book reviews and excerpts

Spotlight on H.J. Worthington – Author of “Farewell, Amelia Mary: Long Time Looking”

Farewell, Amelia Mary: Long Time Looking

 

The stories and vignettes in this book represent the experiences and memories from World War II veteran H.J. Worthington. A first-time author at the age of 90, Mr. Worthington offers readers a personal journey through some of America’s most important moments in time.

Excerpt

Special Note

Friday afternoon, November 23, 1963 the nation heard the news: President John F. Kennedy shot and killed in Dallas, Texas.  All that day, Saturday, Sunday, and into the next week the event unfolded right before our eyes on our television screens.

I wrote the Kennedy memorial poem while watching the news coverage each day.  It did not matter what your political connection.  World War II was only 18 years back in the collective memory.  We had lost a kindred spirit – a fellow warrior – in the cause that saved the world from a new Dark Age of barbarism in the 20th Century, and possibly beyond if we had not prevailed.  Who knew? The raw emotional scar had healed over but was still tender to the touch of a lingering remembrance.

Robert Kennedy’s killing, less than 5 years after his brother’s, destroyed the possible promise of a bit more peaceful kingdom.  Dream denied.


In Memoriam – John F. Kennedy

On that morning… an hour before his final ride

He spoke of his brother,

Who had gone before him to the war… and died.

And she…when accepting the roses of red,

Held them and kept them,

Til her husband was dead.

 

There he sat and smiled and waved,

All through the ride;

She at his side … holding the red roses,

When there from out the sunlit sky,

A killer bullet flashed and said:

“You must die”.

 

And so; one week before Thanksgiving,

Under the Texas Sky,

She saw him live and smile … and touch,

Red roses that would die.

 

There beneath that Texas sky,

Where the President is dead,

There cries and anguished people;

And some roses that are red.

 

 

Now the lonely vigil,

Of a nation’s grieving heart,

Returned to waiting Washington,

The requiem to start.

She did not leave his lifeless side,

When the Hand of God said “NOW”,

But pleading she touched God’s Hand,

And asked: “Please … keep him here … somehow”.

 

Through the soul-sick shrouded night,

The line of sorrow filed beneath the great Rotunda dome,

Where lies their young and fallen Chief,

Who now has journeyed home.

 

And on that morning,

When they came to bear him slow,

It was heard by all who watched and harked,

His muted whisper softly said:

“I am ready now … to go.”

 

They bore him from the solemn church,

His requiem was done,

And there his little boy saluted him,

And softly back across the hallowed air he whispered:

“Happy birthday … and farewell my son”.

 

And standing there; just six years old,

Was his little daughter brave,

No longer could she run and hug;

Or for him,

All her kisses save.

 

And there on the side of a hill that day,

She whispered her husband’s name.

She took a ray from the setting sun,

And lit their eternal flame.

 

…So now we truly ask ourselves,

What kind of man was he,

What killed our president of tender years,

Who loved the wind and sea.

 

A very few of you may say:

“The man is dead,”

What more is there to say,

The evil plan is naked here before us,

All the certain consequences light the way.

 

Let us here speak finally …

Let us quit our rhyme,

Let us raise our urgent sight,

Let us press our words to freer verse,

Let us set the record right.

 

Yes… he is dead.

His day is done,

His manuscript is closed.

But there remains the reason WHY,

The tragic, wasteful painful reason WHY?

 

The sure and true malignant residue of hate,

Unleashed like a famished phantom in our midst,

Struck down this man.

For he; like the tall Emancipator before him,

Had thrust upon him,

An overburdened share of relentless condemnation.

 

He was struck down,

Not for the way he prayed to his God;

But for the way he prayed to his fellow man.

His warm prayer;

His clear and poetic words of truth and justice,

Fell upon cold hearts and dead consciences;

And they were stirred to anger and fear and despair.

This was his sin,

And it was a sin against those who hate,

For any reason; and in any measure,

And hate triumphed;

And he was gone.

 

 

And what have we lost?

…We have lost the sight and voice,

Of little children in the marbled halls of state.

A generation has lost a warm and kindred mystic spirit,

Who lived and shared a dear nostalgia,

Of younger urgent times.

Gone is a sweet embrace of memories,

Of not too long ago.

We have lost the simplicity,

Of the natural boyishness,

Of a great man.

Some say that he had no emotion.

He WAS an emotion;

And we have lost him.

We have lost the smile of a truly beautiful woman.

We have lost a President.

We have lost our hearts.

 

And so…

Time will go on,

Memory will fade,

The years will pass,

Men will forget.

And the millions of words of eulogy …will,

After a while;

Languish and fade,

On the yellow pages of dusty volumes.

Those of us who now silently weep;

We, who cannot dispel the ache;

We know, that death is but a changing of life;

And we will find our solace and peace in knowing,

That we will see him and greet him,

One day again,

In the long forever of eternity.

 

In Memoriam – Robert F. Kennedy

 

Four years and seven months

Since sad November,

Now sad June; more heartbreak

To remember,

We have loved and quickly

Lost again,

We have dreamed another dream

In vain.

Bio

 

H.J. Worthington is a WWII veteran, father of six and grandfather of nine. He has no publishing credits and this is his first book. He is not looking for fame or fortune. His next birthday will bring him to his tenth decade.

The stories and other offerings in this book are a selection from the archives in his mind from long ago—up to 2016. He finally realized that if he is ever going to see his work in print, he better take his own advice from one of his many vignettes:

Get going or you’re gone!

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

 

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Spotlight on Cathy Sikorski, Esq. – Author of “Who Moved my Teeth?

Excerpt from Who Moved my Teeth?

 

CHAPTER ONEfuckingteeth

WHAT SHOULD I HAVE ALREADY DONE?

Here’s a list of things you should do if you haven’t done them already, either for your loved one that you are/or will be a caregiver for quite soon…OR FOR YOURSELF!

  1. GET A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY….ACTUALLY GET TWO OR THREE!

What is a Power of Attorney? This is a critical document that allows someone to take care of your healthcare and business affairs. And everyone in the healthcare and caregiving business will ask you if you have a POA (Power of Attorney).

A Power of Attorney document comes in a few flavors. There are generally two types of POAs and they need to be Durable, kind of like a good pair of Levi Jeans. Durable means that no matter what happens to you, as a living person, the POA stays in effect. That’s a good thing because what would be the whole point of a POA if it doesn’t work when you can’t.  Like my Nana’s orthopedic shoes, she was never without them because she needed them for her health. And, during your life, you should never be without your Durable POAs.

  1. Durable Health Care Power of Attorney

This document allows a person to make all major and minor healthcare decisions for their loved one. The person who signs the Power of Attorney is giving the power to you or someone else to act as if you are the signer. So, if your mom signs a Durable POA, and gives the power to you, she has made you her agent.  You now have the power to act as if you are your mom in all health care situations. If you sign a POA and make your spouse your ‘Agent,’ your spouse now has the power to act as if he is you in all health care decisions concerning you.

This does not prevent Mom from continuing to make her own decisions about her health care. It does allow the agent, the POA, to make decisions, if necessary. Or, at the very least, as the POA you now have the authority to talk to everyone about your mom’s health care.

Does this replace that damned HIPAA form? Yes and yes. There is nothing wrong with you also having your loved one sign a HIPAA form that gives you authority to discuss medical issues, but the Durable Healthcare POA is the best and most powerful document you can have. And it lasts forever, until the person who signed it cancels it in writing. That’s why you need 2 or 3 originals. I always gave my clients 3 originals. In case one gets lost, is never returned, or becomes lining for the cat litter box somehow.

An original Durable POA means it has all original signatures and it is signed and witnessed by a Notary Public. So, if you have three original Durable POAs, you will have to sign in all important places 3 times and the Notary will sign each one separately as well.

  1. Durable Financial Power of Attorney

This document is different from a Health Care Power of Attorney. The person who signs this type of Durable Power of Attorney is giving the power to you or someone else to act as if you are that person in all financial situations. So if your mom gives you a Durable Financial POA, you now have the power to act as if you are your mom in all financial situations. This too, is a very powerful document. Since the agent is in the shoes of the person who assigned the power. The agent can buy, sell, transfer, pay, not pay and clean out every penny and asset there is. It sounds bad and ominous.  And there is no doubt that checks and balances are a good thing when you give a Durable Financial POA to someone. But never underestimate the NEED for this document.

  1. Between Spouses

Unless you have a real problem with your spouse, and I’m pretty sure that’s a Dr. Phil book, or if your spouse is already suffering from mental incapacity or incapable of making financial decisions, you and your spouse under normal circumstances should give each other Durable Healthcare and Durable Financial POAs.

This is a protection in case anything unplanned would happen to either of you. You would already have these documents in place to handle any emergency. I’m talking to you. The healthy baby boomer who is reading this, or the Gen-Xer who suddenly realizes their mom and dad are getting older. Hey! We are all getting older! If you are over 18 years old, you should consider Durable POAs for yourself. When my children went to college, I had them sign Durable POAs. As adults living hours away from home, I did not want any nonsense from a hospital or a college administration saying they wouldn’t talk to me about my child’s condition, be it a health or financial condition.

Fast forward to your own life now. You are 30-something or 40-something. You have kids, a nice house, a couple of cars. You have an accident. You are disabled. You’re in a coma. Your husband can’t sell the house, car, or shares in Microsoft, because they belong to you. The hospital wants to put a shunt in your brain to stop the bleeding but no one has the authority to say “yay” or “nay.” That’s why everyone needs Durable POAs at every stage of their adult life. Not when you’re 85 years old and you think, “hey, something might happen to me.”

DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW.

No one even needs to know you have these documents. You can go to your local wonderful attorney, get the paperwork done, put it in your fireproof box in the basement, and when someone needs to find your important papers….Voila!! There it is. Just make sure someone knows you have important papers and where they are located.

 

  1. A Word on Durable POAs

Besides being the most important document you may not have yet and need to get, POA’s can also be like a Chinese menu. Any lawyer worth her salt will take you through a process where you need to decide exactly how much power you want to bestow. In Pennsylvania, for example, where I reside, there are very strict rules about things like how much money can the POA give as a gift and to whom. So please, find a lawyer. Ask your friends, neighbors, someone you know who has dealt with issues like this. Research lawyers, but find one, and get your affairs in order. It’s that important, because if you need this and you don’t have it, this is what happens next…………….

  1. Whom Do I Choose to be my POA?

 

This question is complicated. Usually, if you are healthy and happy as a couple, you would choose each other as your primary POA. You should always have an alternate POA in case something happens to both of you simultaneously.

If your spouse is unable to be your POA, or you don’t have a spouse, you need to choose a person you can trust completely. This person will have power over your money and your health. You need to choose wisely.

Normally, it would be best to choose a daughter or son or other relative who lives close by. Making these decisions, especially with hospitals and doctors usually needs a person who is available to go to those places or meet with those healthcare professionals.

 

When deciding who to choose as your POA ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do I trust this person completely with my money and/or my health?
  2. Will they be available to make decisions at a moment’s notice?
  3. Are they capable of making these decisions?
  4. Does this person know how to find and ask for help for me?
  5. Do I want to put all the financial or health care power with one person, or do I want to give joint or several powers?

Caution: It can be challenging to have joint POAs because if they disagree, there is no one to ‘break the tie.’ You can have ‘either or’ POA’s. So that if you name your son and daughter as joint POA’s, your son and daughter can make decisions jointly or by themselves (severally). Note that they need to be able to work together for the several powers as they can make decisions without the other’s input. If you don’t see that happening, then choose one decider and an alternate.

 

Bio

cathysikorskiphotoamazon

Author of Showering With Nana: Confessions of a Serial Caregiver, Cathy Sikorski has been a significant caregiver for the last 25 years for seven different family members and friends. A published humorist, Sikorski is also a practicing attorney who limits her practice to Elder Law issues. Her combined legal and humor expertise has made her a sought-after speaker where she tackles the Comedy of Caregiving and the legal issues that affect those who will one day be or need a caregiver (which is everyone). Sikorski is a frequent guest on radio programs and podcasts where she talks about the importance of using humor in caregiving. With more than 30 years of law behind her, she provides critical legal information for our aging population. Her latest endeavor is her humorous memoir Showering with Nana: Confessions of a Serial (killer) Caregiver (HumorOutcasts Press 2015).  Sikorski has participated in memoir writing classes for two years at the prestigious Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She has also participated in the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference where she won a Humor Prize in 2014. Sikorski blogs for The Huffington Post and is a contributing author for HumorOutcasts.com and she can been seen on the West Chester Story Slam YouTube channel.  Known as a “Thought Leader,” her work can be found in the HappinessRecipe Anthology: The Best of Year One, published 2014.  Sikorski maintains an active blog “You just have to Laugh…where Caregiving is Comedy…” at www.cathysikorski.com  where she continues to post absurd yet true stories that continue today.Contact Cathy Sikorski at cathy.sikorski@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at @cathy_sikorski.

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

 

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Spotlight on Margie Cherry, Author of “Mom’s Comedy Coloring Book”

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Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms?

 

PresidentMeme2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul R. De LanceyDeLanceyPaul
Future president of the United States of America.

Check out my latest novel, the hilarious apocalyptic thriller, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms? It’s published by HumorOutcasts and is available in paperback or Kindle on amazon.com.

 

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Spotlight on Donna Cavanagh – Author of “How to Write and Share Humor”

Excerpt From How to Write  and Share Humor:

 

PART I: CAN I WRITE FUNNY?HowToWriteHumor(final2

 

Some writers do not know they are funny. Some writers can’t put their funny into words, and some want to use humor to loosen up their audience. How hard is it to write funny?

 

Chapter I: Let’s Talk Humor

A few years ago, while surfing the net, I came across this great quote from author and literary analyst Michael Cart. I found Mr. Cart on LinkedIn and asked him to follow me, but I got no response. However, in his defense, and as anyone on LinkedIn knows, if a person you don’t know asks you to be a connection, that person is probably a stalker. Yep, LinkedIn is the most paranoid social media platform available, and it makes people crazy with suspicion, but I still like it.
Anyway, back to the quote from Michael Cart, which I assume is correct because I did read it on the internet and everything you read on the internet is true so…
“Humor is the Rodney Dangerfield of Literary genres. It gets no respect.”
That quote blew me away. It is so profound that it deserved to be centered, italicized and put in quotation marks. And it is one hundred percent true. We all know we like to laugh. We watch comedians, sitcoms and funny movies. Our Facebook feeds are saturated with funny pictures, headlines and witty sayings. While I have no scientific data to back this next statement up, I would guess that humor is the fourth most popular type of post on Facebook. Posts about puppies, kittens and, of course, the consumption of wine seem to grab the top three spots.
Despite its amazing popularity, humor still is the black sheep of the literary world. It’s a mystery as to why this is. My guess is that those in the “real writing and reading world” put down humor because they struggle writing humor, and that fact ticks them off.

HUMOR IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT GENRES TO WRITE

I don’t mean to burst your bubble so soon out of the starting gate, but a lot of people do NOT write humor well. And I’m not just talking about the ability to write jokes or humorous essays. I’m talking about possessing the ability to infuse humor into their work even a tiny bit. It’s a difficult task and not for the weak hearted. Humor, if not done well and even if done well, can be misconstrued, judged or viewed as offensive. So you have to be careful with your words and project how they will affect your life and those in your life.

Who should not write humor?
· Anyone who hates to laugh
· Anyone who finds no humor in everyday life
· Anyone who needs to be liked all the time
· Anyone who is afraid to be offensive
· Anyone who must declare out loud to the world as often as possible how hysterically funny he or she is (if you have to keep telling people you are hysterical, there’s a better than ninety percent chance you are not hysterical).
What are some of the major challenges to writing humor?
· It is hard to translate the cadence of spoken word to written word.
· It is hard to create descriptions that paint your story in a humorous way.
· It is hard to create dialogue that represents the tone of the story you want to tell.
· It is hard to let go of inhibitions that have plagued you since you left the womb.
· Don’t fret. In this book, we will cover many of these challenges for you. So take a deep breath and read on.

 

CHAPTER II: To Niche or Not Niche

I guess if we want to truly understand the humor genre, we should start at the beginning and ask “What is humor?” I could give you the dry dictionary definition, but that’s boring. Instead, I’m going to give you my definition. Humor makes us smile, chuckle or laugh so hard coffee shoots out our noses when we read and drink at the same time. Humor tickles our funny bones and transforms a bad mood into a good mood. Humor is powerful stuff. In case anyone is wondering, comedy is a category under humor and is defined as a humorous art form, which can be written or oral and results in physical laughter. There are also many sub-genres of humor. Some of the more popular include:
· Observational Humor – Finding comedy in everyday life from your neighbor’s habit of walking around outside in his underwear to funny road signs
· Situational Humor – From trips to the emergency room to getting pulled over for a ticket to finding snakes in your bed—sure they sound terrible, but if they are not happening to you, they can be pretty funny.
· Satire – Making fun of culture, society, politics, religion, etc.
· Bathroom Humor – Fart and poop jokes never to go out of style.
· Relationship and Family Humor – Spouse and kids and all that goes with these topics, plus dating and divorce
· Stage of Life Humor – This can sometimes overlap with relationship humor as it encompasses topics such as empty nest, middle age, mommy bloggers, widowhood and menopause.
· Caustic or Snarky Humor (takes no hostages) – No one is protected from witty barbs.
· Melting Pot Humor – In this category I include everything from silly or funny photos with captions to fictional essays.
Do I have to find a niche?
Let’s assume you have the gift for humor but you don’t know what to do with this gift. The number one question budding humorists ask is “What should I write about?” I might be a rebel here, but this is my take on this sensitive topic. From day one in classrooms, kids and adults are taught “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.” I’m not against this advice for beginners, but I am against that advice if two years down the road, you are still writing only what you know. Talk about boring. Writing is fluid; writing is a journey. Make sure you book the trip and take that journey to the unknown or else you might find yourself stuck in a pile of mediocrity with no hope of escape. That sounds so dramatic, right? Okay, you might not die in a pile of mediocrity, but you will be trapped until you get the guts to try some fresh material. Take some chances!
I hear what you are saying: “I need a niche; I need a niche.” And, yes, to an extent that is true. You are not going to write about being a single dad if you are a polygamist with twenty-two kids. You are not going to write medical humor if you vomit when you get a paper cut. However, recognize the limitation to your niche. You cannot still be a “mommy blogger” when your kids have received their own AARP cards. You cannot be known as the menopause maven when your hot flashes and dry vagina turned cold a decade ago. In other words, it’s the theory of Natural Selection: adapt or become extinct. Be creative, move on, push that envelope and find your funny elsewhere. It’s okay to leave a niche behind so you can grow as a writer.
One other point while we are talking about what to write. Humor does not mean your entire life has to be an open book. Sure, write about experiences, but be careful. Not everyone in your life will delight in the fact that they are put on public display. Learn the difference between writing about experiences in a humorous way and humiliating your friends, family and possibly yourself.

WRITING EXERCISE

Write down what makes you laugh. Why do you find these topics so funny? Can you come up with five subjects that tickle your funny bone? Turn that idea into five sentences.

 

Bio

Donna Cavanagh-2 (1)

Donna Cavanagh is founder of HumorOutcasts.com (HO) and the partner publishing company, HumorOutcasts Press which now includes the labels Shorehouse Books and Corner Office Books (HOPress-Shorehousebooks.com).  Cavanagh launched HO as an outlet for writers to showcase their work in a world that offered few avenues for humor. HO now features the creative talents of more than 100 aspiring and accomplished writers, producers, comics and authors from all over the world. Known for its eclectic content, HumorOutcasts has something for everyone.  As a writer herself, Cavanagh is a former journalist who made an unscheduled stop into humor more than 20 years ago. Her syndicated columns helped her gain a national audience when her work landed in the pages of First Magazine, USA Today and other national media.  She has taught the how-to lessons of humor, blogging and publishing at The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. Recently named Humor Writer of the Month by the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Cavanagh has penned four humor books Reality: Fantasy’s Evil Twin, Try and Avoid the Speed Bumps, A Canine’s Guide to the Good Life (which she wrote with her dogs Frankie and Lulu) and the USA Books Contest finalist Life On the Off Ramp. Cavanagh hopes her latest book How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans will encourage writers not only to embrace their humor talents but show them off as well.

How to Write and Share Humor is available on amazon.

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

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Spotlight on Keith Stewart, Author of “Bernadette Peters Hates Me”

Excerpt from Bernadette Peters Hates Me

 

Free Range BirdBernadettepetershatesmefinalcover

I am obsessed with food, and not in the way that immediately comes to mind when a fat man types those words. I am constantly reading labels and trying to find organic products on my quest to be a healthy person. My normal diet is mostly vegetarian, and I have even considered going vegan (ok, I have read about the vegan lifestyle). I am a member of a CSA—community supported agriculture—farm, which basically means I get large baskets of fresh, locally grown, organic fruit and vegetables each week without having to actually tend a farm.

Regardless of how much I support local farms, I still have to go the grocery store each week for a lot of my food, and even then, I still try to buy organic products. Living in the Appalachian Mountains in a rural Kentucky town seriously hinders this effort. You don’t find much locally grown baby bok choy in the produce aisle at the Sav-A-Lot or the Piggly Wiggly.

As a result, not only do I have to leave the local farms and mom-and-pop grocery stores behind, but I also have to shop at the giant mega-grocery stores. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good outing to Sam’s Club or Costco and buying huge bulk items, usually large pallets of dog food to feed our normal sized Dudley and the horse-who-thinks-he-is-a-dog, Duke. Plus, there is a certain comfort in knowing that I will have enough olive oil to supply my entire cul-de-sac or that I will not run out of toilet paper should my entire household get stricken with a nasty stomach virus.

My main concern about these high-ceilinged superstores can be boiled down into two words: trapped birds. I am deathly afraid of these trapped birds. You all have noticed them. They are always there, lurking. You are minding your own business, trying to decide on which flavor of Hamburger Helper to buy when suddenly it does a fly by. You know the stupid bird is scared to death. He probably just flew into the Walmart supercenter to grab one of those bird-seed concoctions molded into the shape of a bell for dinner when he lost his bearings. He can’t find his way out of the store, and he is now in panic mode. The saying “bird brain” was invented for a reason: they have small ones, and they don’t use what they have that well.

Why be scared of such a tiny bird? Why be so bitter towards a poor, struggling animal? Perhaps I am overreacting, you say? I beg to differ. A couple of years ago, I was accosted by an angry, terrified bird in a Kroger MegaGrand Store. I honestly can say I will never be the same, and neither will that dumb bird. Here’s how it went down:

I ran into the grocery after work to pick up a few items. For convenience, I stopped at the store that was closer to work, so it was not my home Kroger. All the produce was placed in completely different places, and I walked around aimlessly trying to find the organic section, in particular, the celery. I was standing in front of a large display of carefully pyramided cantaloupe when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something dark and ominous. It was a bird, maybe a sparrow, flying at what appeared to be the speed of a fully engrossed Indy car. I stood there and thought to myself, “Huh, that bird looks like it’s flying directly toward me.” The next thing I know I feel something repeatedly beating me about the head and ear, and I hear the FLAP FLAP FLAP of bird wings. “OH GOD! HELP ME!” I yelled, flailing both arms up in the air trying to fight off the crazed bird. I was feeling around for a celery stalk to use as a sword, and in my panic, I jumped back directly into the large display of cantaloupe. At this point, the bird had tired of terrorizing me and had flown away to target its next victim over in the dairy section, but I was still flailing my arms, rolling in the floor with about fifty cantaloupes.

 

After I was sure I was bird-free, I looked around at the scene. Gasping and out of breath, I was on my knees surrounded by a sea of cantaloupe, some still whole but most cracked open and oozing. My hair was tousled, my shirt had come untucked, and I was clutching my organic celery sword as if my life depended on it. The lady who had been restocking the iceberg lettuce rushed over to me while all the other shoppers in the produce section stared as if I’d just decided to do a back flip into the cantaloupe for no reason at all, like I was some sort of freakish, produce trouble maker. “Sir, are you ok?!” the lady asked. I couldn’t respond. I was incredibly embarrassed and just wanted to get out of the store.

I tried to maintain some level of grace, and finally told the woman, “Someone ought to do something about that bird.” She looked around either trying to see the bird or to look for security. Regardless, I could tell she did not believe I had been attacked. “Did you not see it?” I asked incredulously.

“Um, yes sir, yes,” she said as she helped me to my feet.

I made my way to the check-out getting madder with each step. That stupid bird had totally punked me right there in the produce section. He had done it so quickly and stealth-like that no one else had apparently even seen it. Stupid bird. Everyone just thought I was a big goober who had attacked the fresh fruit. Argh, that bird! I knew he was somewhere in the rafters of the store looking at me and laughing. I decided to gather what was left of my dignity and pay for my celery (no cantaloupe) and go home. Thank goodness this was not my home Kroger store.

The entire time my items were being scanned and bagged, the clerk kept looking at my shirt. I thought she had a look on her face that said, “I really want to laugh right now, but I will wait until you leave.” I assumed she had seen the incident, so I just ignored her. When I looked down to swipe my debit card, I noticed it. That bird—that vile, evil bird—had pooped all over my maroon button down. The stark white mess went from my shoulder, down my arm, and glared like it would glow-in-the dark against the color of my shirt. I looked up immediately and scanned the ceiling. I think I said something like, “You people need to get your bird problem under control,” to the clerk and then marched out the door, horrified.

So heed my warning, when you see a bird trapped inside a large store, be very careful. Know that it is stupid. Know that it is vicious. Know that it is ticked off because it’s too dumb to find the exit, and it’s looking to make someone pay. You do not want to end up being on the security camera blooper reel at the Kroger Employee Christmas Party. I have been there, and it ain’t pretty.

Bio

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Keith Stewart’s strange adventures usually occur near his Appalachian hometown of Hyden, Kentucky, although he can be just as easily found wandering the streets of nearby Lexington at any given moment. Before he shed his corporate identity, he worked as a certified public accountant for a multi-national company. He now enjoys less stressful work with much less pay, blogs at www.astrongmanscupoftea.com, and is as happy as a clam with his husband Andy, and their two dogs, Duke and Dudley. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and been published in several anthologies, Kudzu, and Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel. He is contributor for HumorOutcasts.com and the GoodMedProject.com.

 

Bernadette Peters Hates Me is available on Amazon.

 

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Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

 

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Spotlight on Matthew J. Pallamary – Author of “Night Whispers”

Excerpt From Night Whispers

 

CHAPTER ONENight Whispers Front Cover

The sound of a key sliding into the front door lock jolted him out of semi-consciousness. The musty smell of old perfume whispered in his mind, reminding him that he’d been waiting for hours. His feet ached. He strained to see more, but the closet remained shrouded in darkness. Razor thin silver light shone through the door leaving a slice of moonlight across the clothes hanging in front of him.
Disoriented at first, he gradually remembered what he had to do. Part of him didn’t want to go through with it, but the voice wouldn’t allow him to think of anything else.
As if in answer to his thoughts, it whispered in his mind. Remain silent, it hissed. Do not move. You mustn’t be found. Breathe slow. Deep. In measured breaths. You are the divine instrument of God’s will. His hand will guide yours. Sweaty fingers slid over the handle of the sickle at his side.
His back felt stiff. His legs shook. He longed to move, but the sounds from the hall outside the bedroom told him that to do so would mean discovery.
The bedroom light clicked on and a slash of gold stabbed through the crack in the door, stopping inches from his face. He cringed, catching his breath. She came straight toward him. He held his breath, tightening his grip on the sickle. The pretty blonde stopped with her hand on the door as if lost in thought, then turned away and began undressing.
He exhaled slow, studying her through the opening. Cascading blonde hair and smooth curves. When she pulled an angora sweater over her head he saw firm breasts and smooth, delicate shoulders. He nearly gasped when she unzipped her jeans and wiggled out of them. Her panties followed. Seeing her in this intimate way sparked long atrophied desires.
That’s not why you’re here, the voice admonished. Put those filthy thoughts out of your mind. The harsh words made him feel hot and prickly; the way he felt when his mother used to scold him.
She turned toward him again and stared. He tensed, then remembered the mirror on the closet door. She cupped her breasts and turned from side to side, examining herself. His gaze darted between her breasts and the honeyed patch of pubic hair that graced her smooth, toned thighs. If not for the voice, he might have gone for her then, but fear kept him in check.
When he reached the limits of control, she turned and disappeared from view. The sound of running water came from the bathroom, then the toilet flushed. When she passed the closet again he saw that she put on a nightgown, then the light went out.
The dull glimmer of moonlight filled his consciousness once more, followed by the creak of bedsprings and the beeping sound of her cell phone.
“Ken?” She said softly. “Yes, babe, I’m home, tucked in and thinking about you.” A pause. “I know. I miss you too. We’ll spend tomorrow night together. All night.” Another pause. “I’m sorry too. I love you.” Pause. “Goodnight, babe.”
More creaking came from the bedsprings, then the sound of her breathing, strong and regular at first, then slowing.
Soon, the voice said. When the silence nears perfection. God will guide your hand.
He drifted with the voice, trusting it as it strengthened him; an old, reliable friend. He couldn’t remember when he first heard it, only that it gave meaning to his life and promised him happiness and fulfillment. Tonight he would give in to its insistence and it would reward him.
He remained still until no other sound came except her breathing.
Slow and even.
Moving with the patience of a snake stalking prey, his hand glided forward, fingers touching the smooth door, stopping when his hand made full contact. He applied pressure until the closet door swung open noiselessly. The voice had seen to it that he oiled the hinges before settling in to wait.
He inched forward, slipping between her clothes, once again catching the lingering scent of her perfume, extricating himself from the confines of the closet, emerging into the full glory of the moonlight.
Fear, love, frustration, and unbearable longing held him immobile when he beheld the graceful curves of the girl beneath the sheets. If only…
She stirred.
He froze while she rolled onto her back and licked her lips, mumbling something before slipping back into peaceful slumber. He moved closer, pausing again to admire the childlike innocence of her face, stifling the urge to stroke her hair.
Do it! the voice commanded.
He flinched, then raised the sickle, momentarily fascinated at the silver glinting off its blade.
Her eyes snapped open. Wide. A sharp intake of breath. Her mouth opened forming an “O” before the tip of the sickle plunged down, turning what might have been a scream into a raspy gurgle. The stark fear in her eyes dulled as he pulled the sickle out, dimming further with each successive strike.

 

Bio

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Matthew J. Pallamary’s historical novel Land Without Evil, received rave reviews along with a San Diego Book Award for mainstream fiction and was adapted into a stage and sky show directed by Agent Red, and was the subject of an EMMY nominated episode of a PBS series, Arts in Context.

He has taught a Phantastic Fiction workshop at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles, and at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference for twenty five years, and is presently Editor in Chief of Mystic Ink Publishing.

His memoir Spirit Matters took first place in the San Diego Book Awards Spiritual Book Category, and was an Award-Winning Finalist in the autobiography/memoir category of the National Best Book Awards.  He frequently visits the jungles, mountains, and deserts of North, Central, and South America pursuing his studies of shamanism and ancient cultures.

San Diego, CA

 

Connect with Matthew J. Pallamary

 

WWW.MATTPALLAMARY.COM

Friend me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/matthew.pallamary

Visit my Author Page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MatthewJPallamary

Follow me on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mattpallamary

Connect on LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattpallamary

Favorite my Smashwords author page:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Picaflor

 

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Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

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Second Chances and Other Stories by Wayne DePriest

 

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Wayne DePriest’s Second Chances and Other Stories is great. Not only does DePriest write well, but the content of his stories is clever and engaging as well. He does not write mere fluff. We think and rethink his stories long after we finished. The offbeat short story “Janet and George,” my favorite short love story of all time, conveys a subtle, yet masterful poignancy.
This book is one of a select number worthy enough to be read in my bathtub, a place where all that is boring and disappointing must be shut out. DePriest’s worlds are often frightening and unsettling, but when I read his stories, I am in a good place. 

See his book on Amazon.

– Paul R. De Lancey, reviewer

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You’re Grounded For Life by Tim Jones – Book Review

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Finally, a book about raising kids that makes no attempt to help us. The author, Tim Jones, repeatedly tells us he has no answers. I find that enormously reassuring. I’m not the reason my kids turned out the way they did. I feel so grateful to Tim that I feel the need to father another child just to name it after him. Oh wait, the book reminds us there are no truly good parenting strategies. So I won’t have another kid. Thanks, Tim, you saved me again. This book is really, really, really, really, really funny and I’ve never before rated a book with more than three reallys. Now if you’ll excuse me, Tim, has advised me to come up with a million dollars for my kid’s education. Time to look under those sofa cushions for loose change.

See his book on Amazon.

– Paul R. De Lancey, reviewer

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Spotlight on Paul R. De Lancey – Author of “Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms?”

Excerpt from Chapter 1-A Loaf Of Bread

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The tennis lady gave Joe a long look, her lip licking insinuating a wild hour of addressing and stuffing envelopes. “You know you really should try out for the Lutheran Chippendales.”
She waved goodbye, turned the corner, screamed, and was never seen again. Perhaps the bright reflections off the floor’s gold tiles blinded her, perhaps she got lost in Hungry Hank’s endless Lithuanian-food section, or perhaps she had talked too much and an enraged group of Ronald Reagan mimes got to her.
Joe brought his loaf of Roman Meal bread and pig balls to the Ten-Items-or-Fewer line. In front of him, a blood-splattered Young Republican, Hiram the Insignificant, unloaded the entire contents of aisle 6A onto the checkout counter. Joe thought about moving to the Eleven-Items-or-More lines, but he had only two items. And Lutheran discipline expressly forbade such chicanery. So for 2.9 minutes he dreamed of mushroom-free Thanksgiving dinners until his items moved up to the checkout lady, Deborah Devil.
The parchment skin of her face barely covered her skull. She sported a long bony nose that could double as a handy letter opener. Two golden horns emerged from the scraggly growth of her silver hair. The tip of a small tail swished just below the bottom of her dress. Hungry Hank’s sure took its role as equal-opportunity employer seriously.
Deborah Devil, or as The Supreme Evil preferred to be called, Debbie, did not permit Joe to see any of these demonic warning signs. He saw her as Shania Twain. Why a beautiful, fabulously successful singer worked the Ten-Items-or-Fewer line at Hank’s, he couldn’t say. But his heart pounded. And pounded.
No, some of that pounding came from his fist hitting the conveyor. Part of his brain had revolted against a grave injustice. “The customer in front of me had way more than ten items.”
Debbie sneered. “So?”
“It isn’t right. You should have directed her to another line.”
The evil checker pulled the plug to the cash register. “I don’t like your attitude.”
“That’s outrageous.”
She smiled and leaned forward. Damn, how come Hungry Hank’s let Shania wear her blouse so unbuttoned?
“Sure, hon, I know that. I wanted to get your attention ‘cuz Lutheran men make me so hot. And you’re all Lutheran.
“Tell you what, I’ll ring you up, Joe. All you have to do is be mine tonight, just tonight. C’mon, let Debbie make life fun for you.”
Joe sighed and in just two attempts averted his Lutheran eyes from her heaving breasts. “No, I love my wife. She’s the best. You’re great, but you’re not her.”
Debbie grimaced and pointed a claw-like hand–which always counted against her in beauty contests–toward the display of George’s Mushrooms. “Then buy those. Eat them. Then I’ll ring up your bread.”
“No way, mushrooms are the Devil’s food. I learned that way back in Lutheran Sunday school.”
Debbie’s chest heaved as she drowned out the store’s Lutheran love songs with laughter. “But that’s how I’ll make you leave your Episcopalian mushroom-cooking wife for me.”
Joe shook his head.
Shania licked her lips.
Joe gripped the Roman Meal. “The answer is still no, and I demand to talk to the manager.”
The horned lady rested her elbow on the platinum counter, her chin on her wart-encrusted hand. “Honey, no one manages me.”
A quite distant relative of Achilles came up behind Joe and asked Debbie, “Gonna serve anyone this century?”
Her red eyes flashed and the customer turned into a short monotoned economist. The man scurried away to explain the notion of constant elasticities of substitution to slow fleeing grannies.
One at a time, Shania fixed her eyes on Joe. “I’ll do the same to you if you don’t eat those mushrooms and leave your wife.”
“Mrs. Twain, you should be ashamed of yourself. Doesn’t your husband object to your affairs?”
“Call me Debbie. And no, that limp loser is too busy fighting a forever feud with that holier-than-thou Big Guy to notice my doings and my NEEDS. Shoot, and the sausages on the men that come in here just aren’t big enough, if you know what I mean.”
Debbie leered at Joe’s burgeoning crotch. “But man, ain’t you history’s best hung Lutheran.” Joe blushed. She stared again at his groin. “Man, I’ve worked this job 900 days waiting for you to come along, ever since I met your wife at Chez Episcopalian Beauty Parlor.” Debbie licked her lips. “But your wife didn’t say you were such a hottie.”
She panted and gestured for Joe to come hither. Joe thanked God for the Swedish heritage enabling him to stand firm against offers of fun. He placed his right hand over his heart. “I shall never eat enslaving mushrooms, no way. I shall never dally with you, nor shall I ever, ever leave my wife while I am in my right mind and blood flows through this body.”
The evil temptress laughed. “Fine, then you’ll continue to get new minds and new bodies until you give in.”

 

Author’s Bio

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Paul De Lancey writes in multiple genres: adventure, westerns, morality, time travel, thriller, and culinary, all spiced with zaniness. He is a frequent contributor to HumorOutcasts. His novels Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms?Beneficial MurdersWe’re French and You’re Not and The Fur West  and his cookbook Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World have won acclaim from award-winning authors.

Paul is also the writer of hilarious articles and somewhat drier ones in Economics. Dr. De Lancey obtained his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. His thesis, “Official Reserve Management and Forecasts of Official Reserves,” disappears from bookstore shelves so quickly that most would-be purchasers can never find it in stock.

Paul, known to his friends as Paul, was the proud co-host of the online literary events Bump Off Your Enemies, The Darwin Murders, and Tasteful Murders. He also co-collected, co-edited, and co-published the e-book anthologies resulting from these events. Perhaps Mr. De Lancey will someday  become a literary giant without having to die for the title.

The humorist is a direct descendant of the great French Emperor Napoleon. Actually, that explains a lot of things. Paul ran for President of the United States in 2012! Woo hoo! On the Bacon & Chocolate ticket.  Estimates of Bacon & Chocolate’s share of the votes range from 3 to 1.5% of the total. El Candidato also lost a contentious campaign to be El Presidente of Venezuela. In late 2013, Chef Paul participated in the International Bento Competition. The great statesman is again running for president, this time under HumorOutcasts’ sponsorship. Contact Paul before he gets elected to get that ambassadorship to Tahiti you’ve always wanted.

Mr. De Lancey makes his home, with his wonderful family, in Poway, California. He divides his time between being awake and asleep.

His books are available at: www.lordsoffun.com andamazon.com.

Categories: book reviews and excerpts, humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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