Welcome to Day 11 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @nonniejules @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

…IN THE WORLD OF WE

We often hear that music is the universal language.  It is the avenue to bridge all divides –

racial divides

gender divides

political divides.    

But, in the midst of all the division,

each party holding court in their respective corners of the ring,

ears lightly tickled by the sound of the simple “IMAGINE” by John Lennon,

wafting through the musky air of tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons –

a mist of standstill calms the noise

…and in mere moments, the eyes of “independent” onlookers are pleasantly greeted by the most beautiful and welcoming sight –

…bodies slowly rocking

…hands collectively raised

…waving side to side

…all in unison  

…chanting

 “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try…”

The 2020 US election has ended. The people have spoken.

What’s left behind?  A world of anxiety and angst – wrapped in feelings of wondering when the bombs will drop, or when the other shoe will fall.  And although I’d like to point fingers here and maybe even call a few not-so-pretty names, my daughter sits beside me as I write this, an ear to measure the “nice” level in my words, the child guiding the parent.  Roles reversed, she gently reminds me that the original goal of this message is unification – therefore, I will stay the course of peace.

In this moment, acknowledging that my conscience of decency is bigger than any emotion that might be stirring the embers of fires that have burned deep inside me for the past few years – neutrality is my cohort, and we will not take sides. 

Instead, all that will be allowed to roll off my tongue is FACT…

one reign is ending  

and another about to begin.

Some exultant…

others despondent

Yet, now is not the time for either.

Yesterday is gone,

today almost a memory,

but what awaits us in tomorrow

is what WE decide it will be. 

This is not the land of us and them –

this is the world of WE. 

WE decide what, who and how WE want to be.  

Do you resemble love, or, are you wearing the likeness of hate?  

What adorns your heart, a choice only you can make … for you. 

So, I have made my choice – and it is firm and true!

I choose love. 

To love,

to be loved,

to speak love,

to exude love,

to live love. 

Because I know that what I send out into the world, will be exactly what the world returns to my doorstep.

It is for that reason that I shall…

remain steadfast in my vigilance –

cognizant of any negativity that might try to seep in or out of my pores –

Skillfully suppressing the desire to gloat in the face of the so-called “losing” side. 

I’ve too much pride…to stoop so low.

The 2020 US election has ended.  The people have spoken.

There were no losers. 

WE are a world of winners.

Remember, WE decide

what

who

and how

WE will be

in this…

beautiful

colorful

everchanging

world of WE

“Imagine there’s no country
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

It’s all easy if WE try.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Nonnie Jules’ RWISA Author Profile

https://youtu.be/T2hvkPyiAFE

Welcome to Day 10 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @jinlobify @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

IROKO

In the past, nobody would have taken notice of Iroko, the biggest and tallest tree in the forest. But then, cities started to grow and to eat into the forests. Trees were cut to make way for the growing cities. But the Iroko tree resisted being cut down. Any time an axe cut the tree, the axe either broke or the cut bled, real blood., and cries, ear piercing cries, like human cries were heard coming from the tree.

            In the forest, next to Iroko, lived an old woman in a tiny mud hut. Bent by age, she diligently cared for the tree. She was known as the eyes and the mouth of the tree. She listened to the tree, when the leaves rustled and interpreted the language of the tree to outsiders. She was called Nne Oji. Oji is the Igbo name for Iroko, and Nne Oji means Iroko’s mother. Iroko was as tall as a skyscraper, about one hundred and seventy feet high, and the width was as wide as fifty men surrounding the tree with outstretched hands, fingertips touching. Iroko was huge, towering and intimidating!

            The stories surrounding Iroko were such that settlers decided to let it stand and the town grew all around and away from it. Things went on peacefully for a while, but soon it became clear that Iroko did not like the exposure it was getting from the people surrounding it. After all, this tree was the king of the forest, where both trees and animals revered it. Now, standing in the midst of humans, with no one paying it any heed, all of this would change very rapidly.

            People, especially those living close to where Iroko stood, started reporting strange happenings around Iroko in the dead of night. Those who were bold enough to come out and watch these happenings, reported seeing dancing and merrymaking around Iroko by people they believed were spirit people. These spirit people went in and out of Iroko as if they were walking in and out of their homes. They sang and danced in merriment from twelve midnight until two in the morning, after which they packed up and walked back into the tree. Those who observed these goings-on, did so from afar and in hiding.

The story was told of a young boy who had the misfortune of being seen by these spirit people. He was taken and was never seen again. He had heard the stories of the happenings around Iroko, so that night he snuck out of his house and walked toward Iroko to take a closer look. Voices were heard warning him not to come closer, but he continued walking toward Iroko until he entered the sphere of the tree where everything turned grey. At that point, the boy lost control of himself and was pulled along until he disappeared in the mist and was seen no more.

The mother watched everything in hiding in paralyzed shock. The other people who watched in hiding were also mystified. They couldn’t believe their eyes, but they dared not allow themselves to be seen.

The next morning, the mother saw a huge striped cow tied to an orange tree in front of her house. The cow was chewing cud. The woman walked around the cow trying to understand how it came to be there. The town people also took notice and started gathering and questioning the presence of the cow. Out of nowhere, a young boy with only a loin cloth around his waist appeared and spoke to the onlookers.

“Mama, Iroko says you should take the cow in exchange for your son. Iroko says you should not kill the cow. You should sell it and use the money to take care of yourself.” With that, the boy turned and walked through the crowd and disappeared.

Everyone there was seized with shock and they quickly dispersed. The woman cut the cow loose and started shooing it off from the front of her house, but the cow would not budge.

The woman started to weep and pleaded with Iroko to return her son and take back the cow.

“Iroko give me back my son and take your cow!” she implored. “I don’t want your cow!”

The next day, the woman saw the cow at the back of her house, peacefully lying down near her hearth and chewing cud. She ran out toward Iroko.

“If you won’t give me back my son, Iroko, take me too!” she screamed at the top of her voice. Iroko’s leaves started to rustle. Suddenly, the old woman in the hut materialized and stood between the woman and Iroko.

“Go back, Mama!” the old woman said. “What you seek cannot be done. Your son is gone, dead and Iroko has paid you in exchange for him. Go back or you will meet the same fate!”

The woman refused to be stopped. She pushed the old woman down, walked over her and continued to approach Iroko. By this time, people had started to gather and were watching. The woman threw herself at Iroko and just like magic, the onlookers saw sparks of light, like fireworks, all around the woman. They heard her screaming and shouting like someone roasting on a stake. When everything died down and the sparks were no more, the people saw that the woman had metamorphosed. The woman had changed into an animal, something that looked like a dog, or a goat. No one could really tell. The people dispersed but this time they all had one thought in their minds – that Iroko must go.

            Iroko’s fame continued to grow even beyond the immediate town. The townspeople also became bolder. They consulted with diviner after diviner to find out how to get rid of Iroko. They tried everything, without any success … one attempt took the lives of twelve men. They tried to burn Iroko down, but the fire turned against them and burned them to death. One diviner suggested that the spirit of Iroko resided in the old woman who tended it, and that if the old woman was killed, Iroko would quietly and slowly die.

            The townspeople burned the old woman’s hut down with the old woman in it. The next day, Iroko started taking souls. People started disappearing from their homes, both in broad daylight and at night while they slept.

Finally, an Iroko priest from a distant land told the people how to destroy Iroko.

“Humans should not fight Iroko,” he said. “They should appease Iroko. Iroko trees do not live amongst humans. Before you people started building your town, you should have appeased and pleaded with Iroko to leave your town. As you can see, Iroko was simply minding its own business, when you people decided to invade its privacy. Now you have to sacrifice to Iroko to appease it.”

            The townspeople had to pay this priest to come to their town to perform all that was needed to appease Iroko. There is no need to list here all that Iroko demanded, which included the blood of virgins, before it was appeased. The morning after the ceremony by this priest was concluded, the people came out and watched as the inhabitants of Iroko exited one after the other and disappeared; the birds of various families, the giant ants, red and black, dark dangerous black snakes – all came out of Iroko hissing, grumbling, and then poof, like smoke disappeared. But the king of all the animals, a giant Eke python, refused to be dislodged. The people had to pump inflammatory liquid into Iroko and set the python on fire, to dislodge it. It came out rumbling, twisting, and floundering, until it, too, disappeared.

            Finally, Iroko was cut down. Mystery upon mystery, not one single hole existed in the cut tree. It was intact with rings showing how many hundreds of years it had stood there.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Joy Nwosu Lo Bamijoko‘s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 9 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @wendyjaynescott @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

The Crystal Tavern by Wendy Scott

This piece is in remembrance of my Creative Writing student, Gill Pontin, who suddenly passed away in October 2020. Gill was an artistic dynamo whose enthusiasm, creativity and laughter will be dearly missed. She was a key participant when our group developed a new world, Creedland, and this story is set in Vape Town.

“Whoa, boy.” Blade Driscoll tugged on the reins and pulled his destrier to a halt. He surveyed the outskirts of Vape Town, unsurprised by the ramshackle buildings and pock-marked roads. The air reeked of burnt sugar and the back of Blade’s throat tingled. Between his thighs, Stormbolt shifted, wrinkling his equine nose and shaking his head from side to side. The horse’s plated armour clinked together destroying any attempt at stealth. Blade nudged his mount towards the main street, the sooner he finished his business in this cesspit the better for his sanity.
Pink-eyed townsfolk slunk away from the war horse’s hoof spikes. Pastel smoke billowed from a series of chimney stacks and led him to the front steps of the Crystal Tavern. Scantily clad fairies with tattered wings slouched against the verandah railings. Out of habit, Blade scanned their faces but didn’t recognise any familiar features. He didn’t waste his breath asking after his friend as their vacant stares and pink-tinted irises indicated their minds were lost in a kaleidoscopic haze.
Crystal Pink was manufactured from bog flowers and utterly irresistible to fairies. Its euphoric buzz leached away their magic, attacked the delicate blood vessels in their wings, rendering them flightless, before their bodies swelled to human size. The only way to gain their fix was to enslave themselves to Gurezil Flintsunder, owner of the Crystal Tavern, the unofficial mayor of Vape Town, and the largest whore-master this side of the Despicables. Lowlifes flocked from every dark corner of Creedland to sample the unique fairy delights.
Blade dismounted and left Stormbolt’s reins dangling, ready for a speedy exit. Anyone foolhardy enough to try to steal the stallion would learn how hard the war horse could bite.
Blade checked his weapon inventory. If blood flowed today, he didn’t intend any of it to be his.

Before the saloon doors swung shut behind him Blade tugged a bandanna over his mouth and nose. Steam laced with cotton candy sweetness curled through the dimness. Chunks of crystals simmered in heated ceramic bowls, producing bubbles and sickly fumes. Each table featured glass paraphernalia plugged with multiple hoses. Tendrils of pink smoke escaped from the pipe tips.
Pain pulsed in Blade’s forehead and his eyes watered. He sipped shallow breaths as he scanned the front parlour, counting four patrons slumped in the booths. Their hands grasped the tubes as if they were lifelines. Fools; it was death they courted.
A month ago, he’d rescued Maie Quickthistle from Gurezil’s clutches, sneaking her away while the tavern slumbered. When she’d surfaced from the drug’s grip she’d attacked him like a demented harpy, begging for her next fix. He responded by locking her inside a rented room, but she’d broken out the window and hightailed it back to the Crystal Tavern. After that failure, he decided to change his tactics.
A bartender slumped across the bar and ignored Blade as he slid into an empty booth and shuffled into the shadows. From here he had an unobstructed view of Gurezil’s office door and a ringside seat to the drama he knew was about to unfold. The next bog flower shipment was due within the hour, and he wanted to witness Gurezil Flintsunder’s reaction when he learned his entire crop had been destroyed. The poison had cost Blade his life’s savings but the wizard assured him that this would taint the bog for generations. With one application he’d wiped out the only source of Crystal Pink.

Half an hour later, boots thundered along the passageway and a man hammered his fists on the office door. “Boss, there’s a problem with the latest shipment.”
Gurezil flung the door open and stomped into the hallway. “If those imbeciles have stolen as much as one flower I’ll strip the flesh from their hides and feed it to the fairies.”
“There are no flowers.” The man held out a limp vine. “Something’s wrong with the whole patch.”
Gurezil snatched the vegetation out of the man’s hand, lifted it above his nose, and sniffed it. The blood vessels on his cheeks blazed beetroot. “Stinks of spoiled magic. There’s no time to waste, saddle up the horses and the wagons, we need to salvage what’s left.”
Blade stayed in the shadows until they disappeared outside. Whistling, he ascended the stairs two at a time before gently opening every door along the top corridor. A rush of stale air tainted with the drug’s signature sweetness filtered into the passage. Fairies dozed on bunks, oblivious to his presence as their minds languished in a hypnotic blur. He didn’t desire to be anywhere near Vape Town when their mass withdrawal kicked in. Dealing with one psychotic fairy was enough to test a man’s mettle.
He counted his blessing when he found Maie Quickthistle out cold, making it easier to transfer her onto Stormbolt’s saddle. As a precaution, he bound her hands together and checked her pockets for hidden daggers. Earlier, he’d prepared a campsite in the surrounding woods as he understood the next two days were going to be tough on the both of them.
If he’d known how sharp fairy teeth were he might have reconsidered this rescue plan. Bloody bite marks and grazes marred his forearm and face, and he was sure he was missing a piece of his ear. His ears throbbed from Maie’s constant shrieking, and he hoped she’d have no memory of all the things she’d offered him in exchange for a fix.
After a sleepless 48 hours, his eyes were redder than an addict’s and his thoughts foggy. Maie’s limbs contorted into a fetal knot and whimpers escaped her throat. She was quieter than earlier, but he kept his distance as she’d lured him into striking range before. He yawned and struggled to keep awake. Perhaps he’d snatch a moment’s rest.
Something fluttered against his cheek and Blade wrenched his eyes open. Tiny fairy wings whirred close to his face. He held still as Maie planted a kiss on the tip of his nose. “You saved me.”
Lightness flooded Blade’s soul. “Of course, that’s what friends do.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Wendy Scott’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 7 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @Maurabeth2014 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

CHRISTMAS WITH AUNT ALICE AND THE PINEAPPLE

You could say the trajectory to that strange Christmas Eve began on the Saturday before, when Mother and Father took us to Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia. There were five of us, counting my two little brothers and me, and we were there on our yearly trek to see the renowned Wanamaker’s Christmas tree and hear Christmas music played by a live orchestra.  

After the concert, we wandered around the store, admiring the decorations. Mother was especially taken by the centerpiece on one of the tables in the furniture department. There, a pineapple, resplendent in a coating of golden spray paint, nestled on a platter filled with fresh pine boughs and sparkling ornaments.

“Oh, isn’t that lovely,” exclaimed Mother.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Father. Father was usually a cheerful person, full of jokes and funny stories, but that day he was grumpy, facing the prospect of having to eat lunch in Wanamaker’s Mezzanine Restaurant, where, as he put it, “They only have lady food.” 

Mother rolled her eyes at me like she did sometimes, now that I was thirteen, and apparently had been admitted into the Sisterhood of Aren’t Men Silly. I rolled my eyes back at her, straightened my shoulders, and stood straight and proud. 

Mother worked feverishly all that week to prepare for the holiday and finally, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we all decorated the tree. In those days in our house, the tree was brought into the house on Christmas Eve and not a day before. Father would spend hours groaning, shouting, and trying not to curse as he secured the tree to the walls. You read that correctly. Father was sure that the tree would escape its confines when left to its own devices, wreaking havoc, and so would place it in a corner and tether it to each wall with nails and the thickest string he could find. Only then could our tree, safely restrained, be adorned. 

The tradition was that we would listen to Christmas carols as we all performed our assigned decorating duties. Finally, Father would finish with gobs of silver tinsel and, with a flourish, turn on the lights. After the “oohs” and “aahs” died down, we would head to the dining room for Christmas Eve dinner.

That’s how things usually went. On this particular Christmas Eve, though, as we were filing into the dining room, a loud shriek emanated from the direction of the kitchen. 

“Oh, SSSSSHIP!” 

Mother shot Father a look. “Aunt Alice.” she said.

I should have mentioned that my Great Aunt Alice was visiting. She was extremely old and, on holidays, came to stay with us. We kids loved Aunt Alice. She was funny, though not always intentionally so, told us fabulous stories which she made up herself, and she loved to curse. This was a great learning experience as I saw it. However, my parents had recently had a discussion with Aunt Alice about this behavior. I listened in, rooting for Aunt Alice, and it went like this:

Father said, “There are children here, Aunt Alice. Think of the children.”

“But you curse, and you’re my favorite nephew,” Aunt Alice replied.

Father countered with, “Look, Aunt Alice, that’s different. I’m a man, and I was in the Navy during the War.”

Aunt Alice, voice rising, shot back, “Oh, come on. What a crock of—”

“Stop!” yelled Father.

“POOP,” Aunt Alice screamed. “I was going to say POOP.”

Mother chimed in, “That was better, Alice. Crude, but better.” Then she swooped in for the finish.  “Alice, Dear, you are so creative! Why, all those stories you tell, I’m sure you will have no trouble coming up with interesting things to say when you’re upset. If you want to keep coming here to be with us and the children, that is. It’s completely up to you.”

“Dag blig it,” said Aunt Alice.

So on that night, hearing that strange cry, Father rushed in the direction of the sound and we all followed. I, for one, hoped it meant a ship was visible from our kitchen window, though we lived nowhere near a body of water. That would have been a treat.

But there was Aunt Alice in the kitchen, crawling along one of the counters and opening and closing the cabinets, a fairly tricky situation. Father caught her just as she was tumbling from the counter, having been pushed off by the cabinet door she was trying to open.

“Aunt Alice, what are you doing?” Father shouted. “You could have broken your hip.” 

“Forget my bleeping hip,” Aunt Alice shouted back. “Where did you people hide my flipping glasses?”

Father pointed to the glasses dangling from the ribbon around her neck.

“Oh,” she said. “Well, it’s about frogging time.” 

Finally at the table, all proceeded well, although Mother seemed distracted. She cleared the dishes and started toward the table with our desert, at which point Aunt Alice laid her head on the table and moaned, “Oh, why won’t they let me have a beer?”

“You knowwhy, Aunt Alice,” Father said. “You’re on that new heart medication and the doctor said you can’t drink.”

“But you’re drinking,” she said, pointing to Father’s glass of wine.

“Now, look Aunt Alice,” Father began, but Mother interrupted him.

“Don’t worry, dear, I’ll get you something,” she said, patting Aunt Alice on the shoulder,  and winking at Father. She signaled to me to follow her into the kitchen.

“She’s been so good, with the non-cursing,” Mother said. “I better come up with something. Do you think we could fool her with some grape juice?” 

I was honored to be included in this weighty decision and offered my solution. “Let’s add vinegar,” I said. That will make it taste like wine, I bet.”

“Hmmm,” said Mother. “Well, I don’t drink, because I think it tastes terrible, so I’m not sure . . .”

She filled a crystal goblet with grape juice and topped it off with a splash of white vinegar. She handed the glass to me. “How does it taste?” she asked.

I took a sip and immediately spit it out. “Yuck!” I said. “It tastes terrible.”

“Well then, that should do,” said Mother.

She took the glass to the dining room and handed it to Aunt Alice, who brightened up and took a sip.

“Ah,” she said. “Now that’s more like it.”

After we settled again, I noticed that Mother still seemed distracted, which I attributed to all the work she had been doing the past week. But suddenly, after desert, she threw her hands to her face and cried out, “Oh, no! I forgot to spray a pineapple!”

Father sat back, threw his napkin on the table, and burst into hearty guffaws. “Oh, Mary,” he said, “now that’s a good one. A pineapple! Heh, heh, heh, like that silly thing we saw last week?” He shook his head. “Mary, I have to say, every once and a while you come out with a good one.” He wiped his eyes and grinned in Mother’s direction, then stopped cold when he saw her face. “You were kidding, Mary, right? Kidding about that funny pineapple thing? Mary? Sweetheart?”

But Mother rushed from the room and we could hear the sounds of things being thrown around in our pantry closet—pots clanging, wrappers rustling, cans and boxes colliding. Before long, Mother emerged, a look of relief on her face, displaying the elusive fruit—one glorious pineapple. We all applauded, and Father sprang from his chair to escort her back into the room. But Mother glared at him. “I have things to do,” she said.

Father looked like he wanted to go after her, but Aunt Alice tugged on his sleeve. “Can I have more of this wine?” she asked. “It’s delicious.”

I washed and dried the dishes, and soon it was time for my brothers and me to go to bed. I heard Father call to Mother once, asking if he could help, but she shouted back, “You just leave me a-lone.” I imagine after that he kept what is known as a low profile.

On Christmas morning everyone jumped out of bed, eyes shining, faces bright with smiles, even Mother. 

And what a beautiful sight lay before us. The Christmas tree glimmered in the darkened living room, surrounded by gaily wrapped gifts. And visible through the archway was the dining room table, draped with a golden cloth and graced with an arrangement of fragrant pine boughs and glittering gold Christmas ornaments. Nestled in the greenery sat the singular, spectacular, gilded pineapple.

“Oh, Mary,” said Father. His face flushed and his eyes looked a little watery. “It looks beautiful.”

“Well, I’ll be a son of a—,” began Aunt Alice, but Mother grabbed her elbow.

“Don’t even think it,” she whispered. Then she smiled her lovely smile and said, “Let’s all just wish each other” and we all chimed in—

“Merry Christmas!”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Maura Beth Brennan’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 4 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @LinneaTanner @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW



The King’s Champion
by Linnea Tanner


At dawn tomorrow, I compete with every reputed warrior in our kingdom to become the King’s Champion. Defeating my opponents is almost an impossible feat for any man, much less a woman. Even so, I will triumph and win my father’s respect.
As the king’s eldest daughter, I vow to protect him and everyone in his kingdom. I stand ready to defend my father in mortal combat against any challenger vying for his crown. A true champion emblazons courage, loyalty, and sacred love for her king and family. But first, I must tell you my tale that seeded my desire to combat every warrior in the kingdom and stand by my father as his champion.
 When I was barely five winters old, my mother and I gathered with villagers to greet my father, astride his coal-black stallion. Returning from war, he was like a god towering over his worshippers as he rode through their midst. They welcomed him with chants and cheers. Snowflakes danced around him, also celebrating his return.
Shivering, I covered my mouth with both hands, suddenly ashamed about my appearance. Boys had earlier taunted me, “You have a donkey’s jaw and bray like one, too.”
 My nursemaid, a woman with ample bosoms spilling out of her low-cut dress, shooed the boys away and told me, “Don’t listen to them. You have an overbite, that is all. They’re jealous of you. You can beat anyone of those whelps.”
Her words didn’t make me feel better, though, as I studied the reflection of my face on a polished metal mirror. My upper jaw hung over my bottom lip. My upper front teeth protruded outward, making it hard for me to eat and speak clearly. Hence, I remained quiet most of the time.
When my father approached us on his horse, I drew out of my muse and swallowed hard with anticipation of speaking to him.
“What do I say to him?” I muttered to my mother.
“Only speak when he tells you to do so,” my mother instructed.
Fiddling with my plaid cloak, I recalled waving good-bye to my father in a season of blooming wildflowers before he left for war. My mother told me then, “He sails across the narrow sea to fight for a foreign army. By winter, he’ll return home.” 
During the summer and fall seasons, I never gave my mother’s words consideration about my father’s return. He was out of sight and ceased to exist in my mind.
My little sister’s soft touch on my hand grabbed my attention. She looked at me with pathetic-looking eyes. The day before, she had fallen into the hearth and caught on fire. The queen’s guard—my only true adult friend—pulled her out of the flames.
After my father dismounted onto the soggy ground, he no longer appeared a giant. He didn’t look like other men in the village with a clean-shaven face and cropped wheat-golden hair. He also didn’t resemble me one bit. My hair was dark like my mother, and my acorn-brown eyes were the same color as the warrior who saved my sister.
Father embraced my mother, then pulled away and stared at her bulging belly. “Gods above, how did you get so big?”
Mother’s burning scowl made my father whither like a green sprout under a hot sun. At that moment, I didn’t like my father for his cruel comment. He must have seen the displeasure on my face because he apologized, “Forgive me, my love. Battle hardens a man’s words.”
Wiping a tear from her eye, my mother turned to me and said, “Vala, greet your father.”
I felt like a fish gulping for air as my father bent over and squeezed my chin with his fingers. “Hmm, you look as strong as an ox,” he said amiably, but the disappointment on his face shouted, You’re as ugly as a donkey!
Conflicting emotions grappled with me. I only wanted Mother in my life, not Father. I  burst into tears—a sign of weakness.
Father gave my mother a contorted, baffled look. “What did I do to make her cry?”
Mother’s eyebrows arched in a warning for me to stop my bawling. I bit my lower lip and fought back sobs.
He shifted his ice-cold blue eyes to my little sister. “What happened to Morgana? She looks like she was in a dogfight and got the worse of it.”
My sister’s wails spurred mine. Neither of us could stop crying despite my mother’s glower. The nursemaid’s hefty bosoms smacked against my face as she grabbed my hand and reached for my sister’s arm. She dragged us both away from the people’s peals of laughter to the silence of the Great Hall. Halting near the central hearth, where my sister had fallen, she thumped my forehead with her fingertips. “Shame on you. Why did you make such a fuss in front of the king? I learned you better than that!”
I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, “I didn’t do anything wrong,” but snapped my mouth shut when I saw her eyebrows rise like a storm. She would answer my protest with a swat on my rear end.
The nursemaid marched us through the high-vaulted, feasting hall into the adjoining living quarters where she corralled us like cattle in our bedchamber. “You get nothing to eat,” she bellowed and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
My sister covered her face with both hands and wept. Sitting on our straw-mattress bed we shared, I cuddled her like a baby in my arms to calm her.
“Shh … shush. No cry.”
She nestled her head against my shoulder and whimpered, “Vala, my Vala,” like a mantra until we both fell asleep in each other’s arms.
*****
Later, the bang of a closing door awoke me. I wiped the drowsiness from my eyes and found Mother sitting on our bed.
“Why did you cry when your father greeted you?” she asked.
“He … he’s so mean!”
Mother frowned. “He never said an unkind word to you.”
“He thinks I’m ugly!” I declared.
“That is how you see yourself,” she said, stroking the top of my head. “Your father only sees goodness in your heart.”
I looked down at my chest in bewilderment. “Father sees my heart? Can he also see the babies in your tummy?”
Mother sighed. “No. He knows”—she touched her belly—“they are in here. That is why he has returned. To make sure I’m safe. It’s hard bringing two babies into the world.”
“When will they come?” I asked, recalling how bloody a calf looks after being squirted out of its mother’s rear end.
“Too soon, I fear.”
I could see the angst in my mother’s eyes as her gaze drifted to the closed door.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“You must always obey and love your father,” her voice cracked. “I may not always be with you.”
My stomach dropped into what felt like a tidal wave. “Where are you going?”
“I want to stay here with you, my dear. But we don’t always get our wish.” She sighed as if trying to lift the worries of the world off her chest. “Your father is outside. He wants to give you something.”
“A gift,” I squealed with excitement.
Mother turned her gaze to the door and called out, “My king, you can come in now.”
When my father poked his head through, his face burst into a big grin. “Good aft, my precious daughters. Look what I’ve brought you from my travels.” He bound into the room like a frolicking fox and held out two carved, alabaster horse heads in the palm of his hand. He offered each one of them to my sister and me. 
I took the horse head and fingered the attached leather strap. “An amulet?”
“Yes. Let me tie it around your neck,” my father suggested with a smile. “The horse is our family’s sigil—an animal guide that protects you.”
After he placed the amulet around my neck, I beamed with pride and clasped the carved horse head against my heart.
My father’s leathery face softened. “Vala, you must promise to watch over your little sister and the babies in Mummy’s belly once they are born. Can you do that for me? Will you protect them with your life and be the King’s Champion?”
A sense of pride swelled inside me with the honor he had bestowed upon me. “I am the King’s Champion.”
“Truly, you are,” he said, embracing me.
“I promise to protect my sisters,” I vowed, hoping the babies were girls.
And from that moment on, I aspired to be my father’s champion, embracing the strength to protect the weak and the oppressed.  

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Linnea Tanner’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 2 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @JanSikes3@RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

WALK TO YOUR OWN BEAT

JAN SIKES

2020 has been a year.

And that is a gross understatement. No one could have predicted the diverse levels of craziness we’d experience as the year unfolded.

Not only are we dealing with a worldwide pandemic that has us wearing masks and hiding in our homes, but here in the United States, we’ve witnessed hatred and divisiveness to a degree I could never have imagined. While we watched and perhaps joined people taking to the streets to protest injustices, we also saw organized groups invade our beautiful cities and set them ablaze. Everyone is in a hypersensitive mode. History is being erased with the dismantling and destruction of national monuments, while sports teams are changing their names because someone is offended. 

The culmination of it all has left us reeling.

I do not watch the news, and that is a personal choice. I can name lots of reasons why I stopped, but the main one is, I do not believe even half of what they report. The media uses its power to incite and ignite more hatred and division amongst us.

Folks take to social media to try and coerce others to bend to their ideals and beliefs. And they do it in the most aggressive ways imaginable. It seems no one wants to allow their fellow man to have his or her own opinions. People are not willing to tolerate differences. Families are split by these differences, leaving children confused. We are allowing those in power to turn us into a society focused on isolation and fear.

So, what can we do?

I heard a song the other day that says it better than I ever could. The music artist is Brent Cobb, and he gave me permission to quote some of his lyrics.

He sings about how people want to tell each other how to live and how to die. You don’t get too low, don’t get too high, which is precisely what the pharmaceutical companies exhort.

The best thing you can do is don’t listen too close. Walk on to your own beat. Keep ‘em on their toes.

What does that even mean? To me, it means staying true to your authentic self. Don’t be a part of the herd that follows blindly. Make decisions for your life based on your truth, not someone else’s. Go where your heart tells you to go. I genuinely believe your heart will never lead you wrong.

Then, rather than to try and convince others to follow your truth, tuck it deep inside where you can nurture it and make it grow. You will never persuade another person to change their way of thinking because of the words you speak, but you can lead by example. And you can keep them on their toes. Keep them guessing about you. In other words, don’t be so utterly transparent.

Maybe this says it better. Keep ‘em on their toes, your business outta sight. Make ‘em look left, if you’re gonna hang a right. If the pot’s hot, don’t let ‘em see your hand. Make ‘em gotta know what they wouldn’t understand. The best thing you can do when the ignorance shows, is walk on to your own beat, keep ‘em on their toes.

I love that! We live in an electronic age where privacy is a thing of the past. The only way to have real privacy is to be completely disconnected, including no cellphone.

I have had many experiences that prove to me we are always under observation. It’s easy to understand how an ad will randomly pop up after browsing for an Amazon item. But I have had things pop up about something relating to a simple conversation with a friend. Big Brother is listening. No, I’m not paranoid. Just honest and see reality.

I do not know where we are headed as a society. The rose-colored glasses part of me wants to believe this hatred, division, hypersensitivity, and deadly pandemic we are experiencing will all come to an end, and we will go back to living our lives peacefully. But reality tells me we will never go back to the way we were before all of this chaos hit.

We are forever changed by it all.

So, the big question remains, “Where do we go from here?”

I can only answer that question from my point of view, from my truth. I will continue to be kind. I will continue to share and celebrate others’ accomplishments. And I will continue to love my family and do my best to impart any hard-earned wisdom to my grandchildren.

I can’t visualize what this world will be like ten years from now. I can’t even picture it a year from now. So, I must live for today in the best and most honest way I know.

I will walk on to my own beat―do my best to keep ‘em on their toes, and my business out of sight. That does not mean I can stop caring or go numb. In fact, just the opposite. I will celebrate every positive moment life brings, and I hope you will join me. Together we are stronger. Together we can make a difference.

Together, we can keep ‘em on their toes!

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Jan Sike‘s RWISA Author Profile

LAST DAY OF THE #RRBC AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT BLOG TOUR

Thank you, Bernard Foong, for sharing my blog tour today.

RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S “SPOTLIGHT” Author Blog Tour! “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Susanne Leist! @SusanneLeist #RRBC #RRBCSA

The Dead at Heart by Susanne Leist

MY NEXT BOOK

My fourth book is underway. A seaside town in Maine provides the backdrop for murder, mystery, and romance. Love falters and flourishes as the residents fight the persistent evil plaguing their small-town lives.

Elizabeth and Scarlett travel to Maine, leaving life in New York City behind. Their desire to run a bed-and-breakfast brings them to Blue Harbor. Little do they know, but the paranormal waits to fill their plates with the unsavory, metallic smell of blood. As bodies drop, they must choose between remaining or fleeing the horrific screams shattering the quiet community.

As they make their decision, Elizabeth and Scarlett rent an apartment near the harbor. Their landlord, Lauren, a flashy redhead, knows more than she reveals. When Lauren escorts them to the local ice cream shop, the illusion of candy land is disrupted by a man who charges through the door and dies in a pool of blood.

The two men, who Lauren had introduced to them, play a vital role in the town’s underbelly of secrets. Are David and Jordan what they appear, or are master-manipulators? Join Elizabeth and Scarlett as they are thrust into a chain of events where there’s no escape.

Susanne Leist

AUTHOR BIO:

I have always loved to read. Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and other authors filled my young imagination with intrigue and mystery. When I wasn’t reading late into the night, the TV shows such as Murder She Wrote and Columbo, entertained me with murder and suspense tales.

Over the years, my taste in TV expanded to include such shows as Supernatural and The Originals. I searched for paranormal, murder mysteries, but found few at the library or bookstore. So, I wrote one.

The Dead Game, Book One of The Dead Game series, brings fantasy and surrealism to the classic murder mystery with dead bodies, suspects, and clues. It offers vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to spice the motley mix.

The story continues in Book Two, Prey for The Dead, as The Dead vampires use an exclusive club in Disney World to infiltrate the rich and famous. As The Dead grows in power, not even the bright sunshine of Florida can weaken them. Linda and her friends join forces with human vampires–known as hybrids–to defeat the evil threatening to control Oasis. A masquerade ball and a romp through the tunnels beneath the town lead to a showdown in southern Florida’s swamps.

The Dead At Heart is Shana’s love story. Will her love for William strengthen, or will Sam lead her on a different path? At Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Shana and her fearless friends fight for Oasis and their lives.

A career in writing has been a giant leap for me. Accustomed to the number-crunching field of budgeting and the hectic commodity markets, I left my first career and M.B.A. in Finance behind to pursue my dream. I do not regret my foray into literature for one moment. Fellow authors helped me make my way through the competitive field. I write every day and even tried my hand at poetry. If someone tells you it’s too late in life to try something different, they are wrong. It is never too late to follow your heart.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter handle:  @SusanneLeist

Facebook URL:  https://www.facebook.com/susanne.leist.98

Website address:  https://www.susanneleist.com/

The Dead at Heart by Susanne Leist

THE DEAD AT HEART 

William’s bite bonded Shana to him, but he didn’t ask her to mate with him for life. She isn’t ready for a lifetime commitment. Now, William excludes her from his vampire meetings. Shana understands he’s an original vampire with immense powers. For them to be a couple, he has to treat as an equal partner. If William doesn’t respect her, then what are their chances of finding happiness?

Shana speaks to Linda, her best friend, of her fears.

“Paradise is an illusion.” Shana’s face grows heated as her frustration mounts. “Oasis is a haven for vampires. I’m tired of their battles. The Watchers get rid of an evil group of vamps, and another group arrives and attacks. It’s a vicious cycle. Vampires are trouble.”

“We will have a happy ending.” Linda lifts her head. “Don’t lose faith. The Watchers will protect us, and Gregg has an elite force of original vampires.” She touches Shana’s arm. “William loves you; he won’t let something happen to you.”

“The vampires keep secrets from us.” Shana swallows the lump in her throat. “I don’t want to live with vamps anymore, and I need time to decide on my relationship with William. One minute, I’m suffocating, and then the next, I’m lost without him.”

As a new enemy descends on Oasis, Florida, Shana turns to Sheriff Sam, who broke her heart. Can she trust the human-vampire?

This begins Shana’s journey to fight vampires and werewolves with Sam at her side.

An explosion at Chateau Frontenac in Quebec doesn’t stop Shana and her friends from saving their town, and maybe even the world.

The Dead at Heart by Susanne Leist

Thank you for supporting RRBC’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author!  If you’d like to follow along with each stop of this tour, please check out our “SPOTLIGHT” Author forum on the RRBC site.

DAY 6 #RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR BLOG TOUR

#RRBC September Spotlight Author – Susanne Leist @SusanneLeist #RRBC #RRBCSA

Thank you, Jan Sikes, for hosting my blog tour today!

It is my great pleasure to welcome the #RRBC Spotlight Author for September to my blog! Susanne Leist is the author of The Dead Game Series, and today we’re featuring her third and newest book, “The Dead At Heart!”

Over to you, Susanne!

Thank you for having me at your blog stop today, Jan.

I want to share a poem that I composed as I watched the rain through my bedroom window.

WASH AWAY MY SORROW

Please wash away my sorrow and pain.

Let it flow down the streets with the rain.

Dissolved in torrents of despair and sadness,

Joining others on its way past the madness.

The ocean may take it far away

To places, we cannot even say.

Where no one recognizes its sting

Or knows the infliction it can bring.

Let the rain grow harder with its might,

Becoming hail on this fateful night.

I want to be free of all traces

Of unwanted feelings and faces.

My body grows cold from the rain.

It stands clean and free from the pain.

Shivers create a path along my spine

As I wait in the darkened woods of pine.

I hold my head high to the wet spray.

It becomes a mist of blue and grey.

The faucet has turned off for the night,

Leaving me feeling clean and so right.

Author Bio:

I have always loved to read. Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and other authors filled my young imagination with intrigue and mystery. When I wasn’t reading late into the night, the TV shows such as Murder She Wrote and Columbo, entertained me with murder and suspense tales.

Over the years, my taste in TV expanded to include such shows as Supernatural and The Originals. I searched for paranormal, murder mysteries, but found few at the library or bookstore. So, I wrote one.

The Dead Game, Book One of The Dead Game series, brings fantasy and surrealism to the classic murder mystery with dead bodies, suspects, and clues. It offers vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to spice the motley mix.

The story continues in Book Two, Prey for The Dead, as The Dead vampires use an exclusive club in Disney World to infiltrate the rich and famous. As The Dead grow in power, not even the bright sunshine of Florida can weaken them. Linda and her friends join forces with human vampires–known as hybrids–to defeat the evil threatening to control Oasis. A masquerade ball and a romp through the tunnels beneath the town lead to a showdown in southern Florida’s swamps.

The Dead At Heart is Shana’s love story. Will her love for William strengthen, or will Sam lead her on a different path? At Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Shana and her fearless friends fight for Oasis and their lives.

A career in writing has been a giant leap for me. Accustomed to the number-crunching field of budgeting and the hectic commodity markets, I left my first career and M.B.A. in Finance behind to pursue my dream. I do not regret my foray into literature for one moment. Fellow authors helped me make my way through the competitive field. I write every day and even tried my hand at poetry. If someone tells you it’s too late in life to try something different, they are wrong. It is never too late to follow your heart.

William’s bite bonded Shana to him, but he didn’t ask her to mate with him for life. She isn’t ready for a lifetime commitment. Now, William excludes her from his vampire meetings. Shana understands he’s an original vampire with immense powers. For them to be a couple, he has to treat as an equal partner. If William doesn’t respect her, then what are their chances of finding happiness?

Shana speaks to Linda, her best friend, of her fears.

“Paradise is an illusion.” Shana’s face grows heated as her frustration mounts. “Oasis is a haven for vampires. I’m tired of their battles. The Watchers get rid of an evil group of vamps, and another group arrives and attacks. It’s a vicious cycle. Vampires are trouble.”

“We will have a happy ending.” Linda lifts her head. “Don’t lose faith. The Watchers will protect us, and Gregg has an elite force of original vampires.” She touches Shana’s arm. “William loves you; he won’t let something happen to you.”

“The vampires keep secrets from us.” Shana swallows the lump in her throat. “I don’t want to live with vamps anymore, and I need time to decide on my relationship with William. One minute, I’m suffocating, and then the next, I’m lost without him.”

As a new enemy descends on Oasis, Florida, Shana turns to Sheriff Sam, who broke her heart. Can she trust the human-vampire?

This begins Shana’s journey to fight vampires and werewolves with Sam at her side.

An explosion at Chateau Frontenac in Quebec doesn’t stop Shana and her friends from saving their town, and maybe even the world.

AMAZON PURCHASE LINK!

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter handle:  @SusanneLeist

Facebook URL:  https://www.facebook.com/susanne.leist.98

Website address:  https://www.susanneleist.com/

Thank you for supporting RRBC’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author!  If you’d like to follow along with each stop of this tour, please check out our “SPOTLIGHT” Author forum on the RRBC site.

DAY 5 #RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR BLOG TOUR

Thank you, Charles W Jones, for hosting my blog tour today.

Today, I welcome Susanne Leist, the RRBC Spotlight Author for September 2020.

HE HAS COME FOR ME – WRITTEN FOR PREY FOR THE DEAD

(Note about the poem from Susanne Leist.) Poetry began as a way to promote my books. Now, it is one of my passions. This poem describes Wolf’s love for Linda, a vampire who loves a human.

HE HAS COME FOR ME

He has come for me.
I’ll never be free.
He comes at night,
Fear at first sight.

He claims his love,
But he’s no dove.
He’s evil as can be,
Always searching for me.

I must hide until morning,
Or the town will be mourning.
The devil hides his face.
I know his deadly pace.

His footsteps ring hollow.
Steps quicken to follow.
He sings a sweet song.
I know I’m not wrong.

The devil is right behind me,
Even though his face, I can’t see.
He has me in his grasp.
I cry out with a gasp.

He kisses me with passion.
I know this is his fashion
To take what is not his
And make me into his.

THE DEAD AT HEART

William’s bite bonded Shana to him, but he didn’t ask her to mate with him for life. She isn’t ready for a lifetime commitment. Now, William excludes her from his vampire meetings. Shana understands he’s an original vampire with immense powers. For them to be a couple, he has to treat as an equal partner. If William doesn’t respect her, then what are their chances of finding happiness?

Shana speaks to Linda, her best friend, of her fears.

“Paradise is an illusion.” Shana’s face grows heated as her frustration mounts. “Oasis is a haven for vampires. I’m tired of their battles. The Watchers get rid of an evil group of vamps, and another group arrives and attacks. It’s a vicious cycle. Vampires are trouble.”

“We will have a happy ending.” Linda lifts her head. “Don’t lose faith. The Watchers will protect us, and Gregg has an elite force of original vampires.” She touches Shana’s arm. “William loves you; he won’t let something happen to you.”

“The vampires keep secrets from us.” Shana swallows the lump in her throat. “I don’t want to live with vamps anymore, and I need time to decide on my relationship with William. One minute, I’m suffocating, and then the next, I’m lost without him.”

As a new enemy descends on Oasis, Florida, Shana turns to Sheriff Sam, who broke her heart. Can she trust the human-vampire?

This begins Shana’s journey to fight vampires and werewolves with Sam at her side.

An explosion at Chateau Frontenac in Quebec doesn’t stop Shana and her friends from saving their town, and maybe even the world.

ABOUT SUSANNE LEIST
Susanne Leist

I have always loved to read. Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and other authors filled my young imagination with intrigue and mystery. When I wasn’t reading late into the night, the TV shows such as Murder She Wrote and Columbo, entertained me with murder and suspense tales.

Over the years, my taste in TV expanded to include such shows as Supernatural and The Originals. I searched for paranormal, murder mysteries, but found few at the library or bookstore. So, I wrote one.

The Dead Game, Book One of The Dead Game series, brings fantasy and surrealism to the classic murder mystery with dead bodies, suspects, and clues. It offers vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to spice the motley mix.

The story continues in Book Two, Prey for The Dead, as The Dead vampires use an exclusive club in Disney World to infiltrate the rich and famous. As The Dead grow in power, not even the bright sunshine of Florida can weaken them. Linda and her friends join forces with human vampires–known as hybrids–to defeat the evil threatening to control Oasis. A masquerade ball and a romp through the tunnels beneath the town lead to a showdown in southern Florida’s swamps.

The Dead At Heart is Shana’s love story. Will her love for William strengthen, or will Sam lead her on a different path? At Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Shana and her fearless friends fight for Oasis and their lives.

A career in writing has been a giant leap for me. Accustomed to the number-crunching field of budgeting and the hectic commodity markets, I left my first career and M.B.A. in Finance behind to pursue my dream. I do not regret my foray into literature for one moment. Fellow authors helped me make my way through the competitive field. I write every day and even tried my hand at poetry. If someone tells you it’s too late in life to try something different, they are wrong. It is never too late to follow your heart.

Twitter
facebook
link

Thank you for supporting RRBC’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author!  If you’d like to follow along with each stop of this tour, please check out our “SPOTLIGHT” Author forum on the RRBC site.

Welcome to Day 2 of the “EMPTY SEATS” Blog Tour! @EmptySeatsNovel @4WillsPub #RRBC #Baseball

 

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GIVEAWAYS:   During this tour, the author is giving away (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card, (2) $5 Amazon Gift Cards, (2) e-book copies of EMPTY SEATS & (1) copy of the author’s acclaimed “SINGING ALONG WITH THE RADIO” CD which features many prominent folk music singers (a $15 value)! For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below as well as leaving a comment on the author’s 4WillsPub tour page.  GOOD LUCK!

Empty Seats by Wanda Adams Fischer

 

Day Two (Empty Seats)

 

In 1965, I wanted to become a sportswriter. In those days, however, opportunities for women in that arena were almost non-existent. I was determined, even though my own mother told me I might as well be aiming to become the first female president or even the first female Pope. 

My friends and I went to many games at Fenway Park that summer. Sometimes, when my friends weren’t available to go with me, I’d go by myself. The Red Sox’s own broadcaster at the time, Curt Gowdy, showed me how to keep score “the way we do in the booth” one day, when he was walking through the stands.

I always kept copious notes and used the “Gowdy method” to score every game. I wrote letters to the editor of The Boston Globe and Record American, as well as my hometown newspaper, The Quincy Patriot-Ledger. My goal was to one day have a by-line on the sports pages of The Patriot-Ledger. It was, after all, the newspaper whose sports pages I read every day. 

In 1965, I even had the opportunity to watch the legendary Satchel Paige warm up in the bullpen at Fenway Park. He’d been brought there by Charlie Finley, the owner of the then-Kansas City Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics) as a publicity stunt. Satch was probably in his sixties; no one really knew how old he was. I saw him throwing, easy and slow, and walked up to the chain link fence that separated the people in the bleachers from the pitchers in the Athletics bullpen. 

Since there were very few people at that game, the security guard didn’t bother me. Usually, they’ll tell you to get back to your seat and stop bothering them.

“Mr. Paige?” I asked.

“Yes, ma’am.” (I was 15 years old and not used to being called “ma’am.”)

“Do you mind if I watch you for a while.”

“No, ma’am, that would be fine.”

I stood and watch him for about 20 minutes. He never got into that game, but he did pitch to a couple of batters the next day and even struck out Carl Yazstremzki, who would one day become a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown—as did Satch himself. 

My scorecard from that game is one of the few that I never completed; it stands blank after the sixth inning, which is when I began watching him warm up. I still have it, in a place of honor—the antique hutch my grandmother left me, where I keep my baseball memorabilia.

Sportswriter—Yes or No?

After a game between the then-California Angels and the Red Sox, I was walking over the bridge that spanned the Mass Pike and led to the train station at Kenmore Square. I recognized one of the players from the California Angels, Rick Reichardt. I introduced myself, and we talked about the game as he made his way to the Kenmore Hotel, where opposing teams always stayed.  I casually mentioned to him that I was beginning to look at colleges with the aim of pursuing a career in sports writing.

He stopped walking.

“You seem like such a nice girl,” he said, “but I want to give you a sense of reality about professional sports. The guys don’t want women in the locker room or the clubhouse. They don’t want to answer questions from women, either. It’s just the truth.”

He must have seen the look on my face, because he tried to soften his statement. “I just don’t want you to get your hopes up too high,” he said. “If you decide to go forward with this, you’ll have to develop a much thicker skin.”

I thanked him for his advice, as he went one way toward his hotel and I descended the steps toward the train station. During the long train-and-bus rides home, I thought about what he’d said, then did what we did back then: I wrote him a letter, again expressing my appreciation for his thoughtfulness. He sent me a note back, saying that he hoped he wasn’t too blunt, but he wanted me to know the truth.

The 1960s brought turbulent times, with the Vietnam War and Civil Rights, and I became involved in both of those intense social movements. I never did pursue sports writing, even though my passion for sports remains to this day. 

I went on to a nearly 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, with a couple of side trips in general radio broadcasting. I retired from my last job in that field in 2014, when I worked for New York State’s Office of Medicaid Inspector General.

Fifty-two years after the encounter with Rick Reichardt, I decided to act on my desire to write about sports by writing a novel about minor-league baseball. The result is Empty Seats, which focuses on the career paths and expectations of three very different young men as they seek that golden ring of baseball—making it into Major League Baseball, “The Show,” the big time. 

As for Mr. Reichardt—I tracked him down on Facebook to let him know that his lengthy association with baseball didn’t only have an impact on young men, it also had great influence on a young woman who’s now in her eighth decade of life, who never forgot a chance encounter on the bridge that still goes over the Mass Pike near Fenway Park. 

He seemed pleased. Every now and then, he sends me a picture on FB, such as one where he was in Little League and another of him and his family at a Major League Baseball game. I’m glad we’re friends now. 

Book Blurb

What Little Leaguer doesn’t dream of walking from the dugout onto a Major League baseball field, facing his long-time idol and striking his out? Empty Seats follows three different minor-league baseball pitchers as they follow their dreams to climb the ladder from minor- to major-league ball, while facing challenges along the way—not always on the baseball diamond. This coming-of-age novel takes on success and failure in unexpected ways. One reviewer calls this book “a tragic version of ‘The Sandlot.’”

(Winner of the 2019 New Apple Award and 2019 Independent Publishing Award)

 

Author Bio

Following a successful 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, Wanda Adams Fischer parlayed her love for baseball into her first novel, Empty Seats. She began writing poetry and short stories when she was in the second grade in her hometown of Weymouth, Massachusetts and has continued to write for more than six decades. In addition to her “day” job, she has been a folk music DJ on public radio for more than 40 years, including more than 37 at WAMC-FM, the Albany, New York-based National Public Radio affiliate. In 2019, Folk Alliance International inducted her into their Folk D-J Hall of Fame. A singer/songwriter in her own right, she’s produced one CD, “Singing Along with the Radio.” She’s also a competitive tennis player and has captained several United States Tennis Association senior teams that have secured berths at sectional and national events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Northeastern University in Boston. She lives in Schenectady, NY, with her husband of 47 years, Bill, a retired family physician, whom she met at a coffeehouse in Boston in 1966; they have two grown children and six grandchildren. 

 

Social Media Links

 

@emptyseatsnovel

 

https://www.facebook.com/EmptySeatsNovel/

 

https://www.wandafischer.com 

 

Amazon and Other Purchase Links

 

Book: http://amzn.to/2KzWPQf 

Audio book: http://bit.ly/2TKo3UC

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/empty-seats-wanda-adams-fischer/1127282887?ean=9780999504901 

 

http://wandafischer.com/buy-my-book/ 

 

Wanda Adams Fischer (2)

In 1965, I wanted to become a sportswriter. In those days, however, opportunities for women in that arena were almost non-existent. I was determined, even though my own mother told me I might as well be aiming to become the first female president or even the first female Pope. 

My friends and I went to many games at Fenway Park that summer. Sometimes, when my friends weren’t available to go with me, I’d go by myself. The Red Sox’s own broadcaster at the time, Curt Gowdy, showed me how to keep score “the way we do in the booth” one day, when he was walking through the stands.

I always kept copious notes and used the “Gowdy method” to score every game. I wrote letters to the editor of The Boston Globe and Record American, as well as my hometown newspaper, The Quincy Patriot-Ledger. My goal was to one day have a by-line on the sports pages of The Patriot-Ledger. It was, after all, the newspaper whose sports pages I read every day. 

In 1965, I even had the opportunity to watch the legendary Satchel Paige warm up in the bullpen at Fenway Park. He’d been brought there by Charlie Finley, the owner of the then-Kansas City Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics) as a publicity stunt. Satch was probably in his sixties; no one really knew how old he was. I saw him throwing, easy and slow, and walked up to the chain link fence that separated the people in the bleachers from the pitchers in the Athletics bullpen. 

Since there were very few people at that game, the security guard didn’t bother me. Usually, they’ll tell you to get back to your seat and stop bothering them.

“Mr. Paige?” I asked.

“Yes, ma’am.” (I was 15 years old and not used to being called “ma’am.”)

“Do you mind if I watch you for a while.”

“No, ma’am, that would be fine.”

I stood and watch him for about 20 minutes. He never got into that game, but he did pitch to a couple of batters the next day and even struck out Carl Yazstremzki, who would one day become a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown—as did Satch himself. 

My scorecard from that game is one of the few that I never completed; it stands blank after the sixth inning, which is when I began watching him warm up. I still have it, in a place of honor—the antique hutch my grandmother left me, where I keep my baseball memorabilia.

Sportswriter—Yes or No?

After a game between the then-California Angels and the Red Sox, I was walking over the bridge that spanned the Mass Pike and led to the train station at Kenmore Square. I recognized one of the players from the California Angels, Rick Reichardt. I introduced myself, and we talked about the game as he made his way to the Kenmore Hotel, where opposing teams always stayed.  I casually mentioned to him that I was beginning to look at colleges with the aim of pursuing a career in sports writing.

He stopped walking.

“You seem like such a nice girl,” he said, “but I want to give you a sense of reality about professional sports. The guys don’t want women in the locker room or the clubhouse. They don’t want to answer questions from women, either. It’s just the truth.”

He must have seen the look on my face, because he tried to soften his statement. “I just don’t want you to get your hopes up too high,” he said. “If you decide to go forward with this, you’ll have to develop a much thicker skin.”

I thanked him for his advice, as he went one way toward his hotel and I descended the steps toward the train station. During the long train-and-bus rides home, I thought about what he’d said, then did what we did back then: I wrote him a letter, again expressing my appreciation for his thoughtfulness. He sent me a note back, saying that he hoped he wasn’t too blunt, but he wanted me to know the truth.

The 1960s brought turbulent times, with the Vietnam War and Civil Rights, and I became involved in both of those intense social movements. I never did pursue sports writing, even though my passion for sports remains to this day. 

I went on to a nearly 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, with a couple of side trips in general radio broadcasting. I retired from my last job in that field in 2014, when I worked for New York State’s Office of Medicaid Inspector General.

Fifty-two years after the encounter with Rick Reichardt, I decided to act on my desire to write about sports by writing a novel about minor-league baseball. The result is Empty Seats, which focuses on the career paths and expectations of three very different young men as they seek that golden ring of baseball—making it into Major League Baseball, “The Show,” the big time. 

As for Mr. Reichardt—I tracked him down on Facebook to let him know that his lengthy association with baseball didn’t only have an impact on young men, it also had great influence on a young woman who’s now in her eighth decade of life, who never forgot a chance encounter on the bridge that still goes over the Mass Pike near Fenway Park. 

He seemed pleased. Every now and then, he sends me a picture on FB, such as one where he was in Little League and another of him and his family at a Major League Baseball game. I’m glad we’re friends now. 

Book Blurb

What Little Leaguer doesn’t dream of walking from the dugout onto a Major League baseball field, facing his long-time idol and striking his out? Empty Seats follows three different minor-league baseball pitchers as they follow their dreams to climb the ladder from minor- to major-league ball, while facing challenges along the way—not always on the baseball diamond. This coming-of-age novel takes on success and failure in unexpected ways. One reviewer calls this book “a tragic version of ‘The Sandlot.’”

(Winner of the 2019 New Apple Award and 2019 Independent Publishing Award)

 

Author Bio

Following a successful 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, Wanda Adams Fischer parlayed her love for baseball into her first novel, Empty Seats. She began writing poetry and short stories when she was in the second grade in her hometown of Weymouth, Massachusetts and has continued to write for more than six decades. In addition to her “day” job, she has been a folk music DJ on public radio for more than 40 years, including more than 37 at WAMC-FM, the Albany, New York-based National Public Radio affiliate. In 2019, Folk Alliance International inducted her into their Folk D-J Hall of Fame. A singer/songwriter in her own right, she’s produced one CD, “Singing Along with the Radio.” She’s also a competitive tennis player and has captained several United States Tennis Association senior teams that have secured berths at sectional and national events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Northeastern University in Boston. She lives in Schenectady, NY, with her husband of 47 years, Bill, a retired family physician, whom she met at a coffeehouse in Boston in 1966; they have two grown children and six grandchildren. 

 

Social Media Links

 

@emptyseatsnovel

 

https://www.facebook.com/EmptySeatsNovel/

 

https://www.wandafischer.com 

 

Amazon and Other Purchase Links

 

Book: http://amzn.to/2KzWPQf 

Audio book: http://bit.ly/2TKo3UC

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/empty-seats-wanda-adams-fischer/1127282887?ean=9780999504901 

 

http://wandafischer.com/buy-my-book/ 

 

Empty Seats Tour banner2 (1)

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