My First Shot At Regency Romance by Christina OW

I think I should start with a little introduction :)

Hi, my name is Rinah and I go by the author name Christina OW–it’s my mom’s names and initials. I couldn’t think of a better way to honor her and all she’s done for me being a single parent raising three girls. I write Paranormal, Contemporary, Fantasy fiction romance and now Regency/Historical romance. I must say, so far Regency romance has been my favorite to write– it feels like giving unknown personalities from the 18th and 19th century life by telling their ‘what if’ story and I find it remarkable.

Once upon a time, long long time ago I wasn’t much of a fan of historical books. Yeah, shocking! But I used to think the Old English was too distracting and I didn’t like the description of the characters especially the male ones–too unmanly. An image of a pale out of shape stuffy dandy with an annoying nasal voice kept popping in my head when I’d read some of the dialogue. And the women, they annoyed me most. Always written like complete air heads who fainted at the littlest things and hang onto the belief that without a man their lives were meaningless! I also didn’t like that they didn’t have a say in their own lives– I became a true feminist while reading those books. So I stopped reading them all together until I happened across a book by Jerrica Knight-Catania. There was nothing wrong with the genre I was just reading the wrong categories and books by authors who didn’t suit my taste.

She introduced me to lust worthy heroes and strong heroines despite their limited life coupled with restrictions of the society  and the best description of a world I wished I’d seen first hand. And let’s just say the forbidden fruit is tastier even for a passive audience like a reader. The illicit affairs, the forbidden loves and the lengths the heroes and heroines would go for happiness… regency romance became a fantasy fairytale to me full of passion and excitement that drew me in and left me craving for more! After just one of Jerrica’s books I became hooked, an addict for the genre searching for authors with the same writing style and adding them to my favorite authors list. Then one day I just thought, why not try my hand at it?

I knew I would need to do a lot of research to make the story authentic enough and change my way of thinking and writing to fit the genre and then finally, I let my imagination weave the rest and thus TRIAL OF LOVE, book #1 of THE SLAVE BOUND SERIES was born! It took a while before I queried it because I was so frightened it wouldn’t be good enough. But I took the risk, figuring the only way I could truly know it was read worthy was if I queried it to the same publisher who published a good number of my favorite regency/historical books.  I queried to Second Wind Publishing and Mike loved it. It was a long road before the final product was out but I’m proud of the book we both put out.

Trial Of Love, a turbulent love story about a slave from America and the Earl who saved her from a fate worse than death.

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Blurb: After her mother’s death, Melanie’s life in America is full of heartache. Still, she has never allowed herself to despair. She was responsible for the care of her beloved father. Then he remarried a woman to wicked to be considered a mother to Melanie or her two sisters. After years of abuse, the stepmother sells Melanie off—to work in a brothel, and about to be sold to the highest bidder. Through a series of fortuitous events, Melanie falls into the care of Christopher, Earl of Ashworth, who has family issues of her own. The solution to his problems—and redemption for Melanie—wind together toward destiny.

Book Link:

It was great meeting you all!I look forward to my next post in the 2W blog.

See you in the pages of Trial Of Love!

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Conversations by John E. Stack

Communication is very important in relationships whether it’s husband and wife, people dating, or parent and child. Feelings are expressed, ideas are bounced around or maybe you are just having fun talking. Conversations are key in life in order to see how things are going for others.

Spring break afforded my wife, my youngest daughter, and I the opportunity to spend some peaceful time at the beach. Once in a while you just need to get away, rest and regenerate. Usually, we walk on the beach we talk and in seeing that we have a 4 year old, we often experience different levels of conversation. Allie has the gift of talking and often monopolizes our conversations. Thus, conversation is usually about Allie or conversation is with Allie.

Cream - seashells
(Stock Photo)

This year Allie decided to collect shells. She wanted to pick up every shell she saw declaring how beautiful each piece was. Many times we would tell her that a particular shell was broken or not very pretty, and we would throw it out. We decided that we would take the select ones and make her a necklace.

The next day we walked again, and my wife told Allie not to pick up the broken shells. This happened several times, but Allie continued to pick up the broken shells.

The conversation turned when Allie asked where all the shells came from. My wife picked up a piece of shell that had been tossed by the surf and said, “Allie, look how pretty this is.” Allie responded with, “Mom, your shell is broken.” My wife answered, “Yes, but God used the waves to smooth out the edges and make it beautiful.” She further explained that God had made the shells just like God had made people.

Allie pondered on this for a while and said, “God had made the shells. God made shells like God made people. Sometimes people are broken like the shells and God smooths out their brokenness and makes them beautiful.”
We decided to keep collecting all the pieces of broken shells, pretty or not, and make necklaces so we could be reminded that like the shells we are all broken but God can make us beautiful again.

My wife often gets that higher level of conversation that I miss out on. I look for times and topics to use to spur conversation and sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not. Therefore, conversations that I have with my daughter are quite different.

For some reason, I am the chosen one. In this I mean that when Allie has bathroom issues, she usually chooses me to help. When I hear “DAD” echo from the bathroom, I often cringe because of the pungency. During one particular occasion, she was quite aromatic. As I about choked to death and was trying to hold my breath I remarked, ”Wow, you know you should bottle this as a cologne.” Without missing a beat, Allie responded with a line from Larry the cucumber in Veggie Tales, “Yes, this is my finest hour!”

I may not get the sentiment that my wife gets, but at least we have some exciting conversations. And, lots of laughs.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo and the soon to be released Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.

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The unexpected inconsistency of coffee, by Sheila Deeth

Pattie’s sitting at the table with Mary, drinking coffee, eating cookies, and trying to encourage her friend. But it’s time for work, so she tidies away the cups and plates, leaving Mary staring down into the dregs of her… cup… Really? And leaving me wondering how I failed to notice this inconsistent caffeine, through gazillions of edits, proof-reads, beta-reads, sanity-checks and more. But, alas, there is more…

“At least you didn’t give up entirely on the math,” says the professor, placing another page of Jeremy’s manuscript on the table. But then he stares at his coffee cup, and it’s left to the reader to guess why cup or page might have provoked his comment.

Then there’s that conversation between Troy and his dad. I know they’re at the garage, but all the reader knows is they’re drinking coffee. So why does Troy suddenly throw down an oily rag?

The good news is I’m getting better. I may not have spotted these errors in those earlier gazillion edits, but I saw them this time. And I fixed them. I know Murphy’s Law says there’s bound to be something more, but when Divide by Zero is re-released, it will rise renewed with Second Wind’s angel and a mug of coffee brewed to a three-times better consistency.

With Easter coming at the end of the week, what better time to celebrate renewal?

So thank you Second Wind for giving my first novel its second wind.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum and Imaginary Numbers, all coming soon from Second Wind.


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The Coroner Takes a Ride: Prologue

When I took the chief’s job at the West Hepzibah Police Department – 21 years ago – I spent some time looking at town and road maps of the area to get the lay of the land, so to speak. I reasoned if there was a West Hepzibah there must be an east equivalent – maybe even a north and south. In fact, where in hell was Hepzibah proper?

Everett Hartsell set me straight. He was 62 then –20 years older than I at the time. He knew everything about everything – and everyone – it seemed to me. Amazingly, neither he, nor his wife Jane, was a gossip. He was the county coroner and had survived every election challenge for so long that he ran unopposed most of the time. Jane was a couple of years away from retirement as principle of the East Sykes middle school. Between them, I am sure they knew all of the town’s betrayals and selfless loyalties – all deeds scandalous and laudable – but they kept their own counsel.

 I latched onto Everett as a mentor almost immediately, to help me understand all things West Hepzibah. Margot and I became friends with Everett and Jane. They loved to play cards, and we occasionally went to their big house on Upper Linwood Avenue – they had better hosting facilities than we did at that time – for a few games of pitch. We mixed and matched our playing partners, had great conversations and learned a lot about our new hometown.

 Everett and I would frequently meet at Nelly’s downtown for coffee. I brought up the question of Hepzibah’s whereabouts during one of these breaks. Everett laughed, then said, “Come with me.”

 He led me to his pickup truck outside, and we headed out of town. Up Main Street, left on Linwood Avenue, and then a couple of miles up the hill until Linwood turned into Foster Mountain Road – a two lane black top not particularly distinguishable for anything but a nice view of the Brushy Mountains to the east, and the ramp of the Blue Ridge to the north. In another two miles or so, the blacktop road narrowed. Maintenance was spotty. The shoulders were crumbled and potholes more frequent. We passed several mobile homes. They weren’t arranged in the rows and columns of a conventional trailer park. Many were in small clan-like groupings that suggested family compounds. At some point we passed a sign that marked the entrance to North Carolina Game Lands, and a couple of miles beyond that, we came to a crossroads. Everett turned left onto the gravel road intersection, and parked his truck. “Here we are,” he said.

The remains of an old gas station were on one side of the road. A Sinclair gasoline sign was hanging by one chain and swung in the light breeze. A pump island was still there, but the pumps were gone. Weeds grew up through cracked and broken paved sections around the station, and most of the windows were shattered or missing. The stone foundations of a half dozen other structures clustered around the crossroads. Over one of the larger ones, a lone chimney stood above the remains of whatever it warmed at one time. Cater-cornered from the gas station on the other side of the crossroads was an abandoned church – a framed derelict missing most of the windows and doors and much of the siding. A sign had been spared. It hung on the skeleton of the church next to the front steps. The primitive lettering ‘Hepzibah Baptist Church’ was faint, but still legible.

There were blackened spots dotting the landscape here and there. Some on bare ground; some on whatever paved sections still existed. They looked like the remains of old campfires, with dark ashes, and partially burnt sticks and pieces of scrap lumber. Bottles and cans were strewn everywhere and broken glass littered the area. I looked to Everett for an explanation. He told me the story:

Colonel Jonathan Foster got out of the Confederate Army toward the end of the Civil War. His own little piece of that army had dissolved around him somewhere in Virginia shortly before Appomattox. He and many of his men – yeoman farmers – were reluctant combatants. They knew well what North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance meant when he characterized the conflict as “a rich man’s war, and a poor man’s fight.” Foster headed back to claim the plot of land in the North Carolina mountains that his family had owned for generations. He married Hepzibah Bennett – the daughter of a Charlotte businessman – to help him run it. They raised two sons.

He found a promising seam of granite and used it for the foundation of the large house he built – then decided to make a go of the quarry, and hired workers. He timbered the land and planted tobacco. A settlement grew around him and he opened a small store. A church was built, but the region was sparsely populated, poor, and poorly defined – as were many North Carolina counties at that time. Foster named his little outpost Hepzibah and lobbied for its designation as the county seat of Foster County. The state legislature didn’t grant it.

His enclave gradually disbanded, even as his army of farmers had. The winters were harsh, the tobacco migrated to lower sections of the Piedmont and granite was found in Mount Airy.The road builders preferred the land below and to the west of him. A West Hepzibah began to grow and prosper. His wife, in what might have been a final indignity, moved away from her namesake town to a fine house in West Hepzibah and began efforts to improve the cultural climate there. Foster stubbornly clung to his mountain.

He set out one day to plead his case, yet again, to the legislature. His apparent intention was to ride to Morganton and make his way by rail to Raleigh. His horse returned the next day, but he did not. The remaining settlers, with an occasional reinforcement, clung to the site for a few more years as automobiles improved accessibility, but all eventually moved to more promising locations. The not-quite town became a collection of tumble-downs, furnishing fuel for the campfires of hunters and hikers. Locals scavenged the quarry for their own projects, until even that was too much trouble. Two boys drowned in the water that collected in the bottom of the quarry and a gate was put across the single road leading in. Hepzibah vanished from the maps.

Chuck Thurston


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Author Anne George’s Vulcan

While looking through photos I took a few years ago of Eastern Europe, one in particular reminded me of a very special and favorite writer, Anne George. Anne was also the first writer I ever met and she, upon learning I was interested in becoming a writer myself, was full of enthusiasm and encouragement. I attended many of her book signings and fell in love with her Southern Sisters series of cozy mysteries. People often tended to be discouraging to the fledgling me, but not Anne. She may be a huge reason I am writing this blog today. I listened to her and she inspired me to stick with it until I was published.

Anne George

Anne George






This post is not about me, however. Anne’s Southern Sisters Series is about two sixty-something, totally opposite sisters who live in Birmingham, Alabama. The narrator, Patricia Anne, is petite, both in height and weight and is a retired school teacher who has been happily married to Fred for forty years. She tries to live a Southern Ladylike life, but it’s not easy to be prim and proper with a sister like hers who calls her, “Mouse.”

Mary Alice is five years older and admits to weighing 250 pounds and, as she says, “is five foot twelve inches tall.” She is known as “Sister” and has been married three times to incredibly wealthy and much older men, all of whom left her widowed, and who are all buried together in Elmwood Cemetery. Mary Alice is constantly on the lookout for a good time and invariably this causes trouble for them both—and hilarity for the reader.

Since the sisters live in Birmingham, Alabama, there are sites mentioned in the books that will be familiar to readers who know the city. But, I have spoken to readers who have visited Birmingham just so they could see those sites. One in particular, mentioned several times in various books is seen from Patricia Anne’s kitchen window; the bare backside of the god Vulcan, a towering monument to the iron and steel industry of the area, sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti in 1904. This sculpture is not fiction, it actually exists. The photo below was taken by Kent Russell and is on Flickr.







This brings me back to perusing my Eastern Europe photos. While in Belgrade, Serbia, I took a photo that reminded me immediately of Anne George’s Vulcan. I’m not meaning to make light of either of the monuments, it’s just the similarity is quite arresting. The Victor Monument in the Belgrade Fortress, sculpted by Ivan Mestrovic (1928) was erected to celebrate the breakthrough of the Thessalonica front in WWI. But, the two sculptures resemble one another, and I couldn’t help smiling as I thought of my friend Anne George.

Serbian momument

Serbian momument






The Southern Sisters series consists of eight books. For those of you who have not read them, I heartily encourage you to give them a try. They are delightful. In addition, Anne, a poet of some renown, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for a book of verse titled Some of It Is True. Sadly, she passed away in 2001 and I was never able to thank her for her inspiration and encouragement, but she and her books will live forever in my heart and on my bookshelves, and in many others’ as well.


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Easy Does It

Psychological Concept on the Brick Wall.I’m a simple guy with a simple mind. In fact, if I were able to take a look inside my head, I could count my brain cells on one hand. Of course, if I could figure out how to do that, I’d be smarter than I really am, and the whole exercise would be moot – whatever that means.

Because of my need for straightforward living, I tend to struggle through most novels. It’s not the twisty, complicated plots that lose me. It’s the characters the author has created, or more specifically, the characters’ names.

I’m the kind of reader that actually likes to read each word of a book, savoring the prose while hoping not to miss anything important. Each word has to register in my head before I can move along to the next one. That can create problems for me. Sometimes, while cruising through a page, I’m suddenly forced to hit the brakes and linger over a word. Why? Because the protagonist has come down with a little something Medical doctor stethoscope's listen. Isolated.only their Otolaryngologist can fix. Really? He couldn’t have an ear, nose, and throat doc like the rest of us? The author just stole five seconds of my life, only because he or she wanted me to know there’s such a thing as an Otolaryngologist. I don’t care. I just want my five seconds back.

But my real issue, the one I constantly scuffle with as I read, is the prevalence of curious and unconventional character names. Did you really have to name the next-door neighbor Proleune? Sure, she only pops by once every other chapter or so to borrow a thimble (or OliveOilsoupcon, no doubt) of olive oil, but still. And is anybody alive really named Staczswiyk, or Ishnoued? C’mon, authors of fancy books, what are you thinking? Did you actually know a Staczswiyk? Did you share a cup of tea with Proleune once, and she, or he – who the heck knows – was so damn inspirational they warranted this sort of homage?Morning tea A pleasurable, six hour read just grew into a torturous three weeks of anguish. And it’s only three weeks because I gave up after page fifty. Listen; if I want to read in another language, I will buy a book written in that language. Am I expected to enroll in a ten day Pimsleur Approach course, just to read something written in my native tongue? I’m not even sure how to pronounce Pimsleur, although since it was the butler’s name in a book I read once, I had to make something up for my own sanity’s sake. I think I was calling him Pimmy by chapter two.

I take a different approach to creating character names for my books. I’m not out to impress anyone by inserting the sort of obscure, literary names even Dr. Seuss would pass on, so I make it easy on myself – and my readers. I use pet names.
Portion of Lasagne with Basil





Not the kind of pet names I would call my wife when pleading with her to make her special lasagna. I mean actual pet names. Take for instance Bart Josey, an unpretentious, forthright character from The Knowledge Holder. The Bart I knew in real life was an unpretentious, forthright Springer Spaniel – very sweet, very smart, with a very easy to pronounce moniker. The same goes for Josey, my first cat. Her fur was so soft – just like her name.

See? It’s not really difficult to create a painless character name. And to you writers who have never had a pet, just Google popular boys’ and girls’ names of 1960, say, and pick one of those. Jane, Dick, and Spot never interfered with the story. Nobody ever stumbled over those names. They were simple – like me.


* * *

Harry Margulies is the author of The Knowledge Holder and the to-be-released The Weight of the Moon. When he’s not writing about romance, money, women and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about, he’s frittering his precious time as a cartoonist.


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A part of my history

Recently, I inherited a small family farm originally belonging to my great grandfather. It’s where I grew up…or rather spent my life until I turned eighteen. I didn’t really grow up until I was in my forties. My wife might even suggest the event has yet to happen.
The property has a small creek and several old buildings, in addition to a newer house. The old log barn and the “big house”, part of the original house where my great grandfather and great grandmother raised their family, still stand. Historically, there is nothing particularly noteworthy about these old buildings to anyone outside my family. To me, they represent a large part of my past, of where I came from.
I used some of this history in my novel, Extinction. Jason’s memories of his time spent playing along the little creek came from my memories. Exploring caves, building castles and forts for waging war against unnumbered foes in the hayloft were a part of my childhood and happened in this old hand-hewed log barn. The pond Jason jogged around is the same one where I spent many hours fishing, swimming and skipping rocks. William’s memory in the smoke house was based upon my early childhood memories…including the part about his cutting his finger. As you can tell by reading Extinction, I love this place and have such fond memories of it.
As I look at the old buildings, I don’t see them as they now sit—old run-down shacks that most people would put a match to. I see my memories. My childhood. My history. Five generations growing up surrounded by family and love. I see the sixth generation, still too young to understand the meaning of this place, where they, too, will play in the creek, explore new worlds in the woods and hayloft, fish, swim and skip rocks on the pond.
One of my new building projects is to repair/restore the structural integrity of these bits of family history. In the ‘old house” to bring new life to the tongue and groove board walls, to the pegged window sashes, the wooden floors. To make stable the log walls of the barn. For hay bales to once again fill the loft. For memories to extend to at least one more generation.
I have attached photos of the old buildings. This project is not a project I expect completed quickly. It is a labor of love, of history, with a little bit of insanity thrown in for good measure.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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A disturbing trend

Kim’s Blog
I read something the other day and I was saddened by it. Bullying is not a good thing. As writers we use word to transport our readers to another world, our world, if only for a moment. That is the true quality of writing.
When someone else is hurt by the words we use, that’s not writing that’s bullying. There is a movement everywhere to stop this type of behavior and I think it needs to start with each and every person out there.
Words can break our spirit or build it up. Some people use their words to diminish someone else’s world. They thrive in the drama they create, they get pleasure from breaking someone else’s heart. I think that’s sad. It has to stop. Our children are watching us as they grow up and become adults, everything we do and say is forever recorded by them, teaching them what is accepted behavior and what is not.
Some people don’t know or can’t see what they are doing to others is wrong, but a wrong word here or a dirty look there, still stings. We all act the way we were raised and we react to things the way we were taught. What didn’t seem so bad when we were growing up might be unacceptable today.
What does that mean? When I was growing up my father taught me women didn’t belong in bars, if you were there drinking, you could be considered a bad girl. Men could sit in a bar all day and now one thought any less of them, women on the other hand, could be there with their husbands but never go alone. Now days, you find women going out all the time, it doesn’t mean the same thing it did forty years ago.
I love being a writer and it’s always been my dream to be published. I know that I am not going to please everyone with my words and that’s ok. If you don’t like my work, don’t read it.
Everyone has dreams and hopes, some keep them secret but they are always there in the background, other work for their dreams and make them come true through sheer determination. Never stomp on someone’s dreams, for you will break them and destroy their souls. Stop berating someone else because you think it will be fun. You are a better person than that. When you bully someone else it takes a little bit of your soul too. Not only that but there might be someone else watching you. We need to break the cycle not extend it.
Be kind to each other for everyone needs help once in a while and those that help with no thoughts of reward or acknowledgment are the real heros. It doesn’t take a lot sometimes to make a person smile and often the person in need will appreciate it more than you will ever know.
Encourage a stranger and pay it forward and it will come back to you tenfold. Become someone’s hero.

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Wives are Awesome

Recently, I’ve begun to notice some changes in how men and women view marriage later on in life as opposed to how they viewed it when we were in our twenties. I can recall being fresh out of college, wide eyed and expectantly waiting for the next stage of my life. For me, like most young women, that meant marriage.

I, like many of my friends who were of the female persuasion, spent countless hours pouring over bridal magazines, researching reception sites, wandering through craft stores in an attempt to get some ideas for centerpieces and favors, and even trying on dresses as though we were already engaged. One friend in particular actually purchased a wedding gown before she met the man she was going to marry, so certain was she that the dress she found was “the one.”

Our male counterparts, on the other hand, spent their days avoiding anything at all to do with marriage. In fact, most of them avoided any discussion of marriage as though the mere mention of the word would cause their favorite appendage to fall off. Some of them commonly referred to the institution as antiquated and not for them, even hinting that monogamy went against their most primal urge to repopulate the earth with as many offspring as possible. One more than one occasion, I distinctly heard a young man (who had taken the plunge) refer to his wife as “the old ball and chain.”

What twenty-something man, after hearing that statement, would have any desire to be married?

Then something happens. One by one, these men lose the battle against marriage. One by one, they each walk down the aisle and pledge their love and fidelity to their bride, not knowing what the future will bring, but unwilling to lose the woman walking toward them in the white dress.

Flash forward to twenty years later…

Some of these marriages have remained in tact and some have fallen apart. What I find interesting is that despite the current status of their marriage, when asked if they’d “do it all again,” men and women, generally speaking, have very different responses. More often than not, it is the women who answers with a resounding “NO!” Even “Hell, no!” Whereas the men grin widely, then vehemently and enthusiastically nod their heads in the affirmative.

Ever wonder why that is? Why is it that two people who had pretty much the same experience wind up with such differing opinions as to whether or not they’d do it all again?

Well, you know me. I’ve come up with a theory: WIVES ARE AWESOME!

Mind boggling, huh? But seriously. Wives. Are. Awesome.

Just ask any man who has one or who has had one in the past.

From the moment the vows are said and rings are exchanged, all the little things that they used to worry about, all the details that make a household run, simply…vanish. See, this is what Wife does.

Allow me to explain.

From the moment Husband wakes up in the morning, practically every detail is taken care of for him. He takes a shower. His favorite shampoo is there on the shelf, simply waiting for him to use it. He steps out of the shower and wraps himself in a towel that is clean and fresh. He dresses himself in clothes that have been laundered and pressed for him, then steps into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, which was prepped the night before and set to begin brewing in the morning at just the right time.

Let’s say he goes to the bathroom and then reaches for the toilet paper. It is there on the roll, just waiting for him to use it. Now, of course men can buy the toilet paper but it is the wife who puts in on the roll because – let’s face it – the mechanical aspect of removing the empty roll and replacing with a new one has confused the modern man for YEARS!

But I digress….

Throughout the day, there are countless items that have been prepared by Wife in order to eliminate the need for Husband to have to think about. In some cases, it is so extreme that Husband can simply ask a question about a random item of clothing, pair of shoes, or an odd piece of paper and Wife will respond in kind with the items exact location.

Sure enough, Wife is correct.

I’m not sure why this entire process happens and I won’t even try to explain it. I will, however, tell you that, in my experience, men come to cherish, even rely upon this set up. So much so that after divorcing, it is the Husband who remarries quickly, finding that the marriage he once avoided is something he doesn’t want to live without. It seems Husband has gotten so dependent on the “being taken care of” aspect of marriage that he can’t wait to dive back into the marriage pool.

Women, on the other hand, begin to cherish their independence and fill their minds with the things they didn’t have time to do before because their minds were already full with taking care of their households. Now, often times for the first time ever, Wives find they have time to actually take care of themselves, a foreign concept to most, after having spent years caring for everyone else. Even my own mother has yet to remarry, still relishing her independence and autonomy whereas my father was remarried within a year of divorcing.

Is this a bad thing? Maybe. Maybe not. In my father’s situation, he remarried quickly and is still married to my stepmother, a wonderful woman, to this day. Both of them are quite happy.

What I can tell you is that for every happy ending like my father’s, there are countless other men who have leapt into a second marriage without even considering what went wrong with the first marriage. And this does not bode well for anyone involved.

And take my mother. She is very happy living by herself but for every woman like my mother who is happy being independent, alone but not lonely, there are countless women who find themselves in the same situation but aren’t happy.

So what’s the answer? I’m going to have to stay right in the middle on this one and say that I think it varies for every person. If you were to ask me “Will you ever marry again?” what would I say?

Well, I would ponder the question for a moment, then grin at you and say, “Sure! If I can find myself a wife!”

Donna Small is the author of two novels, Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. Both are available from Second Wind Publishing. She lives in Clemmons, NC with her two daughters where she is at work on her next novel.


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Maybe Tonight (The Pedophile) by Nicole Eva Fraser

maybe tonightIn the fall of 1967, I was in third grade, an eight-year-old towhead with a Dutchboy haircut, a smile jammed with crooked teeth, and family secrets I kept in terror.

Wellesley, Massachusetts was my pastoral playground. Across the road from my house lay the mystical campus of Wellesley College, where Lake Waban was encircled with lonely wooded trails and dotted with wide meadows for running. The campus was also home to the duck pond where my friends and I skated every winter on the bumpy, rutted ice.

My family lived on Cottage Street, which intersected with Washington Street. At the corner of Cottage and Washington lay a thick woods. In those woods, I liked to climb pine trees and play adventure games with my neighborhood friends, or hike by myself listening to the blue jays and the wind in the trees, hoping to spot a deer.

Our house, a dreary three-story Victorian, previously had been inhabited by Miss Pomeroy, an ancient spinster who had died in the very bedroom my parents assigned to me, at the far end of the dark upstairs hall. Although my two older brothers’ assigned bedrooms were on the third floor, up a narrow staircase with a sharp turn at the landing, I knew I wasn’t safe from them, that the distance was just an illusion.

In daylight my room was a haven. Safe behind the closed door, I could read, write letters to my pen pals, and commune with the tall lilac bush just outside the second-floor window by my bed. But in the dark of night, my room was a chamber of panic.

It is no exaggeration that in all my conscious memories of childhood, I never fell asleep without terror. I knew I wasn’t safe from people in my family or from the evil presence lurking in our house that would one night snuff me out. I would lie in bed, my mind and body throbbing with spiraling panic, seemingly for hours—then the next thing I knew, I’d be opening my eyes to another morning.


That fall I was in third grade with Miss Mower, whom I liked but who scared me a little. I didn’t know anyone else like her. No one in my family, certainly, resembled Miss Mower, with her loud laugh, bright pink lipstick, frosted and teased hair, and her white Karmann Ghia.

1967 was “The Impossible Dream” season for the Boston Red Sox, and as the aspiring first girl baseball player, I had grown to love and live and breathe for our players—Jim Lonborg and Sparky “Fire Engine” Lyle, Joe Foy and George Scott, Reggie Smith and Rico Petrocelli, Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski, who won the Triple Crown that year, and “Tony C”—Tony Conigliaro, who got hit in the face with a fastball by Jack Hamilton on August 18th and lost the vision in his left eye, a sickening tragedy I could not bear to talk about.

That September, Miss Mower would wheel one of the Hunnewell School televisions into our classroom, her white stiletto heels click-clacking across the linoleum, so we could watch the Red Sox play afternoon games. Twenty-six of us pushed our desks as close as possible to the TV set, sharing the joys and sorrows of every inning, standing up to stretch at the middle of the seventh. We won the American League pennant but lost the World Series to the Cardinals. And we didn’t know if Tony C was ever coming back.


In October, we had Columbus Day off from school. One of my brothers told me to rake leaves with him. As always, I complied with what he wanted from me.

In this case, we filled the rusted wheelbarrow with autumn leaves and rolled the wheelbarrow down Cottage to the woods at the corner of Washington Street. A split-rail fence bordered the woods to keep cars and people away from the edge, where there was a drop to the forest floor. My brother and I dumped the leaves over the fence, then walked back to rake another load. Cottage Street was narrow and lacked a sidewalk, but it was a quiet national holiday, so we weren’t in danger from the few passing cars.

At some point I felt tired, and asked my brother if I could sit on the fence and wait for him while he went home and filled the next wheelbarrow. I watched him wheel away up the road and disappear up our gravel driveway.

After a long time had passed, it occurred to me that my brother wasn’t coming back—maybe he had gone in the house for a snack and started watching television, or maybe one of his friends had come over. Just at the point when I decided to stop waiting on the fence and walk home, I heard a loud car engine and heard tires squealing and I looked toward Washington Street where a big car was turning the corner and coming toward me at high speed.

The car pulled up in front of me fast and close, boxing me in where I sat on the fence with the woods behind me. My mind went blank. I had no idea what was happening, or what to do.

Then the driver, a man, said something. His passenger window was rolled all the way down. He leaned across the seat and smiled at me, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. He kept talking.

I slid off the fence and stood in the small available patch of dirt and said, “What?” There were no other cars around, no other people. No blue jays cawing from the woods.

“How do I get to Grove Street?” he smiled. “Come here. I can’t hear you.”

He wore a tan hat, not like my father’s hats for the office or church, but like the hats on men I’d seen fishing at Lake Waban. I felt relieved because all he wanted was directions, and getting to Grove Street would be easy.

“Just keep following this road. It will take you to Grove Street. You’ll go over a little bridge over Fuller Brook.”

“How far is it?” he said, still smiling. “Come closer. I can’t hear you.”

I leaned in the passenger window. I thought he had one of his hairy hands in his lap and was making a fist with his thumb sticking up. Then I realized it was his penis, and I saw he wasn’t wearing any pants.

I froze. He said, “Have you ever seen one of these before?”

In fact, I had seen several against my will. “Yes,” I said.

“Whose?” he smiled, leaning closer to me. He had yellow teeth and his eyes bulged. He looked scary with the tan hat pulled down on his head.

“Um,” I said, “Grove Street is that way,” and he grabbed one of my arms and jerked it hard and pulled and kept pulling and it hurt my arm and I could feel his fingers twisting my arm through my jacket and he was trying to pull me into his car through the passenger window and I was thrashing and kicking and trying to get away. Somehow I thought of my brother and the wheelbarrow and I twisted my head around, looking for him—and up the road, too far away to save me, I could see my mother standing at the end of the driveway, just standing there, looking in my direction.

I cried, “My mother doesn’t like me talking to strangers!” and the man pushed me away so hard that I fell backwards into the fence, and a cloud of dirt and pebbles hit me as his car raced away from me and past my mother in the direction of Grove Street.

My mother did not run to me, and I did not run to her. She stood in place waiting as I trudged up Cottage Street toward our driveway. I got closer and saw she looked very angry.

“What did that man want?” she shouted. “What were you doing with him?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?”

“He wanted directions to Grove Street.”

“Is that all he wanted? Directions to Grove Street?”

“Yes,” I said, toeing the gravel. I went inside and upstairs to my room, the room I shared with dead Miss Pomeroy. I didn’t want to tell my mother what had happened, because I believed it was all my fault, like so many other things were my fault.

I had accepted that people in my own family liked to hurt me, but the child molester was a stranger. I couldn’t understand why he would do what he did. But I did understand that he would have killed me. And I worried he might find me again.

I didn’t expect comfort from my mother, and she didn’t provide any, nor did she mention the incident that night or the next day. I figured she had forgotten about it. And I told no one else what had happened to me; it was too terrifying, and somehow my fault, and I was afraid my friends wouldn’t want to be my friends if they knew.


Walking to school—formerly among my happiest activities—became hellish when I was alone. The deserted back way was quiet but loomed with deadly horrors, and I was sure murderers were hiding everywhere. The town way was busy but not at all safe—streaming as it was with moving cars, any one of which could contain the child molester or someone else like him. If I couldn’t find a friend to walk with, I ran the whole mile to school or home, my sides cramping and blood pounding in my ears.

One afternoon soon after Columbus Day, I ran panting up our gravel driveway after school and was surprised to see my mother standing outside wearing her navy blue church coat and carrying her purse.

“Come with me,” she said. I followed her into our station wagon, still catching my breath.

My mother turned the car onto Washington Street in the direction of town. “We’re going to the police station,” she announced. “They caught the man who tried to get you. I wrote down his license number that day and called the police. You’re going to identify him.”

I felt like the world was going dark, like I was going to vomit, like I was sinking into the darkness and never coming back. “No,” I said, “I don’t want to,” but I didn’t cry because I knew that wouldn’t change her mind.

My mother drove on, past the Wellesley Supermarket and the Wellesley Inn and the jeweler’s and other shops, heading for the police station.

Inside, the Wellesley police station wasn’t bright and friendly like the Mayberry sheriff’s office on Andy Griffith; it was dim and cold. My mother and I were greeted by an officer so enormous he appeared to me to be a giant. He wore a dark blue hat twice as big as his head. A gun in a black holster and a wooden club hung from his belt. He took my mother and me to a window and brought me a stepstool.

“It’s a one-way mirror,” the policeman said. “You can see him, but he can’t see you. Is that the man?”

It was the man, this time without his hat. He had a crew cut like the sergeant on Gomer Pyle. It was him but I was eight and could not believe he couldn’t see me through that window. He was looking right at me with his bulging eyes. Even worse, he was sitting at a big table with a few other policemen and they were all smoking cigarettes and laughing together. The man kept looking up at me through the window.

“I’m not sure,” I said.

“You need to tell us if it’s him,” said the giant policeman. “If it’s him and you don’t tell us, we’ll have to let him go, and he’ll do the same thing to another little girl—maybe worse. Maybe she won’t be able to get away.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the window, the man and the other policemen laughed and smoked and leaned back in their chairs, and the man looked up at me again.

“I’m not sure,” I repeated. “I’m not sure.”

The policeman and my mother got very upset with me for not being sure. My mother cried, which I had never seen her do in public; I was embarrassed for her and felt sick to my stomach; I wished the darkness in my head would swallow me.

The officer kept asking me if I wanted the man to do this to another little girl. He looked furious when we left, his face very red and very high above mine. I turned back and saw him standing on the steps outside the police station, his gigantic hat in his hands. My mother’s crying switched to anger when we got in the car. “After everything I did to catch him!” she yelled.

That night I lay in bed, in my room with dead Miss Pomeroy, cold and nervous under the covers, my thoughts spinning in a terrifying loop:

If I had told the police that yes, it was the man, he would have gone to jail right away, but when he got out of jail, he would have found me and killed me.

But since I told them I wasn’t sure, they had already let the man go, and he was going to find me and kill me as soon as he could.

He knows where I live because he saw my mother. He will climb in my window and hurt me and kill me. Maybe tonight.

As usual, I didn’t call out for my parents to help me; I knew my mother wouldn’t come at all, my father would come too willingly, and my brothers would know I was scared, wait till the house was silent again, and make their moves. Instead I did the smart thing, the self-preserving thing: I lay in the dark like a corpse and panicked till I fell asleep.


Click here for a Google Map view of where this happened.
Click here for my YouTube video on the ways Peace Through Fiction helped me write about the trauma.

 Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of The Hardest Thing in This World, released by Second Wind Publishing in October 2013.


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