Posts Tagged With: spotlight

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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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

MattPhoto2

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

 

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

 

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

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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

DeLanceyPaul

 

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.

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Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of “OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It”

Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It

 

 

OperaFinalCover


Excerpt

 

INTRODUCTION: Singing Opera and Writing Funny

I am weird, but not dangerous. Okay, maybe I’m dangerous when I’m on a stepladder trying to install a window shade. Other than that, I am harmless and kind of cute, in a way.

But I sing opera and I write funny stuff. Go ahead and look at me like I have two heads. I don’t mind. I wish I did have two heads, so I could change them back and forth, according to the look I wanted. But I don’t. Have two heads, that is.

Don’t ask me to explain in detail how I ended up being an aging opera singer and budding humor writer. It would take too long. Besides, I might write my memoirs someday, and if you already know all about my life you won’t want to buy a copy.

My father, who didn’t have much faith in the earning power of a singing career, urged me to get an Education degree so that I could become a teacher. The teaching profession is a noble one, and good, dedicated teachers are always needed. That was my problem. I would have been a terrible teacher, and I hated the whole idea. So I got my degrees – B.A. and M.A. – in music, and set out to be an opera singer. Fortunately, I had office skills to fall back on, so I didn’t starve in the process, and, although I never sang at the Metropolitan Opera or La Scala or any of the other major houses, I had a much better career singing in smaller places than most of my opera singing colleagues.

The process of building an opera career is difficult, filled with traveling on a shoestring, singing many auditions for every job you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, backstage intrigues, greedy, sometimes unscrupulous agents and colleagues who are either the finest people in the world or the most treacherous (and you have to find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you make headway in the business, you also have to deal with spending huge amounts of time away from home. For some of us, this means picking up and making a new home in another country, with another culture and another language. There is also a thing called poverty, caused in good part by the big expenses involved in a singing career: voice lessons; coachings; audition wardrobe; printed music; mailings; travel all over the place; etc.

When you get onstage, though, and you are in good voice and the performance is going well, it’s the most satisfying, practically orgasmic thing in the world.

Now that I am a woman of a certain age, no longer actively pursuing an international singing career, you would think I would settle down, get a job with benefits, look for some lucrative sidelines to build up something for my old age, and reflect back on all the fun I had. I actually did one of those things. I got a job with benefits, at which I work five days a week. Instead of lucrative sidelines, I chose to become a writer. I guess I can’t live without dedicating huge amounts of time and energy to something at which most practitioners never make any money.

The process of building a writing career is difficult, filled with things like submitting work to many publishers for every acceptance you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, greedy vanity publishers and other people dying to take a writer’s money, and colleagues who are either the most supportive people in the world or the most envious (and you have o find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you hope to be able to live only on your writing without any other source of income, you also have the prospect of poverty.

This is a clear case of déjà vu. I have gone from one profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant to another profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant. What can I say?

I’ll say this: writing is hard work, but it’s fun. Like singing, it is satisfying in a visceral way. It is even more satisfying to me if I can make people laugh. I can’t imagine a life without doing something that I love to do, so this is it.

The irony, which I think is hilarious, is that, in other ways, singing opera is the direct opposite of writing humor. I have listed the disparities below.

SINGING OPERA vs. WRITING FUNNY

Opera: I have played serious, tragic, beautiful heroines. I have died onstage of everything from tuberculosis to poison to hara-kiri to jumping off a building, while costumed in gorgeous gowns, peasant costumes, a poor seamstress’ dress, kimonos and nightgowns. I have worn glamorous wigs and complicated hairdos and my face has been covered with a thick layer of gooey stage makeup.

Writing: I often sit in front of my computer looking like a bag lady in the most comfortable things I have that are clean. Sometimes I just leave my PJs on. Nobody is looking at me, so what the hell. If by some chance anyone is looking at me, I’m covered up and that’s what matters. I never wear makeup if I can help it. And I have not died yet, at least not that I know of.

Opera: I am in front of a bunch of people, singing very loudly and hoping for a lot of applause.

Writing: I am in front of my cat, typing on a computer keyboard and hoping to get a few laughs. If I sing I scare the cat.

Opera: People have sometimes asked me to sing something on the spur of the moment, especially at parties or family get-togethers. On the other hand, if I break out in spontaneous song in public, the people I am with pretend they don’t know me.

Writing: Nobody ever asks me for a free writing sample, and I have to practically bribe my family members to read my stuff. I can sit in a public place, such as a café or a park, and write until my fingers get tired without attracting any attention at all.

Opera: Opera singers try to avoid getting sick, especially with performances coming up, even if it means putting themselves in an isolation booth.

Writing: I don’t want to get sick, but if I don’t get out and around (breathing germs and touching things like subway poles and escalator rails) I won’t find anything funny to write about. Agoraphobia jokes get old really fast. Writers are expected to be observers and interactors. It comes with the vocation.

That’s enough. You get the picture.

What is the one subject that an opera singer turned humor writer should write about? Opera, of course! Opera is one of the greatest art forms ever invented. It is a marriage of great music and drama. It can move audiences in a special way not shared with other forms of theater. Operagoers easily become hooked, because they love it.

It is also rich in possibilities for humor. That’s where I come in. Just because I love opera and even sing it doesn’t mean I can’t poke fun at it.

By the way, as a humor writer I am allowed to exaggerate to make something funny. Please remember that when you read this book. Opera is one of the greatest, most fascinating art forms ever developed and perfected by humans. Attending a good performance is an incredible, cathartic experience. Singing a good performance can be just as cathartic in another way. If I appear to be dissing opera in this book, know that that is the farthest thing from my mind. What I do here is like cracking jokes at a good friend who is free to crack jokes right back. In a way, I am also poking fun of myself.

I hope that, by now, you have been so captivated by my brilliant lead-in that you just HAVE to stick around and read the rest of this book.

Biokathy2

Kathy Minicozzi was born on Long Island, New York and raised in the Yakima Valley, Washington State. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Eastern Washington University and a Master of Arts in Music from Washington State University. As an opera singer, she sang with the Regensburg Stadttheater in Regensburg, Germany, the Israel National Opera in Tel Aviv, Israel, the New York Grand Opera in New York City, Opera of the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, the Ambassadors of Opera and Concert Worldwide and other groups. Although she no longer auditions, she continues to sing as a church soloist and in an occasional concert or recital.

She has now taken up a second career as a humor writer, and has been a regular contributor to HumorOutcasts.com.

OPERA  For People Who Don’t Like Like It is available on amazon.com.

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Spotlight on Mary I. Farr – Author of “The Promise in ‘Plan B’ What we bring to the next chapter in our lives

Excerpts from The Promise in Plan B: What We Bring To The Next Chapter In Our Lives

 

3PlanBCover

Make Time for Community
Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.
—Anthony J. D’Angelo

A physiologist whose research focused on the human heart once offered me a provocative piece of information: “When you place cells from two separate hearts into a single incubating medium, they begin to communicate with one another.”

It seems that certain proteins in heart-cell membranes enable the cells to communicate with one another. Unlike other body cells, those that make up the human heart can transfer electrical energy from cell to cell. Once placed in a petri dish, the faster-beating cells tell the slower-beating cells to speed up until, eventually, the two kinds beat in unison, as one. Compelling evidence that at the very center of our beings, we humans are quite literally connected. So after all the science and technology has been applied, and all the quality assurance metrics benchmarks have been met, our mission in life comes down to just one thing—we simply cannot fail when we choose to connect with and care for one another. And caring for one another requires building and maintaining meaningful bonds through community. This lesson came early in my professional life, about the time I was unceremoniously dismissed from what I once thought was an important job.

26

Betsy O’Reilly—The Resourceful Planner
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
—Paul J. Meyer

A friend and I once facilitated a retreat titled “Healing of Memories.” During the course of three days, everyone engaged in a variety of group and individual exercises, including storytelling. No surprise, the stories covered an array of harrowing topics that ranged from abuse and alcoholism to divorce and bankruptcy. At the end of the second day, the group came together for a glass of wine and an informal discussion, during which we encouraged questions and comments about the program content. After fielding a handful of remarks, I noticed an older woman named Iris sitting by herself. She wore a rather pensive expression, causing me to wonder if she might have something to say.

“Tell me, Iris, was there anything about the first two days that that resonated with your experience?” I asked.

She seemed uncomfortable with the question and took a moment to think before answering.

“Well, truthfully, I feel a little embarrassed,” she finally replied. “I’m afraid I have nothing very dramatic or painful to add to what I’ve heard so far. My life has been blessedly calm and pretty predictable.”

The Promise in Plan B

Her comments served as a good reminder that a Plan B can be blessedly calm and pretty predictable. In fact, frequently a Plan A doesn’t implode but simply runs out of steam. Other times, a natural course of events, such as aging or a move to a different state or country, precipitates creation of a new blueprint. In any case, changing direction does not require a catastrophe. We assured Iris that her calm and predictable situation qualified as both gift and asset.

Consider This: Nothing Beats a Solid Plan
One look at the daily newspaper or TV news would suggest that chaos surrounds us and mapping an even path to the future is impossible. Not true! Creating a Plan B often begins with clear thinking and steady preparation. Betsy O’Reilly provides a fine example of a great outcome that began with a great idea and a solid plan to back it up.

A move to a new home, a new job, or a new adventure prompted by children leaving for college provides the perfect occasion for us to organize our thoughts before taking a next step. Changing direction does not require pain or crisis. It might, however, require shifting our perceptions to see the hidden opportunities ahead.

Think of a time when you found yourself making a plan that was not driven by a setback or emergency. Describe the gifts or assets you brought to the planning table.
□ _Intuition?
□ _Research?
□ _Patience?
□ _Tenacity?
□ _Preparation?

What previously undiscovered or untested talents came to light during this process?

Author’s BioNewMary

Mary Farr, a retired pediatric hospital chaplain, teacher, and motivational speaker has devoted more than 30 years to exploring the worlds of hope, healing and humor. Today she has infused these life essentials into her writing, including her wildly funny and gently inspirational book Never Say Neigh. Her capacity to light up audiences with laughter inspires kindness and concern for one another.

Mary has published five books including the critically acclaimed If I Could Mend Your Heart and Peace: Intersections Small Group Series. The Promise in Plan B explores themes of grace and gratitude seasoned with a generous dose of wit. Mary has been featured in numerous publications, conferences and radio programs and has inspired audiences including women’s leadership groups, the Hazelden Foundation, integrative medicine conferences and grief and loss seminars. Through her work, she seeks to shine a light that enables others to discover new meaning and richness within their life journeys.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Mary completed her divinity studies in the Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire, Wisconsin where she was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1983. She received a Master of Arts degree from St. Catherine University in her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Spotlight on Roz Warren – Author of “Our Bodies, Our Shelves”

rozfrontcoverfinalExcerpt from Lewd In The Library

 

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue just came out, and all over America librarians are flipping through its pages and rolling their eyes.

The swimsuit issue, which isn’t actually about swimwear at all, but, is, instead, about young, beautifully shaped female bodies, is the single most stolen item in any public library. Shelve it in your magazine section like any other periodical? It’ll vanish. Like magic. Always. But hide it behind the Reference Desk and make your patrons sign it out?

Is that just good sense? Or is it censorship?

Every year, the swimsuit issue gets a bit more lascivious — the bikinis skimpier, the poses more provocative, the expressions on the models’ faces less about “Look at my strong, healthy body!” and more about “Do me! Now! Right here on the beach!”

This year’s cover shows three stunning young woman, topless, their backs to the camera, smiling happily at the viewer over their shoulders, their gorgeous rumps more revealed than concealed by itty wisps of fabric.

Is this really what we want to display on our library’s magazine rack?

Of course, the collection of my suburban Philadelphia library contains all three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and numerous other examples of sexy contemporary “literature.” (And the sex scenes in the romances we circulate are hot hot hot.)

We librarians tend to be fans of the First Amendment. I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU myself. I even subscribe to Playboy — for the articles and interviews, of course.

What I’m saying is that I’m all for pornography.

But there’s a time and a place for porn. I wasn’t sure this was the time or the place. I’m in charge of processing and then shelving incoming magazines. Before putting this one out on the floor, I decided to consult my supervisor.

Carol and I perused the issue together.

“OMG!” “Would you look at that?” “Yikes!” “Do you even see a swimsuit in this picture?” “Gosh!” “I hope her mother never sees that shot.”

This was pretty hot stuff.

We were inclined to stash it behind the reference desk, along with the other stuff that patrons like to steal. The Tuesday “Science” section of The New York Times. The Morningstar weekly stock market updates.

But first, we brought the issue to the head of the library.

Our boss took a look, then said, “Just shelve it. Don’t treat it differently than any other magazine. It’s no worse than what they can see every day on television.”

That woman sure loves the First Amendment.

And, of course, the truth is that we’re living in an era where anyone, of any age, can view all the naked tushies they want, whenever they want, online.
“Put a security tag on it, of course,” she added. Although we all know how easy it is to remove those tags.

Before I shelved it, my co-workers passed it around. The consensus? We weren’t exactly shocked. But we weren’t exactly thrilled either.

We’re all middle-aged women. Many of us are grandmas. Still, in our heyday, we too were hot chicks. But you can be a hot chick and not want to share that aspect of yourself with the entire world. The kind of young woman who is drawn to library work is rarely the kind of young woman who ends up spilling out of her bikini on the cover of a magazine.

We librarians don’t tend to let it all hang out.

Which means that we are, increasingly, at odds with our culture. Modesty? How retro is that? Dignity? Forget about it.

Still, we proudly stand behind the First Amendment. Perhaps, to a fault. And while I wasn’t exactly elated about adding that little touch of smarm to our quiet reading room, I went ahead and shelved the swimsuit issue, just like any other magazine.

Within 24 hours, it was gone.

 

Biography

 

rozauthorphoto

Roz Warren, “the world’s funniest librarian,” writes forThe New York Times, The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jewish Forward and The Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. (Twice!) Roz is the editor of the ground-breaking Women’s Glib humor collections, including titles like The Best Contemporary Women’s Humor, Men Are From Detroit, Women Are From Paris and When Cats Talk Back. Our Bodies, Our Shelves is her thirteenth humor book. Years ago, Roz left the practice of law to take a job at her local public library “because I was tired of making so damn much money.” She has no regrets.

Website: www.rosalindWarren.com
Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

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Spotlight on Amy Gettinger – Author of “Roll With The Punches”

AmyCover

Excerpt from Roll with the Punches

Marian poured tea. “So who else wrote something this week?”

“Not me.” Jackie nudged me. “But Rhonda, back to your new long-lunch hottie. How big is his bat? Can I use him for my next hero? Pitcher, catcher, pirate or man about town?”

Yvette smiled up from my book. “Our little Rhonda’s a pirate’s treasure?”

I had to endure patronizing from Yvette now? “Look, there is no he.” I looked to James for support, but the traitor was cozily reading my book over Yvette’s shoulder. I narrowed my eyes at Jackie. “Hey. Has anyone tried the new George Bonner and Jackie Shawn Memorial Tollway yet?”

Grins all around.

I sighed. “Okay. Fine. My long lunches have all been spent in Sports of Call, looking for ska-sheets.”

Crap. I’d almost said skates. I was skirting disaster here. This group knew James played street hockey and roller hockey. What they didn’t know was that I had recently run across my old inline skates from high school, when Harley and I had practiced speed skating against my brothers, who had competed statewide. We’d been good. Now, I’d started doing some outdoor skating practice to fight flab, and it was a blast, just wicked fun. It would be even more fun when James and I went rollerblading at Venice Beach, my dream date. But Venice Beach was a drive. The roller rink was closer, so at Sports of Call, I’d just splurged on a gorgeous new pair of quad roller skates, which were slower but maneuvered better for indoor skating. If this bunch found out about my skating practice or my new skates, they’d kid both James and me to death and surely wreck my chances with him.

“Yeah, sheets,” I said, decisively.

“Sheets for him? Scarlet silk or black satin?” Jackie drawled, mistaking my blush for an admission of guilt.

“Us library nerds sleep on parchment,” I said. “Uh. Care to read some pages, George?”

“Rhonda, you don’t go to Sports of Call for sheets,” Marian said.

I checked my watch. “Look, if no one else wrote anything new, I’ll see ya.” I rose and started to push past Jackie, who blocked my way.

“But you might go there to visit a boyfriend,” Jackie trilled. “Is he that guy at the ski counter? Or a mountain climber? No. I know. A surfer. Smoking hot in a Speedo with washboard abs. With your lifesaving skills, Rhonda, you could administer CPR daily.”

George sang under his breath, “Help me, Rhonda.”

Jackie chimed in. “Help, help me …”

Rhonda!” they all yelled at the tops of their lungs. My lips could have pressed pennies as the whole group broke into a bawdy Beach Boys cacophony, even James joining in, completely off-key. Only Yvette stayed mum, frown lines deepening in her forehead as she kept reading my magnum opus.

Oh, to hell with my short skirt. I hoisted a knee to crawl right over Jackie just as Yvette broke in, in piercing tones. “Excuse me! Sit down, Rhonda! This is exactly why this group needs a leader.”

The group ignored her, singing even louder.

Yvette yelled, “Has anyone read the new Reynard Jackson book, Memory Wars?”

Jackson was a reclusive genius who had rocketed to the bestseller list three years before, with four new titles out per year since then. His whereabouts were a state secret. His work was slick, predictable, shallow, uneven, and unaccountably beloved by millions of readers.

I sat down and squinched my eyes shut. If I didn’t look at the group, maybe they’d all stop bawling at me to get her out of their hearts.

Over their cackles and bawls, Yvette shrilled, “People! This is disturbing. I read constantly for my job, but this is really bad.” She pointed at my manuscript like it was rat droppings.

“Could we get a muzzle for her?” I said to Jackie, who elbowed me hard.

The room sullenly quieted down. This woman was such a wet blanket.

Yvette smiled in triumph. “You see, I’ve already read this exact story. Last week. In a published work. The chubby strawberry-blond main character here?” She held up my manuscript. “Well, Reynard Jackson’s latest protagonist is a chubby strawberry-blond—”

“Oh, strawberry-blond characters are a dime a dozen,” George said, still feeling his oats. “And Rhonda always writes ’em chubby … Takes one to know—Ouch!”

Marian of the steel-toed pumps smiled.

Yvette slammed my manuscript down on the table. “But wait. Jackson’s strawberry-blonde neuroscientist, Dr. Amelia Steele, discovers a memory serum that will cure not only her great aunt’s Alzheimer’s, but also her handsome, shell-shocked army captain with amnesia who can only be saved by knowing the truth about his dark past.”

I looked up, my stomach sinking.

She went on. “Dr. Steele and Captain Russell Bonner work against an evil drug company, Sinbad Pharmaceuticals. It sells expensive anti-Alzheimer’s drugs and will stop at nothing to keep Dr. Steele’s permanent cure for the disease off the market. The heroes nearly get killed in the process of saving old people’s memories everywhere.”

Silence in the room.

Jackie looked sick. “Oh, my God. If you change the names, that’s Rhonda’s book!”

AmyPhoto

Author bio

Amy Gettinger, once a part-time community college ESL instructor, lives and writes in her dream house in Orange County, California underneath a eucalyptus windrow full of parrots and crows with her husband and her two piteous poodles. For fun, she walks the beach cliff path at Laguna Beach. She also writes and produces Reader’s Theater plays for nonagenarians in a local assisted living facility. Her blog Raucous Eucalyptus, Piteous Poodles, is at amygettinger.com.

Her book is available on Amazon.

 

 

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Spotlight on Tameri Etherton, Author of “The Stones of Kaldaar (Song of the Swords Book One)”

 

The Stones of Kaldaar (Song of the Swords Book One)

 

 An excerpt from Chapter 7

TamericCover

 

Her backside rebelled when she pulled herself into the saddle. She was fairly certain she had blisters in places that weren’t polite to mention.

“How much longer do you think we’ll be riding?” She adjusted her position, finding little relief.

“At least a sennight.” Rhoane said before clucking his stallion to join the others.

A week. She groaned and kicked her mare forward. With all of its power, she didn’t understand why the people of Aelinae employed primitive resources. The least they could do was invent comfortable saddles.

As they moved through the meadow, her stomach growled, and she put a hand over her abdomen. When Faelara gave her a concerned look, Rhoane held back his stallion to hand her a pouch containing dried bread and cheese, along with meat from their meal the previous night.

Growing discontent settled in Taryn’s thoughts. She didn’t like depending on Rhoane, or anyone, for food, for shelter, for anything. Fields and grasslands sprawled in every direction, an unfamiliar landscape with unknown horrors. Until she knew her way around Aelinae, she would be exactly that—dependent on him or one of the others for her survival. The depressing thought weighed heavily on her.

Faelara moved beside her, saying in her gentle voice, “Do you see those trees over there?” She pointed in the distance. “That’s the southernmost border of the Narthvier. And over there,” she indicated to their left, “is the Spine of Ohlin. Those mountains stretch all the way from the Summer Seas to the Temple of Ardyn in the far north.”

At the sound of the familiar name, Taryn shot Rhoane a glance. “Is that where we’re going, to the temple?”

“No, darling,” Faelara looked away from the mountains toward the north, “we’re headed to Ravenwood, the country home of Duke Anje. He sent an urgent message, so we’re going to offer assistance.”

“Is that what you do? Wander around helping people?”

“It does seem that we travel much more than I’d like. The world is a curious place lately, and we go where we’re needed. Today, that just happens to be a day’s ride north.” Faelara reached over to pat Taryn’s leg. “This will give you a chance to see some of the countryside. When we get to Ravenwood, you’ll meet Hayden, Duke Anje’s son and heir. Very pleasant boy and your age.”

“Which age is that?” Taryn mumbled, distracted by the shadow that had tormented her for most of the previous day. She’d hoped it was a fluke, but its presence once again set her on edge. Each time she tried to look for it, the shadow would dissipate, but if she kept her focus straight ahead, she was able to keep the blot in her peripheral vision. Whoever or whatever it was, it was keeping pace with them but at a discreet distance.

Faelara gave her a strange look. “The only one you are.”

“Which is thirty-five in a few weeks?”

“Yes, that’s right. You and Hayden were born two days apart.”

Taryn studied her riding companion. Faelara wore a deep-green riding jacket with matching hat and split skirt that allowed her to sit astride her horse. Taryn admired how graceful she looked upon her mare and shuddered at how she must appear to the regal woman. Dirt smeared, disheveled, disoriented. Never before had she given a thought to how she looked to others, but being near the elegant woman made her self-conscious. Grimacing at the state of her hands, she picked at a cuticle, tearing the skin.

Faelara took her hand in her own. “Let’s see if we can’t get you more familiar with your surroundings. Make you feel more at home.”

The tone of her voice, and slight upturn to her lips, suggested she knew where Taryn had been all those years, but she dared not confirm her suspicions. Rhoane had warned her to keep her past hidden and that’s what she would do.

She listened with quiet intensity as Faelara explained the topography of the land they traveled. They rode through meadows of thick grasses and past fields gone fallow, the pace faster than the day before as Rhoane had promised. Every so often Rhoane would range ahead to scan the area or Baehlon would hang back to ride behind them, but neither seemed to see the shadow. After a while, she stopped looking for the flicker at the edge of her vision.

With every rut or mud-filled road they crossed, more knots formed in her shoulders and backside. Her knees were numb from gripping Cynda, and she was certain she’d forever lost all feeling in her hands from clutching the reins too tightly. They stopped briefly for a midday meal and to rest the horses but were back in the saddle much too soon. Myrddin pushed them faster as the afternoon wore on. When dark tendrils stretched across the road and the sun’s rays slanted beyond the trees through dusk, Baehlon turned them down a tree lined drive. Too weary to see straight, Taryn barely registered their location until Faelara touched her shoulder.

“Ravenwood,” she whispered.

Taryn jerked in her saddle and straightened her posture, her exhaustion a nagging memory. Ravenwood meant a bed. Possibly a shower. Definitely a break from the pounding of riding.

She followed Fae’s outstretched hand and whistled low in her throat. “That’s a bloody castle.”

“Manor house.”

“Whatever.” Taryn took in the turreted corners and delicate battlements. Though built for show, it still managed to appear imposing perched upon a hill. The group made their way up the gravel road, past landscaped borders and decorative hedges.

Too busy admiring the scenery, Taryn didn’t notice Myrddin had slowed, his hand outstretched in a silent signal to the others, until she was even with his horse. He placed a finger to his lips, his glare boring into her.

Rhoane and Baehlon drew their swords.

Nervous energy rippled over her in waves, making her palms moist, her throat dry.

Instinctively, Taryn moved closer to Faelara. Gravel crunched with each hoof their horses placed on the ground. Myrddin reined in his gelding, and the others followed, quietly dismounting. Within several yards of the manor, Taryn paused in her step.

The front door stood wide-open, without a soul in sight.

Taryn tapped Faelara’s arm, but the woman shook her head and motioned to the manor. Streaks of ShantiMari circled everyone except Baehlon and Taryn, which did not instill her with confidence.

Myrddin felt around the doorway and then stepped into the house. The men moved from room to room looking for signs of life or a struggle, finding neither. With each new room, Taryn’s heart thumped harder, threatening to burst from her chest.

They moved up the stairs to the first landing, and Myrddin motioned for her to stay with Faelara while the men crept up and down the hallways, checking each room. Halfway up the next flight of stairs, Taryn’s pendant burned against her skin. She stifled a gasp, causing Rhoane to look back. When she pointed to her cynfar, his eyes narrowed for a moment, and then he continued up the stairs, saying nothing. They stopped on the upper landing, where, again, the men crept down the hall.

Taryn moved away from Faelara to follow Rhoane. When he stepped from an empty room and nearly collided with her, he frowned, but she put a finger to her lips, motioning for him to follow.

At the last door, Taryn stopped. “In here.”

Rhoane flinched when he touched the wood. He waited until the others joined them before slowly opening the door. Taryn was last to enter the dimly lit bedchamber. Furniture crowded the large room, and in the center rested a huge four-poster bed with heavy curtains tied to the posts. Beside the bed, a man sat hunched, the sound of his soft cries filling the space. Faelara and Myrddin went to him while Baehlon and Rhoane continued to check the perimeter. A fetid odor like the scent of pork left out overlong assaulted her senses.

Help me, a voice whispered.

Taryn spun around to see who had spoken, but no one was near. She stepped around a chair and covered her mouth to keep from crying out at the ghastly sight before her. Atop the bed, uncovered but clothed, lay a young man. A glowing sword hung suspended above his heart.

The stench increased the closer she moved to the bed. It infiltrated her nostrils, her throat, her mind until she felt as if maggots crawled through her thoughts. Bile burned from her belly to her tongue. She gagged, dizzy all of a sudden.

No time. Please, the voice begged.

“Who are you?” she whispered aloud to the empty air.

Bed. Help. Now. Desperation choked the voice.

Lavender strands of ShantiMari enclosed the man’s body, with the thinnest of threads holding the sword aloft. Even as she watched, the sword moved a fraction closer to piercing his shirt. “Oh my God.”

Hurry.

His anguish permeated her mind to her very core. She swallowed down the bile and took a deep, calming breath. “What do you want from me?”

Sword, the voice rasped. There was no pain in his tone, just a sense of panic and fear.

She had to do something before the sword broke free. Rhoane prowled the opposite side of the room, his focus away from her.

“Hang on.” Before she could change her mind, she sprinted toward the bed. When she’d nearly reached it, she jumped as high as she could, kicking out. A cacophony roared through her mind when her foot connected with the metal. Shards of ShantiMari tangled around her leg, and a burning sensation shot up from her heel. Rhoane stepped out of the way a split second before she crashed to the floor, the sword landing with a heavy clang beside her.

Time slowed as the ringing continued. Vomit roiled in her gut. Images, flashes of light and dark, tore at her thoughts. Shouts and cries echoed in her mind. Julieta’s screams. Kaldaar’s banishment. Rykoto’s laughter as he raped Julieta.

Rhoane was speaking to her, helping her up. She stared at his face, focused on that one reality. A gasp from the bed pulled her attention back to the young man and the threads of ShantiMari tightening around him. He couldn’t breathe. She moved without thought and grabbed the sword that lay at her feet.

When she touched the handle, a shock ran up her arm. Not like the one in her leg, which felt as though it were on fire, but a soothing feeling, as if the handle welcomed her touch. The voices stopped. Her mind cleared. Her stomach calmed. Gripping the hilt with both hands, she raised the sword and brought it down over the man, slicing the lavender cords.

“Taryn, no!” Faelara cried out. Amber streaks of Mari shot toward her, but they were blocked by Rhoane’s Shanti.

“Hold, Faelara.” Rhoane’s voice was like iron. “She will not harm him.”

Taryn ignored the strange tingling of her skin as she cut the threads. When they were too small for the sword, she tossed it aside and broke apart the remaining bits with her fingers, digging through them until the man inhaled and his chest heaved with the rush of air.

The stink of death lingered. “Open the windows,” Taryn commanded. Baehlon moved with silent swiftness, opening first one and then all of the windows, letting in the last of the sun’s rays and fresh, pure air.

After a few minutes of coughing and sputtering, the man took several deep breaths. Taryn stepped back, allowing Faelara to fuss over him. Myrddin’s scowl was her last sight before everything went black.

 

Author’s BioTameriPic

 

Rocker of sparkly tiaras, friend of dragons, and lover of all things sexy, Tameri Etherton leaves a trail of glitter in her wake as she creates and conquers new worlds and the villains who inhabit them. When not masquerading as a mom and writer, rumor has it she travels to far off places, drinking tea and finding inspiration for her kickass heroines—and the rogues who steal their hearts—with her own Prince Charming by her side.

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N6I4YZ0

 

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