Friday, May 06, 2022

Sweet Tales for Mom - Give Her a Book for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday and you still have time to get her something nice. If your mom is in the same generation as my mom she grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, experienced WWII as an adult, and is fond of stories set in rural America, this is a book she will enjoy. Also, if she's sight-impaired, it's available in a Large Print paperback and audiobook.

These are stories about my father. He's passed now, but he took great pleasure reading his almost true tall tales. I think you'll enjoy them too. The descriptions of stories below are of particular interest to mothers.

Here are the buy links:
Large Print Paperback Amazon $9.99
Large Print Hardcover Amazon $14.99
Ebook:  Kindle Ebook  
Smashwords EPUB/MOBI Name your own price as low as 99 cents.
Audiobook (also available through AmazonAudible.com (only $6.95)

Here are a few of the twenty-one stories included in the book.

Ma’s Story

Mothers have their own joys and sorrows. Too often they keep their feelings to themselves and even their own families don’t know.

WHEN I WAS a boy, my Ma was a woman of few words, which surprised quite a few folks. The town ladies came out to visit on occasion and she’d go to town to return the favor, but mostly she listened. That did set her apart from the gossipers and them that just liked to talk to hear themselves.

Crossin’ the Creek

Kids went to school, but they didn’t exactly catch the school bus outside the house. Getting to school could be an adventure.

IT’D BEEN RAINING forty days and forty nights is what Ma said, but I only counted up eleven days myself. She did tend to put things in Bible sayin’s, so I won’t say she was lyin’, just exaggeratin’ for effect.


The Thief

The Great Depression was beginning to seep into the lives of the people in West Texas. Insulated to some extent, they began to see the repercussions of the droughts by the people who came south from Oklahoma for relief from the dust storms.

IT ALWAYS MEANS a good time when Pa lets me go with him in the truck. I liked the truck a lot and sometimes he’d let me drive a ways, too. This time, Pa planned on goin’ further than Hereford. We were goin’ to go to Amarillo, the trip some fifty miles. It would take us most of one day to get there and do what we needed to do, so we’d have to camp overnight somewhere along the way.

Out of the Chicken Coop

Most animals on the farm were there for a purpose, rarely as pets. That meant that animals were not allowed in the house like they are today. If they got in, however, it wasn’t always easy to get them out again.

WHEN I WAS just a little kid, no more’n seven if I remember rightly, I was down in the chicken yard tossin’ grain like I was tol’. This one little red hen started followin’ me around instead of peckin’ up the grain like the other chickens. I thought it strange, but just went about my business.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Quick Review on Mark Twain

Mark Twain: The Complete NovelsMark Twain: The Complete Novels by Mark Twain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's taken a good chunk of my reading time to work through Mark Twain's complete novels. Whew!

I thought I'd already covered Twain's works through college, but there are a couple of books here I never heard of before (The Horses Tale, for one) and a couple I thought I had read, but apparently did not.

If you've enjoyed any of Twain's books, including the two great American Novels, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, then you're RIPE to read some more. Some of the novels are fairly brief so you can tuck one in among your other book selections. That's one reason it took me such a long time to read. I finished a few other books along the way.

I can't possibly sort and winnow the best since, hey it's Twain! If you don't think you'd like Twain, give this a try anyway. You might become a fan and you've not wasted much time.

A lot of Twain's opinions are seriously gobsmacking and about 100 years ahead of the rest of us slowpokes. I thought "Puddn'head Wilson" was a kid's story, but was totally surprised by the view it gives us of race relations. The unfairness of it all and the recognition that many things have not changed is unsettling, to say the least.

I'll just finish up "Connecticut Yankee" and I'll be done with this book. It has a lot in it I didn't recognize when I read it in my teens. Now about all those short stories. I'll bet there's a whole raftload I need to read. I'll bet I can get a freebie from Project Gutenberg. Sam won't mind. He's dead and doesn't need the money.

You thought you knew Samuel Clemons' work? Maybe you don't know it as well as you thought.



View all my reviews

Monday, May 02, 2022

Recommended Book Lists - What Authors Read

 Shepherd Books is a site for authors to tout their works, but it adds a bit of pizzazz to it by having each author recommend five books in a category they make up themselves. There are quite a few cross-over lists that are shown after the Author's List so it spreads like kudzu. Book after book is recommended by the authors and they tell you why they liked it. The reviews are brief, so it's not too much of a pain to jump from one list to another browsing for something that appeals to your inner reader.

Here's my page on Shepherd Books and a shot of the first page. I'm promoting my fantasy series, The Witches of Galdorheim. My list's title is "The Best Books that Combine Magic with the Mundane."

Note the paperback (525 pages) is listed on the Shepherd page. The e-book is much less expensive and is also a Kindle Unlimited book, which is free if you subscribe to the KU program.

Here's the first page of the list of my recommended books. Click through to see all my recommendations PLUS a bunch of Closely Related Book Lists, such as "The Best Books of Protagonists Coming of Age While Facing Seemingly Insurmountable Challenges." Whoo. That's a mouthful. You'll find yourself gleefully going down the rabbit hole finding book after book you'd love to read.

Note that all the books featured on Shepherd are available at bookshop.org. My books are all there as well: Marva Dasef on Bookshop.org.




Saturday, April 16, 2022

Let Me Tell You a Story 4/15/2022

This story is only on Wattpad, so you can read it there and see what else I have up there. This one was never published because Reader's Digest no longer exists and the "A Funny Thing Happened" feature went away with the magazine. You can Google it, though, and read some of the ones that were published.

Here's the link to Wattpad if you want to browse. Hey, while you're there, give the story a *. 


Friday, April 01, 2022

What is It About the Name Vlad?

Vlad Tepes - The Kazikli Bey

Most of you have heard of Vlad the Impaler, right? Count Dracul, the model for Dracula? Well, Kazikli Bey is the middle-eastern translation for something like “The Impaler Prince.” Born in what is now Romania in the 15th Century, he certainly gained a monstrous reputation. His popular last name, Dracul (there are many spellings) came from him signing up for a Hungarian chivalric group, the Order of the Dragon. Vlad’s father was also a Dragon member and the Dracula name is a title.  Vlad’s family name was Basarab. I’ve seen a couple of horror works where the authors did enough research to hone in on the family name, revealing only later that the evil monster is none other than Dracula.

The real Vlad was a nasty character. He directed his wrath against the Ottoman Empire for the most part. His habit of impaling his enemies on stakes (not only heads but sometimes entire bodies) earned him the title of The Impaler Prince. When Vlad was still a child, his father was ousted from his own throne of Wallachia. Vlad the elder made a deal with the Ottomans to get back at his fellow countrymen. To secure ties to the Ottomans, he sent his two sons as hostages. The elder son, Vlad Junior (Mr. Impaler), was defiant toward the Sultan and was beaten quite often. On the other hand, the younger son, Radu, ingratiated himself to Sultan Mehmed II and even converted to Islam. He was given the title Bey and served Mehmed II leading the Janissaries (think Special Forces). Vlad Jr. came to hate the Ottomans for his treatment and waged a long and bloody battle with them. His nasty habit of impaling enemies earned him the title, Impaler Prince.

In “Setara’s Genie,” I thought that giving ol’ Vlad a different face would be a nice twist. What if Vlad didn’t really impale anybody? What if he was trying to gain peace between the rampaging warlords that messed up Romania? It’s all in the PR. If he puts himself out as the baddest mother in the valley, wouldn’t you think it a bad idea to cross him? Considering that the real-life Vlad spent his youth with the Ottomans, learned Turkish, and studied the Quran, he might have actually had some respect for his former captors. What if he did perpetuate a reputation of badassery just to keep the peace?

In my book, Setara tries to go off on a cruise ship and ends up in a slave market. Lucky for her, an ancient crone pretty much forces her to buy a pendant. It’s Kismet (another middle-eastern concept)!   Basit is captured in a bottle of wine, and Setara can’t get him out of the bottle of djinn. She’s hauled off to the slave market, while her genie gets pickled.

The Kazikli Bey happens to be in the market for slaves and, noticing that Setara is wearing the locket stolen from his mother, he purchases her. He turns out to be a really nice guy, releasing Setara from bondage and ensuring her safe journey homeward with Basit, who is out of the bottle, but afflicted with one monster of a hangover.
The Tales of Abu Nuwas
SETARA'S GENIE ONLY 99 CENTS UNTIL THE END OF APRIL 

Excerpt

“I have this girl up for sale. If she catches the eye of the Kazikli Bey, then she should fetch a good price. Keep her well-shackled. She tried to run away.”

The captain grabbed the front of Setara’s tunic and yanked the top lacings loose. She twisted away. “Stop it!” Her face reddened when the pirate exposed more of her chest than was proper for an unmarried girl her age.

The trader took the chain on her shackles and pulled her behind the platform. Many men, women, and children sat or stood with chains attached to wooden columns by iron rings. A boy of only six or seven hugged a woman’s side, crying loudly. She soothed him, but it didn’t help. One of the trader’s helpers jerked the boy away from the woman. She tried to hold him, but the man dragged the child away from her.

Setara looked around, trying to think of something she could do, but calling out for help was useless. Soon, they led her up to the stage. The auctioneer looked her over and grabbed her jaw to pull her mouth open. She struggled to turn away.

“Good teeth. Not a bad body. How old are you, girl? Fifteen, sixteen?”

Setara jerked her head away from his filthy hands. “None of your business, you piece of camel dung.”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.” He shoved her to the center of the stage and began the auction.

“Who will give me one hundred shekels? She’s a strong, healthy girl. Good for household or fields.” He winked at the crowd and added, “Maybe your harem is in need of some fresh blood.”

Setara’s face burned with humiliation. She looked out at the crowd of men, for the crowd was entirely male. No self-respecting woman would come to a slave auction. The audience laughed and nudged each other’s ribs. Setara felt sick. She wondered if it would put them off if she threw up on the auctioneer’s sandals.

The Kazikli Bey looked at her intently. He rose from his throne and walked up to the stage. “Bend down, girl.”

“I will not. Keep your slimy hands away from me!”

The auctioneer pushed her roughly to the front of the stage and forced her to lean over toward the man. He reached up, and Setara closed her eyes, afraid of what would happen next. She felt a slight tug on the thong that held the amulet.

“Where did you get this?”

Setara opened her eyes and looked into the soft brown eyes of the Bey. She saw no menace there. Instead, she felt a strange attraction to him. In a flash, she realized this was the face she had seen in her vision.

“In Gamaal. I bought it from an old woman, a witch.”

“Ah, of course. Her name was Seralgo?”

“That was the name on the shop.”

The Kazikli Bey turned to the auctioneer. “She’s mine. Take her off the block.”

* * *

A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Book Trailers on Vimeo

 I've decided to put my book trailers on Vimeo (they're already on YouTube). The link to my Vimeo page is: https://vimeo.com/mgdasef

Here's a sample:

Scotch Broom.wmv from Marva Dasef on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Spring Goddess - Anahita

FAIZAH'S DESTINY: The Tales of Abu Nuwas 2 borrows heavily from Persian mythology, but the gods pretty much match up to the Roman and Greek gods. Essentially, every civilization re-uses the same gods, but give them different names and their own special flavor.

The heroes are often the mighty warrior types: Hercules, Gilgamesh, Samson. Since I’ve written this book for kids, my heroes are teenagers, not at all like the legends (but they might become legendary themselves). They’re not in already in the mythology, so you’ll just have to read "Faizah's Destiny" to find out about them.

Since Easter is all about rebirth - the flowers are blooming, the sheep are lambing, the leaves are .... uh, leaving? Anyway, all cultures appear to have a goddess of Spring. Anahita is very apropos to the reason for the season - sex and birth. Even the Christian god, Jesus, was reborn by rising from the dead.

Anahita

The ancient Persian water goddess, fertility goddess, and patroness of women, as well as a goddess of war. Her name means "the immaculate one". She is portrayed as a virgin, dressed in a golden cloak, and wearing a diamond tiara (sometimes also carrying a water pitcher).
Anahita was very popular and is one of the forms of the 'Great Goddess' which appears in many ancient eastern religions (such as the Syrian/Phoenician goddess Anath). She is associated with rivers and lakes, as the waters of birth. Anahita is sometimes regarded as the consort of Mithra. The dove and the peacock are her sacred animals. I made Anahita my main character’s supporter. She appears to Faizah hovering over a lake. She tells the girl that one or more of her companions (three boys, wouldn’t you know) will be seduced to the dark side by demons. In typical godly fashion, she can’t give Faizah a straight story; she only hints at what might happen.

Excerpt:

Each time the light dimmed, it returned brighter than before, pulsing in time to the beat of her heart. As the shape within the light grew more and more distinct, a part of Faizah’s mind wondered if she should be afraid. Somehow she wasn’t. Instead, she felt a strong attraction to that glowing figure and walked to the lake’s edge to get a better look.

The apparition hovered a few inches above the surface of the lake. Faizah could now see, through the shimmering aura surrounding her, the figure was that of a woman. She was looking out over the lake to the point where the shooting star had disappeared over the caldera rim. Clad in a golden cloak, a diamond tiara adorned her brow, and two small lions lay at her feet. The figure turned slowly to look directly at Faizah, and a gentle smile curved her lips.

Faizah gasped in sudden recognition. This was the goddess Anahita! She did exist! Faizah stood entranced as the patroness of all women, the goddess of water and fertility, and of war, came gliding smoothly over the surface of the lake toward her.

As the figure halted before her, Faizah glanced quickly over her shoulder at their campsite. The boys hadn’t moved, and she could hear Menog’s rumbling snore. She turned back to face the goddess.

“They will not awaken, Faizah,” Anahita’s lilting voice sounded in her ear. “I would speak to you alone.”

“Why...what...why have you appeared to me, Goddess?” Faizah stammered, her voice trembling.
“My husband has listened to your thoughts, Faizah. Ahura favors your purpose. He sent Menog to guide you through the cavern.”

Faizah’s eyes widened as she struggled to grasp what she was hearing. Ahura, too?

“Ah...we are grateful to Ahura for his favor. But...but, if he is protecting us, why did the boys become ill? Why didn’t I get sick, too?”

Anahita’s musical laugh was the tinkling of bells in a breeze. “Pazuzu of the southwest wind controls this valley. He guards it jealously and blows illness toward all who enter. This is why no one lives here.” Her smile widened. “And I might have had some small part in keeping you from getting sick.”

“I have read that Pazuzu can kill,” Faizah ventured, “yet the boys only have a cough. Did you do that, too?”

“No. That was your doing. Pazuzu can indeed kill. The medicine you made is what saved the boys. There is magic in you, Faizah, which is stronger than you know.” Anahita looked over Faizah’s shoulder at their little camp then back at Faizah. Her smile vanished, and her face became serious.

“I, too, favor your journey. But your friends,” she continued with a gesture toward the sleeping boys, “have lost their purpose. Be always on your guard, Faizah, for powerful forces oppose you.”

“If you favor our journey, Goddess, can you not tell me where to find Master Wafai?”

“A fair question, but the answer, I’m sorry to say, is no, I cannot.”

“But...but, you’re a goddess! Surely?”

“Master Wafai is safe; you needn’t worry about him. You are destined to follow a different path.”
Faizah’s brow wrinkled with concern. Why would she be selected by Anahita? She stammered, “What path?”

Anahita’s gaze lowered. “Many no longer believe in us, the gods and goddesses. As their belief wanes, so does our influence in the world. I, my husband, Ahura, my brother and sister goddesses, none of us are as strong as we once were. There are those, like your Master Wafai, who serve us still, and so we retain some of our strength. Even you doubted our existence, but your hope that we were real allows me to appear to you.”

“I’m sorry I ever doubted, Goddess,” Faizah whispered. “What must I do? Is it right that we go first to find the Simurgh, or should we be doing something else?”

“So many questions!” Anahita’s musical laugh drifted across the water. In the distance, a peacock’s raucous shriek seemed to answer her. “Listen, my pet calls to me,” she said. Then her smile faded, and her eyes mirrored the seriousness in her voice.

“Know this, Faizah. I will protect you as much as I can and lend you what assistance I am able. Even so, your success or failure depends on you. Your own wits and your own strength are far more important than any aid I may give you.”

Faizah trembled at the thought that a goddess would depend on her for anything. “Who opposes us?”

“Dev, for one. He relishes the darkness. Darkness begets ignorance, and ignorance begets folly.”

“Dev?” A cold chill ran down Faizah’s back. “The god of war? He is against us? Master Wafai said Dev plots the final war that will destroy the world!”

“This is true. Now you see why it is so important that you succeed in your task.”

Faizah took a deep breath. This was serious. “What else can you tell me? Will we have to face Dev? We’re not heroes. We’re kids. How can we fight a god?” Faizah chewed her lower lip with anxiety.

“I doubt Dev will oppose you directly; he would think that beneath him. Instead, he will send his minions to do his bidding. You must be ever watchful, Faizah, for you cannot know what form they will take. It could be an animal, a human, even a demon sent to turn your friends away from you.”

Anahita’s words did nothing to ease Faizah’s mind. A demon! What could they do against a demon?

*

Faizah's Destiny: The Tales of Abu Nuwas 2
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

 In print and ebook at Amazon. 
 In all ebook formats at Smashwords. Currently discounted to $0.99

The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.

However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.

A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.

Setara's Genie: The Tales of Abu Nuwas 1

A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?
Print and ebook at Amazon 
In all ebook formats at Smashwords on sales for 99 cents.

This first book featuring Setara doesn't have any Springtime goddesses, but it does have a genie, a flying horse, a dragon, merfolk, and cave demons. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Happy Eirlish Day!

Below is a picture of the friendly Norsemen coming to Eirland to teach them the true religion of Odin. To assist in this benevolent endeavor, they removed offending religious icons which the hedonistic followers of the mythic Íosa would no longer have any use since Odin does not want gold and silver Ts and cups (well, he did, but mostly he wanted to save the Eirlish) , but only to spill, um, save the blood of the unbelievers.

The Norsemen settled in Eirland and married the Eirlish women. That is why today, most of the Eirlish (now Irish) are predominantly Norse.

Read this article for more information on how the Norse saved Eirland from its false god, at least temporarily until the upstart Phádraig showed up and somehow got rid of all the Eirlish serpents.

Sgoal!


Depiction of an early Eirlish deity, the Green Man:


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Last Day of Smashwords Sitewide Sale

 Final Day Sitewide Sale!


Many Smashwords authors are throwing down huge discounts on their books. You can find them all at the sale site at Smashwords. Discounts range from 25% to 100% off the retail price. Yes, 100% off makes the book absolutely free. Smashwords Promo Page with all books on sale.

You can also go directly to my books which are discounted a lot. Here's the place to go and the sale price of the book:

To see my sale books with their prices (a whole lot of them are free), just go to my Smashwords Author Page for a complete list with prices.  Marva Dasef's Ebooks on Smashwords

All #FREE with code EBW100

Eagle Quest: A Vision Quest turns deadly when four friends confront eagle poachers in a wildlife refuge.

Missing, Assumed Dead: When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs.

First Duty: Nyra Hutchings, a young woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her first duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.


Ultimate Duty
: The same story as First Duty with some sexy scenes and a battle scene or two. 







The Tales of Abu Nuwas Two books in the series and both are free:

Setara's Genie and Faizah's Destiny

The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim - 5 books and stories in the series for free free free free free.

Bad Spelling   Midnight Oil    Scotch Broom   Spellslinger   Blood Ties Tested



Saturday, March 05, 2022

Read an Ebook Sale at Smashwords

 Wallapalooza of a Sale Going On


Many Smashwords authors are throwing down huge discounts on their books. You can find them all at the sale site at Smashwords. Discounts range from 25% to 100% off the retail price. Yes, 100% off makes the book absolutely free. Smashwords Promo Page with all books on sale.

You can also go directly to my books which are discounted a lot. Here's the place to go and the sale price of the book:

To see my sale books with their prices (a whole lot of them are free), just go to my Smashwords Author Page for a complete list with prices.  Marva Dasef's Ebooks on Smashwords

All #FREE with code EBW100

Eagle Quest: A Vision Quest turns deadly when four friends confront eagle poachers in a wildlife refuge.

Missing, Assumed Dead: When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs.

First Duty: Nyra Hutchings, a young woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her first duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.


Ultimate Duty
: The same story as First Duty with some sexy scenes and a battle scene or two. 







The Tales of Abu Nuwas Two books in the series and both are free:

Setara's Genie and Faizah's Destiny

The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim - 5 books and stories in the series for free free free free free.

Bad Spelling   Midnight Oil    Scotch Broom   Spellslinger   Blood Ties Tested



Saturday, February 26, 2022

Mask Mandate Dropped? Should You Still Wear a Mask?

 The CDC has a county by county assessment of COVID risk level. Even before checking this, I knew I would continue to wear one of our spiffy new N95 masks if I go anywhere people can get within 20 feet of me. I don't want their flu either. For that matter, they can keep their unvaccinated disease-carrying bodies far away from me. No, I'll stay away from them since they feel like they have some right to make others or themselves sick. Stupid is what I call it.

Look over to the right column to check the danger level of your own county anywhere in the United States.

Or check the entire CDC page for both a map and drop-down lists.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

I'm Tired of Telling You - Here's the Free Book This Week

 So, one of my books is free on Amazon until 2/18. I'm tired of telling you about it or trying to tempt you to take it FOR FREE! This just bolsters my belief that 1) Nobody Knows I'm There (see the header of this blog), and 2) Nobody Care Whether I'm There or Not.

Message received. Here's the fucking link. Do with it what you will if you accidentally trip over this blog post while pursuing cute kitty pictures.

A bunch of my short stories are available in "Mixed Bag 2: Supersized." 

The book is free on Amazon from February 14th - 18th. 

Table of Contents

Fish Story
The Vision
Chilpequin 22 Miles
Coward
Heather’s Pain
The Delegate
No Deposit, No Return
Taxman
The Country Faire
Fair’s Fair
If You Could See Her
Ma 'Yote and Her Cubs
Invasion
The Cursed Valley
Shasta Lake
Big Bessie’s Place
The Hunter
The Great Writing Competition
A Good, Honest Dog
A Visit to Potter’s Field
Extraordinary Rendition
Jonathan Swift Finds Nemo
Lemons
Neighborly
A Grab Bag of Drabbles



Monday, February 14, 2022

How About a Romantic Story For Valentines? Free Ebook 2/14-18

 Just for Valentine's Day. Romance is really not my genre, but I kind of liked this story because it is far away from the usual romance tropes.

If You Could See Her
(Originally Published in Lily Literary Review, now defunct)

Mac laughed out loud when Joel Gray sang lovingly to the dancing gorilla. “If you could see her through my eyes...” Cabaret was such a good movie, he thought. He had lost count of the number of times he’d played his DVD. 

Still chuckling at the end of the song, he clicked the pause button. He swung himself off the couch and shuffled into the kitchen for another beer. It’d be nice if he could find someone who’d see him like Joel saw the gorilla. True love was a funny thing. It put up a hazy screen obscuring your loved one’s faults. It was a good thing or nobody would ever stay with anybody else. Just too many differences, or maybe too many similarities, broke up relationships.

He plopped back on the couch with his beer and clicked Play. After this one, maybe he’d put on Moulin Rouge. Man, Nicole was a looker. Ha, was that an old-fashioned saying?  Well, she was beautiful. Heck, that Ewan guy was pretty good-looking, too. They didn’t have to worry about finding love. Not when they were so gorgeous. He sighed and thought it must be nice.

Mac blinked and realized the movie was over, that he’d fallen asleep in the middle of it. That’s okay. He could always watch it again. Must be tired, though, so off to bed. Snapping off the TV, he lumbered into his bedroom. Already wearing his pajamas, all he had to do was roll onto the bed. Brush his teeth maybe?  Nah, why bother?  He didn’t have anybody to look, or smell, good for. He just put on his headgear to keep him from dying of apnea and quickly fell asleep.

In the morning, he woke to birds singing and sunshine streaming through the curtains. Another beautiful day. Rise and shine, sleepyhead. After breakfast, he had to go grocery shopping. He was out of eggs and bacon and another case of beer was a necessity. He’d polished off the last of the beer while watching the movie. 

As he dressed in sweat pants and sweatshirt, size XXX-large, he mentally made up the rest of his shopping list. Maybe he’d get tortilla chips and salsa. It would go great with the Extra-Hungry Man Mexican dinner he already pictured in his mind. Maybe two of them. Guacamole, too. Yes.

He walked the half block to the bus stop and sat on the bench. The sun felt good on his face and he closed his eyes, enjoying the warmth.

“Ahem.”

He opened his eyes and saw the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen in real-life, prettier than Nicole even. 

“Could you move over so I could sit?” she asked.

“Oh, sure, yeah.”  He scrunched his massive butt to one end of the bench, giving her a little room to perch her petite frame.

He couldn’t help but keep glancing at her. He wanted to take in the reddish-brown hair falling just to her shoulders, green (or are they hazel?) eyes, and the beautifully pure skin. No makeup, he noticed. Of course, she didn’t need any. Her business suit limned her slender frame perfectly. The white ruffle of blouse showing at her neck was a perfect setting for the most beautiful face he’d ever seen.

She turned her exquisite face to him and smiled. His heart beat faster, his stomach flipped; he even felt his toes curling inside his tennis shoes. Mac melted into a huge, glutinous pile of adoration for this lovely woman.

“Nice day,” she commented, glancing up at the cloudless sky.

“Uh, yeah.”  Oh, brilliant, Mac thought. That was certainly charming. “I mean, yes, it is a beautiful day. Much nicer than yesterday, what with the rain and all.”  Again, he winced at his own clumsiness.

“Yes, it is much nicer than yesterday. Still, I like the rain sometimes. It washes all the dirt and dust away; it leaves things fresh and clean–like today.”

“Oh, yes, definitely. I agree with you completely.” Arrghh, what an idiot!

“I’m new to the neighborhood. Have you lived here long?”  Why was she still talking to him?  By this time, most women would be sitting in stony silence.

“Yes, about ten years. I live in those apartments.” He gestured the half block up to his building.

“Oh, really!  I live there, too!  Then, hello neighbor. It’s nice to meet you.” She smiled broadly, flashing perfect white teeth. “I’m Lily.” She held out her hand to shake.

“Ma...Mac. That is Mackay.” He bit his lip to halt the stutter. “I mean my last name is Mackay. Everyone calls me Mac. My first name’s Paul.”

“I like the name Paul,” she murmured. “May I call you Paul?”

“Oh, of course, sure. I mean Mac is just a nickname. Heh, heh, call me anything you want!” He cringed inside again. Back off. Don’t be too pushy or you’ll scare her off.

They sat in silence for a few moments while his mind scrambled to come up with more conversation, anything to hear her speak.

“So, where do you work?  Well, I mean, you don’t have to tell me, you know. But I’m not a stalker or anything.”  Blast it!  Why couldn’t he keep his foot out of his mouth?

“Not at all. I work for an ad agency. I’m a Demographics Analyst.”

“Sounds interesting.”

She asked the question he didn’t want her to ask. “What do you do?”

“Oh, I...I’m temporarily between jobs. Just looking for the right opening.”  Mac glanced at her and saw her head turn away. “But, but I do some freelance work...programming, web pages, stuff like that.”

“I think it’s wonderful when a man can be his own boss. I’m sure you’re the hardest supervisor you ever worked for.”  She laughed at her little joke and he melted again and laughed with her.

“I suppose I am.”

“Well, here’s my bus. Are you taking this one?”

“Uh, no, I’m waiting for the cross-town.”

“Well, then, I enjoyed meeting you and I suppose we’ll be seeing each other a lot since we’re neighbors.”

He waved as she climbed on the bus. On the top step, she stopped, turned, and smiled at him again. Devastation. She was gone. He felt like the clouds had rolled in and covered up his sun. “What light through yonder window breaks?  It is the east and Lily is the sun.”  He didn’t think Will would mind a minor change to his line. He had no illusions he was some Romeo, but now he knew how the young man felt.

His bus arrived. He clumped up the steps and showed the bus driver his pass. The bus was nearly full, so he knew he’d have to stand. That was so hard on his knees, but there wasn’t any way around it. He needed an entire seat to himself. His neck burned as he felt the disapproving glances of the riders, relieved he didn’t try to sit next to them. None of them bothered moving. He accepted that as the way of his life.

* * * *

It was going on five o’clock. He’d pulled a chair up to his window where he’d be able to see the bus arriving. A half-hour went by and two busses rolled through without stopping.

Finally, the last commuter bus pulled up and Lily stepped down. She turned and waved to somebody, maybe the driver, then started up the sidewalk to the apartment building.

Mac jumped up from his chair, knocking it aside, and hurried out to the hallway. He punched the elevator button anxiously, hoping he wouldn’t be too late. The elevator was coming down, so he got lucky and caught it on the way. The car stopped on the ground floor and when it opened...his Juliet, his sun was standing before him.

“Well, hello, Lily. Fancy meeting you here.” He tried to sound light-hearted and, most of all, surprised to see her.

“Paul!  How nice to see you.” She smiled the smile that melted his heart.

He stood in the elevator doorway and suddenly realized that he had to get out to let her in. But she stood right in the way and he couldn’t go around. He cursed his grossness, how fat he was.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m in your way.” She moved to one side to let him out.

“Thank you,” was all he could manage as she stepped into the elevator. She gave him a last smile as the doors closed. He stood watching the floor numbers light up as the elevator ascended. It stopped on the fourth floor, just one floor up from him.

Waiting a moment, he then pushed the button. He rode the car to his floor and went back to his empty apartment.

The next day, he was at the bus stop plenty early. She came and they chatted. It was becoming easier for him. She was so kind, so wonderful. She listened to him as he talked about his life and he listened as she told him about hers. Over the days, they met every morning at the bus stop, every evening in the lobby of the building.

Then a miracle happened.

“Paul, I was wondering if you’d like to come up to my place for dinner some evening. We’ve become such good friends in these little meetings, I thought we would enjoy spending more time together.”

He was dumbstruck. She was asking him for a date?

“Oh, you mean you’re having a party. Having friends over?”

“No, I mean just the two of us. Would Saturday work for you?”  She smiled, he melted.

“Why of course. That would be terrific. I’ll bring some wine if you like.”

“That would be nice. I think we’ll be having fish. I hope you like halibut.”

“Well, you can see food and I are on good terms. I’ll get a bottle of white wine, then.”

* * * *

On the big day, he hurried to the Men’s Big and Tall shop and found a decent pair of pants and jacket to wear. A new shirt. A tie?  Yes, a tie would be right. Did he remember how to knot one?

He showed up at her door exactly at seven. The expensive white wine in one hand and a bouquet of flowers in the other. He felt giddy. Were the flowers too much?  Oh, well, he was here now, so he tapped on the door.

His vision, his dream opened the door quickly and stood aside to let him in. She put her hands to her face in what he considered to be an endearing way. “Flowers!  Oh, Paul. That is so sweet.”

She took wine and flowers from his hands as he just stood there staring at his lovely Lily. She wore a white dress, he thought it was a shirtwaist if he recalled correctly. A belt wrapped around her incredibly tiny waist as her hips swelled just the right amount below and her chest just the right amount above.

The small apartment was the same setup as his, so he knew where everything was. The dining table was set with beautiful flowered china, crystal wine and water glasses, and elegant silverware. A lit pair of candles were centered on the table.

Now, he had seen enough movies to know a romantic setting when it was presented. Visions of Bogart and Bacall. No, Cary Grant and Natalie Wood. Elegance, grace, and style. Suddenly, he felt ugly, fat, and awkward. He was so far from being Cary Grant it was pitiful. He wondered how he could have thought...

“Sit, won’t you?” she asked and sat herself on the couch. He hesitated and examined it closely. He was quite an expert at determining what would hold his weight. Reassured by its overstuffed size, he gingerly placed himself at one end. She slid across the couch to his side. Laying her arm across the back of the couch, she turned her body toward him.  

They chatted for a while just as they did at the bus stop. It was thoroughly pleasant, and he began to relax. He would put aside the fact he loved this woman and be the friend she so clearly wanted him to be. He could not harbor any illusions.

While they talked, he let his eyes wander for brief moments around the room. What would it tell him about this lovely person he didn’t already know?

On a bookshelf, close by the couch, he saw a grouping of photos in silver frames. Clearly, they were pictures of friends and family. The smiling faces and arms around shoulders spoke of the love these people had for each other. He noticed one with two older people, a man and a woman, standing on either side of a younger woman. They had their arms wrapped around each other. He was puzzled at who these people could be. The older woman looked much like Lily, with the same eyes and mouth. The young woman in the middle, though, was huge. Not tall, maybe Lily’s height, but she easily weighed three hundred pounds.

He squinted to see the picture more clearly and her eyes followed his to the picture.

“My parents.”

Paul did a double-take. “Who is...?”

“That’s me.”

He was shocked and quickly looked back and forth between his vision of loveliness and the overweight, yet beautiful, face in the photo.

“I lost some weight, more than a hundred pounds.” She spoke matter of factly and smiled at him.

He didn’t speak for a few moments, then said, “She is...you are beautiful. Either way, Lily.”

"Thank you, Paul. I think you're beautiful, too."  She turned her eyes downward, suddenly shy. 

“Yes.” He paused. “Yes, if you could see her through my eyes.” He realized Joel Gray might have been singing the truth after all.

THE END OF THE BEGINNING

This story and a bunch more are all available in "Mixed Bag 2: Supersized." The book is free on Amazon from February 14th - 18th. One whole week of free reading if you haven't got a date.





Sunday, February 13, 2022

For the Love of a Dog - Free Ebook 2/14th-18th

Since these posts are showing examples of love, one can hardly leave out the special love between humans and their pets. Mixed Bag 2: Supersized is packed full of short stories which were published somewhere and sometime in the past 14 years. Here's a sample to get you started. Hey! It's free. What have you got to lose?

A Good, Honest Dog
Non-Fiction
Originally published in WildChild Publishing

We walked down the concrete path with chainlink cells on both sides. Shouting to make ourselves heard over the cacophony of barking, yipping, and howling, we examined the inmates of this canine prison.

I looked into one cell and a stocky black and brown pup, only a few months old, sat up and begged. No barks, yips, or howls from her, just a pair of pleading brown eyes. “This one,” I said without hesitation. We paid her bail, signed all the papers and took her home–our new dog.

We named our darling puppy Loki after the Norse god of mischief. No matter that she was female, since most people don’t know the Vikings’ mythology. We resisted calling her Heinz 57, although we couldn’t quite figure out her breeding. A bit of springer, a dab of spaniel, maybe those short legs told of a rogue dachshund? In any case, she became our loving dog and we her loving parents. Her short legs and chunky body, while cute as could be, wreaked havoc on her fetching skills. Toss the frisbee, then wait...and wait. When she caught up with the already grounded disk, she spent a few minutes examining the surrounding area for stray scents. She loved to play fetch, but often forgot that her role was to return the object to the tosser.

Walking her on a leash was not easy, as her nose led us back and forth on a chase for fading scents. What she lacked in physical skills, she made up for with a nose inherited from some obscure ancestor who must have hunted for a living.

As she aged, she grew too fat and I kicked myself for not exercising her more often. I always had some excuse or other–work, kids, sheer laziness. Besides, I thought, the prednisone the vet prescribed for flea allergies caused her weight gain.

In her tenth year, her hips started to pain her. She loved to sleep on the old sofa, long ago claimed as her own, but she couldn’t jump up anymore. She’d walk over to it, then turn her head and look at me with her pleading eyes. “Oh, okay,” I’d sigh and go lift her bottom up as she scrabbled with her front legs to gain her throne.

Our vet loved her, or at least she said she did. I think our vet loved every dog that walked, or was dragged, through the door. Nevertheless, I’ll always remember her saying, “You know, Loki’s just a good, honest dog.” That was our Loki, a good, honest dog.

In her thirteenth year, the vet found a tumor in her belly. “She’ll be okay for a while. They don’t grow very fast.”

* * * For the Rest of the Story, Get the Free Ebook 2/14-2/18 * * *

This story and a bunch more are all available in "Mixed Bag 2: Supersized." The book is free on Amazon from February 14th - 18th. One whole week of free reading if you haven't got a date.




Saturday, February 12, 2022

Love Lives on Even After Death - Free Ebook 2/14-18

A love besotted boy asks a peculiar corpse if love is in his future. The short story ebook containing this story and many others is free February 14th-18th on Amazon.

A Visit to Potter’s Field

Fantasy/Humor

Originally published in Lorelei Signal and “A Time To..., Volume 1” from Wolfsinger Publications

* * *


Rap Rap Rap

“Now who? More of those darned kids?”

RAP RAP RAP

“What do you want? Can’t you just leave me alone?”

RAP RAP RAP

“Oh, for Pete’s sake...some people have no manners.”

Griselda reached up through the hole in the coffin and pulled a clod of dirt downward. Grunting with the effort of digging herself out of her grave, she also muttered a few very unkind words about the visitor and his parentage.

RAP RAP RAP

“I am doing my best. Quit being so impatient. Hmmph.”

She managed to break away another part of the pine box lid and pulled more dirt into the coffin.

“A damned good thing those city employees are so lazy,” she muttered. “A real grave would be six feet deep. We get maybe two feet at best in Potter’s Field. Then, all the time, it’s rap rap rap, with some fool wanting to ask a question.”

RAP RAP RAP

“I SAID I’M COMING!” Griselda shouted as she dragged more dirt into the coffin and shoved the clods down to the foot. She noticed her words came out more like “I YED I COING.”

Her knees were now bent and touching the inside of the coffin lid. She shoved her left elbow to the side and knocked out another piece of wood. As she suspected, there was some open space around the edges. She pushed the dirt out of the coffin.

Finally, her groping hand felt a breeze above her. Something grabbed it and began to tug at her.

“Wait! You idiot! The lid is still in the way.” Whoever had pulled at her let go. She felt two fingernails give way. Damn. She only had three left.

She grumbled about lost body parts as she pushed upward on the inside of the lid with her knees. A screech from the rusty nails pulling loose set what was left of her teeth on edge.

Pushing her hands through the widened hole, she gripped both sides of the coffin and pulled herself upward. Dirt, worms, and other unidentifiable material fell off the top of her head and down to her shoulders. She shrugged to loosen the gap even more. Her head popped above the surface and she gasped the cold night air, her first breath in over ten years.

She looked left and right, then swiveled her head around to look behind. A young man stood with light flickering on his pallid face. His eyes were open so wide she thought they might pop out (a lovely thought), the round O of his mouth a frozen rictus of horror.

“Just what did you expect? A burlesque dancer?” she said in disgust. After all, he called on her, not the other way around.

“What?” he stammered.

“Hmmph,” Griselda grunted as she pushed herself up out of the grave. She sat on the edge of the pine coffin and looked around. The graveyard looked much the same as it had when they’d buried her. She thought some things must never change.

“Well, what do you want to ask?” she said as pleasantly as possible, though speaking properly without lips and tongue was difficult. Ah, wait. A bit of tongue was still attached to the back of her throat. She coughed and spit out a beetle that had made a comfortable bed against her tonsils. With a bit more tongue, she asked more clearly. “What do you want?”

“I I I...”

“Spit it out. Hee hee,” Griselda cackled at the joke, since she’d just spit out a bug.

The boy cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “Miss, uh, Gypsy, I heard you have to answer the question of whoever digs you up,” the boy began.

“Yes, I do have to answer,” she said, then muttered under her breath, “Stupid curse.”

“I want to know if Emily is my true love.”

“Emily who? Come on, boy, give me some details. I don’t exactly get the daily news down there.”

“Emily LaFleur. She’s my girlfriend, but she’s been going out with Beau Richards. You know, he’s just a jock. He can’t offer...”

“Tut tut tut. Too much information. Let me see if I’ve got this straight. You love the girl and the girl loves the jockey and you want to know if she’s your true love?” Griselda sighed. She wished these young pups would come up with some better questions. What about world peace? What about death, famine, and pestilence?

“The simple answer, my foolish boy, is no. She can hardly be your true love if she’s gallivanting off with a...jockey, did you say? They’re kind of small, aren’t they?”

“Not a jockey. A jock. He plays football.”

“Foot...? I assume that’s some kind of game?”

“Uh, yeah. You don’t know about football?”

Griselda glared at the callow boy until he turned his eyes away. She wasn’t sure whether it was in shame or because she had a bit of pus dripping from her left eye. She’d been dead for more than a hundred years and they expect her to keep up on sports?

“So, she’s not my true love?”

“No, she’s not. Now, pick up that shovel and get me back in the ground. This damp air isn’t good for me.”

* * * For the Rest of the Story, Get the Free Ebook 2/14-2/18 * * *

This story and a bunch more are all available in "Mixed Bag 2: Supersized." The book is free on Amazon from February 14th - 18th. One whole week of free reading if you haven't got a date.




Friday, February 11, 2022

Free Ebook Coming February 14th-18th

Mixed Bag 2: Supersized is packed full of short stories which were published somewhere and sometime in the past 14 years. Here's a sample to get you started. Hey! It's free. What have you got to lose?

No Deposit, No Return
Literary Science Fiction/Horror
Originally published in Diddledog Flash Fiction

The woman in the black trench coat darted her eyes down the darkened alley. The smell of the overripe dumpster turned her stomach. Her nausea came not only from the rotted food odor, but from her already nerve-twisted guts.

“Did you get it?” she whispered to the man.

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry. Piece of cake.” He reached inside his jacket, withdrawing a small package no bigger than the palm of his hand.

She reached for it, but the man jerked it back.

“The money first.”

She took an envelope from her purse and held it out. The man pushed the package toward her and grabbed the envelope at the same moment she snatched the brown-paper-wrapped container.

“I don’t know why you want this, lady. It creeps me out,” the man said, as he thumbed through the hundred-dollar bills in the envelope.

Without another word, the two parted, the woman toward the far end of the alley and the man back to the street.

* * *

Nine months later, the woman named Karla lay in a hospital bed, staring at the newborn in the crib beside her. She and her boyfriend, Curt, had planned every detail. The demand for ten million dollars went with a tissue sample, a simple scraping from inside the child’s mouth. It would take some time for the family to check that the baby’s DNA came from the dead man, but when they got the results, the money would surely follow.

The billionaire died without an heir, despite marrying a young trophy wife in a last, desperate attempt for progeny. She put him off until it was too late.

* * * For the Rest of the Story, Get the Free Ebook 2/14-2/18 * * *

This story and a bunch more are all available in "Mixed Bag 2: Supersized." The book is free on Amazon from February 14th - 18th. One whole week of free reading if you haven't got a date.



Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Wordles?

 Wordle 221 4/6


⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜

🟩⬜⬜⬜⬜

🟩🟨⬜🟩🟨

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Just doing the Share option to see what it looked like. Hm. Kind of fun to do, but sharing doesn't seem to be useful. Why is it 4 when I actually only filled in 3 including the winning 3rd try. I think that's pretty damned good. Wait. Looked again. I did fill in the first row and not a damned letter was right. 


Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Re-Run From 1/5/13 - Tricking Beautiful Relatives into Being Cover Models

With my granddaughters, no trickery is necessary. Haul out a camera and capture the perfect model for Faizah, a farmer's daughter called on by the goddess Anahita to lead the battle against Dev the god of war. Audrey wins the role for her dark beauty. Sorry, Janae, you're just too blond and Nordic for the role of a middle-eastern girl. I'll check around to see if anybody needs a Valkyrie for their book cover. I didn't end up with Audrey on the cover since I had an authentic page from an ancient middle-eastern text showing the elusive Simurgh.

TALES OF ABU NUWAS 2: Faizah's Destiny
(On sale at Smashwords for 99 cents)

The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.

However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.

A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.