n 1920s Florida, Spiritualism enjoys renewed interest. Daphne Moultrie, the most powerful medium of her time, receives a warning from the other side, “Find her, and keep her with you. Or you will die.” All Daphne knows about this girl is what her crystal ball showed her — a four-leaf clover, and each leaf had a human eye.
Meanwhile, Daphne’s fiancé has designs of his own. He pressures her to continue séances for a strange and very demanding woman. With each of those séances, Daphne becomes weaker and closer to death.
This novella captures the Roaring Twenties, as only acclaimed author, Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene can. Settings, descriptions, and language all come to vibrant life. The ensemble cast has a number of characters, including one you will love to hate. It’s a genre mash-up, part mystery, part suspense, with a dash of light horror.
Teagan Geneviene has created the perfect Halloween tale, full of rich descriptions, interesting characters, and with a fast paced plot involving a frightening demon.
Daphne Moultrie is a gifted medium with a lot of empathy and a kind nature. Daphne was born to wealth and lives in a beautiful mansion with her aging housekeeper, Maisy, who has cared for her since the death of her parents many years before.
Recently engaged to the outwardly charming Crespo Irigoyen, a Cuban Count, Daphne has everything to be joyous about, but she is not thriving. Fatigued and wan, she is finding giving seances overwhelming, especially those for the demanding and selfish Mrs Smith. Daphne senses something evil in this foreboding woman and does not want to see her. Her determined fiancé is, however, determined that the relationship with, and seances for Mrs Smith, should continue.
Maisie is concerned and does not trust Crespo. She doesn’t know what to do until the spirit of a dead soldier manifests and gives Daphne a warning.
Is the dead soldier good or evil? Can the outcome he warns of be avoided? Does Crespo really love Daphne or is he a charlatan? Read the book to find out!
A few samples of Ms. Geneviene’s vivid writing:
“A gust of wind caused the tall palm trees to sway. The vivid sunrise faded to clear blue and the sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds. Yet there was something to the air that hinted of a storm in the distance.”
“Regardless, there were dark circles under Daphne’s eyes, and her complexion was ashen. The roses were gone from her cheeks. There was no bounce in her step. That morning the poor thing looked so fragile that Maisy wanted to telephone the doctor.”
“Her murky black aura extends to make a huge sphere around her. I’ve never seen an aura so large or so … revolting. I can feel an oil texture just looking at it,’ Daphne whispered with a shudder, but collected herself quickly.”
A fabulous and entertaining Halloween read.
Universal purchase links for Peril in Ectoplasm: Just Once More
I am over at Writing to be Read with this month’s Dark Origins post featuring the Sotho Tswana and the malevolent Tokoloshe. I have also shared a short story about the Tokoloshe … Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.
The Sotho-Tswana people of southern Africa comprise of the South Sotho (Basuto and Sotho), the West Sotho (Tswana) and the North Sotho (Pedi) people.
Most Sotho people were historically herders of cattle, goats and sheep and growers of grains and tobacco. The Sotho people were also recognised for their metal and leather work as well as their wood and ivory carving.
The Sotho people live largely in Lesotho and South Africa and as a combined group are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa.
The Sotho traditionally believe in Modimo who created the world and then withdrew to Heaven. He no longer concerns himself with life on earth. Modimo is not worshipped directly but though the ancestors.
The belief in ancestors is central to Sotho traditional religion. The ancestors are believed to have an influence over the daily lives of their direct descendants. Each family is under…
Last week, I had a little fun sharing quotes from some of the books I’ve read that I think are beautifully written. That post was prompted by a post on Dave Astor on Literature called More Premium Prose Practitioners. This week, Dave has shared a post about characters [from books] who are more famous than the authors who created them. You can read Dave’s post here: https://daveastoronliterature.com/2022/10/23/characters-who-are-more-famous-than-the-authors-who-created-them. I have decided to share some quotes from books I’ve read whose characters are more famous than the author of the book. The best part is you need to guess who the CHARACTER IS.
Book 1 – Italian author – Children’s book
“Woe to those who lead idle lives. Idleness is a dreadful illness and must be cured in childhood. If it is not cured then, it can never be cured.”
“A conscience is that still small voice that people won’t listen to.”
“Are you not afraid of death?’
I am not in the least afraid!… I would rather die than drink that bitter medicine.’
At that moment the door of the room flew open, and four rabbits as black as ink entered carrying on their shoulders a little bier.”
Hint: Created by a carpenter in Florence, this is believed to be the most widely known children’s tale in the world.
Book 2 – American author – Adult fiction
There is more than one famous character from this book so I’ll accept any of them.
“Your young white, who gathers his learning from books and can measure what he knows by the page, may conceit that his knowledge, like his legs, outruns that of his fathers’, but, where experience is the master, the scholar is made to know the value of years, and respects them accordingly.”
“In short, the magnifying influence of fear began to set at naught the calculations of reason, and to render those who should have remembered their manhood, the slaves of the basest passions.”
“You are young, and rich, and have friends, and at such an age I know it is hard to die!”
Hint: This author contributed to the creation of the American literature genre.
Book 3 – Children’s book – British author
“I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright because I’m a bear”
“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of emergency.”
“Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of bear.”
Book 4 – British author – Adult fiction
“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”
“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
“There are some upon this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name; who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”
If you know who the famous characters are, let me know in the comments.
Today, I am delighted to welcome talented author, Jacqui Murray, to Roberta Writes with a fascinating post for the launch of her new book, Natural Selection, Dawn of Humanity Book 3.
A prehistoric day with Lucy
Lucy, Natural Selection’s main character, is representative of the first humans. She walks upright, solves problems with her big brain as much as instinct, and has daylight left over each day to do something other than eat, sleep, hunt, defend herself, and procreate. She doesn’t wear clothing, live in a shelter, believe in gods or God, cook, or use fire. She thinks animals are superior because they’re physically more powerful. She is a hunter-gatherer (pre-farming), will eat anything (she’s an omnivore). Her tribe is a small group of about ten with no leader. The attitude is to work as hard as they can for the good of the group.
Here’s her typical day:
Lucy wakes up in a tree nest like those built by chimpanzees (Natural Selection tells you how to do this in case you’d like your own). If she isn’t close to a forest, she’ll settle for huddling against a cliff, around a baobab, under a stone ledge, or in an abandoned Canis (a pre-wolf) den.
Lucy relieves her urine and waste in a spot well away from where her tribe sleeps, but uses her feces and urine as animals do, to mark the boundaries of her territory.
Lucy eats when food is available. This might be as she’s foraging, hunting, or migrating. There are many days she doesn’t eat at all.
The tribe is fairly safe in their home, called a ‘homebase’, the place where they gather during the day, but when scavenging or foraging, the world is dangerous so they move quietly and cautiously.
Lucy spends most of the day in activities that feed her. She might stay at the homebase to pummel roots and stems to an edible softness, travel to a grove of fruit trees to collect fruit before other animals find it, gather nuts and berries when available–eating as she collects–or scavenge the carcass of an animal killed by predators. She always travels in small groups because the land is dangerous. Many predators feast on her meat. She is small–under five feet–with no defenses against attack other than her growing brain. Her skin is thin, her nails aren’t the shearing claws of predators, and her teeth are worthless for offense with no tearing fangs. Plus, if chased, she doesn’t run fast. She can climb trees to escape or in some cases, outsmart enemies with a clever idea.
When hunting, foraging, and gathering is completed, Lucy returns to the homebase where she grooms her tribe members. This is when she cleans their hair of lice, bugs, twigs, and debris, much like chimpanzees do (details on how to do that in the book). That done, she will knap stone tools required for chopping and cutting. If she has managed to find a carcass left by a predator, she will disarticulate the meat from the bones and break them open to retrieve the marrow.
Lucy’s days are filled with danger, threats, and stress, but also the latent sense of family and community. The juxtaposition of these instinctive and emotional traits makes a story I think you’ll enjoy.
About Natural Selection
In this final book of the trilogy, Lucy and her tribe leave their good home to rescue captured tribemembers who are in grave danger. Since leaving her mate, Lucy created a tribe that includes an eclectic mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium kit, and different iterations of early man. More will join and some will die but that is the nature of prehistoric life, when survival depends on a mix of man’s developing intellect and untiring will to live. Each brings unique skills to the task of saving Raza and his Group from sure death. Based on true events from 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you.
Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.
He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.
To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.
He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.
Or a cliff.
When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.
Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.
He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.
But no one else in his pack did.
Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.
Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.
All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.
Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.
Why did she go here?
He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.
Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.
But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.
Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.
Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.
His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.
While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.
Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.
He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.
He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.
Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.
Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.
Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.
My review of Laws of Nature, Dawn of Humanity Book 2
I am very interested in pre-history and have visited the Cradle of Mankind, Sterkfontein Caves, and Maropeng exhibition several times as well as the paleontology department at the University of the Witwatersrand. As a result, I have a good knowledge of the time period in which this series is set, and how humanity lived, hunted and created tools. I have also read the Earth Children series of books by Jean M. Auel. When I came across the Dawn of Humanity series by Ms. Murray, I knew I had to read it.
I have not been disappointed by this, or any of Ms. Murray’s other pre-historical books. The attention to detail and research is impeccable and I not found any errors relating to the theories and research findings of the period. I particularly appreciate the authenticity of these books which I have not experienced to the same degree in the other pre-historical novels I have read.
Laws of Nature picks up where book 1 left off with Lucy and her small tribe of diverse members and personalities trying to find a new and safer home after their larger tribe was attacked and many members taken prisoner.
Lucy is of the Man Who Makes Tools tribe, a peace loving race of ‘uprights’ who prefer to live in harmony with the land and the animals which populate it. The advent of Man Who Preys, a more aggressive race of ‘uprights’ who attack and kill other tribes and also animals, has forced Lucy and many of her fellow tribesmen to flee to save their lives and reestablish their peaceable lifestyles somewhere else.
I enjoyed Lucy’s travel companions: Ump the Canis, Boah the Tree-Man, Garv, Lucy’s soul-mate, and Voi, Lucy’s son. My favourite, other than Lucy who represents a strong and innovative woman and leader, was Boah. He is a good natured and peaceable man with certain limitations that he tries hard to overcome in order to be useful to his small tribe.
The captured half of Lucy’s tribe are also determined to escape and find Lucy. There is also another man, an enemy of Man Who Makes Tools, who is seeking Lucy for his own purposes. The story is told from each of the three perspectives, Lucy’s tribe, the escapees, and the tracker, as it follows each of these primary story threads.
A superbly researched and exciting book with a fascinating pre-historical setting that will not disappoint.
About Jacqui Murray
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
WordCrafter Press is proud to present Visions, a fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror anthology.
Fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror stories that will keep you awake long into the night.
An author’s visions are revealed through their stories. Many authors have strange and unusual stories, indeed. Within these pages, you will find the stories of eighteen different authors, each unique and thought provoking. These are the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror stories that will keep you awake long into the night.
What happens when:
An inexplicable monster plagues a town for generations, taking people… and souvenirs?
A post-apocalyptic band of travelers finds their salvation in an archaic machine?
The prey turns out to be the predator for a band of human traffickers?
Someone chooses to be happy in a world where emotions are regulated and controlled?
A village girl is chosen to be the spider queen?
Grab your copy today and find out. Let authors such as W.T. Paterson, Joseph Carabis, Kaye Lynne Booth, Michaele Jordan, Stephanie Kraner, and others, including the author of the winning story in the WordCrafter 2022 Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, tantalize your thoughts and share their Visions
From Kaye Lynne Booth, editor of Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore,Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception and Gilded Glass: Twisted Myths & Shattered Fairy Tales.
Here, Now, Wherever – and How on Earth I Got There by Stephanie Kraner
It all started with a cat, as so many things often do—at least in my house. This was supposed to be a story about a black cat named Levine who helped a woman survive in the post-apocalyptic remains of America. Levine was going to be a heroic and perhaps unnaturally wise feline who hunted game, shared it, and absolutely refused to let her chosen human give up and die regardless of how difficult things got. But, because the only thing I’m better at than writing outlines is ignoring them with the utmost disdain, as soon as I started writing, Levine became an accessory to a much different tale.
If you get Cormac McCarthy vibes from the setting, you’re certainly not wrong. That was on my mind as I wrote this, in a “Is this too similar to The Road such that I should stop writing right now?” kind of way. But given climate change and the fact that large portions of the United States are often on fire, I think I can be forgiven the similarity. Besides, Here, Now, Wherever is more like cottagecore with a post-apocalyptic twist. And—spoiler alert—there are no cannibals.
So, although this story includes zero roads whatsoever, does not feature even one single scene involving feasting on human flesh, and is not, in fact, a story about a cat, it is a story about motherhood and grief and the interminable human desire for connection and family. It was an intense story to write, and I hope you can feel that as you read it.
My review of Here, Now, Wherever
This is a dystopian short story about American society post a climate change event that causes horrific fires, air pollution, and destruction of civilization as we know it.
Simone is a survivor, but she has suffered massive emotional trauma. Her method of dealing with her trauma is to dissociate from everyone around her who has suffered similar loss and pain. Life and the human psyche do not work like that, however, and when Simone meets a young boy, cracks start appearing in her defensive armour.
A beautifully written story set in a disturbing future setting that was reminiscent for me of John Wyndham’s famous book, The Day of the Triffids.
About Stephanie Kraner
Stephanie is a short fiction author and coffee junkie living in the Pittsburgh area. Although she mostly writes science fiction and fantasy, from time to time she enjoys dabbling with her secret love—literary fiction. Her work has appeared in Apex Magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Follow her on Twitter @StephKraner.
Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). You can join in here: https://nofacilities.com/2022/10/20/still-driving-around-pittsburgh/
During our recent trip to Tau Game Reserve, we spent one night in the small town of Groot Marico. Our overnight residence was a cottage at Riverstill Guest Farm on the Marico River, about 7 kilometers away from the town. It was a beautiful and tranquil setting, but I could not relax because there were no locks on the external doors of the cottage. The permanent residents consider the area safe and locks unnecessary but I didn’t like it. I have to lock doors at night or I can’t sleep.
The kitchen was old fashioned and still featured the old stone oven, pot hooks and kettle. There was an electric double plate set where the fire would have been. The kitchen had the original old glass window.
Some pictures of our walk along the Marico River.
Here is a short video of the small rapids on the river:
I am a little behind with blogging this week as my son, Michael, had major surgery on his sinuses again on Tuesday. The operation took three hours and involved a revision of the previous surgery (last year) and an expansion of what was done. Because of the risks involved, given Michael’s surgical history, he had a surgical navigator who plotted the surgery using the CT scan we had done the prior week. Michael was also hooked up to a machine that monitored his breathing and heart rate and how he was reacting to the anesthetic. This intervention was because he came out of the anesthetic last time and pulled the breathing tube out before he was ready to breath on his own. The tube was still inflated in his lungs so it was very dramatic and he stopped breathing and had to be put back under anesthetic to get the tube re-inserted. This unfortunate event caused a lot of pain and difficulty with his previous recovery.
This surgery was not drama free as he hemorrhaged again and the doctor had to insert a dissolvable sponge deep into his sinuses to stop the bleeding. Because of extensive scar tissue and damage from previous surgeries that hadn’t healed as well as they should have, they also had to fracture the bone in his nose to make space for tools to do the repair work. He stayed in hospital overnight as he needed oxygen and because his blood pressure dropped due to the bleeding and shock.
He came home on Wednesday afternoon and we were back at the hospital this morning because of a blockage. It was blood clots and other build ups called crusting which had to be suctioned out of the surgical site. It was pleasant and the poor chap was quite pale afterwards.
He has to go back on Wednesday next week to have the suctioning repeated. In the mean time we have to do a whole programme of steaming and douching. It is quite a process.
Hopefully, following Wednesday, he will be okay and nothing further will be required for some time. The surgery doesn’t fix his problems, it merely allows the antibiotics and other medications to enter the sinuses so they can do their job. Currently, there is no complete cure for his superbug, and biofilm, and chronic sinusitis, they can only control it. Hopefully some clever person will come up with something new in the future, but until then, this is the best we can do.
This topic is just to big for me to respond to Dave via a comment on his blog, so I decided to write a post instead, and share some of my top authors and some compelling or outstandingly beautiful prose from their books.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
What a glorious book this is. I just love Mole, Ratty, Badger, and even Mr Toad.
“But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.”
“Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, Those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way.”
“The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden is both mine and my son, Gregory’s, favourite children’s book. It is full of mystery, magic, and delight.
“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone’s eyes.”
“Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.”
“Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”
I am David by Anne Holm
I am David is the book that influenced me the most as a young reader. What a marvelous tale of spiritual triumph over the evil of oppression.
“And his eyes frighten me, too. They’re the eyes of an old man, an old man who’s seen so much in life that he no longer cares to go on living. They’re not even desperate… just quiet and expectant, and very, very lonely, as if he were quite alone of his own free choice.”
“And it was most important to do what one knew was right, for otherwise the day might come when one could no longer tell the difference between right and wrong.”
“Before he had come to the town he had known about nothing but death: here he had learnt to live, to decide things for himself; he had learnt what it felt like to wash in clean water in the sunshine until he was clean himself, and what it felt like to satisfy his hunger with food that tasted good; he had learnt the sound of laughter that was free from cruelty; he had learnt the meaning of beauty”
Adult’s books – Can you guess the book and author?
“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”
“We must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians . . . were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space if fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?”
“Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”
“The moon went slowly down in loveliness; she departed into the depth of the horizon, and long veil-like shadows crept up the sky through which the stars appeared. Soon, however, they too began to pale before a splendour in the east, and the advent of the dawn declared itself in the newborn blue of heaven. Quieter and yet more quiet grew the sea, quiet as the soft mist that brooded on her bosom, and covered up her troubling, as in our tempestuous life the transitory wreaths of sleep brook upon a pain-racked soul, causing it to forget its sorrow. From the east to the west sped those angels of the Dawn, from sea to sea, from mountain-top to mountain-top, scattering light from breast and wing. On they sped out of the darkness, perfect, glorious; on, over the quiet sea, over the low coast-line, and the swamps beyond, and the mountains above them; over those who slept in peace and those who woke in sorrow; over the evil and the good; over the living and the dead; over the wide world and all that breathes or as breathed thereon.”
“Though the face before me was that of a young woman of certainly not more than thirty years, in perfect health and the first flush of ripened beauty, yet it bore stamped upon it a seal of unutterable experience, and of deep acquaintance with grief and passion. Not even the slow smile that crept about the dimples of her mouth could hide the shadow of sin and sorrow. It shone even in the light of those glorious eyes, it was present in the air of majesty, and it seemed to say: ‘Behold me, lovely as no woman was or is, undying and half-divine; memory haunts me from age to age, and passion leads me by the hand–evil have I done, and with sorrow have I made acquaintance from age to age, and from age to age evil shall I do, and sorrow shall I know till my redemption comes.”
“It was a wonderful thing to think for how many thousands of years the dead orb above and the dead city below had gazed thus upon each other, and in the utter solitude of space poured forth each to each the tale of their lost life and long-departed glory. The white light fell, and minute by minute the quiet shadows crept across the grass-grown courts like the spirits of old priests haunting the habitations of their worship–the white light fell, and the long shadows grew till the beauty and grandeur of each scene and the untamed majesty of its present Death seemed to sink into our very souls, and speak more loudly than the shouts of armies concerning the pomp and splendour that the grave had swallowed, and even memory had forgotten.”
“I really have discovered something at last. Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out. The front pattern does move – and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over. Then in the very ‘ bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard. And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern – it strangles so:…”
“At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be”
“I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store.”
Kaye Lynne Booth from WordCrafter Press has kicked off the Visions tour with a guest post by author, Billie Holladay Skelley, about her short story, Secret Thoughts, and an interview with me about my winning short story, The Bite.
Welcome the the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour, where we are celebrating the release of the Visions anthology, which will be out tomorrow, October 18. But it is also available for pre-order now. It’s a fantastic science fiction, fantasy & horror anthology filled with nineteen unique stories and we have an amazing eight day tour planned to honor the occasion. With a guest post for each day; two seperate interviews: one with the author of the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, also known to many of us as Robbie, and contributing author Sara Wesley McBride will also interview me; three reviews; and a fantastic digital giveaway, this tour promises to be full of surprises. Join us and help send Visions off right.
(The links below won’t work until each post goes live)
Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).
This week I am taking a small detour home and showcasing my creepy dolls collection at the request of talented author, Teri Polen, who is currently hosting #BadMoonRising for Halloween 2022. Next week, I will share my pictures of the Charles Herman Bosman Living Literacy Museum in Groot Marico.
One of Teri’s optional questions for #BadMoonRising is Would you buy a doll that you knew was haunted?
Today, I am delighted to give you a sneak peak into a new anthology, Distant Flickers, comprising of 10 excellent stories by 8 talented writers, Elizabeth Gauffreau, Carol LaHines, Keith Madsen, Jim Metzner, Donna Koros-Stramella, Joyce Yarrow, Rita Baker, Amy E. Wallen, and John Casey.
About Distant Flickers
~ 8 Accomplished Authors ~ 10 Memorable Stories ~ Compelling Characters at a Crossroads ~ What Choices Will They Make?
The emotive stories in this anthology take readers to the streets of New York and San Francisco, to warm east coast beaches, rural Idaho, and Italy, from the early 1900s, through the 1970s, and into present day.
A sinister woman accustomed to getting everything she wants. A down-on-his luck cook who stumbles on goodness. A young mother who hides $10 she received from a stranger. The boy who collects secrets. A young woman stuck between youth and adulthood. Children who can’t understand why their mother disappears.
The distinct and varied characters in Distant Flickers stand at a juncture. The loss of a spouse, a parent, a child, oneself. Whether they arrived at this place through self-reflection, unexpected change, or new revelations—each one has a choice to make.
I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old. You ask, “What kind of collection is that for a six-year-old?” I know! I was the only one on my block. Well, at least that was the way it seemed at the time. When you collect secrets, the point is that nobody else knows, so it’s impossible to tell; but, believe me, it would not have been my choice of all potential hobbies. My grandma had collected dolls from countries all around the world, and I’ve always thought that would have been kind of cool for me to do. Yeah, sure, little boys don’t do that, but still, to collect a doll from somewhere is almost like experiencing a little what it is like to actually be there. I’ve always wanted to be somewhere else than where I was.
Distant Flickers is an excellent collection of short stories united by the common theme of characters who find themselves in a set of specific circumstances that require a decision that will change their lives going forward.
These are short overviews of my favourite three stories in the collection”
Hendrix and Wild Ponies by Donna Koros-Stramella There is something about this story that really appealed to me. It brought back memories of my own teenage and young adult years when the realities of a future life of work and more serious relationships was just starting to filter through my head that was still filled with girly dreams and high school hopes.
An extract: “Saturday, July 3. The next day, Americans would celebrate the bicentennial. Today we rocked in the waves, laughing as we surfaced from beneath the churning water after mis-judging the sea’s timing.”
Norfolk, Virginia, 1975 by Elizabeth Gauffreau Oh, how this story made my heart ache. The depiction of a young girl in her late teens, with a small baby and a selfish husband, really twisted my heart. The girl drove all the way across the country with her nine-month old baby, and when she arrived at the military base where her husband was stationed, no-one could find him. He eventually turned up at midnight, drunk out of his mind, and this starting point set the tone for their relationship going forward. He obviously didn’t want the burden of a wife and small boy, who was clearly conceived as a result of both of their naivety, lack of worldliness, and her misguided concept of love at the time. This is a story about revelations and coming to terms with reality. I found it desperately sad, especially as the girl obviously came from a caring home.
An extract: “Everything looked dingy and dirty to her – the street, the store signs, the sky, and especially the bars: the Jolly Roger and the Purple Onion which both had tattooed men wearing faded tee-shirts going in and coming out, now, in the middle of the morning.”
A Spoonful of Soup by Rita Baker For me, this was the only uplifting story in the collection with a happy ending. This comment is not intended to detract from the excellence of the other stories, but they are all rather sad and miserable while this story is different which makes it stand out. The sous chef of a small restaurant befriends an elderly homeless man and gives him a small daily meal. One bitterly cold day, the sous chef invites the man into the kitchen out of the wind. This small act of kindness sets in motion a series of positive changes for the homeless man and the staff and owner of the restaurant.
An extract: “Otto breathed in the aromatic air. It had been long since he enjoyed the wonderful aroma of a good restaurant, and he felt choked with the well-remembered sights and smells.”
This is a book that lovers of short stories about people and their lives, lives, and dramas will enjoy.