Tag Archives: fiction

Steampunk Tea Served Cold by Dennis De Rose

Thank you, author and editor Dennis De Rose for responding to last Wednesday’s Visual Writing Prompt. I’m happy to be sharing your story here! Dennis happy to hear any feedback so comments are welcome!

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“Opa, can you tell me a bedtime story? I’ve had a grueling day and I’m all keyed up.”

“Mikey, how can a six-year-old have a grueling day and be keyed up?”

“Opa, age has nothing to do with it. I need your help. Dad told me I had to be asleep in twenty minutes. I was already tensed up and now look at my fingernails. Opa, my life is a roller-coaster. And you’re the only one can make the ride as smooth as pudding.”

“Mikey, I love your analogies.”

“Opa, please, I don’t care about allergies. I need to relax and you know it only works with you.” Analogies and allergies, close enough…

“OK Mikey, get under the covers and let me turn the lights down. Let me think for a second. Are you ready for a hum-dinger? You want happy or scary?”

“Opa, remember, I am almost seven. I can handle anything. But Opa, don’t turn those lights down all the way. You know how I get. Before you start, what’s the title? You know the title has to come first.”

“How right you are Mikey. This story is entitled Steampunk Tea. When I was little, just about your age or a little older… I’ll never forget one bitter cold winter night…”

“Stop Opa, you know what I have to ask you?” I shook my head. “What in the world is steampunk?”

“Steampunk is something that takes place in the past; you know history, when a lot of machines were run by steam, before electricity, with elements of science fiction thrown in for good measure.”

Well, I kinda get it but it’s a little foggy. Like Star Trek but before the electric light was invented which must have been hundreds of years ago.” I patted Mikey on the head.

“… I thought I heard a noise in my closet. I woke up out of a sound sleep. Next thing you know I saw a big shadow by the closet door so I high-tailed it under my bed, grabbing my blanket and pillow in case I needed to build a fort. I knew the corner was the safest place to be. This wasn’t my first rodeo. But when I leaned up against it, the corner felt funny, like a sponge…”

“Wait Opa, when did you go to a rodeo?”

“Mikey, I’ve never been to a rodeo. When I said ‘not my first rodeo’ I meant I had been under the bed many times. It’s just an expression.”

Oh, OK, I’ve been to that rodeo too. I’ll have to remember that. Let me place that in my memory bank.” I just smiled and continued.

“… Next thing you know the sponge wall sucked me in and threw me out the other side. But I was lucky. I landed on a trampoline and I was dressed all warm and toasty.”

“A trampoline, Opa, are you making this up as you go along? This story sounds fishy to me.”

“Mikey, I swear I am telling the truth. This is for real. Now, where was I. So, there was a pretty girl standing next to the gadget, like she was expecting me.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Hey, boy, where did you come from?” After I stopped bouncing, I got a good look at her. I could tell she was older than me. Her long red hair was tied up with pink ribbons; her cheeks were red probably from the cold.

I sat on the edge of the contraption just looking around, trying to get a sense of my unreal surroundings. It was dark, cold and foggy to beat the band. Looking over my shoulder, I saw four giant blinking teapots, each one sitting atop four huge spaceship-like legs on rubber wheels. My mouth fell open, my eyes grew large and I started to shake. It was hard to breathe.

The girl stamped her foot to get my attention. “Boy, I asked you a question. What’s your name and where did you come from?”

After she helped me down, I calmed down and answered her questions. “My name’s Dennis and I’m from New Holland, Michigan. And to answer your next question I don’t know how I got here. I was under my bed one second and bouncing on that thing the next.”

She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. I didn’t know what that meant so I just stood there, waiting. “Come with me and I’ll show you around. Don’t be afraid. By the way, my name’s Carla and I’m almost eleven. Follow me.”

Carla grabbed my hand and all of sudden I didn’t feel the cold and I stopped shaking. Walking toward the lights, the teapot structures grew clearer and I saw people walking back-and-forth, talking to their neighbors. There were old bikes scattered about. The people were dressed funny. Some of the men wore cowboy hats, dungarees and heavy cotton work coats. The women wore bonnets, funny long hoop skirts and heavy wool shawls. The four teapots were tethered and each one had a metal ladder going from bottom to top. Walking closer, I dared to touch the hollow leg of the first teapot.

Carla grabbed my other hand. “Don’t touch that; you’ll burn yourself. Each pot is propelled by a steam engine located at the top, in the lid. Steam is forced to the wheels under high pressure. We are one of the clans, the Tea clan, and we move from place to place trading with other clans. This is our pot. Stay here while I talk to my Ma and Pa.”

I stood there listening to people speaking a language I had never heard before and watching kids playing some sort of tag game, running around the legs and wheels from one structure to the next.

Carla tapped me on the shoulder and my hair stood on end. “What’s wrong, breathe.” She smiled and her eyes lit up. “I asked Ma and Pa if you could stay with us for a while until we can figure out how to get you home again. Climb up but be careful. I will be right behind you. Take your time.”

We climbed up and through a door, but not any door I’d ever seen; there was no doorknob and it wasn’t on hinges. The door was made of a thin rubbery self-sealing material. “What the blazes is that? And it’s warm in here.”

“We traded for that new door stuff. My Pa tried to explain it to me but it’s too technical. I’ll figure it out later, he told me. The heat is forced down through vents in the ceiling. This is the second floor. Did you notice the bottoms of the kettles glowed red? Each home has a coal bin at the back; the coal is fed by conveyor belt to the fire pot. The bottom floor is a little warmer. We’re lucky the floor is heavily insulated. Oh, I forgot to tell you to take off your shoes and those thin socks.”

“Carla, my feet get cold easy. What am I going to wear?”

“Here, I have an extra pair of wooden shoes and heavy wool socks. We all wear wooden shoes. How do they feel? If you like them you can keep them.”

“You know, they feel very comfortable and my feet are toasty. Usually my feet are cold even wearing my heaviest socks. Thank you.”

“Would you like something to eat and drink? The cold always makes me hungry. We have some goat cheese, some homemade black bread and iced tea in the cooler.” I was getting sleepy so I just shook my head. “I have to go downstairs. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

We sat together at a low table in the center of the room. “Denny, how do you like the meal? I know it’s not much…”

I looked up from my plate. Carla had surprised me. No one had ever called me Denny. “I never had goat cheese or black bread but I like it. The cold tea reminds me of home. Say, something has been bugging me. How come you can speak English but everyone else speaks a different language?”

“I speak English because you do. I cannot explain that. It’s like I’ve always known English. My parents and their friends speak Dutch.” I tried to wrap my mind around that but like other things I’d seen, I just couldn’t figure it out.

“Say, Carla, I’m kind of tired. Is there someplace I can rest for a bit? We can work on me getting home tomorrow.” Carla nodded and guided me to a darkened section of the room divided into three heavy-curtained bedrooms.

“Here, this is the extra bed. Sometimes I have a friend over. Tonight you are my friend.” I had never seen a featherbed before. As I lay down she helped me remove the wooden shoes but the wool socks were so warm I decided to keep them on. She placed a light blanket over me as she bent down and kissed me on the cheek. I never heard her parents come in.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Mikey, when I opened my eyes I was cozy in my own bed still wearing the same cloths.”

“Opa, do you expect to believe that wild story? I mean, I loved the story but…”

“Well, Mikey, you don’t have to believe me but look under your bed.”

Mikey’s eyes grew as big as saucers. “A Pair of old wooden shoes and heavy wool socks! Opa, I can’t believe it. How…?”

“That’s for you to decide. But they’re yours now if you want them.”

A tear rolled down his cheek. “Opa, you can turn the light off now and thanks for everything.”

I kissed him on the cheek. He smiled at me and gave me a big hug. The door closed with the softest click.

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Dennis is a wonderful storyteller and a good friend. See below for links to his other writing and his editing business.

 

 

 

 

 

Author Chat with Chiara Talluto

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I recently had the opportunity to meet and work with author Chiara Talluto, a genuinely warm-hearted person, and gifted storyteller. I fell in love with her new book Petrella, the Gillian Princess and am honored to have the opportunity to share her book launch with you. I invited her to an Author Chat so you could have the chance to meet her too.

Check Out Our Chat Below


But First….the Book Launch!

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From November 23rd, 2016 until December 7th, 2016 get a discounted price of the Petrella, the Gillian Princess in paperback format only at Createspace!

Order your copy today!

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Petrella, the Gillian Princess is a fairy tale about a courageous young princess who defies rank and authority to follow her heart.


“In a world filled with chaos and destruction, true love can exist. Love always prevails over evil.”


patrella-5-5x8-5The year is 2041 A.D. Yemell, the new world, is divided by land and sea and governed by kings; separated into kingdoms with strict laws in place to help maintain order. There are humans on land and a newly evolved ocean-bound species, the Gillians.

Princess Petrella is a gentle Gillian female. An admirer of all sea creatures, she is enchanted by romance, and longs to fall deeply in love with that special Gillian male. Instead, she becomes smitten with a Human named Finerd. Relations with humans are forbidden on Yemell.

Her father, Hermas, the Gillian King of the Anglon Kingdom, has ruled his kingdom with an iron fist for over thirty years. Alas, Anglon is in dire straits. Rebels are overthrowing neighboring kingdoms and the king’s health is quickly failing. Hermas has no living male heir. To remain powerful, King Hermas must ensure that his only child, Princess Petrella, marries a wealthier Gillian prince from another kingdom. But, the young princess can’t tame her feelings, and neither can Finerd.

Will Petrella pursue this dangerous affair, defying her father’s mandate and put their kingdom at risk?


Available at a Special Discounted Price, and for a Limited Time Only, Through Createspace

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Also Available Below, In Paperback and Ebook Format, Through Amazon!

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Chiara Talluto is an avid reader, philanthropist, conservative, and energetic outdoors-type who dreams of owning a Harley and one day riding across the country feeling the wind whip across her face and tangling all of her brown hair. But until then, she is content on being a stay-at-home mom raising her two active young daughters and practicing wife to her wonderful and supportive husband.

The thing I love best about Chiara’s new book is that her talented daughters had a hand in its making. If you get the paperback version, you’ll find a collection of their drawings that playfully illustrate the story, located in the back. These illustrations are absolutely adorable and are perfectly suited for coloring.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Surrendering to the opportunity to write something for my young daughters, who are eight and six. They have been my number one motivational force. I wanted them involved in my writing process—giving me key points to include and expand upon.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

This unique fairy tale interweaves themes similar to The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Tangled, Sleeping Beauty, and Noah’s Ark. It is meant to be enjoyed by all readers young at heart, but especially those children who read middle-grade fiction—ages 8-13 years old.

Petrella, the Gillian Princess can be used as a discussion piece on the importance of making solid, moral decision, and understanding the consequences that result from those decisions, as well as an effective teaching tool to help explain all the elements that go into making a story…a story.

My wish is that those parents/guardians/fairy tale enthusiasts will read this book with their children, or the child can read it to themselves.

What kinds of writing do you do?

I have a passion for writing about people who struggle with decisions and conflicts that arise in their lives. I like real-life stories, and have been drawn to writings that have a biblical theme, are motivational, and encouraging. I admire writers like of Mitch Albom, Richard Evans Park, Billy Coffey, Mathew Kelly, Hans Christian Andersen, Jodi Picoult, etc.

What other books have you written?

loves-perfect-surrender-cover-only11My debut novel, Love’s Perfect Surrender, was published in 2014. It is a “grown-up” Christian Romance about a troubled married couple with flawed expectations and an imperfect, beautiful child who teaches them to surrender their expectations in order to mend their broken union.

Get Your Copy Below

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Where did your love of books come from?

I began writing poems and keeping a journal at the age of eleven. My love for the written word was sparked by reading the Nancy Drew series and Hardy Boys books. It wasn’t until my late teens that I discovered Danielle Steele novels and began my hand at short stories. I continued writing longer prose as much as I could during a prosperous career as a Human Resources Recruiter, and then as an Instructional Designer. I received many awards and accolades for my accomplishments, and my work responsibilities grew, but there was something missing. I began to devote less and less time to my joy of writing. And soon, my creativity began to suffer. It wasn’t until after much soul-searching and some tough decision-making that I finally left the corporate world to start writing full-time.

What inspires you? Why did you choose to write in your genres and how do you balance them?

I write for the euphoric desire and need to transfer spiraling thoughts into words that move people emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I love taking everyday life situations and circumstances that people encounter, struggle and conquer, and turn it into creative storylines.

I’ve never written children/juvenile fiction or anything with what I call a “youthful” tone. This experience has allowed me to exercise my imagination on a different writing level, and go beyond my comfort zone.

I balance my writing by doing one project at a time. That is, completing that “one” particular project. I can be writing, reading, editing many things at the same time, but once I know what I’m going to do with a writing project, I set a goal to complete it to the end.

How do you find or make time to write?

I am a mom first, so I write during the wee-hours of the night when my children are asleep. It is also my most creative time of the day. It’s quiet, and I can have conversations with my characters in my head without disruptions. The interesting point is that I have always associated night with writing, and day with editing. Go figure…

What do your plans for future projects include?

I have two projects on the back-burner. A short-story, a Dystopian-type tale that I had written back in 2007 which I want to resurrect. And, a Woman’s fiction novel in which I am currently working through the edits.

What would be useful to anyone writing in your genre’s?

Petrella, the Gillian Princess is my very first children/middle-grade fiction. I really thought it would have been easy to write. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

There is a certain writing style that goes along when writing for a juvenile audience. There needs to be more visual descriptions and language that is not childish but on the cusp of helping the reader transition to Young Adult books, which are more complex in sub-plots.

Whatever you write, you have to research. I know that’s not exciting for some, me included. You can’t just sit down and write and be done with it. All those advice blogs and writing forums that talk about knowing your audience, and seeing yourself as a business person too, besides a writer, well, are correct.

And, if anything, you better know how to manage your time to the minute. There are lots of distractions on the internet that will suck you into cyberspace.

Has your writing journey been worth it?

Yes. There were a number of roadblocks and hills I’ve had to climb to indie publish this little story. The problems are not of importance, but I think I learned to overcome the conflicts by keeping the purpose of the producing this gem in the forefront of my mind at all times. My goal was to write and publish this for my daughters; to tell an honest and compelling story, show them what it takes to work hard and persevere, and never give up for the right cause. I hope I have pleased my kids in doing so.

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petrella_author_pic-2Chicago-born, a full-time mother and author, Chiara Talluto, is known as the Master Storyteller in her household. She has a passion for writing about people who struggle with decisions and conflicts that arise in their lives. Enchanted and inspired by many of Disney’s fairy tales, this is her very first middle-grade story. Chiara Talluto’s desire…Changing people’s hearts to better themselves. Her goal…Leave nothing unfinished.


For all that’s been said, let it be done.


Check Out Chiara’s Website at www.chiaratalluto.com.

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Book Review: Jasmine Falling

Jasmine FallingJasmine Falling by Shereen Malherbe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

 

I found Jasmine Falling a beautiful work of art which was emotionally moving and will stay with me for some time to come.

The story unfolds with the heroin who faces the loss of her mother and an inheritance she can’t claim that would keep her living in a state of wealth that she is accustomed too. She is forced to seek out her father who vanished in her childhood because only he can ensure her inheritance. If she can’t somehow find him in just over a week, then she loses all rights to the riches.

The journey she makes to discover her father’s whereabouts is mystical. I was taken to another world and immersed in its tale of the continued conflict of a nation undergoing change and the spirit of its people. This book is full of powerful messages that every person can relate too and be inspired by.

Shereen Malherbe has done a superb job in her telling of a tale that I couldn’t put down. Magnificent!

View all my reviews

How to Find Your Themes

Writing fiction is about telling stories . . . but what is telling stories about?

When you tell someone a story, why are you doing this? What compels you to create lies that have about them the ring of truth; what drives you to invent people and places and events and create a context that pulls them all together and makes them seem real?

When you are creating fiction, at heart you are searching for ways to create order in the universe.

You are digging into your core beliefs on how the world works, and running imaginary people through a trial universe built on these beliefs to see how both the people and the beliefs stand up under pressure. People who write fiction tend not to accept the world at face value — in general, they are the people who always got in trouble when they were little for asking “Why?” one time too many about something that, to everyone else, seemed pretty obvious.

When you started writing fiction, you probably did so at about the same time that you discovered that not only did your parents not have all the answers to the universe, but neither did anybody else. You discovered that, if you wanted an answer to that still-nagging “Why?” you were going to have to find the answer yourself.

Writing fiction is the act of questioning the silent, unanswering infinite and demanding that the infinite cough up a reply . . . and hurry up about it, too.

It is the ultimate defiance of that stock parental response, “Because I said so.” Writing fiction is standing on the edge of the abyss of ignorance, looking across at the cliffs on the other side, and saying, “With nothing but words, I am going to build myself a bridge that takes me from here to there . . . and when I’m done, other people will be able to cross over that same bridge.” It’s an act of ultimate hubris, but of ultimate courage, too, because the abyss can eat you, and will if you slip.

So which bridges are worth building?

You can’t cover the whole abyss. You can run a thousand lines from one side to the other if you live long enough, and you won’t even cast a shadow on the voracious ignorance that lies beneath. All you can do is span the darkness with your slender threads, and build them strong enough that people can traverse them, and make them interesting enough that people will take the risk.

Which bridges are worth risking life and limb and hope and soul to create? Only those that take you to someplace you have not yet been.

And how do you decide which bridges those might be? You ask yourself the following question: To what questions in life have I not yet found a satisfactory answer?

These are some of my answers to that question:

Why do good things happen to bad people? Have you figured that one out yet? I haven’t. Why do bad things happen to good people? I’ve struggled with that one through a couple of books, and I have a couple of angles on it now, but certainly not the definitive one.

Why do we get old and die? Would living in these bodies forever be better? I’ve run with that one a couple of times now, too.

Why do we fall in love? Why do we fall out of love? Why do we hunger for the place that is just beyond the next horizon?

What is evil, and why do some people choose evil? What is good, and why do some people choose good? How are the first group of people different from the second group? How are they the same?

Is there a God, and if there is, does he or she know I’m here? And if he or she does . . . what is going on with my life?

Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? Is there anything that lies beyond the realm of this moment, this breath, this place and time? Do we have souls, and if so, what does that mean? Do we have a purpose for being here? What do we mean to each other? What constitutes living a meaningful life? What is love, and why does it matter?

These have all been my themes. Perhaps they are the same questions you have wondered about. Perhaps your curiosity and doubt run in completely different directions. In either case, your themes will define the power of your work, and its meaning not only to you but to everyone who reads it.

If you choose to work with safe themes — with questions to which you already know the answer — you’ll write safe books.

You can have a very successful career writing safe books; after all, you won’t drive too hard into the core of anyone’s comfort zone, you won’t force your readers to question the meaning of their own lives, you won’t upset yourself or anyone else by reaching conclusions you don’t like or find frightening.

But you won’t grow as a writer, either, and you’ll risk becoming bored with your characters and your stories and your work.

You can have a successful career writing about the questions you haven’t answered, too. Mark Twain, my favorite writer, is also my favorite example of a man whose themes challenged the pat answers and asked the scary questions. He was a marvelous entertainer and a brilliant raconteur . . . but he also dared to look even God in the eye and say, “This doesn’t make sense to me. Explain yourself.”

In books and short stories and articles and essays and letters, again and again he held a mirror up to the world of his day and said, “Your actions belie your words, people. Your beliefs don’t fit the facts. And your hypocrisy shames you . . . you deserve better of yourselves than to act the way you do.” He wrote with everything he had. He dared the tough themes. And now, long after his death, when his colleagues who chose to write safely are nothing but footnotes in unread texts, Mark Twain continues to talk to us. His bridges across the abyss are still strong, still in use, still vital to those who want and need to get to the places he explored.

Every writer has something to say, but those writers whose works endure have dared to say something about the things that frighten them, confuse them, challenge them, and occasionally delight them.

They have not gone across the bridges built by others. They have dared to build their own.

You can find your own themes, and add power and depth to your work by daring to explore them through fiction. You can leave a worthwhile series of bridges into unknown territory, a solid series of roads away from ignorance and into knowledge that your readers can continue to use long after you are dust. In a world that cannot offer you physical immortality, you can leave something of your spirit, your courage, your hope and your integrity behind.

Find your themes — your REAL themes — and write them. I dare you.

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by Holly Lisle

Source: http://hollylisle.com/finding-your-themes/