How do you create a mental picture of book characters?
I'm in the middle of rewriting my romantic historical suspense story, The Cursed Bloodline, that I published in 2016. The past 5 years I've grown a lot as a writer, so I thought that it's about time to revisit the old story.
In my early books, The Ancestor's Secrets series (2012), which is next on my needs-rewriting-list, I had a tendency to keep going on and on about parts that didn't really move the story forward, but later on my writing style turned into a more minimalist scene and character description.
What is your opinion?
The overdetailed description
Personally, when I read a story, I get easily annoyed by extremely detailed descriptions.
If the story plays out in present time and the author describes the character's outfit in minute details, it doesn't even give me a chance to use my imagination.
This is not from an actual book, but I've read something similar:
She had shoulder length, platinum blond curly hair. She was tall and skinny with long legs. Her face oval shaped, sky-blue eyes large with long lashes. She stood in front of the walk-in closet selecting her outfit for the meeting. She chose a teal-blue knee length dress that accentuated her womanly curves. Next, she picked her black Italian leather open toed high-heels that showed off her freshly pedicured, coral-pink nails.
You get the picture. For me, it's too long and way too detailed.
The minimalist descriptions
In most of my stories I give little detail about how the characters look, but I think the reader can picture the characters with ease:
The excited murmurs of a group of archeology students at the bottom of the large, six feet deep hole sounded muffled. But when a lanky young man in dusty overall climb the stepladder and yelled out to the lead archeologist standing by the tent, his voice boomed, “Helen, you have to see this!”
The plump woman with salt and pepper hair pulled into a tight bun froze for a second, and then started running toward the student.
Here is another example of the minimalist description:
The tall security guard walked down the path between the thick bushes to the clearing where the archeological team parked their cars. Despite his promise, his porky partner’s chin dropped to his chest as soon as he was out of sight. I’ll just close me eyes for a moment. He though. His breathing slowed as he fell asleep.
What do you think? Do the two characters need more detailed description?
When details are much needed
In this part of the story that plays out in the 400s, I felt like a lot more description was necessary because readers are not familiar with the style of this age in central Europe.
Elana hurried up to the entrance of the tent-like building, called Jurta, with a few long strides. Parting her kaftan-like dark blue overcoat, she pulled up her baggy trousers and smoothed her tunic that her mother had adorned with delicate flower designs. Pulling the leather entrance cover aside with a heavy sigh, she braced herself mentally for the long lecture of her mother that she knew she must endure.
As usual, she was late for her herbal lessons with her mother, a beautiful, statuesque, dark-haired woman who slowly rose from a curved sofa-like piece of furniture. Soft light coming from the opening at the ceiling shone on her green, delicately decorated calf-length tunic that she wore with loose black trousers. Her hair was braided with thin leather thongs and hugged her shoulders.
Do you think it's unnecessarily too detailed?
When the personality of the character revealed in dialogs
The neighbor’s dog started barking again. Sofia rolled her eyes. What is he barking at now? Did a leaf fall from the tree? She thought, feeling less worried and more annoyed. “You know, I should have stayed in our house in Queens. It’s quieter there. I haven’t been sleeping well the entire week. This stupid dog down the street barks all the time, and it sounds like nobody in this building sleeps at night. These crazy people down the hall are having a zoomba class or something at midnight and… I hate it here.”
“You know you couldn’t stay by yourself, you’re not eighteen yet. I’m your guardian and I’m sorry I had to leave and couldn’t be at your graduation.”
“I’m only two months shy of eighteen, but never mind that. I can hardly wait to get out of here. I love Aunt Claire, she’s great, but I hate this neighborhood. I can hardly wait to see you and to be at Grandma’s to have a good night sleep in the quiet town.”
“You will. Everything is as quiet and beautiful here as when we were kids. I terribly miss Grandma, but Aunt Julia haven’t changed a bit. She’s as feisty and opinionated as ever.” He laughed, trying to trail Sofia’s mind away from being worried.
“Is it anything good?” a pleasant voice with a slight accent startled Sofia, and it took her a second to come back to reality. She looked up and saw a tall, blond, good-looking young man smiling at her. “May I?” he asked, pointing to the empty chair across the table.
“Sure,” Sofia gave him a quick smile and lowered her eyes back to her tablet. He’s hot! She thought. Oh, for Pete’s sake, Sofia, get ahold of yourself. She scolded herself. You’re acting like a lovesick puppy.
“Are you flying to Hungary?” he asked.
“Yes,” she answered but didn’t look up, feeling the vibes his pleasantly deep voice triggered in her soul.
How much do these short parts tell you about the personalities of the characters?
As a reader, do you need a detailed description of the character's body type, outfit, and personality?
Or you like to create your mental imagine from a few vague details given by the author?
Let me know in comments!
I was browsing to find summer slippers and...
I clicked on a few websites to find comfy slippers, but, don't ask me how, I ended up looking at badly translated signs and funny bumper stickers. No, I didn't find slippers, but, do you know how painful it is when you try not to laugh with coffee in your mouth but you can't hold it back and coffee comes out of your nose when you burst out laughing? Yeah, it is painful!
So, have a good laugh, but drink your coffee after you're done laughing!
Hm... a meat lover perhaps?
Okay, got it, it was easy. Don't step on the grass.
Thanks for the advice, I'll just slip into the water very carefully.
A bit too much for fish crap, even when it's fresh. Don't you think?
So, I assume the translator doesn't know a word in English.
Wonder how to "mang out". I usually wipe or use the bidet.
Yeah, I got that. If you want to live, don't jump over the rail.
The prime example of why we must use comma.
The cleverest sign I've ever seen!
Um... I wonder what for?
Time to change some bulbs.
Oh, good! Thanks for clearing that up. I started to wonder...
Haha! Yes, I did read the first line wrong.
If every car would say that, there would be no accidents.
Gotcha! Let me slow down a little.
Knowing people's rebellious nature, most would only read the first line and...
Hey, while you're here, click on a few pages. You might like some of my fiction, short story, or children's books.
I write what I like to read and according to most readers my stories a good, but the truth is:
My books may never reach the bestseller status because I don't have the money to spend on advertising and marketing.
You could make me very happy by reading my stories and leave a few words review. If you like my books, tell your friends about them and ask your local library to order them.
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Women are all sugar and spice. True, but...
Women are not easily fooled either.
A woman gets a local call. She doesn't recognize the number, but it's local, so she picks it up.
"Hello," a pleasant male voice with a heavy Indian accent greets her. "Are you Mrs. (so and so)?"
"Who's calling?" she asks, knowing that the caller, if it's a scammer, might record a "yes" answer and could use it for money scams.
"Ma'am, this is Brian from (whatever company) refund center. Our records show that you've overpaid for an item you've recently ordered. Are you close to your computer, ma'am?"
The bell goes off in her mind but she's alone and has a lot of time on her hands, so she decides to play along. "Oh, my!" she pretends to be surprised. "I'm getting on my computer right now. How much are we talking about?"
"Great!" the man calls himself Brian but most likely called Babala or something replies. "I can tell you the exact amount in a minute, but first I have to verify a few things. In order to do that, you need to search for this address on your computer: www.xxxxx.com. Sign in with this email: firstname.lastname@example.org and enter the password 12345."
"Okay, give me a minute. I'm almost there. You said the password is 12345, right?"
"Yes, ma'am. No problem, ma'am, I'll wait."
The woman puts her phone on speaker, places the phone next to the keyboard and starts typing while mumbling to herself, "That's interesting. Oh, I see," she giggles.
"Ma'am! Are you there, ma'am?" he starts to sounds impatient.
"Yeah, I'm here," she giggles.
"Ma'am! Did you sign in? I need you to download the app so I could refund you the money. Do you understand?"
"Oh, I understand. Say, are you the cute young man with that neatly trimmed dark beard, or the chubby one in the white t-shirt?"
"What? How?" he mumbles nervously.
"Oh, didn't I tell you? I just hacked into your surveillance system. I can see your entire office on my computer screen, and I see your building on Google map."
"What? Fuck!" comes the man's voice. She hears him shouting to someone in rapid Hindi, and then a lot of commotion and a few seconds later, the phone connection goes dead.
The moral of the story:
Of course, most of us have no clue how to hack into anything, but we're clever enough to fool a smart scammer nicely with wits and quick thinking.
What is a symptom?
The meaning of the word symptom in medicine is: any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease.
Subjective symptoms are what you feel such as headache, nausea, anxiety, abdominal cramps etc.
Objective symptoms are what your doctor can observe such as abnormal heart or lung sounds, thyroid gland enlargement, palpable tumors etc.
Symptoms can be clear and simple, such as half sided blinding headache; sensitivity to light with nausea is most likely migraine headache. Or sudden pain under the right ribs, which refers to the back and accompanied by nausea, is most likely a gallbladder problem.
Other conditions are signaled by more complex symptoms, yet still easy to diagnose, such as increased appetite with weight loss, nervousness, faster than usual heart rate, increased sweating, tremor of the fingers and tongue with heat intolerance. These symptoms are usually the signs of hyperthyroidism, and the cause is easy to diagnose.
Symptoms can be unusual and even bizarre at times.
You might ask, “What on earth does my earlobe have to do with the condition of my arteries”, or “If I have frequent hangnails do I really have vitamin C deficiency?”
Well, most bizarre symptoms are not proven scientifically. Instead they are the result of careful observations by people who paid attention to their own bodies, or by doctors who made the connection between symptom and disease. However, some unusual symptoms are proven by studies and tests. For example, an extensive study was completed in the US and China regarding the presence of a wrinkle on the earlobe and its connection to atherosclerosis. They found that 90-95% of the people who had a wrinkle on their earlobe had ischemia, (an inadequate supply of blood to a part of the body, caused by partial or total blockage of an artery) caused by atherosclerosis (deposits plaques form on the inner surfaces of the arteries obstructing blood flow). If the earlobe is not getting enough blood, the rest of the body is not getting enough either.
Your nails tell a lot about your health
Changes in nail shape, color, and texture can be especially useful in diagnosing illness. Below you will find some nail signs and the problems possibly causing them. These are only indications, and these are not all inclusive. Some people have never had moons on their nails, but you should check for a problem when you have had them, and they have disappeared. Discoloration, splitting or peeling of nails might be caused by harsh chemicals. However, if you do not use chemicals, it might be a signal of a disease.
Small indentations on nails, which resemble gnawing marks, can be the symptom of psoriasis (a common skin disease that affects the life cycle of the skin cells causing buildup rapidly on the surface of the skin).
No half-moons or ridged nails might signal vitamin A deficiency, kidney disorder or protein deficiency. Also, there is a possibility of autoimmune disease such as Lupus (the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s cells and organs) or scleroderma (progressive tightening of the skin and connective tissue) as well as thyroid disease.
Yellow, thick nails and the moons are missing signals lung problems.
Splitting, peeling nails might signal vitamin A and D deficiency, poor circulation, thyroid problems, hydrochloric acid deficiency, iron deficiency, calcium deficiency, or protein deficiency.
Nails curve up might signal iron or zinc deficiency, thyroid problems.
Nails curve down past fingertips can be the signal of heart and liver disorders, respiratory problems, or Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Dark, spoon shaped nails might signal anemia, Vitamin B-12, and iron deficiency.
Flat nails can be the signal for iron or protein deficiency, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, Psoriasis, and Diabetes.
Wide, square nails can be the sign of hormonal imbalance.
Thick and deformed nails signal poor circulation, thyroid disease, or fungal infection.
Pitted, fraying, or split nails are a sign of vitamin C and protein deficiency.
Poor nail growth signals zinc deficiency.
Frequent hangnails can be the symptom of vitamin C deficiency.
Nail color changes
White spots signal low thyroid hormones and zinc deficiency.
White bands on nails can be the sign of zinc and protein deficiency as well as heart disease, liver and kidney problems.
Too pale nails might signal liver problems, poor circulation, kidney problems, anemia, multiple mineral deficiencies, and excess copper in the body.
Yellow nails can be a sign of vitamin E deficiency, poor circulation, lymph congestion, diabetes, or fungal infection.
Green nails are the sign of fungal or bacterial infections.
Blue nails signal lung and heart problems, circulatory problems, drug reactions, and blood toxicity from too much silver or copper.
Blue colored moons are the usual sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
Black bands on nails signal low adrenal function, chemotherapy or radiation reaction.
Brown nails can be the sign of renal failure.
Half brown and half white nails are also renal failure signs.
Brown or black streaks are visible from the base of the nail to the tip or uneven brownish spot signals melanoma.
Dark nail tips signal vitamin B12 deficiency.
Nail bed bleeding signals autoimmune disease.
Unable to straighten finger without known injury can be a sign of liver cirrhosis.
Read about more unusual symptoms in the eBook
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Are you persistently waking up at night at the same time?
Although this article contains some medical facts, it’s mostly my own observation of patients and talking to patients throughout my nursing career.
Can’t sleep 6-8 hours straight without waking up?
If you’re persistently waking up at night at the same time, it might be because your body and mind are trying to tell you something. Our bodies and minds work like an amazing computer system. The body is “resetting” the physical body, and the mind is organizing the previous day’s events, thoughts, and feelings. We need a restful sleep to help our body, but sometimes our sleep is interrupted.
Waking up 10 Pm – midnight:
Waking up at this time of the night might be due to stress and anxious thoughts throughout the day that hasn’t been resolved before going to sleep. You might be feeling pressured at your job, in your family life, or you have a lot on your “to-do” list and having a hard time keeping up.
Take a warm bath before bed, watch, or read a relaxing story, or listen to calming music. Think about the positive things you’ve accomplished. Next, put the unresolved issues and to-do list in your mind to a mental file “to be solved another day”.
Waking up midnight – 1 Am:
This is when your mind is dealing with anger issues and the pent-up, unresolved anger tends to wake you up at this time of the night. Anger might manifest itself as a bad dream or nightmare.
Before bed try to stretch, do some light yoga exercises, and think about what made you angry throughout the day. Remember, some things you cannot change, follow the philosophy of a dog. If you can’t change it, don’t waste time being angry about it. Piss on it, kick some dirt on it, and move on.
Waking up 1 Am – 3 Am:
The feeling of hate is keeping you up around this time of the night that related mostly to self-hatred. You might hate your aging or sick body, weaknesses of your personality, or situations you got yourself into.
Have a good talk with yourself and point out what you like about your body and personality. Embrace the positive things and make fun of the negative ones. Yeah, my boobs have been taken over by gravity and moving to the south, but with the help of a push-up bra, they can still look perky. Remember, just because people put on a cheerful mask, every single person is dealing with problems that life throws at us, even with occasional self-doubt and self-loathing. You’re not alone. Accept yourself, the whole package, and don’t pick on little things that are only temporary.
Forgive others who hurt you. Remember, when you keep a grudge alive, you carry the much-hated person with you 24/7 in your mind. Drop them like a hot potato and move on.
Waking up 3 Am – 5 Am:
Oh, the witching hour. In folklore, the witching hour or devil's hour is a time of night that is associated with supernatural events, whereby witches, demons, and ghosts are thought to appear and be at their most powerful. Nah, that’s just folklore, but I guess waking up feeling anxious and scared, especially after a frightening nightmare, people thought it was the devil’s doing. Waking up at this time of the night most like is due to the suffocating feeling of being trapped and you wish to break free from something constricting. Maybe trying to end a bad relationship but you don’t know how, or it could also be fear of something such as the result of a medical test.
Running away from seemingly unsolvable problems simply creates more problems and anxiety. This is where a good support system or counseling proves to be helpful. Talking things over with a trusted person and looking at things from a different perspective often solves the most difficult situations, or at least gives you hope that you can break free and move toward a brighter-looking future.
Why do most heart attacks occur in the morning?
As you wake up, your body releases stress hormones to get your body up and going for the day. In addition, your body tends to be dehydrated by the time you wake up and for some people, this combination of added stress hormones plus dehydration may be enough to trigger a heart attack.
Drinking lots of water too close to bedtime can interrupt your sleep cycle and negatively impact heart health. You must drink enough water throughout the day to avoid dehydration and prevent excess water intake at night.
I hope you've found this article helpful!
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Words cut deeper than knives
Image credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
My mom often warned me about the old saying, "Words cut deeper than knives."
While developing a dialog between the main character of my new book and the bitter, jealous, old woman who tries with all her might to stop her, I remembered the encounter between two women when I was a young child.
My mom was browsing at the flea market with me in tow. I wasn't interested in the porcelain teacups and plates, so to occupy myself, I was watching the people around me. I spotted an old woman by the next table. Her deformed fingers caught my eyes because I've never seen a person crippled by advanced arthritis before. As she stood holding onto her cane in front of the table, she picked up rings and necklaces with trembling fingers, but some of the smaller pieces slipped from her fingers, and she dropped them.
The saleswoman, who looked to be about my mom's age, didn't say anything but with angry, annoyed expression on her face, she kept adjusting the jewelry pieces in the display cases that the old woman dropped.
Customers kept coming and going. They had to walk around the old woman and reach in front of her to pick up the jewelry they wanted to buy. After the old lady picked up and dropped ten or so pieces, the saleswoman asked her hardly containing her annoyance, "Are you going to buy anything or just messing up my table and holding up my customers?"
The old woman didn't say anything just quietly dropped the ring she was holding. "Move over already!" a young woman standing next to her snapped turning toward the saleswoman giving her a conspirator's wink and said in a hushed voice, "Being old is just a burden on everyone. I don't want to grow too old. You can't do anything or enjoy anything when you're old and sick."
The old woman looked at her, and then raised her head staring into space. She blinked, shook her head and turned her eyes back the young woman. "You don't need to worry about growing old, dear," she said in a sweet tone with a smile.
"What?" the young woman looked at her surprised. 'What are you talking about?"
The old woman turning away slowly said to her, "You won't live to celebrate your fortieth birthday."
I'll never forget the shocked expression on the young woman's face. She turned to the saleswoman and let out a nervous laugh. "Crazy old bat!" she exclaimed.
The saleswoman stared at the old woman's back, as she walked away, deep in thoughts. "Yeah, maybe... but maybe not."
What are your thoughts?
Did the old woman scare the young one on purpose?
Was she a psychic and had a vision?
Was the old woman cruel and revengeful?
Imagine the young woman's feelings getting close to her fortieth birthday.
Would you tell anyone something like that?
The Author-Narrator Team
The Author: Erika M Szabo
My stories are definitely not literary masterpieces. I don't use a lot of metaphors and flowery language in my writing. I write easy flowing, engaging stories for people who just want to relax after a hard day of work and escape reality for couple of hours.
A reader described my writing style perfectly:
"We all remember cozying up in our warm comfortable beds and settling while a bedtime story was read to us. The fun of the stories centered on the variety - not even a single book was the same, but they all represented a vivid imagination and a memorable tale. Erika M Szabo refers to her imagination as her 'superpower' - I can't think of a better description of her creation of stories that span many different genres, yet they all have that touch of magic that resonates with us from those old-time fairy tales. These however are adult tales with adult themes such as rising to find your dreams following loss and suffering and rising up despite hardship and fear."
Finding Pat to narrate my bundle of novelettes felt like hitting a jackpot.
After I posted my book for audition on ACX and listened to countless auditions, I started to get discouraged. But when I listened to Pat's audition I thought, he's the one!
Although he's new to the technical part of audiobook narration, he's a seasoned composer, musician, actor, and a great voice actor. You can find some of his work on his YouTube channel.
Utilizing his mesmerizing voice and acting talent, he's doing a fantastic job to bring my stories to life.
My written words trigger emotions, but to feel the intensity of the emotions is up to the reader's personality and imagination. An audiobook read by a narrator with average talent could sound flat and impersonal that allows the mind of the listener to wander off losing the momentum of the story.
However, a great narrator reflects the deep emotions depicted in the scenes, brings the characters to life, and keeps the listener engaged throughout the story.
Pat proved to be one of the great narrators. Having read my stories a great number of times while writing and editing them, I know every sentence and word by heart. However, listening to the chapters as Pat records them, I'm not only listening to make sure the technical part of the recording is correct, but I'm immensely enjoying the stories as well. The way he reads my written words feels as if he's in perfect tune with the emotions I felt when writing the stories and perfectly reflects the personalities of the characters, just as I imagined them. Moreover, he took the initiative to add little personal touches to my stories as well such as reading parts of one story with a slight accent.
Overall, I'm extremely satisfied with his work and looking forward to having the finished audiobook published.
Pat narrating a short part of one of the stories
The Narrator: Pat Mahoney
"The COVID-19 Pandemic has hit all of us hard, and in strange ways. For me, it has been an opportunity for introspection and deep thought. I'm 32. I've been blessed with a loving wife, a supportive family, and soon, our first child. We've both had stable careers and a life filled with warmth and love. But in my former career, the risk of exposure was too high -- I had to make a tough choice.
In October of 2019, I transitioned out of rehabilitative personal training and pursued my second love: Acting.
Okay... in truth, it was always my first love. I had taken classes throughout high school and college and participated in competitive public speaking. I thought, better late than never to take a leap of faith! After landing a few auditions with the Little Theatre of Alexandria, and starring in 'A Christmas Carol,' it really felt like my dream was finally coming true. But I knew it was a long road ahead.
Enter the world of Audible.
The community is flooded with authors and narrators, all looking to break out into the world.
But I was raised a certain way. I've come to lament the lack of morals and uplifting stories in most literature today, and as someone raised on Shakespeare, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters, I've always had a particular penchant for the theatrical. Finding an author whose stories matched my worldview and really spoke to me was quite the challenge.
Then, I found Erika M Szabo. I'll admit, I'm normally drawn to flowery language, so my standards are sometimes snobbishly high. But something about her work truly spoke to me. Even in the simple, everyday language, I felt connected to the characters in a way that reminded me of the great works I grew up with. I saw an opportunity. With my taste for theatrics and her understanding of humanity, I wanted to blend Shakespearean performance with accessible language.
Erika's life story is pretty inspiring. As a first-generation immigrant and non-native speaker, she tackles a lot of universal themes with the soul of a poet. She brings her own experience to her stories, as I often do in my music. We're so different from each other. I'm Irish, she's Hungarian. I'm a young parent-to-be, and she has a grown family. I've lived in America all of my life, and she grew up abroad. We've both been through a lot in our personal lives, and somehow, our paths merged for this work.
They say that representation is important. In a world divided, I'm proud to lift up the voices of those whose stories are worth sharing. This experience has humbled me, reminding me that we all work better together than apart. And even as educated as I am, it's never too late to learn and grow.
It is my sincere hope that our project, "The Seven Cozy Shorts," will serve as a testament to that.
Stay tuned for updates!"
The Seven Cozy Shorts
The audiobook is coming soon
The seven stories in the book:
The Ghost of Prince Akhmose
The Worthless Painting
Fake it Till You Make It
Thousands of years ago Tanakhmet cursed Prince Akhmose to never enter the heavenly paradise. But after Layla breaks the curse, does he really want to?
Lauren has everything she’d ever wished for. When her Raven spirit guide warns her of impending danger, she knows her life is in danger. Who wants her dead and why?
A potion made with haste out of jealousy puts Dorian into a coma. The rare orchid that could save his life is fiercely guarded by werewolves in the forbidden forest.
Will they succeed to save his life?
Elana’s life was a revolving door of shattered hopes and disappointments. Until she met Luca. Allowing them only a short time of happiness, cruel fate tore them apart. Will they meet again?
Small town mystery:
The snobbish new owner of the Couture mansion brings a worthless painting into Danielle’s antique shop and the town’s future is threatened by the plans of the ruthless, rich owner. Is the painting truly worth nothing…or?
Soulmates across time:
Caleb lost his soulmate, Valerie. Can he find her in a parallel universe? If his father succeeds to open the portal, will he find the same person in the alternate universe or a stranger?
Love conquers fear:
People are not perfect, and we all come with baggage. They might show a picture perfect-family life but hide the struggles, heartache, compromises, and sacrifices they made to get there.
The stories in the book
Click on the covers below to read about the stories.
Every story is available in eBook, and some of them in short audiobooks.
How can I implement this in my writing?
Read the rules on the link, I added a short quote here:
"In clause 8(c)(3) of rule XXIII, gendered terms, such as “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, grandson, or granddaughter, he, she, her, him” will be removed.
In their place, terms such as “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, first cousin, sibling’s child, spouse, parent-in-law, child-in-law, sibling-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepsibling, half-sibling, or grandchild, them” will be used, instead."
Authors help me out here!
I dare you to rewrite this short story
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Follow the Bookish Magazines page on Facebook.
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The Witch's Body Shop
I published this short story in my October online magazine.
In this issue:
Spooky stories and poems
Halloween treat recipes
Awesome Halloween decoration ideas
Books for Halloween
My new release book
Honored people in the Hall of Fame
Claire, a redhead, chubby girl didn’t laugh and was unusually quiet staring into the flames.
What’s with you tonight? You haven’t said a word all evening.” Jack turned to her, with slight worry in his voice.
“I’m just… I overheard my dad talking about the witch who moved to town last month. His friend said that she can raise the dead.” Claire shivered.
“That’s a load of crap,” Jack chuckled. “It’s one of your stories to scare us, isn’t it?”
“It’s true!” Claire protested. “I heard him telling my dad that she has the power to breathe life into the dead!”
“It must be true!” Steve exclaimed wide-eyed. “I heard my dad telling the UPS guy that she sells body parts, and she has one eye and wears a black eyepatch.”
“You don’t think…” Jack stopped in mid-sentence.
“I heard about her too!” Martha shouted. “Grandma said she’s a strange woman, lives alone and nobody knows where she came from. She has a creepy black cat and bought the old Smith house. You know, the one on Franklin Street.”
The kids grew quiet as if they ran out of scary stories. They just sat around the fire for a while in deep thoughts, listening to music. Soon, when the full moon cast eerie shadows and they heard the hushed sounds of the owls and bats, they said goodnight and hurried home.
Jack had a terrible nightmare, he was tossing and turning all night. In his dream, an old woman with wild hair and a black eye patch tied him to a metal table. He looked around and saw that the room was full of pale, dead bodies. Charles was chained to the table and couldn’t move. He was terrified and tried to scream but couldn’t make a sound. The old woman’s bloodshot eye fixed on him as she cackled with her toothless mouth open.
Charles awoke with a jump at dawn, cold sweat covering his forehead and heart pounding in his chest. He heard his dad’s loud snoring and the neighbor’s dog barking. The familiar sounds somewhat calmed him. He called his best friend.
“You couldn’t sleep well either, huh?” Steve picked up at the first ring and asked his buddy in a hushed voice.
“You wouldn’t believe the nightmare I had,” Jack whispered, still out of breath.
“Me too,” Steve replied, his voice shaking.
Jack fell into a fitful sleep, and when he heard his parents, stumbled downstairs to the kitchen in his pajamas. He bumped into his dad who was heading toward the backdoor. “Whoa, there!” Jack’s dad laughed. “You’re up early. Is everything okay?” he asked, his expression turning to concern. “You guys didn’t stay outside as late as usual. I went to check on you around ten, but the fire was out already.”
“Yeah, fine… we were just… it was cold,” Jack replied, stepping aside to let his father open the door.
“Yes, it was a bit chilly.” His dad turned and called out to his wife in a hurry, “I’m heading over to the Witch’s Body Shop. Do you want me to pick up something?”
“Yes. Pick up a nice piece of liver for supper.” Jack’s mother smiled.
Jack’s eyes grew wide and the breath got caught in his throat. What kind of liver are we going to eat? What if… he thought, imagining the worst.
“What’s wrong?” his mother asked, worried. “You’re pale as a ghost!” She touched his forehead. “Are you okay, are you feeling sick?”
“I’m fine, mom!” Jack pushed her hand aside.
Later that day, the group gathered in Jack’s room and discussed what they’d found out.
“It must be just gossip or misunderstanding,” Martha probed, feeling skeptical.
“Don’t think so!” Steve replied. “Didn’t you hear what Jack’s dad said?”
“We must see for ourselves.” Martha insisted, firmly.
They decided to take a ride to the witch’s shop. When they got close to the house, they left their bikes behind a tree and crept closer to the fence. They hid behind a bush and saw a large yard filled with old cars and next to the house a huge garage. Above the garage door, they saw a sign, “The Witch’s Body Shop”.
“Do you think she really sells body parts?” Claire whispered, and stared at the opening garage door, feeling scared out of her mind.
They watched in horror as a middle-aged woman stepped out in greasy overall, dark hair pulled into a tight bun, and a black eyepatch covering her eye.
“Let’s get out of here before she sells our livers too!” Jack shouted, jumped up, and raced to his bike. The others followed and Claire screamed in fright.
“And I’m going to eat carrots for supper, and I’ll be a vegetarian from now on!” Jack huffed as pedaled away in a great hurry.
“What’s with these kids?” the woman asked the stocky man who walked out of the garage behind her.
“Beats me.” He shrugged, looking at the kids racing down the road. “So, you think you’ll get the carburetor today?”
“Yes, my supplier said they’ll deliver it after lunch,” the woman replied wiping her hands on a rag.
“How’s your eye? I hate driving my wife’s car, but I don’t mind waiting until the doctor lets you take the patch off.”
“I’m fine, don’t worry. I’ve been fixing cars for a long time, I can change a carburetor with both eyes closed,” she laughed. “I’ll have your car fixed and ready to be picked up around four.”
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Intrigued, a young Egyptologist, Layla, deciphers a powerful curse. By reading the hieroglyphs, she inadvertently breaks the curse and frees the ghosts of both Prince Akhmose and the Grand Vizier, Tanakhmet, who cast the curse thousands of years ago.
Why did Tanakhmet curse the prince to never enter the Field of Reeds, the heavenly paradise? Why did he want him to linger as a restless ghost among the living, forever?
Will Tanakhmet succeed, or with Layla’s help, can Prince Akhmose finally cross into the afterlife? Or perhaps, because of the charms of the mortal woman, he doesn’t want to…
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The Worthless Painting
To arrogant socialite
Help worthless painting
Make past wrongs right
When actual value
Is brought to light
~Cindy J. Smith
When Danielle finally quits her boring accountant job and opens an Antiques & Stuff store, her life changes for the better. But soon, her happy life starts to spin out of control when the snobbish new owner of the Couture mansion brings a seemingly worthless painting into her shop. The ownership of the painting is questionable, and the town’s future is threatened by the plans of the ruthless, rich owner who wants to build a leather factory on the estate, too close to town.
An unexpected visitor arrives, and he may possess the much-needed solution to everyone’s problems in this quaint little town.
So, I decided to make a few teaching videos - when I have free time on my hands - and highlight a few errors that authors unknowingly make.
In this first video, I'll show you how to spot some of the book formatting errors.
Need help publishing your book?
We offer publishing and marketing assistance to authors so they can take full control of their books.
Do your own research and listen to experts when it comes to protecting yourself and others from virus infection as well as preventing the spread of viruses.
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
Maintain at least six feet distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching your face.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Stay home if you feel unwell.
Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
Designed for one time wear to protect the wearer and others, health care providers must be trained and pass a fit test to confirm a proper seal before using an N95 respirator.
N95 masks with valves make them easier to breathe, but because the valve releases unfiltered air when the wearer breathes out, this type of mask doesn't prevent the wearer from spreading the virus. For this reason, some places have banned them.
Wearing surgical mask when you're infected may protect others by reducing their exposure to your secretions if you're infected and cough or sneeze.
The FDA has not approved any type of surgical mask specifically for protection against the coronavirus, but these masks may provide some protection when N95 masks are not available.
A 2014 study showed that when tested against an influenza-infused aerosol from a distance of 18 inches away, a face shield reduced exposure by 96% during the period immediately after a cough. The face shield also reduced the surface contamination of a respirator by 97%.
“It protects you, the wearer,” Dr. Esper says. “But if you cough, because this face shield is away from your face, those droplets can still get out better than if you have a mask on.”
Do you need to wear a face shield and a face mask together?
While surgeons and other skilled medical professionals wear face shields over face masks, it’s not necessary for the average person to do so.
Please draw your own conclusion. Do your research and protect yourself and others.
I see angry people everywhere
Anger can be an empowering and therapeutic emotion when released in a healthy way, but it can also be addictive. Just like individuals who seek thrills for the adrenaline rush, some people have the same effect from anger. Individuals can become addicted to endorphins they feel when they get angry.
Individuals can become addicted to endorphins they feel when they get angry.
I turn on the TV and a red faced man yelling in anger.
I scroll social sites and every other post is outrage and anger about something.
In the store a woman shouts her anger to another woman, "I'm so angry at him, I could kill him right now."
A young kid yells at his mother, "I hate you!"
A "rageaholic" is a person who gets excited by expressing rage, or a person prone to extreme anger with little or no provocation.
The emotion of anger can provide tremendous energy to right wrongs and change things for the good. But when we allow it to control us, it can lead to negative destructive actions such as emotional, verbal or even physical abuse and violence.
Anger is a negative feeling state
Anger is typically associated with hostile thoughts, physiological arousal and maladaptive behaviors. It usually develops in response to the unwanted actions of another person who is perceived to be disrespectful, demeaning, threatening or neglectful.
The function of anger
Is to protect vulnerability and neutralize threat. In humans, the threat is almost always to the ego (how we want to think of ourselves and have others think of us). Anger neutralizes ego-threat by devaluing, demeaning, or undermining the confidence of the person perceived to be threatening.
What happens when we get angry?
When we get angry, the heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone production increases, cortisol (the stress hormone) decreases, and the left hemisphere of the brain becomes more stimulated.
The adrenaline-caused arousal that occurs during anger lasts a very long time (many hours, sometimes days), and lowers our anger threshold, making it easier for us to get angry again later on.
Anger trigger brain chemical rush
In the same way that substances trigger brain chemical rushes, so too does the expression and expulsion of anger. ... Like any addiction, anger can induce discharge of dopamine epinephrine and norepinephrine — also referred to as adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Angry people can't think straight
Any strong emotion, fear, stress, anxiety, anger, joy, or betrayal trips off the amygdala and impairs the prefrontal cortex's working memory. ... That is why when we are emotionally upset or stressed we can't think straight.
But anger can also damage the brain
Too much cortisol will decrease serotonin – that's the hormone that makes you happy. A decrease in serotonin can make you feel anger and pain more easily, as well as increase aggressive behavior and lead to depression. Elevated cortisol causes a loss of neurons in the prefrontal cortex.
Eat feel-good foods
Chocolate is my favorite and most effective mood lifter. Enjoying a square or two of dark chocolate can stimulate the production of endorphins, the chemical in brain which triggers the feeling of pleasure and euphoria.
Read the article about feel-good foods: https://www.doyou.com/12-foods-that-make-you-happy/
I got this email that made me do a bit of investigation
I always check where the email is coming from, so I checked. It says fro Amazon, but the email address given to Mailchimp is email@example.com.
DEFINITELY not Amazon
Check who the sender is
This is what you'll see in the pop-up window
Check the sender's address
This is Amazon Headquarters's address
Now wait a minute!
Oh, my! Those cakes look beautiful and delicious!
But what's going on here?
Abbie Cakes doesn't look like they'd use dirty tricks to sell cakes!
Check it yourself:
What I think, they might have hired a marketing company that use dirty tricks to to entice people to the site so the site owner can see results as increased visitor numbers.
Well, I'm going to send them the link to my little investigation and they can look into this how their business is used to send emails with false information.
Don't turn into a couch potato
Most of us have never been stuck at home for so long.
We all have ways to use the extra time on our hands.
We catch up on reading and watching movies we never had time for, we clean, we cook, spend quality time together. But we need some exercise.
The gyms are closed and it's not a good idea to attend social gatherings, so what could we do?
Because I was born with two left feet (not literally) I can't do complicated dance moves or high impact exercises. But there are hundreds of low impact, fun exercise videos on YouTube.
Try a few. It will make you feel good, promise!
I love this song and the dance moves are easy to learn
The 80s had the best dance music
This Tai Chi series is easy to follow and very relaxing
But if you like to dance, this video is one of my favorites too
Have fun and stay healthy!
Request a complimentary download code
In order to keep boredom away, I'm offering FREE download codes for 5 of my published audiobooks.
The number of codes are limited, so request your code today.
Reviews and ratings are greatly appreciated.
Send me a message with the title of the book
Reviews and ratings are greatly appreciated.
Add the title of the book in the comment section
Go from full stress mode to a relaxed state in 60 seconds
A friend asked me:
"I've watching you for a long time multitasking as a trauma nurse and dealing with problems in your personal life. You never lose your cool and you seem to be in control all the time. If I have to pay attention to two different things at the same time I freak out, while you do ten different things and make it look so easy. How do you do it? What is your secret?"
No secrets here.
I've just learned how to relax, from my cat.
Have you ever watched a cat running and jumping like a maniac one minute and then suddenly stop and stare into thin air for a second and flop down on the floor licking its paw looking totally relaxed? A few seconds later they continue chasing the invisible mouse or their own tails.
It seems as if cats have found the best way to stop stress from burning out their nervous system and boost their brains.
Of course I have stress in my life.
Working in the ER for so many years and solving everyday problems that life throws at me, can be very stressful at times. When I work on editing, designs, or researching facts for my next novel, sometimes I feel like my brain has 16 tabs open and I need to re-focus to make sense of it all.
I've tried meditation. Well, it didn't work for me. After a minute or so deep breathing, my mind started wandering and I begun making plans and thought about things that had to be done.
So, knowing I can't concentrate on relaxation for more than a minute, I learned to reboot my brains, just like a cat.
I stop (when I can) every waking hour and marvel at something beautiful for 60 seconds.
There are 60 minutes in every hour and we're awake about 16 hours a day, that's 960 minutes.
So I thought: what if I'd spend just 16 minutes a day to relax and go about dealing with stress for the rest of 944 minutes of my day?
I tried and it worked.
Marvel at something beautiful
Find something beautiful and marvel at it for 60 seconds. You'll be surprised how energized you'll feel and your rebooted brain will be a lot more focused to tackle the next task or problem that's been awaiting.
Let me know if this will affect your everyday life and stress level.
Children recognize the "look" of the child molester
I still remember the "yucky" feeling I felt that a close family friend's glances gave me when I was about five years old.
I still remember the uncomfortable conversation with my mom, after uncle Frank left. I was scared and felt something that resembled shame, but when Mom sat down to watch TV, I curled up on her lap and told her, "Mommy, my stomach hurts."
Mom looked at me and probably noticed the anxious look on my face and asked, "Do you feel like throwing up, or you have a funny feeling in your tummy?"
"Uncle Frank looks at me funny. I don't like it."
My mom shrank back a little and an angry look flashed through her face, which made me regret that I told her about my feelings. In my childish mind, I was convinced that I did something wrong that made Mom angry. But then she quickly hugged me and assured me, "I believe you, munchkin! You didn't do anything wrong. You're a very smart girl to tell me about your feelings, you can always tell me anything. Tell me how it makes you feel when he looks at you."
Gaining courage from her words, I tried to explain the sickening feeling I had when the man looked at me. I couldn't find words to explain, but in my mind I saw my cat shrinking away from the neighbor's dog that had the look in his eyes just like uncle Frank did. "Mommy, Mrs. Varga's dog looks that way at Miri every time she goes close to the fence. He wants to hurt her. Does uncle Frank want to hurt me?"
Mom hugged me tight and said, "I don't know, honey, he might. I'm so glad you told me about this." She then held my shoulders and looked into my eyes. "You can always tell me everything. You now that, don't you?"
"Did he ever touch you, put you on his lap, or told you that you must keep something a secret?"
"No..." I hesitated remembering the chocolate bar he gave me the day before. "But he gave me chocolate and told me it's our little secret because he knows you don't let me eat candy before dinner." I sobbed.
"It's okay, munchkin, you did the right thing telling me this. Remember, never-ever keep a secret from daddy and me."
I didn't see uncle Frank again until I was a teenager, when he was arrested for molesting his brother's ten-year-old daughter. The girl had the courage to speak to her teacher about it because her mother had dismissed her and accused her of lying about the abuse.
That's when my dad confessed that he beat creepy Frank to a pulp and banned him from ever entering our house, that day when I told Mom about how he made me feel. Dad could never forgive himself for not going to the police back then. He always thought he could've prevented the abuse of the young girl, but also knew that without proof, and only the words of a five-year-old, the police couldn't have done anything.
I was lucky to tell my mom about my gut feelings, and she was smart not to didn't dismiss me but inquired further.
She knew that young children can't always describe what makes them anxious or uncomfortable, but they can tell you about their gut feelings in their own way, or they find the way to play it out. Children often say their stomach hurts when they feel anxious, because they can't describe the feeling of anxiety, worry, shame, or when someone's actions make them feel uncomfortable.
Talk to your children, and no matter what they tell you, believe them, and take them seriously.
A Good Laugh and the Unwanted Consequences
She laughed so hard when I told her the story when I was named "Patient whisperer" that she sprayed coffee all over the place-mat of the kitchen table.
You can read the story in my Magazine:
Suddenly, her expression grew serious, and she cried out, "Oh, crap! I wet my pants."
This made me laugh more, but when she shot me angry look, I raised my brows questioningly.
"NO! I'm serious," she said with a stern face. "I REALLY wet myself. Just a squirt, but can I borrow one of your pants?"
Yup, one of the fun "perks" of getting old.
Everything starts to go south, muscles weaken, skins sag, you pee when you laugh, sneeze, or... you get the picture. BUT, we both agreed on how lucky we are to have made it this far.
A supernatural short story by Erika M Szabo
Camilla Highmore and her fellow young acolytes in their late teen years, Sarah and Xavier, reached the knoll and found the witches’ path. Their long years of apprenticeship was over, and they were expected to perform the final test before they’d be considered as fully trained witches.
They had to find the woodruff iris needed to brew the potion as their last test, and the instruction had been very clear. The woodruff iris flower thrived on the sweet sap the snag maple trees provided. Dead yet still standing, snag maple trees were a rich source of nutrients as well as magical ingredients for both thanomancy and biomancy. The rare flower had to be plucked exactly when the sun barely kissed the horizon and prepared before the last rays of the sun vanished into the cloak of the night.
Upon finding the flower, they only had one hour to rush back to the coven and add the flower as the last ingredient to their prepared potions. If they’d be unsuccessful, they’d have to remain apprentices and try again the following year. The pressure weighed heavily on them all.
The trio walked in silence keeping an eye on the trees with the sigil that marked their path. Suddenly, a raven appeared above Camilla and let out a raspy kraa sound. She shivered as the black bird flew away. She looked after the bird as it flew higher and higher and disappeared from view. When Camilla lowered her eyes back to the trees, she spotted her grandmother’s small, spiral symbol with a pentacle in the middle carved into a majestic pine tree. She had a strong feeling that she had to follow the path the raven showed her. She hesitated for a minute but soon made up her mind. “I’m going this way,” she called out to her companion and pointed toward the narrow path by the tree.
“We were told to follow the witches’ path,” Sarah said, feeling annoyed. Her red, curly hair flew off her shoulders as she shook her head and rolled her green eyes. Always a strict follower of rules, she often disapproved when Camilla questioned or sometimes even broke the rules. “Why do you always have to break the rules?” She questioned looking at Camilla.
“I’m not… Okay, I do… sometimes. But my spirit guide…” Camilla stuttered like a scolded child but then her confidence returned. “Oh, never mind that. I’ve been here before with my grandma when I was very young, and I remember seeing dead maple trees in that area. Do you want to come with me?”
“No way,” Sarah said, firmly shaking her head.
“I’m staying on this path as we were told. You shouldn’t wander off either,” Xavier warned. His chocolate brown eyes reflected genuine worry.
Xavier was in love with Camilla since they first met, but his sense of duty and obedience kept him from revealing his feelings. When he confessed to his father, he got angry and told him that he was destined to be a witch and follow the footsteps of his ancestors, and a strong-willed, often disobedient girl didn’t fit into his future plans. Xavier agreed sadly and accepted his father’s decision. He kept his feelings to himself but couldn’t erase his love for Camilla from his heart.
Camilla stubbornly shrugged and strode off the well-worn dirt road. It made her heart race with excitement every time she followed the ancient path with her grandmother but going alone made her a little nervous. The Raven is my spirit guide and it’s never wrong. She thought, trying to calm her anxiety. It has a good reason to lead me off the usual path, and besides, my grandmother had marked this path for a reason.
The twisting path led her deep into the forest. Fallen leaves crunched under her boots, and she heard the rustle of small scampering creatures under the fallen branches and leaves. She tightened her grip on her gray knitted shawl as she continued along the path, her eyes automatically searching for the maple snags that woodruff iris preferred.
She still had about ten minutes before the sun began to sink below the horizon. Golden light filtered through the canopy of tree branches above her and the chilly wind cut through the rustling leaves making them dance. Camilla felt goosebumps rising on her skin triggered by the energy coursing all around her. More than anything in the world, she wanted to learn how to tap into that energy and wield the magic of nature.
The spotted an ancient, dead maple tree that stood just off to the side of the path. Beautiful even in its decay, its bare branches stood out against the bright late afternoon skies. Armfuls of woodruff iris in full bloom waved gently in the wind as they clung to the snag.
Camilla took a deep breath, bowed to the ancient tree, and to the scurrying creatures it still supported and took a step towards the patch of flowers to wait until the exact time for harvest.
As she took another step, suddenly, her foot crashed through the layer of dead leaves that had so perfectly hidden the tangle of thick roots and the warren between the path and the tree. She let out a sharp scream and the golden light of the world above her was thrust into shadows as she crushed through thin branches and roots, falling into a deep hole. She landed hard on the packed dirt in a deep, spacious room below the maple tree’s roots.
Leaves floated peacefully around her as she stood up, groaning, brushing the leaves from her long hair and the dirt from her jeans. She moved her arms and legs carefully. Nothing is broken. She thought, sighing in relief. Light poked down through the hole above her head, enough so that she could easily look around in the underground room.
Camilla turned to examine the large, square, carved stones put together with precision to make the walls of the room. The stones were covered with moss and a thick layer of dust, but in the darker corner polished stones with runes carved into them caught her eye. “What is this place?” she whispered and shivered. How am I going to get out of here? She thought looking up at the hole in the ceiling, ten feet above her head.
Her stomach tied into a knot. It was a mistake! Why did I follow the Raven? A scream rose in her throat, but she managed to stay quiet. It’s no use. Nobody will hear me. They will come looking for me when Sarah and Xavier go back to the coven without me, and grandma will know where to find me when they tell her I followed her sigil. The thought of getting help calmed down as her curiosity rose.
She glanced at her watch and cried out, “Oh, no! There’s only five minutes until sundown. I’m not going to get the iris and… well, at least I’ll know where to find the flowers next year.” She shrugged and took a step closer toward the back wall. She could barely see the runes carved into the dark gray stones. “I wish I’d brought a flashlight” She sighed.
“Whoa!” Camilla exclaimed and stumbled back in fright as the room turned bright. “What the… what’s going on here?” She cried out but her curiosity was stronger than her fear.
She could see the carved runes clearly. I wish I could read them. As soon as the thought entered her mind, eerie green light illuminated the rune letters.
Ye who was born to possess the sight
Brings light into the night.
What is this? Camilla’s legs turned to jelly and sat down. I can read the runes. Is this place like a ‘your wish comes through cave’ or something? “I wish I could get out of here!” she said out loud.
She felt lightheaded and closed her eyes for a few seconds. When the dizziness passed and opened her eyes, a strange sensation filled her body and mind. She felt the energy around her and watched in fright as the pile of dead leaves that had cushioned her fall stirred and gathered around her gently lifting her back up through the gap.
“Whoa!” a surprised scream erupted from her chest as she steadied herself at the edge of the gaping hole. This place is magical! I’m going to show it to grandma. She thought dreamily but quickly came to her senses. Glancing at the horizon she knew she didn’t have a second to waste if she wanted to harvest the flower of the woodruff iris.
Watching every step carefully, she walked to the beautiful patch of flowers. She knelt, took her athame out of its embossed leather sheath, and waited, blade pressed against a blood-red stem. As soon as the sun touched the horizon, Camilla made the cut. What if the others can’t find the flower? There is plenty here. She thought as the plants shivered, and she held three perfect blossoms in her hands. She allowed herself a few moments to admire the delicate black petals before tucking the knife back into its sheath, and gently placed the flowers inside the leather pouch that hung on a thong around her neck.
After bowing her head for a minute and thanking the plant for letting her harvest its delicate flowers, she stood up and raced back on the path, following her grandmother’s sigils with a satisfied, happy smile on her face.
She anxiously waited a few minutes until finally, she spotted her fellow acolytes walking back on the witches’ path with shoulders hunched and gloomy expression on their faces. As they stopped, Camilla noticed their hands were empty. Her heart twisted.
Xavier glanced at her sadly and sat down on the carpet of leaves, looking defeated. “No luck,” he sighed. “Somehow, we got off the path and by the time we found the flowers, the sun was sinking into the horizon and the petals closed up. We were late…”
“We’re not going to be accepted,” Sarah muttered. “What rotten luck! We’ll have to wait another year.”
The words died on her lips when she saw Camilla opening her pouch and holding the precious black flowers. “No worries. Neither of you has to wait,” she said simply. “I have three flowers.”
Sarah stammered, “And you’d share it with us?”
“Of course! Let’s go. We only have half an hour to get back to the coven and fifteen more minutes to add the flowers and finish the potion.” She smiled.
Xavier leaped to his feet as Sarah rushed to embrace Camilla in a tight hug.
The spicy-sharp autumn air of Blackmire Forest smelled of pure magic as the apprentices hurried toward the coven.
They rushed back to the coven and under the watchful eyes of the High Priestess and Elders, they added the woodruff iris to their prepared, murky looking potions. They stirred the dark grey, thick liquid in their cauldrons and yelled out in surprise when the potion turned into ruby red, glowing liquid.
“You have passed your last test,” the High Priestess announced and looked at the acolytes with warmth in her eyes and smile on her lips.
Sarah glanced at Xavier with a sad expression in her eyes, and when Xavier nodded, Sarah looked up at the High Priestess. “We have a confession to make.”
“Oh? What is it, child?”
“We…” Sarah started and cleared her throat. “Xavier and I didn’t get the flower. We were unsuccessful in finding it and Camilla took two extra flowers and gave them to us.”
Xavier looked at Sarah and added in a shaky voice, “We don’t deserve to be witches, only Camilla does.”
“I know, my messenger told me,” the High Priestess admitted and glanced at raven sitting on the windowsill. “I was just waiting for you to admit it.”
“So, we have to wait another year, right?” Sarah asked and sighed.
“No, child. You don’t have to wait. The three of you passed the test because of Camilla’s loyalty. She could have taken only one flower, but she took three because she has a good heart, and she’s loyal to her fellow apprentices. Being the member of our coven is not about competing with each other and outdoing each other. It’s about love and loyalty to each other, and helping one another.”
After the initiation ceremony a week later, Camilla and her grandmother went on a journey to discover more about the room that had been hidden for centuries. The spicy-sharp autumn air of Blackmire Forest smelled of pure magic as they followed the path to the ancient maple tree that guarded the sacred place deep in the woods.
50 complimentary audiobooks are available
Reviews are optional, but greatly appreciated.
The winners will be notified via email on February 26th.
Enter the contest
Erika M Szabo
Author of urban fantasy, magical realism novels and children's books,
10 Self-publishing Tips
5 Audiobooks To Listen For Free
99 Cents Book Sale
99 For 99
About Free Books
A Brand New Week
A Dear Friend Wrote A Poem For Me
Animals Always Find Me
A Sweet Christmas Tradition
Book Formatting #1
Book Promo Fees Gone Too High
Book Promo For Authors
Book Review Craziness
Can You Recognize Narcissistic People?
Cats Love Stories Too!
CHILDREN LEARN HATE AND INTOLERANCE FROM US
Children's Books For Halloween
Complimentary Audiobooks: Get Your Copy
Critique Or Criticism?
Decades Late Apology
Did She Deserve It?
Ebook SALE March 7-13
Emotional Stages Of Becoming A Writer
Every Life Is Precious
Favorite Internet Pastime
Fundraiser For Animals
Garage Sale Surprise
Genderless Characters In Books?
Good Old Fashioned Romance
Got Money? Buy Votes!
Halloween Stories #1
Help! I Can't Choose
High Hopes And Deep Disappointments Of A Writer
Holiday Book Sale
Hopeless Love - Secrets - Magic - Oh My!
How Did I End Up Here?
I Love My Job!
I'm A Better Person Today Because...
I'm Better Than You!
Inferior Or Equal?
Is The Lovely Shade Of Romance Turning Dark?
It's Easier Than You Thought
It's My Birthday
I Would Love To Have A Shiny Sticker On My Resume!
I Write Children's Books Because...
Just 16 Minutes A Day
Little Tree Walking
Makes Sense Or Batshit Crazy?
Mask Or Muzzle?
MBR Bookwatch Review
Message From A Pissed Off Reader
Mom's Scary Dolls
My Green Thumb
New Edition=New Cover
Nightmares And Witching Hour
Omen Or Silly Superstition? Part 1
Omen Or Silly Superstition? Part 2
Omen Or Silly Superstition? Part 3
Omen Or Silly Superstition? Part 4
Omen Or Silly Superstition? Part 5
Past And Present Connected By A Curse
PRESS RELEASE: AUTHOR ERIKA M SZABO
Rainbows And Clouds
READING IS GOOD
Re-blogged: 5 Reasons Why Authors Should:
Re-blogged: Full Moon Dare
Re-blogged: I Don't Speak Spanish
Social Site Animals
Stuck At Home?
The Birth Of An Audiobook
The Danger Of A Quiet Simile
THE JOY OF GETTING OLD
The Magic Of Blackmire Forest
The New Kind Of Book Hoarder
The Quiet Smile Of A Wise Woman!
There Is So Much More To Communication Than Just Speaking
The Scammer Swallows His Own Medicine
The Warning Signs Of Vanity Publishers
Those Dreaded Negative Reviews
Uncle Frank Looks At Me Funny
Unusual Signs And Symptoms
Watch Live: 2019 Celebrations Around The Globe
When The Raven Calls
Which One Is Your Favorite?
Who Are You Jared?
Why Do I Tell Stories?
Why Do People Lash Out In Anger At Others?
Why Should I Write Book Reviews?
Write A Book They Said
WRITING A STORY IS EASY
You Make A Hungarian Flinch When...