Coins In The Machine

I made my feeble attempt of a stirring post over at my other blog. Stop on over and see.

Telling Stories

From my last post, over 29 writers, including myself, got together and crafted an assortment of stories for an anthology called, Facing the Sun. This anthology was to help fellow author Richard Levangie as he underwent neurosurgery. He is home now, recovering.

You can still give a donation by visiting his website. With a donation, in any amount you like, you will receive the anthology Facing the Sun. All donations go to Richard to help with medical bills and other expenses as he continues to recover.

You can visit Richard at his site, Telling Stories. And thank you again for your donation.

Friends Of Richard

Hello everyone. I would like to ask for your help.

Consider making a donation to help out fellow author Richard Levangie, who is undergoing neurosurgery (today) to remove a pituitary tumor. Any size donation is accepted. As a thank you, you'll receive this anthology "Facing The Sun" with stories contributed from 29 writers. The anthology is in .pdf format to download or print out. You'll find a memoir piece of mine in this anthology.

Please visit Facing The Sun website for more information and to give a donation. For those friends who have already donated, I thank you.

The Lascaux Review

Do you have a story that needs to be told, but is not receiving the reader attention you would like? Author friend Stephen Parrish is collaborating with author Wendy Russ to start an online literary journal titled, The Lascaux Review.

They are currently accepting submissions from both writers and artists. Unlike other literary journals that publish issues, they will take a more blog-like approach and post works as soon as they are accepted and ready to publish. You can subscribe to the site to receive announcements. They will also hold flash fiction contests and award annual prizes for best fiction pieces and poems.

Please visit their sites for more information on how to submit your story or artwork.

Blog Chain: Loving Our Villians

This week's Blog Chain is brought to us by Amparo, who asks:

Since Valentine's Day is around the corner, I think it's only appropriate to pay homage to those we love. But instead of our better halves, family members, and friends, this blog chain will be all about loving the haters: write a love letter to your favorite literary villain/villain-ish character. It can be short, long, serious, funny. You can use song lyrics or poems instead. Choice is totally yours :)

I had to take a moment to decide who I wanted to write a love letter to, but then the answer became obvious. Who better than an author's ultimate fan? Anne Wilkes From Stephen King's Misery.

Stephen King's Misery is the ultimate fan worship movie. The love/hate relationship is legendary. We love having fans for our writing. But when the fan's adoration turns a bit... um... psycho fanatic, then we can't stand to have that person around.

So here is a letter to you, Anne Wilkes...

Dear Anne:

You are the author's best friend. You become a part of the writing that an author puts out, sinking into the characters in the book until you actually believe they are REAL. You feel the character's pain, love, anger, laughter. You experience every scene with the character. Who better than to have as an ultimate fan? You even name your pig after the main character.

But you are even more than this. You are a great critique partner. When Paul Sheldon lets you read his latest manuscript, you give him the helpful feedback that he needed. You told him you didn't like the manuscript. Then you made him set it on fire and continue writing his other series. You are the best critique partner a writer could have.

You are also inspirational. You encourage Paul to keep writing no matter what. And when procrastination sets in (as in Paul wanting to escape) you make sure Paul sits his butt back in that chair and keep at it. You even go and break his ankles to let him know that writing is the most important thing he should be doing.

So this letter is to you, Anne Wilkes, the author's ultimate fan.

Read Katrina's post from yesterday and Eric's post tomorrow.

Blog Chain: Feel What You Feel

Blog Chain day! Kate has this round.

Post pictures, songs, movie clips, poems, or novel excerpts that make you feel. Feel what, you ask? Feel anything. Happy. Sad. Angry. Nostalgic. Hopeful. Hopeless. Jealous. Joyful. 

I have read in several different places that YA novelist John Green said of his latest novel, The Fault In Our Stars that he wants to make his readers "Feel All The Things." I would love that someone could go through this blog chain and through what we all choose to post have that same Feel All The Things feeling.

Here's my collage of feelings:


Feathered Concerto
by Michelle Hickman

“Silence, oh you mocking birds!”

I hear them flying overhead, your calls painful in my heart. Wings beat upon my head, causing my feet to stumble. Let not your dirge strike fear into my soul. I cast you out! I cast you out!

The stones cut into my bare soles, telling me I’m alive. But who cares? I may be, but she is not. Gone. Her life more fleeting than the downdraft keeping the feathered one aloft. Oh, how I wish I could seek such eternal sleep. Yet the violin case bangs into my thigh, urging onward. Keep going. Almost there.

A short distance as straight as the crow flies.

Autumn leaves flash a bit of white nearby. My knees buckle. There she is. My sweet one. Stark. Cold. Flesh picked clean by the scavengers perched among tree limbs. Feathers drift downward to become her funeral shroud covering her bones, shielding her nakedness.

Let me play a bit of something for you.

The violin rests on my shoulder. The bow slides across the strings. Our song drifts throughout this desolate place. The notes echo against the cliffs. Was it only last month when we walked along here? Yes, it was last month, during our argument, when the heat of our anger caused my arms to thrust out. You fell. You screamed your last aria.

I play our song. Cry out, you mocking birds! Join in with my requiem. Let your voices reach the heavens where my sweet now resides.




Novel Excerpt
Scary Darling

The Puchanist Opera House presents the musical smash hit, TEARS OF LIGHT, starring Ruth Henroy as the homely housewife Simple Susan, Peter Weriner as the real-estate mogul Lex of Fortuna, and Mabel Durhan as the scintillating temptress Veronica Volta. Along with an all-star cast --

Mabel . . . Mabel . . . Mabel . . . it was such a pretty name, not too long and not too short. It stuck in my mind with the flow of two separate words all to themselves. May bells. They would ring at the wedding ceremony as cherry blossoms showered their petals on the happy couple.

I wonder if she would like a May wedding? We could release doves after the ceremony. We could have the initials of our names, M for Mabel and G for George, stenciled in light on the dance floor. In thoughts, I could see us twirl and dip to the beats of our favorite song: Let love be true. Mabel sang it beautifully on stage. She could give an impromptu show for our special guests before we left for our honeymoon.

I heard her siren voice right now. The song belted from the speakers and the CD I had taken from the music store. I stared at the theater poster hanging on the refrigerator door, imagining her image putting on a special performance just for me. Wonderful. Yet I would share the real Mabel tonight. The theater ticket curled in my palm while I glanced at the time on the microwave. 5:00. The show would start at 7:15. The train would arrive in twenty minutes as it would take me to the East Side. I have already showered. I have already shaved. Beneath my feet as I sat on the bed, the floorboards shook. Rattles came from the jars on my shelves where captured paintbrushes showed colorful highlights along their bristle heads. Mabel’s voice stuttered from the bouncing radio at the vibration of metal wheels. The connected freight cars passed by the apartment building as my painted canvases drummed against all the walls. Bottom frames tapped in their jittery speech of stilted Morse code.

Wrong train, George. Count the rumbles four more times. Then this would be your cue to leave for the nearby depot.

My fingers pulled out yesterday’s playbill from under my pillow. The scissors had cut around the picture of sweet Mabel on the cover, snipping away the other actors. USELESS. Their performances paled to the stage theatrics done by my temptress. In my opinion, she carried the whole show by herself on those beautiful and burdened shoulders. Her name should have the place of honor at the top of the theater marquee.

From off the pillow, the roll of tape lifted into my grasp while I stood on the bed. The ceiling had a textured surface as the pieces of tape bulged with the tiny hills. The playbill found a shaky place near the ten other ones from the ten other shows I have attended these past two weeks. They might not stay. They might fall. Yet I had fun sticking them up there. I would lay under the covers at night and watch the moonlight reflecting on Mabel’s features. I would hear the tape pull away from the ceiling with a snick-snick. Loosened edges with not enough stickiness would give way from the glossy papers’ weight. Finally, one of them would fall on me and bring excited dreams. One day, the real Mabel would fall onto this bed from on high. She would drop onto the bedcovers wanting me as much as I wanted her.

I needed her to believe this.

I jumped off the bed and walked toward the kitchen table. The flowers, golden calla lilies, drank in the water from the vase. I readied the pale yellow tissue paper; Mabel’s favorite color was yellow as I pushed the previous blue paper farther down into the garbage can. I should have rolled up my sleeve first. Blood spotted the fabric when I lifted my arm out.

Stubborn man. He should have given me the flowers after he left the florist shop. It was not my fault that I punched him in the face. I had told him Mabel loved yellow flowers. He should have picked a different color if he wanted them so badly. Or he should have picked a flower Mabel hated. Or he should have parked his car out in the street instead of in the alley.

Two paper towels encircled the stems, holding in the moisture and keeping the flowers fresh. I placed the bundle on the tissue paper and curled the folds as I made the gift appear special. Then I slipped in the card and my neatly penned message.

I hope you have a spectacular stage performance. Break a leg. Your adoring admirer, George Bastion

Your adoring admirer; I liked the phrase. It was better than saying fan. I hated that word. It reminded me of fake attitudes showed by two types of people standing near the velvet rope: those celebrities who are desperate to stay famous and those fanatics who are desperate to be known by a famous person who is desperate. I wanted something more fulfilling than this. I wanted a happy life with a happy wife who adored me just as much as I did her.

The apartment shook. The hanging light above the table swung in a pendulum over my head. Several playbills fell. I rushed over and giggled while trying to catch the printed leaves before they struck the bed. Catch the leaves and make a wish, my mama always told me when autumn settled over the neighborhood and the trees lost their browned tops. If you catch one before it struck the ground, George, your heart’s fondest dreams would come true.

Two glossy booklets bounced on outstretched fingers and slid behind the headboard. One dropped faster than my swinging hands as I caught air. The third train bolted along the paths, causing another playbill downward. I caught it in both palms. My lips kissed her photo and hugged the papers tight.

“Let Mabel talk to me today.”

"Not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."



That's about all I got. Go see Katrina for her posting. And don't forget to stop by Eric's place tomorrow.

Blog Chain: This Old House

Jon has a turn at the blog chain this round. He asks:

Imagine the home(s) where you grew up, and start drawing a floor plan. As you draw, memories will surface. Grab onto one of those memories and tell us a story.

I lived in a three-bedroom ranch house for a family of five. So this meant a lot of construction and rearranging of rooms. I shared a room with my older sister, with the bathroom beside our room and the hallway twisting around to my brothers room (whose door faced ours -- if you can imagine it) and the hallway continuing into the backroom.

Since this was a ranch house, we had no basement. This meant the washer and dryer were located in the kitchen beside the stove and chest freezer. So the sounds of of the washer would fill the whole house. A mist of steam coated all the windows, as we would draw funny faces on the surface, watching the drips slide down the pane.

One of the stories of this house I will take from a post I made long ago on my other blog.

The button popped out as the whirling sound faded along with the clanks and rattles of tossed zippers and clasps. A blast of heat escaped from the open door. Hot clothes tumbled into the waiting basket.

Laundry Day.

It was the one task in the house that we (my sister, brother, and me) helped on whenever we heard the familiar buzzing sound of the dryer. We became good laundry folders as we shook out the loose lint, tucked in the sleeves, rolled - not folded - the towels, and balled up the socks. Then we dutifully carried the full baskets to our respective bedrooms and dumped everything into an untidy mess on the floors. The basket flipped onto its side as we cowered behind our makeshift forts and lobbed soft mayhem at each other.


Heck! Who needed snowballs? It did not even have to be winter to have such fun. Argyle missiles sailed from one bedroom into another, the checkered style causing cross-eyed, hypnotic stares as it took confused enemies (a.k.a. my brother and sister) by complete surprise. Knee highs were small fast balls able to curve around corners. Holey socks were the best fun, as we stuck fingers into the toe holes and chucked them with great strength like a javelin hurler. The sock would swoop through the air, smack the window or closet behind the enemy, and ricochet back as a sneak attack from the blind side. Whenever we ran out of socks, we had to run out into the hallway and gather up the misfired ones. Then we tried to scramble back to safety, ducking and diving with the balls aimed at our cheeks.

No, I am not talking about the cheeks on our faces. The other ones.

Even better, no body part was off-limits - not even our heads. When the battle ended, we never had to worry about black eyes or missing teeth or broken limbs. Maybe we might have a little injured pride. Yet revenge could wait until the next laundry day.

Can you imagine if we fought real wars with socks? We could subdue the foe with cottony softness.

Sock war. Fun for the young and old alike. Children. Spouses. Take a little time out of your day to toss a sock at someone. Laughter will ensue.

*Disclaimer: I really shouldn’t have to say this but...the blog owner will not be held responsible by any misuse of your socks that leads to injury (splashing your sock into a pot of boiling water), arrest (holding up a bank using a sock as a weapon), or stupidity (ramming your you-know-what up your mean boss’s you-know-where). Use some commonsense, folks*

Read Katrina's story from yesterday and check out Eric's home story tomorrow.

Blog Chain: Finding the Write Time

Tere is starting the chain this time. Her question is:

What conditions do you need to get your best writing done? Closed door, crowded coffee house? Computer or notebook? Can you just sit down to write, or do you need to wait for the time to be right?

I think the one person who can answer this question best is my boss. Well, Boss. When DO I get writing time in? Can I just sit down and write, or do I wait for the right time?

Translation: because mommy's job involves writing stuff for people, like articles and product descriptions and web page content, mommy is ALWAYS writing. She's typing away on her laptop all day, although she does take time to play with me and feed me and be silly with me. Mommy hasn't gotten much creative time in lately, because of her other writing work. But when I get older, since I'm only 10-months-old right now, and can do more things on my own, mommy will get more time to be creative. She's real patient.

Visit Katrina for her answer. And stop by Eric's place for his.

Blog Chain: Big Accomplishments

Hello, everyone! Today, I have the pleasure of choosing the topic for this current blog chain round. I also know this is NanoWrimo month for many people. So I wanted to post a topic that is related.

This is the month in creating writing goals and making big accomplishments. What is your greatest accomplishment -- in writing, your life or perhaps something incidental that had a big effect on you?

At the moment, I want to say my biggest accomplishment has been to not pull my hair out with how hectic life has been. Raising a nine-month-old on my own and making ends meet has been my main focus. But the fact that I have a job related to writing that keeps my creative juices flowing has to be another great accomplishment.

Yesterday, I visited a client's site. They are hosting a contest to raise money for cancer research. There, I saw my press release I created for them, talking about cancer and how it can effect so many people.

The sense of pride I felt to see my writing work online feels like a major accomplishment to me, especially since most of my own fiction writing has been put on hold. I plan on getting back to it soon, when my daughter is a little bit older and I have a bit more free time (I hope!)

So, what are you big accomplishments? What makes you straighten up with pride in who you are and what you are doing in your life?

Visit Eric for his post.

Blog Chain: The Things That Go BUMP in the Night!

It's Blog Chain time again. New member Matt has come up with a fun question for us.

What is your all-time favorite monster? You can take this in any direction you'd like. For example: my most bad-ass monster would easily be a dragon, and it is my favorite in some ways, but you don't have to go with that kind of measurement. Like me, you could go with the most ridiculously hilarious monster you ever heard of, or, like Stephanie Meyer, you could go with the most romantic creature to ever grace the pages of mythology. Or like Carrie Ryan, you could choose the old standby: Zombies. One alone might not be much to handle, but the horde is probably the single most powerful monster force ever invented in gaming, film, literature, or legend. It's up to you: what's your favorite monster?

I've been debating about this for quite some time. It's not that I don't have a favorite monster. It was whether I wanted to go literal and choose a monster that was *sort of* flesh and bone. Or whether I wanted to be more metaphorical and choose a creature that existed only in the dark deep pits of the human soul and mind where we fear to tread.

Decisions... decisions....

There have been monsters that scared me as a kid. And there have been monsters that I truly loved due to their lovable nature. And there have been ones that I absolutely loathed. Like the one below. Truly, I loath him. If I ever see one dancing on the store shelf, I might just go Jason with the hockey mask and machete on his little red a**!

It is interesting how many people on the blog chain haven't chosen monsters from literature. There are some dozzies out there -- the original monsters. I don't mean so much of the vampires or witches. But the other creatures that get downplayed, like the giants, ogres or goblins that can rank pretty high on the monster list.

Oh well. If I must choose a monster, I will choose one due to his spunk. This guy is one mean dude. He could beat out against any dragon, muppet or Twilight character in a caged death match. Seriously, he is the monster of all monsters. Although he can speak English, he sticks with his main language of "rathsmagrably-spithzz." You could hear him coming miles away as he approached as a whirlwind of ferocious claws and teeth. He is a spitting, eating machine.

Katrina posted her favorite monster here. Eric will posts his tomorrow.