A group of authors writing interesting posts weekly and interacting with readers.
It hasn’t been easy dealing with the pandemic, my day job, heath issues in the family and keeping up with writing, editing, and marketing. Too much stress can really take its toll.
To me it meant that I needed something not just to keep me busy, because I was already busy, but that could have taken me away from thinking about my busy schedule. From my experience, nothing beats the planning and remodeling the yard.
So, I took my chance starting from something that had bothered me for a long time: the small path that leads to the greenhouse. Ten years ago, I planned that path without many thoughts, and the slate tiles I arranged directly on the ground are hardly visible anymore.
Learning from the construction sites I am following, I took notes on how to do the job. So this is my starting point at the beginning of Spring (yes, I know there was still some snow LOL):
The idea was simple, to do the path again in a way that it wouldn’t sink into the soil with time. I needed 102 tiles for the border, gravel for the bottom, and coarse sand for the base under the slate tiles. This would have required unearthing the tiles, digging the earth until at least 10 cm deep, placing the landscaping fabric, the gravel (and settle it), the 102 tiles for the border, the sand and the slate tiles.
One thing came immediately to my mind was that this isn’t something one person alone should do unless… Of course, unless I divide the tasks to be done only during the weekends. Therefore, the first weekend I unearthed the slate, went to buy the material and started to dig.
I felt like an undertaker!
Then I would rest for one week and the next weekend I would have set up the gravel and border tiles.
The last weekend was the turn of the sand and the final slate tiles. The result was surprising me because the general outlook reminded me about the sinuous shapes of the Art Nuveau, Hector Guimard and the asymmetric smooth curves on his design. Some might call it imprecise, twisted. I call it art!
Oh, here’s the result of course, immediately after, and now with the Summer taking over the garden:
The best result was that I could keep my sanity and go through the most difficult period of my life so far. Now things seem to have settle and we’re on the path of normalization.
Now I started to get excited about garden jobs, and I have other plans for the summer. A building Summer!
© P.J. Mann
What is phobia?
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder defined by a persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation. Phobias typically, result in a rapid onset of fear and are present for more than six months. ~Wikipedia
Many phobias develop as a result of having a negative experience or panic attack related to a specific object or situation. Genetics and environment. There may be a link between your own specific phobia and the phobia or anxiety of your parents — this could be due to genetics or learned behavior.
I created some videos for you, enjoy!
Nyctophobia is fear of night or darkness
I have a healthy fear of darkness, just like most people. I'm fortunate that it didn't escalate to phobia when as a child, I imagined monsters in every closet and under the bed. Just like most kids, I quickly outgrew the fear of darkness.
Although I don't like posting selfies or self-videos, luckily, I don't have this problem.
Automatonophobia is fear of human-like figures
Well, with this, I do have a problem. I keep double social distance when I see dummies in stores. As a nurse, I struggled with this phobia every year when I had to take CPR refreshment courses. I was fortunate that the instructors saw me many times giving CPR to real people during codes, so they let me wear gloves and cover the creepy, plastic dummies with a bedsheet so I don't have to see or touch them.
Cynophobia is fear of dogs
I would feel devastated if I had this phobia, and my heart goes out to people who do. I couldn't imagine my life without having and hugging a furry friend.
Equinophobia is fear of horses
I'm so lucky not to be one of the 8% population who has irrational fear of horses. I love these majestic, intelligent animals.
Trypanophobia is fear of needles
Now that would be bizarre if a nurse had this phobia. However, even though I don't have a problem with needles, I prefer not to have tattoos.
Have you any phobia?
Share your experience with us.
Posted by Erika M Szabo
Click to visit Erika's page:
Hard to believe, but they all have something in common
Have a good look at the book covers in the image above.
They all have something in common.
Yes, I know it’s not easy to spot, after all, there’s a cookbook, a novel by a famous playwright, the original books from several top movies of the last seventy or so years, even one that was made into a superb TV series, starring House and Loki. Oh, and of course, a storybook and a novel for children.
Is it the colors, the style, the genre, the lettering fonts?
Last chance; any guesses?
Okay, I’ll put you out of your misery.
It’s the authors.
Still not figured it out?
When thinking what to write about for this week’s article, I decided to take a hint from the recent publication as a Kindle Short Read of my tale ‘Death of a Sparrowman’, and yes, the title is a direct reference to Arthur Miller’s play. For those of you who may not be familiar with Miller’s famous work, ‘Death of a Salesman’, it is the story, heavily laced with irony, of the last day in the life of Willy Loman, the salesman of the title. It is a very American work, with great depth and insight regarding a man’s inability to accept change and his loss of individual identity as he pursues the American Dream.
I decided my short story would take these two themes (identity loss and change of circumstances), set them in an environment outside the States, and in a world with which I was familiar. Thus, the salesman became the Sparrowman, the profession became that of a covert courier for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and, in case readers were familiar with Miller’s play, I drove the tale toward a similar tragic conclusion.
Just a minute, you cry. What’s all this got to do with the book covers and their authors?
Well, one of the three great influences on my own writing is Ian Fleming, one of the authors above. I also wrote ‘Sparrowman’ as a low-key tale, with a slow-building underlying tension, in a similar vein to the novels of David Cornwell, better known as John Le Carré.
There’s another clue.
Le Carré and Fleming were both intelligence agents, the former working for both MI5 (British counterintelligence) and MI6, whilst James Bond’s creator, and also the author of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, was active in British Naval Intelligence prior to embarking upon his writing career.
Got it, yet?
Yes, all of the authors in the above images were, at one time or another, intelligence agents!
I wonder what it is about the life of a spy that results in so many evolving into top authors. Perhaps the intensity, the loneliness, the experiences? Next time you pick up a cookbook or children’s tale, ask yourself about the secret life of the writers.
Click to read about Eric's books:
Is grammar important?
The simplest definition of grammar
When we read posts, emails, or articles with bad grammar, it can make us laugh or feeling annoyed. But it can also ruin someone's reputation and business. I came across a comment from an editor who advertises her service in every author group: "Their totally nuts!"
Do I want to hire her to edit my book? I don't think so!
Simply moving a comma and adding a colon changes the meaning of the sentence, doesn't it?
Adding a small comma makes a huge difference.
When combining two words just doesn't work.
Spelling the word correctly makes things clear and precise.
You don't want to fill a cattle with water and sit it on the stove, right?
How many times do you come across sentences such as:
Kudos to you my friends!
Yup, and those:
The confusing to, too, and two.
Texting or commenting on social sites
When people misspell words and don't use proper grammar on social sites, we laugh because some of the misspelled words or sentences sound hilarious.
When you see bad grammar, what irks you enough to turn into a Grammar Nazi?
“Was it a regular sprint or a Mom Sprint?”
Silly me. I hadn’t realized there was a difference.
Last night I took my eleven year old daughter to her softball game. The whole team was there, in their uniforms, ready to play. Unfortunately, the other team never showed. So instead of going home disappointed, they decided to divide the team in half so they could play each other. They filled the empty spaces with coaches, umpires and... parents.
I don’t really know how to play softball. I know you hit that round thing with the stick, and then go for a run, but that’s about it. “Play Second Base,” the coach told me. So I went to second. But I warned everyone. “I can’t throw, and I can’t catch, but other than that... I’ve got you covered!”
Eventually my turn to bat rolled around. I stood next to the plate and held up the bat. “Keep your elbow up!” the coach advised. I did. “No. The other elbow.”
Good thing the kids were pitching to me. The ball came, and I took a swing and hit it. I took off for first base, but by the time I got there, the ball had arrived first and I was out.
This morning, I woke up and realized I was really sore. What happened? I told my daughter I was sore, and she reminded me of the game. “Did you sprint last night? Did you really run?” How fast did I go? I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a Mom Sprint. Apparently it’s used by people who don’t often try to run very fast, and is sort of... a jog.
Having not been recently chased by anything, it made me wonder how long it’s actually been since I tried to move that quickly. The good news is, that I must have actually run for it, or I wouldn’t be so sore. The bad news is, it must have been a long time since I tried to sprint— Or I wouldn’t be so sore.
I wish the best of everything to all the moms out there! You deserve an award, and you do so much for your families, no matter how fast you can sprint.
© A.J. Park
I love Dr. Seuss, Mother Goose, and William Blake. I have also mentioned my distaste for Frost and Dickenson. I bet you are wondering who could I possible add to my list of poets I enjoy reading. Wonder no more...the second poet in "My Favorite Poets Series" is none other than the bard himself, William Shakespeare.
Like most of you, I was introduced to Shakespeare via his plays. They were required reading for my English classes in high school, and, with one exception, I read everything I was required to read.
Shakespeare's plays seemed to flow so smoothly. I loved them all but my favorites were his comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream holding the top spot. All the mayhem caused by the fairies and Pan were delightful! His tragedies and histories were written in the same style. I am sure I am not the only one who memorized the "To be or not to be" soliquy of Macbeth.
Now you may be wondering why I am talking about his plays, since this is a post about poets. Well, the fact is Shakespeare wrote all his plays in the poetic form called blank verse! That is the reason they flowed for me. His style was smooth and eloquent at the same time.
After reading 4 of his plays, I sought out his sonnets, which were his other main format. I found them to be as easy to read and understand as his plays. He wrote on many themes: love, beauty, morality, and jealousy, to name a few.
My favorites are the ones that use the nature herself to express his thoughts.
From Sonnet 18
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed;
From Sonnet 73
In me thou see'st the twilight of such a day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night dot take away,
Death's second selc, that seals up all in rest.
From Sonnet 130
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
From Sonnet 97
What freezings I have felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
He is eloquent and his verses paint a vivid picture in my mind.
I love reading his sonnets, but, as a poet, I am amazed at the ease with which he writes in this format. Sonnets are a very precise form, which I am unable to use. For me it seems to be too complex to achieve.
So, William Shakespeare is another favorite poet. I loved his blank verse plays as well as his strict sonnet poems.
© Cindy J. Smith
English is a curious, complex, and crazy language. Not least of which are the -nyms.
You may use these in everyday language and not give a second thought unless you’re like me – a wordsmith and amateur etymologist – and such curiosities intrigue you.
Many of us have heard the term ‘Synonym’ – but what does it mean?
A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language, for example shut is a synonym of close.
Shut / Close*
Far / Distant
Evil / Wicked / Bad / Malevolent
Push / Shove
Jump / Leap
Create / Make
Near / Close*
*See examples below as Close (as in near) and Close (as in close a door) are also Homonyms.
It’s likely you’ve used homonyms regularly but might not have been aware that’s what they were called.
What is a Homonym?
This is more complex – as there are several linguist concepts related to homonyms.
Homographs -words that share the same spelling – regardless of meaning.
Desert (arid region) and desert (to leave)
Bark (the covering on a tree) and bark (the sound a dog makes) * This is also a homonym (as it sounds the same)
Lime (the fruit) and lime (the chemical/material)
Rose (the flower) and rose (to travel upwards)
Tear (to rip) and tear (a drop of moisture from the eye)
Heterophones – words that share the same spelling but are pronounced differently.
Bow (as in bow tie, or violin bow or the weapon) and bow (as in bow of a ship or take a bow) * These are also Heteronyms as they pronounced differently.
Row (as in row a boat or stand in a row) and row (as in argue with one’s spouse) *Also a Heteronym.
Homophones – words that sound the same – regardless of spelling.
Threw (as in threw a ball)/through (to pass through something)
To (the place - go to somewhere)/Two (the number/amount)/Too (also – I want to come too)
Their (Possessive – Their house, their dog etc/There (location – there is the house, there is the dog)/They’re (contract of they are).
For (the ball is for Alex, the knife is for cutting) /Four (the number)/Fore (the front part/golfing term).
Wind (the wind is blowing today)/wind (to wind up a watch) or windy – it is windy today/this road winds around the village.
Antonym - Words with opposite meaning
Add / Subtract
Happy / Sad
Open / Close
Lie / Truth
Contronym (also known as a Janus word) a word having two meanings that contradict one another (also contranym)
– Merrium Webster definition called also antagonym, autoantonym, Janus word
(Janus was the Roman god of doorways and portals – he was the chap with two faces).
Aught – all or nothing,
Cleave – to separate and to join together,
Buckle – to fasten or secure and to bend/warp under pressure,
Dust (verb)– to sprinkle with fine particles (such as dust a cake), or to remove fine particles (to dust a shelf),
Overlook – to fail to see something, or to monitor or inspect,
Fine – excellent or just good enough,
Sanction – to approve or boycott.
For further examples – check HERE
Words that have the same spelling but different meanings if one is capitalized
Polish (from Poland)/polish (to shine something) and Pole (citizen of Poland)/pole (a long piece of wood or metal)
March (the month)/march (walk in step or border territory).
August (the month)/august (respected)
Turkey (the country)/turkey (the bird consumed at Christmas)
Scotch (from Scotland)/scotch (the drink or to scotch a rumour)
Frank (the name)/frank (honesty or to postmark a letter)
Slough (the place)/slough (to shed the skin)
Mass (the religious gathering)/mass (a large object/gathering)
Confused? I’m not surprised.
© A.L. Butcher
Morning routines and habits by P.J. Mann
When stress, crazy timetables, not-so-smart working schedules make us burned out, we all wish we could take a holiday. But we must keep going and waking up in the morning needs something more than just an alarm clock.
However we all have our ways to overcome the tiredness and to kick-start our days. Some people jump out of bed at the first sound of the alarm ready to face the day. Others require an hour long self-persuasion about the great things that are going to happen during that day (which generally is more a self-bribing and often turning into self-blackmailing).
I have always been an early bird, so in the morning it’s a game of who is waking up first. Me, or the alarm clock? Then the real kick-start is when I brew my first morning cup of coffee at the office.
There’s something magic about being the first one to arrive. The silence, the tranquility of having the common spaces for myself, and enjoying my first morning cup in quiet as I read the first emails.
Things are not much different during the weekends or holidays. I am always the first one to wake up in the morning, and nothing wakes me up better than some quality time with my favorite cup of coffee.
Since we are all different and have different routines and habits, I'm curious to find out what’s your way of kick-starting the day.
Singing in the shower?
A cup of tea or coffee?
Quality time having breakfast and reading the news?
Tell me about it!
About scammers by Slate R. Raven
or someOver the evolution of our species there has always been things we call parasites, better known to everyone else as “Scammers!” These loathsome creatures have been among us from the first civilization. Back in those days they came door to door, how horrible that must’ve been for us regular folks. However, as time progressed from snake oils and miracle cures, no wait we still have people trying to sell us that today. . . What I meant to say was as technology got more advanced the easier it was for these infestations to invade our daily lives. It started with the telephone, and that was bad enough. They called at all hours until a regulatory force was placed in charge of them disrupting our natural cycles.
Internet and emails
Next came the internet and a thing called e-mail, that brought new trouble with it. They now had ways to find out information on you to try to make it seem as though they were friends there to bring you aid just when you needed it the most. We put out all our information out in our profiles because it was new it was neat and exciting! At first, we didn’t think to hide or mask ourselves because who out there would want to do us harm? (Enter forehead slap here.)
As a generation we grew more intelligent, at least more aware of what people were trying to do. According to an independent news source, new scams and shams are created at a rate of a single new one every two minutes. What can we as consumers do?
Well lately they hide behind email address blinds, so always check who you’d be replying to, the e-mail may say “Amazon” or “Best Buy” but it’s usually “email@example.com” or some other bogus email.
With phone calls if you don’t recognize the number don’t answer it, if it’s worthwhile a message will be left. Caution Scammers will also leave messages with numbers to call, unless you have a reason to dial that number; don’t! We’re even getting calls from what is supposed to be our banks, with notices of fraud. This is alarming and most people will immediately call back the number given by the recorded message, they “verify their information” now the scammers have access to your bank information. Always call the number on the back of your credit or debit card.
You’ll also probably run into these fantastic deals, free stuff if you only pay shipping and handling. Here’s the rub. As an author I’ve sent books via mail before, so I know the approximate cost. In almost all cases of free books or free items the shipping is at least 5-10 dollars higher than it really costs to ship items. Amazon Prime didn’t bankrupt Amazon when they released it so you can be sure cheaper shipping exists. I’m a patriot so I get a lot of mail from second amendment groups and other groups that are trying to make a difference. Mixed in with that lot is always a jerk telling me how guns will soon be outlawed, and they can show you how to make your own gun with tools you have in your home. Just pay for shipping and handling and their book will be on your doorstep.
If they wanted me to have that book for free, they could have set up a download for a PDF, for free. You’re gonna tell me that your sixty-page book costs $12.95 to ship to me? Please give the general population a break we’re not all idiots, but too many people are. Don’t get me wrong. . . there are some great deals out there if you watch what you are doing. I got a fantastic knife, of outstanding quality, for $4.95 shipping and handling; however, it took seven pages of me saying no to their other offers to finish the transaction. That’s another key, take screen shots of the order page and everything until you’re done. Never leave your credit card number hanging because you don’t want to say no seven or eight times. They can take that as consent to you wanting all those extra items.
Also, you’ll get friend requests from hot girls or hot guys depending on your gender. 98% of these are phony profiles. Within a week or two they’ll ask for what they came for, a lot of men ask for naked pictures. (insert eyeroll) and many women ask you to help them with their phones so they can continue to talk to you. Of course, most of them have fallen madly in love with you within the first week. My personal favorite thing to do if I feel like playing with them, is wait until they ask for money then request, they send me their naked pictures. They become offended at the idea and ask, “how could I make such a horrible question?” I ask if it made them feel cheap and used, they usually say yes. Mainly because they stole these photos and don’t have nude photos to send. I tell them that’s how I feel when tramps I barely know ask me for money. This effectively ends the relationship, which is the main point.
Main thing to remember is to keep your wits about you. If you get a call, find a reason to disconnect and dial a number you know goes to that institution. The same goes with e-mails, chances are if you didn’t enter in a contest to win something, the awarding company isn’t likely legitimate. Always check email addresses, never use the call back numbers you’re given; always use the numbers you know. Your banks and credit card companies don’t mind, they’d rather you’re safe than sorry as well. Until there is a way to find and prosecute these scammers, we’re going to be stuck with them. So keep yourself educated and if it seems too good to be true, chance are it probably is too good to be true.
© Slate R. Raven, June 2021
A short story by Eric J. Gates
The cabins invited solitude, introspection, thoughtfulness, creativity. More than a writing workshop, this was a temporary retreat, somewhere to hide, somewhere to cut themselves off from the all-consuming demands of society and family. Yes, somewhere to retreat…
The location was sandwiched between the Shenandoah and George Washington National Parks. Idyllic quiet for meditation and creation. Trees, birds, weekend cabins… and the occasional bear.
The twenty-five apprentice writers had been warned of the bear’s presence in the area by the workshop’s hosts. Over the years, many from the Richmond area, and from further afar, had built weekend cabins in the area. The combination of human presence, albeit occasional, and dense forestation had stimulated the interest of the local wildlife. The latter was not really a problem, as long as the visitors followed the common-sense rules. First and foremost was food. Leftovers they were to humans; an easy treat to Ursus americanus. A calorific catch compared with what was available in nature. No hunting involved. No expensive energy expended. With the long winter on the horizon, it was never too late to start hoarding fat reserves, after all practice makes perfect, and human throwaways always tasted sweet.
One wag from the workshop had even christened it Yoga Bear, given the inclusion of right-brain meditation techniques into the retreat’s program. Fear, respect, for one of nature’s most persistent predators had not been a consideration for most. This was Disneyland with real animals, after all. A chance to commune with successful authors and learn their secrets. The potential encounter of the Ursus kind, mental images of a porkpie hat-wearing cartoon bear, muzzle streaked with honey and cake crumbs, only served to stimulate ‘little gray cells’.
Day one, the welcome wine and cheese went well. Bonhomie triumphed. The meet and greet was an interesting sounding board for all. That incontrollable pursuit, that irresistible peccadillo indulged by humans during first-time encounters with their fellows ran rampant, though unvoiced. Labelling! Attaching generic adjectives. Pigeonholing. Classification. Characterization, as the new authors would call it.
The Pasty-faced man, overweight, overloud, became The Bore. Always capitalized in their minds. No one aware of the massive heart attack, the redirected life plan bringing him here in the hope of removing stress from his life, and thus sidestepping another cardiac event.
The rake-thin girl with the bird-like stare and fixation on jogging; Birdy. The head-shaven, solidly built, thirty-something guy who spoke so quietly you had to lean in to hear, abrasive personality, not a good mixer; Mr. Clean, because of his passing resemblance to the advertising meme. And so on.
An innocent game… for some.
Day two: the start of the work schedule,
…and the first death.
One of the early-risers, Birdy, found the mangled corpse just off a path used for her daybreak jog. The buzzing flies had alerted her to the partly hidden scene. Back in her native New York, the morning jog in Central Park only offered danger from a twisted ankle, or an errant mugger. Here, some other predator had done a number on a fellow attendee.
The State cops and Park Rangers were mystified. Yoga bear had never exhibited this behavior before. How the aspiring author had met such a violent demise, while others slept soundly, was a mystery. There had been no screams, yells, sounds of danger from beneath the morning mist trapped in the treetops. Just blood-soaked earth, gore, disfigurement …and plenty of tracks. Claw marks on trees, the ground, and, above all, on the body.
Had it merely been a case of wrong time, wrong place, wrong bear, as the cops speculated? Misadventure was the favorite. A lesson to be learned for the remaining retreat participants.
A vote was taken; the workshop would continue. The writers, led by the vehement argument of the quietly spoken stocky guy at the back, opted not to deny themselves their workshop even after the unfortunate death of their co-attendee. They had found an oasis far from the mundane, the incomprehension, the interruptions, the exigent world outside. This attempt, by Yoga, to impose the harsh here-and-now, to drag them from their musings, would not be tolerated!
The bear, the death, the unfortunate incident as it rapidly became called, was fodder now. Some feverishly jotted grisly details in notebooks for future use. Others, more mercenary, went back to their rooms to pen stories of mauling beneath massive trunks, their imaginations supplying the macabre minutiae their notebooks lacked.
Day three, another body.
Another attendee, crumpled in death on one of the pathways between the cabins after a headcount showed a missing quill. A chance encounter with Yoga? No one alive could know. It was The Bore, generating more interest in death than in life.
The same cops. An attendant Medical Examiner spoke of a massive coronary. Evidence in the form of a medical alert card on the oldest member of the workshop, attested to a couple of prior visits to the ER. Meds, discovered in his cabin, backing up the theory. Something, perhaps happenstance, had led to the demise of another workshop member’s ambitions to use writing as a calming influence in his lifestyle. Unfulfilled expectations; not a phrase for a death certificate.
However, as the State cops remarked, two deaths in as many days was cause for concern. The grizzly may have been responsible for the first of these, and might have contributed to the second. Was Yoga targeting people? Not unheard of, if cubs were involved. The Park Rangers stated, as far as they knew, Yoga, the name had stuck, was a male, so a lethal maternal instinct was not in play. They suggested the workshop be cancelled.
Sturdy-man again led the protests. Misadventure and chance were logic’s worst enemies. The organizers decided to continue. Precautions were taken. All outdoor activities were transferred to the safety of the large cabin, and strolls, jogs, walks and anything external to four walls was discouraged. In a sense, the workshop had become a retreat of a different sort.
Day four. The last, planned full day.
Another absence amongst the aspiring.
All gathered in the largest cabin and awaited the cops. The missing woman, her confessed dreams filled with best sellers populating bookshelves for the millions of Young Adult fans she hoped to find. A macabre equilibrium, evidenced when her corpse was found floating in a large, uncovered water tank behind the cabin. No signs of foul play. No bear claws embedding the body. A few scrapes on nearby trees though. Yoga was once more an Ursus of Interest.
Drowned. Why she had been in the tank, fully clothed, was left for active imaginations to throw out theories. A refuge perhaps from an unintended encounter with nature? A slip on the slime coating the bottom? A foul footing following fright, fearful of becoming another victim of Yoga’s wrath?
The organizers were adamant. The bear had won. The workshop would close its doors after a final meeting.
“This last session will bring a close to the workshop,” announced Organizer Judith. “We will hold a three-minute silence for the loss of our fellow writers, retrieve our belongings, then wait for the State Troopers to escort us out. Fiona, do you have anything to add?”
She sat down, her place before assumed by their celebrity author guest.
“I had intended to talk about ‘the Writer’s Journey’ today. How our passage through life, our gathering of experience, could fuel our work. It’s strange, looking at what has happened these last few days. Judith and I were remarking how the three who perished had shown such great promise in their writing. They also had that natural stubbornness needed to turn talent into a successful profession. They were possibly the most obvious candidates to get the most from this workshop…”
“…and yet they’re dead! Where does that leave the rest of us?” Harsh words from the stocky man, Mr. Clean, seated in the back.
“Jarrod, it is Jarrod, isn’t it? Well, we are all survivors, I guess. What happened… it could have been any of us…”
A deep thudding from the solid wooden door caused all to jump.
Judith rose and peeked through the curtained window before opening the door to the State Troopers.
“Is everyone here?” demanded the senior officer.
A quick glance around the room.
“Yes, why? Has something happened?”
“The Park Rangers have just contacted us. They have found Yoga, the bear. It had been trapped and killed at least a week ago. Its paws had been hacked off…”
Fiona was the first to articulate a conclusion.
“So if Yoga was out of the picture… the deaths…”
“Exactly,” said the senior cop.
The Writer’s Journey, almost two years later. Ha! he thought. Now that was a cliché if ever there was one. Almost as bad as too many adverbs. Survival of the fittest would be more accurate. Cancel the competition, the potential threats. That’s how to be a winner. His new hobby had presented a great challenge. Too many minds, too many words. How could he compete? Easy. His writer’s journey. Remove the opposition as early as he could. Use the creativity of the writer’s mind to plot an outcome, shifting suspicion onto a third party. He had envisioned network news interviews as one of the shocked survivors; a solid launch to his new career. Not that the old one, that of the psychopathic serial killer, had been entirely forgotten. No, it just had a new focus.
The stocky man suppressed a smile.
“And who should I dedicate this to?” He looked up at the expectant face of the owlish woman standing before the desk.
“Janine. Can you put ‘with all my love’?” A giggle.
He morphed a grimace into a grin.
“Ooh. That’s an unusual pen.”
Jarrod looked at the instrument in his hand, his fingertips caressing the bone.
“Yes, it is. I had it specially made. Use it at all my book signings now. It’s something of a good luck charm. It was a bear claw…”
Writer’s Bearings © Eric J. Gates 2019, all rights reserved
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