JSW Prompt 4-18-2015 Response



I’ve always loved the outdoors.  Whether it was playing or working or just taking a walk, I much prefer the outside.  I guess that’s why I became a hunter.  My father took me first when I was five.  I owned my own gun by seven.  Nothing much more than a glorified BB gun, but for a seven year old, that’s pretty spiffy. My Uncles hunted, still do those left alive.  My mother even went out a time or two, but the gritty details of the kill went beyond her tolerance for her husband’s and son’s actions.

Hunting is the bonding of men.  Women are too soft.  Too delicate for the burst of bullet and blood.  Theirs is the cooking and the cleaning; babies.

Don’t hate me for the truth.  It’s a hard life here what with all that’s gone by. I am the only son, the only one suitable to follow in the footsteps of my elders.  I loved the stealth of it…. the patience, the sometimes hours of waiting: researching the best places to strike.  I love every moment. I will hunt until I die.

Tonight is no difference than any other night,yet it is. Tonight starts my life.  We spread out in the forest, moving in the rough proximity to a straight line, driving the prey before us toward their end.  It’s end, rather, for there is only one we are allowed to take tonight.

Cold breezes ruffled my collar, poking about in my pockets like a child for sweets. Dark surrounds me, broken only by the sliver of the moon. I can hear my father’s, Uncles’, footfalls crunching in leaves, but I can’t see them for the dark.  Ahead, I hear the wallow and crash as the prey rushes headlong in the dark, desperate to escape. It won’t happen, of course.  We’re too good to allow that.

I glimpse the ghost white of it’s skin and my heart begins to pound. So close.  So far.  Another yard, two, and I crouch, raising my gun to pierce the darkness.

Suddenly, it’s right there, right in front of me. I read panic and fear and I can almost taste the kill. Steady, tracking it’s floundering flight, my finger slowly tightens on the trigger.  If I don’t take this shot, I’ll lose the the opportunity. My father or an Uncle will get the kill.

But not tonight.  Tonight is mine.

A flash.  A sound.  A white shape crumbles to the ground.

It’s done.  Another moment and I’m surrounded by my men, my father, my Uncles, all clasping me on the shoulders, congratulating, happy voices, proud voices filling the space around me.

All of a sudden, I’m tired.  I want to go home, sit in front of the fire, drink with the men, know that, finally, I belong.

First, I move through the woods to the carcass.  Smile when I see I took it clean through the head.  A good shot in the dark.  Grabbing my cords, I bind it’s legs and start dragging it home.  The head will be sent tomorrow as confirmation, but tonight we celebrate the night of my first solo kill.

I glance back as the body slides across the leaves, a trail of blood behind.  Once it might have held some resemblance to a man, but after all the testing, the experiments, it is no longer. Human formed, achingly thin, eyes sunk deep into a misshapen skull.

Ahead, I am drawn by the flicker of red flames through dark bars of trees.

JSW Prompt 4-30-2015


If you want to respond, please do so in the Comments and I will post on the site.  Thanks.

Review – The Madness Underneath (The Shades of London, Book 2)




“There is no normal. I’ve never met a normal person. The concept is flawed. It implies that there is only one way people are supposed to be, and that can’t possible be true. Human experience is far too varied.”
Maureen Johnson, The Madness Underneath

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades–the city’s secret ghost-fighting police–are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

Goodreads review –

I enjoyed this book.  It started slowly, but the action picked up as the story moved along.  I did have a harder time relating to Rory in the beginning and if I hadn’t read the first book, I might have given up. I didn’t, however, and I’m glad.  Once Rory settled down and stopped being so wishy-washy, I was back with an old friend.

I loved the way the author continued to build on the plot from the first book.  Though unexpected at times, the plot devices fit in so seamlessly I never lost the suspension of belief.  True to form for a great book, the story left me wanting more and eagerly awaiting the third volume in the series.

“This is England,” he explained. “Tell someone it’s a procedure, and they’ll believe you. The pointless procedure is one of our great natural resources.”

Maureen Johnson, The Madness Underneath


There’s a funny thing about being invisible. The Invisible Man, Harry Potter and his Invisibility Cloak, One Ring to Rule Them All, The Tempest and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Being invisible has always been a popular item in literature and movies.  When asked what superpower a person might like to possess, invisibility is usually high up on the list. But what if you were really invisible?  Or what if you’d made yourself as invisible as possible all your life but when you decide you want to toss off the invisibility cloak no one sees you even then.

Growing up, I spend all my time trying to be invisible.  I was horribly shy and inwards, mostly because of things that happened and because I’d never not known the feeling of depression. To protect myself, I became invisible, as skill I perfected over the years.

In college, I lived behind the mask of characters, terrified somebody would talk to me, I would freeze and look like an idiot. I didn’t trust anybody. I was afraid of everything and not just in that ‘I’m afraid of spiders’ way. I was drawn so far inward that I couldn’t make connections with the outer world.

And then I grew up. Don’t get me wrong, I was invisible well into adulthood and I liked it that way. It didn’t help that my ex liked me invisible. So, there I was, invisible until I had kids. I couldn’t be invisible with kids.  I learned to speak up, defend them, because I didn’t have any other choice.  The mother bear will protect her cubs even if she doesn’t want to come out of the den.

It took me years to come to the realization I didn’t have to live the life other people wanted for me.  I could live life my way. Visible. I no longer had to be afraid. I was in charge of who I was and who I became. Not my Ex. Not my family.  Not friends or acquaintances or bosses or TV or ads or anything else in the Universe.

I. Was. In. Charge. Of. Me.

Apparently, no one else got the memo.  I learned quickly that once people lose sight of you, you don’t appear just because you’ve decided to appear again.  I’m not talking about people I knew casually, but family.  When I finally separated from my ex, they were glad.  Why had it taken me so long?  When I became my own person, they weren’t happy.  I was no longer the person they expected me to be and they didn’t want that.  They wanted me to stand on my own two feet but only if I stayed the same person I was before.  But I wasn’t the same person.  How could I stay the same and change?  Not possible.

I’ve had to write the remainder of this post several times.  Each former attempt came out bitchy and childish.  I don’t mean to be.  I like taking the higher road, but sometimes I just need to express myself, bitchy or not.  I know what you are going to say.  ‘Are you sure it’s all them?’ Probably not.  I’ve never claimed I was perfect.  I don’t return phone calls in the time frame they expect. Bad? Yes, but I’m not a phone person and when I get overwhelmed by things, I just ‘turtle’ and do nothing. Could I do better?  Yes. Try harder? Yes. Do I want to do better? I used to say yes, but now, I’m not so sure.

Three examples (yes there are so many more but that’s where the bitchy comes in).  One – I wrote and read a short essay at my mother’s funeral.  Except for my Aunt, no one in my family acknowledged I had even spoken.  No ‘thank you,’ no ‘I know this must have been hard for you’. Nothing.  Friends of the family (and even people I didn’t know) came up to say how touched they had been by my words, wanting a copy. Family. Not a word.

Two – After years of cutting my own hair (not pretty I assure you), I got my hair cut and styled at a salon.  Nobody in my family noticed.

Three- I lost a noticeable amount of weight.  Did my family notice?  Nope. Not a word.

Bitch over (maybe).  Truth is I am hurt and angry.  I am willing to do anything they need.  All they need to do is ask.  Do they?  No, they don’t and then are angry that I ‘never’ help.  To hear them, I am selfish and think of nobody but myself.  So sorry for thinking we are all adults and should not expect mind-reading among us.

Perhaps I should accept that I am, and will be, invisible to them.  The sad part is I am almost at the point I don’t care.  Is it worth fighting invisibility in their eyes when I will never be visible for who I am?  How many times am I expected to try to explain who I am and why? It is hard enough to fight depression every day without living up to somebody else’s expectations.

The sad truth is I no longer feel comfortable at family gatherings.

I am the invisible woman.




Writing – A Poem by CS Knotts


Last night I dreamt
Of the one whom I created
But do not know–
One of many voices
I have never known not having,
Features photographed like ghosts
Layer upon layer on me
Until I am only a Roman mask.
Seeking to create in my own image
For he is me
And with me he can never live.
I hear below
The gentle rattle of the lock,
The invisibility of steps on stairs,
The indrawn breath of creation,
Struggled to create him first
But always he is faceless–
Awake the room rings
With vanished mockery.
He feeds but is starved.
In seven years perhaps
He will go elsewhere,
Become flesh like me,
Without me,
Strigoi spawned in an unknowing moment.
And another. And another.
Creation never ceases.
It is swimming in swift current;
Once you cease to stroke
You are swept away.
And once created how later

To explain
It was not meant to be?

I walk as if blind,
Black dog on one side,
Huge white eyes painted on his forehead,
Vlad on the other
Through my own burning Wallachia.
Somewhere, someday
From a belfry
I will hear their bells
Ringing my name.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater -Review


“Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”

Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

– review Amazon.com

I absolutely love this book!  The first time I tried to read The Raven Boys, however, I had a hard time getting through the first couple of chapters.  To be fair, I waited a few days and tried again. That time something clicked and I couldn’t put the book down. The characters are so crisp and well-rounded that suspension of disbelief is easy. Like CS Lewis in The Narnia Series and Susan Cooper in the Dark is Rising Series, Ms Steifvater has created a real world effortlessly connected to another, ancient, world of myth and magic.

Richard Gansey is searching for an ancient Welsh king, positive he is destined to awaken the king from his ancient slumber.  At the same time, he and his friends are simply boys at school, Gansey walking a fine line to keep Ronin from being expelled, Adam from being abused and Noah from fading away.  The contrast between the real world and the fantasy world deepens and expands as the story unfolds.

This book is a keeper, one that will forever have a place on my bookshelf.  The plot was so well-written that I never quite knew what was coming next.  Many questions are not answered in Book I so I am eager to start Book II, The Dream Thieves.  This is the kind of book that makes me fall in love with a writer and her world.  Before the end, I was a little in love with Gansey myself.

“In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys

JSW Prompt – 1-29-2015 Response


I apologize for taking so long with this JSW Prompt.  I sort of lost track there.  It’s not called Writer’s Block but rather Slip of the Writer’s Mind.

“This is my war and I don’t know which side I’m on.”

The words echoed around in my head.  How could I not know my chosen side?  How could I doubt the sharp edges butting one reality against another? Why do I understand both?

It’s not supposed to be this way.  One is supposed to support their god and country.  Hate the enemy god and nations.  So why can’t I hate?  I’ve tried to hate, believe me.  I want to hate.  I want to know that I am securely on the side of the right.  I want to know… I want to know…. what is right.

I have a hard time believing that anything about war is right.  We ought not hate the neighbors next door to us, or those a thousand miles away.  I want to believe that the world is a good place, a place where love and forgiveness are the virtues to which we all aspire. The reality is, however, that the world is a horrible place.  A spinning ball of hate and cruelty and viciousness far beyond anything my simple mind can comprehend.

So why do I send troops into a battle I do not believe is right?

Because I am the Prince and this is what I am expected to do.  Defend god and country against the enemy.  The enemy is dark and evil and somewhere out there….. somewhere beyond my limited vision.  Until, that is, he isn’t.  Until one stands face to face with the enemy and sees nothing more than humanity and fear in his eyes.

The dark truth of this world is that I must kill the human across the battlefield from me simply because that is how war is done.  If I don’t kill him, he will kill me and, in doing so, bring down all that I love and cherish.

It is a cruel choice I make, standing over my fallen foe……