Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ringing in the New Year



"New Year’s Eve in Germany normally is a noisy affair; people like fireworks and having parties. That was not the case in Ireland, neither on the farm nor in our village. Fireworks were and still are illegal in Ireland unless you have a license- e.g. for a public, official display. Living in the countryside, the most light we would see on a clear night were the stars—unless cloud coverage left us in the dark.  City lights never offer such a spectacular view above your head.
After a long day of work around the yard and tending to the animals, a farmer wants an early night. Every day of the year  has the tendency to be of a similar structure and work schedule because of the critters you take care of. Being early birds and having two small children, our night life suffered. The only sound on New Year’s Eve that I heard while lying awake and thinking of what life in Germany would be like was the ringing of the bells of the Killaloe Cathedral. Our trusted housekeeper, Pauline, had earned the privilege of ringing in the New Year at the old Protestant Church. For her it was the highlight of the season.  Mac, my Ex, usually away with the fairies already would be disturbed by the sound of the bells and mumble in his sleep. ”Can’t they keep it down a bit? I want to sleep.”

Excerpt from my upcoming book I Once had a Farm in Ireland 


Happy New Year, everyone, noisy or otherwise…!
The Ex Farmer's Wife

Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Free Olympus Union Novella "Arrival of the Elite"


We're so happy when our contributors release a new book. Congrats, Gary Bloom!



Olympus Union Releases 2nd Ticonderoga Novella: “Arrival of the Elite”.... click here to read the full press release!  l





Excerpt:
The two Ares Elite arrived at precisely eight fifty-nine the next morning. Instead of knocking, however, the pair proceeded to wait patiently outside Captain Deane's door until nine. Their new CO shook his head and stifled a smirk. How strange it was to go so many months without humor. Stranger yet was that the behavior of the Olympus Union’s super soldiers, of all people, brought him a reason to find mirth. Their maniacal attention to orders was ingratiating, all the same.
The Captain knew he wouldn’t actually need to invite them into the office. This breed of soldier was so utterly predictable sometimes. Silas couldn’t decide if that was amusing or sad. None of these men had always been like this, he knew; it was all about the conditioning program. 
Perhaps he’d be able to ease that conditioning. Complaints had been levied about the Ares Elite in the past. Often, however, it came across as jealousy from the lower soldiers. Never had a commanding officer sought to divert from the stringent drilling. It was something that bore consideration.
Moments later, when the clock struck precisely nine o’clock, the soldiers stepped inside. He looked up from his thought as they marched in, one behind the other. They arrived precisely on time, just as they were ordered the afternoon before. There was no arriving early, because he didn’t say ‘by nine’ but at nine. As a military man, he should be pleased. For some reason, though, he wasn’t.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Earth's wars were never exclusive to Earth! http://olympusunion.com

Jeremy Hunter   http://bit.ly/16v3IYg
The Past Repeated http://bit.ly/1cNTDZP
Drawing Battle Lines http://bit.ly/1cNTIwz
The Future Reborn http://bit.ly/1cNTLsl

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How to Wean Kids from Santa




Christmas time brings back memories of my childhood and that of my children; memories of decorated   trees, real trees adorned with real candles. I can even smell the fragrance of Christmas once again: bees’ wax and the delicious aroma of baking cookies. Most exciting for me was the secrecy that surrounded our German Christmas tradition. We celebrated on Christmas Eve. The living room was locked all day while the tree was put up and decorated by my mother.  I wasn’t allowed to watch. I was an only child and the excitement almost killed me every year. From time to time, I detected conspicuous noises from behind the closed door─ that only added to the wonder of it all. Because somehow and sometime during the evening, Santa Claus would manage to arrive surreptitiously.
Since we didn’t have a chimney, I wondered at an early age how the big man would sneak into the flat. So I kept an eager eye on the comings and goings at that door. My parents mastered the art of hide and seek by pretending my father had to go out to buy some indispensible item for the meal; curiously, when it was about to fall dark. It was me to accompany him in the car because Mother needed to prepare dinner. The meal always consisted of fillet steaks and mushrooms in my house, accompanied by good German fried potatoes, and followed by some yummy chocolate pudding.  
We drove through town for about half an hour; surprisingly we never bought anything.  Well, the shops weren’t even open at that time. But as a little girl I didn’t know that. Store opening hours dictated that all the shops closed by 1 o’clock p.m. for the duration of Christmas (from 24-26 December). Yes, like many European countries, Germany has two full days of Christmas in addition to the big gift giving celebration on Christmas Eve.  
I remember the crucial Christmas after I had just turned five. My big wish was a bike. While we cruised through my home town I saw several Santa Clauses in the streets in the dusk, laden with heavy sacks over their shoulders.
“Will Santa make it to our house in time if he is here, so far away from our street?” I asked my father anxiously.
“He always does”, my father answered laconically.
Something was still bugging me. “How come there is more than one out and about?”
My father didn’t hesitate with his answer. He was prepared for this question that had to surface one day.
“It’s impossible for one old man to visit all the children in the world. Therefore he needs many helpers. Think about it.”
I mulled things over, slouched in my seat. The penny eventually dropped. By the time we arrived, my excitement had waned. But there it was, my gleaming new orange-red colored bike under the sparkling tree! What a sight! “And you are his helpers too!” I exclaimed.
“Yes”, my parents admitted it. “Besides, how could one man afford all these gifts for all the children in the world?”
When I had children of my own, I anticipated their question and wanted to give them a similar answer. However, I was in for a surprise. Miriam was five and Christian almost three the year it happened. Being in kindergarten and talking to the other children, Miriam had figured out that parents were involved in the big mystery that surrounded Christmas. She approached me and suggested playing Santa Claus for her little brother. “I know he still believes in him, which, of course, I don’t, being so much older.”
When it started to get dark, she donned her red bathrobe that had a hoodie and put on her red wellington boots. Her father gave her the burlap sack he kept for harvesting potatoes. Kitted out like that, Miriam set off to walk through the garden.  “Make sure he sees me!”
Christian was upstairs tidying up his room ─ a quintessential task for a good child to make Santa Claus come to his house. I looked out of the window ─ as if by chance. “Chris, quick, quick, come here! I don’t believe it! Look who is there!” And there he was walking below the window with the sack over his shoulder, Santa Claus!
Miriam kept a smug face all evening and guarded her secret so that Christian could believe for a little longer. His face was beaming with delight having seen Santa and he proudly told everyone for days.
  
Siggy Buckley

Monday, December 22, 2014

Magic

My brother Herbie watched Dad flip an invisible coin up in the air and then heard it clunk into the brown paper bag Dad held open in his hand.
“How’d ya do that?” Herbie asked, completely taken up with Dad’s magic.
Dad smiled and this time flipped up three coins in quick succession and Herbie’s blue eyes lit up as the three invisible coins fell from the ceiling, plunk plunk plunk, into the paper bag. I could hear my little brother’s sighs heaving from his red and green-sweatered chest.
It didn’t make sense to Herbie. Dad said Santa was too poor to bring Christmas presents this year. Why couldn’t Dad stand there in the middle of the kitchen and flip coins into the air, maybe pitch paper ten-dollar bills like planes soaring upwards and nose-diving down into a big brown shopping bag?
“You could be Santa this year, Dad.”
PublicDomain.ChristmasTreeI watched Dad’s eyes go misty on him. With the back of his hand he brushed away whatever tears would come and betray a father’s strength, a father’s knack for making magic.
“I can only bring down pennies from heaven,” Dad explained. “Let’s just wait and see. Maybe Santa will think of something. Maybe deliver whatever he can so we can find at least a few small gifts under the tree Christmas Day.”
Herbie looked so sad I put my big-brother arm around his shoulder and said, “Maybe Dad can do a little magic and stuff Santa’s pockets with something for you.” But Herbie was not consoled. Santa was poor. Dad could make money drop loudly into an empty brown bag. To Herbie it made no sense. No sense at all.

This story was first published on MorgEn Bailey'sWriting Blog. Thank you Morgen!

Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by and available at All Things That Matter Press 
His book A Family of Sicilians… which critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008

Sal lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life. He can also be found at:




Saturday, December 20, 2014

Who is Afraid of Christmas?


Wishing you an inclusive Christmas season.

You can wish me a Merry Christmas, and I won’t be offended.

Every year at this time, we hear the complaints from all sides about the secularization of the season when Christians traditionally celebrate the birth of their Saviour. There are those who complain that saying “Merry Christmas” excludes those are not Christian, something our pluralistic, multicultural society rejects. So public areas like city parks and schools cannot put up “Christmas” displays or anything about the Christian celebration in particular.

Image Courtesy: www.vykort.com
Some Christian groups and individuals then complain that this takes the religious meaning out of the season. This usually gets conflated with the complaint about the commercialization of the season.

Personally, I like to celebrate all of it.

Many people have pointed out how many cultures and religions use lights at this, the time of year when the nights are longest: Christians, Jews, neo-Pagans, Wiccans, the list goes on.

And it’s useless to whine about the commercial, secular celebrations. I can’t help but complain about the reruns of lame Christmas-themed movies and bad, really, really bad Christmas — or winter-themed songs on the radio. How many musicians have hacked through a version of Jingle Bells and Sleigh Ride? How much are we expected to endure?

Image Courtesy: acelebrationofwomen.org
But my whining hasn’t had an impact. So we might as well enjoy what we can. It’s going to happen whether we like it or not.

Let’s look at it this way: we all like to celebrate. What difference does it make why? We live in a multicultural, plural world. Rather than argue with each other over what to call the celebration and how to celebrate it, let’s celebrate everything.

So, put up your Christmas decorations. I have no problem with seeing a Nativity scene beside a Yule tree and a Festivus pole. Wish me a Happy Hanukah. If it’s the right time of year, say Happy Eid.

I’ll take it, and same back to you.

*
Happy Yule
Happy Sadeh
Happy Kwanzaa
Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Happy Saturnalia
Happy Diwali (a little late)
Happy Eid (whenever that happens)

Have a happy season, whatever it is, and a very good new year.

Scott Bury

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Scott Bury is a journalist, editor, and writer living in Ottawa, Canada. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, including Macworld, the Ottawa Citizen, the Financial Post, Marketing, Canadian Printer, Applied Arts, PEM, Workplace, Advanced Manufacturing and others.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University's School of Journalism. He has two sons, an orange cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

He is a recipient of Maclean Hunter's Top 6 Award and a member of a team that won a Neal Award for business reporting.

The Written Word published his first novel, The Bones of the Earth, in 2011. His first published fiction was a short story, Sam, the Strawb Part, the proceeds of which are donated to an autism charity. 

In 2013, the Written Word published his second novel, One Shade of Red, a spoof of the inexplicable bestseller that is mostly made of emails. 

His latest book is Army of Worn Soles, a memoir in novel format that tells the true story of the author's father in law, drafted into the Red Army in 1941. He is now working on a sequel.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

MEASURE OF WRITING: Inborn Talent?

Image Courtesy: Google
In this glorious chaos of what to listen to, and what not to, I would like to invite your attention to the fantastic idea called “good writing.”

I am aware that one of the areas, a person coming to WGT might be looking for, is insights from personal experiences of other authors. Due to that very purpose, I would like to share an experience of mine here, in this ‘internet coffee house’ of a blog, as author and editor Scott Bury remarks.

Good writing is an imperative every writer pets with in one’s consciousness. Consequently, there are several myths circling this idea.                
 
Image Courtesy: blogs.denverpost.com
Stephen King once remarked that creative writing could never be taught in schools. He was telling the truth about ‘good writing’ too. Perhaps the biggest impediment in being a creative writer (and a good one in that) is the only boon capable of propagating one in the direction of a successful writing career—Inborn talent. But what about you, a person blessed with the gift of weaving extraordinary tales out of ordinary events in life? Are you born with “Inborn talent”?

What might be the secret of being a good writer, of selling more stories than the number of tickets for the next Hollywood blockbuster; of being the most loved and respected man of letters? The surest way to success in this dimension is perseverance.

As a writer, one might come across many external obstacles; obstacles from our day-job, obstacle in the name of family, etc. These obstacles, sometimes with our knowing and sometimes unknowing, sucks out what could be described as the surest key to becoming a good writer. I would never suggest one must wait for the right moment to pen a story or to edit a previously written manuscript. The right time for a writer is NOW.

Remember, you are here because you love reading about writing and want to learn a few techniques on improvising your writing. You have listened to your call, by coming here. You have that inner radio inside of you that could tune into the cosmic energy that is the Source of all Creation.  

If you arrived here with a desire to learn, I must tell you that you have the necessary ingredients in your DNA to make it big as an author. You are in alignment with that dream that you have nurtured throughout your life, of sitting on a table, signing books at one end of an incredibly long line of people, simply because you are reading this article.

This is not a self-help forum. Still, I would advice a new author to take perseverance as your measure when the path in front of you is not visible, when you meet a dead-end. For example, think about Dr. Viktor E. Frankl’s experiences in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Had he not been persevering, his future and the future of psychoanalysis itself would have been something else. In such a situation, perseverance means you trust your abilities to risk every other madness around you. It results from trusting oneself. Dr. Viktor E. Frankl shares his experiences in the book titled Mans’ Search for Meaning.  
 
Image Courtesy: Google
The craft of good writing also stems from trusting oneself. However, I would also suggest you should not limit your trust upon the blind faith that ‘whatever you do would be good’; or daydreams about long lines of people waiting for your autograph. Although, it sounds almost na├»ve, I must say that one must act in order to bring success into the world of reality. This, I consider, is a valid thought for any aspiring writer. Most aspiring writers never make it to the successful line of authors. The reason for that is simple: most aspiring writers only aspire. Their aspirations are not strong enough to manifest themselves into material reality.

The next best thing to do in order to bring in your ‘good writing’ is to trust your own intuitions and write steadily. By carrying the purpose, and following the discipline required to finish specific writing projects, you are sure to succeed. In writing-life, failure has only one meaning—stopping a work. This means, essentially that if you don’t stop, you never fail.  

About The Author:
Anu Lal is the author of Wall of Colours and Other Stories, Book-1 in the Hope, Vengeance, and History Trilogy. He resides in India. His second book You Should Know How I Feel has been a bestseller in Amazon India.
Author Page: Here

Twitter: @Anulalindia

Monday, December 15, 2014

The reason I wake up in the morning





The alarm clock rings and pulls you out of your slumber. That state of rest during which your consciousness of the world is suspended. Sometimes that state is peaceful and can be considered balsamaceous, as it accentuates the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. Sometimes it is not enjoyable, as when you are tormented by disturbing thoughts manifesting themselves in your dreams.

Either way, it is a necessary part of life. To most of us, sleep is rarely the subject of our conversations, unless one is complaining over a rough night, or even more rarely, appreciating a good night's sleep.

How well you sleep determines how well you enjoy your day. If you sleep adequately, your body will be ready to meet the demands of the time when you are awake.

To me, sleep time is very important. I try my best to maximize the benefits of sleeping, and avoid disturbances in my sleeping patterns.

Sleep is universal and essential to us as humans, and even animals do it. We all have reasons to sleep, they are obvious, and I think I mentioned most of them in the second paragraph of this reflection; but do we have a reason to wake up?

Can you give an answer to someone who asks you why you wake up in the morning?

Do you wake up because of the alarm clock, or maybe it's because of sunlight? Is it the wet, tickling licks your dog gives your cheek? Or maybe it is because your circadian rhythm naturally awakens you in the morning.

These and other related reasons and causes are not what I'm aiming at in this reflection. I'm hinting at another type of reason, one that is in a class of its own, unparalleled.

I find life to be more enjoyable when you have a strong reason to wake up every morning. A motivation that gives you renewed strength every time you wake up. The very first thing you think about doing once you open your eyes and regain consciousness of the world.

A reason that makes waking up a pleasure fills you up with energy and possesses you in a way. One that forces every night to be a good one, for the mornings to be even better. The days seem short, and time seems too little to do what you love.

In possession of this reason, you can't help but emit positive energy throughout the day. You are filled with positive emotions and it shows by the way you go through your day. You tend to be more optimistic and less prone to depression and negative feelings. You enjoy a higher quality of life, full of purpose and hope.

Stress, and all its bad effects, are evaded and your health will report this. There are many diseases that stress contributes to causing in a human body, but you save yourself from the unnecessary occurrence.

Good mental health will be yours because a happy mind is a healthy mind.

I feel blessed to have found this state of well-being myself. I found it by curious venturing actually, and have not left it for anything.

I have two reasons why I wake up every morning, and they are as follows, in no particular order of importance, because I find it hard to give priority to either one.

Writing, to start with, is one of them. I love writing; portraying thoughts with words, painting mental pictures and leaving impressions in people's minds. Sharing stories and ideas that I brew in my mind.

The other reason is learning new things; feeding my mind as I like to call it. I enjoy acquiring knowledge and gaining understanding, and I'm convinced that it immensely contributes to my mental health.

So when someone asks me why I wake up every morning, I just tell him or her  the very two reasons I stated above. As it is now, I have never been asked this question by anyone, but it is one that I asked myself one morning.

I'm glad to be able to give an answer to someone who asks me such an unorthodox question. I hope you, dear reader, can answer this question too. Try asking your friends or loved ones, and see if they can answer it.

Why do you wake up in the morning?


Innocent Mwatsikesimbe currently lives in the city of Gweru, in Zimbabwe. If he is not working on his writing, he likes to travel and see how other people are living life.
Music is almost as close to him as his writing and he listens to music a lot. He also loves watching thriller movies and crime series. He eats well, exercises well and loves life.
He has an impressive list of publications already: the self-help series 'Mere Reflections', poetry collections and two personal memoirs, among others.


Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/innocent-mwatsikesimbe/id566974852?mt=11mt=11 Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/imwatsi
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/innocent.mwatsikesimbe




Friday, December 12, 2014

AFTERWORD TO BEGINNING

Image Courtesy: Goodreads.com
In his admirable attempt to bring submissions and participation one final time into Writers Get Together, author and Editor Scott Bury wrote an article the previous year. The article was published in November 17 and is titled “Not farewell, but au revoir”. This article beautifully narrates the grand message that Writers Get Together (WGT) stands for. He writes that WGT is “a blog that serves the function in the digital world of the old-fashioned coffee house, where writers can share new work, experiment with new ideas and get feedback from colleagues.” What better definition could serve the purpose!

Shortly after the appearance of this article, WGT was shut down. Although, WGT was “up for grabs” for anyone who could make use of its wide possibilities, as its owner Siggy Buckley reluctantly suggests in her post that followed Scott Bury’s, no one else discovered Scott Bury’s vision. Perhaps, this is one of the drawbacks of the internet era. There is too much noise out there that the possibility of listening to a conversation has become minimal.
 
Image Courtesy: azevedosreviews.com
In my personal journey as an author, I have realized that writing a book is definitely not a subjective affair. It has to involve people. From cover designing to editing, from proof reading to printing and from penning the outline to selling or buying, a writer is never alone. Should never be alone.

In my research, I discovered that most successful writers are those who have successfully established their connections with the reading public. This they achieved, in the past era, through print magazines and articles or serialized version of stories in newspapers. Charles Dickens from nineteenth century is a good example of this style of writing. It is part of the profile building procedure for a writer. The more people who love your style of writing, the more will be the number of your books sold. In reality, this is true. I have experienced personal success in this same manner. The success with my second book was greater than that with my first book. My second book, You Should Know How I Feel was noticed by a greater number of readers and became a bestseller in Amazon India.

In our time, the role of print magazines and newspapers are effectively supplemented by blogs. Using blogs writers can let the world know about their presence in the literary scene. Write a guest post, or a regular column. You can make your presence felt.

Also please remember, it is not always about making more money or marketing your book. By writing about your writing life, books, or any other affair, you are essentially being connected with another individual, sharing your life with that person, and receiving their feedbacks and blessings. Scott Bury’s coffee house analogy is in perfect harmony with what a writer wants in the current era to perform at the best of one’s abilities. It will give an opportunity for working in teams as well as nourishing one’s craft with newer possibilities and suggestions by fellow writers working from different parts of the world, an idea Mr. Dickens would have died for, in his times.
 
Image Courtesy: Google
I am a writer from India. If you are reading this article from the US or Ireland, or Japan, we must realize one thing immediately, without fail—this could be our best chance of bringing out the best in us. It never was like this before.

The coffee houses in London during the 19th century had writers from England or nearby European countries. If you sit in a room in New York, the US, right now and discuss your work with a writing group, you are essentially communicating with a few Americans or people who experience similar cultural, social, and political environments. In other words, if it’s snowing outside, all those writers in a small writers’ group in the US will have an unbiased say about the weather of the day. There is monotony, a complete lack of diversity. On the other hand, be a member of a writers’ blog group and you will have a person from Rajasthan, India or Texas, USA communicating with you about their individual experiences, separated spatially but united intellectually. That’s what diversity is all about. It gives great meaning to group work. Great writing is always a product of living a meaning-centered life. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anu Lal is a bestselling author, book reviewer, and blogger. His recent book, You Should Know How I Feel... has been a bestseller Contemporary Romance in Amazon e books, and paperback. He is the first Indian author to write a trilogy in short story collections in English: 'Hope, Vengeance and History' trilogy. His upcoming book is the second one in this trilogy.  
His works are: Wall of Colours and Other Stories; You Should Know How I Feel...; Unclassified Intelligence; Prabuddha: The Clear-sighted  
Visit his blog: The Indian Commentator
Visit his author page HERE