to be thought and words to be spoken.

One morning she entered the kitchen humming a happy tune. She kept humming and cleaned all the house. She moved the furniture and put her husband’s armchair next to the wood stove, then she chose an old record from a pile and played it, quietly dancing by herself around the room. Her eyes were clear, her face serene, a hint of a smile stretched her lips.

The window next to me was open, and a gust of wind gently lifted me. I was flying towards my destiny again.

***

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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Writer Wednesdays – Marie McGaha

This week, Writing Wicket interviews Marie McGaha.

Marie is an ordained minister, addictions counselor,  author, and editor. In real life, she’s a wife, mother, and Nana who loves being in the mountains. She and her husband, Nathan, are members of The Patriot Guard Riders and supporters of Neptune Warriors.

NatenRieAnniversary (2)

I asked Marie:

Q: Do you try more to be original or deliver to readers what they want?

I’m not what you would call trendy. Most of what I write is Christian-oriented, and I write what I feel God puts on my heart to help others.

Q: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

(I seriously don’t know how to answer that.)

Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Most of what I have written over the past several years has been about my own life experiences related to the 30+ years I have in ministry. As far as writing fiction, my characters aren’t necessarily based on real people, but are a conglomeration of people I’ve known.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Seventeen.

Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Making authors pay to be published.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

Other people’s books! The life of an editor means I spend more time getting other people’s work ready to be published than I do my own. But I do have books coming out next year. First, the sequel to Shine His Light Lessons In Life, titled Shine His Light 2 Directions In Life, and Christy Diachenko is currently working on the voice over for Shine His Light Lessons In Life, which will be out on Audible next spring.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be?

A teacher. I actually went to college with the idea of being an English major, so I could teach high school English.

Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

For me it is. Much of what I write is based on my ministerial practice and experience, and biblically based.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

Trying to give them a personality that is likable, yet flawed and real without them seeming too arrogant. I have the greatest husband and I use a lot of him in my male characters, and I also use my sons’ attributes and flaws to round out the characters. None of the male characters are just one man in my life, but a mix of the good men I love.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

The rewrites. I want to do it perfectly the first time so I don’t have to go through a long editing process, but so far, I haven’t hit perfection!

Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?

When I finally hold that book in my hand and know I’ve actually completed something I started.

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

That would be another thing I dislike about writing—there’s never enough hours to write as much as I want. Life keeps interfering and I have to tend to things like cleaning house, cooking, letting dogs in and out and in and out… plus, I have to edit other people’s manuscripts, plus all of the promotions I do, as well as the time required for my ministry, and then there’s grandkids…. I need more hours in the day!

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

When I first decided to be a published author it was because I wanted to be remembered for something, but as I’ve gotten older, that’s been tempered with the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. There are so many hurting people out there, and if any of my life experiences can help, then I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something.

Q: What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I was sexually abused by two uncles from the age of 3 until I was about 11, and that of course, has had a lifelong affect on who I am and how I’ve lived. Coming to terms with that type of abuse isn’t easy, and learning to forgive an abuser is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. So, that period of life and the after effects play a huge role in what I write.

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?

Out of someone else’s book or my own? I’ve edited chapters out of other people’s books, but I’ve tossed entire manuscripts of my own. I’ve read them and thought, wow, that’s crap and started over from scratch. I always put my work away for at least a month before re-reading it. It gives me distance and the ability to read it without my mind seeing what should be there and really isn’t. That way I am more objective and can see my errors.

Q: What motivates you (in writing or otherwise)?

Other people. Through the years of counseling, working with probation and parole, and being a minister, I’ve met countless people in every walk of life and I’ve found that there is much more that binds us together than what separates us. One of the things I’ve remained involved with is prison ministry, although it’s gotten much easier with the internet. The federal prison system has an email service for inmates, and I correspond with prisoners all over the country. I send them daily devotionals, and we have a weekly group called Free To Live that covers subjects like addiction and anger management.

Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?

Yes. My favorite story by me is Cross The Line. It’s set just after the Civil War and involves a former Southern belle with a former slave. I love the story, the dynamics between the characters, and their relationship. I was so sad when their story ended.

Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Not really. Fiction is like our dreams, anything can happen and it makes perfect sense.

Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I would have to say a bear… I own Dancing With Bear Publishing that is named in honor of my late husband, J. Bear Marler. So, if there is such a thing, my spirit animal is the bear.

Q: What books have you published?

Fiction:

Cross The Line

One Good Man

Closure

Non-fiction:

Comfort & Joy book one: forgiveness

When God Talks, It’s Time To Listen

The Root, The Shoot, The Fruit

Shine His Light Lessons In Life

Fictionalized Non-fiction:

Freedom Worth Dying For

 

For more information on Marie:

www.mariemcgaha.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMarieMcGaha/

https://twitter.com/Marie_McGaha

https://thelightofjesus.blogspot.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/mariemcgaha/

www.dwbpublishing.com

https://www.instagram.com/dwb_publishing/

https://www.facebook.com/DWBPublishing/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DWBFanPage/

https://beforeitsnews.com/contributor/pages/254/684/bio.html

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dancing-with-bear-christian-publishing-2a076b37/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariemcgaha/

Media Kit

+++

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 –

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: Newspapers and news sites show a plethora of depressing stuff from floods and wildfires and other environmental problems, to mass shootings, to refugee problems and other political and social crises. Write a story focused on a depressing occurrence and give it a happy ending.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available from her locally or on Amazon, to great reviews.

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

***

Downtown Meetings by Cathy MacKenzie

“Did you go downtown this morning?” Simon asked, entering the kitchen.

I jerked around from the counter, dropping the dishtowel as I did so. “Why?”

“I saw you driving down Main Street with the top down.”

The top down? I breathed a sigh of relief. “Nope, not me.”

“It sure looked like you.”

“You know I never have the top down when I’m alone.”

“And why is that?”

“Because it’s presumptuous. Like I’m flaunting. You know I hate attention.”

He laughed. “Well, it looked like you.”

“When did you think you saw me?” I bent over to pick up the towel, glad to have something in my hands.

“Oh, I guess it was around eleven or so. I had to go to a meeting on Churchill.”

“Wasn’t me. There’s lots of red mustangs.”

“Yeah, I know.” He wrapped his arms around my shoulders and kissed me. When he broke away, he asked, “What’s for dinner?”

“Meat loaf.” Simon’s favourite.

After dinner, he disappeared downstairs to his man cave.

I plonked to the kitchen chair. Scary stuff, that was. Had he seen me in my red Mustang with the top up, trying to catch me in a lie? No, he had no inkling.

My life was simple and carefree, with very few problems as compared to those who endure such catastrophes as forest fires, tornados, and hurricanes. Why did I want to create a disastrous situation when there was no need for one? Simon was a perfect husband and provider. Sure, we had the odd spat—what married couple didn’t? I should be more grateful for him and my life.

I finished the dishes and headed to the bedroom, intending to read in bed. Instead, I pondered, unable to concentrate on the book. Sweat poured over me, and I threw off the blanket. What had I been thinking? Could I have gone through with it?

If Simon had actually seen a woman resembling me in a car similar to mine, what a cruel coincidence. I very rarely drive downtown. What a fluke he’d been there the same morning I was.

I hadn’t been attracted to Rob, not with his receding hairline, paunchy belly, and seventies-style clothing. Not up to my standards, for sure, and I should have exited the mall immediately when I saw him—the guy who waited by the fountain. Despite my initial reaction, we enjoyed conversation over lunch. I was taken aback when he mentioned his wife and how it would kill her if she discovered he’d been hooking up with other women.

Gee, what should he expect? He had joined Dates & Mates, a local dating site, specifically for sexual partners. It would kill Simon, too, if he ever found out I was a member. But this was my first time. Rob was the first anonymous guy I’d connected with online, the first guy I’d met in person.

“She never wants it anymore,” Rob had said. “She has a condition.” He rattled off the medical term, which was foreign to me.

I had almost blurted, “So, because she can’t—or won’t—engage in sex that gives you permission to seek sex elsewhere?” But I kept my mouth shut. Who was I to talk? I was as bad as he was.

I wondered what sort of marriage Rob had, and that’s what had knocked the sense into me, thinking of his innocent, unsuspecting wife at home, waiting for her husband, not knowing of his double life.

This was all foreign to me. Cheating and lies. And what about my love for Simon, my husband of ten years? Didn’t he deserve better? I had thought I needed excitement in my life, but I already had the best husband. I didn’t want another. It was pure luck Simon hadn’t caught me.

Suddenly, I was cold and yanked the covers over me. Minutes later I heard Simon coming up the stairs. He would keep me warm, as he always did.

***

 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/

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