I’m thrilled to have a friend and fellow Story Empire Contributor here, C. S. Boyack. I have read and loved all six of The Hat Series. My review of The Midnight Rambler:LINK
It means a lot to me that you’d open your doors to my blog tour, Denise. I’d love to help you promote your next publication whenever that might be.
There’s a cover and blurb down below that will give you some specifics into this story, but I want to talk about the series itself. This is a collection of stand-alone stories that don’t have any required reading before diving in. If The Midnight Rambler is your first exposure to the series, I promise you won’t feel lost.
One of the things that’s come up with this series is reader expectations. They’re dark humor and corny on purpose. Readers have developed their favorite features and it’s important for me to remember those. As the series grows, I can’t be shackled by them. We have new areas to explore and characters to meet.
People seemed to love Kevin the vampire, who is a kind of street informant for Lizzie and the hat. They love Noodles the crazy pet creature one of the local witches owns. Star St. Laurent, Lizzie’s mother has plenty of fans. Then there are things that seem to be regular features like the silly graphics and Night Bump Radio.
I dropped a few of these here, because I can’t pay homage to all of them in every book. There are times when a girl needs to talk to her mother, perfect for Star. Maybe she needs a street informant, great for Kevin. Detective Yoder and his deceased wife have their fans. I will continue to use these characters, but only when it’s appropriate for the story.
It seems like Night Bump Radio and the legend of Hellpox are finding their way into every tale, but even then it may be a major or minor appearance as the plot dictates. I can’t cover everyone’s favorite in every story. We have new characters to meet and new situations to delve into.
These peripheral characters are around for a reason. I can use them when it helps advance the plot. I can’t revisit them just because they were so much fun in previous volumes. It makes Lizzie’s world more realistic and complete.
Lizzie needs people like her mother to interact with. Her band, The Pythons, and a couple of her employers also fill this role. She can’t talk to them about the supernatural world, so we have Kevin the vampire, the local coven, or even Detective Yoder to fill those roles.
The Midnight Rambler features Elgin the magpie, and Ray C. Adair. These are new characters to love. It doesn’t mean I’m abandoning anyone, and they could reappear at any time in future volumes.
Just in case you’re worried, Dash Goodman and Detective Yoder appear in this story. Even Cyrus Yoder and Noodles are here, but in minimal form. I even revisited a nameless red headed vampire who’s more of a frenemy at this point.
I am honored that people enjoyed the peripheral characters in this series. Unless they’ve been killed any of them could reappear when the need arises. Of course, it’s a paranormal series so they might return even if they’re dead. Who knows? Kevin and the redhead are already dead, so never say never.
Something evil is after the hat. The ageless enemies have battled many times, but this time Lizzie is wearing the hat. She’s also up against a ticking clock, in that if she can’t find the maker of her new friend’s medicine he will die.
The Rambler has kidnapped the only witch capable of making Ray’s medicine in an attempt to make the hat sloppy in his efforts. He’s also flooded the streets with deadly minions to impede any progress our heroes might make.
As if that weren’t enough, Lizzie is facing more of life’s struggles, both financially and mechanically. This all goes down in the middle of a huge flood event that she’s ill equipped to handle.
Join Lizzie and the hat as they battle the elements, the paranormal, and a being of pure evil. Lizzie might be battling some personal demons along the way as she and Ray grow closer.
I’m excited to have fellow author, M. J. Mallon here today to share the release of her latest book: “The Hedge Witch & the Musical Poet.” I’ve included my review.
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet is a collection of poetry and flash fiction celebrating the beautiful vulnerability of the forest kingdom. It begins with the poetic tale of the kind-hearted Hedge Witch, Fern, who discovers an injured stranger in desperate need of her woodland spells and magic.
The sweet pairing learn from each other and through Fern’s guidance, Devin embraces the power of magic to leave behind his trouble past to become The Musical Poet.
Poetry/flash fiction titles in section one of the collection include:
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet, Rain Forest Love, A Forest Baby Boy, A Forest Baby Girl, A Modern Witch, Rock of Mine, Chester Don & I, The Network of Trees, More Trees Not Less, Two Boys Watching War, Mum Climbing Trees, Let’s Play, The Scorched Tree, Owl’s Holiday Home, A Man’s Holiday Home, A Child’s Excitement, The Teddy In The Woods, Run! The Organutans, All Hallow’s Eve Candy Girl The Forest Bash, Dreaming At Halloween, A Face on Bark, Golden Willow Tree, Rainbow – Parasol of Light, Lollipop Sunshine Tree,
In Section two I pay tribute to the following poets:Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline, Ruby Archer, King Forest, Bliss Carman, Woodland Rain, Emily Dickinson, Who Robbed the Woods, Rupert Blake, Stopping by The Woods on A Winter Evening,Oscar Wilde, In the Forest.
With my poetry:
The Forest Weeps, The Forest King, Raindrops and Childhood Dreams, The Woodland Treasures, Winter Woodland Moon, Child Me.
A unique and beautifully written collection of poetry and fiction weaved magically together. I love trees and nature, so a forest setting pulled me right in. Section one starts off with “The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet.” A whimsical tale of an injured man, Dale, found by a magical woman, Fern, who takes him in to heal. It was great to see a couple more poetic pieces continue this sweet journey. Section two offered poetry based on some famous poems. The beautiful imagery captivated me throughout this book. I appreciated all the poetry and prose, especially “The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet” but here are more favorites, “Rock of Mine,” “The Forest King,” and “The Scorched Tree.” It was great to see a couple of samples that I enjoyed from “Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose” included. If you love poetry and flash fiction, especially the forest and magic, this is a collection you won’t want to miss. I plan to add the print version to my bookshelves so I can keep enjoying it.
MJ’s favourite genres to write are Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories, various forms of poetry and flash fiction. She celebrates the spiritual realm, love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious at her blog home: https://mjmallon.com
She is a reading, blogging and photography enthusiast!
M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained, and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of lliving and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile.
MJ writes fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic! Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even it if appears that the odds are stacked against you like black-hearted shadows.
The First book in the Curse of Time series Bloodstone has received many fantastic reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other platforms and was awarded a finalist book award recently from Amazon influencer N. N. Light, receiving a review rating of 5+stars.
Her writing credits also include a multi-genre approach: paranormal, best-selling horror, supernatural short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She has worked with some amazing authors and bloggers compiling an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown and has also written a spin off poetry collection entitled Lockdown Innit.
She’s been blogging for many moons at her blog home Kyrosmagica, (which means Crystal Magic.) where she continues to celebrate the spiritual realm,her love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.
Her eclectic blog shares details and information about her new releases, author interviews, character profiles and her love of reading, reviewing, writing, and photography: https://mjmallon.com/
INDIE PUBLISHED BOOKS
Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose, (with photography,) This is Lockdown, (an anthology,) and Lockdown Innit Poems about Absurdity and The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet. http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius
Next Chapter Publishing
YA Fantasy series, Bloodstone and Golden Healer in The Curse of Time.
For details of publications please visit: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/mj-mallon
Bloodstone Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/bOyrgW
Golden Healer Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/mgjY67
CONTRIBUTIONS TO VARIOUS ANTHOLOGIES
Word Weaving #1: A Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse
Moons of Autumn by Colleen
Chesebro (Poetry,) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09DWDMXWK
Poetry Treasures 2 Relationships compiled by Kaye Lynn Booth & Robbie
100 Ways To Write A Book Alex Pearl (proceeds to Pen International.)
I’m excited to share my latest book, “A Voice in the Silence.” I started working on this a couple of years ago in my first NaNoWriMo challenge and finally got back to it. It has a little bit of everything, including a ghost, unique animals, a serial killer, and lab experiments.
The release date is June 8th. I was going to try to release it on my 39th Wedding Anniversary, but I’ll be on vacation then, celebrating 🙂
Here’s the cover:
Can you see the dog in the window?
Drea Burr has experienced more than her share of loss when a stray dog, cat, and rat enter her life. Although the animals start to mend her broken heart, there is something very unusual about them. During a snowstorm, Drea discovers a chilling set of footprints leading to her front window. Both the police and a ghostly messenger warn her about a killer stalking widows. Help comes from her late husband’s best friend, Adam Hale. As the two try to discover answers, more questions arise— about a killer, ghosts, and animals experimented on in a lab.
Can Drea and Adam survive the threats coming from so many directions and save themselves and the animals they’ve grown to love? Or will more tragedy destroy her second chance at happiness? Find out in this thrilling, cozy paranormal adventure.
I’m thrilled to have a new author here to talk about her upcoming debut release, and I might take a small moment here to be a proud Mom!
Here’s my youngest daughter, Danielle, to talk about “The Darkness of Placata Montis.”
First of all, let me introduce myself. You will get to know me in this space as DLM Johnson, daughter of D.L. Finn.
Like my mother, I have spent many years expressing myself through words. Mostly, I wrote poetry, trying to understand my own emotions and feelings as I was becoming an adult.
Writing without expectation. What a joy, right?! So who in the heck thought it would be a good idea to put my fancy words into an entire book?! Well. Me. And my friends. And my family. Darn supportive bunch of people.
That being said, this journey of mine started six years ago. It’s been through many journeys as I fought my way through accepting my own mental illness and job changes and loss and COVID and… AND.
You get it. You’ve been there. Not only that, but that first book is your BABY. It can do no wrong! And anything people say about it cuts deep… even when it’s a compliment like “I can’t wait to read it when it’s finished!” when you’ve just let them read your full 100k word book.
Anyway. After letting my edits sit for nearly a year, I finally came back to it. I let go of this idea that it had to stay how it was from the beginning because that’s the only way the words would be true. But honestly, even reading back on that vs what I can say nowadays… Well, it actually makes me excited for what more I can come out with in the future. Book 2? A crime thriller? Why not! Give me it all!
That being said, thank you to everyone in this community who has helped me at some point along the way, even if it was just a favor to D.L. Finn. I will do what I can to return the support (though time isn’t really something I have much to spare).
Either way, I hope you find some joy reading my words. Well, if you so choose to read my words, I hope you enjoy at least parts of them. I hope it releases you temporarily from this world and plunges you into another. And, if you find yourself wanting more, know that I have indeed planned out a second book, and hopefully it won’t take another six years to reach its end. But, who knows!
“You were never meant to fight this on your own.”
The words might have provided some level of comfort if everyone Eliana loved and trusted hadn’t let her down. Twenty-two years ago when the prince had abandoned the people of Panis Montem, that fight fell onto the shoulders of a young girl. She used the pain she felt from his departure and transformed it into a driving rage. When her parents lost their fight against evil one evening, Eliana was transported to a different world. While the chase continued, she did everything she could to vanquish the enemy. But as The Darkness continued to consume the land, those with magic would have to fight back or else themselves become consumed.
Will Eliana be forced to finish this fight alone, or will she find another way?
“You were never meant to fight this on your own.”
The words might have provided some level of comfort if everyone Eliana loved and trusted hadn’t let her down. Will she be forced to finish the fight against The Darkness alone, or will she find another way?
The night was heavy as a storm consumed the sky, casting a chill into the unusually humid air. A lightning bolt shot across the clouds, momentarily revealing a breathless figure lurking in the shadows among the trees. Her green eyes widened with frantic searching as she supported herself against the unforgiving bark. When the world went silent again, a gust of wind blew the rain sideways, stinging the bared skin of her arms as she shielded her face.
In the distance, a raven cawed continuously, as if in warning, and a rumble of thunder answered, shaking the ground. The electricity-filled sky joined in on the conversation, brightening the surroundings enough to reveal a large, crooked house in the distance. The raven’s persistent beckoning called through the chaos of the sky.
When the shadowed night returned, the woman crept from the shelter of the trees, chancing the dangers of being revealed. A quiet step onto the rocks of the beaten path caused the excess water to squeeze from the sides of her leather shoes. She paused a moment, listening in the silence between the unrelenting rain as it cascaded down her clothing.
While DLM Johnson is new to the world of publishing her written work, she is not new to the world of writing, or even sharing her art. She holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in Computer Engineering and one in Dance. Just like her degrees might allude to, DLM never wants to be boxed in by one label. What better way to break down walls and apply a plethora of skills than writing?
When DLM is not filling her free time with creativity in its written form, she spends her days working as a Software Engineer for an augmented reality company, and her nights she splits between teaching dance and GYROKINESIS®, attending rehearsals for both aerial and modern dance works, playing RPG, and catching up on TV. When she finds a moment to spare, she also enjoys taking motorcycle rides with her husband, being out in nature, and going on hikes.
They thought they’d killed her but she’s back for vengeance.
They were friends, close as brothers. Then they weren’t.
Mateo and Jesse are cautiously working their way back to friendship when Jesse discovers the unthinkable. Delilah, the sultry shifter who’d had affairs with both men, is still alive. The tumble she took over a mountain ridge—a fall that nearly killed Mateo—should have finished her.
Now, there’s no choice but for the two men to work together to take down a she-devil straight from hell. As the stakes escalate and the hunt becomes more intense, another wolf appears on the scene. Always where Jesse’s at. Always when he’s in trouble. Jesse is divided between ending Delilah, a new love interest, discovering the identity of a certain brown wolf and staying alive.
Mateo studied Jesse. The chief’s face stoic except for eyes that sparked with an emotion the sheriff couldn’t read. Still, it made him shift uneasily in his chair. Anxiety and fear pheromones rolled off Jesse. And Jesse didn’t scare easily.
The outside door banged open, distracting him. Boots clomped. A moment later, Adam stuck his head around the door. An aspiring attorney, the young man did their paperwork during the day and took classes at night. “Boss—”
“Later, Adam.” Mateo’s eyes never left Jesse.
“Sure, Boss.” Adam’s head swiveled from one to the other before he disappeared.
“Who’s alive?” The words were no sooner out of Mateo’s mouth when a premonition, so terrible it chilled his blood, hit him. Hard. The hair on the back of his neck rose. And he knew. Knew before Jesse uttered the word.
On some level, he’d known before now. For a week, he’d been hearing eerie howling that set his teeth on edge and made his hackles rise. And the old wolf, his dad, and the wolf-pup had been acting strangely. The old wolf always staring into the distance with his ruff on end and a continual low snarl rolling out of his throat. The pup cowering close to the old wolf. “That’s impossible. The fall killed her. Nearly killed me.”
“I saw her.”
“She was half-wolf. Half-human.” Jesse scrubbed his face with his hands.
“Shit.” Mateo’s extensive vocabulary limited this morning.
“She’ll be coming for you. You and Blair.”
“She won’t get her.” He growled. Literally growled.
“Down, wolf.” For the first time, Jesse smiled.
Mateo forced his clenched teeth and stiff jaws open enough to ask, “When did you see her and where?”
Jesse Kipp character facts:
Jesse and Blair both like to catch the Full Moon Band, that plays hard rock with a native twist, on Wednesday nights at the Blue Coyote.
Jesse loves Belle’s Beans coffee and bear claws.
He has a small house in Browning but spends a lot of his time in a cabin in the mountains that’s been in his family for generations.
“Dead of Winter” is a scary short story set on a lonely country road. Joe is driving to meet up with his partner when he sees a woman stranded by her car. He pulls over to help with obvious bad intentions. He is a creepy character who wants something but at the same time needs help from his partner—whom he can’t contact. The woman is careful in her responses and doesn’t jump right into trouble with him, which I liked. The pacing was broken up with chapters that worked well, as it seemed to match Joe’s thinking process. There are a couple of surprises, with a great twist. The ending was very satisfying. I can easily recommend this quick read.
“The Bloody Shoe Affair” is a fun YA whodunit set in Mississippi in the late 1960s. Fourteen-year-old Christi is visiting her grandparents for their 50th-anniversary celebration. She stays with her cousin, Lily, whose father is a law officer, and the house is attached to the jail. Lily’s curiosity of a pair of bloody shoes found but no body pull the two girls into a who was or wasn’t killed. Lily decides the man sitting in jail is innocent, and the two girls begin their investigation. It was fun to go back to the late sixties and see references to snacks, clothes, music, and communications. It brought back some memories of when I grew up. I liked how opposite these girls were, but how they pulled together and got along. Lily was strong and knew how to manipulate adults. While Christi wanted the excitement brought into her life by her cousin, she was more cautious. This was a fun read that reminded me of the Nancy Drew books I used to enjoy with more thrills added in. I could see middle-grade readers enjoying this as well as YA and adults. A fun story that kept me engaged with an exciting ending!
“Jagged Feathers” focuses on Vann or the soldier who brought the message back from Sam in “Ghostly Interference.” He has settled into a cabin with a stray dog who found him. He is broken from the war and vows not to give his heart to anyone. But he also has the rune given to him by another couple, Jag and Rena, who found their happily ever after. When Vann goes into town to get supplies, he runs across a sick woman, Nakina, who needs help. Promising not to go to the hospital, he takes care of her. One thing I really loved about this story is the gentleness of these two characters and their journey. Vann doesn’t feel like a whole man with part of his leg missing but is courageous and kind. Nakina is not only running from some bad people but learning about her gifts and how to use them. Both are artistically inclined, with Vann working with wood and Nakina feathers. Painting feathers completely fascinated me. Plus, they both are carrying issues from their past that could hold them back. I fell in love with the stray dog Champion and this couple. When the bad finds Nakina, it becomes nonstop action while this couple keeps connecting. It’s a beautiful love trying to bloom while they battle the bad guys. This was a perfect blend of PTSD, guilt, bad guys, friendship, acceptance, and embracing the spiritual realm. I absolutely loved this story and can’t wait for the next rune couple. 😊 I highly recommend!
I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!
Watch for a special edition blog this week! You won’t want to miss it.
Embrace your inner child with a huge hug by reading a great book! D. L. Finn
I’m thrilled to welcome fellow Story Empire Author, C. S. Boyack here today to celebrate the release of Wreck of Lanternfish. I’ve been looking forward to the final book in this series and here’s my review.
Thanks so much for lending me your space today. Spreading the word about a new book is so important. Today is all about concluding my Lanternfish trilogy with ‘Wreck of the Lanternfish.’
Somehow, I wound up with a theme behind these stories. I tried not to make it obvious, but fatherhood became something I kept going back to. It all started with James being forced into trying to start a war with the neighboring country.
Turns out James’s father was a somewhat shady character who did similar things. The only reference James had were stories his father told him as he grew up. Early on, he was forced to rely upon his father’s advice.
Dan is James’s best friend, and later brother-in-law. His father is still alive, and lends his own teachings here and there. It seems simple enough, but there’s more to it.
The two of them rescued a slave who turns out to be a witch doctor. Mal fills a fatherhood role for James as he turns to piracy to save the woman he loves. In that event, they rescue Mal’s own son as a bonus.
The crew gets saddled with a boy they call Mule. This involves retrieval of a magical item, but the price is taking the boy with them. James becomes his adopted father, and does the best he can for Mule.
Serang has her own daddy issues. She grew up without a father, but there were male tutors at the monastery. If you dive into her supporting story, there is one monk that serves as much as a father as he does her master.
Even such supporting characters as Don Velasco have a history with their fathers that shaped who they are today.
I never set out to do this, but I’m pleased with it. Fantasy/Adventures aren’t known for deeper themes, and I claim dumb luck. Luck doesn’t get enough credit sometimes.
Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns one more time. It’s time to bring this trilogy to a conclusion.
James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious pirate Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.
A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.
He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war, if he’s not already too late.
James will have to merge the skills of commander and con man into something new to make this work. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.
Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.
Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.
I’m thrilled to welcome fellow author, Yvette Calliero, here today to celebrate her latest release, HYPE. Here is my review: LINK
GIVEAWAY: 3 e-book copies of HYPE! Leave a comment below for your chance to win!
I wrote my first poem when I was twelve years old. I don’t remember what it was, but I know I felt proud of it because it was my own creation. My English teacher, Mrs. Hoffman, loved to give us time to explore our imagination through writing. Recently, she sent me this gem that she found one day.
One of her assignments was to use affixes and root words to create an imaginary animal. We had to draw the animal and decorate it using art supplies and other materials., and then we had to write a story about it. I don’t remember the story, but I do remember my animal had three legs, a hippo’s body, and a horse’s head (or maybe its tail). I don’t remember the other parts. What I remember from the name was tripodequihippo… I loved that activity!
Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. It has always helped me get my thoughts and emotions out of my head. So, when I began writing Hype, I knew I wanted to incorporate creative writing as one of Cici’s classes as well as an outlet for Gaby, one of her antagonists. The class plays an important role in their relationship.
One of the activities I incorporated into the story is called a RAFT. It stands for Role of the author, Audience, Format, and Topic. For several years as a high school teacher, I challenged my students to write a RAFT about the Holocaust. They had to take on the role of something other than the humans at the camp. The audience was other people. The format was a poem, and the topic was the atrocities that took place at the concentration camps.
My struggling learners wrote the most incredible poems. Some of the roles they chose were discarded glasses, rats who lived in the camps, the clubs used to beat them, the barbed wire, and the stale bread. There was no doubt those students truly grasped the horrors that took place during the Holocaust.
For Hype, I chose a bit of a more festive RAFT, but one’s perspective of a holiday doesn’t always turn out the way others might expect. Here is an excerpt from the story:
School is a blur for the next few weeks as the holiday break gets closer and closer. My creative writing teacher gives us an assignment to pretend to be an inanimate object that symbolizes the holidays and write a piece from its point of view. Mr. Garnett loves inanimate objects coming to life, and we tend to write crazy stories to humor him.
I decide to write from the viewpoint of wrapping paper as it wraps its arms around new treasures. I build the excitement up toward the moment when a bubbly, little kid removes the paper from the gift and squeals with glee. Of course, my wrapping paper is delighted to provide such wonder and anticipation for the toy, but she also wishes she, too, got to stick around and play with the kid. It’s cute. It’s humorous, but it’s nothing out of this world.
When it comes time to share, Mr. Garnett makes the mistake of calling on Grub. The whole class quietly moans. We all know Mr. Garnett doesn’t like anyone to be ridiculed in class and believes in having an environment in which everyone feels comfortable enough to share, but to call on Grub? Really. I mean, it’d make perfect sense to have called on her when we were writing a Halloween piece, but Grub and Christmas don’t mesh.
Mr. Garnett glares at us, and we shut up and prepare ourselves for her piece because one of his other rules is everyone shares. Grub comes up to the front, takes the podium, and begins. I half-expect her to complain and ask for someone else to go before her since it was close to the end of class, but I guess she finds some horrible pleasure in torturing us.
“I wrote about a Christmas candle,” she starts, takes a deep breath (for dramatic emphasis, I’m sure), and continues. “For years, I was the beautiful centerpiece, the home’s elegant, most prized decoration. I was bright and cheery, tall and elegant. Everyone always stopped to admire my beauty, to comment on how special I was. Until one day…”
Again, she pauses and stares at her paper. I roll my eyes, thinking not for the first time, that she really should have joined the Drama Club.
“Go on,” Mr. Garnett encourages her.
She looks up at him and then back at her paper.
“Until one day, someone thought it would be a great idea to light a match and see how well I could withstand the heat. I could smell the rancid sulfur as the matchstick caught fire. It was then I discovered what true fear felt like. The sensation of the intense heat violating my wick was too much to endure. I screamed and crackled at the fire’s invasion.
“I cried tears of wax as the blaze melted my beauty away. I wished there was some way to stop it, to keep it from taking away all that was pure and perfect about me. I wanted someone, anyone, to blow out the flame, to save what was left of my beauty, but no one could hear me. No one was even paying attention to my withering loveliness.
“I cried and cried until there was no wax left to cry with, and when all my beauty was gone, the flame finally burned out and I was discarded. No longer did anyone admire me. No longer did anyone care. I was alone, abandoned, dead.”
The whole class sits silently, stunned. Mr. Garnett starts clapping while we sit there shocked. One kid from behind me says, “There wasn’t anything holiday-ish about it.”
“I disagree,” Mr. Garnett says. “It completely held to the assignment’s directions. It was very compelling.”
Someone else whispers loudly, “Her name should be changed from Grub to Grinch.”
I now sponsor a poetry club called Writer’s Ink. My poets write both written and spoken word poems and enter contests and competitions. I am always amazed at the ideas and images they create with their words. It’s an opportunity for them to speak their truths, to be seen and heard, and to be accepted. I hope readers of this book will enjoy the activities shared, and if you want to try your hand at a RAFT, I’d love for you to share it with me. 😊
Cici’s junior year in high school is going to be the best year ever. Popular co-captain of the varsity cheerleading team, she’s dating the starting quarterback. Even her jealous co-captain’s attempts to steal her boyfriend can’t curb her enthusiasm.
When her mom moves in with her fiancé, a handsome, wealthy man, only one small detail threatens Cici’s perfect life. The school’s social pariah is about to become her stepsister, and Cici wants nothing to do with her.
Everything changes when someone Cici cares about throws her life into a tailspin, and the one person Cici couldn’t stand becomes her only ally.
Warning: This story contains scenes of sexual assault.
Yvette M. Calleiro is a heavily addicted reader of both young adult and adult novels. She spends most of her time pseudo-living in paranormal worlds with her fictional friends (and boyfriends). When she’s living among real people, Yvette M. Calleiro is a middle school Reading and Language Arts teacher. She’s been sharing her love of literature with her students for over twenty years. Besides writing about the various characters that whisper (and sometimes scream) in her head, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, spending quality time with family and friends, and enjoying the beauty of the ocean.
Yvette lives in Miami, Florida, with her incredible son who has embraced her love for paranormal and adventurous stories. She also shares her space with an assortment of crazy saltwater animals in her 300-gallon tank.
I’m thrilled to have fellow Story Empire Author, Mae Clair, here to tell us about her new book. I already read it and loved it! Here’smy review.
Hi, Denise. Thanks for hosting me today and allowing me to share my newest release with your readers. Things Old and Forgotten is a collection of short fiction that includes stories in several genres—magical realism, fantasy, speculative, even two that touch on mild horror.
When I’m writing, I often visualize in colors. My father was an artist, and although he would not consider white a color (technically, it’s a shade) it has long mesmerized me. It speaks to the ethereal, visionary, and the otherworldly. The color white floats—a wisp of the insubstantial we can never quite touch, like an echo weaving future and past.
I had all those elements in mind when I wrote Desert White which—among other strangeness—includes a white dog. When I was eight years old, I wrote my first short story, The Night Dog, about a spectral canine. It took me decades to pen another about a white canine. Below is a short excerpt taken from the beginning of Desert White.
“His name is White.” The gravelly tone of the old man’s voice matched his lined and weather-beaten skin.
“It’s fitting.” Micah eyed the dog from his seat at the kitchen table. If not for the German shepherd’s dark eyes, he would have thought the animal was an albino. White had sniffed around his mutilated wrists in the desert, nudging him with a cold nose. Now, curled up on the floor of Floyd Henley’s trailer, the canine didn’t seem the ghostly presence it had under a pale moon. Even so, he wished it wouldn’t lie so close. Large dogs made him nervous.
The shepherd was the last of his worries.
Earlier, he’d caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror above Floyd’s bathroom sink while the old man fussed over his wounds. When he’d driven into the desert that evening, his hair had been ink-black. Now, it was the same spectral white as Floyd’s dog.
I must be dreaming—still.
“Drink this.” Floyd thrust a cup of foul-smelling liquid into his hands. The concoction looked like yellow mud threaded with licorice.
“What is it?”
“Healthy. That’s all you need to know.” Floyd hobbled a short distance away, pausing by the rear door to snatch a plaid jacket from a peg. When he returned, he dropped the frayed garment over Micah’s shoulders. It reeked of must and stale pipe tobacco, but the fabric was warm.
Grateful, he gathered it close. He hadn’t been able to stop shivering since his brush with death. “Thanks.”
Floyd nodded to the cup in his hands. “Drink.”
He forced down a mouthful of the tonic. Tasted bitterness in steeped tea leaves, caraway, and something citrusy. “What were you doing in the desert?”
“I could ask you the same, but no need.” Floyd busied himself filling a basin with water. A crisp yellow towel hung from his shoulder. “We both know what drew you there.”
Shame heated Micah’s face. Tightening his hand around his cup, he studied the dried blood beneath his fingernails. The ugly rust-colored blots on his jeans.
I should have bled to death. Would have, if not for the old man and his dog.
He forced another swallow of the abominable brew, taking perverse pleasure in the way it curdled his gut. At least he was alive to feel the acid.
Floyd drew a chair close then set his basin on the linoleum-topped table. Pale green with chrome edges, the surface had a repetitive design that reminded Micah of boomerangs. How long would it take to count all those angled wedges flying into infinity? Long enough for the blood to drain from his body after slicing his wrists?
The old man had already lined up fresh bandages and gauze pads, well stocked for a recluse who lived in the middle of nowhere. Maybe he had no choice, holed up in the run-down trailer like a hermit. As far as Micah could tell, there wasn’t another soul for miles. Damn fortuitous he and the dog had been there.
A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.
These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.
Thanks again for hosting me today, Denise. In honor of my love for autumn—a fantastic time to curl up with a book—Things Old and Forgotten will be on sale for .99c through October 31st.
Word Weaving is a yearly poetry journal, and for our first issue, we bring you poetry crafted from a broad mix of new and established voices across the spectrum of Japanese and American syllabic poetry forms. Enjoy this collection of poems that celebrate the Moons of Autumn.
Annette Rochelle Aben, Mona Bedi, Nancy Brady, Colleen M. Chesebro, Goutam Dutta, Bill Engleson, Elizabeth F., Andreea Finichiu, D.L. Finn, Jeff Flesch, Ken Gierke, Franci Hoffman, Thom Kerr, Sujata Khanna, Ruth Klein, Jules Paige, D. Wallace Peach, Gwen M. Plano, M. J. Mallon, R.V. Mitchell, Elaine Patricia Morris, Lisa Smith Nelson, Pat Raffington, Susmita Ramani, Kerfe Roig, Aishwarya Saby, Akhila Siva, Merril D. Smith, Willow Willers, and Cheryl Wood.
I’m honored to be included in this amazing book! Colleen encouraged the poets to share their poems that were in this beautifulWord Weaving collection. So here they are mine, and my hope is they inspire you to not only write some poetry but pick up a copy of the book and enjoy some phenomenal syllabic poetry! Thanks, Colleen and Jules 🙂
A lone black cat sits on the edge of our world, under the harvest moon. Her green eyes reflect the celestial beams, and her fur absorbs the stars. She rubs against the night’s promise, and its magic fills her soul.