Love Letters – A Poem

I met oneMail boxes

of my neighbours

coming into my

building. We said

hello and smiled

at each other.

I held the

door open for

her. She smiled

even more brightly.

“I wonder if the mail has come yet.”

She said, with

a soft anticipation

to her voice.

“Are you expecting something?”

I asked her.

She nodded and

her eyes were

big and hopeful.

“Oh, yes. A letter from the man I love. He sends me one every few days or so.”

I was warmed

by what she

said and knew

well the powers

that love had.

“That’s beautiful.”

I told her.

“Oh yes, it was so hard to lose him. He’s been gone since 1954, you see.”

That stopped me

short. I looked

at her and

could only see

sincerity on her

face. She took

out her key

and opened her

mailbox. I held

my breath, just

as she did.

A letter, yellow

with age, sat

inside. She plucked

up the envelope

and clutched it

to her chest.

“Oh, he wrote to me! He knows that I worry if I don’t hear from him every few days.”

She opened the

envelope and pulled

out a few

sheets of paper.

They were covered

with a spidery

script that looked

like musical notes

instead of writing.

She traced a

finger along the

letters. She saw

me looking at

her and smiled.

“When I trace the letters, it’s almost as if I can hear him speaking them aloud to me. While having his words is a comfort, I do miss the sound of his voice.”

My heart ached

for her, living

without the man

that she loved.

“I thought you said that he had died in 1954.”

I said, gently.

She nodded, still

tracing the letters

on the page.

“Yes, that’s right.”

She said softly.

“He’s been gone ever so long, but I don’t feel so alone, not with his words.”

She smiled, holding

the letter to her

chest once more.

“But that letter can’t be from him. Not if he died so long ago.”

I told her.

Her eyes became

wide and she

looked at me

with kind eyes.

With one hand,

reached out and

patted my shoulder.

“Do you think time or space or death can stop true love? Those that love us are never truly gone. Their words just find us in a different way.”

She closed her

mailbox and, still

clutching the letter,

gave me another

smile. All I

felt from her

was joy. As

she turned to

go, she began

to hum a

tune and It

was as if

I could see

the notes she

sung floating

in the air

behind her.

The Shadow Queen – A Flash Fiction Story

King_Arthur_II_concept_art_4She had found it at last. She had been looking for so long that she had thought the place to be the myth they had said it was in the first place. A junkyard that held anything you could wish for? Maybe even your hearts desire? She had heard so many variations on the myth but the core of it remained the same: a junkyard that held magic hidden in trash.

Cassandra knew that most people had come to the conclusion that it was all fakery, despite what the magic hunters said. However, they didn’t have what Cassandra had, for it was within her very blood that it hid.

She blinked, and it was like a veil came down over her eyes. Everything looked as if it was covered in gauze. Though that gauze, she could see the sparkle and brilliant sheen of magical objects. Cassandra wondered if what she was seeing were object meant for her or other people? She knew what she wished for, what her hearts desire was. She wondered if she would find it here?

Approaching the gate, Cassandra had one moment of worry. Some of the myths told tales of beings that lived within the junkyard. Taking a deep breath, she blinked again to clear the veil and squared her shoulders. She could do this; indeed, she was born for this.

Taking another deep breath, she placed her hands on the gate, meaning to pull it open. When her hand touched the cold iron, she heard the sound of bells. It wasn’t very loud, but she heard them tinkling away from her. When she pulled open the door, they grew louder.

“I wondered when I’d be seeing you.”

Cassandra watched as the shadows themselves seemed to bend and twist their shape until there was a woman standing in front of her. The woman’s skin was grey like ashes and her dress looked to be made of spiderwebs. She positively shone in the dark, like the objects Cassandra had seen before. The woman held a white cup in her hand delicately by the handle and as she looked at Cassandra, she took a sip. Cassandra could smell hot chocolate.

“And who might you be?”

“I am surprised that it took you this long to arrive here.” The woman said as if Casandra hadn’t spoken. “One with your talents…but I understand. You are the Queen’s daughter, after all. Can’t go galivanting off to play in the shadows you hold so dear.”

Cassandra was shaken by the woman’s words. She knows who I am! Cassandra thought. She tried not to show fear. “How do you know of me? What do you want with me?”

The woman made of shadows smiled. “I will answer your second question first: it’s more what you want from me. As to your other question, how could I not know who you are, shining as brightly as you do? It’s not every day that the Fey come to see me, least of all a Princess.”

Letting out a little laugh, Cassandra said “This is the modern world. The Fey don’t exist anymore, or are you not aware of where you are?” She motioned at the junk yard and all the broken things that surrounded them. “How could it survive in amongst all this iron?

The woman blinked at her and Cassandra saw that her eyes were black like obsidian. She took a step and was in front of her in an instant, covering a meter in length in one step. Though there was a breeze that surrounded them, not a hair on the woman’s head moved. In her hand, she still held the cup of hot chocolate and not a drop had spilled. She took a sip, looking at Cassandra with those dark, bottomless eyes.

“Don’t treat me like an idiot, Cassandra. Otherwise, I’ll have to do to you what I did to your poor mother, Demeter.”

Cassandra felt her skin go pale. “That was you? I thought that was Hades and the pomegranate seeds?”

The woman let out a snort. “You believe that drivel? No, it was pure sex with those two, that’s all.” She gave Cassandra a leer. “I just introduced them and…helped matters along.”

Cassandra squared her shoulders. “You still haven’t told me who you are!”

“I’m surprised you haven’t figured it out. After all, you and I share the same gifts and we resemble each other slightly.” Cassandra gave her a blank stare. “No? Well, you’re no fun. Use your gift, dear. It should be easy then.”

Closing her eyes, Cassandra felt the veil slide down over her eyes. When she opened them, the world around her was once again a tapestry of stars and small planet, so bright was the magic held by the objects around her.

She turned to look at the mysterious woman again and gasped. The woman must have dropped a cloaking that had been in place, for she was nearly blinding now. Gone were the cup of chocolate and the dress made of shadows and ash.

Now, the woman was glowing with an internal light, dark hair was covering her like a cloak and she held a staff that was topped with a purple orb. The orb pulsed brightly like a heartbeat. She could be only one person and Cassandra still saw her in her nightmares.

“Morgana le Fey!” Cassandra gasped.

“There now, I knew that we’d get there in the end. That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Morgana almost purred.

Morgana came closer and took Cassandra’s chin between her right thumb and fingers. She didn’t pinch hard, but her touch was as cold as ice. “Now, how about you tell me how you found my domain and what you came looking for, huh? If your answer pleases me, I’ll consider letting you leave alive.”

Cassandra wondered if she should tell the truth. She also wondered if Morgana le Fey knew what the truth was already. She swallowed thickly and began to speak…

The Wish by Alex Brown – A Book Review

35085817Sam Morgan is trying to hold his life together.

He knows that he has driven a wedge between him and his wife, Chrissie. Sam knows that he’s missed too many birthdays and anniversaries. There has been too much distance, and too much time, between Chrissie and himself; but he knows that he still loves her and that he would do anything to bring their family together again. He has come back to Tindledale in hopes of salvaging what is left of his marriage, before it’s too late.

Jude Darling has returned to Tindledale to start over. Tired of travelling and giving in to her wanderlust and dating men that weren’t right for her and relationships that didn’t go anywhere, she has come back from Los Angeles and home to her father, Tony. She has also come home to her best friend Chrissie and Chrissie’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Holly. Jude has her hands full trying to run her antiques store and dealing with a washed-up rock star that has moved to the village, Myles King. He hires her to redo his estate, but is really just a clueless, infuriating man. She often feels as if her life is getting away from her.

Holly is a thirteen-year-old girl who desperately wants her parents back together. That is all she wants, more than anything. She lives with diabetes and has to deal with a lot. Holly puts up with her parents and their constant bickering or the long, icy silences. She often feels like her life is falling apart and if her parents would just work on staying together, then all would be well. She is still young enough to believe in the power of wishes, so Holly makes a Wish and hopes that it will be enough…

It’s so lovely to be back in Tindledale! I love this town. Everyone has become someone that I feel I honestly know as Alex brings you right into their lives. What I love about the Tindledale books is that someone who is a protagonist in one novel will show up as a secondary character in another, so you always feel as if you are seeing your friends. It shows the quality of Alex’s writing that the characters feel so real.

More than that, it’s the emotion that Alex is able to evoke. The Wish goes beyond everyday chick lit. You have a couple that are desperate to save their marriage, but unsure of how to do it. The relationship between Sam and Chrissie is so real and so true to life. This isn’t a simple plot where the man tells her he loves her and she comes back to him. Instead, we are shown the plight of Sam and Chrissie as they try to rebuild their lives as a family. I’m pretty sure that that kind of subject has never been tackled in chic lit before. It left be breathless and I ached for them.

Then there is the storyline of Holly having diabetes. I have also never read this kind of a storyline in a chic lit novel It’s told so truthfully and so honestly that my heart also ached for Holly and being such a young age and having to deal with this kind of a disease. I know many people with this disease and Alex has told it so true to form. She doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff and that gives this book more heart and substance.

Of course, there is Jude and her dealings with Myles King. This relationship brought a smile to my face. Never have I met a man who is so clueless yet somehow so very endearing. I thoroughly enjoyed their storyline and how Jude frequently stepped in to save the day, in more ways than one.

I love that Alex brown goes beyond the boundaries of chick lit and gives us something more. She gives us a novel with characters we grow to love and storylines that whisk us away, as is typical in summer reads. However, Alex Brown has gone beyond that. She has given us real life written upon the page.

By the last page, I was so emotionally invested in all of these characters. I can’t wait until I see them again in a future Tindledale book. It will like seeing a ray of sunshine. I can’t wait to read The Wish all over again.

Renaissance Press Massive Book Launch!

boosk being launched small

Hey Everyone!

Check this out! My book Life and Lemonade is being launched this coming weekend! Sunday, May 27th from 5pm to 7pm at the Red Lion Pub!

Here are all the details you will need! I hope to see you all there if you’re in the Ottawa area!

MONDAY, MAY 21st, 2018: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE by Renaissance Press

Local publisher celebrates fifth anniversary with mega book launch and Frankenthology

Four books by Ottawa authors to be launched on Sunday May 27th at 5 p.m. at the Red Lion (47 Clarence Street, Ottawa)

Renaissance — a local publisher of diverse Canadian voices — is celebrating its fifth anniversary!

Since its inception in May 2013, Renaissance has signed a total of 19 Canadian authorsbuilt a team of 13 editors, designers, and artists; published twenty novels and three games; and are planning ten more releases, including one game and one anthology, by the end of 2019. What started as a love affair for local authors (and stories that don’t fit neatly in a genre, niche, or demographic) grew into a passion for Canadian books by and about marginalized people.

Entrance is FREE, and you’ll be able to buy new books and get them signed by our authors! There will also be door prizes, author readings, and a literary character’s costume contest (costumes are optional).

Last, but not least, Frankenstein lovers, you’re in luck! As part of their fifth birthday celebration, Renaissance is also launching an anthology to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the release of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It is currently on Kickstarter, funded in just under a week! — and all backers of the Kickstarter project will enjoy an additional 10% off any Renaissance purchase they make at the launch!

Titles being launched:

Life After Redby by Kaitlin Caul (Horror)
Die. Become a zombie. Get needled. Do it all over again. Caught in the endless cycle of death, zombification, and resurrection, Cass became scarred inside and out. Now, her skills are needed again. ISBN: 978-1-987963-29-8

Life and Lemonade by Jamieson Wolf (LGBTQIAPP2+)
All’s fair in love and war . . . but sometimes life gets in the way. ISBN: 978-1-987963-36-6 – Available now!

The Sign of Faust (Baker City Mysteries, Elizabeth book 2) by Éric Desmarais (YA Supernatural suspense)
Can Elizabeth find out who’s trying to kill her — and discover the source of everyone’s luck — while navigating dating, concerts, school, and competing in the science Olympics? ISBN: 978-1-987963-33-5 – Available now! 

To Pluck a Crow by Sue Taylor-Davidson (Historical mystery)
Could Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets have been written by more than one person? As Janek and Sarah investigate, they get tangled up in another mystery. ISBN: 978-1-987963-30-4 – Available now! 

EVENT TIME AND LOCATION: Sunday May 27th at 5 p.m. at the Red Lion, 47 Clarence Street, Ottawa
CONTACT: Nathan Fréchette, 819-230-8968, info@renaissancebookpress.com
For more information, including full menu and accessibility notes: https://renaissancebookpress.com/2018/05/20/fifth-anniversary/

A Mirror Full of Stars – A Flash Fiction Story

smallerShe has been glancing into the mirror a lot lately,

Part of her wonders if her reflection sees the difference inside of her, the flame that was snuffed out long ago but has only recently been lit again? Even though her reflection is essentially her, there are some that said that a reflection was your soul looking back at you. Did her soul see her as she really was?

She had spoken to her daughter and it hadn’t gone well. There had been a lot of yelling and accusations, of trying to steal her fire, of taking away her flame. She hadn’t risen to the bait, knowing that if she stayed true to herself, her own flame would grow brighter.

Lately, though, her flame had started to splutter and she could feel it flickering inside of her, struggling to stay alive, to stay awake so that it could light up all the shadows around her. She placed a hand on her lower abdomen. It was where she could feel it most, a fluttering wind of want and need.

Standing in front of her mirror, Cindy placed her hand on her lower abdomen and breathed deep. She could feel the flame growing stronger if she focused, but if she gave into the thoughts that the shadows offered her, the flame would grow smaller. It had been like this for weeks since she had met Michelle.

Cindy tried not to turn inward, tried not to let the shadows win. She was surprised, therefore, when her reflection winked at her. *Hello Lovely* it said.

“How can you be talking to me?” Cindy asked.

Her mirror self raised her eyebrows. *How can you be talking to me?*

Cindy nodded. “Fair point.”

*So what’s been bothering you? You might as well say it out loud as I can hear it inside of you loud and clear.*

“That’s what I get for letting you know me so well.”

*Yeah, and so what? What’s up, Lovely?*

Cindy thought about it for a moment. “I’m afraid. “

*Of what?*

“Of what others will think. Of what they will say. Of what society will think of me.”

Her reflection gave her a knowing look. *Does any of that really matter?*

“Of course it does.”

*No, I’m asking you to think about it. Does any of that matter? Wouldn’t you rather focus on how Michelle makes you feel?*

Cindy shook her head. “I don’t know how other people do it. How can they be so open with who they are? How can they be so fearless?”

Her reflection put a finger to her lips in thought. *Maybe they’ve spent so long being afraid of who they are that the chance to finally be themselves breaks down all the walls they have built. They are tired of hiding who they are and would rather shine brightly*

Sighing, Cindy reached out to touch the mirror softly with a fingertip; the gesture sent ripples along the mirror’s surface. When the ripples cleared, the mirror was empty. She turned and saw a woman standing there. She had white hair and wise eyes that seemed to sparkle with the stars themselves.

“You are so wise, child.” The woman said. “Why do you deny who you are?”

Cindy shook her head. “Fear. Of myself, of what others will think.”

“Who cares about others. Why are you holding back?”

“I’m afraid.”

“Of being yourself? Or being happy?”

A tear streaked Cindy’s face, making it look as if her skin were covered in glass. “Both. “

The woman took her hands. “Never be afraid of being who you are and who you are meant to be. You have a light inside you, here.”

The woman placed a hand on Cindy’s lower abdomen. “You need it to reach here.” She placed her hand on Cindy’s heart. “Can you do that?”

“I’ve forgotten how.”

“No you haven’t. Don’t let fear stop you from doing you, dear heart. Now do you feel that light?”

Cindy could feel the small flame fluttering inside her. It was so weak, it was almost gone, almost a thing of the wind. “I feel it.”

“Then sing to it.”

Raising her eyebrows, Cindy said “Sing to it?”

“Sing, chant, pray, do whatever you have to do. You need to shine like the Star that you are and you can’t do that when you’re blocking your own light. It’s just not right!” The older woman looked affronted.

“I don’t know how.”

“Pish. That’s the other people speaking. I want you to do something for me. I want you to think of Michelle and just picture her in your mind, will you do that for me?”

Cindy nodded and closed her eyes. She placed one hand on her lower abdomen and one hand on her heart. Inside herself, she wandered in the garden of her mind. She came upon the centre of the garden and saw that someone had built a lifelike statue there. It was Michelle. She was beautiful, yet, but more than anything else, Cindy saw Michelle’s kindness, her sense of humour, her strength of spirit. She seemed to glow and pulse in time to her heartbeat.

“I want you to open your eyes.” The woman said. Cindy wondered if this woman was her soul.

When she opened her eyes, she saw that the room was filled with a bright, shining light. She looked around for the source of the light and the woman motioned for her to look down. Cindy let out a gasp when she saw that it was her that shone as brightly as a star.

“Never be afraid to be who you are.” The woman said. “Look at what you can accomplish when this is so.”

The light, and the old woman, began to fade. “But what about other people? What if they object?”

“Fuck them.” The woman said. “You only have one life, you need to get busy living it.”

When the woman disappeared, the glow faded from Cindy’s skin but the light stayed lit within her.

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