Monday, April 16, 2018

WEP - The Road Less Traveled


Gran lived at the end of Wildwood Holler in rural West Virginia, on a road that cheered the heart with its pure beauty. Gran was a sweet giving woman, and most of the residents in the area called her “Doc” because of her knowledge of herbal healing remedies. Others called her a sorceress.

Gran was amused by the talk of black magic. The rumors had started after my grandfather died. He had a bad heart, but most of his family blamed Gran, claiming she’d bewitched him.

In his memory Gran only wore black. On her excursions to town for supplies, she’d wear her best black cloak and hat, adding to the mystique. Folks would cross the street to avoid eye contact and, in the lines at the grocery store, they’d back away so she could go first.

The fear of her powers grew after three hoodlums decided they’d pay the witch doctor a visit.

Her log cabin sat at the end of the holler, on a small rise, and her front windows, oval in shape, gave the appearance of glaring orbs. She lived alone and appreciated the view of approaching visitors.

On a windy October day, Gran saw three youngsters and knew they were up to no good. Two of the boys stayed behind, but the third marched to her front door. He knocked but jumped in surprise when she opened it.

“Well, young man?”

“My mum, she’s got a bad headache. She sent me for help.”

“Of course. Tell me about her pain.”

The boy shrugged. “She hurts. She’s gone to her bed.”

“I see,” Gran told him. “Give me a minute.

Gran doubted his need for the remedy, but she couldn’t turn him away. And a headache remedy was simple.

“This is willow bark tea, just brew some for her. She should start feeling better soon.”

“That’s it, tea?” the boy said.

“It has healing properties, I promise.”

He threw a nickel at her and raced back to the others. “Tea, she gave me tea.”

“Let’s test it. See if it works.”

“Don’t we need someone with a headache?”

“It’s either tea or a magic potion. Let’s see what it does to Carol. She’s stupid enough to drink it.”


The boys hurried home and mixed the remedy into Dirk’s sister's usual tea mixture. She drank, but nothing happened. The fact alone pissed them off. “We need to go back. We need proof she’s a witch. Only this time we won’t knock on the door. Jay, draw us a picture of the inside of her place. We’ll go at midnight.”

“But what if she catches us? Turns us into toads?”

“We’ll be real quiet. Dress in black and remove our shoes. She won’t know we’re there. We just have to listen for her snoring. My grandma snores like a freight train, that’s why mom put her bed out on the porch. Once we’re sure the witch is asleep, we’ll find the proof. Make sure your flashlights have new batteries.”

For the next several days and nights it rained. So much so that the boys delayed their adventure until the sun came back out and dried the muddy roads. Halloween night the moon was high, the air cold, and the atmosphere electric. Bravado built up over the week due to the severe weather didn’t fade even though the boys were planning their visit on the spookiest night of the year.

“Maybe we should wait. If she’s a witch, her powers will be at their highest. Won’t they?” Jay asked.

“We’ll get there after midnight. It’ll be the First, and by then her powers will be all used up. It’s perfect,” Joey, the ordinarily quiet of the three assured them.

The boys were so sure of their plan they went straight to the cabin. Tiptoeing up the steps, they opened the door. It screeched against the intrusion. A sound that seemed to form the words, “get out”. The noise had the boys standing perfectly still. Waiting, each drew a deep breath, but Dirk found his courage and motioned. They followed his lead and stepped inside. The room was pitch black. Each of them tried their flashlight. None worked, despite the new batteries.

Dirk immediately lit a match. “Do you see a candle or a kerosene lamp anywhere?” he whispered

As they gazed around the room, a noise quickened their hearts. Suddenly a flash of light caught their attention, and all three of them stared with mouths open.

Gran had suddenly appeared at the door of her bedroom. A green light highlighted her face, and a well-practiced cackle escaped her throat.

The boys took off. Screams, high pitched and full of fear trailed after them. Gran turned off her flashlight, put her emerald green glass coaster on the table and laughed until she cried.

“Happy Halloween, boys.”


I wish that were the end of my story, but those boys got the townspeople all riled up with stories of a magic potion that almost killed their sister. While some called the boy's story hogwash. Others said that it proved evil lived at the end of Wildwood Holler.

Two weeks after Halloween several men visited Gran. Only they didn’t knock on the door. They threw burning torches through her windows. As the cabin burned to the ground, green flames and a horrifying scream chased the true evil back to town. Grown men crying like babies stumbled over each other on the sprint back. The leader of the group was found dead in his bed the next day. They say that terror was still visible on his countenance.

Gran’s body was never found, but now Wildwood Holler is known as Witchwood Holler. A haunted place where floating green lights, the disturbing sound of crazed laughter, and the failure of anything electric to work, continues to scare off the heartiest of the ghost hunters.

980 words / FCA
Yolanda Renee © 2018

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Explosive Beginnings

I am thrilled to announce that Susan Flett-Swiderski’s latest book EXPLOSIVE BEGINNINGS is now available for PRE-ORDER!

It will be released on April 30th!

I was privileged to receive an advanced review copy, and I’m excited not only to announce the good news but to post a review.

Maybe this time will be different.

Terrible things happen to the people he cares about the most, so it’s safer for Archie Jaworski to simply stop caring. He doesn’t give a flying fandango what anybody says about him, keeps every relationship shallow, and does unto others before they can do unto him.

And then, shortly before he leaves the Army, he spots a pretty widow and her two kids, and all bets are off.

His war hero uncle says he’s not good enough for that perfect little lady, but Archie’s determined to prove him wrong. No matter how many threats his uncle and his fellow officers make to scare him away from their buddy’s widow, and no matter what it takes, he’s determined to meet that family and to seduce that skirt.

What’s more, if she’s a decent cook, he might even marry her.

Archie plans his courtship to the smallest detail, but the one thing he forgets to do is keep his feelings under wraps. He doesn’t mean to care about them, but the allure of finally being part of something normal, something good, is more than he can resist.

Maybe this time, no one has to die.

Explosive Beginnings is a thrilling roller coaster ride through the 1950s, featuring surprising twists and a shocking finish I didn't see coming. Gripping!!!"
Robynne Rand, author of THE MECHANIC NEXT DOOR


Archie Jaworski is not the most likable guy, but he’s had a hard life and he/s taken on the blame for too much pain. He’s surly, and combative and apologizes for neither.

Life continues to conspire against him until he sees Madeline Quinn, then everything changes. Even Archie.
Archie is on a mission, and maybe even falling in love. It doesn’t matter that she has two kids, it doesn’t matter that he’s been warned off. He knows what he wants, and no one is going to tell him he can’t have it.
        But will a real family make Archie whole? The book is called Explosive Beginnings for a reason. Has Archie’s bitten off more than he can chew? I won’t spoil the surprise. I’ll just say that Susan is the one author who can tell it just like it was. She’s an expert storyteller, flawless novelist, and master of the surprise ending.
        Although this is the first book in the Blast Rites Series, it is a stand-alone with a beginning, middle, and very explosive end!
        I highly recommend Explosive Beginnings.

About Susan:
Susan Flett Swiderski grew up in Dundalk, Maryland, where everybody calls everybody "hon"- fishing and crabbing is a way of life, and eating steamed crabs is practically a sacrament. Although she loves her home in Georgia, a part of her heart will always linger beside the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The rest of it enjoys life with her husband and love of her life (Luckily for her, they're the same person.) and their two spoiled cats Dot and Dash. Strange names, perhaps, but not for a couple of amateur radio operators. Susan and her husband that is. Not the cats.

Susan is also the author of Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade and has a short story in the anthology Old Broads Waxing Poetic. She’s also an expert at blogging, and you can find her thoughtful prose at I Think: Therefore I Yam


Friday, April 6, 2018

The WEP Team & Our A to Z Contribution

I’m not participating in the A to Z this year there’s just too much going on right now, but as a participant of the WEP I, along with the rest of the team was honored to be asked for a contribution.

J Lenni Dorner offered the team of the  WEP (Write…Edit…Publish) the April 7, or “G” day on the official A to Z site. We choose the term Genre.

The WEP team currently consists of four writers – Denise Covey, Olga Godim, Nilanjana Bose  and me! I hope you’ll check out our post and help us spread the word about the A to Z and the WEP!

The inspiration for today’s collaborative post, is an amazing picture taken by  Celia Reaves  Thanks, Celia, for permission to use the image.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IWSG - Struggles

April's Question - When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
My first go to option is to read. It usually always inspires me, but there have been a few too many rainy days, and recently I’ve really had to fight the urge to just walk away. Saying the hell with it all, pursuing another outlet sounds exciting, but I’ve no other talent. Although, there’s always abstract art, would have to be abstract because I can’t draw a straight line. Or music maybe I could take up the guitar again or the drums. I’m sure the neighbors would appreciate that. 😊 At least that’s what I tell myself.
Life does get in the way, health and family issues, and significant changes always take precedence, and all of it influences my writing in one way or another.

I’ve also found that participating in the WEP challenges gives me a deadline to work towards. Deadlines always help push me forward. And if all I’m writing is flash fiction for a while, then at least I’m still in the game.

Currently, I’m trying to get three different projects to the finish line. A short story, a novella, and a novel. All of them are related to my original Detective Quaid Series, and, I’ve been struggling, but hey, it’s a good struggle.

It's time for another WEP Challenge.
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