Thursday, May 31, 2012

MFF#13: A Child Needs His Father by Rebecca Barray

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challengeEvery story (600 words max) began with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

For our lucky #13 and last MFF entry, Rebecca Barray brings us this wonderfully poignant piece told from a father's perspective. Too many good dads go through what this dad has experienced, but I think the bittersweet end will keep you on the edge of your seat, as it did mine. Read on and be generous with comments!

A Child Needs His Father

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son. Only three short years had passed since Riley entered this world, making me a father. Cheryl and I had a lot of happy times. But as the months flew by, I saw the growing resentment in her. Finally, we decided to go our separate ways and she was even giving me full custody of Riley; she didn’t want a toddler holding her back anyway. Then, her mother told her how much child support they could share. And the worst part: she wanted to take him back home to live with her mother, twelve hours away. The judge awarded her full custody right away, saying simply, “A child needs his mother.” As though a father’s presence is superfluous. Her drug and alcohol use of late didn’t matter: A child needs his mother.

So now, here I sit, spending my last day with Riley at his favorite spot: the playground at the park. She calls from her cell phone, mumbling to me that she’s ten minutes away. My last minutes with him soar by. I memorize the tinkling of his laughter as he swings high into the air. His face lights up as he runs, jumping into my arms. I smell his baby shampoo, hugging his little body close. I catch him for probably the hundredth time as he flies down the slide.

Ten minutes turns into twenty, then thirty. I’m thrilled for the extra time. I spin Riley on the merry-go-round, slowly so he doesn’t get sick or fall off, but he loves it. We play hide and seek in the labyrinth of tunnels. I show him how to place his feet on the climbing wall, yet again, so he makes it to the top. 

My phone rings again; it’s been almost an hour since I heard from Cheryl but the caller ID informs me that it’s not her. “Hello?” I sit down on the bench and watch Riley play in the sand.

“Mr. Simon?” a female voice asks.


“This is Officer Michaels with the West Virginia State Police. There’s been an accident.” Faces flash through my mind: Mom, Dad, and then, Cheryl. “Your wife, Cheryl Simon, crossed the median just east of mile marker 32 into the westbound lanes of I64 and collided, head-on, with a tractor trailer.” I don’t tell her that Cheryl is now my ex-wife. “She was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center for extensive injuries, but, I’m sorry to say, she passed away en route. Her injuries were just too severe.”

My eyes close and I remember Cheryl’s smile when she walked down the aisle at our wedding. I can see the tears slide down her cheek when she held Riley for the first time. I hear the excitement in her voice when she called me at work to tell me that Riley had said his first word, “Dada.” Then, I see her bloodshot eyes when I would get home from work. I hear the slur in her voice when she called earlier.

“Sir? I’m very sorry for your loss.” 

“Thank you,” I say, suddenly back in the present. I finish up on the phone just as Riley runs over, grabbing my hand.

“Daddy? Will you catch me again? Please?” His little voice pleads with me, as though I might say no. 

“Of course, Kiddo. Let’s go.” I’m so sorry it had to be this way, but I can’t help feeling grateful. I guess a child needs his father after all.


Rebecca Barray is a stay home mother of three (four if you count her extremely child-like husband). She loves fiction and spends her precious little spare time reading, writing, learning about writing, and thinking about writing. She also likes to take pictures.

Becca’s Blog is where she shares her goals, tips, and dreams. She’s also been known to share mommy moments, as well as bits of her latest fiction love: romance, poetry, or fantasy. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MFF#12: Sorcerer's Staff by Daniel R Marvello

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challengeEvery story (600 words max) began with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son. 

We had a total of thirteen entries before yesterday's deadline! I was excited to get this fantasy piece from author Daniel R Marvello! Here's a little more about it in his words: My piece is set in my fantasy world of Mundia, but it is not part of any current story. Your challenge gave me a chance to explore an issue that the mundane (non-magical) people of Mundia occasionally face: what happens when you discover that your son or daughter has the ability to work with magic? Sorcerers are generally shunned by the mundane population, so the discovery of magical sensitivity is both disappointing and frightening.


Sorcerer's Staff

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

I watched him carefully consider the items arrayed on his bed. The set of leatherworking tools I gave him on his tenth birthday was one of the first things to disappear into the pack. He should be here with me, using those tools in our trade and eventually taking over the business from me. I said as much.

"But, Father, you were the one who took me to the sorcerer sanctuary in Northshore to be tested."

I hung my head with guilt. He was right, but I'd had no choice. The other village elders had insisted, just as I had insisted when a neighbor's daughter showed signs of being sensitive to magic. Everyone in the village wanted to know if they had a potential sorcerer in their midst. Now I wish we could just ignore it and let the children decide for themselves what path they would take. My son didn't have to become a sorcerer just because he had the ability to channel magic. I said that too.

"That hide's been punched, Father," he answered, turning one of my favorite sayings against me. "I hate the way everyone treats me now. It's like I have some kind of disease."

He rolled up the game of Kings and Peasants we had made together in front of the fire during his twelfth winter, and he added it to his pack. I took a deep breath to hold back the sob that threatened to burst from my chest when my memory flashed on the many times we'd played together over the past three years.

My only son pushed the last few items of clothing into his pack, leaving a little room at the top for the food his mother was preparing for him in the kitchen. I stood up from the chair I had been sitting in and told him he could come home any time he wanted.
"That's no longer true, Father, but thank you for saying it." He stepped over to me and we wrapped our arms around each other. I marveled at how he was nearly my height now and hoped he wouldn't feel the tear that fell on his shoulder.

His little sister sat silently in the corner of the room watching his preparations with wide brown eyes and a rag doll clutched tightly to her chest. When we embraced, she got up and ran over to us, putting her arms around our waists. She was trying to be brave as her brother had asked her to be, so she buried her wet face into my side to muffle her sniffles.

His mother appeared at the doorway to the room as we released each other. Her tear-stained face was a numb mask of grief. When we returned from Northshore two days ago with the news, it had caught her completely unprepared. Our family had no history of sorcery as far as we knew, but that didn't change the reality we faced now.

My son added the package of food to his pack and buckled the top closed. He hugged his mother one last time on his way out, and then the three of us somberly followed him to the front door.

Outside the door, he picked up the hiking stick he'd made for himself last year and gave a final wave as he took his first steps down the path away from his family.

I thought to myself that his walking stick would probably become a sorcerer's staff now.

Daniel R. Marvello is a fantasy writer who lives in North Idaho with his wife, two wonderful dogs, and a cat who thinks she's a dog. His debut novel Vaetra Unveiled is the first book of the Vaetra Chronicles series ( Daniel is also the mastermind behind the Magic Appreciation Tour (, a web site dedicated to readers and authors of magical fantasy. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Serenya's Song Now Available on Kindle!


Book Two of my fantasy romance series is finally available for your Kindle, so hurry thee up and grab a copy! Please share this news if you will. I'd appreciate it very much.

Click HERE to find it at Amazon!

A Review of Globular Van der Graff's Goblin Tales For Adults by Jack Eason

Globular Van der Graff's Goblin Tales for AdultsGlobular Van der Graff's Goblin Tales for Adults by Jack Eason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you're like me, you've probably held to the notion that goblins are ugly, green humanoids with the mentality of a swarm of gnats. From page one of this fabulous collection, you'll realize there are more to goblins than their usual portrayal in literature.

Jack Eason has created a compelling, complex, and utterly charming world called Goblindom, where a band of five goblin brothers, led by Globular (Glob) share in one exciting journey after another. Humans (humins, as the goblins call them) are present, but unlike most stories in fantasy, they are not the focus, but exist as friends and wonderful minor characters.

What I particularly love about this collection is that the characters are so well done, they come to life on the page. Each goblin has his own unique quirks. You'll soon connect with each of them as though they were old friends, whether it's Make with his pipe or cross-eyed, grumpy Neo. My favorite character of all, however, isn't a goblin at all, but a one-eyed, lisping raven named Bejuss. He completely steals the show on more than one occasion!

Each story is short enough to read in a sitting and different enough to keep you waiting for the next. Whether the brothers are seeking out the goblin queen or protecting the humins from ugly witches and dragons, their stories are lessons in friendship, family, loyalty, and perseverance.

Don't let the "For Adults" in the title fool you. These stories are not erotic or overly graphic, so I recommend it for young adults and beyond! Grab your copy today!

View all my reviews

Monday, May 28, 2012

MFF#11: by Angie Ballard

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challengeEvery story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son. 

I found today's flash fiction by Angie Ballard to be very appropriate for Memorial Day. As people from across our country remember their lost loved ones, my heart especially goes out to those who have lost a child. No one's prepared for that, no matter what the circumstances. Read about this mother's heartbreak and feel free to share about any lost loved one you're thinking of today.

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.  I thought he was at the “safe age” - too old for SIDS or incurable childhood cancers but too young for high school car wrecks with their middle-of-the-night phone calls.  But there is no safe age, no safe place, no guarantee that a mother will outlive her child.
We’d been led to a small room in the far corner of the recovery room, the only one, I’d noted, with real walls instead of curtains.  The white sheet and blanket were pulled neatly to his chest, and his arms, covered in downy hair, lay at his sides.  That’s when I knew he was truly gone.  My Jack has always slept tangled in covers, half-hanging off the bed, dirty feet on pillows with the rest of him hidden under the comforter.  His hair was combed, neatly parted at the side, which made my heart crack open just a little wider as I remembered telling him not to comb his hair down over his forehead, to part it and comb it back so the oil from his hair wouldn’t make his acne flare up.  His few pimples looked purplish on his blue-tinged skin, and when I grasped his large hand in mine it was cool.  I knew he’d have been cool to the touch even if he’d made it through the heart surgery, and I’d talked bluntly to Michael as we lay in bed the night before about what to expect when Jack got out of surgery.  As a nurse, I’d seen the tubes, wires, monitors, and immobility of postop patients frighten families who hadn’t been prepared.  I thought we were ready.
Jack’s mouth was closed, but its shape was slightly distorted by the braces he’d worn for a year and a half.  They were due to come off next month.  I thought of calling his dentist, who’d known him since he was a toddler, and couldn’t imagine telling them why I was canceling his appointment.  I’d never see his new smile.  No one would.  Not the cocky grin of a sixteen-year-old with a new learner’s permit, not the sheepish grin of a self-proclaimed nerd who’d gotten up the nerve to ask a girl to the prom, not the confident smile of a young man whose parents had just hauled all his belongings up three flights of stairs into his freshman dorm room.
He would forever be thirteen, the awkward, self-conscious age.  The age where we fought about grades, TV, video games, cell phones, and everything else that didn’t matter.  He wouldn’t be in his older brother’s wedding pictures next year, and the hand I was holding would never slip a ring on some lucky young woman’s finger.  Michael sobbed softly from across the bed, and I reached for his hand so that the three of us formed a circle, but I couldn’t meet his eyes.
I was the one who’d assured Michael everything would be alright, who’d smiled at John as they wheeled him off to surgery, saying we’d see him soon.  From the day at the pediatrician’s office when they first heard the murmur I took charge.  I selected his cardiologist and his cardiovascular surgeon carefully, I did all my research.  Jack’s wasn’t a rare abnormality, and the surgery itself was fairly straightforward, as open heart surgeries go.  But something went wrong.  I saw it in the surgeon’s eyes as soon as he opened the door to the private conference room we’d been put in.  I’d been prepared for everything else, but not this.  Never this.

Angie Ballard is a nurse, mother of sons, and dog-lover who got started writing with her blog, The Jammie Girl, which is part chat with a girlfriend over a glass of sweet tea, part conversation overheard in the grocery store checkout line, and part Thanksgiving dinner with the crazy branch of the family.  Although her only published work to date is a frugal cookbook she is currently writing her second novel in the Women's Fiction genre when she's not wasting time on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Interview with Author Jack Eason, Take Two

Buy it HERE!
When I heard about multi-published author Jack Eason's latest release, I immediately demanded another interview with him here. Why? Because I've read most of the stories in Globular Van der Graff's Goblin Tales for Adults and fell in love with all the quirky characters in Goblindom. Here is a snippet of the blurb so you can get a taste of what it's all about:

A very long time ago, there once was a land called Goblindom hidden behind a magic barrier to protect its inhabitants from mankind. Man’s ancestors the humins lived there quietly alongside wyverns, griffins, trolls, witches and wizards as well as woods, mountain and plains goblins, ravens, eagles and many more creatures.

This anthology is a collection of thirty tales, which I have translated from goblin into English thanks to Globular Van der Graff, a friendly southern woods goblin who told them to me not long ago. They are not my tales, they are his, hence the title – Globular Van der Graff’s “Goblin Tales for Adults”. 

Welcome back, Jack! The first time you were here last March, you had recently published your first novel, Onet's Tale with a small press. Then, you made the decision to self-publish. I think lots of writers are on the fence about the issue of how to publish. Can you tell us the positives and negatives of making that move?

Hi Mysti, The positives far outweigh the negatives. You decide what story you will publish and when, instead of having to wait until your publisher is ready. You decide what form the story will be published in, in my case – ebook. You decide what the cover will be. You decide where your work will be made available. I could go on, but I won’t.  

Let's shift right into the birth of Goblindom. What triggered this series of goblin tales?
To be honest with you, I’m not really sure. The idea of a friendly goblin slowly materialized in my mind halfway through last year, the rest you know.

Glob, his brothers, and a certain lisping raven absolutely come to life in these tales. Can you list the main characters and tell my curious readers a little about them?

Certainly – they are:

Globular Van der Graff (Glob), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo) and Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak.
Glob is the long suffering, much put upon older goblin and leader of the brothers. Make is the friendly, normally laid back, pipe smoking one. Mous is the accident prone member of the household who is always squabbling with his best friend Make. Byz is the youngest. He is a gentle simpleton, easily distracted by a pretty flower, or anything which takes his fancy. Neo is a very grumpy, short tempered, cross-eyed individual with a predilection for hitting anyone who annoys him on the head with his club. Lastly, we come to my personal favourite – Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak. I absolutely had a ball writing his two adventures “I Juth Want One Night’th Thleep”, and “Enter Gerald the Egg”.

Your other works have been in the sci-fi genre, but this one is decidedly fantasy. Did you find the switch to be challenging, fun, or both? Do you think you'll ever write in the fantasy genre again?
Fun, pure and simple Mysti - as for whether or not I write another, it all depends on how well Glob’s Tales are received.

It's random question time! If you could own any animal, real or imaginary, as a pet, what would it be and why?
Heh – a one eyed lisping raven with a twisted beak, what else. I love all kinds of birds. During my lifetime I’ve had all kinds of birds for pets.

Pretty please with sugar on top, give us an excerpt from Globular Van der Graff's Goblin Tales for Adults!
Here is a typical scene inside the goblin brother’s household for you:

Make tugged at the first willow bark boot so hard that when it finally came free, he toppled backwards knocking over the table and stools, covering himself in the fetid pile of grass that fell out of the boot. All goblins use dry grass, or straw, to line their boots for comfort and warmth. When he removed Neo’s remaining boot, the sulphurous stench of unwashed feet and stinking grass filled the tiny room making everyone feel ill. The smell was so disgusting that they all pinched their noses. Poor Bejuss fell off his perch once more when the smell wafted in his direction. To escape the stench, he rapidly buried his head in the sweet grass lining the bottom of his cage. No one dare complain. At one time or another, everyone had experienced the pain of Neo’s club on their heads – even Glob.

From the sweet smelling depths of the fresh grass in the witch cage Bejuss lisped loudly. “Foul thtinking murder! Rarrk – whothe murdered a baby birdy thtill in it’th egg?” 

His alarm cry broke the uneasy silence. Everyone, with the exception of Neo, laughed so much that tears flowed down their leathery goblin faces. Needless to say, the evening meal of dried fish, watercress, wild onion, mint and honeycomb, washed down with freshly brewed mead, was consumed in enforced silence. Neo angrily glared cross eyed at each of his brothers in turn, as they tried hard to stifle outright laughter between mouthfuls, defying them to say just one word out of place. 

Finally, can you give us any hints as to what you have in the works next?
I’m researching for another sci-fi tale – a long term project. Of course I could easily be persuaded to write some more goblin tales. 

Thank you so much, Jack, for stopping by again. I wish Glob & Co. much success!

For more about Jack, visit his blog:

To see the rest of his works, visit his Amazon page:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Axed: Scenes That Didn't Make the Cut, #1

Thanks to fab author, Tara Fox Hall, who wrote this inspiring blog post about not wasting deleted scenes and passages, I've decided to do a little series of scenes deleted from A Ranger's Tale and Serenya's Song. For various reasons, these bits of terrible and not-so-terrible prose had to be axed, so I'll share them with you as insight into why some things make it into an author's final draft and why some things don't.

Today's deleted scene didn't quite make it into A Ranger's Tale, though a critique partner had suggested it. I liked the idea. Galadin had already met Caliphany and rescued her from an attempted kidnapping by this point. I thought having him show up at the ball in Chapter 4 might give Caliphany (Cali) the excuse she needed to ask him to train her. But, when all was said and done, I decided that, headstrong as she was, she needed to seek him out herself. Which, of course, she did, and the rest is history...

So now, for your amusement, here is all I managed to write of the ball scene, in its unedited glory:

            Thanks to Leveren, a cousin a few times removed on my mother’s side, I got an invite to the banquet at the palace, of all places. I had only been in that massive white structure once or twice with my mother. She grew flowers of all sorts and sold them for a while to make fancy arrangements for the palace events.
            Leveren was one of the city guards, and he would be in attendance for extra security. He recognized me right away, though I hadn’t the faintest idea who he was. I just nodded and pretended that I knew him, discreetly reading the name engraved on his breastplate.
            He had this way of snickering after every few words. “Trudeaux, you should come tonight, ha, ha—there will be drinks galore, ha, ha, enough food to feed our entire army and then some.”
            “I’m not exactly the right blood type, I’m afraid.”
            “That won’t matter, ha, ha. The king’s allowing all of the guards to bring one guest, ha, ha. Oh, and there will be plenty of pretty young women there too, ha, ha.”
            “I don’t…” But then, I thought I might catch a glimpse of those blue eyes again. “Sure, I’ll come along.”
            “Great! Ha, ha. Just ask for me when you get there. I’ll escort you in, ha, ha.”
            Night fell, and I made my way toward the palace. Leveren was waiting outside, and seemed surprised to see me. I guess I surprised myself, too. Coming anywhere near Ravenwing could pose a problem. But, what could he do? I was just honoring an invitation, after all.
            He led me to the ballroom. I wore a simple black mask, since Leveren had told me masks were optional. When we entered the great room, few people actually wore masks, and I hoped I wouldn’t stand out. Lovely elven ladies flitted about, and I snatched a glass of wine while I admired their curves.
            Leveren nudged me. “See, I told you, ha ha. I’ll get back to my duties. Find me if you need anything.”
            I nodded. Scanning the crowd, I looked for Cali. Then I wondered if I would recognize her from a distance. Some of the masks were flamboyant, covered with shiny gems and artificially dyed feathers.
            Working my way around the periphery of the room, I searched the sea of female eyes. Some of the full-bloods noticed my ears, curled up their lips in disgust, and turned their backs toward me. I couldn’t help but snicker. 
Q & A Time!

If you're a writer, what are some reasons that you've given scenes the axe? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

MFF Update

My favorite spot: an idyllic picnic
area in Cades Cove, Great Smoky
Mountains National Park, TN.
My oldest niece had a beautiful and hilariously fun wedding ceremony, and we spent another three days having a grand old time in the gorgeous Smoky Mountains. Now, I'm back from va-ca and planning out the rest of my busy summer with three kids here full time!

First thing on the agenda: MFF = May Flash Fiction.

Time is running out for your submissions. (Click the flasher in the top right sidebar for details). We've only had 10 entries so far, and finally, I have a breakdown of the prizes:

1st Place: One print copy of The Emotion Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman, One print copy of The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, one first-page critique by one of the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, and an interview on Unwritten!

2nd Place: One PDF of The Emotion Thesaurus, one first page critique by one of the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, and an interview on Unwritten!

3rd Place: An interview on Unwritten!

Not too shabby, eh? Trust me, if you want to write for publication or fun, you'll love these prizes! You have until midnight on May 29 to get those 600 word or less flash fiction pieces in, so if you still want to participate, hop to it!


Friday, May 18, 2012

A Review of Spellbound 2011 by Jenny Twist, et al.

Spellbound 2011Spellbound 2011 by Jenny Twist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories will thrill you with its horrific and strange tales, mixed with some passion and humor for flavor. There are ghosts galore, curses, werewolves, an even a deranged uncle.

There are eight stories in all, and I'll touch on them briefly:

Spellbound at Midnight takes place in the mystical venue of New Orleans. Perfect setting for this spooky tale. I felt the ending a bit anticlimactic, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Room 1309.5, inspired by Poe and Stephen King, led me down a path I thought predictable, but then took me by surprise with its twist!

Mansion of Nightmares is a classic ghost story, but with a passionate and deadly angle I thought was done quite well.

Ghost Taxi reminded me of the movie Ghost. A little sexy, a little sad, a little funny. Really enjoyed it, but felt there was room for more humor.

Uncle Vernon gave me the shudders, particularly the ending. I'm SO glad I have no Uncle Vernon in my house. At least, I don't think I do. *shudder*

Half Seen, Half Hidden is like a night with the Scooby Doo gang gone horribly wrong! It really had an Agatha Christie feel to it. Loved the setting and the hippie-era time period. Great story, but it could have sparkled with a little finer editing.

Telltale Signs kept me literally on the edge of my seat. I did NOT want to put this story down, and only did to feed my son. I was confused though, that it begins with "Chapter One", but there are no subsequent chapters? I really hope that means that Tori L Ridgewood plans to expand this into novel form!

The Origin of Fear is your classic young people break into a haunted house, at a great cost, of course. Definitely some creepy, unexplained weirdness in this one, though I wanted a little more explanation of the events before it ended. Still, it was a great story to wrap up this "spellbinding" anthology.

I recommend this book for young adults and beyond who are fans of the weird and macabre. Grab your copy today!

View all my reviews

I Might as Well Go Stand on a Street Corner--The Lurid Business of Book Promotion

"Hey baby,
wanna buy a book?"
Stop what you're doing and hop over to Book & Trailer Showcase. I wrote a rather blunt essay on why we as authors should take our marketing efforts off the crowded streets of the social networks. You can comment there if you wish. You may have to click on the actual blog post title to see the comment box.

Here's the linky:

In other news, I'll be out of town for a few days. My niece is getting married and we're having a little vacation after that. I've almost successfully packed for five people. Phew.

I've had no more May Flash Fiction (MFF) submissions yet, so if you are still working on yours, go ahead and send when ready. I'll post again next week if I get any more in. Click on the flasher in the top right sidebar if you haven't heard about this contest. The deadline is May 29! Last night, I finally thought of a good prize, but I'm keeping it secret for now. Hee hee.

And still thinking of good content for June. I know of one goblin and his brothers who will get some attention for sure! Click HERE for a preview.

Until next's my girls' last day of school and summer is right around the bend. I hope you all have a great weekend!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

MFF#10: My Baby Boy by Judy Beaston

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challengeEvery story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son. 

For many women, the dream of having a child is dashed by the curse of infertility. For others, a baby is the last thing they expected or wanted. Judy Beaston brings these two situations together in this bittersweet story, ending with a note of hope. Read on and be generous with comments!

My Baby Boy

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son. Though the pregnancy was unplanned, I treasured this little being within my womb.

His dad and I rejected any suggestions of abortion, promised to support one another going forward. Keith, eighteen, remained in school, but I was a strong-willed seventeen-year old and dropped out during my fifth month. It was the ultrasound image of our fast-developing son that captivated me. We were going to be a family and I was eager to begin my life as a mom.

With no savings, and very little income, we moved in with his aunt. Her promise of help and support encouraged me. The world waited for us, our sails were set and the breeze was gentle.

Three weeks before the due date, my family intervened. Keith’s family joined the assault, for that’s how it seemed to me at the time. I was heartbroken, but agreed with their logic. I did want what was best for our child, did want to complete school. But I did not want to lose my little boy.

Two days later, Keith and I sat with an adoption counselor. I fought back tears. In my womb, our baby kicked and turned as if he knew and wasn’t pleased.

“You’re wise to make this choice,” the counselor beamed. I frowned.

She handed us a large album filled with family biographies, like little advertisements, each declaring: Choose us. Look at the stable and rich home life we’ll provide.

Keith and I selected a family with a three-year old. A sibling would be nice, we agreed. The family’s album detailed their love of camping, biking, celebrating holidays. They both had good jobs and lived in a nice community. Our son would thrive.

On the day he was born, that family waited for our call. Given the option, I’d refused to let them be present during the birth. When that little boy entered this world, my emotions overrode logic. The call that family received was not the one anticipated. I had changed my mind; decided I would be my son’s mom. Keith’s aunt would help; my mom would help. We would struggle but remain together.

Three weeks later, reality shadowed desire. My expectations of ongoing help were not met. All of our relatives had day jobs. Keith went to school, then work, then out with friends. I had lost most of my friends when I quit school. My full-time job was caring for a colicky child I was woefully unprepared to nurture. I was exhausted and afraid. This was not the life I anticipated for my little man.

I never expected to say good-bye so soon. He was supposed to remain by my side until Kindergarten, live with me until he left for college, return again and again to my loving embrace.

I tuck a blue blanket, the one with trucks and bears on it, around the edge of his carrier. In a bag, I gently place rattles, a stuffed dog, and the little bear that drew his first smile when I held it before his eyes. A small envelope holds notes about his schedule, the first doctor’s report, a photo from the day he was born.

While waiting for the woman from the adoption agency, I hold my son’s hand. His strong, tiny fingers grasp one of mine. I gaze into his pure blue eyes. A tear runs across his cheek. It’s mine. I leave it for him, a going-away gift. I imagine it as one small part of me going with him. 

Judy Beaston lives in northwest Oregon where the weather and people suit her muse. She composes flash fiction, short stories, novels and poetry about following dreams, the ins and outs of living the human experience and just wacky, sometimes funny, tall tales. In the spaces between the written notes, she enjoys playing her tenor saxophone and keyboard, as well as playing with her two grandkids.  Her flash and short stories have won acclaim at WritersType and WOW-Women on Writing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MFF#9: A Mother's Lament by Leona Pence

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challengeEvery story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

I count myself blessed beyond measure to have in-laws I truly love and admire. So, today's story by Leona Pence pulls at my heartstrings. No family is immune to petty bitterness and hurt. Read on to see what I mean...

A Mother's Lament

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son. Tears fell in rivulets down my cheeks as I dumped a plate of cupcakes into the trash. I carried a wrapped gift into my spare room and added it to the growing mound that my grandson would never see.

My son had telephoned the night before promising to bring seven year-old Neil to visit me. It had been six long months since I’d seen him. Ten minutes into that visit, my daughter-in-law, yet again, became angry over an innocent remark and stormed out.

I arose early and made a batch of cupcakes, carefully decorating the tops to grab a young boy’s fancy. I remembered my son and daughter’s pleasure over these treats.

I glanced out the window just as my son’s car pulled into the driveway. My heart sank in my chest when I saw that he was alone. Oh my God, what have I done now?

“Mom, why in the hell do you go out of your way to piss Sheila off?” 

“I haven’t spoken to her in six months,” I countered.

“And you didn’t see your favorite child’s Facebook boast that you paid for her son’s school clothes and books?”

“She doesn’t have any money, Jack.  She’s about to have a baby and Bill lost his job. I had no idea she'd post that, but you've never let me buy your son anything. ”

“I didn’t hear you offer to pay for his school supplies. Sheila’s right. You always loved Jill best, and now you’ve chosen her son over mine. You don’t deserve to see him or me.”

“Jack, please. I do love you very much.”  My words fell on deaf ears.  The coldness emanating from his eyes chilled my soul. His last remark will be forever etched in my mind.

“I love Sheila, and a wife trumps a mother anytime. I’ve made my choice. “

He didn’t even say goodbye.  

Two months later, I heard through the grapevine he’d moved his family 2000 miles away. I knew I’d never see them again.

Leona Pence is a sixty-nine year old widow, mother of four, grandmother to eleven, and great-grandmother to a four month old boy. She started writing very late in life, after her husband died six years ago.She credits F2K for giving her confidence in her abilities. She's been a classroom Mentor there since April of 2010. She's currently revising a novel that she'd like to have published someday, hopefully not posthumously.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MFF#8: Saying Goodbye by Jeannie Langston

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challengeEvery story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

Jeannie Langston's story is one that hits home for many families. Despite all the media attention and more accurate diagnoses of the last decade or so, the causes and treatments for autism remain largely a mystery. Read about this mother's journey and feel free to share your own.

Saying Goodbye

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.  He came home from the hospital so perfect.  After spending a week in intensive care, it was so good to feel him in my arms.  Joshua was a little over a month early, but that didn't stop him from meeting his milestones.
He sat up, smiled, rolled over, stood, and even knew all his alphabet by the time he was two years old.  Then something happened.  I'm not sure what happened, I can't even pinpoint a date when it happened.  I just know that it happened.  At first he just seemed distracted and distant, then it got worse.
Joshua was a year old, he had taken his first steps and he was giggling.  That's how I want to remember him.  His big brown eyes so bright and alert, staring into my eyes.  The big hugs he gave me when he finally reached me.  
I miss my son.
He was two and a half or three years old when I really felt him leaving me.  He had good days and then he had days that were not so good.  Joshua wouldn't look into my eyes any more, he didn't want to hug me or hold my hand or kiss my cheek.  He didn't like to be touched at all and he would scream when anyone tried to touch him.  Joshua forgot his alphabet and he hardly spoke at all.  When he did, it was one word at a time.  "Food" or "Drink" or something else that was simple.  He used to say complete sentences.
We saw so many doctors, they kept referring us to other specialists, nobody could tell me what was wrong with my son.  Joshua was physically perfect.  Finally, we were referred to a psychologist.  She had an answer for us.  Autism.  There was no cure and there was no definitive cause for it.  There were treatments that showed improvements, according to studies in obscure magazines and medical books.  Each case was different so each treatment was tailored to the child, the psychologist told us.
 I attended a few support groups, while my husband stayed home in denial.  I kept getting the same answer from all the other parents.  The treatments help, but it doesn't bring the kids back.  They will have some problems for the rest of their lives and no amount of treatments or therapies can change that.
 Forgive this tear stained letter.  I just was not expecting to lose him so soon after getting him.  He's only four years old, and I had to say goodbye to him a year and a half ago.  It's hard to have him physically here, but not be able to be a part of his world, and not be able to have him in my world.

Jeannie Langston has a Bachelor's Degree in Social Science with a Concentration in English and Language Arts, and an Associate's Degree in English. She is a member of Golden Key International Honour Society. This is her fifth year judging the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards and she has participated and won Nanowrimo for the last 5 years.
Visit Jeannie's Website:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Act of Kindness BLITZ!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

My RAOK target is Lindsey R. Loucks, a fabulous YA author! She's been my longest-running critique partner on Critique Circle. Through two entire books of mine, and the beginning of a third, she's given candid and wonderful feedback. And just this past week, she's gotten no less than THREE offers for a YA novel that I loved critiquing for her. I already owe her critiques for life, so for my RAOK, I'm offering her blog space here whenever she wants, whenever her book goes live. Yes, Ms. Loucks, you may send me your book cover to advertise on my sidebar, I'll interview you, post your guest blogs, giveaways, and review your book. Not that I wouldn't have anyway, but now you may hold me accountable and cash in whenever you please. Thanks for all your help and being a great writer buddy!

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To My Mom...

Those of you who know me personally know that I lost my mom to lung cancer in 2003. Today, as I rejoice in the love of my husband and three precious kids, I also hurt because I miss her so much. Not a day goes by that I don't long to pick up the phone and hear her voice. So, today, I am writing a thank you note to her in Heaven, and I'm praising God that she can celebrate with Him and so many of our loved ones today.

Thank you, mama...

12/31/01: My mom, Linda, holding her
granddaughter for the first time.

For choosing life over "choice" when you knew you were carrying me, though I know how hard it must have been to be a single mom.

For working so tirelessly at thankless jobs to provide for my brother and me. 

For telling me I could be anything I wanted to be and never discouraging me, even when I'd make bold statements like, "I want to be a famous singer." (I can't carry a tune in a bucket.)

For sweet and silly bedtime routines that will only ever be shared by the two of us.

For staying up until 2 AM on Christmas Eve morning to make cookies and candies together, though I'm sure you were exhausted, because you loved spending that special time with me.

For assuring me that I could always talk to you about anything, though I didn't take you up on that often enough.

For reminding me that, "Can't never could do anything." Those words, I still hear in my darkest hours.

For taking me to church as a child, for teaching me about Jesus, for praying with me and for me, even when I was hard to love.

For teaching me that God loves us all, no matter what our skin color, no matter our faults, and that no one is perfect.

For loving your grandbabies, even though you only knew my firstborn for a little while.

For the smiles that come easier now when I share memories of you with my children.

To all you mothers out there, have a wonderful and blessed day with your families. To those of you who have lost your moms, my heart goes out to you. To those who still have a mom, make sure you tell her in some way how much she means to you. Thanks for dropping by. Feel free to share your own special memories in the comments below.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review of Trapped on Draconica by Dan Wright

Trapped on DraconicaTrapped on Draconica by Dan Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers, if you like non-stop action, look no further. Trapped on Draconica is like running a marathon while hooked to an amphetamine IV.

It all begins with your typical troubled teenage boy. Ben has fallen into the wrong crowd, shoplifting and generally being a pain in the butt to his adoptive mother. During one afternoon, a foiled heist leaves him running from the police, wishing he was anywhere but there, and suddenly, his wish comes true. He wakes up on a planet called Draconica, and that's when the marathon begins. An evil emperor named Gothon is bent on world domination and decides that Ben is the key to his goal. Lucky for Ben, he's got a VERY supportive team on his side. They all set out on a quest to stop Gothon and rally more armies to their cause.

Because so much happens over the course of this 400+ page book, I won't reiterate any more story line, but I'll talk about some of the characters, because they're what kept me enthralled.

Princess Daniar--She's a Dragonkin, as are her three sisters, part human, but imbued with the powers of an ancient dragon. She can fly, breathe fire, is super strong and resilient. What I liked best about her was that she never killed anyone if she could help it, though there were times when I WANTED her to, and she was very tempted to, yet she held to her convictions. Tough, tough heroine, extremely loyal and protective. I just didn't quite agree with her choice of men.

Which brings me to Prince Kalak. He's one of the few remaining Leonidans left after Emperor Gothon's army destroyed his people. Though he is a formidable ally in the team that's rallying around Ben, he's also got a personal grudge against Gothon, and he's determined to fulfill his vengeance, by whatever means necessary. Daniar ends up falling for him, and though I almost felt the connection as to why, it just wasn't convincing enough for me. He was a REAL jerk in the beginning, to say it lightly, and even with his softer side revealed, I needed more at the point of their connection to make me believe that he was good enough to deserve Daniar. He did suffer a lot, the poor guy, and in the end, I was in his camp, but I just needed a bit more a bit sooner.

Ritchie--He's Kalak's pet, a talking tiger with a speech impediment, and he's completely adorable. I love how he reminded me of Cringer from the He-Man series. What's best about him is that he is rather the glue that holds this volatile team together.

Taurok--He's a Shadori, with dark skin and pointed ears like a dark elf, and probably my favorite character of them all. As the General of Emperor Gothon's army, he's been ordered to kill Daniar and bring Ben to Gothon (alive). His motives are complex, and he comes across as an extremely sympathetic character. You don't want to see him succeed, but you still root for him to have some victory. This guy was just perfectly written, IMO.

In conclusion, Trapped on Draconica was my first experience with Manga-style literature. Some readers might feel the plot borders on cheesy at times with the one-liners and a few predictable outcomes, but after I read briefly on the history of Manga, I think it fits well with the genre. I'm still confused as to why there was no cursing at all. Having the troubled Ben say "Oi" instead of *&^% didn't seem to fit, unless it was written for a younger crowd (early teens?), in which case, it works.

Even with those minor issues, the story was captivating, the illustrations by Alexis Centino were stunning and fit perfectly, and I'm worn out having read it! For a great fantasy adventure with super artwork suited for young teens and up, I'd highly recommend Trapped on Draconica by Dan Wright. Go grab a copy today!

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