Getting Out of Bed by Stevie Turner

Writing Wranglers and Warriors
welcomes a new blogger,
Stevie Turner
Posted by Stevie Turner

For all of you living with stroppy teenagers, I thought I’d tell you of the time back in 1995 when my then 13 year old son Leon was at his worst…

Leon never wanted to get out of bed in the mornings.  On school days it was the devil of a job getting him out of the door.  He would lie in bed later and later.  All the shouting and cajoling had no effect.

It got to the stage where my husband had to physically lift him out of bed and put him in the car, still in his pyjamas.  He would then get dressed in the car as my husband drove him to school.  He would have had no breakfast, as he had refused to get out of bed.

This carried on for some months, until I returned to work.  I made an arrangement with another mother that my husband would take their daughter to school along with Leon, and she would bring Leon home at the end of the day, where my mum would be waiting for him.

On the evening before I went back to work I warned Leon that we would be taking one of his female classmates to school, and that he needed to get out of bed earlier in order to get dressed.  Did it work?  No… it did not.

There was Leon sitting half asleep in the car in his pyjamas, and a dainty teenage girl sitting on the back seat trying not to grin.  Of course he now couldn’t get dressed because the girl was watching, and so he turned up for school in his pyjamas.  He had to run into the boys’ toilets, get dressed, and then bring his pyjamas out to my husband who was waiting in the car.

Funnily enough that was the first and last time he ever went to school in his PJ’s, and he never had any trouble getting out of bed after that.  Now I have to laugh when he complains that his own teenage daughter won’t get out of bed in the mornings!



Stevie Turner works part-time as a medical secretary in a busy NHS hospital, and writes suspense, women’s fiction, and humorous novels in her spare time. She won a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her book ‘A House Without Windows’, and one of her short stories was published in the Creative Writing Institute’s 2016 anthology ‘Explain!’.

Stevie lives in the East of England, and is married with two sons and four grandchildren. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and one screenplay, ‘For the Sake of a Child’, won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival. It is now being read by a New York media production company.

Stevie can be contacted at the following email address:

About Me:


Amazon page:



Posted in Humor, memoir, true stories, unique | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

“To See Oursel’s As Others See Us”

avatarby Neva Bodin

I attended a writers’ conference a number of years ago and was critiqued by a few authors who are quite successful. Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire stories and others, was very gentle and gave good tips on my story that needed much work and was blatantly a beginner’s rendering. About a year and a half ago, I got to meet with him at a writers gathering and thank him. He said he never wants to discourage someone who wants to write.


Myself with Craig Johnson

Another person not so kind caused me to be, rightly or wrongly, defensive and while not much came out my mouth, my mind was working overtime on negative thoughts about this critique. It was hard to acknowledge the wisdoms I gained for quite a while. Forget thick skin!

I have often thought of the words of a Robert Burns poem wondering what others think about something I’ve done, or even when I see someone I feel is acting pretentiously.

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us

An’ foolish notion:

What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,

And ev’n Devotion!, web source February 1, 2018

It’s a long poem and for some reason from my youth, I only remember the first two lines of that stanza. However there are eight stanzas in the poem, each six lines each, rhyming aaabab in a style known as standard Habbie according to Wikipedia.

Tonight I read the whole poem, and discover it is to a louse that is crawling on a young lady’s hat at church! Written in 1786, that is basically the title: “To a Louse, on Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church.”

Believe it or not, it brought memories of that critique back to me. For you see, during the rather snide remarks about the deficiencies in my manuscript, said in a forceful voice with no smile, I noticed a small bug crawling on the person’s collar.

Nurse Neva

My nursing grad pic 

I am a nurse, accustomed to straightening someone’s clothing, giving personal care, helping someone to sit, stand, eat, and…you get the picture. Normally, I may have leaned over, grabbed the bug before it disappeared under the collar onto the person’s neck, and explained my action. I sometimes don’t pause if the situation feels comfortable.

But! I didn’t. I want to be kind. Most of the time I try to be kind. But I didn’t feel I was being treated kindly. And after all, it was harmless (I think). And I said nothing. And soon the bug slipped inside and under the collar. I still feel bad.

The person doing the critique was surely trying to help me be a better writer. My skin just wasn’t thick enough, (my mind not ready in reality) to hear so much negativity about my “baby.”

And now to think that every time I run that stanza through my mind, I will think of that person!

One final thing, I was told by this author to not ever have a prologue, which my story did have. After the critique, I picked up a book by this author to buy. It had a prologue. I didn’t buy it.

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Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff Cleared & Released by FBI

Posted by M. K. Waller

For today, I wrote about reasons writers write. I titled it “I Write Because…” It ran to about 600 words and had one gallery of photos and one stand-alone shot. It was not an exceptional post, but I was pleased with the way it turned out. As I wrote, I saved and saved and saved. And saved. But when I was ready to publish, it wasn’t there. That’s the truth and nothing but. Someday I will find it. Someday the universe will cough it up and say, “It was there. You just didn’t look.” But at this point, I don’t care. I am tired. I refuse to start over. So I pulled the following post from Telling the Truth, Mainlu.

You might remember that a while back, a woman in Houston mailed explosive devices to former President Barak Obama and Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The FBI traced the woman through cat hair found on the package. The news articles were interesting but not comprehensive. For the previously untold story, read on.


Three cats suspected of helping owner Julia Poff mail explosive devices to former President Barak Obama and Texas Governor Greg Abbott were released from custody Thursday afternoon following questioning by federal law enforcement officers.

FBI crime lab investigators had found a cat hair under the address label on the package containing the explosives and traced it to the Poff cats. It is alleged that Ms. Poff sent the potentially deadly devices to former President Obama and Governor Greg Abbott because she was mad at them.

Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff were taken from the Poff home in Brookshire, Texas, 34 miles west of Houston, Thursday around 9:00 a.m.


FBI Agent Arnold Specie, chief of the Houston Bureau, announced in a press conference late Thursday that after intense grilling, officials were satisfied the cats had no connection to any nefarious activities.

“The only thing they’re guilty of is shedding on paper their owner later used to wrap the explosive devices. You can’t fault cats for shedding.”

He said there’s no doubt these are the right cats. “The fur of all three exhibits white hair. That’s true even of Puffy Poff, who is mostly orange but has a couple of white spots on her underside.” He assured the press that DNA testing will confirm the hair belongs to one of the Poff cats.

A reliable source, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, said he’s not so sure. “They know more than they’re telling,” he said. “It’s impossible to get anything out of suspects that keep falling asleep in the middle of questioning. And every time Muffy rolled over, Specie gave her a belly rub. Specie’s always been soft on cats.”

The early morning raid, which involved a number of federal agents as well as a Houston PD Swat team on stand-by, rocked this usually quiet community to its very core.

“I could tell something was going down,” said neighbor Esther Bolliver. “I was outside watering my rose bushes when I saw these men wearing dark suits and ties crouching behind Julia’s privet hedge. One of them was holding out what looked to be a can of sardines, and saying, ‘Kitty kitty kitty,’ in a high-pitched voice, you know, like you use whenever you call cats. I thought it was Animal Control.”

Mrs. Bolliver ran inside and told her husband. “I said, ‘Bert, come outside and look,'” she said.

“I knew they was G-Men first thing,” said Bert Bolliver. “It was the fedoras gave ’em away. Animal Control don’t wear fedoras.”


Ten-year-old Jason Bolliver, who had been kept home from school with a sore throat, added that the raid was exciting. “It’s the best thing that’s happened here since my teacher had her appendix out.”

Agent Garrison Fowle (pronounced Fole), who led the raid, said capturing the cats proved remarkably easy. “The sardines did the trick. Those cats ran right over and we grabbed them and wrapped them in big terry cloth bath sheets and stuffed them into carriers. It was a snap.”

Neighbors, however, contradict Agent Fowle’s account, pointing out that the Brookshire Fire Department had to be summoned to get Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” out of a  live oak near the corner of the Poff property. It is believed she bolted because she realized the sardines were bait instead of snacks.

Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud”

While at the Poff residence, BFD EMTs bandaged second-degree scratches on Agent Fowle’s face. They also administered Benadryl to Agent Morley Banks, who had broken out in hives.

Agent Delbert Smits was airlifted to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston. Information about his condition has not been released, but Mrs. Bolliver observed Ben Taub has a first-class psychiatric emergency room, and she thinks that’s why Smits was taken all the way into Houston.

“By the time they got Pud-Pud down from that tree, the poor man was staggering around like he had a serious case of the fantods.”

After their release, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” were relocated to an unspecified location.

Special Agent Fowle said the initial plan was to fly them to Washington, D. C., in the care of Agent Banks,  for further debriefing, but Agent Banks put the kibosh on that, saying there was no way in hell he was going to spend one more minute in the company of “those [expletive deleted] cats.” Fowle said Agent Banks has been granted sick leave until he stops itching.

When  the commotion has died down a bit, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will be honored for their part in the capture of their owner at a joint session of the Texas Legislature at the State Capitol in Austin and a reception hosted by Governor Greg Abbott at the Governor’s Mansion.

British Prime Minister David Cameron introduce...

British Prime Minister David Cameron introduces President Barack Obama to Larry the cat at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [Public domain]

Former President Barak Obama announced that on their next swing through Texas, he and Michelle want to take the cats out for a catfish dinner.

“Let me be clear,” President Obama said. “Although totally and completely innocent of any crime, these cats surely had a positive influence on the perp. The activity Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” witnessed was fair and balanced, targeting both a Democrat and a Republican, and as such is the first bipartisan effort I’ve come across since my first inauguration.”

After law enforcement officers had left, neighbors expressed concern about the cats’ future welfare. The Bolliver family, noting the three felines spend most of the day sleeping on the hood of their Buick anyway, wanted to take them, but their offer was rejected.

Instead, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will make their home in Houston with Special Agent Specie.


Update: The White House has reluctantly announced that President Donald Trump will  invite the Poff cats to a huge celebration at the White House. Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud,” however, declined the invitation, on the grounds they will be busy that night grooming their hair.

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January’s Cold Truth



This post by Cole Smith


Do you know what it’s like to have a January birthday?


January's Cold Truth


It’s cold.



And though I used to resent it, over the years I’ve grown to appreciate my special month. It’s more than just finding the silver lining; I look forward to these days. So, January haters, brace yourselves. Like a chill wind from the north, here are a few reasons I savor the brief days:



All the magic happens in the dark and cold.


If you think about it, a lot of our favorite story elements are set in cold darkness. I’m not only talking about the Snow Queen, either. Rumpelstiltskin showed up at night. Beauty finds the Beast nearly dead in a cold, dark, abandoned castle. The princess pitched the frog prince against her bedroom wall at night. (And we somehow forgave her for this, why? Because it was the end of a long day?)

Gathering stories, the Grimms must have appreciated that there’s something powerful about short, cold days around the hearth. It’s only natural that, in the days before digital entertainment and giant snowplows, families crafted stories to pass the time—and the truth. Nothing preserves old wisdom quite like a story.

It’s said the darkest hour is just before dawn. Add some chill to that hour, and it makes for some amazing, magic moments.



January Rebirth



There’s more free time for introspection.


In the hectic springtime and jam-packed summer, it’s hard to find time for stillness. And who wants stillness, when the weather’s so fine and there’s so much fun? In a culture that worships multi-tasking and constant busyness, it’s nice to have an excuse to slow down.

Still moments are when we reflect and evaluate. We take stock and find insights. Think about the times you’ve had an epiphany. It probably wasn’t during a summer softball game…


Regeneration takes rest.


In one parable, Jesus said, “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Life has seasons, and regeneration has a cost. To be renewed, we have to have a time of rest. Skip it? Risk burnout.

Even other climates have monsoons, an occasional desert rain, or dry, wasting periods. Nature uses seasons as a reset button, to store up energy. Like the early daffodils, we recharge so that we can burst forth in shocking beauty.


January's Cold Truth


So on this, the next-to-last day of January, 2018, I’m grateful. Thank you, January, for the cold that brings my family closer together, basking in the cozy warmth and rest of home. I love the sunrises and sunsets, the short hours of daylight in between, and the few, fleeting Quadrantid meteors streaking across the night sky. Thanks for the long evenings that will be reclaimed by yard work and busyness, come spring.


January—do you love it or hate it? How do you spend the long evenings of the new year?


* * * * *


Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at


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Posted in growth, Meditation, Rest | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

How I Fell in Love with My Ideal Partner by Abbie Johnson Taylor

In the winter of 2002, I was single and living here in Sheridan, Wyoming.  A couple of months after subscribing, I decided to pose a question on Newsreel, an audio magazine where people with visual impairments could share ideas and music and trade or sell items. Being a writer who attended workshops away from my computer on a regular basis, I wanted to know if there was any way to transfer a document from a braille note-taker to my computer. At the time, most note[takers didn’t use standard word processing formats, so the answers I received weren’t satisfactory.


One of these came from Bill Taylor, who lived in Fowler, Colorado, where he grew up and where he owned a computer store for twenty years. I don’t remember his answer, but I do recall him asking me about my writing. I responded that I wrote fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and that I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. He then wrote back and said his mother lived in a nursing home. We had a little something in common.


Over the next couple of years, we corresponded, mainly by email but occasionally by phone. He’d downloaded over a hundred songs on his computer, and he sent me some of these on cassettes. I emailed him some of my writing. In the spring of 2003, when I started work on my first novel, We Shall Overcome, I sent him chapters, and he responded with feedback.


In the spring of 2004, on our way to visit my brother and his family in New Mexico, my father and I decided to stop in Fowler to see Bill, although it was a bit out of the way. Bill and I visited for about half an hour, and I discovered that he, like me, was a fan of Dr. Pepper. The following December, we returned, on our way to New Mexico for Christmas, and took Bill out to breakfast. At that time, he suggested we kiss under the mistletoe in his living room, but I thought he was joking.


In January of 2005, I received a braille letter from him in the mail and the shock of my life when I read it. He was asking me to marry him. At first, I thought he wanted me to move to Fowler, an idea I didn’t like, since I’d lived in Sheridan for years and wasn’t about to start from scratch in a new town. However, when I spooke to him on the phone after receiving his letter, he told me he wanted to move to Sheridan. He was tired of his home town, where there wasn’t much to do. Although I still didn’t know if I loved him, this was definitely a game-changer.


A couple of months later, he came to Sheridan to visit and proposed to me officially at a restaurant in the presence of family and friends. Something clicked, and I said yes.


In July, he moved to Sheridan, and I quit my job at the nursing home. In September, we were married. I wish I could say that was the end, and we’re still living happily ever after, thanks to Newsreel, but that was not to be.


In January of 2006, Bill suffered a stroke that confined him to a wheelchair. He spent nine months in the same nursing home where I’d worked, and I brought him home in September of that year. We’d hoped he would be back on his feet some day, but in January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke, not as severe, but bad enough to set him back to the point where he could never walk again. I cared for him at home until he passed in October 2012.


Despite the trials and tribulations of him only having the use of one arm and leg and me being his caregiver, most of our time together was happy, and we both looked forward to the arrival of Newsreel each month, first through the mail on cassette, then via digital download. You can read our complete story in a memoir I published in 2016, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.


If I hadn’t met Bill, I probably would still be working forty-hour weeks in the nursing home and may not have published four books. If not for Newsreel, I wouldn’t have met Bill. I hope this audio publication continues for at least another sixty years.


Now it’s your turn. How did you meet your ideal partner? Was it love at first site, or did it take a while? Maybe the song you hear when you click below will inspire you. It’s one I wanted to sing at my wedding but didn’t think I could.


Annie’s Song


I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.



Posted in Abbie Johnson Taylor, Creativity, History, Memories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Emotional Atmosphere

Today Writing Wranglers and Warriors
welcomes a new blogger,
novelist Noreen Cedeño


  Posted by Noreen Cedeño

Did you ever get the feeling that something was wrong in a room or building or space? Can you sense tension in a room, even when no one is there but you, and you aren’t tense? Do old churches and graveyards have a sense of gravitas? What about Ground Zero in New York or Auschwitz? Can you feel a sense of atmosphere in certain places even if you don’t know the cause? What are we sensing when we sense that something is wrong, and we can’t identify a source?

In places where the history is apparent, such as graveyards, prisons, or battlefields, we have a reason to ascribe a particular emotional atmosphere to the space. Where we know that people died too young, grieved losses, or feared for their lives, we can put ourselves in those historic people’s shoes. We can blame our imagination for the shiver that goes up our spine when walking by the Alamo at night. We can tell ourselves that we are having a sympathetic reaction to the emotions felt by the many who died there. We can remind ourselves that we are walking on blood-soaked ground. Knowing the history of a place allows us to shrug off the emotion associated with the space because we can find a logical explanation for our feelings.

However, where we have no apparent logical explanation for the feelings a space inspires, to what do we attribute those feelings? For instance, I was talking to a high school librarian recently about this sense of atmosphere in spaces, when she said, “I know what you mean. It’s like that creepy stairwell in the 700 building.” She went on to explain what she meant. I went home that day and started to tell my son about my conversation with the librarian at his school, intending to ask him if he ever noticed anything about one of the stairwells in the 700 building on his campus. I never got to finish the story. He interrupted me in the middle and said, “Oh, I’ll bet she means that stairwell in the 700 building. It’s creepy. It’s just like the other stairwell in the building, but the other stairs don’t bother me. Only that one.” What he said matched what the librarian said. I asked if he had discussed the creepy stairs with other students. He said no. It didn’t occur to him that others might have noticed the stairs were creepy too.

I was mentioning the stairs to my sister when she said, “I know what you mean. I drove by a building today that I’d never seen before and it creeped me out. It bothered me so much, that when I got home, I went and looked it up to see what it was. I found out it was built originally to be an asylum for mental health patients over a hundred years ago.”

How did she sense that building was creepy just by driving by? Where she lives, there are lots of old buildings. None of the other ones bothered her. Both the stairwell and the building were unremarkable except for that sense of atmosphere.

I write books and short stories based on the premise that emotional atmosphere can be detected and deciphered to help solve crimes. However, outside of fiction, where I can bend the subject matter to my will, I wonder what’s really creating emotional atmosphere. Human perceptions were honed over millennia to detect danger and warn us of threats before we could consciously put the pieces of data together to understand what we were sensing. When a place triggers an emotional response without any apparent cause (not smells, appearance, sounds, touch, or any other obvious sensory input), some sort of subconscious sensory input must be involved. But what?


N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her debut novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).

Posted in unique, writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

What Editors Want

Keri De DeoPosted by Keri De Deo

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King talks about two different kinds of writing: writing with the door closed and writing with the door open. First, you write with the door closed. That means you write for yourself. After you’ve done that, you open the door and revise your writing with the audience in mind. This is the step you must make before turning your writing over to an editor (or anyone else).

When you turn your work over to an editor, you want to put your best foot forward. As a freelance editor, I work daily with writers, and I’ve compiled a list of what I look for in good writing. Of course, every editor harps on his or her own pet peeves, but for the most part, we look for the following components:

  • Exciting Content

Before you start worrying about word usage, syntax, grammar, etc., your writing must contain a good story. Give us drama, plot, and a rise and fall in action. Make sure to complete your research. Has the story already been written? If not, go for it! If it has, can you do it better or in a more interesting way? Writer’s Digest provides an excellent list of cliché stories to avoid.

  • Accurate Content

A good editor checks your content for accuracy. If they find inaccuracies, they’ll send it back to you for changes. You might think this only applies to non-fiction or historical fiction. But it applies for all writing. Even if you write fantasy novels, physics and scientific facts matter for readers to believe your story. Before writing my book, Nothing but a Song, I played with several phone apps to make sure the apps I described actually existed. I also did research about the Deaf culture and using sign language. It helped make the story more believable. (At least I hope so.)

  • Active Voice

We all have heard that saying “Show. Don’t tell.” This is where it comes to play. Rather than saying “she was smart.” Show me by using active voice. “She rattled off equations in a few seconds.” You also accomplish this by avoiding helping verbs (i.e. “to be” verbs). Don’t know what those are? See this list. You can’t avoid them every time because sometimes you need to mark a change in tense somehow, and helping verbs do this. However, if you can replace them, replace them. If they’re irreplaceable, leave them. For help in writing more active sentences, visit this link. (Yes, count how many helping verbs I used in this post. I tried to avoid them!)

  • Polished Writing

Nothing makes me put down a book faster than silly mistakes. Typos happen, but they can be avoided by having several people read your draft. Don’t pick a person who won’t be honest. Pick someone you know will give you constructive feedback. Embrace criticism! Avoiding it encourages bad writing. You need feedback if you want to improve. Also, if you read your writing out loud, many errors will show up. Then have someone else read it out loud to you. If they stumble, make that sentence smoother. If no one else has seen your manuscript, don’t send it to an editor. You might just get it back quicker than you think.

Editors care about your writing, but they also care about their reputation. They won’t put their name on something that fails to meet their standards. Some editors might return your manuscript if the writing falls flat. So, make sure to send your best work to an editor and prepare for changes. As my writing teacher always said, “It’s never done; it’s just due.”

Keri De Deo - nbs book coverKeri De Deo, owner of Witty Owl Consulting, lives in northern Arizona and works as a writer, editor, researcher, and instructional designer. She is author of the young adult novel NOTHING BUT A SONG, released December 5, 2017. She loves technology and finding innovative tools for a happy, healthy life. Keri spends her free time with her husband kayaking, hiking, and walking her two beautiful dogs: Maiya and Lilla. To learn more about Keri, visit her website! You can follow her on Twitter @thewittyowl and on Facebook @authorkeridedeo.


Posted in Creative writing, Edit, Editors, fear of writing, fiction writing, unique, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dream by Abbie Johnson Taylor

I woke up in a hospital room. In the next bed, a friend of mine, with whom I attend water exercise classes at the YMCA, was talking, apparently, to someone visiting her. It wasn’t clear how I got here, but I had a vague recollection of being sick at home and another friend stopping by and taking me to the emergency room, where I was admitted after a battery of tests.


How had my friend gotten into my house? As sick as I was, it would probably never have occurred to me to unlock the doors so someone could get in, let alone call for help. I’d given my friend a key once so she could stay in my house while I was out of town, but she’d long since returned it to me.


Now, I felt a lot better. I didn’t seem to be attached to an intravenous drip or other equipment. Maybe I should get up, find my clothes, then call a nurse and say I was ready to go home, I thought, but as I lay there, mulling this over, I kept dozing off. I realized that I was still weak and needed rest.


It was only a dream, I realized with relief, as the brightly lit hospital room dissolved into the semi-darkness of my bedroom, and my clock radio came on, signaling that it was time to get up, but it was so real, I thought. As I pulled myself out of bed and started getting ready for my day, I remembered that my late husband Bill had a similar experience when he suffered from West Nile virus two years before we were married. He was sick at home for three days before neighbors looked in on him. He was in bad shape by then, so they called 911. To make a long story short, he was laid up for three months. Was my dream a prediction that this would happen to me?


How about you? Did you ever have a dream that felt so real that you were disappointed or relieved when you woke up? Was this dream based on something that happened to you or someone else? Do you think it’s a prediction of what could happen to you?


Now, please click below to hear me sing about a different kind of dreaming. I hope that for you, bad dreams don’t come true and good ones do.




I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.





Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.





Posted in Abbie Johnson Taylor, Creativity, Memories, unique, Wellness | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Rice Pudding: A Story of Disaster

Posted by M. K. Waller


Christabel’s sister Chloe, who would have done what Christabel did if she hadn’t been busy elsewhere doing who-knows-what


Ever had one of those days
that no matter how hard you try,
you screw up everything you do?”

My niece posted that on Facebook tonight.

Yes, I have. The Day of the Rice Pudding Fiasco.

One day back in the Ice Age, my high school faculty scheduled a potluck lunch for the day before Thanksgiving. Usually we celebrated with Tex-Mex, but burritos had become boring, so we chose a Southern theme. For me, that posed a problem.

For several years, I’d been depending on a local grocery store’s rotisserie chicken and Chinese buffet and several restaurants for meals, and I’d forgotten how to cook. I’d also forgotten what to cook. I needed something that wouldn’t tax my vestigial culinary skills. Fruit salad was the obvious choice, but I wanted a dish that would look like I’d done more than peel bananas and open a few cans.

The easiest thing I could think of was rice pudding: Cook rice (leftover is fine). Mix beaten eggs, milk, and sugar together. Add rice. Set a large shallow pan containing about a half-inch of water in the oven. Pour pudding mixture into baking dish; sprinkle with cinnamon. Set baking dish in pan of water (I don’t know why) in the oven. When the blade of a case knife stuck in the center comes out clean, remove from oven. Serve hot or cold (it’s better cold).

I’d watched my mother make it–without a recipe–dozens of times. It was always delicious. It also qualified as Southern.

Granted, certain details had escaped me. Like how many eggs and how much sugar, milk, and vanilla. And whether vanilla was an ingredient at all. And how high to set the oven temperature.

Minor details.

I set to work boiling and beating. I slid a large, low-sided pan into the oven, filled it with a half-inch of water, and closed the door. Then I set an enormous flat CorningWare dish on the table, near the oven, and poured in the mixture of pre-rice pudding.

As usual, I had made almost more than the dish would hold. Sweet, eggy milk lapped at the sides. The CorningWare was heavy, and its contents made it heavier. I steeled myself for the task of getting it into the oven without slopping liquid onto the floor.

I turned and opened the oven. I turned back.

That’s when I saw Christabel.

Christabel LaMotte, named for the poet in A. S. Byatt’s Possession, a big, black, velvety, green-eyed hussy of a cat, heavy as lead. She had an agile mind and a healthy sense of entitlement.

And she was sitting on the floor, eyes trained on the edge of the table, calculating the distance, the angle, the thrust required to launch her to that higher plane.

“Don’t. You. Dare.”

She dared. Before I could grab her, she achieved liftoff.

But she’d forgotten to factor in the CorningWare dish. Landing off balance, she belly-flopped into the eggy mess. Again before I could grab her, she scrambled off the other side of the table and ran out of the kitchen, down the hall, through my bedroom, and into the living room. I followed, yelling, “Stop,” and, “Come back here,” and, “You’re ruining the carpet.” Things like that.

I finally caught her in the dining room–about three feet from the kitchen door; she’d made a whole circuit–carried her back to the kitchen, closed both doors, set her down, and said, “Bathe!”

Then I went to the living room, flopped into a rocking chair, listened to Dan Rather, and let milk, eggs, sugar, and a trace of vanilla and cinnamon dry and stick to a stretch of long leaf pine and three rooms of carpet.

After Mr. Rather reminded me to count my blessings, I returned to the kitchen and found Christabel sitting just where I’d left her, staring straight ahead, eyes gleaming with repressed rage and resentment, ebony underside covered with goop.

I fetched damp cloths and a towel and joined her on the floor. She didn’t like the bath much more than she liked the goop, but she tolerated it.

Damp but clean, she retired to hunt for her misplaced dignity. I cleaned up gunk. The carpet came out in fine condition, but I my Southern dish was gone with the wind.

Still, the makings of rice pudding remained. A miracle–except for a thin film the size of cat paws plus belly, it was all there, in a CorningWare dish. The oven was hot.

No one would ever know. Christabel was meticulous about personal hygiene. Heat would kill any kitty germs she’d left.

I had only to roll back the clock to the second before Christabel became airborne.

But I did not yield to temptation. The stakes were too high. One black hair on one fork, and my pristine reputation would have been history. Nearly a dozen eggs, no telling how much sugar and milk, several cups of rice–I scrapped it all.

The next morning on the way to work, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a package of Oreos. Good old Southern food.

Now. I started this piece with a question about a day spent getting everything wrong. But then I wrote about one little culinary disaster spanning less than a half-hour out of twenty-four. An English teacher would say I didn’t follow instructions.

But believe you me, the five seconds it takes for a cat to make a hard landing in uncooked rice pudding is equal to a whole week of screw-ups.

And speaking of rice pudding, a while back, I posted about a 1000-word scene I wrote and then scrapped because it wasn’t right. Several people complimented me on my willingness to let it go.

What I didn’t make clear is that the 1000 words, taken as a whole, were pretty bad. They were first-draft, just-get-it-onto-the-page-quality words that resulted in a very bad scene.

They weren’t words I could have revised and revised and turned into a high-quality scene. There was cat hair all over them. They had to go.

But they didn’t go very far. In my documents folder there’s a file labeled Excisions. That’s where the hairy words live.

Because I never know when they might start to shed.


I first posted about rice pudding on Whiskertips. This seemed a good time to share it again. Christabel and Chloe aren’t with us any more, but they’ll never be forgotten.

I blog now at Telling the Truth, Mainly, and occasionally (about cats) at Whiskertips.

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Obsessing on elf ears…

Mike Staton

This post by Mike Staton.

Please forgive me. I’m so embarrassed. I just don’t know if I can actually write this post. I’ll do my very best. You see I have this peculiar fascination with ears – not with any old ears. Elf ears… the long pointed ones that project out from the heads of lady elves.

My admission is not something that makes me proud. I’d rather have a fascination with ice fishing or deep-sea diving. Spending way too much time looking at paintings of elven princesses sporting ears that nearly reach to the top of trees is an obsession that has nearly ruined my life.

Elf Girl1

Those elf ears of hers are darn right scary. Her armor is frightening as well.

I’ve never married. Who would want to marry a man who only desires exotic women with ears that look like Bowie knives? A human woman could never measure up.

Think about it. An elf wife could be my personal assassin thanks to those ears. She could enable me to rule the world. They obviously provide super-sensitive hearing that would augment her already mythical talent at stealth. That’s why I would want my wife’s name to be Stealth. Steel-like cartilage would turn them into daggers that could easily slice open a throat. A rival of mine thinks he’s going to have the premier one-night stand of his life, but instead learns that her kiss heralds his death.

Have you ever seen the ears of a male elf? They’re so embarrassingly small compared to the females. More like Star Trek’s Mr. Spock ears. They barely peek through thick, long hair. No wonder elven societies are matrilineal. The men can’t hear as well and they definitely can’t turn their ear tips into killer daggers. Their ears are only good for one thing – tickling the belly of their elven lover. Better than lips against female flesh.

Elf Girl2

Girls with big ears have a way with really big kitties.

Elven males are not really much use at all – except during war when they can walk point on patrol in a thick forest. Better that an elven man dies in an ambush than one of the females perishes. That’s why the females are longbow archers. With their stiletto ears, daggers holstered to their waists and their bows strapped to their backs, they are the fiercest warriors in all seven realms.


But I live on Earth, and there’s not an elven woman to be seen – not in 75,000 years. So I’m doomed to be womanless.

Elf boy4

Poor males… such short ears.

Wait… someone is motioning to me from across the room. Speak louder please. A dwarven woman? You’re right. I hear they have really beards. They’re short, no more than four-and-a-half feet tall, but that’s fine by me. Our babies would grow up to be ferocious warriors, especially if they sprout up to human height. There’s only one problem though… there’s no dwarves on Earth, again not in 75,000 years. Shoot… I’m out of luck!

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I’m an author with four published novels that include a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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