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Saturday, 17 November 2007
Getting to Know Alma H. Bond
Topic: Author Interview
Alma Halbert Bond the person:
1.  What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
Beauty loving, creative, introverted.
2.  How do you think others would describe you?
Loyal, totally reliable, creative, intelligent.
3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
My three children and 7 grandchildren, ages from 1 ½-19. To my great delight, every adult in my family is an author. My late husband, Rudy Bond, was an actor. He was on the road with a play when he died. In his suitcase was the last chapter of his book, “I Rode a Streetcar Named Desire.” We had it published posthumously. I have two sons and one daughter, and all have had books published. My daughter, Dr. Janet Bond Brill, is a nutritionist and her book, Cholesterol Down, has done very well. My son, Jonathan Halbert Bond, who is in advertising has written a book on that topic, Under the Radar: Talking to Today’s Cynical Consumer. My son, Zane Phillip Bond, has published an autobiography entitled, A Prophet Operating at a Loss. We’re all writers. As we say in my house, it’s publish or perish!
4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.
No. I had a dog once named Ginger, but as a character in one of May Sarton’s books said, “I had one husband and one dog.”
5.  What is your most precious memory?
It is a toss-up between the birth of my first child and the publication of “Who Killed Virginia Woolf?”, my first book.
6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?
When I was 11 years old, I was standing wth a beloved teacher and some classmates. The teacher, who was discussing a few students who had left the school, said, “We still have some old treasures left.” I cleared my throat and said, “Humph!”
7.  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
I’d be a sculptor.
8.  In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Dr. Alma Halbert Bond died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 107. Dr. Bond acheved eminence in a number of careers. As a young woman, she was an actress who played a small part on Broadway in “The Terrorists” and another in a film called “The Triangle Fire.” If you see it (it is still played on TV) and hear a woman screaming loudly, that is Dr. Bond. Then she returned to school and received her doctorate at Columbia University, went on to post-doctoral work in psychoanalysis, and conducted a highly successful practice in Manhattan for 37 years. 
    Then Dr. Bond was in a terrible accident. A cab hit her while she was jogging in Central Park. She had seven broken bones, a concussion, and was in a coma. As she was coming out of it, she had a thought: I’ve had a good life, a good marriage, and three wonderful children. There is only one thing I wanted to do badly and have not done, and that is to write full time. She asked her son, Zane,“Do you think I would be crazy to leave such a high-paying job for a low-paying one?” He answered, “I think you’d be crazy not to.”
She gave her patients two years’ notice, terminated analyses with many and sent a few to other therapists so that they could finish up with someone else. After that, she moved to Key West and stayed in Florida for 14 years. That’s where she wrote most of her books. Then, having accomplished that, she felt she could return to New York.

Alma H. Bond the writer:
9.   Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?
When I was 11 years old, I wrote a poem called “Ambitions.” It began,
“When all the world is sleeping sound
My pencil is writing and my head’s going round.”
     I mention many things I would like to be and then end with:
“But best of all, it seems to me,
Is a writer and this I should love to be.
And if I try hard and long
I’m sure to fulfill my ambition strong.”
10.  What is going on with your writing these days?
A play of mine, “Maria,” about the life and loves of Maria Callas (which was produced off-off Broadway several years ago), will be given as a monologue on January 25, 2008 at the Dramatists Guild. Another play, “Bella,” about the great activist, Bella Abzug, is in process. I have just begun a new book about Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I said to my daughter, “I’d like to write about Jackie, but so many books have been written about her.” My daughter replied, “But yours will be different.” So I decided to try.
11.  What are your future goals for your writing?
To write a great work of literature that will be on the best seller list.
12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
I don’t keep regular hours, but write whenever I feel like it, which is most of the time.
13.  Why do you write?
I have to write. Writing is my core. It serves as a governor and keeps me on track.
14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?
Freud, for the depth of his unmatchable insight. Virginia Woolf, for the sheer beauty of her prose.
15.  How do you define your writing?
My writing is me.
16.  In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
She was a great writer.
Alma H. Bond  the details:
17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?
18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?
My email address is I will be happy to hear from anyone who wants to contact me.
19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
Camille Claudel, a Novel; Old Age is a Terminal Illness: How I Learned to Age Gracefully and Overcome My Fear of Dying; The Autobiography of Maria Callas: A Novel; Tales of Psychology: Short Stories to Make You Wise; Who Killed Virginia Woolf?  A Psychobiography;  Profiles of Key West; On Becoming a Grandparent; I Married Dr. Jekyll & Woke Up Mrs. Hyde;
Is There Life After Analysis?;  The Tree That Could Fly (Children’s book);
Dream Portrait; America's First Woman Warrior: The Courage of Deborah Sampson   (With Lucy Freeman), and the Dr. Mary Wells Murder Mysery Series consisting of The Deadly Jigsaw Puzzle, Murder on the Streetcar; and Who Killed Marcia Maynard? or The Psychoanalyst is Dead.  My latest book, Margaret Mahler, the Biography of a Psychoanalyst is presently in publication with McFarland Press.
20.  For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
They will learn things about themselves they never knew.
In conclusion:
21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
I think my answers to your 20 questions says it all.

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 17 November 2007 1:46 AM EST
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Friday, 16 November 2007
Getting to Know Ron Berry
Topic: Author Interview
Ron Berry the person:
1.  What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
Funny, odd, male
2.  How do you think others would describe you?
3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
Beading, Music
4.  Do you have any pets? 
If so, introduce us to them. Do Peeves count?
5.  What is your most precious memory?
 Being there when Amber was born
6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?
getting hooked up with a black widow.
7.  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
Listening to music and doing my best to make people laugh.
8.  In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Ron was the father of three fantastic children and friend to many
Ron Berry the writer:
9.   Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?
The day someone told me I really could write.
10.  What is going on with your writing these days?
NaNo, One book published, Two ready to publish, and four in various stages.
11.  What are your future goals for your writing?
Getting more of my short stories published.
12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
There is no such thing as 'typical' in my life! but I start off with checking email, playing a couple of games, doing some writing and then the world finds me.
13.  Why do you write?
because I can't sing. I have stories that make people smile.
14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?
Isaac Asimov because he wrote in so many genre's.
15.  How do you define your writing?
16.  In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
He was funny, yet had a point.
Ron Berry the details:
17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?
18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?
19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
Yes, when I get them published. "computers in plain english"
20.  For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
Humor, silliness, easy to read practical information in the non-fiction.
In conclusion:
21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
I am a simple country boy who can find humor in the simplest of things yet can also explain the complicated to the average person.

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007 12:59 AM EST
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Thursday, 15 November 2007
Getting to Know Robin Gorley
Topic: Author Interview

Robin Gorley the person:

1.  What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

            Caring, Compassionate, Understanding

2.  How do you think others would describe you?

            Passionate, determined, go getter, not afraid of trying, takes creative risks

 3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

            My family, church, singing in the church choir.

 4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.

            Yes, we have a pit-bull/rought-riler mix. Her name is Roxy, and she will be a year old in January of 2008.

 5.  What is your most precious memory?

            The day I gave birth to my son, who is my miracle child.

 6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?

            Shaking a carton of chocolate milk, and it flying out all over my friends husband.

 7.  If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

            Graphic Design/Website creations

 8.  In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

            Robin Elizabeth Gorley was born August 10, 1963 in Denver Colorado. Born to Norman  G Watt and Virginia Camp-Watt. Robin is the oldest of four siblings Julie, Norman and Christina. Robin's life had its fair share of ups and downs, losing her father a very young age, Robin was a constant support system for your younger siblings, and helping her mother with the several day to day things in their lives. Robin moved to California in 1980, where she graduated from Santa Maria High School, and went onto college to get her C.N.A. certifications. Robin worked in health care for 17 years, opened her own nonprofit organization, and in 2005 became a published author.

            Over the years Robin has become an advocate for the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life; the Columbine High School Memorial Fund; and helping others. Robin was part of a local network of women called The Santa Maria Women's Network, where she served on their board of directors for several years. As a published author, Robin hope was to inspire others, and help them through the difficult times, with a positive message, and to uplift you in your time of need.

            Robin leaves behind her husband, Curley and their son Steven. 


Robin Gorley the writer:

 9.   Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

            When I was in Junior High I had a English teacher that introduced me to poetry. We had a big project, and I turned in my assignment, not only to ace the project, but to get a letter from her daughter, telling me that I have a gift to write, and that I should continue writing. Just before going into Junior High, I lost my father to cancer, and to help deal with the anguish of losing my father, I started writing poetry. I found poetry to be very healing.

10.  What is going on with your writing these days?

            I have approximately 3000 pieces of poetry that I have written over the year, not including the new poems that come to the forefront of my writing. I am currently working on a poetry book about children, and it will include poetry, and short stories from my son Steven. In addition, to that book, I have several more books that I am working on, and one that is about my father. What I can tell you is that these books will be part of A Lifetime of Words Poetic Series.

11.  What are your future goals for your writing?

            To keep on writing. I love it.

12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

            Most of my writing is done when the house is quiet, and in the evening time. With poetry though, it isn't me writing a story, so I don't have a sat schedule on when I write. If I have a thought, I write it down. Then I will sit down and type it in the computer. When I'm ready I will go in and open up the poetry, and refine it. Then I decide which book it will go in.

13.  Why do you write?

            For me personally, it is to express myself in a creative way. For others, it is to inspire them, give them hope, and to help them to heal.

14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?

            Life inspires me. The reason why, is because I love life, despite the ups and downs it can bring.

15.  How do you define your writing?

            I write poetry, and with that comes different types of poetry, themes, and so on. I prefer to write poetry in free verse, and if it rhymes okay, but if it don't that is okay too. I like to write poetry so that others will understand it. Most people look at poetry as something like Shakesphere, Poe...with mine, you don't have to figure out what I am saying. What you get out of it, is what I write.

16.  In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

            Robin's writings are an inspiration to us all. She lifts us up with her positive voice, and when you read her poetry you will feel like you are the person she is writing about.

Robin Gorley the details:

17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

            You can visit my website at

18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?

            They can email me at

19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

            A Lifetime of Words; A Lifetime of Words~Spirit for the Soul; A Lifetime of Words~Simple Truths. These books are on my website, and can be ordered directly from my website.

20.  For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

            They will be able to understand my poetry, there are no hidden messages in my words. As always, I hope they will be inspired.

In conclusion:

21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

      I've been married for 20 years, and my son is now 14 years old. I've been blessed to have such a loving and caring husband, and a son who strives to do his best in everything he does. They are always supportive of whatever I decide to do. You don't get that always in life.

       Other things that I do...I have an online editing service that I offer to my fellow authors, as well as businesses. I have done some desktop publishing, website designing. I do this to help support my travels for book events. I have also enrolled in the Art Institute Online Division so that I can learn more about Graphic Design, Desktop Publishing, and Website Designs.

  If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, and don't know how to go about putting it all together, just send me an email. I will be happy to help you get your start. I love to help others, and see other succeed, just as I have. I've accomplished a lot in my life, and I hope to accomplish more as a writer.

      Life has many ups and downs, and we often do not have control of what has been handed to us. To make it in this world you have to turn all your negative energies into positive ones. And remember that Whatever the Challenge, Whatever the Goal, Endure to the End.

     I tell you this because after going through the life I have gone through, I don't want anyone giving up on themselves. I have lived with obesity my entire life, and although I have done things to help me lose the weight, which I've been successful, it has been a long, and winding road. I have never given up, and I will continue to do everything I can to make my life what I want it to be. So my motto in life has always been Whatever the Challenge, Whatever the Goal, Endure to the End.




Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007 12:30 AM EST
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Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Getting to Know Carolyn Howard Johnson
Topic: Author Interview

Carolyn Howard Johnson the person:  

 1.  What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Spiritual. Occasionally funny, but only occasionally. Patient to a fault.


 2.  How do you think others would describe you?


Probably none of those words would occur to them.


 3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

Traveling. I've been--often alone--to all the countries in Europe except Lichtenstein, Egypt, Kenya, most of the South America countries, the Galapagos (Ecuador), almost every island in the Caribbean (not Cuba), Canada, Russia, China and lots more.


 4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.


I adore dogs. I've had three Great Danes, a yellow lab, a few mixes. My new dog is Malibu--a gunmetal grey one that the breeders call blue. All have been rescue dogs.


 5.  What is your most precious memory?


Have to pick one, huh. The birth of my daughter. She had a huge head (that makes the occasion very, very memorable) and long, long fingers. I knew she was mine. Ha!


 6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?


Losing my frilly petticoat at a high school sock hop. I just stepped out of the ruffles and kept dancing. Didn't even go back to lost and found to retrieve the tulle and satin concoction.


 7.  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?


I know because I let other things interfere with that for years. I'd still be operating a chain of gift stores.


 8.  In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.


My obituary will be the things my friends write on the outside of a cardboard casket, high school yearbook style. Roses are red . . . kinds of things. Yes, there is such a thing as a cardboard casket. The music will be the dirges from the Neville Brothers (they are really funny, if there is anyone who doesn't know them) and everyone will eat Bananas Foster after they've written their piece.


 Carolyn Howard Johnson the writer:


 9.   Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?


Real writer? When I knew that I needed something more than straight journalism


10.  What is going on with your writing these days?


Tons. One exciting, quirky thing that happened just today: Amazon told me that my first short The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need to Sell Your Book in Twenty Minutes or Less. for only 49 cents. I'm most excited because it will give writers what they need to write the thing that they hate most doing. And they won't have to be miserable twice--once handing over a chunk of money for a whole book before they have to buckle down and write the darned thing. People can find it by going to and entering my name or the title of the Short.

11.  What are your future goals for your writing?


I want to finish a memoir on cooking--how I don't cook. And a novel that's been moldering in a drawer for two years. And another how-to book for the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers.


12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?


At the computer most of the day. With the exception of movies. I review movies for my hometown newspaper. Lots of that time includes promotion time, though.


13.  Why do you write?


Very simply, to live.


14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?


The littlest things. Words. Slants on words. Colors.


15.  How do you define your writing?


It covers the waterfront. I've written in many genres, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism. I've published about every way, too. Traditionally. Subsidy. Self-published. E-books. Chapbooks. Offset. Digitally. You name it.


16.  In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?


I just want them to still be reading one piece of my work. Hopefully something literary rather than my how-tos. And that's because I think those works have more potential for doing something beneficial for the world.


 Carolyn Howard Johnson the details: 

17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

Website--yes, I do it myself. I can't stand waiting for others to fix things. That's both good and bad.  It's

My blogs:

A review-focused blog,

A book fair-focused blog,

Writing-focused blog that covers everything from rants about Oprah to freedom of speech,

An editing-focused blog (yes, I am the Frugal Editor),


18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?


My e-mail box is always open. They'll also find ways to connect--more than enough!--on my website,


19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?


You, know, I'd rather they go and snoof around my website. I have so many and there is such a variety. Those interested in books and audios and videos to help them with their writing should start at Those interested in novels, short stories, poetry, should start with a section of the site,


20.  For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?


A voice. Often a loud one. Never tough to read. Often like talking over a back fence. Even my how-to books don't read like texts.


 In conclusion: 

 21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

Instead, I'm going to include a story how I got here. 


 Beating Time at Its Own Game

Life Begins At Sixty


Sometimes the big barriers in life aren’t abject poverty, dreaded disease or death.  Sometimes it’s the subtle ones set upon us by time and place.  The ones that creep up silently on padded feet and, if we sense them at all, we choose not to turn and face them.

The decade of the 50s was a time when these kinds of barriers faced those with dark skin, those who lived in closed religious communities, and those who were female.


When I applied for a job as a writer at Hearst Corporation in New York in 1961 I was required to take a typing test.  I was piqued because I wasn’t applying for the typing-pool, I was applying for a post as an editorial assistant. 


I was told, “No typing test, no interview.”  I took the test and was offered a job in the ranks of those who could do 70 in a minute.  I had to insist upon the interview I had been promised. I was only twenty and had no real skills in assertiveness.  I am amazed I had the wherewithal to do that. 


Something similar was at work when I married and had children. I happily left my writing to accommodate my husband’s career and the life the winds of the times presented to me. That there was a time when we didn’t know we had choices is not fiction.


I had always wanted to write the next “Gone with the Wind” only about Utah instead of about the South. I had a plan that was, itself, gone with the wind.


It was the 1950s and women in that time, and especially in that place, had a notion of who they should be, could be and, mostly, they got it from those around them because many of them couldn’t see the difference from society’s expectations and their own.


“You can’t be a nurse,” my mother said.  “Your ankles aren’t sturdy enough.” I also was told I couldn’t be a doctor because that wasn’t a woman’s vocation. The choice left to me was to be a teacher. My dream to write became a victim of the status quo.


Instead of following my star I searched for replacements. My husband and I built a business. For forty years I didn’t write and, during that time women become more aware. The equipment, gears and pulleys were in place for a different view on life. In midlife I became aware that there was an empty hole where my children had been but also that the hole was vaster than the space vacated by them. I knew I not only would be able to write, I would need to write.


Then I read that, if those who live until they are fifty in these times may very likely see their hundredth year. That meant that I might have another entire lifetime before me--plenty of time to do whatever I wanted. In fact, it’s my belief that women in their 50s might have more time for their second life because they won’t have to spend the first twenty years preparing for adulthood.

That was it. I started writing This is the Place.  I had to relearn old skills and brush up on new, and I am proud that I did it.  I’m glad that I waited until I was sixty. Forty years of experience gave it a dimension it would not have had if I had written it when I was young.. That first novel has expanded into four books inclding a new book of poetry, Tracings and I am now working on one called Best Book Forward: How to Edit for a Spotless First Impression. I like that I am doing something for other women and for other writers.


I also like being proof that a new life can start late—or that it is never too late to revive a dream.

 (Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s novel, This Is The Place, is set in Salt Lake City inthe 50s and has won eight awards. The interest in that city because of the Winter Olympics, the Elizabeth Smart case and along with a Mormon running for US President has fostered a  renewed interest in it.  You can read the first chapter free by e-mailing: or go to All of her books are award-winners.)

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007 1:53 AM EST
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Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Getting to Know C. Hope Clark
Topic: Author Interview


C. Hope Clark the person:

1.  What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Passionate - Loyal - Intellectual

2.  How do you think others would describe you?

Direct - Intellectual - Honest

3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

Honesty and being true to myself - true to others - on any realm

4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.

Dixie - the mini-dachshund - 11 years old - she is my shadow and has been provided a window seat in my study to watch the birds and nap in the sunshine

Cookie - the spaniel mix - 15 years old - found her in the country under an abandoned car at 3 months old - broken hip and unable to move to eat - she ate sand and motor oil, and the first thing we could force her to eat after trying liver, hamburger, eggs and bacon was a cookie, thus the name.

Hugo - the white cat with dark spots - born 6 weeks before Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston where we lived at the time - he's 18 years old

Shego - the dark cat with white spots - Hugo's sister - same age - much spryer

My birds - I love bird feeders and living on the lake, I have ample opportunity to study them and keep them fat and happy.

 5.  What is your most precious memory?

The birth of my son. Marrying my husband (the second one - LOL). I never knew true love until I allowed myself to accept love. He showed me what unconditional means.

 6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?

Providing a last minute dinner speech to a writers' group then them lowering the lights so I couldn't read my notes. I have night blindness. I kept losing my place and had to horribly adlib.

7.  If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Probably still be with the government as an administrative director. I was a good manager with the federal government. I enjoyed helping people be good at their job. I was director of budget, IT, and human resources for ten years. I adored working hard so that the employees could be successful.

8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Cynthia Hope Clark devoted her energies to learning, excelling and making her talents available for others to grasp and use to excel - in hopes that such effort would be a perpetual continuum. She adored nature, never breathing enough air, touching enough plants, or admiring enough wildlife. She cherished honesty, abhorred façade and hated falsehood. Once hurt, she struggled to trust, yet she trusted way too much. She loved the moments of her life, both the good and the bad, knowing they were gifts easily spent, never to relive again. She knew life was but a spark, quickly gone in a flash. She loved living.

C. Hope Clark the writer:

9.   Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

No. I didn't have that revelation. I decided to be a writer and moved in that direction. Of course each byline was fun and validated the "writer" title, but I didn't have a pivotal moment where I became a writer.

10.  What is going on with your writing these days?

Writing the second novel. Rewriting the first novel after glowing comments from several agents - one requesting the rewrite as soon as I was through with it. Always seeking that next fun magazine assignment. Enjoying the editorials in FundsforWriters. Knowing in my heart that publishing my mysteries will happen in a matter of time.

11.  What are your future goals for your writing?

Publishing my agricultural mystery series. Hopes of changing FundsforWriters to one newsletter and raising that membership to 50,000 members - one day.

12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

Sleep until 10 a.m. when I have breakfast and read the paper or read writing material. Chores around the house and talking/working with family until noon. Research and emails for FundsforWriters and freelance material until around two or three. Go to the gym or work in the yard for one or two hours. Write freelance material for a couple hours. Dinner - maybe a television show but always with a writing assignment in my lap for the commercials or down times during the show. Then I write from 9 or 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. on either freelance deadlines, FundsforWriters deadlines or the novel.  I usually put in an eight-hour day for at least six days a week. If I'm smoking on a deadline or the iron is hot, I write for ten hours a day. If I can excuse myself from leaving the house (I adore being reclusive), or the weather is bad, I can fit twelve or fourteen hours in one day. I make excuses to get to my computer and work. I've been known to slide to the computer to take notes during commercials or get up in the middle of the night to jot down some thoughts. What I like best about writing fulltime is the fact I don't have typical days. Each one is what I feel like.

13.  Why do you write?

To feel inspired. To feel smart. To use a raw talent found in few occupations. How many careers can you name that let you use your brain in such a mainstream manner - without tools? I adore the challenge to continually improve. To feel the ripple of delight when words fall into place so perfectly like understanding the answer to a prayer. It's amazing. But the best empowerment is writing something someone else finds empowering. That's a miraculous sensation that can't be matched in too many circles.

14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?

The writer I'm reading at the moment inspires me. I do not get hung up on famous people. I love to read. I respect all writers who've carved a career with their words.

15.  How do you define your writing?

Fiction - heavy dialog, slightly humorous, involving people finding right in all the wrongs of the world

Nonfiction - inspiring, motivational, personal - even when writing freelance material for magazines, I splash humor and motivation in it. I hate dry material in a magazine. I want to see the person behind the story - sense her personality.

16.  In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

She used her words to spark life in other people.

C. Hope Clark the details:

17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?

19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

The Shy Writer: The Introvert's Guide to Writing Success - /

Numerous ebooks about writing markets for writers at . They perpetually change.

20.  For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

To learn how to feel good in their own skin. That is the message I deliver in most everything I write - fiction, nonfiction, freelance or editorial. Took me years to reach that point in life, and I want others to learn it sooner. It's so liberating to learn something new, apply it to your life and grow from it. I want people to love themselves.

In conclusion:

21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

My work is genuine; my feelings sincere. I love writing and find great satisfaction in editing work to make it shine. In my FundsforWriters and Shy Writer worlds, I want readers to feel good as writers, but I also want them to give it the respect it needs. Publishing fast and quickly, without deep study and many months of practice, is like picking up a scalpel and deciding to be a surgeon. The truth will come out. I want writers to find as much satisfaction in grooming their writing as publishing their writing. The living is in the journey.


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007 1:25 AM EST
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Monday, 12 November 2007
Unwilling Killers by Ayn Hunt --An Excerpt
Topic: First Chapter

First Chapter

 Unwilling Killers (ISBN 1-59129-184-4) (not a subsidy publisher)

Also available at, B& 

Formats: Paperback            

Mrs. Gertrude Johnson entered the entrance hall just as the doorbell rang. She glanced at her watch. Two minutes to seven. Mrs. Moore, Alice Landrum’s niece, was, as Alice had assured her, prompt.  Too prompt! She wasn’t due for another two minutes.           

 She smiled serenely. There was still plenty of time to check her appearance in the old, gold-framed mirror to make sure she looked just right. But as she scrunched up her watery blue eyes for a good look, the elegant white candle, the only luxury Mrs. Johnson allowed herself, sputtered out as the deep gong of the bell vibratingly sounded again.           

“Damn tourist,” she muttered, carefully relighting the candle. “Ain’t got nothing better to do than to ring bells and expect a body to wait on them hand and foot.”           

Squinting her eyes, she studied her reflection, adjusting her frilly white cap and highly starched apron. Not satisfied with her appearance, she took a tube of her bright red lipstick out of her apron pocket and put on another darker coat. But as the bell vibrated and the candle went out yet again, she smeared it badly.           

“So help me God,” she hissed, carefully relighting the candle and wiping the excess lipstick off with a tissue. “I’ve a mind to kick that woman clear off my porch and teach her some manners.”Catching sight of her reflection however, she bent closer to it and batted her long, fake eyelashes. “God, you are still a purty thing,” she cooed to herself in the mirror. “Just as fresh and young-looking as you was at sixteen.”At the frantic sound of the big, brass knocker, she sighed heavily as she straightened her apron. “I’m coming, Mrs. High and Mighty! And I’ll teach you a thing or two about manners.”Assuming her haughtiest expression, she whipped the heavy wood door open with surprising strength. Then she hesitated, squinting at the young girl, from head to toe.  Alice had told her that her niece was a widow. A young widow, whose husband had died only six months ago in a skiing accident. But the girl facing her with such an odd expression wasn’t dressed like a proper widow at all. She wasn’t wearing black! She didn’t have a black veil over her face. Of course times had changed since Mrs. Johnson was a young girl. She knew that. But still, decent was decent. And no decent widow would be wearing jeans with a bright red knitted top and red sneakers!  Not only that, she didn’t look more than twenty-five at the most, with her short blonde hair and a smattering of freckles on her little nose. Suspiciously, Mrs. Johnson glanced at her watch again. Seven on the dot. It had to be her! But she had to make darn sure.

“Can I help you?” she icily asked. “Miss?”Jessica stated at her mutely, unable to speak. Alice had warned her Mrs. Johnson was, in her words, “A strange-looking old bird.” But that hadn’t preparedJessica for the lady’s appearance in person.           

Her head resembled a helicopter about to take off with those white corkscrew curls sticking out of her maid’s cap in a wide circle. And her bright red lips looked like one of those huge wax mouths kids used to buy at the corner store. But her watery blue eyes, half-hidden behind a layer of long fake eyelashes, Jessica also noticed, were keenly alert, betraying a sharp intelligence.           

“Can I help you?” repeated the odd-looking woman.           

Jessica stiffened. Why, she wondered, was she wearing a maid’s uniform in the first place? Surely a woman who’d inherited the house so many years ago wouldn’t be wearing one? Unsteadily, she took a deep breath. “I was looking for a Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Gertrude Johnson.” She swallowed hard. “I don’t suppose you are she, are you?”            Mrs. Johnson arched a brow. Why was this girl looking at her so strangely? The expression on her face betrayed not only disbelief, but shock as well. But enough of this playing games, she decided. They could go on all night.           

Impatiently, she opened the door wider to admit her. “Of course I am. But I’ve a good mind you tell you I ain’t. Didn’t your mama every teach you no manners? It ain’t polite to keep ringing doorbells. Why, the way you was sitting on that bell, it was enough to wake the dead.”           

Jessica’s eyes widened at the woman’s odd choice of words, and she hesitated. Maybe staying here wasn’t such a good idea, after all. But then again, she couldn’t do that to her sick aunt. She’d promised her she’d stay here, and stay here,she would.           

Warily she stepped over the threshold, then shivered as a blast of ice-cold air assaulted her. She was being watched! She knew she was. That eerie feeling was even stronger in here than it had been outside the house. She glanced around. But from where? She couldn’t see a thing. It was pitch black except for that lone candle beside that old mirror.           

 Attempting a smile, she faced her odd hostess. “I’m sorry if I disturbed you. Alice told me to be here exactly at seven. I’d assumed you were expecting me.”           

 Mrs. Johnson studied her. “Of course I was. But you still didn’t have to sit on that durn bell! I ain’t deaf.”           

“Oh, I’m sure you’re not. I didn’t mean anything disrespectful by doing it. I guess I’m just tired. Maybe a little nervous too. You know how trips are.” At least she hoped she did. “The long rides. Staying at new places. Eating off schedule.”           

“Maybe that accounts for you looking like you seen a ghost too,” shrugged Mrs. Johnson, fishing a new candle out of her apron pocket. She glanced at Jessica out of the corner of her eye as she struck a match. “Maybe you’re just nervous and tired from the trip, like you said.”           

Jessica laughed a little too quickly, then promptly cleared her throat. “Yes, well, be that it may, I assure you I didn’t think I saw a ghost. Everyone knows there aren’t such things.”           

Mrs. Johnson raised her brows as she lit the candle. “Maybe there are. Maybe there ain’t.” She smiled, her old face taking on an eerie glow in the flickering light of the candle. “But if I was you, I’d talk more respectfully of the dead. You’re still young yet. You don’t know everything that goes on in the world.”           

Again, Jessica stiffened. She wasn’t about to get into an argument and risk getting herself thrown out. But what was this thing about candles? Surely the place had electric lights…didn’t it?           

“Follow me carefully, and watch your step,” said Mrs. Johnson, her footsteps echoing hollowly in the cavernous hall as she strode to a wide staircase which had been hidden in the dark. “Your room is on the third floor, and I ain’t got around to putting up new lights in some parts up there yet. They’re too expensive. The man I wanted to do it for me was going to charge me a dad-burned fortune, so I dropped the idea.”            Jessica froze. “I’m going to stay in a room without lights?”           

Mrs. Johnson puckered her gleaming red lips disapprovingly. “I didn’t mean your room, Missy. Your room’s got plenty of lights.” She paused, her heavily penciled eyebrows snapping together as she studied her. “But that don’t mean you can go hog wild and turn on every dad-burned one. My electricity bill is high at is.”           

  How? Jessica wondered, reluctantly following her as she started ascending the wide, steep stairs. From what she’d seen so far, the house was pitch black. Worse, that meant she needed to load up on batteries for her flashlight and keep them with her at all times when she started searching the house at night. No way did she relish the idea of getting stranded in the dark in some forlorn, lonely part of this house at night. Not at all!           

“I must say you’re a brave little thing,” mused Mrs. Johnson, glancing back over her shoulder. “I have to give that to you. Most people wouldn’t sleep in the same bed a man was murdered in.”           

Jessica nearly tripped. “Pardon?”           

“I wasn’t intending to rent out Mrs. Harding’s personal suite of rooms as first, you see.  But your aunt insisted. She claimed that was the very one you’d want, being as it has the widest patio and offers the best view of the garden.” She smiled serenely down at her. “I’m just glad you don’t believe in ghosts.”           

“I’m supposed to sleep in the same bed as a murdered man?”           

“Sure are. Your aunt paid me an extra three hundred dollars to ensure it.”           

 Jessica felt the blood drain from her face. Damn Alice!  Not that she believed in ghosts of course. She didn’t! She never had. But why take chances? After all there were things in this world people didn’t understand and couldn’t explain. And until a rational explanation was found for those things, she’d be damned if she’d tempt fate. Unlike Alice, she prided herself on always exercising caution.           

Taking a deep breath, she forced a smile. “I’ll give you three hundred right now myself, if you’ll put me in another room. Alice never needs to know.”           

“No can do,” shrugged the older woman, blithely continuing her upward journey. “I only get the rooms ready as I need to, to rent them out. They’ve been empty for years, you see. You’d be surprised at how much dust and bugs they collect. I’m not about to rent them out until I scrub them out.”           

She stopped, eying Jessica speculatively. “I’m not as spry as I used to me. Itmay surprise you to know I’m nearly as old as this here house. Of course, I don’t look it. People are always shocked when I tell them my age.”           

 Jessica raised her brows. Mrs. Johnson wanted to talk about her age? Now? When she herself was obviously doomed to sleep in the same bed as a man who’d been murdered?”           

Mrs. Johnson smiled coyly. “I’m ninety-eight.”           

So what? Jessica wanted to scream. But she didn’t. One day, Lord willing, she too would be old. Maybe, like Mrs. Johnson, she too would be reluctant to face the facts of the ravaging of her looks over the years.            

Stemming her frustration, she took a deep breath and tried to look duly startled, which, in her present state of mind, wasn’t all that hard to accomplish. “Why, you don’t look it! I wouldn’t have guessed your age past…er…” she paused, thinking hard, “seventy.” She swallowed hard, hoping Mrs. Johnson believed her.           

Still however, there was no way she’d sleep in the same bed as a murdered man. No way! But she had to think fast. From what she’d seen so far, Mrs. Johnson wasn’t a fool.           

She smiled sweetly. “Considering your age, I certainly understand why you wouldn’t like to clean rooms. If I were you, I’d feel the same way. But I don’t mind cleaning up another room for myself. Just show me where to get a mop and some cloths, and I’ll have one ready in no time.”           

Mrs. Johnson shook her head. “Cleaning alone wouldn’t do you no good. I’m out of bug spray. You’d be surprised how many spiders were in Mr. Harding’s room.  I’m sure they’re in all the rooms.”           

Jessica went rigid, automatically glancing around. Spiders? Dear God, that probably meant they were on the stairs as well.           

“Besides,” continued Mrs. Johnson, “I never let no stranger go into a room I haven’t first gone over with a good-sized pot of boiling water and a stiff scrub brush. However,” she thinly smiled, “if you were to double what your aunt paid and give me, say, six hundred in cash tonight, I might be persuaded to compromise my principles some and get you what you need to spruce up another room right now. I might even help.”           

“That’s blackmail!”           

 Mrs. Johnson turned her back to her, continuing her upward trek, rounding a bend on the second floor. “Not really. Besides, it was you who brought it up. All I did was up the ante. Think about it. You can take it or leave it. But it sure would have saved me a heap of trouble if you and your aunt had gotten together on this before you came. Mr. Harding didn’t like me renting out his suite of rooms at all. You wouldn’t believe all the trouble he gave me when I was cleaning it.”           

“Dammit,” hissed Jessica. “Mr. Harding is dead! I already told you, I don’t believe in ghosts.”  But despite her bravado, her knees were so wobbly she could barely walk.            

“You might end up eating your words, Missy! Mr. Harding’s body is dead, but not his soul. He loved this whole house, you see. And he done loved life with a passion. He’d never give up all he had. Not without a durn good fight. Why, no onecan tell me if wasn’t him who sloshed out my scrub bucket while I was cleaning out his room. And my dust rags kept disappearing so fast, I had to go right out and buy new ones. And just the other night, he made a noise so fearsome I thought I was going to have a heart attack! No, Missy. Make no mistake. Mr. Harding is still here.  You’ll be changing your mind fast enough I reckon when you hear floorboards creaking in the night like I do. Or sometimes hear the murmur of voices.” She shrugged. “Of course I’m used to it. Sort of. Leastwise by now. I know Mr. Harding is just moaning over me having to rent out rooms in his beloved house to total strangers.”           

Jessica frowned. Voices? The other things maybe, could be attributed to esoteric sources of beings. But voices? Ghosts couldn’t talk. They didn’t have vocal chords. “How long have you been hearing these, um, voices?” she asked, careful to keep her voice casual.           

Mrs. Johnson paused as she took another step, and looked down at her. “Well, now, let’s see. I guess it’s been, oh, in the last three months or so. Right around the time I decided to rent out rooms.” She arched a brow. “Odd coincidence, wouldn’t you say?”           

“Very,” Jessica slowly agreed. But something else was going on here. Something caused by real flesh and blood living beings who had vocal chords. By beings who had eyes and could watch people. But why? This was just a drafty old house filled with a lot of junk. Maybe it was valuable to Mrs. Johnson. But surely to no one else.           

 Or was it?

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007 1:07 AM EST
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Sunday, 11 November 2007
Whiskey Shots Volume 1, Brass Star and Heart Forgotten--by Annette Snyder
Topic: First Chapter

For more information on Annette and her writing, please visit:

Brass Star:
Nate rode. His horse seemed to trot as slowly as his heart beat painfully in his chest and he wondered about the sanity of his decision.Of course, he had no choice. It was either rot in that jail cell waiting to be extradited to a federal prison under the orders of the great and powerful newspaperman, Herbert Eversby, or to exile himself, with the agreement from his adversary, never to return home again. Rot, or live a life of exile—not much of a choice, so Nate took the lesser of two evils.From the church, he could hear pump organ music drift up with the breeze as his horse clomped away from the hill above and he knew Aggie was now married to someone else. Aggie! His Aggie was now Aggie Eversby-Pass.

He should never have tried to kill Herbert Eversby’s grandson, Travis Pass. It was a mistake he made and regretted the minute he watched Travis fall into the stream at Aggie’s feet. He regretted Aggie’s scream. He regretted the blood that flowed with the water downstream to his boots. He hoped he’d never face regrets again. He wondered if his decision of self-exile to remain free was a mistake too, but it was too late for that. He signed the papers and now he was on his way somewhere, anywhere but General.

Heart Forgotten:

It was mulberry season. Plump purple berries hung on healthy limbs of the trees, the branches bowed from the weight of the fruit. “It’s a good year for mulberries,” Karlee spoke aloud to the forest around her. “We’ve had enough rain and these berries are ready.” She spread one of her older quilts on the ground under a couple of branches and began her climb up the trunk.The hem of her dress hooked on a particularly pointy dead stub, where an old branch broke off the tree. She yanked the faded green fabric loose and it tore enough so it would need mending later. “Damn glad I didn’t wear my Sunday best.” Her voice echoed farther than it would have had she been standing surrounded by the rest of the bramble on the forest floor.When she got to the spot she wanted, directly above the blanket on the ground, she edged her way to the middle of the branch, checking for stability. It would do no good for her to jiggle the branch and have it break under her. If that happened, she’d tumble to the ground, land in a heap, maybe break something, and no one would be around to help her. Having no one around suited her just fine. In fact, since Ben died, she’d grown accustomed to the quiet being alone accompanied. She did miss… “Well, that doesn’t matter anymore. “Hear that? It doesn’t matter to me!” she hollered. From her height in the tree, Karlee’s voice reverberated and seemed to carry for miles.She edged her way to the middle of the branch, pushed her full weight on it, and then jumped. At first, the leaves of the branch rustled underfoot with a dusty sound and she jumped again. That time, she heard the plop, plop, plop of a few mulberries as they landed with quiet thuds on the blanket below. Karlee smiled and jumped again. This time, more mulberries dropped and Karlee let herself look to the quilt below to see her catch. “I didn’t realize I was this far up.”She was actually afraid of heights, had been since she found Ben crumpled below the cliff from which he fell. It was the cliff that took him from her and, after she found him, she couldn’t stand the thought of being off the ground, but mulberries were only available once a year and really, she didn’t care if she fell and died.As she jumped and the mulberries tumbled to the blanket, Karlee Dorn allowed thoughts of Ben to enter her mind. She didn’t allow herself to think of her husband very often, it still hurt when she did, and she allowed herself to think even less about Missy, the daughter she lost shortly after Ben died. Mostly, she tried to forget.


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 11 November 2007 1:26 AM EST
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Saturday, 10 November 2007
A Lifetime of Words--excerpt
Topic: First Chapter

The following is an excerpt from the wonderful book:

A Lifetime of Words 

written by Robin Gorley

for more on Robin and her writing, please visit

More Than We Can Bear  It has been a known thought To many of us,That God does not send More than we can bear.Our hearts will mend After the storm has passed,As long as we keep God in our heart. God holds us in His palm.Love, faith and trust make us one,Even though there are days that Bring pain and The burden of life's trials,We must have faith in His ways.We will triumph once the fear has passed. God tells us to pray and to remember to love,Because it will make us stronger To know that God is always near,To help us,To guide us,To give us strength whenever we are weak.


Music of Angels A choir singer I may be,Struggling to find theDifficult note. A human voiceThat fails more than prevails.Will I ever have a voice worthyTo reach Heaven's gates?To join the music of AngelsIn the strains of eternal love?

Posted by joyceanthony at 1:09 AM EST
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Friday, 9 November 2007
The Haunting by: Ayn Hunt (First Chapter)
Topic: First Chapter

The Haunting (ISBN 1-59088-748-4)


Also available on &

Formats: Paperback &

E-Book (ISBN 1-59088-306-3)

            I ran down the long, dark, narrow hall in the old haunted Harding mansion with ghosts chasing me, quickly gaining ground. Frantic, I reached out and tried each door I passed, but they were all locked. Then suddenly, I was backed up against the window overlooking the gardens far below, and one of the larger ghosts started touching me. Terrified of his icy embrace, I turned and hurled myself out of the plate glass window, sending crackling shards of shattering glass into the air as I plunged to my death.

            Abruptly, I bolted upright in my bed and realized where I was – in Aunt Alice’s spacious home. My heart was beating out of control, my breath ragged as I struggled to take air into my lungs.

            With shaking hands, I pushed back my short unruly hair as I nervously glanced around. My dark purple quilted bedspread was a jumbled, twisted mess, entwined with my pristine white cotton sheets. The short, mauve curtains at the windows billowed gently in the damp, early morning breeze. Outside, I saw the tips of Alice’s prize-winning roses under a stormy predawn sky. And there, beside my bed, was the large armchair with the clothes I’d chosen to wear today…to go to the monstrously huge, reputedly haunted Harding mansion for clues, God help me, to the murderer of the wealthy late owner.

            Had I just had a realistic dream? Or was it a portent of things to come?  

            “Jessica?” whispered the sweet familiar voice of Emily as she knocked on my door then, slowly opening it, quietly eased inside. “Are you awake, dear? You wanted me to make sure you got up at five-thirty, remember?”

            “Thanks, Em.” I felt exhausted, but forced a smile as I slipped on my old, navy blue, baggy sweatshirt. “But I’m already up. I didn’t sleep well. I know it’s foolish at my age to have nightmares, but I did. And it was so realistic! I could’ve sworn I witnessed my own death at the Harding mansion just before I woke up.”

God, that sounded strange. “I was being chased by ghosts over there.”

            To any other person, I’d never have admitted such a thing. But Emily wasn’t just another person. She was like my second mother, taking me under her wing after my parents died. “But it wasn’t like a dream I’ve ever had before. I felt myself running. I felt the floor shudder as I ran. I smelled the decay and dust of the old house. I even felt one of the ghosts touch me. His fingers were like icicles, and blowing around him was a strong, continuous icy gust of wind.  And I felt his anger too. And his rage!” Nervously I swallowed. “I don’t think it was a dream, Emily. It was more of a portent, a warning, of things to come.”

             Raising her white neatly plucked eyebrows, Emily solemnly nodded as she perched on the edge of my bed, then sympathetically smiled. “It’s no wonder you’re having forebodings, dear, what with that house’s terrible reputation and all the murders and things that have taken place there. Mrs. Smythe, who lives across the street from there, told me herself she’s seen strange lights going on and off in there at all hours. And Mr. Evans claims he always hears strange, loud, pitiful moans

coming from there when he walks by, going to the store. Even the mere thought of going near that house, let alone actually going in, is enough to give anyone strange, um, let’s just call them dreams. Your reaction is perfectly understandable.”

            “You think so? Really?”

            “Absolutely. Anyone in your position would feel the same way.”

            I relaxed a little. “I’m so glad you understand! I knew you would though. I just hope I can find something we need over there, for Alice’s sake. It’s been such a long time since her fiancée’s murder. And there’ve been a lot of people traipsing in and out since the old housekeeper died and the county seized it and sold it at auction. I hope no one’s disturbed anything I can use to lead us to the identity of the horrible person who murdered him. Alice’s sure the housekeeper kept a journal describing that terrible night, including the name of the murderer. She claims that if anyone knew who murdered him, it was Mrs. Johnson.”

            “Oh, absolutely. I agree. Mrs. Johnson knew everything that went on over there. I seriously doubt if anyone has bothered her stuff, dear. Don’t forget, she lived down in the basement despite her mysteriously inheriting the house years ago from Mr. Harding. From what I’ve heard, it’s a dreary gray cement area. Chances are, not many people would go down there for more than a cursory look. And that inheritance of hers was so strange! Why he left her the entire house and the furnishings is anyone’s guess. But people do all sorts of things that others don’t understand. Mrs. Johnson herself was an enigma too. Most people around here thought she was just plain insane, and insanity carries its own stigma, which kept

people away. I’m sure her things are all there and still intact, just the way she left them.

            Stuffing my cold feet into the warmest, thickest pair of athletic socks I owned, I slipped on my tennis shoes and absently tied them, listening to the rumble

of thunder of an impending storm. “I hope you’re right. I want to solve this thing so badly I can taste it. Alice deserves to find out who killed Mr. Harding.  It would mean closure for her and the chance to bring a murderer to justice.

            “Yes, well, it might take some time to find those things so just be patient when you search. Very few people saw any of them, and Lord knew, as reclusive as she was, she never confided anything to anyone about them.

Personally though, I never did like the brash Mr. Harding, and I told Alice how I felt years ago, trying to dissuade her from going through with the marriage. I still remember him coming over to her house, all smiles, bringing her expensive gifts all the time, courting her – that’s the expression we used back them. She was only seventeen, and I always thought there was something odd about a man nearly forty wanting such a young girl for his wife. But he was wealthy, well educated, and Alice’s parents, God rest their souls, were as pleased at such a match as Alice. Everyone, with the exception of me, was very impressed with him.”

I nodded. Alice had told me basically the same thing. But I was mystified why she’d disregarded her friend’s advice. Emily was a renowned psychic and very astute about human nature. She always had been, and her wise counsel had safely guided me through what could’ve been turbulent relationships if I’d relied only on my own instincts. It’d gotten to the point where I’d refuse to even date anyone until Emily had met the man first and gave me her opinion.

            Sudden lightening flashed brightly, illuminating my dim room like a neon bulb, spurring me to hurry. “I hope I don’t get caught in the storm,” I said as I quickly got my bright pink umbrella from its hook on the back of my closet door. “And hopefully, I won’t have to use this”, I continued, stuffing my pink-handled, custom-made derringer from the drawer of the bed stand table into my large canvas bag. Although I was trying hard to be blasé, inwardly I was puzzled by Emily’s neutral face. I’d expected her to be surprised…to be agitated…to warn me against taking my gun – but she wasn’t. Meaning what? That she expects me to have trouble over there?

            Emily glanced at her diamond watch. “I wonder why Mrs. Tremble’s not her yet? I told her six on the dot, and usually she’s early.”

            “Mrs. Tremble? Why’s she coming over? Are you going someplace too?”

            “Didn’t I tell you? I guess it slipped my mind, what with writing down the directions of what pill to give Alice at what time and all.” She smiled innocently as she carefully smoothed her newly permed curls. “I’m going with you.”

            Grabbing my large white canvas bag stuffed with everything I needed to do a thorough search in a dark old house without power, I froze. “Excuse me?”

            Emily glanced out the window, her face void of expression. “I’m sorry I forgot to tell you, dear,” she said, turning around to face me. “I guess it just slipped my mind.”

            “Have you forgotten about your arthritis? Your rheumatism? Your own pills you need to take? You know how your joints are aggravated by dampness and low-pressure systems. The way it’s starting to storm, you’ll be in so much pain you’ll barely be able to walk, let alone traipse up and down the stairs of that high porch and the one leading down to the basement.”

            A dreamy, far-away look lit her green eyes. “Don’t worry! None of that will bother me. I’ve heard so much about that grand old house all of my life. But I never got to see the inside. It used to be known as a real showplace.  The marble of all eight fireplaces was rumored to match the décor of each room, and the hand-painted exotic mural on the dining room wall won several prizes. This is my golden opportunity. I’m not going to let it pass me by.”

            I was sure that was the truth as far as it went. But I also knew how she still worried about me, seeing me as the orphaned twelve-year-old when I first came to live with Alice, instead of the thirty-one-year-old woman I’d become. “The house now though is old and decayed. It’s very run down, looking nothing like it once did. It’s much too dangerous for you to go. I don’t know what I’ll find, and neither do you. There could be a tramp camped in there and God alone knows what kind of bugs and snakes will be lurking around. Besides, you’ve got to stay here and take care of Alice. I don’t trust Mrs. Temble, and that new medicine the doctor prescribed for Alice isn’t doing her any good. Someone has to call and get him to change it again.”

            “I’ve already talked to Mrs. Tremble about it. Besides, there are ghosts

reputed to be in that house, and I know how to deal with them. If that house is as haunted as everyone now claims, I can be of help to you.”

            I sighed, studying her. I didn’t believe in ghosts despite my strange foreboding and she knew it. But she was nothing if not stubborn, and didn’t realize the physical hazards an decaying house like that could harbor. Not only could there by structural damage, there could be problems with one of the many homeless people that wandered on and off the trains. One of them could’ve decided the house was the perfect home and set up housekeeping.  While I’d never personally encountered danger of any kind, I’d heard plenty from my late husband, a homicide detective of Houston p.d. Crime was rampant all over and that included small towns. Thanks to the bustling tourist trade, Galveston had more than its share.   

            Sitting down beside her, I patted her little jean clad knees. “Be reasonable, Emily. I’m licensed to carry a gun. Rob made sure I knew how to protect myself. I’m not about to expose you to the possibility of danger.”

            Emily tossed her head, her white curls bobbing. “Very nice speech, dear, very well done. But I’m not impressed. It just so happens I can protect myself just fine. I too, have a gun. I’ve started carrying a specially ordered Glock 9 millimeter, semi-automatic which shoots off nine rounds without having to stop and reload. It fits perfectly into my purse.” She smiled proudly. “So you see? I’m as prepared as you are. Maybe even more so.”

            All prepared? A near-sighted, eighty-four-year-old carrying a gun which could blow an entire army contingent away with just one blast was being all prepared?

            “Where did you get a gun like that? I’m sure you don’t have a license for it. That’s a powerful weapon! Only cops should carry them, and even then, only when they’re on duty.”

            “I never said I was licensed. Only that I have it. I got it out of a gun catalogue at one of those mail order places. I bought it when Alice told me what she wanted you to do. I know better than you how dangerous that house is.” She leaned forward. “Oh, come on, Jessica. Let me come with you. I think I can shoot fairly straight with my glasses on. That’ll take care of any human intruders we encounter. Unfortunately though,” she lowered her voice, “I’m pretty sure we’ll be dialing mostly with the non-human kind over there, and that’s what worries me. If you’ll stop overreacting and calm down, you’ll realize I can be of help.”

            I studied her dear old wrinkled face. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. But I had to stop her somehow. She was just too tiny, too frail to go through with the kind of search I was sure I’d have to conduct and I loved her too much to put her through it. “As much as I’d love the company, I can’t let you come, Emily! Think about it. It might be necessary to defend ourselves at a moment’s notice. And there might be holes in the stairs or floor or something. Don’t forget the power there’s been turned off. It’s going to be awfully hard to see anything with just my little flashlight. Not only that, there’s no running water to help you swallow your pills. And with this storm, it’s bound to be damp and chilly over there too.”

            Getting up, I shook my head. “So the answer is no. I love you too much to subject you to all the possible danger and discomfort.”

            Crossing her arms, Emily theatrically sighed. “Very well then. I’ll follow you in my own car. That way, technically, we won’t be going together and you  won’t be exposing me to danger. I’ll be doing it to myself.

            Shaking my head, I smiled ruefully, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Not only was Emily not licensed to carry a gun, she wasn’t licensed to drive either.  Her driving permit had expired years ago when she’d failed her eye test. Why couldn’t she realize I was trying to protect her? Bless her heart, her intentions were good. But I had bad feelings about this. Not concerning any ghosts, of course, but about the house itself. A lot of murders and unexplained accidents had taken place there. The building had an evil history, and there was an evil atmosphere around it. That’s why it was going to be torn down.

            But Emily was not about to be dissuaded. “I’ll wait outside in my own car, Jessica. That way I’ll be close by, just in case.”

            Staring into her mesmerizing large green eyes, I felt chilled to the bone. Emily had the eyes of an old soul, with so much knowledge revealed there, it was often painful to look at them, and I felt myself weakening. Am I being too practical, too overly protective? Will it hurt to have her come and wait outside? Surely, she’ll be safe in the broad daylight.

            “Oh, all right,” I sighed, quickly turning away, running my brush through my hair. “You can come but we’ll both go in my car. And you have to promise me you’ll stay in it.” I smiled at her. “Okay? Promise?”

            With her eyes shining with her eager enthusiasm, Emily made an X over her heart. “I promise.”

            I studied her, hoping I was doing the right thing. But a rumble of thunder shook the entire house, interrupting my thoughts. Quickly I checked the canvas bag I was taking. I had my old, sturdy red flashlight and two white candles and matches in case my flashlight didn’t work. And my new cell phone, which I’d charged the night before was in there, as well as tissues for the runny nose I’d be sure to have in an empty house loaded with dust. I had my two bottles of expensive, imported water, and also a credit card with my driver’s license, along with two twenty-dollar bills. And last but not least, I had the pack of metal lock tools my late husband had given me years ago in case I ever got locked out of my house or car.

            I sighed, thinking of what I was about to do. This time I wasn’t going to use the tools because I’d forgotten my key. This time, I was going to use them, God help me, for breaking and entering and which would have Rob spinning in his grave.

            Looks like we’re all set,” I said. “As soon as we get some coffee, we’ll hit the road. There’s no time breakfast, I’m afraid. I’d like to get this over with and be back here before the storm breaks much more if we can.”

            Emily glanced at her watch as we left my room, gently closing the door behind us. “Maybe we will. I’m sure Mrs. Tremble will be along shortly. At least I hope so. I told her six on the dot.”

            I nodded as I softly padded across the vase house to the kitchen in the back. As long as Emily stays in the car, she’ll be safe. She gave me her word she’d stay there.

But why, I wondered, wouldn’t the feeling of dread go away? It was so palpable, like

energy waves crashing over me again and again. Did its strength mean something bad was going to happen? But what? I’ve prepared for every eventuality.

            Helping myself to the ever-present pot of coffee Emily always kept at the ready, I sat down at the small wooden table. Maybe Mrs. Tremble won’t show up. What a godsend that’d be. It’d keep Emily, at least, out of the path of danger. She’s have to stay home if Mrs. Tremble didn’t come. She’d have to choice. No way would we leave my sick aunt all alone. Despite Emily’s promise she’d stay in the car, I had an uneasy feeling she wouldn’t. Sitting idly by while someone else was busily engaged in something she considered interesting wasn’t Emily’s style.

            Filling her large mug with coffee, she sat down beside me. “Before we go, I want you to promise me something,” she said. “I want you to trust your instincts. You have good hunches about things. Don’t ignore them.  But don’t get carried away either. Sometimes your imagination goes hog-wild. You can’t afford that right now. You must relax as much as you can, and think logically. Our thinking has ways of creating whatever we fear, so you mustn’t give into it.”

            My heart skipped a beat. “Meaning what? Exactly?”

            “I know you sense danger. I sense it too. That’s way I’m going with you. I sense a very powerful, intelligent force in that house. I know you and Alice don’t believe in ghosts. But I firmly believe that vision you had last night was a warning. It wasn’t a dream. And while you should take heed of it, don’t let the fear you felt while having it have power over you. If you believe the worst, Jessica, it will happen. But if you think pragmatically, if you calmly consider all your options today, you

have the ability to change your future.” She stared hard at me. “Use your innate ability. Promise me you will!”

            Shivering, I nodded, quickly taking a large swallow of my steaming coffee to ward off the chill of terror. She’d just unwittingly confirmed my worst fear. If she sensed danger, then it was real.

            Very gently, she took hold of my ice-cold hand with her freckled, bony one and squeezed it hard, staring me in the eye. “You’ve got strength in you, kiddo. You just don’t know it yet.” With a faraway look in her eyes, she turned and stared out the window in the direction of the Harding mansion. “I have the strongest feeling you’re going to be tested for all you’re worth today.”

            Getting up, she patted my shoulder. Then she quickly opened the back door for Mrs. Tremble who was loudly thumping up the stairs.

Posted by joyceanthony at 1:27 AM EST
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Thursday, 8 November 2007
Looking Glass Portal by Larriane Barnard --First Chapter
Topic: First Chapter

Addition information and ordering links at my site:


Looking Glass Portal

Swimming Kangaroo Books, January 2007


Swimming Kangaroo Books

Arlington, Texas


ISBN: Paperback: 1-934041-18-1

MS Reader 1-934041-17-3

Other formats available: Mobi, PDF, HTML (no ISBN's are assigned)


LCCN: 2006940765


Looking Glass Portal © 2007 Larriane Barnard

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.


Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.


This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or events is purely coincidental. They are productions of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.






The staple gun popped, sinking the metal bracket into the fence post and pinning the twisted strands of barbwire. Done was the last post, the last piece of wire, and the last staple needed to repair a short section of a long line of fence, but it would only be good for a time. Tomorrow or the next week, or next month another post would rot or another staple would rust through to loosen another strand of wire or two, or three. The job finding and tightening those loose wires or felled posts was endless. When the man doing it was in pain, it seemed all the more futile. He wondered again what the hell he was doing as he straightened, the simple movement causing him to grimace and flinch.

"I ought to give it up, Boss," he said to the big, bay gelding that was ground reined and waiting for him.

He crossed to the horse, whose ears pricked up to listen. Garrett Maniam chuckled softly. He dropped the staple gun into a pouch on his tool belt and unfastened the belt from his narrow hips to put in his saddlebags.

"But you and I know I lack good sense."

His shadow stretched out in front of him when he turned from the horse. The dark shape mocked him with no indication in the silhouette of the weakness eating away at his strongly built body. The only reason he was still working at even so minimal a job was because his condition wasn't visible. The first time any employer knew of the constant pain in what appeared to be a strong back and muscular legs or saw those legs crumble uselessly under him, for no matter how brief a time, Garrett would be fired. Six feet plus of solid muscle at one hundred and ninety pounds, he still looked fit and strong at what Garrett called the way wrong side of forty, though he knew the years of constant pain had etched lines in his face to make him look older. The body, however strong, was useless when the lower half suddenly went numb and lifeless. No employer wanted a possible liability like that around.

With a rock for a seat Garrett stretched his right leg out to dig into the thigh pocket of his chaps for a cigarette and matches. The first heavy draw of smoke was held in his lungs as he flipped the match out but not away. Years of habit had him hold the match to cool first while his slate blue eyes stared out over the hills of scrub oak and juniper of the high mountain desert. He exhaled slowly, pushed the worn and stained hat back from his brown, gray-streaked hair, and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. A nerve played in jerks along the edge of his strong jaw before he spoke to the horse again.

"Been thinking, Boss, I ought to take that pistol out and strap it on my hip." The horse nickered at him. "Could be anytime," he went on conversationally. "Hate to be caught down on the ground where I couldn't do anything about it."

He drew deeply and the smoke drifted out of his thin lips. Garrett didn't expect anyone to grieve over his death. He'd made sure during the last twelve years of his life that there was no one to care, no one but the horse that stood a few feet away.

Boss moved closer to Garrett, knowing the man was through working. Being of a herd nature, the horse sought companionship. Garrett, a man with natural herding instincts as well, had forced himself to be a loner. Over the years the bond between animal and man had grown strong.

The horse played at the rolled-up sleeve of Garrett's faded denim work shirt with his upper lip. The attention drew Garrett away from his pensive thoughts and brought a full smile to his lips. "You're damn near worthless," he told Boss with an affectionate slap on the neck. "And quit slobbering on my shirt."

Boss sucked in air, swelled his chest. A neighing followed, complete with a spray of saliva while Boss swung his head up and down in acknowledgement of the conversation. Garrett stood quickly to avoid what he knew was coming. When Garrett grabbed for the saddle horn to keep from falling the horse understood the sudden need to stand still and steady. The quick movement had caused an onslaught of intense pain through Garrett's back and down his legs, taking his breath away. He hung there waiting for normal breathing to return and the pain to lessen.

"It's getting bad," he gasped when the horse turned his head to nuzzle at his shoulder. His jaw clinched while he pulled up and got his legs back under him. He was covered in sweat as he put his full weight back on his legs. The pain told him his legs weren't at the stage of giving out completely, not if he lessened the strain, and he eased down to the rock. With his breathing almost back to normal, he talked with a sardonic half-smile.

"What am I going to do with you, huh? You're too old to make a decent cowpony." He gave a short, bitter laugh. "No one wants a cripple in a wheelchair and a broken down old horse. Think there's going to be a miracle come along and save us?" Boss snorted and shook his head. Garrett laughed again. "Me neither. So what do you think? I can just turn you loose out here and bang." He imitated pulling the trigger with his finger pointed at his temple. "No more problems."

Boss tossed and shook his head, making Garrett smile crookedly at him. "Okay, I'm not quite ready to give it up, but I don't know why." He stood and grimaced, caught and held his breath briefly. "There isn't anything around the corner up here I haven't already seen, and I'm not going anywhere else."

He looked for the cigarette he had dropped and crushed it out with the high heel of his riding boot. Just as his hand closed on the nearest rein, Boss threw his head and backed, yanking Garrett off his feet. The smell hit Garrett as he landed on his knees. It wasn't like anything he had ever smelled before, and as a working cowboy he had smelled some of the worst. The odor was like something between a skunk and a rotted carcass. The stench drove Boss wild, and made Garrett sick. He held his breath and crawled in a desperate attempt for the reins.

"No, Boss," he cried out.

The fence with its flesh tearing barbs was behind them, and Boss was too panicked to see it as he whirled and lunged. Garrett got one foot under him only to go down when something hit him in the back. He saw Boss hit the wire as he fell. He saw the wire snap and whip as the ground rushed up to slam him in the face. He heard Boss's screams of pain and terror. His own terror began.

Garrett couldn't move.

The source of the smell was like nothing he had ever seen, fact or fiction, and it wasn't dead. A man, almost as wide as he was tall and about four feet in height, stood before him. He had the face of a Neanderthal and was dressed in furs. The stench from him gagged Garrett as the creature flipped him to his back. Garrett's stomach heaved, and he felt as though he would vomit while he lay flat on his back unable to move with the foul-smelling creature leaning over him and grunting like a pig.

Garrett's mind fractured as the smell nearly suffocating him . One part of his mind thought he would vomit and drown in his own puke, which was an absurd worry when a few minutes before he had been calmly contemplating blowing his own brains out. The other part of his mind screamed in an effort to will the pig-grunting man to hear and help Boss. Neither part of Garrett's mind understood why he couldn't move. He couldn't even close his eyes and, to judge from what followed, that was just how the pig-man wanted him.

The creature dragged Garrett by his hair to the rock where he had sat moments before and propped him against it like a floppy, rag doll. The thing backed off and grunted while blunt, square-shaped hands dug through its fur covering to pull out a slim, narrow box. What looked to be no more than a spot of light shot out, and a rapid succession of grunts followed as the thing leaned down to lift Garrett's arm for Garrett to see what it had done.

This can't be real. He must be delirious, or in the grip of a nightmare. No spot of light could punch through flesh and bone leaving his arm hanging, bloodlessly, attached below the elbow by only a thin string of flesh. That was something straight out of Star Wars, and he wasn't in any movie. It couldn't be real. He had to wake up. Boss's screams were real. They had fallen. That had to be what had happened. He was unconscious, and Boss was hurt. He had to wake up.

The thing stepped back, pointed the box, and a second spot of light shot out. The same succession of grunts sounded as it moved back. Garrett decided it had to be a sick laugh as the thing grabbed him by the hair and pushed his head down to see the bigger hole neatly punched through the right side of his chest.

"Let me wake up!" Garrett's mind screamed as his head fell back, and the thing moved off again. "I've got to help Boss!"

The thing jumped, squealed, and shoved its hands into the fur wrappings. Its stance changed to defensive, as stiff and as straight as its height would allow.

A girl, as beautiful as the man was ugly, moved into Garrett's line of vision. Corn-silk hair hung down to her waist, and a full billowing gown of pure white covered her from her neck to the ground. She floated rather than walked toward the creature, holding out her hand. The thing protested the obvious demand with squeals and grunts. The girl sang. It wasn't words, but musical notes that alternated with the sounds the thing made until it gave her the box it had so quickly hidden.

When she turned to face him, Garrett wanted to smile. She was a woman actually, not a girl, probably in her early twenties, and her eyes were the color of wild Bachelor Buttons, a brilliant blue violet. She was a dream as lovely as the creature was grotesque, but more importantly, she only looked to where Boss screamed and thrashed for the tormenting sounds to stop.

"Thank you," Garrett thought, knowing without seeing that she had helped Boss. ‘Thank you," he thought again, when she sank down beside him and with a brush of her hand closed his eyes.



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