Mind Fields: Poems And Ideas For The Field Of Mind

Intrinsic humility is the understanding that one’s own life may be full of fascinating details but the lives of countless others are equally as fascinating to themselves as your life is to you.

Sound of  rainfall:

tiny infant fingers

tapping the roof

thousands at a time.

The Enemy

Life is not my enemy. True,

It will kill me before too long but

death is the act of highest compassion.

I have a purpose. How kind of life to provide

me with that sense of my being.

Life is not my enemy. How would a great teacher be

a nemesis unless it was necessary? Life is not my enemy.

We Must Fix What Is Left

Oct 31, 2022

“It’s broken.” My grandson stands over his red fire truck. 

The wheels have come off. The boy’s lower lip thrusts out and I can see that his heart is broken too. If I tell him that it’s just a toy, he won’t be comforted. This was the only truck in his world and now his grief will carry him to a child’s little hades, for just a minute. What is a minute to a three year old? It may as well be forever. For the duration of that minute all hell breaks loose and his tears and rage fill the room till all the grown-ups flee.  Except me.  I’m the baby sitter.  I know how he feels.  The world is broken, our world. And it was we who broke it, stuffed it, neglected it, tore its roots out. Has it come to this? My grief for a broken world carries me to my own hades, my underworld of sorrow where what has been done cannot be undone until we have atoned like ancient Jews on Yom Kippur.? What punishment do we receive if we fail to atone? Regret, more like: oh the regret we have yet to feel as the land sinks and the seas rise. Our earth is frangible, it can be waylaid like the victims of highway robbery. “Hands up, planet!” The men in dark suits are digging holes. “Can’t you see we’re busy here? Go away with your storms. We know how to deal with your kind!”

They’re only doing their jobs, they’re following orders. 

“Take them away,” croaks the man in the suit and tie. “Take them away and hide them in the deepest mines.”

It’s broken. Can it be fixed? The next generations are tasked with this inhuman mess. They will have to be strong beyond what we know. They will have to develop themselves in unforeseen ways to have the stamina to work within the broken systems on the derelict highways. Armageddon will be indefinitely postponed. It already happened and we missed it. We were busy fighting. The next apocalypse will hit us before we’re ready. That is the nature of things. We have only the promise in Luke and Mark and John, Christians before Christianity, who learned that the lilies of the field will always be in their raiment, even if it is only in heaven. 

I Forget

September 26, 2022

I forget that evil tyrants run the world.

I forget that artists and thinkers

barely exist, barely scratch by

with a sigh, with patient resignation.

I forget that kindness is hindered

at every turn by evil intentions of those who command

the power of Calamity.  I forget

that bad guys have no love

but don’t even miss it. I forget

that tenderness is

but a beginning to ever greater tenderness.

I forget that

we create ourselves in versions

of the pattern laid down within

the great infinite Memory. I forget everything

except that I exist and sometimes I forget that, too.

What I remember is this: I am aware of you. I am aware of your scent and the streams of feeling that flow between us. 

That I Can Never Forget.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Book Review: Ghost Walk

Ghost Walk, by Melissa Bowersock is Book 1 in her Lacy Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery series. This paranormal mystery is more of a crime fiction story, than a cozy. An ex-cop turned P.I. and a spirit seeing Indian team up to find the answers, through both paranormal evidence which only Sam can see and forensics and the strong investigative skills of Lacey, to crimes which have eluded the law, bringing justice to both the living and the dead.

This first book in the series covers the story of the developing relationship between the two partners and promises more mysteries to come. They are good. Lacey knows how to track down the clues, and with inside information coming from beyond, she has the pieces to the puzzle that local law enforcement lacks. Sam has learned to keep his gift under wraps, but has an undeniable urge to help the dead who cry out to him, and partnering up with Lacey, might be just what he needs to help him do that.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lacey-Fitzpatrick-Firecloud-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01MUCZR5T

This well crafted tale is a quick and entertaining read, which carefully lays out the clues for the detectives and the readers to discover. The two main characters are both down to earth and very relatable. I give Ghost Walk five quills.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Dark Origins – The Sotho-Tswana and the malevolent Tokoloshe #southernAfrica #myths&legends

The Sotho-Tswana people of southern Africa comprise of the South Sotho (Basuto and Sotho), the West Sotho (Tswana) and the North Sotho (Pedi) people.

Most Sotho people were historically herders of cattle, goats and sheep and growers of grains and tobacco. The Sotho people were also recognised for their metal and leather work as well as their wood and ivory carving.

The Sotho people live largely in Lesotho and South Africa and as a combined group are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa.

Religious beliefs

The Sotho traditionally believe in Modimo who created the world and then withdrew to Heaven. He no longer concerns himself with life on earth. Modimo is not worshipped directly but though the ancestors.

The belief in ancestors is central to Sotho traditional religion. The ancestors are believed to have an influence over the daily lives of their direct descendants. Each family is under the direct guidance of its own descendants while the tribe, as a whole, is under the guidance of the ancestors of the chief.

Cultural differences

The Sotho-Tswana people have several linguistic and cultural characteristics that distinguish them from other Bantu speaking peoples of southern Africa.

  1. In Sotho-Tswana society each member has a totem which is usually an animal. Totems are inherited from the father and are passed down like surnames;
  2. A pre-emptive right for men to marry their maternal cousins;
  3. an architectural style characterized by a round hut with a conical thatch roof supported by wooden pillars on the outside;
  4. Cloaks made of skin;
  5. A preference for dense and close settlements; and
  6. A tradition for large-scale building in stone.

Tokoloshe myth

The Tokoloshe is an evil spirit that shaman create to to torment others as a form of punishment or revenge for a perceived slight. The Tokoloshe is dwarf-like, shriveled and hairy and, in some descriptions, has gouged-out eyes. When called, the Tokoloshe can be used for something as simple as scaring children, or can cause illness or even death to those it is tasked with tormenting.

The Tokoloshe is able to become invisible by drinking water or swallowing a stone.

The myth of the Tokoloshe is believed to have come about to explain why people mysteriously died while sleeping in their rondavels at night. Traditionally, people slept on grass mats on the floor encircling a wood fire during the winter. The fire depleted the oxygen levels in the huts and left behind noxious carbon monoxide with sank to the floor. A connection was eventually made that people who slept in elevated positions escaped the curse of the Tokoloshe. Some people still elevate their beds by placing bricks beneath the legs.

Picture credit: https://www.news24.com/citypress/trending/how-to-get-rid-of-the-tokoloshe-20180827

This is short reading from Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Miller called Catching the Tokoloshe:

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: Agoraphobia and Astronomy

Mind Fields

I Conquered My Terror Of Open Spaces with Astronomy

Once upon a time I was severely agoraphobic.  For years I had a terror of strange spaces. I was limited to my house, my yard, my car, and my place of work. If I attempted to break this tight little orbit, I got sick. At the time I didn’t know the term “Panic Attack” but I had all the classic symptoms. My stomach churned, my heart raced, and I had to fight for every breath. If I tried going anywhere outside my tiny race track I got so tied into knots that I was completely paralyzed. I had no social life, I did nothing but read, watch TV and observe the animals that visited the hillside behind the house.

One day I was out in the yard in the deepening twilight. I had a pair of binoculars in my hands for watching a herd of deer who came to feed on the ripening pear trees at the top of the hill.  It was almost dark and I had an impulse to turn the binoculars towards the sky.

I was stunned. The binoculars showed thousands more stars than could be seen with the naked eye. It was visually confusing but so beautiful that I instantly fell in love with the night sky.

I spent the next several hours scanning across the heavens, trying to locate familiar stars in familiar constellations. My Sky Vocabulary was pathetic. I knew The Big Dipper (which is only part of a constellation), I knew Orion and I knew Cassiopeia, because of its distinctive sideways “W” shape.

I saw things through the binoculars that I couldn’t name. I saw clusters of stars that looked like back-lit luminous cotton. I was lost, in the topographic sense. If I chose to examine a single star in an obvious constellation I could find it.

I could locate the end star in the Big Dipper. But it was difficult to maneuver to the next star in the line without first taking my eye off the binoculars, locating my target, then carefully measuring my angle of movement. Otherwise the sheer abundance of stars was confusing.

I was lucky to live in a dark suburb sixty miles from San Francisco. There were no streetlights.  In late summer the Milky Way can be seen with its glowing fleece and its lanes of darkness and dust.

It breaks my heart to think of the billions of people who will go from cradle to grave without seeing a dark sky, without seeing The Milky Way in all its majesty. There is a vast population of human beings who will live without giving the night sky a passing thought. To me, a life without awareness of the sky’s beauty is like an amputation of the soul.  It’s as if one is cut off from one’s ancestors, from the thousands of generations who measured their lives by the movements of the heavens.

I’m not a scientific person. I have no math skills, no understanding of chemistry. I slept through those classes when I was in school. Now I became a student. I was determined to give myself some training in astronomy. I raided the library for celestial material. I learned to read sky charts and I subscribed to magazines. I joined a club.

I needed to see a darker sky. It became an insistent organic hunger. I felt compelled to go places more than a hundred miles from a large city. There is a substantial difference in what’s visible from a washed out sky and one that isn’t compromised by light pollution. I HAD to be under that dark sky!

The problem was that I was agoraphobic. The idea of getting into a car and driving to a new place hundreds or even thousands of miles from home made me break into a cold sweat. I have since realized that my agoraphobia was but a subset of phobic responses to a larger meta-phobia that I call Neophobia: Fear Of New Experiences.

This is a common posture for people with PTSD. I consider that almost everyone has some kind of PTSD, that PTSD is another name for the experience called “Life”.

There are, however, people who have more severe life trauma, longer lasting and more intensely painful body memories. I qualify for this troubled group. I’m wandering a bit, here, but that’s all right. This is about reviving in myself the ability to wander. The point of this little article is the way I pitted a powerful passion against an equally powerful terror.

I was corresponding with sky observers who had been to places like Joshua Tree and Anza-Borrego State Park. These are DARK places. On clear moonless nights the sky opens like a new love affair! Stars are rated by magnitude, with the lower numbers indicating greater brightness. 

Let’s describe a star of Magnitude 1 as a star visible even in a well lit city. The star Sirius, the brightest naked eye star in the sky (excepting the sun), is a magnitude -1.4. That is Negative One Point Four. The brighter stars go into negative numbers. A bright full moon is Mag -12.6. The sun is magnitude -26.8. If you stand in the middle of Times Square you might see thirty stars. I could see several thousand stars in my unlit suburb. One way that astronomers describe sky clarity in terms of visible magnitude. I was living under a Magnitude 3 sky. My friends in the Mojave Desert were under a Magnitude 6 sky! In practical terms that would describe a sky so rich in stars that the outlines of well known constellations almost vanish in the profusion of surrounding stars.

I was yearning to experience dark, beautiful skies. At the same time I was terrified to leave my yard.  I could barely cross the street. But I wanted to go to the high desert, down to the Mojave and cross into Arizona, where the cities are distant and the sky is dark and the colors of the stars sort themselves into distinct categories of white, red, yellow, green and blue.

I struggled, I procrastinated, I beheld my fear like a chain and a set of padlocks, and I was angry with myself. Everyone goes places! Millions of people jump into cars, get into airplanes, leap from coast to coast, continent to continent without giving such travel a second thought.

I was barely capable of making the twelve mile drive to my place of work.

I had an acquaintance who spent a lot of time in Yosemite Valley. She was planning a drive from the Bay Area in two weeks. I explained my phobia and asked if I could come along. She was willing to help.

The big terrors that we harbor in our fantasies usually turn out to be less taxing than the grief we’ve given ourselves in anticipation of the event.

On the appointed day, I got into my friend’s Honda, carrying my binoculars, a book of star charts and two changes of clothes.

As we drove up Highway 80 I sat in the front seat, rigid as setting concrete. I was desperately ill for the first sixty miles. An hour-long panic attack savaged me like a hungry wolf. I felt as if I would never be able to get back home. Then I  had the sensation of hitting a giant rubber band. It stretched and stretched, urging me to reverse my direction, to turn back. 

I had deliberately trapped myself by this arrangement. I couldn’t tell my friend to cancel her trip because I was phobic, because I was, basically, a great big scaredy cat.

I knew I had to break through the rubber band. I was so sick with fright that we had to stop on the side of the road three times so I could puke. My friend was beautifully patient and supportive.

Just beyond Sacramento, about eighty miles from home, I puked one last time and the rubber band broke. The pressure vanished.

I was free. I could go. I was still scared but I could go to see the sky from Glacier Point, from an altitude above five thousand feet, from a place where the sky’s clarity is utterly pristine. 

Nobody really wants to face their deepest fears. We would prefer to get through life dodging and weaving, minimizing our risk; but some fears are debilitating. My phobia was preventing me from pursuing a love affair with the sky. My phobia was crushing my life, and if this was the only way to deal with it, pitting terror against passion, then so be it. 

Passion won the contest of psychic forces. Since my breakout to Yosemite, I’ve traveled thousands of miles, lugging telescopes, cameras, attending star parties and living a life of stellar enjoyment. What can I add? Go ahead: elope with your terrors! Go! The things you fear are never as bad as you think they will be. In fact, they seldom happen at all. You’ve wasted years dwelling in a phobia when you could be living a free unfettered life.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison.

These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Activities to teach children critical thinking skills

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse facts and form a judgement.

In order to develop critical thinking skills, the following characteristics need to be fostered:

  1. An attitude of open mindedness, respect for evidence and reasoning, and the ability to see things from different perspectives and points of view;
  2. The ability to make a statement or decision based on supporting evidence;
  3. The ability to use reasoning skills to come to a logical conclusion. In other words, the ability to infer an outcome based on the facts and arguments presented;
  4. The ability to analyse information to assess its truthfulness. In other words, an ability to determine what is believable based on the facts and circumstances, and what is not.

Critical thinking skills help children learn how to work independently and solve problems.

Activities for teaching children critical thinking skills

  1. Creating art – when you express yourself using an artform, music or drawing or painting, you show an emotion or thought without using words and this encourages critical thinking.
  2. Games and puzzles – these activities help children learn to formulate strategies and understand how to approach a game with a plan of action.
  3. Reading books – while readings books, ask the child about the activities, thoughts, and emotions of the characters in the stories. Let them volunteer how they think a character will react to a certain situation and ask them how they think the story will end. This teaches the child to consider various options and outcomes and come up with theories.
  4. Real problems – modern children are exposed much younger to the problems of the world such as drought, hunger, and global warming. Discuss these issues with your child and help them consider possible solutions. The ability to find solutions to problems is a great skill and also encourages positivity and a sense of control. It is encouraging to think there are potential solutions to big issues.
  5. Building blocks – playing with lego and building blocks helps children to sift through endless possibilities, decide on one, and implement it. If it fails, they can try again.

My blogging friend, Norah Colvin, ex-teacher and developer of Readilearn Early Childhood Teaching Resources, recently shared an excellent post called Teaching thinking in the early years with itc thinkdrive. This post offers teachers some excellent resources for teaching critical thinking skills. You can read Norah’s post here: https://www.readilearn.com.au/teaching-thinking-in-the-early-years-with-itc-thinkdrive/

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Tales from the Bird Santuary: Babies!

Every year one of the highlights of the bird sanctuary is discovering which birds have chosen to make nests and raise their little families here. Two years ago, in the spring, I watched as three baby woodpeckers grew and finally set out on their own. One decided that the sanctuary was a pretty cool place, and he hung out through the end of the season. That same summer I got to I also got to watch as a couple of robins raised a family of three, one which was almost taking food out of my hand, as well as monitoring the progress of a nuthatch family, several broods of chick-a-dees, northern flickers, evening grosbeaks, and a family of tiny little birds, which I was unable to identify, nested and raised their brood in the hollow tree just off my porch.

That tree has been home to many a bird family. During my first summer on the property, it was home to a family of chick-a-dees, which were written into my first children’s story, Charlie Chick-a-dee Makes a New Friend, after the violet-green swallows came in late in the summer and chased the chick-a-dees out to claim the nest for their own. Make no mistake. Birds can be brutal.

This year, I have a single baby grosbeak that hangs out in my coal box, which is just to the side of the feeder area, and comes out all alone to get seed each day. I don’t know what happened to its parents, but it seems to be an orphan.

It’s so much fun to watch as the babies grow and learn. (I had to throw in the photo of the baby deer because it is so darn cute.) So far this year, I’ve had a baby woodpecker pass through, but he must have found a better place to nest. I’ve had two batches of nuthatches and two rounds of chick-a-dees, and some baby robins, and rock doves, and evening grosbeaks. And of course, the hummingbirds. Lots and lots of young hummingbirds, juveniles, (we don’t see actual babies unless we happen upon a nest).

Hummingbirds mate twice a year, so I always get quite a few babies, but I can never tell which babies belong to which mamas and papas because there are so many of them. In the height of summer, my yard is a virtual fly zone.

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For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Mind Fields: Baby Boomers And Self Hatred

Mind Fields

I’ve noticed that some (as they are called) Baby Boomers are like Jews who are anti-Semitic. My mother was a classic Jewish anti-semite. Hateful rhetoric dropped from her mouth like crap from an owl’s cloaca. “The Jews will trick you every time,” she often said. “You can’t trust them.” Another of her favorites: “Money’s what they’re about. Money money money.  Jews do one thing well, and that’s make money. It’s a shonda that Hitler didn’t succeed in wiping them out!” The word “shonda” is Yiddish for “shame” or “too bad”.

As I got into my early teens I stopped being afraid of my mother. I’d outgrown her. She couldn’t beat me up. “Mom”, I would riposte,  dodging her clumsy right hook and restraining my urge to retaliate with a knockout uppercut. “You’re a Jew, I’m a Jew, dad’s a Jew, Sandy’s a Jew. How can you say this horrible Nazi crap?”

My mom was crazy. I mean truly bat-poo crazy. Her mind ran like the railroad tracks that led to Auschwitz. There were predictable stops at the same stations at the same times. There were no deviations. Is that one definition of crazy? “An extreme rigidity of thought in which facts and nuances cannot be accommodated lest the pathological structure of said rigidity be broken like a bridge without proper support.” 

Let me get back to my original thesis, regarding Baby Boomers. I’m seventy four years old. Demographically I’m a baby boomer. In other cultures I would be a respected Elder but in Amerika I am seen by some as an irrelevant, un-hip old fart who still listens to Sixties pop music. Let me correct this misapprehension. I listened to (and still listen to ) John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and their ilk. I admit to being a huge musical snob.

I enjoyed post-1965 pop music. I bought a limited number of pop records. I bought the second Rolling Stones record. I bought five Bob Dylan records, starting with Bringing It All Back Home and ending with Blonde on Blonde. I hesitated at John Wesley Harding. I had to wait a few years for Dylan’s Multiple Personality Disorder to roll over like slot machine fruit to a configuration I recognized. I never bought a Beatles record. I wasn’t a fan. I am now, but I still don’t buy their records. Who needs to? 

It’s weird when I read articles in which Baby Boomers are generalized into a sociological cluster that resembles a haul of mackerel in a giant net. Our nation has been dominated by some nebulous force called Youth Culture since we were Youth ourselves. Now, if we don’t understand or enjoy Hip Hop we’re relegated to the Outer Limits of cultural discard.

Some of the best music I hear is television tease-music. These are theme songs, fragments or background percussion/guitar riffs. They are sound-memes, identifiers of historic hit series like Sons Of Anarchy or Breaking Bad. My ear tells me, “Hey, that’s pretty good stuff..”.  Fortunately there is a Breaking Bad CD, or several, divided by Seasons. They’re like playlists. Tasty!

The contemporary musical acts to which I am exposed are forgotten as soon I’ve heard them. I give Lady Gaga props for her science fiction wardrobe and catchy tunes. But most of the singers or bands I hear get me to wondering. Can they play at all? Have they spent fourteen hours a day practicing fundamental exercises on their chosen instruments? Can someone explain to me why the musical acts on “So You Think You Can Dance” are so abysmal? We love the dancing and choreography. Love it! I’m convinced that dance is in the midst of a golden revival, the invention of truly new languages. But when each week’s “musical guest” appears we shudder and watch in horrified dismay. Is some paradigm being revealed? Is music being sucked into a rip tide and washed out to sea?

I seriously doubt it. The distinction here is that the music that’s getting “play” is crappy. I have no refuge. If I want to listen to jazz I’m welcome, of course. But there is no more John Coltrane, no more Charles Mingus. Now we have Marsalis Gumbo, that well known New Orleans dish. It’s good stuff, it shows prowess, soul, it’s jazz. It seems, however, that musical innovation is being led by technology. One can buy a machine that makes sounds that seem to emanate from remote corners of the galaxy. It has no difficulty playing in 15/8 time. We can write and play whatever we want! Our imaginations have been unfettered. Where are the people putting these awesome tools to use? There are no musical categories any more. Jazz as a dynamic art form ran out of gas around 1970. It had played itself into a corner called “New Wave” or “New Thing” and hardly anyone could tolerate the caterwauling that emerged from the saxophones of Albert Ayler or John Tchicai. (A confession here: at the time, I loved New Wave. I was taking acid). 

I’m not ashamed of being seventy four years old. The alternative is to be dead. Anyone who has reached such an age has survived a given amount of horrible shit. I’m proud to be a survivor. I know certain things. Shit is a great teacher. 

My mother taught me by negative example not to feel contempt for my own tribe. Her railroad tracks ran out in 1980, when she committed suicide. She rolled up on the terminal station of her mental Auschwitz and it didn’t look very inviting.

I know this isn’t my best-written piece, I know it’s sloppy and barely hangs together. I’m trying to start a conversation. I’m tired of being dismissed by little kiddies half my age who are now taste-makers, trend-setters and power brokers.

I’m trying to make my mark as a writer and I passed Rejection Slip #500 a long time ago for my novel, CONFESSIONS OF AN HONEST MAN. It’s as profound and touching a story as all get-out, it will make you laugh and make you cry but it has no vampires, nor anything with long teeth, it’s just about people and the way they go about healing themselves from having crazy mothers. Seventy pages of this book take place in 1982 Afghanistan! It’s exciting as  hell!

Literary agents, editors,  publishers, taste-makers and other cultural filters and gate-keepers will some day be either seventy four years old or six feet underground. I invite them NOW, (before it’s too late) to get on my train, whose tracks are constantly being built right under the engine and we never know where we might end up.

(Today’s magic word is “Duck on a string”.  Okay, four words.)

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison.

These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Bowlesian! – Zombie Crave Human Exceptionalism

Note: This is a just a fun little flash piece to get you in the mood for October. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Zombie Crave Human Exceptionalism

by Jeff Bowles

Dr. Everett J. Edmunds raised his zombies from nothing but spare parts and voodoo. He believed his living dead should crave the best, most exceptional brains. Therefore, in procuring their daily meals, he kidnapped only lawyers and doctors, novelists and scientists, Nobel lauriates, Olympians and the like. Late nights he’d strap these unfortunates to the chair in his subterranean laboratory and read them poetry whilst playing an old Bach vinyl.

“Why, Dr. Browning, you look pale,” he might say. “Perhaps some electrolytes before my darlings feast? Malaise in the system is no good at dinner time.”

And of course, upon devouring each subject, his zombies gained further appreciation for human exceptionalism, thereby endowing themselves with heightened intelligence, communication faculties, charm and wit. This was the theory, at least. Everett had found hard clinical proof difficult to come by.

One evening, as the sun set on his small, weed-infested home, his door buzzer rang, interrupting an attempt to teach his horde Calculus. Everett swore and hushed the zombies, climbing the steps into the house proper. All his life he’d been an achiever, which was why his bookcases and mantle were lined with trophies, awards, and certificates of excellence. The medical community valued his intellect, but people wouldn’t understand his true calling. Perhaps his walk-in freezer was full of arms and hearts and torsos, but he was no cold-blooded killer; rather Edmund was a brilliant scientist, the most exceptional brain of his generation.

He opened the door with a prolonged, rusty squeek. There stood the love of his life, the one who got away, a half-zombie named Camilla. If regret had a voice, it’d be soft and sweet as hers.

She cooed a loving, “Braaaaains!”

To which Everett replied, “My darling, you’ve come back to me!”

“Brains!”

“Of course, my love. Come inside. Your horde misses you, as do I.”

She followed dutifully, through the house and back down into the laboratory. The rest of the horde would eat him as soon as look at him, but not his Camilla. She’d been so beautiful in life, his favorite nurse at the hospital. The car crash that claimed her life hadn’t been entirely accidental.

From the book of voodoo spells he’d purchased on Amazon, he’d selected a special hex he used just once: the half-zombie, or Death’s First Kiss. Though her skin had rotted and her jawbone flopped like the useless handle of a can opener, Camilla was still the most beautiful woman Dr. Edmunds had ever seen. He embraced her. She smelled wonderful … ish.

“Dearest, why don’t you climb back in the cage where you belong? Your brothers and sisters would love the chance to pick your–”

“Braaaaains!”

“What do you mean they won’t like you anymore? Have you really changed so much?”

Camilla indicated she had, and then proceeded to describe her adventures in the world of the living. Apparently, she’d tried to go back to school, and had even attended her nephew’s bar mitzvah, a ghastly affair which had seen her own family chase her into the night. The doctor opened the cage door cautiously, sensing a lull in his zombies’ aggression.

“Dear heart, please step inside,” he said. “When you ran away, I lost a piece of myself.”

“Brains!” she said, which translated loosely as, I’m wearing a wire, Everett.

“What do you mean you’re wearing a wire?” he asked.

“Brrrrrains!”—What do you mean, what do I mean? The police have already arrived, and you are going to jail for what you’ve done. It took me years to realize it, but you’re the monster, not me. Now don’t struggle.

The door to the laboratory burst open. Waves of gun-toting police filed in, barking for him to hit the floor and put his hands behind his back. Dr. Edmunds refused. Though he always suspected this day might come, he somehow thought he’d be the one to betray himself, not his dear Camilla.

Everett ran into the cage, slammed the door, pressed in tightly with his zombies, and bellowed, “Take me now, my beauties!”

But his zombies ignored him. In fact, they paid him no more attention than Camilla paid basic rules of variative syntax. This, of course, was the real tragedy. For if they didn’t want to eat his delicious, fertile, exceptional brain … well maybe he wasn’t so exceptional after all. The police urged Camilla to yank him from the cage. She did so and they placed him in handcuffs.

“That’s the way the cookie crumbles, doc,” said one of the officers, brutish man with coffee stains on his uniform.

“How dare you!” Everett spat. “If they ever ate an imbecile like you, I’d burn my diplomas!”

The cops led him from his home. After reading his miranda rights on the street, they gathered around their police cruisers and watched Night of the Living Dead on a smart phone. Camilla wept softly from afar. Movie looked so fake.

Braaaains.

END


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!

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Review in Practice: Booked to the Gills

Booked to the Gills

Purchase links: Barnes & Noble Amazon

Booked to the Gills by Aisley Oliphant is designed to help those participating in the National Novel Writing Month challenge to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Many writers who would like to be more prolific may find the advice and strategies outlined in this book to be quite helpful. In fact, many of the time management tips, such as time blocking, can come in handy for any writer who juggles several projects along with a day job, and relationships with family and friends, and ‘me time’.

For many of us, that ‘ me time’ is what is forfeited when things get to hectic. And the author openly admits that she has not a fun person to be around during previous NaNoWriMo challenges. For others, relationships might be strained when family and friends are put on the back burner and writing takes the forefront. And the author openly admits that she has not been a fun person to be around during previous NaNoWriMo challenges. This book is packed full of strategies to salvage relationships and keep your sanity, while still cranking up the word count.

Topics which are covered include time management, setting boundaries, adjusting wordcounts, prioritizing…

I have mentioned before that I am not a prolific writer. Authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, who can crank out right or ten books in a year, totally blow me away. But in these pages are strategies which will certainly be useful in increasing my writing output and helping me be a more productive writer, as well as giving me organizational tools that will be helpful in managing the numerous writing and publishing projects which I always seem to have going.

I attempted the NaNoWriMo challenge once, back in 2010, and failed miserably. When I picked up this book, doing this challenge was the furthest thing from my mind, but thinking about putting some of the strategies in Booked to the Gills to the test, I’m thinking it might be worth another try this year.

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Dark Origins – African Myths and Legends: Castle of Good Hope in the Western Cape

The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa, was built in 1665 and became the scene of many bloody and tragic events. The Castle came about as the result of a ship wreck, a common occurrence at the southern most tip of Africa where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet.

On the 25th of March 1647, a Dutch ship called De Nieuwe Haerlem ran aground near present day Milnerton, as it journeyed from Holland to the East Indies. The ship sank and a junior merchant named Leendert Janszen was requested to stay near the site of the wreck, with about 60 crew members, to look after the cargo while the rest of the ship wrecked men boarded other ships and continued to Holland.

While he waited to be relieved of his responsibilities and return home, Janszen and his men grew vegetables, caught fish and bartered fresh fish from the indigenous people in the area. When he returned to Holland, he was requested to compile a report recommending the suitability of the Cape to serve as a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company’s ships travelling to India and back. Janszen was in favour of the idea and so was Jan Van Riebeeck, a member of the crew of the ship that picked up Janszen and his men.

In 1651, Van Riebeeck, accompanied by 79 men and 8 women, set sail for the Cape to establish a refreshment station. Van Riebeeck built the original clay and timber fort, called the Fort de Goede Hoop, which was replaced by a new fort made of stone between 1666 and 1679. The new building which still survives and is the oldest Colonial building in South Africa, has five bastions named after the main titles of William III of Orange-Nassau: Leerdam to the west, the Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau, and Oranje clockwise from it.

Picture credit: https://castleofgoodhope.co.za/index.php/news/100-news/149-history-of-the-castle

Legends of The Castle

The Castle was used as a prison and numerous prisoners were incarcerated for their sins (real or manufactured) in the ‘Donker Gat’ [Dark Hole]. This windowless dungeon was used as a torture chamber and it sometimes flooded during the winter, drowning any prisoners it contained.

The Castle is, of course, haunted and workers and visitors have reported hearing voices and footsteps in the Donker Gat and in The Castles narrow corridors. The bell in the bell tower sometimes rings of its own accord, despite having been bricked up centuries ago. It is believed that the ghost of a soldier who hung himself by the bell-rope rings the bell.

A vicious black dog is reported to haunt the castles grounds. It lunges and visitors and then disappears.

The most interesting of the ghosts, in my opinion, is that of Governor Pieter Gijsbert van Noodt. He had a reputation for mistreating his servants and the soldiers during his tenure. On the 23rd of April 1728, Governor van Noodt sentenced 7 men to hang for desertion. He was cursed by one of the men while he hung from the gallows and, that very same day, he was found dead in his office. Workers and visitors have seen him prowling the gloomy corridors of The Castle and heard him carousing and cursing in the upstairs rooms.

Do you know of any haunted castles? Share your story in the comments below.

An interesting historical connection

The Zulu King Cetshwayo also spent time as a prisoner at The Castle. This was after he was captured in the Ngome Forest after the defeat of the Zulu Nation by the British at Ulundi in 1879.

Subsequent to the defeat at Ulundi which dealt a death blow of the Zulu Kingdom, King Cetshwayo achieved the greatest victory against the British forces ever achieved by an indigenous army at the Battle of Isandlwana.

Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetshwayo

I have recently written two short stories about this battle, and this is a short extract from my story, written from the perspective of the Zulus, called “Hell Hath No Fury Like an Army Scorned.”

“22 January 1879

The narrow bottom of the gorge was filled with men, women, and boys. The grim, motionless ranks of over twenty thousand squatting warriors set the tone, ensuring that the several thousand uDibi boys, of which I was one, and the women conducted themselves soundlessly. The silence hung heavily, like early morning mist.

In accordance with the orders of King Cetshwayo, the Zulu army had marched the 62 miles from Ulundi at a slow pace.  It was to “attack at dawn and eat up the red soldiers.”

Now, the men were resting and waiting for the ‘day of the dead moon’ to pass. Unless it was unavoidable, the army would not fight on this spiritual day.

“White men are coming!” The young herders appeared at the entrance to the ravine, driving the cattle before them. Their cries of warning echoed off the encircling rockfaces.

Looking up, I saw several white men on horseback starring down at our camp from the top of the overlooking ridge.

CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

The observers fired down on us, before turning their animals and galloping away.

The dust from their horses’ hooves still hung in a thick cloud over the ridge when the great UNduna sprang into action.

“Prepare for battle, men,” Ntshingwayo kaMahole Khoza ordered. “We must attack now or lose the element of surprise.”

My belly roiled with fear.

The army’s not supposed to fight today. It’s bad khama, I thought.

“I hope the evil spirits in the air won’t bring bad luck,” my mother’s whispered words rang in my head as I set off with the other uDibi boys to prepare for battle.”

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

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