It’s Tell A Story Day! So Here’s Mine:

The Fairy Godfather
 
Once upon a time there was a widow with five children. The eldest was Julian, a shiftless lad more inclined to hide in the haymow than clean the stable. Clothide was fifteen and whined about her clothes and hair and their lack of wealth. Twins Roger and Ronald were eight, naughty boys behind in their schooling because they would rather fight with one another than do sums. The baby, Ella, gave her mother trouble only when soiling her nappies or teething.
The widow Jane wasn’t a widow at all but the wife of a debauched fellow that had stolen what little they had of value and abandoned the farm for London in order to gamble and chase strumpets. In the morning when she hung laundry and again in the evening when dumping ashes from the stove, she bemoaned her fate. “Fairy godmother, please incline your ear to my pleas,” she wept. “I need some help with these children and a few pounds in the bargain.”
Her tears were answered in the form of Luigi, her fairy godfather. Yes, I said godfather. As anyone worth their salt knows, dear children, the women of the Victorian Era were good for twaddle. Most of what they did was have vapors, organize picnics and attend ladies society meetings.
On the Ides of March he came through the gate midmorning and Widow Jane shaded her eyes to get a better look. It did little good. This man was the answer to no prayer. He was short and bow-legged with straggly gray hair and tobacco stains on his chin. He had a nice voice, however, and manners. Introducing himself as a teacher, he asked only food and shelter in exchange for educating her mob of young. A bargain was struck. “If you don’t mind sharing the attic room with Julian?” she asked with uncertainty.
Luigi did but bowed and smiled. “Of course not, dear lady.”
He gathered the children in the front room and, while the widow was cooking the afternoon meal, spoke to them in low tones. “Listen, you guyses,” he said. “I’m from the faraway land of Joisey and I’m here to be godfather to your mama.”
They all stared at him with gaping maws for his speech was very strange. Only the children were ever privy to this as he addressed their mother in a refined British accent. He showed them a clenched fist and warned, “If youse should ever get the idear to rat on me I’ll give you a mouthful of bloody Chiclets. Capisce?
Stricken with fear, the children agreed; the godfather’s demeanor was fierce. At supper that night he sat between Roger and the baby in her high chair. The unruly twin kept snickering with his brother and kicking Clothide under the table. Just as he was about to make his “see food” joke with Julian, Luigi calmly pinched his neck in such a manner as to make him choke. As the lad coughed and spluttered Luigi reached up and slapped his back. Tearful, he looked up at Luigi and got such a look as to make him behave the rest of the meal.
The godfather set about to get the attic room all to himself by means which do not bear repeating here. Suffice it to say, two days after Luigi’s arrival Julian came downstairs, walking gingerly and announced he was going to London to find work. He would either send money home or never return. Recognizing a win-win situation when she saw one, Widow Jane packed a lunch and kissed him farewell.
Luigi turned his attention to the elder girl child. Clothilde was a veteran weeper. She complained about her chores, the too-tight shoes she wore and the lack of young, eligible men in the area. At breakfast she pissed and moaned so long Luigi begged leave to go to the nearby village to attend to some business.
Of course, he had no business in the village. When he reached the home of Squire William he put a spell on the man. “When you awaken, you’ll go to the house of Widow Jane and ask for her daughter’s hand in marriage,” Luigi whispered in his ear as he slumbered.
And that is exactly what the squire did. Clothilde cried loudly for the squire was thrice her age. He was capable of buying another pair of shoes and many fine gowns for her to wear. Jane figured it was someone else’s turn to put up with the silly chit. The squire settled a generous dowry on the widow, which she sensibly pocketed.
Since the twins were of a tender age, Luigi was willing to work with them. Too much spirit had they, and Luigi despaired of being able to bring them to heel. He looked into his bag of tricks and took out his tommywand and went ‘round to a neighboring land. When Farmer Grunkin woke it was to the sight of a streetsweeper pointed at his nose. Quickly he agreed to let the man have his milk cow.
Luigi returned before first light with the milk cow and danced around the fire, singing an arcane song. The widow was overjoyed to hear about the “stray” milk cow and even more so when the cow gave birth to two calves. Luigi got a good price for them after they were weaned and persuaded the widow that the gold might best be spent on Catholic boarding school for the lively boys. They came home only in summer and at Yuletide, much better behaved. Or, if you like, cowed.
With only one child left at home and a farmstead as well, the widow became quite a catch. Her neighbor died peacefully in his sleep, without assistance from Luigi, leaving behind his farm and a middle-aged son. The son had a brillant idea: to marry the widow and join their farms as one. The widow thought it quite reasonable. That is, until her husband returned.
She was sitting in the doorway mending garments when she heard a drunken voice singing: ‘Ah near to my fair one, it’s so good to be, to be!’ The lout was reeling up the road, his shoes muddy and his breeches torn. Stumbling up the walk, he crowed, throwing his arms wide, “Give us a kiss, then, luv!”
To say the widow was alarmed is to say  the least. He had lost several teeth, adding to the stench of his breath. Avoiding his grasping hands, she leaped up and ran in the house and clasped Ella to her bosom. Ignoring  her and the baby, he went about the kitchen until coming across the cooking sherry. He downed it and promptly passed out from drink on the floor.
Luigi promised the widow he’d take care of the problem. Patting her shoulder, he sent her upstairs and tricked the husband into coming out to the barn with him. After clouting him over the head with a shovel once! twice! he tossed him into the pigpen. Since Luigi had forgotten to feed them that morning, the pigs were grateful creatures and gobbled the husband.
Of course, he failed to show up the next morning. Luigi assured her the man would be no further trouble as he’d had a man-to-man talk with him. Joyfully, the widow married her farmer and the day of the wedding she took Luigi’s face between her hands and, in a tearful voice said, “How can I repay you for all your kindness?”
Luigi blushed and told her, “Fahgeddaboudit.” With that, he bent low over her hand, kissed it then disappeared in a puff of smoke.
And the widow, now again a wife, lived happily ever after.

THE END

Oh…dear…Lord

When I pop up to talk to my daughter at her job I always check the marked down bin of books. She’d already clocked out but I picked up a real gem called Dangerous Women. A heavy volume of short stories, it features well-known writers including Lev Grossman, Diana Gabaldon and George R.R. Martin. The second one in is Either My Heart Is Broken by Megan Abbott.

I think writing short stories is harder than writing books. It’s also easier because you’re finished in a relatively short time. What makes them difficult to pen is trying to condense all you want the reader to experience in less time.

Ms. Abbott pulled me into her tale told by a husband whose toddler has gone missing. At first his wife, Lorie, has the sympathy of neighbors, family, the police and public. After a few weeks the focus has changed to one of suspicion and intense scrutiny. I’m thinking, Uh huh. Classic case of former wild child grown weary of motherhood. She gets a tattoo, Mirame Quemar, on her hip and is photographed on cell phones dancing at bars.

Is the little girl dead? Is Lorie innocent? Will the husband get a clue? Make no assumptions here. The end took me by surprise and goosebumps popped up. I must read more by this author. It reminded me of the kind of writer I’d like to be, the kind of writing I doubt I’ll ever crank out. She’s concise, crafty in her build-up and put me right in the head of the characters.

You can get more info on the writer of crime noir at meganabbott.com

#dangerouswomen, #meganabbott, #crimenovels

Scribophile

Oenophiles are connisseurs of wine. Bibliophiles are collectors or great lovers of books. Cynophiles are people who love dogs.There’s a great website for writers of any genre and its name is Scribophile. It means those who love writing.

Scribophile is a free site that is available for upgrade. Post your profile then go hunting for something to read–or critique. There are groups to be joined, writers to look up and contests to participate in. For each activity you earn karma points and you get two when you sign up. It takes five points to submit your own work. Be sure and check out the writing blog to add to your authoring knowledge. If you want to ask a question go to the forum.

Critiques of posted writings earns karma points, so will commenting and liking others’ critiques. The longer the review, the more points earned. The points are necessary to post your work.  Before publishing on-site it’s advisable to read the FAQ and help sections.

It costs nothing to just look and as I said, you can join for free or upgrade to do still more in this little corner of the writing world. Google reviews on Scribophile are quite favorable. Is it for you? Go find out.

 

#Scribophile, #writersgroups, #publishing, #writingadvice

And One Day Later…

I get an email that says someone else wants to print my short story. That made my day because it’s not been one worthy of fireworks and champagne. Now, even if I could break it out I’m at work being a responsible caregiver for a man with dementia.

Have we spoken about this? Maybe I’ve mentioned Their Own Little World, my group on Facebook for those who love or care for, or both, someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. I watched my father, a robust man’s man, Christian and all-around fixer of just about anything, go down into the dark and he never returned. That’s why, whenever possible, I give to the Alzheimer’s Foundation so that one day no one will have to watch another disappear into that twilight world.

Sound dramatic? Huh! Try taking care of someone who’d forgotten how to bathe, dress, talk or, seemingly understand what you’re saying. It ain’t easy, folks. That’s why it’s important to get them on the medication that has been proven to slow down the disease as soon as possible. Get them tested early and take the DNA test yourself to see if you’re a likely candidate. It’ll probably happen to me. Not only is it in my heredity but, well, let’s just say my formative years were the 60s and 70s.

I hope my story is published. Will let you know if and when that happens. Good night, all.

At Least The Wine Is Good

Upon opening my email I saw the reply I’d been waiting for. These folks were good enough to tell me why they weren’t going to publish the short story I sent in. It’s always good to know the why. If you know that it can only help you become a better writer. That’s not to say I wasn’t disappointed. I am, of course.

You don’t get to be my age without running into more than a few people telling you no. Being an overall optimist, I bounced back in record time. And I’ll tell you why.

Rachelle Gardner. I subscribe to her newsletter and it was also in my inbox. Among other things, the advice was to not go out on the ledge. It’s not time to jump because the publishing industry is going through immense changes. Just like the postal service. With new ways to publish your work (and there are many), an author is just as likely to decide to do it on their own.

Everybody, and their dog, too, seems to have a book out. How have they done it? I don’t know. I suspect the “how” but when I know for sure I’ll let you in on it. Are they good writers? Maybe. In her article Ms. Gardner speaks of how even established authors are feeling the crunch. A big storm may be on the horizon and when it’s over I bet there will still be room for the new writer looking for avid readers.

So don’t give up. I’m not. What I’m going to do is finish the final draft of my homemade pomegranate-cranberry wine. If I had enough I could send you all a free sample and I’d have my very own home business take off, albeit an illicit one. My neighbor told me he’d distilled a batch of wine and the stuff is flammable.

Mmm. Sounds good to me.

#RachelleGardner, #uneasywriter.blog, #homemadewine, #publishingadvice, #writingadvice, #letsdrinkinsteadok?

P.S. Don’t forget your hashtags, dear friends. #followme, and I’ll #followyou

Once more, dear friends

I’ve just sent another submission, this time to Bewildering Stories. They don’t pay but at this point who cares? What is important is getting published. 

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook is nice. So is Instagram. Anyone with a pc or android phone can get their work seen in social media. If you’ve been submitting, and getting turned down, you already know just how different a book or magazine editor is. I’ve sent in short stories to Asimov, Gigantosaurus, Sunlight Press, and Orson Scott Card, among others. I think I might know what will make the difference this time.

An editor. Aha! you say, but doesn’t that cost money? Not necessarily. It can if you want to pay for one. There are nice people out there willing to help and Linda is one of them. I met this nice woman on Facebook. Join  some writer’s groups if you haven’t already. I can’t guarantee that she’ll want to help me any further but she did a terrific job editing my short story Wipires. She also gave me some fantastic advice about poetry. Thank you, Linda.

So, join groups. Get good advice and find a good editor. If they can spell and you get your manuscript emailed back to you full of corrections and mild recriminations you’ve found a good one. Don’t get upset about it. That’s what they’re for, to tighten up your story.  Just send back a humble ‘thank you’  and rewrite it. 

WONDERFUL QUOTES ABOUT DOGS

Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit you would stay out and your dog would go in—Mark Twain

One reason a dog is such comfort when  you’re downcast is that he doesn’t ask to know why—Anonymous

When some men go to the dogs it’s pretty rough on the dogs—Anonymous

No man can be condemned for owning a dog. As long as he has a dog he has a friend; and the poorer he gets, the better friend he has—Will Rogers

Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job—Franklin Jones

Say something idiotic and no one but your dog politely wags his tail—Virginia Graham

It is a terrible thing for an old lady to outlive her dogs—Tennessee Williams

When a dog runs at you, whistle for him—Henry David Thoreau

You own a dog; you feed a cat—Jim Fiebig

A lawyer is just like an attack dog, only without a conscience—Tom Clancy

On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog—P. Steiner

This Is Tougher Than It Seems

Still striking out with the publishers. Had an offer from Writer’s Review to take my work in hand, proofread and edit then hopefully find a publication willing to print it. Voila! Author-ized at last. Only catch is it costs around $300 and there’s no guarantee they’ll get me in print.

If you create a pin on Pinterest you can pay a flat fee and each hit you get they deduct from your “account”. Well, dammit.

All of this sounds fine except I don’t seem to have the cash on hand. Everything financial has bitten me on the patootie. Oh, well, it costs nothing to continue submitting online directly to magazines. So, submit. Reject. Submit again.

 THE MAN IN THE GRASS CLOAK

 

 I’ve never had a dream like it before or since. Longer than normal, it had connected scenes with seamless transitions. Even after all these years I remember it as clearly as the morning I awoke. It was a prophetic dream, of course. Others don’t stay with you like this.

Drones peppered the afternoon sky, moving north. I was filled with dread but didn’t let it immobilize me. On the contrary, my sister and brother in law and I had been making plans. We had been watching the news, reading the signs of the times. A collapse of the economy, foreign invasion. All the worst parts of the bible. Something. Everything.

Scene two.

I only had a few miles to drive. Just two days before I’d been there but today the whole thing had changed drastically.

They didn’t keep birds but now several cages of wood and chicken wire had been erected. Inside them were exotic birds, some with wild, varied plumage. In each cage was a bag of fruit.

Weirdest of all was the profusion of people lying in the yard. Some lay on the grass, others on blankets. I didn’t inspect this strange development immediately but went in the house. What I expected to find was my brother in law boiling water and my sister ripping sheets for bandages. Instead, I found no one. Nothing seemed to be missing or out of place.

Muttering,“No,no,no”, I ran to the storage building. The door was ajar and all the supplies we’d stockpiled were gone. To say I was dismayed is a vast understatement. I was shocked, horrified and felt a lonely displacement. “They left me,” I whispered and fell on my face in the grass to cry.

No time for that. Could not take even a minute more to feel sorry for myself. There were people here who couldn’t even stand up while I was the picture of good health.

Walking among them, I studied but didn’t touch. Most appeared to be sleeping with no visible mark on their exposed skin. There was no smell of putrefaction. A few opened their eyes when I blocked the sun out but they didn’t speak. One man kept his eyes open longer than the rest. I asked him, “What has happened to all of you?” He only closed his eyes again, remaining silent.

I went to the porch swing and sat down, wondering what to do next. Where to go. An audible pop sounded and a feeling like standing before the bass speakers at a rock concert hit my chest. From my upper peripheral vision I saw two figures descending from the sky. Unaided by bubble or machine, they dropped effortlessly to the ground.

If you watched much of the ‘70s Saturday morning show Land of the Lost you no doubt saw the Zarn. That’s what these beings looked like. A full body suit covered their humanoid bodies, spangled with flashing colored lights. No eyes, nose or mouth were visible.

Mind to mind they communicated to me. “You cannot remain here. Go anywhere but home.”

Okay. Gotcha. I stopped at a bird cage and opened it. A large cockatoo eyed me but didn’t peck. I peeled him an orange and told him, “Sorry. I’m going to need this.” Taking the bag of fruit, I fled.

Scene three.

I’m in the car driving. In dreams you go places without knowing where you’re traveling but you get to the right place anyway. My destination turned out to be a flea market. I went inside.

All manner of goods were for sale. There was camo clothing and farming implements. One whole row was made of bins of tools. Gas masks and survival knives, tents and fire starters. I traded my car for a backpack, hunting knife, bottles of water and dried food, a carton of cigarettes and two Bic lighters.

A rough-cut man checked me out and pointed to the back door. “Leave that way.”

Scene four.

The sky outside the flea market was brighter than when I’d gone in. Behind the structure was a huge pasture but no cows or horses. A profusion of wooden walkways cut a maze across the grass, leading to stiles and covered bridges. Covered bridges? But there was no water. Odd.

I climbed through the barbed wire and watched other folks moving down their chosen walkway. It didn’t escape my notice that I was alone on mine. I crossed over a stile and abruptly my walkway ended.

Walking east, I drank only when thirst demanded,and sparingly at that. For hours I walked and as the sky darkened I heard what sounded like pounding horse hooves.

It was a horse. On its back was a bearded man dressed in a combination of animal fur and cloth. Incredible. On his back was a cloak of living grass. I could see roots hanging down. His beard was wild as was his hair. The look on his face was somehow friendly but impassive at the same time. Now I could hear the beat of helicopter rotors in the distance.

He was riding bareback. Leaping from the horse, he swung the cloak over his back and disappeared beneath it. The horse moved several feet away and munched on dandelion greens. I gawked at the man’s peering face and he made a gesture to convey I should do as he’d done. I got out my knife and hacked out a pocket and slid into its tightness. The man nodded and grinned.

Overhead the copter droned like a big, fat bee. It moved slowly and I put my head down and prayed. Not knowing if it was an enemy, my own people or my own people become my enemy, I shook with dread. Not until we could no longer hear it did we emerge.

I finished cutting out my own cloak. It had a few small nodding flowers and a grasshopper on it. The man swung onto the back of his horse and gave me a salute. I hurried after him and he slowed to allow me to follow.

There was no thought in me of where he might lead. I didn’t care. I knew who I was going with. As the sky grew dark I followed him into the harsh, new land that had been America.