Tag Archives: Writing

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk: Author Lynn Miclea

“Dr. Paul’s Family Talk”

on Impact Radio USA

While Impact Radio USA’s “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” program is on vacation, let’s listen to some of our member’s interviews from past shows.

Join host and WU! admin, Paul W. Reeves as he talks with WU! admin, Lynn Miclea about her writing from the radio show on 5-31-18.

Click to listen to the podcast of the radio show interview:

https://pod.co/impact-radio-usa/author-lynn-miclea-5-30-18

Author Lynn Miclea called in from California to discuss the many books that she has written for children, as well as her two memoirs, entitled, “Mending a Heart” and “Ruthie”.

From her Amazon page: “Her two memoirs, one of her family’s experience with ALS, and one of her own journey through open-heart surgery, have received numerous five-star reviews.”

She also has published ten sweet, exciting, and fun children’s books, which are uplifting, loving, feel-good animal stories, filled with warm humor, and which are about kindness, compassion, helping others, seeing the best in others, and believing in yourself.”

​To learn more about Lynn Miclea and to order her books, please visit the following website:

https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Miclea/e/B00SIA8AW4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1527596222&sr=8-2-fkmr0Next EpisodeMEMORIAL DAY – Full Radio Show (5-28-18)1:00:00

Host Paul Reeves:
A product of the Detroit area, Wayne State University, and Eastern Michigan University, Paul Reeves, Ed.D, has spent over 30 years as a professional educator and musician, as well as his work as a radio talk show host and author.

IMPACT RADIO USA provides the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Launched in the spring of 2017, their goal is to keep you as the most informed Internet Radio audience. Click on the link below for the station’s complete show lineup!

http://www.impactradiousa.com
(click on the LISTEN NOW button)

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Kenneth Lawson: Things That Needed Doing

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Things That Needed Doing

By Kenneth Lawson

Looking down over the street, I tried to block the noise filtering through the old windows. The sound of the taxis blowing their horns and people yelling at each other, along with the distant sirens echoing through the streets, made me numb to the silence that was filling the apartment.

Closing the blinds on the window of the Brownstone apartment five floors above the fray, I turned and looked at him.

“So we’re really going to do it, eh?”

“I don’t know. I hate it but I think we have to do it.”

“Okay, let’s get this done.” We closed up the apartment and locked the door behind us. 

The hallways of the old Brownstone had long seen better days. The once glorious wallpaper was now varying shades of a crappy brown color with spots that had once been a pattern of some sort. That was where wallpaper remained on the walls. Most of it had been worn off by decades of people rubbing against it as they moved about their lives in the building.

The few people we met in the halls were more interested in minding their own business than wondering what we were carrying in the big sack between us. 

Taking the back stairs, we made our way to the basement. The furnace was a throwback to the old days when the place was heated by a big boiler that fed hot air through the vent system in the building. The closer to the lower floors you were, the warmer you were in the winter as the hot air cooled as it made its way up the vents to the higher floors. These days the vents were used mostly as a garbage dump by the tenants who knew it existed, and every so often the building maintenance guy would burn what trash he could in the furnace. Most of the younger folks didn’t bother, and their garbage lay in the halls attracting rats and other critters waiting for someone else to pick it up.

To my surprise, the air was better down here than in the halls upstairs. Maybe because the stench of trash and other obscene smells wasn’t as bad. At any rate, I could breathe better. Which helped me a lot as there was still a dirty, smelly job to do.

We said a silent prayer between us as we stood before the furnace and shoved the remains of one Lee J. Roswell into the fire.

We knew he wouldn’t be missed. If he was, it wouldn’t be for long. 

I had done a thorough investigation of him. I knew everything there was to know about the man. From the place he was born, who his first girlfriend was and what became of her, his three wives and all his kids, to how he had really made his money. I knew why we found him hiding in a dump of an apartment in the middle of New York City, and I knew who had been looking for him. The five other people we had made disappear had also been studied and planned out to the last detail. Contingency plans were made in case things went wrong. Fortunately for us, each had gone off exactly as planned. The entire process took six months and involved traveling to several other countries where, if we were caught, we were on our own. We were down to our final two.

Stoking the fire, we made sure anything identifiable was burned to a crisp. The smell of burnt flesh was something I never got used too. I still hated it. It was almost worse than the actual killing of the victim. 

Once it was done we wiped the entire furnace down with damp cloths as well as the doors and walls we may have touched. 

An hour later we were well out of the neighborhood. 

There was a small flurry of activity when he was discovered missing. As expected, no one had a clue as to who the old man really was, and he was quickly forgotten.

A week later another old man disappeared. Again, a small hornet’s nest appeared but was quickly dispelled when it was clear he was a drunk who’d gone off on a bender and didn’t make it back.

Six months later my partner and I sat in an office in Washington. 

“Here’s your cash. You two did a great job. Both in finding them, and eliminating them. The world is a better place without them.”

My partner and I had been charged by the US Attorney General to find and eliminate half a dozen wanted criminals that the government couldn’t touch for one reason or another. Only two had been in the states, the rest had been in places that US law couldn’t touch officially. So they paid us very generously to make them disappear.

As the Attorney General said, things that needed doing.

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Please visit Kenneth’s blog! http://bit.ly/30GXkep

Fred Elder: H8 Nine Ten

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

H8 Nine Ten

By Fred Elder

It was a perfect New York City morning in that sweet spot between the last heat of summer and the first rains of autumn. The leaves wouldn’t begin changing for several more weeks, but the westerly breeze was bringing sweet, fresh air into the city. 

Henry was standing at the corner of a wide intersection, the twin towers of the World Trade Center shining white and bright in the distance. The buzz of traffic was incessant but comforting and the sidewalks were crammed with people on their way to work. He would have loved to just stand there, maybe find his way to Central Park or Yankee Stadium, but he was there on very important business. He was there to change the future! 

Ever since the accident, Henry had the ability to time travel.

As far as he knew, no one else in the history of humankind had ever been able to do what he could. There were limitations, of course. He quickly realized that going back into his own life wasn’t possible. He tried several times without success but finally decided that whatever mysterious force was allowing him to travel in time wouldn’t allow him to create a paradox; what would happen if he literally ran into himself? As desperate as he was to change the course of his own history — and wouldn’t we all appreciate an opportunity for a ‘do-over’ at least one time in our life — Henry realized it wasn’t possible. 

After some trial and error, he found it much easier to travel in the dark of night after all the noise and commotion of the day had finally ceased. The world is a loud place and the concentration he needed to travel was easily broken by his roommate, neighbors or visitors. The blaring of horns and alarms in the distance and the almost continual hum of machinery and civilization eased considerably in the darker hours.

For some reason, he couldn’t travel back to the same time and place more than once. Perhaps Einstein could have explained this quirk in his abilities, but he certainly couldn’t. Time travel itself was beyond his comprehension, so explaining its intricacies was out of the question. 

The most difficult limitations were the sounds and pain in his head whenever he traveled. There was a continual light buzzing behind his eyes ever since the accident, but it was something he had gotten used to. When he traveled, however, the buzz became sharper and louder. If he stood still in that previous time, he could handle the buzz; if he tried to move, it was as if someone were trying to drill deep into his brain. 

It was like being given a new puppy and told it must stay in its kennel all the time. You don’t want to look at a puppy! You want to play with it and enjoy watching it run and trip over its clumsy feet. You want to feel the puppy licking your face and snuggling into your neck. 

It was a long time before he finally realized what he could do with this hard-earned ability. The realization came to him on November 22, five months after the accident, when two women next to him began talking about the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. And, just like that, he knew what to do.

I’ll go back to that day and stop the assassination, he decided. He had often heard it said that the young President’s death had sent America down the proverbial wrong path. It had long been considered a linchpin moment in world history and, if Henry could somehow prevent that from happening, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

He spent the rest of the day focusing his mind on where he wanted to be on that long-distant day. When the lights of the city were finally dimmed, and the workers returned to their homes and families, the world grew dark and quiet. He thought long and hard, picturing the exact place he wanted to be and … he was standing on the infamous sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

The first thing he noticed was the buzzing in his head, loud and trilling. The second thing was the smell of books. The paper and binding glue and dust all comingled into a smell that reminded him of used bookstores. Until the accident, he had been a voracious reader. The final thing he noticed was the man standing just inside the window, looking down into the plaza below. He had a rifle in his hand. There were piles of boxes between them so Henry couldn’t simply charge the guy and disarm him. Henry would need to sneak up on him first.

Henry ducked down and began to move around one enormous stack as the buzz in his head grew even louder. Sunlight was streaming into the windows from a sharp angle and dust motes moved back and forth between light and shadow. He had almost reached the corner when the man’s attention was drawn to the sound of cheering in the streets below. A smile passed over his face like a shadow as he knelt and brought the rifle barrel up.

With no time to waste, Henry stood and vaulted over the last boxes piled between him and the shooter. Almost immediately, a paralyzing jolt of sharp, piercing pain knifed into his head. With little grace, Henry crashed into the shooter just a split second before three shots were fired. The man struggled to get away and swung the rifle butt into Henry’s face, forcing him back. Now, finally, Henry could see the man’s face — this was not Lee Harvey Oswald!

The man brought his rifle up again, this time pointing it at Henry’s chest, and looked back over his shoulder into the street. His eyes opened wide in horror at what he saw. Slowly, he returned his gaze to Henry. The man was crying, his lips were quivering.

“You stupid bastard,” the man finally managed to sputter out. “I shot the President! You stupid, interfering bastard!” Henry could only stand there waiting for a bullet to slam into him even as questions were slamming into his head. Who was this guy? Where was Oswald? Was this the second shooter people had spoken of?

“Don’t blame me,” Henry finally said, pushing the pain away for just a moment. “I came here to stop you from killing him.” Henry didn’t know if a bullet to his chest would kill him or not. And if it did, would his body remain in 1963 or return to his current time. The thought of a bullet putting him out of the burning misery inside his head was almost welcome, though.

“No, you idiot! I was aiming for Governor Connally.” He tightened his finger on the trigger. “And I would have if you hadn’t interfered. Damn you!” He pulled on the trigger and … Henry was back in his bed, safe.

As the pain subsided and the noise in his head returned to its omnipresent buzz, the guilt flooded into him. Had he just been part of a paradox shift of some kind? By returning to that fateful day, had he inadvertently played a part in the President’s killing? He sought relief in the sweet oblivion of sleep.

Over the next few days, his emotions ran the gamut from grief to anger to despair. What was the sense in having the ability to travel through time if you couldn’t do something positive with it? And wasn’t the idea of doing something good for humankind the best way of utilizing it? Eventually, he came to believe the man would have shot JFK anyway, even if he was aiming at someone else. It was inconceivable that he had altered the past when the outcome was the same one that he grew up knowing. He had to keep trying. 

Every time he tried to intervene in the past, however, he failed.

He went to Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, on March 27, 1977, to prevent two airliners from colliding on the runway and killing 583 people. Instead, he inadvertently drew a flight controller’s attention away from what he was supposed to be doing and he sent the two planes on a collision course.

He went to Hawaii on December 7, 1941, but the Officer who listened to his wild tales of an impending surprise Japanese air strike on Pearl Harbor was too busy dealing with Henry to pay attention to a report from one of the remote radar installations of unidentified aircraft approaching from the northwest.

The Captain of the Titanic actually believed his claims of an iceberg and steered the great ship a few points further southwest, directly into the same iceberg it was always going to collide with. And so on! No matter what he tried to do, he couldn’t stop disasters from happening. To make matters worse, the incessant buzz was growing louder and his headaches growing worse, even when he wasn’t traveling. It occurred to him there might very well be a limit on how many trips he could make.

If he was running out of travel opportunities, he needed to make them count! He had finally come to the realization that he was trying to play too active a part in each drama. But how does one afect change without playing an active role? The answer came like a light bulb over his head.

He could prevent the ultimate disaster of the 21st century with a simple phone call. He didn’t need to be overly persuasive if he called the right number. Why didn’t he think of this sooner? He could prevent 9/11!

After darkness descended on his world, he focused on the streets of New York City. It was a place he had visited several times, almost always in the autumn season, so there was a comfortable feeling in his memories of the place. He thought about the tall buildings and wide avenues and … he was standing in the early morning light of a glorious, perfect day.

Above the sound of traffic and the cacophony of pedestrians, the buzz inside his head grew to an alarming level. He had never felt such discord within his mind just standing in the past. He hadn’t moved from the spot but already the pain was rising to a crescendo. I need to hurry, he realized. Time was running out on him.

He looked around and spotted a phone booth about half a block away. The moment he started towards it, however, that horrible pain once again knifed into the base of his neck. He staggered and fell against a store window, drawing the puzzled glances of passing people. Perhaps they thought he was drunk?

Regaining his bearings, he struck out once again for the phone booth. Each step towards his destination sent searing pain from his head to his toes. He reached out, desperately, crashing into people and against other windows. People were stopping to stare at him now, unsure of what his problem was but unwilling to lend a helping hand. 

Finally, he stumbled against the phone booth, which was against the wall of a department store. It was only when he reached up for the phone that he realized he had no coins on him. Time travel wasn’t like flying! There was no carry-on! He slapped his hands over the pockets in his beige khakis, but there were no coins or cash of any kind. 

He had never given his time travel garb any consideration up to then, taking them for granted. Now, he realized it was the same combination of grey tee, beige pants and running shoes he was wearing the day of the accident. Not the same ones, of course. Those had been shredded after the car slammed into him and sent him skidding across the grocery store parking lot.

Calling 911 wasn’t an option. He knew exactly who to call and he couldn’t get lost in the bureaucratic shuffle of emergency services. He could barely see now because the throbbing pain was forcing his eyes into mere slits. He begged the gathering crowd for a dime and after interminable minutes, a lady handed him one, pulling her hand back quickly once the coin was taken.

When the operator answered, he told her who he needed to speak with. The pain in his head soared; he squinted his eyes fully closed, almost biting down on his tongue. The buzz had become a chainsaw and it felt like his head was going to explode. 

“Federal Aviation Authority. New York region. Jack Delaney speaking. How can I help you?” Henry screamed in pain as every syllable the man spoke sent spikes into his ears. He slumped down and sprawled on the floor of the booth. The chainsaw revved up even louder and the pressure built between his ears until … sweet oblivion. 

Jack Delaney stared at the phone in his hand. 

“What the hell was that about,” asked his co-worker, Gail. She had heard the screams through the phone all the way over at her desk. “Another bomb threat?”

“Nope,” Jack replied, setting the phone down in its cradle. “No bomb threats today.”

“Thank God,” Gail laughed, reaching for her coffee. “Here’s hoping all the crazies left with the hot weather.”

In a hospital room across the country and across the years, the EEG machine monitoring Henry’s brain activity flatlined. Shortly after that, his respirator was turned off per family wishes. He had never regained consciousness after the terrible accident and only his wavering brain activity had given friends and family any hope. 

That hope was now gone.

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Please visit Fred’s blog at http://bit.ly/2Ltwymr!

Jane Hale: Clementine

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Clementine

By Jane Hale

She came to spend the summer in Hope, Arkansas with her cousin the last summer before she moved to New York. Clementine’s head and heart were full of schemes, dreams, and big city things. She lost her heart to this old country boy but never gave up on her schemes and dreams and moved on to big city things.

She begged me to go with her. She wrote to me faithfully telling me of her move up the ladder to an executive position with an important firm which filled the third floor of a ten-story building in New York City.

She wrote lovingly of remodeling her apartment.

She wooed me with words:

“Nick, you’d love it here. It may be a big city but it’s like little towns joined together to become one big metropolis. Everything I ever wanted is within reach if I reach out far enough; department stores packed with clothes, shoes, and salons. Stairways you step onto going up and coming down if you’re in too big of a hurry to not wait on an elevator. 

You’d love the museums. 

My boss got us tickets to a Broadway Show!

People are everywhere — on the streets, in buildings, rushing here and there. Cabs fill the streets taking people to restaurants, shows, theatres, ball games, and airports. In the subway beneath the city, trains are packed with commuters traveling to the suburbs and back again to work or to different parts of the city. Musicians set up to entertain folks and earn a dollar or two as they wait for the trains. 

Little shops filled with remnants of mixed cultures are scattered throughout the city. My favorite haunts are pawn shops filled with lost dreams and new beginnings. I love this city. 

I know you’re not fond of big crowds, busy cities, bums on the street, and crazies accosting you in the weirdest places but there’s one thing I know you’d love — Central Park. It’s the heart of the city where you step from the teeming crowd into countryside filled with all the things you love in Hope, Arkansas and rural America. People skate along sidewalks as couples walk hand in hand around the countryside paths. Nick, there’s a zoo, carousel, and a chess and checker house. The Obelisk, the Loch, and Shakespeare Gardens are amazing. Folks sit on park benches, relax, and enjoy the wares vendors sell. Please come and visit my city. I know if you love me you’ll love this place that has claimed the part of my heart that keeps me from you.”

I lived for Clementine’s letters. 

I visited Clementine for her vacation. We prowled her city by day. We made love in every inch of her tiny apartment at night. We strolled hand in hand and stopped to watch an organ grinder’s monkey mooch money. 

The city was overwhelming. People were in your face, in your space, or with hats in hand wanting a dollar or two. Others pushed or shoved as they waved for cabs you hoped to capture. I missed my horse. I missed my truck. I missed all the things that meant independence to me. The stores were linked together like one giant snake with no tail. Because I was with Clementine, I endured what I knew would never become a part of my life. I memorized every line of her body, every feature, every gesture. I feasted on her as a starving man might devour his last meal.

My last night in the city we revisited a little pawn shop near her apartment. I’d discovered a relic wind-up music box I planned to buy for her as a parting gift.

Her eyes sparkled when she lovingly wound the tiny key. The fragile lid lifted and a country voice much like I’d grown up listening to crooned, “Oh, my darling. Oh, my darling. Oh, my darling Clementine—”

Back home in Arkansas, I walked the hills, rode the trails, and inhaled the fresh country air in an effort to rid my need for the woman I loved. 

Clementine still wrote love letters to me about her city life until one day they became fewer and farther between and finally stopped. The last letter I received was a formal invitation to the wedding of Miss Clementine Frazier and Mister—” I never could remember that man’s name.

Clementine’s cousin attended her wedding. A year or so later she told me Clementine and what’s-his-name had a baby girl named Hope. 

I never married, although it wasn’t for lack of ladies trying. I just never seemed to forget a girl named Clementine and her big-city dreams that kept us apart. Or was it my country ways that became more set as the years passed that had kept us apart?

They say with age comes contentment and dreams are realized. One day as I sat on my porch in Hope, Arkansas, I saw two ladies riding horses coming up the hill. I recognized one who waved as Clementine’s cousin’s daughter. The other girl was Clementine. But that was impossible. Clementine died the year before. 

“Mister Nick, I brought my cousin to see you. This is Hope, Clementine’s daughter. You remember Miss Clementine, don’t you?”

I nodded, unable to take my gaze from Hope’s face.

The girl moved toward me, hand outstretched, and said, “Mister Nick. My mom talked about you so much. She made me promise if anything ever happened to her I’d bring this to you.” In her hand was the tiny music box I’d gifted Clementine so many years ago.

I’d stood in respect for the ladies. I moved forward to shake the cousin’s hand and thank her for bringing Hope to me.

Instead, Hope moved forward and placed the music box on the table near my rocking chair on the porch. She turned and extended her arms for a hug. “I’ve saved this hug for a long time, Mister Nick. It goes with the music box.”

I held her close as I might have held my own daughter.

As I watched the two ride down the path together, I closed my eyes and listened to the music box as the words of the song drifted over the Arkansas hills that had kept me from the love of my life. “Oh, my darling. Oh, my darling. Oh, my darling Clementine. You are lost and gone forever, my darling Clementine.”

The End

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Please visit Jane’s page Ozark Writers, Inc on Facebook. A non-profit group that promotes writers from the Ozarks. https://www.facebook.com/ozarkwritersinc/

Sarah Anne Steckel: Countless Lives

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Countless Lives

By Sarah Anne Steckel

The cab driver was completely silent as he drove through the busy intersection, past the dozens of busybodies as they trampled along the crosswalk. A vibrant pink strand of hair crossed over Newo’s eyes as she peered into the crowd, searching every face in the hopes of finding the one that was most familiar to her. Finding none, she sighed deeply and turned her attention to the back of the driver’s head, pushed the hair out of her face and asked, “Have you been a driver here very long?”

“Fourteen years.”

“A long while…” Newo fell silent for several moments, her mind drifting to the person she longed to see the most, racing through memories that she thought she had long forgotten — drunken conversations that took place lifetimes ago, playful sparring matches, hushed secluded nights they refused to speak of the next day. Every thought was a hopeful hint to where she would find him, a secret clue that only she knew the answer to. Wracking her brain for the correct answer, she stirred from her memories and returned her gaze to the back of the cab driver’s head with a smile. “Tell me, do you know of a place that a rowdy person might catch a strong drink?”

The driver smiled at her in his rearview mirror and made a U-turn in the street, taking the first turn down a series of side streets before turning down an abandoned alleyway. Placing his elbow up on the center console, he turned around slowly to face her. “If you walk the length of the alley, you’ll come to a door. Knock on it three times and talk to whoever answers. If you answer him correctly, he’ll let you in.”

“What will he ask me?”

The driver shrugged. “Who knows?”

Newo smiled broadly and chuckled under her breath. “Well I suppose that I’m up for this little game. What goes on in this place?”

The driver grinned and vaguely echoed her question from earlier. “It’s a place where rowdy people can catch a drink, girl.”

Reaching into her jacket pocket, Newo pulled out a few folded bills and handed them over to the driver as she reached over and opened the cab door. “Thanks man. Have a good day.”

As she heard the yellow cab drive off behind her, Newo smiled to herself and began her short stroll down the bleak and dark alleyway, reaching the doorway with no trouble. She raised her fist and firmly knocked on the door three times, as instructed, and waited. Several moments went by, and just as she began to grow impatient, a window in the center of the door opened and a pair of eyes greeted her. “If you eat me, my sender will eat you… what am I?”

A riddle. Newo smiled to herself; her many lifetimes made mind games come easy to her. Her smile broadening, she answered quickly. “A fish hook.”

She watched the pair of eyes furrow, the man was frowning behind that door. “Another. What can you hold in your right hand, but never in your left hand?”

“Your left hand…” Newo yawned dramatically, her response heavy with boredom.

The man behind the door narrowed his eyes and grunted with frustration. “One more. I no longer have eyes, but once I did see. Once I had thoughts, but now I’m white and empty. What am I?”

She debated on pretending to think on this one for a while, to make the man behind the door feel better about his lackluster riddles, but she figured that with the type of clientele they had visiting this establishment, he couldn’t make them too hard. Her smile grew as she quickly replied. “A skull.”

The guard frowned and slammed the window shut, opening the door to her to freely walk inside. As she passed through the threshold she looked at him over her shoulder. “Here’s one for you… Great deeds with little strength I do, I close the open, open the closed for you. I keep the master’s house, the master keeps me, too. What am I?” Watching the confusion set in on the guard’s face, Newo grinned as she walked away from him, failing to give him the answer.

She gazed over the dimly lit interior. The room was small, with a long bar in one corner and a series of tables all centered around a large flat-screen TV that was mounted to the wall. Along the opposing wall of the bar was a doorway that led to another room that was much more well lit. Newo turned her attention to the blonde barmaid behind the counter. She motioned her over as she took a seat on a barstool. “Whiskey on the rocks.”

“Sure.” The blonde woman responded and began pouring the drink and handed it over to her.

“What’s over there?” Newo asked in a nonchalant tone, handing the woman a few dollars to pay for her drink.

“The fighting ring,” the barmaid responded. “Actually, you came at a good time. One’s about to start soon. Some new, unknown cocky guy challenged our reigning champ, Sparky.”

“Oh yeah, some new guy?”

“Yeah. Real big bald guy. Odds are still against him, though. Sparky’s been reigning champ for a month now.”

Newo quickly downed her drink and placed the empty glass back on the counter top. She motioned for a second one, and as she handed her the money to pay for it, she asked, “You wouldn’t happen to know the new guy’s name, would you?”

The barmaid furrowed her eyebrows in thought, “Cyclone… No… Cortex? No… It starts with a V…”

Newo’s heart skipped a beat; she froze just as she lifted her glass to her lips. She watched as her hot breath fogged up the rim with her haggard and excited breathing. Forcing herself to take a sip of whisky and swallowing it wrong, she fought back a hoarse cough as she spat out. “Is it Vortex?”

“That’s it!” The barmaid snapped her fingers. “You know him?”

“Yeah.” Newo smiled. “Lemmie even out that betting pool, won’t you?”

***

Inside the center of the second room sat a roped-off fighting ring, with chairs placed all around it. The first few rows of seats had already been occupied, so Newo sat along the aisle beside another man in the third row. Almost immediately as she sat, the man beside her draped his arm around her shoulders. With ease she reached over and pushed his arm off of her, and returned her gaze toward the ring, nervously waiting with anticipation to see Vortex enter.

A second time the man beside her placed his arm around her shoulders, this time his hand making an attempt to grab at her breast. This time, instead of pushing the man’s arm off of her, she removed a concealed dagger from somewhere on her person, firmly pushing it into the man’s side, careful to cut his clothing but not pierce his flesh. Her voice low and eerily calm, she threatened, “If you don’t move from your spot this instant, I will cut you so deep that your guts will spill out and cause this dirty bar floor to glisten with the sheen of your blood.”

A smile crossed her face as the man cursed at her and stumbled out of his chair and moseyed off somewhere else. Just as she replaced her dagger back into its hiding place, the crowd began to cheer and chant the name “Sparky” as an average-sized man made his way into the ring. Once he reached the center he took a bow, causing the crowd to turn into an uproar of hooting and hollering, which was quickly followed by booing and jeers as Sparky’s opponent pushed past the curtain.

Vortex walked confidently toward the fighting ring, his steps slow and firm. He hadn’t changed; in the hundreds of lifetimes that they had been together, every time they came back looking the same way — Newo with her pink hair and eyes, and Vortex with his strong and tall demeanor and his dark eyes and shiny bald head. As he swung over the ropes and entered the ring, Newo couldn’t fight back the broad smile that was growing on her face and causing her cheeks to turn hot.

The two opponents circled one another, Vortex much larger than Sparky, and Newo wondered if any of their many previous sparring matches would be on Vortex’s mind during this match. Before their fight even began, Newo knew that Sparky was going to be faster, and that he would probably fight dirty just to outmatch Vortex’s obvious strength — it’s a tactic that she would, and had, relied upon quite frequently.

The bell rang and as she predicted, Sparky dove low for Vortex’s legs in an attempt to knock him down. Vortex kicked him back with one great swing of his leg and grabbed the smaller man up by the hair, lifting him up and over his head. A loud roar, like a wild animal, bellowed out from his throat before Vortex slammed the small of Sparky’s back into his right knee. The entirety of the crowd broke into hisses and boos, but Vortex stood silent and unaffected. He smiled when Sparky failed to move, and he turned to face the crowd to gloat.

“Don’t fall for it!” Newo found herself shouting as best she could over the crowd. “Don’t turn your back to him yet, you idio—”

Before she could finish her insult, Sparky had jumped up onto Vortex’s back just as he turned away. The smaller man began pummeling both fists into the sides of Vortex’s face and chest, screaming like a banshee as he wailed on him. She watched helplessly, as Vortex tried to rip Sparky off from his back. Like a dog unable to pull a tick out from between his shoulder blades, Vortex was unable to get a good enough grip to throw him off.

“He’s on your back!” Newo did her best to throw her voice over the screaming crowd. “Squish him! Fall back and squish him! You’re much larger than he is!”

She intently watched Vortex’s face as he tried to make out her words, his eyebrows rising and he seemed to laugh. He grabbed on tight to Sparky’s wrists as they wailed down upon him, stopping his barraging fists and forcing him to stay clung on to his back. In one swift movement, Vortex fell backwards, pinning Sparky’s body between his and the mat. He rolled from side to side several times, before remaining totally motionless and waiting for the final bell to end the match. Sparky made no attempts to struggle for his freedom, not even an arm movement to signal that he had given up.

The bell rang three times, and the majority of the crowd booed, hissed, or threw their empty beer cans into the center of the ring. Ignoring all of them, Vortex calmly got to his feet and raised his arms in victory. As the room began to clear, Newo stood upon her chair and cheered loudly. “I’m rich! Woo-hoo!”

“Newo…” Vortex whispered under his breath, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his equally sweaty palm.

Their eyes locked on one another, and Newo couldn’t fight back the smile that overtook her face. In haste she began to run towards him, jumping from chair to chair until she reached the edge of the fighting ring. In one swift move, Vortex wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her over the ropes and hugged her tightly to his chest. “I was wondering when I would run into you in this lifetime!”

As he released his grip on her, Newo swung her fist back and slugged him in the face as hard as she was able to. “Did a lot of searching for me, did you, huh?”

“Well, you know… I got a little busy,” he said bashfully and set her down, rubbing the side of his face with a grimace.

Newo scowled and shook her head, glaring up at him with a grin. Bashfully she raised her hand up to gently stroke the other side of his face and pouted. “I always gotta be the one to find you… Oh well, won a bunch of money betting on you this time. Let’s go collect my winnings. I suppose I owe you a drink?”

“I’ve stopped keeping track of who owes who a drink.” He pulled her hand over to his lips and kissed her knuckles gently. Walking over to the edge of the ring he slithered out between the ropes, and then turned to pick her up with ease and lift her over the ropes before placing her gently down on the floor. “But let’s not get a drink here… I don’t think they care for me too much.”

Newo chuckled under her breath and linked her arm around his. “Noted.”

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Please visit Sarah Anne’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2365113170402055&id=2310272992552740&__tn__=K-R

Jenny Booker: Restart

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Restart

By Jenny Booker

It’s the noise, he thought — too crowded and loud. Watching the people walk by mostly unaware of his presence; some stopped, thinking he was homeless — how kind.

Cars beeped to get the pedestrians off the road, and bells of the bikes tinkled in agreement.

All these people going about their day, where each one is separate from the other, their own unique paths and dates — it was fascinating.

The smells of burgers and donuts filled the air to sweeten the car fumes and sweat. Both competing with a hot dog stand that just set up across the road with a guy shouting all sorts of things to attract the customers.

Near him a lady with her violin starting playing — same time every day this week, and always smiled even when the hustle and bustle of the city ignored the lovely sound of such an instrument.

Feeling sad, he got up off the bench and turned to the quietness of the park behind him. He got to the big lake and took out some bread to feed the ducks, wondering how they don’t need such a complex life.

Looking at his watch, it did seem such a shame — maybe next time keep it simple? Chain of events needed to start and he was the one to do it.

Now what to do in these last few minutes till the end of the world?

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Please visit Jenny’s blog!  https://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

E.C. Fisher: The Expectation Wish

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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The Expectation Wish

By E.C. Fisher

Today’s greeting I greet you with. 

How are you today? I ask as pleasantly as possible. 

Who knows how your day has gone? Did you just get off a long flight? Did you have a lengthy business meeting? 

Who am I kidding, when don’t those run long? 

I take you from destination to destination. While I play my music, listen to the game, talk radio, or I may be yelling at my phone. 

You sit in the backseat behind the partition, minding your own business while unaware of my condition. 

I don’t know you. You don’t know me. 

Yet an agreement has been made when you enter my domain. 

I will provide safe travel to your location. You pay me upon arriving at your destination. 

I blend into the background. Get lost in the streets. Sit idle for hours. Or stuck in traffic. 

I find you at your best and at your worst. 

In the backseat, I have tissues for you to cry in or bags for your vomit. I hate to clean up after you, but tomorrow’s fare depends on a clean interior. 

We know how to bypass the lights, signal right, or stop abruptly. We cater to you, our fare of fares, for our livelihood is dependent on it. 

You may yell, scream, kick, or prattle. I will continue to drive straight for your destination. 

I’ll take you on a ride through my lively city. Hop on in my automobile. 

Say hello and ask how I’m doing. A gentle greeting guarantees you a tolerable ride. 

While I’m at it, a tip is appreciated. 

-Your cabbie

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Please visit Eric on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/eric.fisher.14203

Caroline Giammanco: Book Signing Basics

Caroline Giammanco at a recent Barnes and Noble book signing. Photo courtesy of the author.

Book Signing Basics

By Caroline Giammanco

We spend months or years struggling to complete our manuscripts, and the thrill of signing a publishing contract blinds us to the cold truth: our work isn’t over. Four years ago I hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to market and promote my first book. Few publishers, even large ones, promote authors, so we writers have to do what it takes to be successful. Book signings are a critical part of landing your book in the hands of readers. 

Not everyone is a born salesperson. I know I wasn’t, but I’ve picked up some strategies along the way that have helped me transition from determined writer to successful salesperson. Arranging an event and making it a success may seem difficult and overwhelming. Now that I’m on tour with my third book, with over forty Barnes and Noble signings under my belt, I’m offering tips to make your book signing a win for you, the store, and the readers.

First, let’s start at the beginning.

When you contact a bookstore, whether by phone, in person, or by email, have a game plan.  At Barnes and Noble stores, ask to speak to the CRM (Community Relations Manager). If contacting an independent store, ask to speak to the owner. Once you are connected to the right person, have confidence. Pitch your book and who you are. Be enthusiastic. Explain what your book is about, why it appeals to readers, and what you will do to promote an event. Include press releases, the use of social media, and any print or radio and tv interviews you may do around the time of the event.

Be persistent. Not every store will immediately agree to a book signing. Don’t take that as a definite no. Follow up on the conversation. Send an email including your book trailer, photos of you and your book cover, and a blurb about your book. If you have high ratings on Amazon, let them know. Your job is to convince the management it won’t be a wasted effort to have you in their store. While most bookstores are supportive of authors, sales are their bottom line. Let them know you will be able to bring buyers into their store. 

Be seen as good for business for that bookstore, and be proactive once an event is scheduled. Advertise and discuss the signing on social media. Facebook events are a great way to target people in the area. Use the resources you have available. If you can afford a Facebook or print ad, place one. Ask the local newspaper if they’d write an article. Ask radio stations about interviews they may be willing to have with you. Use Twitter and any other networking sites you belong to in order to spread the word. Word of mouth works.

Even with a full-fledged effort to get your friends and relatives into the store on the day of the signing, the truth is that most of the readers you encounter will be general foot traffic—people who just happened to come to the store on that day. In truth, you don’t want your target customers to be your friends and family. The only way you will be successful is to have complete strangers buy your book. We all hope our circle of friends and family will support us, but that will never get us to the bestseller category. It won’t even produce lukewarm royalties. You have to be willing to expand your comfort zone and reach out to total strangers for sales.

Many writers enjoy being introverts. There’s comfort found in being alone with our laptop and the stack of research we’ve compiled, but once a book signing is at hand, it’s time to come out of your shell. Be prepared to engage customers as soon as they walk near your table. There’s no need to be the heavy-handed used car salesman, but you must initiate the conversation.

At my first Barnes and Noble signing, I had an epiphany. I realized after the first hour that when I smiled and said hello most customers assumed I was a store employee. Yes, I had a big sign sitting next to me announcing my appearance as an author, but few paid attention to it. I adjusted and overcame. I adopted an approach that has worked well for me in stores across the country. As people enter my area I cheerfully say, “Hi, I’m having a book signing today. If you have a moment, I’d love to talk with you about my book.” Bingo! Now I have their attention and they are aware that I am an author with a book they may be interested in. Book sales only happen if readers are attracted to your product. It is your job to get their attention.

I’ve had multiple sold-out signings, and I’ve also seen authors who are doing all the wrong things. They placidly sit at their tables waiting for customers to come to them. Others only schedule an hour or two at a signing. Don’t do that! Devote time to meet as many readers as possible. If the store has been kind enough to give you space in their business, don’t make their efforts to order books, develop signs, etc. be wasted by a half-hearted effort on your part.

Be passionate about your book. If it was important enough to write, it should be important enough for you to promote. This is difficult for introverts. You must put on your performance mask, however, and engage, engage, engage! Keep in mind that many readers are also introverts and may not feel comfortable walking up to you unless you make yourself a welcoming presence. A book signing is no time to be shy. Also, don’t be discouraged. Not everyone you talk to will buy your book. That’s okay. 

Remember to have fun! Book signings aren’t an obligation or work. You are getting to talk about something you love. What better topic do you have to talk about than the book you created and are incredibly proud of? 

Marketing and personal appearances are important. Your fan base grows when you put yourself out into the public. Personal encounters with readers fuel sales and are a rewarding part of an otherwise private journey as a writer. Now get going!

All images are from free use sites unless otherwise noted.
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Caroline Giammanco’s latest book, Inside the Death Fences: Memoirs of a Whistleblower can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Giammanco/e/B017KQZRU4/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009880805237

Website: http://www.booniehatbandit.com

Inside the Death Fences: Memoir of a Whistleblower by [Giammanco, Caroline]


Sean Bracken: Manhattan STory

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Manhattan Story

By Sean Bracken

I’d had what could only be described as a rotten day. My boss, Regina Heinz, had kept me under constant pressure all afternoon. 

I’m a computer programmer. I’m good, NO, I’m gifted at what I do. So, when a bitch of a boss constantly interrupts your thinking, destroying your concentration with, “Hey Jack, I could do with a cup of coffee.” Or, “Hey Jack, where did I file the Arturo Contract?” 

You get the picture. A shitty, shitty day.

Leaving the office was like a prison break. Out onto the streets of Manhattan, free at last.

The skyline was the same as always. Massive buildings shadowing everything. Too many people crowding the same space. And just when you need one, no yellow cab.

It started to rain, not heavy rain, more of a penetrating drizzle. Half an hour of trying to catch a taxi, the rain, combined with Regina treating me like dirt, only added to my foul humor.

At last success. After frantic waving and almost suicidal attempts to flag down an elusive ride, a cab pulled up beside me.

Happy Days. Good Time Charlie’s Bar, here I come. A game of pool. A few beers. Relax. Unwind. TGIF.

Just as I reached out my hand to open the cab door, a woman pushed past me.

“My cab, I think,” she said, as she jumped inside.

No fucking way. This was my cab. I held onto the open door and forced myself in beside her.

Before I had a chance to speak, the cabbie called out, “Where to, folks?”

With almost one voice, we said in unison, “Good Time Charlie’s, downtown.”

I looked over to the woman and began to laugh. She joined in. A deep-throated rich laugh, vibrant and infectious. The stress of my rotten day evaporated and I began to think that perhaps things weren’t so bad after all.

As the cab pulled out into the rush-hour traffic, I reached out my hand and said, “John Smithwicks, but my friends all call me Jack.”

“Pleased to meet you, Jack. I’m Ellen, Ellen Daniels,” she said.

She was mid-thirties, dressed in a tailor-cut navy jacket, with a matching skirt that exposed just enough thigh to be interesting. Loose auburn hair emphasized her rich blue eyes, full lips, strong chin and high sculpted cheekbones.

“Sorry for jumping your ride, Jack. I’m late for an appointment that I’ve looked forward to all week.”

“Don’t worry about it, Ellen. It’s about the only thing that’s turned out well all day. Glad to be of service.”

“I love your accent, Jack. Where do you come from?” she asked.

“Dublin, Ireland, but I’ve lived here for nearly five years. I’m a programmer analyst in Heinz Software,” I replied.

“You work for Regina Heinz? My God, I don’t believe it.”

“Yes, unfortunately,” I said. “Sorry if she’s a friend of yours, but she’s impossible to work for. My contract ends next month. In the meantime, it’s like working in Purgatory and praying for the relief from Hell.”

“Oh no, Jack. She’s no friend of mine. Quite the contrary in fact. Regina is one of my worst competitors. That woman has no morals in business.”

The rest of the ride was spent assassinating the character and moral fiber of Regina. All too soon the cab pulled up in front of Good Time Charlie’s. Ellen insisted on taking care of the fare, and I agreed on the condition that she allowed me to buy her a drink.

We ran from the cab, through the rain, to the safety of the bar. 

“What’s your poison?” I asked, while trying to catch the attention of a barman.

“Why, a Manhattan, of course,” she said, with that deep husky voice.

I was very quickly becoming enchanted with Ms. Ellen Daniels.

“Would you like me to wait with you? Until your date arrives?” I asked.

“No thanks, Jack. It’s an online first date and he might get the wrong idea if he sees me flirting at the bar,” she said. “Here’s my card. Get in touch when you finish your contract. I’d love to hear from you again.”

Disappointed, I left her at the bar and wandered over to the pool tables. I’d been shooting pool for about an hour, when I noticed Ellen putting on her jacket and paying her tab. I conceded the game and threw my ten bucks loss on the table.

Moments later I was at Ellen’s side.

“What’s up?” I said. “Where’s your date?”

“Seems as if I’ve been stood up, Jack. Wasn’t the first time, won’t be the last. I’m heading home to soak in a bath with a bottle of Chablis.”

“He’s a fool, whoever he is. Please, let his loss be my gain. I’d love to treat you to dinner and continue our conversation. You really did brighten my day when you jumped in my cab.”

Ellen hesitated for a minute, as if undecided. I pushed my luck and said, “Come on, we’re practically friends. What have you got to lose?”

That was four years ago. I never joined Ellen’s firm. After all, office romances usually end badly. No, we married six months later. She is the love of my life and our first baby is on the way.

The End

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Please visit Sean on his blog: https://sean-bracken.site123.me/

Kelli J Gavin: Let’s Do This

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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Let’s Do This 

By Kelli J Gavin

I arrived in the city three days after my 21st birthday. It has been three months. Three months of sleeping on couches. Three months of washing my clothes in a wash basin in dirty showers. Three months of working 12+ hours a day at two separate jobs I do not care for. Three months of not going on more than three auditions. My whole goal of being here in the city was to find “The Job.” To find “The Role” that will bring me satisfaction. That will make me not have to work so hard. That will make life just a bit easier.

I was told to get an agent right away. I tried six different agents in the first month I was here. Only three even agreed to a meeting with me. One told me that I needed to have established film and stage credits before they would ever entertain the idea of representing a “no-name” client. She also informed me that high school roles and local fashion shows shouldn’t be included on my resume. I thanked her for the tip. The other two agents couldn’t even bother to return my call. Of the three agents I met with, none of them agreed to represent me. One was a hack with an office above a Japanese Fusion restaurant that smelled like grease and unappetizing food. His hair was greased back so severely, that I became convinced that he was using the grease from the kitchen down below. Agent number two laughed at me when I asked if they would represent me, and he said he would keep my name and number on file and call me if they had any new representation openings. The third agent asked me for an up-front agent retainer of $7,500.00. I informed her that if I had that kind of money, I wouldn’t be sleeping on couches and worrying about having clean clothing each day. I made a swift departure.

When the discouragement set in, I knew I needed to distract myself. I needed to make sure that I kept busy and that I saved some money. I needed to find a roommate and get a place of my own. I was motivated, I had a plan. I accepted that I needed to concentrate on making money and getting my own place to live and then I could refocus on developing my career. Sleeping when I could, I sometimes had to remind myself to eat. I worked hard, made great money in tips and did well. Here I am. Three months into this journey. Three months of disappointment. Three months of sub-par living conditions. Three months of working myself to the bone. But it is all worth it.

Tomorrow, Calista and I are moving into a tiny sixth-floor walk-up studio apartment. There will be enough room for two single beds and a couch. That is about it. An efficiency kitchen with a mini fridge, a micro and hot plate. But it is ours. I met Calista my first day on the job. We clicked and knew that being roommates would work. She slept all day and worked all night at the corner bar and restaurant. I would make sure to make myself busy and stay out of her way when she needed to rest. My goal will be to keep my job at the location on the corner where we worked together and I will quit my other job next week. By quitting the second crappy job, I will have more time to research auditions, find out about local casting calls and explore the city and all that has to offer.

I do not know if I will ever land “The Role.” But I do know this. It isn’t for lack of trying. Even if I only ever work at the bar on the corner, I plan on being the best waitress my customers have ever seen. I will be so helpful and fast that they will ask for me by name and request to be in my section when they return each weekend. My plan from here on out is to excel at everything I do. 100% effort as I put my best foot forward. I feel like this city is waiting for me. Waiting for me to explore. Waiting for me to dive into adventure. Waiting for me to embrace it fully. And I am not one to disappoint. 

Okay Life. Let’s do this.

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Please visit Kelli at her blog! https://kellijgavin.blogspot.com/2019/07/lets-do-this.html