Elijah: A Very Short Story

Once upon a time, there was a young piglet whose parents had been sent to the slaughterhouse. He was all alone, and he had nothing but the desolate landscape of his thoughts to keep him company.

One day while he was walking through the enchanted forest, he happened upon a mighty panther, so long and sleek and powerful. The piglet was sure that the panther would devour him immediately. And, without doubt, that thought crossed the panther’s mind.

But then . . . a beautiful and delicate fairy drifted down from the White Tree of Magic, and she informed the panther that the piglet was in possession of the purest soul she had ever borne witness to. The panther was a hunter, a merciless killer; and yet, the fairy’s words touched his heart. He spared the piglet, slinking past it on his way to some alternate feast.

The beautiful fairy did three revolutions in the air, waving her ornate oaken wand and sprinkling the dust of her race over the piglet. In less than a moment, he had transformed into a tall and strapping man.

“You are human now,” the fairy said to him. “You shall protect this world from evil and greed. You will live many years, and you will do incredible things. Henceforth, your name shall be Elijah.”

With a flutter of her lace-like wings, she flew down to Elijah and kissed his cheek. Then she disappeared.

Elijah still lives to this day, just as strong and pure of heart as ever he was. He awaits the last battle with steady hands and a patient heart.

Red Cells

I got out of my car and started across the parking lot, making my way towards the hospital entrance. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist.

I saw a large woman walking in front of me, and I glanced at my reflection in the shiny black paint of an SUV beside me. I’d once been as large as that woman. I still wasn’t thin, but I prided myself on having lost as much weight as I had. And, though I was slightly ashamed to admit it (even if it was only to myself), I was proud that I looked better than the woman who was walking in front of me.

I went into the hospital and boarded the elevator, riding up to the third floor. I checked in with the secretary at Dr. Moreno’s office, offering my new insurance card. I smiled at the secretary. I’d always liked her.

The small waiting area was full, so I went out to wait in the corridor. After a short while, the people in the waiting area left, and I went to sit down. I turned on my Kindle to read, only to find that the battery was dead. Damn. I’d thought I’d charged it.

I shut off the Kindle and sighed, folding my hands in my lap. I’d always been good at sitting silently. I didn’t really even get bored. My mind turned in slow circles, perhaps pondering the events of recent days, or even incidents ten years passed.

A little more than twenty minutes went by in this way, and then I heard Dr. Moreno’s voice – tinged with a strong Latin accent – calling out my initials. I rose from my seat and went down the corridor, smiling at Dr. Moreno as she ushered me into her office.

“Hello,” Dr. Moreno said, crossing the room to sit down in her chair in front of her computer. “How are you?”

“I’m well, and yourself?” I replied.

“Very good, thank you. How have you been feeling overall?”

“Nothing to complain about, really,” I answered. “There’s just one thing, though. Last time I was in, we discussed discontinuing the Topiramate, but I’ve decided to stay on it.”

“Well, whatever works for you, of course,” Dr. Moreno said. “That particular drug has many benefits, including anxiety and craving reduction. It can help with lowering your alcohol intake, too, which I know is an issue for you.”

I said nothing. Dr. Moreno was aware that I was an alcoholic, but we didn’t always talk about it. She accepted state insurance, which meant that she had a ton of patients, and probably had a lot of difficulty remembering everything about them. I liked her, though. She was a good person.

“Let’s have a look at your most recent bloodwork,” she said, pulling up the file. It was the same bloodwork she’d looked at during my last two visits, but I didn’t want to be rude.

“Everything’s normal,” she said, “except your red blood cells.”

She turned the computer monitor towards me. “You see this number here? It’s a little high, which means your red cell count is a little more than it should be. If you keep drinking heavily, they’ll continue to increase – and we both know that the vessels they pass through can’t get any bigger. That’s what causes strokes and heart attacks.”

“I see,” I said politely. She’d never explained it so concisely before, and though I was mildly concerned, I wasn’t exactly terrified.

“I can help you with your drinking problem, if you’re ready to take that step,” she offered.

“I’m not,” I said simply.

“Can you explain why?” she asked. “What’s your reason for drinking? Do you have anxiety? Problems sleeping? Is it a form of self-medication?”

I smiled thinly. “I just drink,” I replied.

She nodded without comprehension. “And you’re not willing to seek treatment?”

“No,” I returned. “I’m not willing.”

She nodded again. “All right, then.”

“But thank you,” I added. “I appreciate you taking the time to ask.”

“Of course,” she said. “Now – have you had any thoughts of harming yourself or others? Any voices or visions?”

She asked this question every time. My answer was always “no.”

“All right,” she repeated. “I’ll see you in three months.”

“Thank you for your time, Dr. Moreno,” I said.

She smiled, and I got up to leave. I booked an appointment for January with the secretary, then walked out of the office.

I checked my watch. Nearly three o’clock. I had a few errands to run before I went home, and it was supposed to rain. But I had no umbrella.

Road Rage

She sat by the window with a cup of coffee, watching the rain swirl over the glass in inexplicable patterns. She couldn’t decide if she wanted to listen to music or not. She loved music, but sometimes it grated against the edges of her nerves. On quiet mornings she liked a little light classical, or maybe a film score, but sometimes she preferred the silence.

The apartment was empty. The apartment was always empty. She’d lived alone since she left home a few years ago. She didn’t even have any friends, really. The old man in the apartment next door was fond of her, and she chatted with people online, but all day, she sat alone in this room. At night, she slept alone in her bed. The thick darkness of her bedroom suffocated her. Her isolation mocked her. But she was comfortable with it.

She’d lost her temper yesterday while she was driving. She had to slow down for someone pulling into a parking lot, and a young man behind her threw up his hands in anger, shouting and swerving around her, only to pull right in front of her and veer into a restaurant lot.

Sometimes, things like that happened, and she didn’t even bat an eye. But this struck a chord. She laid on her horn and shouted obscenities the guy couldn’t even hear. She knew he heard the horn, but she also knew he didn’t care. He was probably amused that he’d irked her. People like that get a rush from irking you.

Even now, sitting in the stillness and the silence, watching the rain making its strange journey on the windowpane, she was mildly irritated. Mostly because she’d allowed herself to lose her temper. She was the type of person who had very little control over their outbursts (or lack thereof). She was aware of this, but usually it didn’t bother her. Today it did.

She took a sip of her coffee, trying to think of something to put on the stereo. With a sigh of resignation, she rose from her chair. She’d decided on the score from Fifty Shades of Grey.

OctoberFlashFic: M

My name is Emma, and I’m sitting here in my plush red chair, feeling completely alone.

I realize I’m more fortunate than many, but as I sip at my drink and tap at my keyboard, I feel like a ghost cut off from the entire human population.

There are so many memories – so many reminders of failures. But there’s also that last remaining spark, that thing that whispers in my ear, trying to let me know it’s not over yet. “Bank account doesn’t have to be fat,” it reminds me. “Keep working, it’ll be all right.”

And then there’s the fact that she’s still with me. If I were her, I would have taken off running months ago. But she’s still here. My pretty girl.

I sip at my drink, and I tap at my keyboard. The world is a vista of endless possibilities.

OctoberFlashFic: Unsure

I loved her, and she loved me.

Did she love me? I was never sure.

I was fat, and she wasn’t, but she never seemed to mind. She went down on me as if I were a supermodel. She clutched my back rolls like they were holy sacraments, burying her face between my thighs to make me believe she really loved the way I tasted.

“You don’t have to,” I told her. “You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.”

Then she smiled mischievously at me. “What the hell else would I do on a Tuesday afternoon?” she inquired.

That was why I loved her. I think she loved me, too – but I was never sure.

Guest Author: Suzanne Bowditch

Good evening, readers and writers. Welcome to the second installment of Blackwood’s Magazine’s Indie Author Spotlight for October! Today’s special guest is Suzanne Bowditch. Let’s have a chat with her!

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Let’s talk about writing!

 

 

 

  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

I have loved to write since a teenager. I entered a competition at school and came second, since then I have kept diaries, journals and scribbled notes, but was never serious about my writing. Last year however, I took a writing challenge and my passion was rekindled! Now I write most days, as a fulltime writer of historical fiction.

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

I’ve self published my second book Alice’s Secret: A Celtic Trilogy in July. It’s the follow on book for a saga I’m writing, based in Tasmania and Melbourne.

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

As a writer, I think that any feedback received is positive, especially when that reader has enjoyed your book. I encourage any feedback really, and any constructive criticism, which helps in the writing/learning process. Fortunately the feedback so far to my books has been good, which is lovely.

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

That’s a very big question! I seriously think that reading produces positive vibes, helps us to learn about the world and each other, and whilst we’re deep into a book, we’re not having cause to think negatively. Reading is good for the soul!

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

I have a few favorites, mainly modern literature. As a teenager, I loved Stephen King and had a passion for anything by Catherine Cookson. Her books on the hardships of life in northern England have inspired me. Recently I’ve enjoyed books by Elizabeth Gilbert, Hannah Kent and Margaret Atwood. I’ve just finished reading Jane Harper’s The Dry, which I’d recommend; it’s really good.

 

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Excellent answers, Suzanne! Reading definitely is good for the soul. And the Celtic Trilogy sounds like it’s off to an awesome start! Great work!

To learn more about Suzanne and her work, please check out the links provided below.

 

Find me at:

 

www.goodreads.com/suzannebowditch

www.facebook.com/suzannebowditch

www.suzannebowditch.wordpress.com

 

My books

 

Elen (A Celtic Trilogy #Book 1)

https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01911AE8Q

 

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Alice’s Secret (A Celtic Trilogy # Book 2)

Alice’s Secret

Guest Author: Candace Vianna

Good evening, readers and writers. With the new month comes a new batch of writers to Blackwood’s Spotlight, and first up is Candace Vianna!

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  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

If I could give a deep answer, full of writerly angst and beauty, I would; but truthfully, it’s one of the few jobs where I can drink coffee and sit around in boxers all day.

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

To date I have published two books.

My debut novel, “The Science of Loving,” was a romantic comedy about a shy biologist and an edgy, tattooed architect. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… an architect? Well this is how Leslie Jacobs, a supporting character who’s currently in the process of getting her own story, described him.

“You’ve got this dangerous bad boy, don’t mess with me or I’ll f*** you up edginess. If you were any edgier, we’d all be bleeding. It’s like architects are edgy-lite, while you’re  industrial-strength concentrate, eat-a-hole in my panties edgy.”

You get the idea…

Because I was genre hopping, when I recently published my novella, “Dead Dwight: a dark comedy,” I did so under the pseudonym, E.V. Iverson.

“Dead Dwight” will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s definitely not a romance. It’s a hillbilly zombie satire with a  twisted sense of humor I’m not sure everyone will appreciate (I’m a sick, sick girl.) Imagine a mashup of the television show “My Name is Earl” and the movies “Sean of the Dead” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Hey, I never claimed I was normal.

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

Truthfully, I’ve always found this question a bit nonsensical. I’m not saying this to be mean, but I’ve never understood the assumption that unrelated events somehow offset each other? How can you appreciate the joys of the moment if you’re dwelling on past disappointments?

Have I struggled at times? Certainly. Growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability wasn’t easy, but it did force me to develop skills that I could pass on to my children to make their lives easier. Would I have chosen to have a special needs child? Hell no, but I would change a hair on my boy’s head.

But here’s the thing, I believe that positive things happen to positive people. And if you’re busy focusing on the negative, you’re likely missing some good things right in front of you.

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

Get out and VOTE! Not just in the main elections, but the mid-terms as well. And do your homework, because the down-ticket is just as, if not more, important than the main ticket. When they say politics is local, it’s not just about stump speeches. What are the views of the people setting local policy? Is that guy wanting to be a district court judge going to be unbiased? Is he even qualified? These are the things that will have a direct impact on your daily lives.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

I don’t have one favorite author; I have many; and for many different reasons. There’s poetry in Thomas Paine’s call to action in “The Crisis;” awful beauty in the horror of Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury’s “Rocket Summer” is nothing short of brilliant. While I prefer the immediacy in modern writing, I do think it can become too simplistic when we’re not careful, dumbing down the vocabulary at the expense of more evocative passages.

Very nice! Personally, I know I’m super-interested in something termed a hillbilly zombie satire. How could that not be entertaining?

Hope you guys enjoyed today’s interview. To contact Candace Vianna, or to learn more about her work, check out the links below!

 

 I enjoy getting out and meeting my readers, so if any of you are coming to San Diego, CA; give me a shout just don’t try to sell me anything:
Candace.Vianna.Writes@gmail.com

Both of my books are available on Amazon and in the Kindles Unlimited library:

The Science of Loving
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MXC0E2C
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00MXC0E2C

Dead Dwight: a dark comedy
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F2ZCTCO
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01F2ZCTCO

Amazon Author page:
https://www.amazon.com/Candace-Vianna/e/B00N05FF66/

You can check out my blog (fair warning, I take adolescent glee in playing with profanity) at:
http://candaceviannawrites.com/

On Twitter:
@CviannaWrites

Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/candace.vianna

GoodReads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8507140.Candace_Vianna

Guest Author: Shanae Watlington

Hello, lovely readers! Joining us today is romance author Shanae Watlington. Let’s take a look at her answers to our infamous questions . . .

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  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

As a child I always wrote my thoughts and feelings on paper.  I have quite the vivid imagination.  When I began writing my first book it was a feeling that I cannot describe it was more than just love.  It was empowering and it felt like my soul was set free with every word.  Once I unleashed my thoughts and began writing my story I hoped my readers would feel that in my book. 

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

Loving the Jones is my second book. It’s a sexy romance book that opens your mind about marriage and relationships.

With every choice you risk the life you would have had. With every decision you lose it” –Richard Bach
Despite catering to her home and ideal marriage, Nina realizes that something was still missing. Determined to find out what it is, leads her on a mission to keep her husband from wandering away into the arms of someone else. Despite Isaac being a dedicated husband who loved his wife, he wanted more than the typical marriage life. When his plan of marrying his wife to have her come out of her shell backfired, impatience set in and leads him to possibly embarking on temptations…..
Natalia is not your average strip club waitress… she has goals and is determined to let nothing or no one get in her way. Her focus may be on the wallets of wealthy men to help her reach her goal, but that could all change in the blink of an eye. The deal of a lifetime presented during a brief encounter has the possibility to change her circumstances instantly but is it worth the risk? Will Nina take a walk on the wild side to save her marriage from going up in shambles?
Will Isaac remain dedicated or will the temptation become too much to resist? Does Natalia accept the deal and the aftermath of it all? You don’t want to miss out on the twists and turns that will leave you on edge wanting more….

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

I can honestly say I have had more positives experiences than negative.  When someone has read my book and they reach out and tell me how much they enjoyed the book and they speak about the characters as if they know and relate to them.  It’s amazing to talk with readers as well as other authors about books, brainstorming about books, ideas, and the whole process of creating the perfect story.  I had the best time at book events I have hosted and I’m blessed to be able to speak with people about books as well as my own.

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

Live your dreams do not let anyone discourage you from being the person that you are destined to be.  If you want to become an author, write with passion.  If you have other goals that you want to achieve go after it with a vengeance and never give up. 

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

My favorite author is Mary B. Morrison.  I have read every single book she has ever written and was hooked when I read Soul Mates Dissipate.  I read books from all eras, but The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and I Know Why the Caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou are two of my all time favorites.

 

Great answers, Shanae! I, for one, really enjoyed our interview today. Here’s to Miss Watlington — and here’s to wishing her all the success in the world! 

Thanks so much for reading, everyone. To learn a little more about today’s author, click on the links below.

 

AUTHOR LINKS: 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Shanaetheauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Shanaetheauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shanae_the_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14760149.Shanae

The Second Mrs. Dalloway

This is a story about Marjorie Dalloway, a 46-year-old woman from Surrey, who abhors spotted dick, and who has a minor fit every time her name is spelled M-A-R-G-E-R-I-E. She believes it is an ugly way to spell her name, and claims that it makes her feel unbecoming.

She has lost several friends over this peculiarity.

Mrs. Dalloway was born in the year 1970 – a very tumultuous year, she considers. There were two Prime Ministers, that annum, not to mention the fact that the half-crown ceased to be legal tender. She has since researched the subject on the Internet (a platform with which she is not entirely familiar, but is attempting to manipulate), and has discovered that many horrendous things took place during the year of her birth. But, she considers herself a lady – and though she will often tell guests at her dinner parties that, indeed, horrendous things did occur, she judges that it is unbecoming to go into further detail about it. The subject is hers, she says – and hers alone – to ponder wretchedly in the darkness of her bedroom.

On account of her name, and on account of the fact that she is a writer, Mrs. Dalloway often suffers from the presumption that she is an admirer of Virginia Woolf. She cannot see why the two seemingly unrelated details should inspire this widespread belief – but they have, just the same, and she is left inconsolable. If she must explain, just one more time, that she is no fan of Ms. Woolf (she always pronounces Virginia’s name like that, with a sarcastic emphasis which should be enough, by itself, to demonstrate how little she cares for her), then she feels that she may actually lose her mind, and be driven to some desperate action.

Perhaps she will leap from some high precipice. Or perhaps she will stab herself. Yes, that would be the better way – for, if she were to skewer herself, probably she would not die, and then she would be left with the chance of seeing how her persecutors regretted having tormented her.

“Do you see?” she would ask them. “Do you see what’s become of me? I told you what would happen, if I heard her name once more! But no – just one too many hot toddies, and your lips were loose as the hookers in the East End. Now I have impaled myself, just like dear Juliet – and I’m sure my fate shall be the same. But no – no! I beg you, don’t resort to self-pity. The blame is not yours alone.”

And that, for all intents and purposes, is Ms. Marjorie Dalloway.

(To be continued.)

Author Spotlight: T.A. Peters

As an indie author, one has the privilege of getting to know other indies on platforms like Twitter or blogs. And, every once in a while, you meet a very special one.

This is a guest spotlight on Mr. T.A. Peters, author of the award-winning historical novel, Loggerhead. I have lately had the pleasure of reading it, and intend now to share my review with you.

As Mr. Peters says himself, one should turn to Loggerhead when looking for a “different” kind of historical novel. Tired of reading the overdone rewrites about a prince who falls in love with a peasant? Want something meatier? Want something that actually stimulates your intellect?

Then read Loggerhead.

To sum it up briefly, this is a story about seventeen-year-old Mary Fisher, who is long, lean, and very “unco” (a Scottish adjective meaning unusual or remarkable). Her oddly-shaped face and lack of feminine attributes have always led people to view her as a queer sort of young woman.

And yet, she has found a faithful lover in the beautiful Abigail Greene, two years and two months her senior, but somehow infinitely more wise and philosophical than Mary.

Despite such a lack of ability to philosophize, however, Mary is blessed with keen powers bordering on clairvoyance. She’s like a biblical prophetess come to 1896 Florida.

After escaping a series of disastrous events that are only vaguely outlined in this particular novel (but which can be divined in the books of Mr. Peters’s Green Flourish Pentalogy), Mary and Abigail arrive in Loggerhead for a little honeymoon. True enough, they start off with a respite of “good food and good love” (as Abigail says), but soon the calamities ensue. Included among them are robbery, alleged rape, and the clamoring of a small Southern town to hang a young black man.

But this is only the thinnest slice of the entire Loggerhead pie.

Above all, T.A. Peters should be commended on his ability to combine the ugly with the beautiful, the wicked with the pure, and still come out on top with an overall, heartwarming sense of righteousness and belonging. He doesn’t shy from showing what is tarnished and imperfect – but he directs us to the beauty in the midst of all that, like a spotlight shining down on a messy stage.

In conclusion, I give my commendations to the triumph that is Loggerhead, the first of the Mary Fisher novels – and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a stimulating, extremely well-written historical read.

Click here to view Loggerhead on Amazon

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And yet, Loggerhead is far from being a solitary success. Following in its footsteps is another rousing adventure entitled One Little Word, which picks up where Loggerhead leaves off, and follows Mary and Abigail into a strange and mysterious town which apparently hosts a healing angel — and where nothing is as it seems.

Click here to view One Little Word on Amazon

one_little_word

But that’s still not all! Ranging before these two stand-alone novels, and describing Mary’s life from childhood to meeting, and loving, Abigail, are five books comprising the Green Flourish Pentalogy. The exciting news is, now all five books are available for purchase in a single ninety-nine cent volume!

I know — right? It seems unreal.

Click here to view the Pentalogy on Amazon

GF_pentalogy

And now — for a little background on Mr. Peters.

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T.A. Peters was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and has lived in Florida for over twenty years. The author’s interests in classic literature, language, dialect, philosophy, theology and local history resulted in the writing of the Green Flourish series of books, including the novels One Little Word and the award-winning Loggerhead featuring the diffident, atypical heroine Mary Fisher, and the prequel Green Flourish Pentalogy which presents an intimate portrait of Mary’s ascendance as a character from her conception to maturity in five volumes.

CONTACT:

Email: TAPeters@GreeneFisherPublications.com

Twitter handle: @TAPetersAuthor

good_morning_Florida
“Good morning, Florida!” (A candid shot of local cows taken by Mr. Peters)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks’s spotlight, and I hope you’ll enjoy digging up more information about the talented T.A. Peters.

Thanks for reading!

C.M.