Shadows… #Poetry

Image by Luca Finardi from Pixabay 


Shadows slide across the land
No one will notice the unholy hand
Guiding, pushing forward
Searching for somewhere
To be more than just a ghost
Late at night, shadows 
may cross your sleeping form
Your life has changed
New colours, new ideas, strange thoughts
Knowledge you know 
you did not obtain from learning
You have become more than before
Shadows continue across the land
Looking for a home…


©AnitaDawes2023

Rose Tinted Worlds… #Poetry #TheSundayWhirl #Wordle586

Image by 👀 Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay 

Fairies, Myths & Magic 11: A Winter Celebration… Colleen Chesebro… #Fantasy Anthologies

In this second book in the Fairies, Myths, & Magic series, step into a world where dark fairies and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by winter and the celebration of the winter solstice.

From autumn’s scary fairies to the forgotten female characters of Yule, prepare to embrace the magical winter solstice myths from around the world. Meet Frau Holle in the Wild Hunt, Befana—the Christmas Witch of Italy, and the Japanese goddess Ameratasu who controls the springtime. Prepare to embrace the Scottish trows, the Irish Goddess of Winter—the Cailleach Béara, and Snegurochka—the Snow Girl.

Learn how to make Yuletide rituals part of your celebration by embracing the symbols of Yule by decorating with evergreens and crystals.

Colleen M. Chesebro

Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry.

Along with JulesPaige, Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com. The debut issue of this journal will publish in October 2021.

Colleen’s syllabic poetry has appeared in various other online publications. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for Carrot Ranch. Colleen’s poetry has poetry in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures,” and Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships.

Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House.

Find Colleen at Word Craft Poetry at wordcraftpoetry.com, or her author blog at colleenmchesebro.com.

Our Review

The second book in the Fairies, Myths & Magic Series is a beautiful presentation from start to finish, full of fascinating information about Pagan mythology and the winter solstice.

Autumn and winter are my favourite seasons, making this lovely collection of poems and stories a joy to read.

Memories of those long months of illness and lockdown faded as I melted into the magical faerie world.

As with the first book in this series, I will purchase the paperback edition for my bookshelf, as I will be reading this enchanting book again…

Floodwater… #Short story

Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay 

Floodwater

Jessica’s day felt wrong, as if she were invisible. No one spoke to her at school. She knew she hadn’t upset anyone, so they couldn’t have sent her to Coventry. On her way home, she stopped at the corner shop to buy the pint of milk her mother wanted. Paying for the milk, she felt Mr Thompson didn’t recognise her. Lindon Avenue was ten minutes away. Turning the corner, she could see the front door was open. Her mother would never leave it open; something must have happened.

Stepping inside, she wondered how long she could sit in an empty house, wondering what had gone wrong. Her mother wouldn’t leave without her. They had lived here for the past nine years. Jessica’s birthday was coming up at the weekend. Her mother had promised a posh lunch and a trip to the cinema.

Standing in the middle of the living room, silence scraped at the windows like cats claws, but not even a ghost would stay inside this space.

Leaving the milk on the window sill, Jess knocked next door. Ms Amos would know what had happened; she was always at her window.

Having pushed the bell, she remembered Ms Amos always took her time coming to the door. The door opened with the usual squeal of hinges.

‘Yes, dear, can I help you?’

That strange feeling from school came over her again, and she knew the answer would be wrong.

‘No one has lived in that house for the past five years; I’m sorry, dear, I don’t know you or your mother.’

Going back to the empty house, Jess sat on the floor. She drank the milk, hoping to ease the hunger rumbling in her stomach. She couldn’t stay in an empty house without food, furniture, or a mother. She had to find out where her mother was and why she had left without a note. But where to start?

It was dark now and cold inside this empty room. Jess couldn’t hold back the tears. What chance did she have if Ms Amos didn’t know her?

She fell asleep, thoughts running through her mind like an old strip of telegraph paper, holes punched in her memory. Waking to the sound of birdsong, frozen stiff, the floor was no place to sleep.

The world outside frightened her. What if no one knew who she was? Mass amnesia was possible but telling herself this didn’t help. She searched her coat pocket for money as she needed food. Change from the milk plus her pocket money from last week. The memory reminded her of a house full of furniture, her soft bed with warm blankets, and her mother giving her the money she held.

Norman’s cafe, where she spent most Saturday afternoons helping with the dishes, would be open now, and she had an hour before school started. Not many people sat waiting. Rushing to the counter, she asked Norman for her usual sausage sandwich and cup of tea.

‘Take a seat, young lady and I’ll bring it over.’

What was he talking about? He always called me Jess? She sat by the window, and everything was as she remembered. Clark’s shoe shop across the road, the post office on the corner waiting to open.

Jess forced herself to eat the sandwich and drink the tea, knowing she needed it. Once outside again, she passed faces she knew on their way to work. No one smiled or said hello. The paperboy rushed past as if he hadn’t seen her.

She took her seat at the back of the class. The register was taken, but her name was not called. Why not? She was here? Jess couldn’t let this go. Ms Johnson was ignoring her now, despite Jessica’s hand up, waiting to be noticed. Making her way to the desk, she said, ‘Excuse me, Miss, you didn’t mark me in.’

Ms Johnson looked at Jess and said, ‘I think you must be in the wrong class.’

Jess insisted that this was her class.

‘Maybe Janet should take you to the Heads office. You are clearly upset about something.’

Jess let herself be led away. She had never had much to say to Janet over the years. Still, she should know this is my class.

Janet left her sitting outside the Heads office. Five minutes later, the door opened, and the same grim face she knew asked, ‘Why are you sitting outside my office? Shouldn’t you be in class?’

At last, someone who knows me. ‘Mrs Johnson says I am in the wrong class.’

‘Surely you and Mrs Johnson must know where you belong?’

‘I do know.’

‘Then off with you, young lady. Time is wasting.’

Jess turned to leave. The wrong still surrounded her.

‘Wait a minute, what’s your name?’

‘Jessica Wilde. Two days ago, you called out my name in assembly.’

‘There is no need to be flippant, young lady. You can’t expect me to remember every name in the entire school. Off with you to class.’

By now, Jess was getting sick of being called ‘young lady’ by those who deemed to speak to her. She couldn’t return to class; she would only be sent out again. With the key still in her pocket, she went home to find the key didn’t fit. There were curtains on the window now and sounds coming from inside. Ms Amos said that no one had lived here for five years. Had the whole world gone mad?

Jess decided to knock, and a small boy about four years old opened the door, his mother behind him.

‘Can I help you?’

At least she didn’t say ‘young lady’. Things must be looking up.

Jess stood for a moment, not knowing what to say. From the doorway, she could see carpets she didn’t recognise, furniture that didn’t belong there. Again the woman asked if she could help her.

‘I don’t think you can. You see, I am supposed to be living here with my mother. For the past nine years, this has been my home.’

‘You must be confused. I was told it had been empty for five years. I moved in this morning with my husband. I fell in love with the house. It was the magnolia in the front garden that sold it for me.

Jess remembered when she planted it with her mother, the memory causing her body to shake with sobs.

‘Are you sure you have the right place?’

All Jess could do was nod her head. A small whisper escaped her lips. ‘God help me…’

‘Would you like to come in for a moment? I could make a cup of tea. See if we can get to the bottom of this. My name is Jill, and this is Thomas. We are trying to find a nursery for him. Jess didn’t feel like telling her that her school had a nursery. Maybe anyone living in this house would be invisible once they stepped outside the door.

Jess drank the tea, grateful for the warmth. She couldn’t bring herself to say much. Standing too quickly, she almost knocked the cup from the saucer. ‘I have to go now. I need to find my mother.’

She made her way to the park and sat on a bench, trying to remember her life. She began when she was three, her birthday, her friends, and her father, who died when she was eight. Ms Amos always came for a slice of cake, such happy memories. Starting big school, making new friends, it was all there inside her head. She knew she couldn’t sit there forever; she would have to go to the police station, and they would know how to find her mother.

She was wrong. Her name didn’t show up on any listing. She heard the sergeant say that she didn’t exist. Yet she was standing there.

They told Jess they would keep looking, and they called Child Welfare to find her somewhere to stay.

Jess could feel herself shaking as this new information swept over her. They couldn’t find a record of her or her mother. Jess pinched herself, and it hurt, the pain telling her she was real enough.

Temporary foster care was found, a Mr and Ms Foster. Jess couldn’t say she liked it there. She was just taking up space she would rather not be in. Her days were pleasant enough. She was sent to a new school where this time, they knew who she was. A new uniform and books were supplied, making her feel even more out of place. She had almost forgotten how to talk. She couldn’t be bothered, for this wasn’t her life.

One afternoon, sitting in the library, she came across a book titled ‘Wrong time’ about people who believed they were born into the wrong time. So many people believe they are living the wrong life. Jess wondered if this was happening to her. Was she wrong? What if she shouldn’t be here yet? What if her mother was somewhere waiting in the life she remembered?

Jess wasn’t doing well at school. She drew into herself. The Fosters didn’t know what to do to help her. Every day after tea, Jess locked herself in what had become her room, full of things she didn’t want.

The curtains, the bedding, all wrong. The new shoes hurt her feet. Her mother would have known how to soften them.

Reading more of the book made her feel so much worse. She almost convinced herself that she had been born too soon. She felt out of place. She believed her memories were real, no matter how often they told her that her mother must have run away. They must think her really stupid, or her mother some kind of genius, able to vanish their names from existence.

This new life was too dark for Jess, and she couldn’t stay there. The water of the canal closed over her body, and in the last three minutes, she knew she would return to Lindon Avenue and the mother she loved…

Haloed: Grafton County Series, #5 ~ Review #CrimeThriller @SueColetta1

She may be paranoid, but is she right?

A string of gruesome murders rocks the small town of Alexandria, New Hampshire, with all the victims staged to resemble dead angels, and strange red and pink balloons appearing out of nowhere.

All the clues point to the Romeo Killer’s return. Except one: he died eight years ago.

Paranoid and on edge, Sage’s theory makes no sense. Dead serial killers don’t rise from the grave. Yet she swears he’s here, hungering for the only angel to slip through his grasp—Sage.

With only hours left to live, how can Sage convince her Sheriff husband before the sand in her hourglass runs out?

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer’s Digest “101 Best Websites for Writers”) and Writers Helping Writers.

Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two psychological thriller series, Mayhem Series and Grafton County Series (Tirgearr Publishing) and is the true crime/narrative nonfiction author of PRETTY EVIL NEW ENGLAND: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs (Rowman & Littlefield Group). Sue teaches a virtual course about serial killers for EdAdvance in CT and a condensed version for her fellow Sisters In Crime. She’s appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion. In October 2022, she’s filming three episodes of Homicide: Hours to Kill for Cineflix. Learn more about Sue and her books at https://suecoletta.com

Our Review

The mysterious red balloon that suddenly turns up in Sage Quintano’s bedroom triggers panic, setting the scene for a promisingly terrifying story.

Years might have passed, but the fear and the awful memories have not.

I have always loved the relationship between Sage and her husband, Niko, but this time, life might just give them more than either of them can handle. Worrying about them will keep you on the edge of your seat!

The tension in this story never ceases; reading it is like running a nightmare marathon. But I loved every word!

Haloed is one of the best thrillers I have read this year…

New Review for Bad Moon… Yay! #Fiction #FamilyHorror @HowellWave

Book Description

Growing up, Annie’s life was perfect
She loves her parents and thought she knew them
But when she discovers a nasty family secret
Her perfect life becomes a nightmare
Her struggle to change everything makes life so much worse,
how far must she run to escape the truth?
Can Annie make a new life for herself? 
or will they hunt her down and bring her back?

The Latest Review

John W. Howell rated it really liked it  ·  

After reading the book’s blurb, I picked Bad Moon by Anita Dawes. The part that got me was. “Young Annie’s life was perfect until she uncovers a nasty family secret, something her parents have been doing for years.”

I was intrigued by the idea of a story about someone coming of age in a family with some dark secrets. I expected maybe some unusual sexual activities or maybe abuse. These would be bad enough, but it turned out undoubtedly mild compared to what Annie had to discover and overcome.

The story is told in the first person by Annie herself. Although not unique in point of view, the author crafts the narrative so the reader not only sees the world from Annie’s perspective but identifies with the struggles Annie must overcome. Even when Annie is at her worst, I was always rooting that she would find her way to happiness.

Although the setting is the backcountry, the emotional turmoil and the depth of character development give the reader the feeling that this story could have taken place anywhere. This fact is where the quality of the author’s storytelling skills shine. Using the backcountry setting as an excuse for what transpires in the plot would be easy. However, that would be a disservice to the story since the action gets down to fundamental human issues and predispositions that are not necessarily only the purview of uneducated backcountry folks.

There are examples that I would like to cite, but each would be a spoiler. So I guess I will leave it at this. Once you start reading Bad Moon, you won’t be able to stop. The story is well-crafted and moves at just the right pace. If you like well-written human drama stories with a lot of action, this one is for you.

This lovely review from our friend and fellow writer, John Howell, came as a wonderful surprise, just when we needed a lift.

We really appreciated the time and care involved in such a detailed and well written review for Anita’s story.

Huge thanks again, John, from both of us!

The Midnight Rambler by Craig Boyack~ #Review #Urban Fantasy @Virgilante

Today, it is our turn to host the amazing new story from our friend and fellow writer, Craig Boyack.

Over the years, we have read several of his lovely stories, and they never disappoint.

The Midnight Rambler, in our humble opinion, is the best yet!

Fabulous cover!

Our Review

Craig Boyack’s stories are always a good read, especially at this time of year, with plenty of wonderful characters and situations.

The Midnight Rambler story is the best, with one of the worst monsters!

Disasters follow Lizzie around, but this time she has extra help in the form of Ray C Adair. He is a very likeable character, and although he seems to need more help than Lizzie, I rooted for them both. I loved that he brought a little romance to the proceedings while helping Lizzie find a missing professor, a horde of menacing scarecrows, and of course, The Midnight Rambler.

They have their hands full in this dizzy adventure, chock full of the unusual and the bizarre.

Just the job for Halloween!

Over to you, Craig, and welcome to our blog!

So kind of you to lend me your space, Anita & Jaye. I’d love to have you over whenever you need a place to promote. I love this indie author community and this is just a small part of it.

I tend to write stories that are more toward the outrageous fringe of fiction. I orbit around paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy tales. Today, I want to talk about keeping readers grounded.

Before I get started, don’t forget to check out the cover and blurb. Those will give you more insight into what this story is about. I think it’s perfect for the Halloween season and hope you’ll give it a try.

Back to the topic of reality, I think it’s important to give readers a solid base to start from. The Hat Series is full of monsters and things that go bump in the night. I want readers to come along for the ride, but try really hard to ground them in things they can understand.

Lizzie St. Laurent is a twenty-something young woman who teamed up with a magical talking hat to fight monsters. That’s a lot to expect readers to swallow, so I try to include a lot of the real world. Lizzie struggles with things young people are experiencing right now.

She works multiple meaningless jobs to pay the rent. She has a small cover band that brings in a few bucks on the weekends. When her car needs attention, she doesn’t always have the cash to cover the bills. She has a Keurig in her apartment, which seems to fit a certain age group. Readers can relate.

In this story, she’s going to have to deal with the fallout from a major flood. Her life could take years to get back on track. These are things that happen in the real world, and I think they give readers a way to understand her while she’s dealing with monsters, like The Midnight Rambler.

Hoard some toilet paper and canned goods, bring your snorkel, and check out The Midnight Rambler. I think you’ll have a good time.

Cover Blurb:

Something evil is after the hat. The ageless enemies have battled many times, but this time Lizzie is wearing the hat. She’s also up against a ticking clock, in that if she can’t find the maker of her new friend’s medicine he will die.

The Rambler has kidnapped the only witch capable of making Ray’s medicine in an attempt to make the hat sloppy in his efforts. He’s also flooded the streets with deadly minions to impede any progress our heroes might make.

As if that weren’t enough, Lizzie is facing more of life’s struggles, both financially and mechanically. This all goes down in the middle of a huge flood event that she’s ill equipped to handle.

Join Lizzie and the hat as they battle the elements, the paranormal, and a being of pure evil. Lizzie might be battling some personal demons along the way as she and Ray grow closer.

Get your copy here: https://mybook.to/TheMidnightRambler

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Dancing with the Devil… #Fiction #Poetry

Image by Alexa from Pixabay


The devil is messing with my words
Changing the content, the meaning
Stripping my soul, searching for more
He is trying to bleed me dry
I can’t hide, he has my number
He tells me my time is running out
I am looking for a sign to save myself
A way to hide my written words
from the fork tailed one
Am I meant to write something to please him?
To compliment him. Does he feel misunderstood
As many of us are?
I felt a great force shoot me forward
as if shot from a cannon
He was impatient for me to begin
I chose my words with care
Once upon a time, he lived among the angels
The favourite son of God
I felt the air in the room shift
The cold had been replaced 
with a warmth I remembered
So I continued to write the devil out of my life
Keeping hold of my soul…

©AnitaDawes2022

Make Believe… #short story #Fiction

I decided it might be fun to make up one good lie a day about my past.

So the next time someone asked me about my parents, I said they had died in a car crash when I was five. When, in fact, they are alive and kicking and on holiday in Gibraltar.

Instant sad face.

‘Oh God, I’m so sorry….’

‘No need; it was a long time ago.’

That one lie led to many more.

‘So, who brought you up?’

‘An aunt. Ancient, I might add, so life was a little stale compared to my friends. Old fashioned, I ran away when I was sixteen. I’m only back for the funeral and the reading of the will. That old mansion of hers is mine. You must come to tea sometime.’

As I walked home, not to a mansion, I might add, I wondered how I could stop this rolling stone from gathering more moss…

Today’s lie has taken on a life of its own.

One minute I hear myself telling someone, ‘my father is an airline pilot.’ Next, ‘he’s a backing singer for the Rolling Stones. My mother is starring in a movie with David Tennant,’ when my mother works in M & S, my father drives a black cab.

Are they more lies?

‘I have been married for three years. It’s our anniversary tonight. Mark, my husband, has bought a new car for me. One I have dreamt about. Imported from the USA, a red mustang convertible.’ So I must rush home, ladies. I want to be there when it arrives.’

I heard a little voice in my head say, one of these days, you’ll trip over that tongue of yours.

I had to admit, the lies did explode that day, like a bomb going off, but somehow, I managed to keep up with it and sound convincing. At least I could see no trace of doubt on their faces.

All that, and I had forgotten to tell them where Mark had taken me when he proposed. Never mind, there’s always tomorrow.

I’m not married and never have been.

One day, Mark or someone like him might come into my life. I could find myself driving down the high street in a red convertible mustang, don’t you think?

I have one of those faces people like to talk to. I sit in a café, and before my coffee is half drunk, someone sits opposite me. I send them home with a story to tell their friends. That way, my lies go further than my reach.

I have joined two book clubs, as I need to check which lies belong to which club. I know I can’t keep this up for too long; however, you’d be surprised by how many people I manage to speak to. Some, in the strangest of places.

Ladies’ toilets, for instance. Standing in a queue, I have found bumping into someone’s trolley in a supermarket to be good for a quick chat. Especially if you manage to make eye contact.

Apologies spoken, you pass each other in the next aisle as if fate has thrown you together you end up at the same checkout. I have even been lucky enough to snag a date on one of my shopping trips…

And there is always tomorrow…

©AnitaDawes2022

From a Reader to a Writer…

I have always enjoyed reading books. Mostly for the sense of escapism involved. Somewhere you can forget about your own life and live someone else’s, albeit vicariously.

It has been a blessing, sometimes more than at other times, depending on how my own life was going at that moment.

I honestly believe that reading books has kept me sane. They have taught me practically everything I know, for if I need or want to know how to do something, I turn to books to find out. Nowadays, we have the internet, but in my youth, all we had were books.

These days, something else has been added to my enduring love affair with the printed word. Putting it quite simply, they have inspired me to write. You could say that the art of reading could do this anyway, to anyone. But up until a few years ago, I was unaware of this. They were my retreat, my sanctuary. Nothing else.

But then everything changed.

I had always been a compulsive reader, consuming anything I could get my hands on. I didn’t discriminate and read everything. Asked to list my favourite authors, I would have been hard pushed, for I loved them all.

Somewhere along the way, I have developed a ‘criterion’. I no longer just read a book. My brain seems intent on sifting the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Who knew it could have that kind of opinion?

Two pages into a book, and if it is not talking to me by then, I discard it and try another. These days I love the kind of books that inspire me and make my fingers want to pick up a pen. Not to copy or emulate, but to write down how the author has made me feel. Sometimes I find myself with a book in one hand and a notebook in the other.

It’s as if a doorway has been opened in my mind. Artists say colours work for them; for me, it’s the power of the words and how they are used.

Something else has changed in me. I have always considered myself reasonably adept with the English language. It was my favourite lesson at school, and over the years, as I have said before, it has saved my sanity on many occasions.

For the first time in my life, I have doubts, and they are growing all the time. I have helped other people edit and proofread their books and have been totally convinced I was good at it. Many people (including an agent) once said that I was. I have also reviewed dozens of books along the way.

But that was before I picked up a pen and wrote a story of my own. I never expected it to be as hard as it was, for words usually came easily to me. But I discovered a very important fact about writing a book. Not only must it have a beginning, middle and end, but it must also flow, make perfect sense and be interesting to read.

It also has to have structure and subplots; the list was endless. I discovered to my horror that I was not as clever as I thought when the pen was in my hand! Words tend to come at me in a rush, short spasms of prose that seem quite eloquent at the time but appear quite truncated when you attempt to join them all together. So much so that I nearly gave up several times.

I began to seriously doubt I could ever be a writer, that this wasn’t something I could simply learn how to do. But I persevered, did my absolute best, and after my edits and even more soul searching, I uploaded it onto Amazon, thinking my work was done.

But I was wrong.

In my haste to achieve something that will hopefully outlast me, I forgot the most important step of all. Someone else should have read it first. Someone objective, who would come to it afresh, with no desire or agenda to bin it at the first error.

I learned that it is impossible for me to see my manuscript with a subjective eye. You cannot hope to, really, because you have lived with it for so long. I wrongly assumed the reverse would be true, that the fact you created every word would make you more than qualified.

This was all so long ago, and I have learned much more since then…

I would also like to thank everyone for their involvement in last week’s book launch!

I am still stunned by how well it all went…