‘Stories That Leave You Thinking’ — on sale

GIRAFFE COVER W. SHADOW

My short story anthology Stories That Leave You Thinking is on sale during the whole month of June.

A collection of diverse and slightly unconventional short short stories

Have you ever come to the words “The End” when reading and just couldn’t seem to turn off your own imagination? Did your mind keep working on the plot and planning out possible ways in which the story could continue? Did you enjoy the process? Then you’ve come to the right book. The stories included here, on a wide variety of subjects and themes, offer the reader the opportunity to keep thinking past “The End.” Each story comes to a stop, to be sure, but most of them will tempt the reader to let his own imagination get involved and do some thinking about what would happen next – if the story continued. A refreshing approach to short story telling.

Paperback only — $5.00
Find it here:



 

Watercolor Splotches

I’ve been experimenting with Watercolor Splotches. The idea is that you put puddles of watercolor on the paper and blow on it through a straw. What happens next gives you the theme of your picture.  When I saw that these splotches dried holding hands, I knew it was love.

WATERCOLOR SPLOTCH FIGURES



 

What Happened to ‘The End’?

BOOKS W. END

Over the past decade, the publishing world has experienced an interesting, but, in my opinion, sad phenomenon. Almost all fiction authors and/or publishing houses have started leaving out the words “The End” on the last page of novels. It’s now become passe, and I guess in some minds, even unsophisticated to write those two iconic little words below the last paragraph of a story.

It’s sad. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. My earliest happy memories involve reading stories and having them read to me, and I started writing my own in elementary school. In fact, I wrote my first full-length play in the 6th grade. I get totally immersed in the books I read. I can pass hours and even go without food — even chocolate and coffee — once I get entrenched in a story. I live the experiences with the characters — laughing with them, crying with them, loving with them, fighting with them — and rejoicing in the final resolution of the climax in their favor. ( I do not read stories where the main character ends up defeated.)

But when I come to the end of those stories, I’m generally so much involved that I need closure in order to let them go and move on. Those two little words — “The End” — have always given me that. Now, many have been the times when I hated to see them come. I didn’t want the story to end, and I would have pushed those words forward for another twenty pages or so at least. But eventually, all good stories have to reach their resolution, and when they do, I’ve always found a quiet acceptance and even a serene pleasure in reading those words. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve leaned back after reading “The End,” closed my eyes, and taken a slow deep breath and relished the fact that all was resolved and every loose end securely tucked away.

Those two little words close a story and let me know that it’s all right to let those characters go and move on to the next story — the next adventure — the next romance — the next journey. Yes, I know that any reader of average intelligence is able to figure out that if there is no more text between the covers, then the story has come to an end. But that doesn’t satisfy me at all. Somehow, those two words typed onto the page just make the reading experience complete, and finishing a story without them is not the same. Perhaps I’m the only one who feels that way. I don’t know. It’s not a subject I discuss with other writers — or readers. But it’s something that touches me powerfully enough that I continue to type “The End” at the completion of every novel I write.

And I will continue to do so from now on. The publisher that I have worked with for years is in agreement with me, and, of course, any books that I publish through Amazon don’t require my considering anyone else’s opinion. So I’m free in both situations to do as I please. And what pleases me is to be able to say to my readers  — in effect — “Well, now, we have come the distance together in this story; thank you for sharing it with me; I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have; we’ve solved the problems for the hero and heroine, and they are satisfied and secure;  I’ve taken great care to leave you in a good place; All is well = The End.”



 

Non-Essential Lives

Some call it isolation.
Some call it sheltering.
A “safe-at-home” condition
That’s lasted all of spring.

Small businesses are locked down
Churches have empty pews.
But laws allow the sale of drugs
And “grass,” and, of course, booze.

What Liberals term “essential”
Is given liberty.
Abortion clinics have free reign:
Murder in first degree.

The public’s in a panic
Because of media lies.
State gov’ners claim lives matter
While they make sure babies die.



 

Weekend Coffee Share 5/16/20

COFFEE & COMPUTER -- Engin Akyurt -- PX

photo courtesy of Engin Akyurt @ pixabay.com

Hello again, everyone. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had an opportunity to participate in the coffee share, and I’m feeling happy this morning that I have time to just sit here and talk to you as I’m enjoying my coffee. To be honest, there are several things I need to be doing, but they are not pressing me very hard, so I’m ignoring them and choosing to visit with you for a few minutes instead.

I can’t say that I’ve had any important experiences this past week, but I am looking forward to what I have planned for this weekend. It’s related to a victory in my life that took place a few months ago, and I’ll share a little of that with you so you can rejoice with me.

Some of you are aware that about 2 1/2 years ago, I lost my very best friend in an accident. I’ve shared a little about that experience from time to time, but not anything recently. Not only was he my best friend, but he was also my best editor and had such a vibrant, creative mind that he had been enormous help to me in my writing. He was at times my toughest critic, but at all time my greatest champion.

And he was the kind of person I could call on the phone and say, “Hey, I have this character who needs to end up so-and-so, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how I can set him up for this experience.” In no time at all, my friend would come up with at least one and maybe three or four possible scenes that fit right into where I needed to go in my story. And he was available to offer feedback at any time of the day or night.

So, as you can see, when I lost him, I lost someone very personal and emotionally supportive, but also a great catalyst and creative inspiration at the same time. As a result of that loss, I came to a place where I was unable to write any novels at all. I had been working on three when he died — and one of them had already benefited from input from him. Every time I tried to go back to any of those novels, I ran into a brick wall. It wasn’t what some writers refer to as “writer’s block.” It was a deep sense of emptiness that I couldn’t seem to get out of enough to bring words and scenes to life again. I struggled against that barrier repeatedly, but to no avail.

I’m very grateful that the Lord allowed me to write more poetry during that time. It was interesting to me that, while I could not write any stories, I could still write non-fiction work that is part of my Christian ministry, and I could write poetry. In fact, writing poetry was the most healing experience I had during that time, and I even created a brand new poetry website where I could share it. That creativity was powerful blessing.

But, thanks to the Lord’s healing work in my soul, I finally came to a place a little earlier this year where I was able to pick up one of the novels I had been working on and finish it completely. In fact, it was just birthed into the marketplace in April. What a great victory that was. As the author of 20 books before that time, I can’t even put into words how it felt to sit for two whole years and not be able to write one complete story. But victory is mine, and now, I believe I’m ready to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and finish some of the other novels that have been waiting a very long time.

Now, back to this weekend. My plan is to take this weekend to finish one of those books. Sadie Rose Donovan: Coed Detective is actually a little different from most of my other novels. This book is more of a young adult novel, but I’m hoping and believing that mature adults will enjoy it as well. If I can’t finish it completely this weekend, I’m thinking about posting it one chapter a day on my website and promising to post every day until it’s done. That procedure has helped me push myself to finish novels in the past. We’ll have to see how things go today and tomorrow. But, for sure, the book is coming to its rightful conclusion this week!

Personally, I love the story. It was inspired almost exclusively by a photo of a young friend of mine who snapped a selfie while standing in a hallway in one of the main classroom buildings on a local college campus. She was posed as if involved in some clandestine activity, and the moment I saw it, the story sprang to life in my head. I’ve told her that I consider her my inspiration, and I’ll be dedicating the book to her — Hannah Herron.

The main character is named after a sweet young lady who waited on the table at a restaurant I visited a couple years ago. My cousin and I were eating supper there, and Sadie Rose stopped to visit a while. The conversation led to how she had come by her first and middle name. I instantly fell in love with that name and told her I knew it would be perfect for a story I’d be writing. I told her I’d let her know when it came out, but I don’t think she works at that restaurant any longer. See the sad pitfalls of taking so long to finish a story???  Anyway, I hope I can locate her and let her know when her namesake is finally on the bookshelves.

So, that’s my weekend coffee share for today. And that’s my weekend plans: I’m going to get out of my robe and start pounding the keys to finish Sadie Rose’s story. And I feel sure there will be plenty of pots of coffee involved as the work progresses.


To participate in “Weekend Coffee Share,” visit our host’s website: Eclectic Ali.

~~~

Stand Tall

 

In this crooked and perverse generation, we MUST stand TALL for the Lord!

GREEN STALKS

 

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus.
The strife will not be long.
This day the noise of battle;
The next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil
A crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.”

______________________
Lyrics by C. Barry Robertson / George Duffield / George J. Webb
________________________________________________
_________________________________________________

~~~~~~

From My Journal – 5/12/20

HOPE

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.”
Romans 15:4

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

“… if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  Romans 8:25

~
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Focus on Coffee – Day 7

COFFEE & OPEN BIBLE -- MNPlatypus --PX

Well, here we are at the close of another coffee series. I do love posting about coffee. (I said that a few times already, didn’t I?) Today I’ve focused on a cup of coffee and an open Bible because, frankly, that’s my M.O. I’ve spent many long hours with a cup of coffee and my open Bible, just visiting with the Lord and talking over things — all kinds of things — some important, some not. And He enjoys those times as much as I do.

I have a great precedent for those experiences in my natural life, because I’ve sat and visited multitudes of times with my earthly dad over a cup of coffee — just talking over all kinds of things — and it’s always been a happy, comforting experience. As I’ve mentioned previously, both my parents were coffee drinkers, and the beverage was just a normal part of our lives every day. But even after my mom passed away, some of my favorite times with my dad involved enjoying a cup of coffee and conversation together. And I feel exactly the same about my Heavenly Father.

Some people who don’t like coffee don’t like to hear this, but I’m sure that after I’m finished with my work here and move on to the Heavenly realm, the Lord and I will enjoy many more times over a cup of great coffee — only I’m sure what He has available in Heaven will far surpass even the best cup I’ve ever had down here.

I’ve had fun focusing on coffee again this past week. Hope all of you are enjoying your own brand of the brew, and before too long, I’ll probably pop up with another mini-series on this favorite subject.

~


photo: courtesy of MNPlatypus @ pixabay.com


 

Focus on Coffee – Day 5

COFFEE - CLASSIC WHITE

I have a little coffee poem for you today.
Enjoy:

LIFE’S NECESSITIES

Of life’s necessities I’ve made a list.
Coffee’s there, and at the top it sits.
Some think I would give chocolate highest place;
To their surprise that’s simply not the case.
For chocolate, though my fav’rite candy treat,
Which quite enthusiastically I greet,
Still has a drawback, for when I indulge,
It has the power to add another bulge.
Plus it makes me thirsty after all,
So then for something wet I have to call.
That’s why I put it second on my list.
And coffee gets first place, I must insist.
Besides that, coffee always smells so great,
And when it’s brewing, I can hardly wait
For that first sip — so warm and rich and pure.
For agitated life, it’s nature’s cure.


photo: courtesy of Methawee Krasaeden @ pixabay.com



 

Focus on Coffee – Day 4

I do apologize for my “Focus on Coffee” series being a little erratic where posts are concerned.  All I can say is that we’re living in erratic times, and my muse seems to be following suit. Anyway, I’m finally in the mood to do the next post in the series, so here goes. Today, I’m giving you one of my short stories with a coffee flavor. It’s actually one of several stories that will eventually make up a collection titled Elixir of Life Coffeehouse Stories. A few of you may have read this story when I wrote it originally a couple years ago, but even if you did, hopefully you’ll enjoy it again.


AS THE PLOT UNRAVELS

COFFEE & LAPTOP -- Gillie 1864 -- PX

“I don’t know what to do,” Neville groaned, rubbing his hands roughly over his face. Then he pushed his laptop out of the way and leaned both elbows onto the coffeehouse table, propping his chin in his hands.

“What’s wrong?” Clarence, the waiter bussing the table next to Neville’s, turned to question him

Neville looked up, startled. “Oh … blast … I didn’t realize I had said that out loud. Sorry,” he added looking sheepishly around the room to see if other customers had heard. He was relieved to see that Elixir of Life Coffeehouse was having one of its quieter days.

“No problem,” Clarence answered and walked over to Neville’s table. “Can I get you a refill?”

“Yeah, that would be great,” Neville answered, handing the boy his cup. “It’s been a rough writing day.”

The young man returned in record time with Neville’s refill and stayed to talk a moment. “Do you have what they call writer’s block?”

“No.” Neville shook his head and continued. “No, Clarence. This isn’t writer’s block. In fact, I almost wish I did have that dreaded condition. My problem isn’t that I can’t get the story to move along. This story is moving along at an incredible pace. The problem is that it’s writing itself, and my original plot is unraveling as fast as I can put my fingers to the keys.”

“You mean you’re not in control of your own story?” Clarence looked at Neville as if he had lost his mind — just a little. And that made Neville laugh.

“Don’t worry, my boy,” he said. “I’ve not gone bonkers yet. And … thanks for making me laugh. It helps. But to answer your question, no, I’m not in control of my own story.”

“Well, how does that happen?” Clarence asked, really into this new information he was being exposed to.

“Well it’s not too unusual for a writer to get into a novel and find that one of his characters seems to gravitate in a direction other than what he had originally planned — or that the story seems to be flowing toward an ending that’s different from what he jotted down in his outline. But what’s happening in my story is different.”

“How?”

Neville shook his head and sighed. “I’m not sure how it’s happened, but every character seems to be taking on a brand new identity and making his own decisions. The guy I had pegged as the hero has suddenly become the villain, and the woman he loves is rapidly developing feelings for his best friend — which means he will probably end up killing his best friend — he’s already entertained the idea — and maybe even offing the woman as well.”

“But does it matter who ends up being the villain and the hero — I mean — as long as you have one of each, it’ll come out even, right?”

Neville chuckled. “Well, it’s not quite that easy. My publisher assigned me a contract to do a specific kind of story. One that will be a believable sequel to my last three novels. They were moneymakers, and I’d hate to mess up a record like that. I spent the money I made on them, and now I need more.” He rubbed his face agitatedly again. “Besides that, I’d be breaking my contract if I didn’t give them what I guaranteed.”

“MmMmm, you do have a problem,” Clarence said, so engulfed in the conversation now that he just sat right down at the table beside Neville.  They both sat in silence for a moment, and then Clarence asked, “Well, why don’t you just delete all that part that changed and go back to your first chapter and start over on the story you intended to write. That would take care of it wouldn’t it?”

“Well, that’s the other problem. I’ve totally lost track of the story I intended to write … and besides ….” He paused and glanced off to the side, lost in thought for a long moment. Clarence waited, figuring Neville was trying to work out a plan.

Suddenly Neville looked back at Clarence with a smile on his face. He looked serene rather than agitated, and Clarence was a little confused. “You figure something out? How to stop this runaway story?”

“Nope,” Neville said, grinning wider. “I’m not going to stop this story, Clarence.”

“Huh?”

Neville reached over and rested his hand on Clarence’s shoulder. “Clarence, my boy, I’ve made a decision. I’m going to give this story my whole heart and soul and let it lead me wherever it wants to go.”

“But what about your contract and all?”

“Blast the contract,” Neville said, beginning to close up his laptop and slip his notes into his briefcase. “If that publisher can’t see the truth about the value of this story, then he can sue me.”

“But –”

“No more ‘but’s‘ my boy,” Neville answered, rising from his chair, laptop under his arm. “This is the best damn story I’ve ever written in my life, and I’ve just decided I’m free enough to give my creativity its own head and let it take me to my destiny.”

He slapped down his last five dollar bill as a tip for Clarence and headed out the door, whistling.


photo: courtesy of Gillie 1864 @ pixabay.com

~~~
~~~

Focus on Coffee – Day 3

COFFEE ORANGE CUP -- Kalhh -- PX

Today, I thought I’d share a few vintage 1950’s coffee commercials. Some of the old coffee TV ads were absolutely horrible. These 4 are not some of the worst, but I’m pretty sure the last two would be considered a little too “sexist” to make the grade for today’s TV broadcasting. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little visit down coffee memory lane. I can’t believe we sat through these without groaning. And I find it hard to understand how we used such tiny, fragile-looking cups during those years. Not all of these commercials show the tiny cups, but several commercials from that era do.


 

 

 

 

 


 

Focus on Coffee — Day 2

COFFEE SET - SUNFLOWER -- Alexa_Foto - PX

photo: Alexa_Foto @ pixabay.com

Wow, when I saw this coffee cup and saucer, I just could not resist posting about it. It’s absolutely beautiful, and it makes me want to brew a fresh pot of coffee right now. Unfortunately, all I have is a picture of this set and not the real thing.

I do love unusual coffee mugs. I have one shaped like an owl, one of red cut-glass with a pedestal, one that’s huge clear glass with dancing snowmen all around it, another that looks like a big pink bowl and is covered in pictures of cape cod shells, a delicate white cup and saucer trimmed in gold with a raised fleur de li on the front of the cup, another rather heavy glass mug from the Smoky Mountains — tan with dark brown interior, and with a black bear hanging onto the handle. Oh, my list could go on forever. Even just my collection of Christmas coffee cups would fill an entire post.

My sister and I both love coffee cups and mugs, and almost every time we go shopping we purchase at least one. Now, that doesn’t mean we have a place to put them when we get them home. We both have cabinets full of cups and mugs, and we both say that we need to stop buying them. But — well — it’s just soooooo much fun when we come across another one that catches our eye. And it’s even more fun to fill them with coffee and sip from them.

Needless to say, I have a lot of choices when I get ready to pour my coffee. It would be great fun to use a different one for each cup of the day, but to tell the truth — since I don’t have a dishwasher — and I have so many other interesting things to spend time on besides washing dishes — I avoid soiling too many in any 24-hour period. So I confess that I generally choose one cup for the day and use it all day — for coffee or tea — whichever I’m having at the time.  Oh-oh — did I say tea?   Well, excuse me. I know this is a “Focus on Coffee” post, but sometimes — just occasionally, mind you — I do get a hankering for a cup of hot tea. But if it came to being forced to make a choice, coffee would certainly win, hands down.

Now, I need to go online and see if I can find someplace to purchase this lovely sunflower coffee set.  In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying your own coffee this evening.