Monday, December 28, 2009

Princess Upon a War Horse

The journey from the foothills to Darjeeling was like the slow, tantalising drip of jungle honey. Antara could walk alongside, on the brink of the hills, green valleys yawning below; chew on delicate pink flowers that tasted sour, and breathe deep the pine-scented air. Tiny wooden houses sat on stilts, their windowsills creaking with rosy-cheeked children waving at her, and pots bursting with red and pink geraniums.

She went horseback riding in Darjeeling on the tallest horse she could find, and although Mama's contempt caused her to miss a stirrup and fall face-down upon the horse's neck, she would ride alone. She was a princess upon a war horse and the boys with peace sign lockets around their necks whistled appreciatively at her as she galloped past.

After a round, when she neared the crowded ‘chowrasta’, Antara reined in the horse beside a little mound of earth, and gingerly dismounted. She did not wish to make a spectacle of herself again. The horse followed her like some docile dog, so that a tourist mistook her for a guide.

A young man with rosy cheeks came up to her and handed her the earring she had lost when she fell. She thanked him with a smile, and hastily clipped it on, for to be seen with just one earring was worse than not being seen with earrings at all.


Anita Saran leads a rich life that encompasses the world of fiction writing and spiritual practice. She is the award-winning author of the national award winning science fiction novella 'Aditya the Underwater Boy', and 'Dolphin Girl and Other Stories.'
Her short story 'City of Victory' was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2004. You can listen to it free here:
Her audio story 'Panic' is up on Sniplits -
Her Science fiction story 'The Enlightened Robot' is on Cezanne's Carrot:

Novella 'City of Victory' published by :

Her first novel 'Circe' – a funny satirical fantasy- is about to be released by Mojocastle Press.
Anita teaches short story writing and copywriting online on
Read some of her writing on her personal website -

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

UNNOTICED by Jim Wisneski

It was the last changing leaf of the season.  The transformation from a dark, rich green to a bright red to a golden yellow to a fallen leaf happened unnoticed.  It blew down the street, block by block, until finally held down by the rain and the endless tires.  The remains were carried by foot, breeze, plow, and time as the last changing leaf went unnoticed.

The rush of candy, of thanks to be given, and lights and toys came and went. The treacherous winter sunk its teeth into the earth and held tight for as time made it feel like forever.  Then something magical happened.  The first leaf of the season budded.  It stuck its head out and opened with a sigh and welcomed back the warm sun.  The first leaf welcomed the rest and time moved forward once again, unnoticed.

Short bio: Visit Jim's writers blog at - visit his personal blog at - and visit his podcasting blog to hear some of his stories, novellas, and novels at Jim writes short stories, novellas, novels, and poetry.  When he isn't writing, he is thinking about writing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HANDS by Kevin Hoffman

He looked down at his thick, time-worn hands and flexed his fingers deep in thought. These hands could carry a shovel and clear the way for a bright future or carry nothing and stand in the way of progress. They could cradle a baby gently within their grasp or crush the life from someone's throat. These hands can build a home to shelter a family or rip it apart one board at a time. He turned his hands over to examine the back, marveling at the variety of the size and shape of the veins running below the surface.

He thought how each vein turned at a fork in the road; a choice made that led him down one path and away from another. Through his hands, he could love someone or show them hatred. His hands could lift someone's heart and spirits or crush them and forever damage a soul. His hands were full of power. All the power in the world to bring about whatever wish he could imagine rest within his simple, bare hands.

Kevin Hoffman has been writing stories and books since he was a kid. He's spent the last 14 years of his life writing computer software and writing books on computer programming. He has finally decided that computer programming is just a day job and his true passion is writing fiction, though you will have to pry his high-tech gadgetry from his cold, dead hands.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Behold the Dawn:

An excerpt from just released medieval novel Behold the Dawn:

The infidels struck, screaming their wordless battle cry. Everything around them turned to pain and death. Annan didn’t wait to check for the guards. He clamped one hand round the lady’s arm and lunged forward. The sounds of the slaughter surged after them with an intensity and a speed that bespoke all too well of the attackers’ vigor.

He kept low, not daring to look behind him, knowing the Moslems were much closer than he wanted them to be.

He and the lady crossed the corpse of a guard, and Annan paused long enough to lift the infidel saber from the still-warm hand. It was a masterful stroke that had felled the warrior—silently, deftly, instantly. His nostrils flared in a momentary flash of admiration. Whatever else he was or had been, the Baptist was a man of many skills.

The courser, a muscled gray, snorted through distended nostrils, but he could not veer fast enough to escape Annan’s hand on the tie-line.

“Master Knight!”

At her cry, he spun to see the approach of the horsemen, dark against the ruddy sky. With one stroke of the saber, he severed the tie line and vaulted into the saddle, narrowly clearing the high cantle.

The Moslems swept through the camp, shouting their curses of vengeance, and Mairead turned to look up at Annan, eyes dark with the sudden horror that he was abandoning her already.

He shifted sword and reins all into one hand, fighting to keep the snorting courser from charging away. He reached out with his left hand and caught the countess’s outstretched arm. His wounded shoulder burned, and the tightness of the bandage nearly forestalled the necessary strength to swing her onto the pillion behind him.

She landed with a soft thump and let go of his wrist. Her arms came around his waist, her face against his shoulders. “Go.”

He laid his heels to the gray courser’s sides, and the horse lunged forward, dark mane unfurling against his rein hand. But this was a Western horse, bred for muscle and endurance. He had not the dexterity and fleetness of the Mohammedan war mares.

Behind them, the tattoo of hoofbeats grew louder yet, and Annan dared a look over his shoulder, past Mairead’s blowing hair. Only paces separated them from two infidel pursuers.
He spurred the courser again. The horse was fresh and responded with another lengthening of stride. But Annan knew they would never outpace their followers. He could only be thankful that these infidels were not that brand of Moslem archer famed for their accuracy on horseback, else the countess’s exposed back would already have become an easy target.

Not that it mattered. Once they drew near enough, the infidels would cut them apart at their leisure anyway.

He could not run. So he must fight.

about K. M. Weiland I grew up chasing Billy the Kid and Jesse James on horseback through the sand hills of western Nebraska, where I still live. A lifelong fan of history and the power of the written word, I enjoy sharing both through my many fictional stories and my novels, A Man Called Outlaw and Behold the Dawn (available October 1st). I blog at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors andAuthorCulture and air a weekly podcast as well.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


"Mommy!, I can't find my favorite necklace!" shrieked Emily.
"One sec Jane" sighed Clair as she turned away from the phone to address her daughter.
"Emily, how many times do I have to tell you?  If something is that
important to you, you have to take really good care of it or it'll end up
lost.  Go on, keep looking and I'll help you find it when I'm off the phone".

With a shake of her head, she went back to her conversation. "Sorry Jane....
I knooow!  When will they ever learn?!?  Now, what was that you were asking?
Oh no dear, that's ok, I don't mind you asking at all.  I really don't know
what happened.  I guess we just grew apart and needed something else out of
our lives."

Runswith Cizers is a nube writer who loves Mac products and Mustangs.  When he's not running with cissors, and even when he is, he is a  computer geek.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The day arrived packaged in a brown paper bag

The pinched sun was knotted up behind a bank of burnt cork cloud, high up at the apex of the celestial. 

Lesser cumuli corrugated the sky like wrinkles. 

God, the old consumptive, was obviously anxious to get his latest sequestration back home through the pearly gates and was gripping to the firmament just a mite too hard. 

And then it broke, all Hell that is. 

A jagged tear at the bottom where the sky kissed the concrete Babel, from which hailstones rehashed from Ancient Egypt toppled on to the sidewalk.

The divine short order chef dashing his eggs over easy.

Sunny side down. 

Or perhaps, considering the alcoholic withdrawal that continually ram-raided the hole in my soul, maybe the hailstones were resonating more like popping corn inside mycranium

Unhh, no need for an alarm clock with my finely altered biochemistry.

Marc Nash:  Experimental UK writer, lover of language and imagery. Ex-playwright, now assaulting the novel form. Self-published "A,B&E" imminent. A scabrous mirror held up to my people. A love-hate "Dear John" letter.

Self-Publishing experience Blog:
Twitter @21stCscribe

Wednesday, September 30, 2009



Twila was born in the mountains of Virginia under a full moon “That’s when all the lunatics came out,” her grandmother said.


Maybe that’s why Twila set out to do things no one else could do.


Like the time she decided to roller skate to the White House and ask the President to stop all war; she made it five miles and then the sidewalk ran out . . . so she thought she’d go home and watch The Cosby show, instead.


On her fifteenth birthday she recruited six of her friends to help save the world from hunger; if they collected five hundred dollars the purchase of rice and beans could feed the impoverished.

Realizing these people would need fire and water, her plans changed to handing out bread and peanut butter where the local homeless gathered.


No one was surprised on the day after graduation—when Twila joined the Army to make new friends in Iraq .


Jeanette is a charter member of the Hampton Roads Writers.

A veteran member of many online writing sites and E-Zine’s.

Six Sentence Blog site and E-Zine. A semifinalist; in the Mixed Drinks contest and published two Six Sentence Magazines of Six Sixes and in their newly released book Volume Two.

Published on: Smith Magazine and in two of their memoir books.

Three of these books have been on the New York Times best sellers list.

Twice published on The Verb’s Chalkboard, and a Semifinalist in the Verb’s Dynamic Dialogue contest, Helium--Premier Writer Status andMarketplace Writer, Gather, Doorknobs and Body Paint, Edit Red, Pen Pricks, Thrillers Killers ‘N’ Chillers, One Sentence, Robert Swartword and Verbsap winner of the best title contest, Word Salad Haiku and poem. Pen Ten Scribes and Forthcoming: Harbinger*33.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Made in Heaven

 "C'mon, Slim, how you 'spect to git a woman 'less'n ya' c'n talk 'em up?"


"I don' got no words f'r that sort o'thing, Vern."


"Y'noe Slim, if'n yer Ma wuzn't my Pa's sister, I'd swear we wuzn't related at all!'


It seems as though Slim had been trying since puberty to get "Big Betty", the last available semblance of a woman in town, to marry him, without success, and so, had appealed to "Lil' Cuz Vern" for help.


"Now, ya' gotta' tell'er things like, 'Yer beauty cud dam' near stop the hands o' time!'"


"Don' knoe, Vern, las' time I talk' at 'er she got mad as a wildcat whut stepped on a hot poker, an' dam' near broke my arm!


You have to keep in mind that Slim was as strong as an ox and about half as smart, in words as kind as can be said, he was 'not the brightest bulb in the box'.


"Listen, ya' gotta git down'n one knee, hol' up that wooden ring ya' made, an' tell 'er wut I tol'ya to, 'n' y'll be fine.


Well, Slim met with the, ahem, "beautiful Big Betty" the very next day, and upon his return was met by Vern and a few others, a return notably marked by a blackened eye, fat lip. bloody ear, and this time a broken arm, prompting the question, "Damn Slim, wut the Hell'dya' do to 'er?"


I jus' tol' 'er wut ye said, "…that she had a face that could stop an eight day clock!", an' then the lights went out!



Jim Hunkele: From a family heritage of writers, I decided that such was not for me.  I went on my merry way, experiencing one sort of job after another.  I'd learn a job, get bored, and move on.  I've worked in the Richmond , VA foundry, operated a nuclear reactor in the North Ana plant, and everything in between.  In my late 40's, I became an Immigration Officer, where I got to interview others about their jobs.  Since, after 30 years, I'd gleaned so much from so many different positions, I felt I had finally found my niche.  While my stories relate to current life events, I plan to begin writings based on the stories I have accumulated in the Immigration Offices.  Yes, I finally have the time and inclination to write.  In God We Trust!

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~Benjamin Franklin                

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I know the capacity of my mind and the capabilities it holds and yet I, like many use this gift so vaguely and inefficiently. I am always limiting my steps towards the limited direction and hence end up admitting defeat on various grounds. Repeatedly I echo for my own belief “It takes time, and effort, and energy to excel into things, and though I am capable of diving into it and getting it done, I always stand on the shore being too scared”. I am always thinking of the "what ifs" and never thinking of what could be.

Many fantasies dwell in my mind... many hopes, many thoughts, many dreams, many aspirations... and most of the time they are never planned for action. I am too prejudiced to do that. I am always wasting time wondering what everyone else will think, and weighing the absolute nonsense of the idea of pleasing people first. In most situations I have delayed myself so terribly that my opportunity to win has been lost. Some may blame fate but I blame me; knowing that I have the power to change the course of destiny I yet continue to sit here and constantly lie to myself about my abilities and ambitions. About time I learn, you learn it too!


Thirsty Desert, a copy writer by profession, is currently enjoying all possibilities of writing via blogging at "When he kisses her, passions roar" and frequent contributions to Pen 10 and 6S


Clothes were flying from the drawer as Mama frantically searched through them in a hurry.  I could only see the rhythmic jiggle of her backside and the smoke that curled from the cigarette which dangled from her dry lips.  This was one of those teaching moments that I often heard of occurring at apron strings except what I got was a fat butt and garbled instructions.  

She squinted through the smoke as she drew on the Virginia Slim Mild and said, “Your aunties are prolly thinking they gon just come over here and take everything when Granny passes.  They aint nuthin but a bunch of vultures!”  I stood there wide-eyed watching her ransack a once elegant room full of damask and warm memories.  I had no time to indulge in the old times before being snatched back to reality with an almost harsh demand to “Hand me another bag!”

“What are vultures, mama?” I asked.  She explained in her way that they were the birds who circle a carcass waiting for deaths invitation to signal their rampage; adding with pith that my Aunties were vultures.  

I slowly handed her the bag as I thought better of asking what this mess we stood in made us.  Yes, she taught many things at her knee but the lessons I carried away were something different altogether.

Rhonda Gould Smolarek fell in love with writing when her fifth grade teacher Mrs. Joyce Pickett at Parkside Elementary School made such a fuss about a story she wrote about a squirrel in the woods.  She stuck with it as justification for all the beautiful pens available though now she mostly uses a keyboard to blend words into stories and poetry.  She just makes stuff up.  She does it mostly at and hopes you will do it, also.



We knew her long before her rich old Army daddy finagled a seat for her on one of the transports toAlpha Centauri.  A sizzling redhead with a mouth that could wilt an orbit ranger dead in his filthy-tongue tracks, Constanzia Burke gave exemplary meaning to that centuries-old admonition, “Step up to the plate.”  She feared nothing and no one.  From the time she was in grade school, high school, and then through flight school with us, Constanzia knew what she wanted and made no bones about getting it, even when it meant elbowing ribs, planting subtle but effective landmines in the path of competitors, and even resorting to that ploy, also centuries-old …sleeping with the director. 

Who knew back then New America would be planting its RedWhiteBlue on the third 
brightest star in the galaxy!  Those who had bet the proverbial “farm” on lunar expectations ended up in the poorhouse, but a man with foresight enough to tackle less popular possibilities would reap financial windfalls from exclusive claims to the mega-rich chromium mines on Alpha Centauri.  “Daddy Warbucks” Burke was that man.  

Second Wingtenants Mueller, Franklin, and I––all first trekkers with shiny medals on our uniformed chests to prove it––had landed on A. C. during the very first convoy of six ships; Burke’s daughter arrived on the second several years later.  We were not happy to see her, but we were even less happy when we discovered she had been promoted to First Wingtenant Colonel of all operations, military and civilian, the newly promoted brightest star in the western sector of the third brightest star!  

“If you think for a second I kicked ass back on Earth, you freaking dumb glass heads, wait till you see what I’m cooking up for you here on the big A.C.!”


Salvatore Buttaci’s poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that includeNew York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, Cats Magazine, and Christian Science Monitor. He was the recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award in 2007 and second-place winner in the 2008 Poetry Super Highway Contest. Buttaci has lectured on Sicilian American pride and conducted numerous poetry workshops and readings. Retired from teaching, Salvatore Buttaci lives with his wife Sharon inPrinceton, West Virginia.  He can be visited at 

His new chapbook
 Boy on a Swing and other poems is available from