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Striking Distance

July 30, 2022 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic tagged as , ,
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Photo by Sagar Kulkarni on Unsplash

It’s about noon, my eleventh day on the trail. My feet hurt, and the blisters have begot more blisters. So much for the overpriced, cushioned socks I thought I had to have. I’m tempted to walk barefoot, but that would last maybe a quarter mile and then I’d have to put these blasted boots on again. 

I’m tired of the crowds. I stopped counting this morning after logging twenty other hikers. The one person I wish was here can’t be—ever again. Josh would have found a way to love this. Yet his absence is the reason I’m hiking, to prove that I can make it solo from here on out.

Actually, I’m not positive it’s noon. I’m not wearing a watch and my phone is turned off—I’m doing the back-to-nature thing. But it’s July, and the sun is overhead. And I’m hungry—although I seem to be perpetually hungry on this trek. It’s an emptiness I just can’t fill.

Ahead lies a boulder field. Whoever said the AT was a walk in the woods was lying. At least in Pennsylvania, it’s loaded with rocks. Behind me, before me, I’m alone with the boulders, not a soul around for once, and I see a snake. Timber rattler; I’ve done my research. It’s coiled in a pocket of rock. I look at it, and it looks at me. I am about 1,500 feet up the mountain—glorious view if I wasn’t so frozen with fear. 

Don’t look down, the snake says. 

I’m not imagining this, as ridiculous as it seems. The snake spoke to me. Not out loud; in my head. And sarcastically.

“I’m not afraid of heights,” I shoot back. “But I am terrified of you.”

Its unblinking eyes hold me. Don’t rattle me, and I’ll leave you alone.

Who knew snakes were comedians? But, I think, you don’t know why I’m panicked. 

When I was growing up, a boy named Robert lived next door. One day, with a crazy giggle, he threw a milk snake around my neck. I was nine, and he was the bully of the block. That innocent, orange-and-white snake gave me nightmares for months afterward. 

And each old Western I watched where a character dies from snakebite increased my ophidiophobia. I am deathly afraid of any snake. And this one is a pit viper.

If I could persuade my feet to move, I would backpedal my way back down the mountain. But minutes tick past. Sweat dampens my shirt and drips from my forehead. 

If only I were Harry Potter, I think. He was most unafraid of snakes, even giant basilisks. 

What would Josh do? The snake’s tongue flickers.

“Leave Josh out of this,” I shout. My eyes smart, but I will not cry in front of a smart-ass snake. 

Still, part of me calls out to my partner. His ashes are scattered to the winds, but I want desperately to believe that I still have his ear—wherever cosmically it now is. So, I think, what would Josh have counseled?

Wait out the snake. The answer seems to rise on the breeze. He’s right: I’m not in any hurry, no deadline to meet, and the valley below is breathtaking. 

And so I sit on a chunk of granite overlooking a leafy wilderness in the Poconos. I focus on the scent of pine and the kettle of vultures spiraling in an afternoon thermal, and I feel myself relax. 

It may be five minutes or fifteen when I glance back to the rattler.

You’re tougher than you look. The snake uncoils and slips out of its rocky hollow. The trail’s all yours. It vanishes into another crevice.

Hoisting my pack, I set off once again over the rocks. But my feet hurt a bit less and there is a spring in my step.

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Linda O. Johnston Featured Author of the Month

July 28, 2022 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , , ,

Linda O. Johnston enjoys writing, romance, puzzles, and dogs.

A former lawyer, Linda is now a full-time writer and has published 57 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. She has written several cozy mystery series including the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. She also writes romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Writing as Lark O. Jensen, her latest release is Bear Witness from Crooked Lane Books. No matter what name she uses, nearly all Linda’s current stories involve dogs!

In addition to blogging for A Slice of Orange on the 6th of every month, Linda blogs at Killer HobbiesKiller Characters, and Writerspace. Linda was interviewed by Jann Ryan, you can read all about it in Linda O. Johnston—Mysteries, Romantic Suspense and So Much More!

Linda enjoys hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.LindaOJohnston.com or friend her on Facebook.


A Few of Linda’s Many Books

BAD TO THE BONE

Buy now!
BAD TO THE BONE

BEAGLEMANIA

Buy now!
BEAGLEMANIA

BEAR WITNESS

Buy now!
BEAR WITNESS
COLTON 911: CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE
COLTON FIRST RESPONDER (The Coltons of Mustang Valley)

COVERT ALLIANCE

Buy now!
COVERT ALLIANCE

FOR A GOOD PAWS

Buy now!
FOR A GOOD PAWS

GUARDIAN K-9 ON CALL

Buy now!
GUARDIAN K-9 ON CALL

HER UNDERCOVER REFUGE

Buy now!
HER UNDERCOVER REFUGE

HOUNDS ABOUND

Buy now!
HOUNDS ABOUND

PICK AND CHEWS

Buy now!
PICK AND CHEWS

PROTECTOR WOLF

Buy now!
PROTECTOR WOLF

SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER

Buy now!
SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER

THE MORE THE TERRIER

Buy now!
THE MORE THE TERRIER

TO CATCH A TREAT

Buy now!
TO CATCH A TREAT

TRAINED TO PROTECT

Buy now!
TRAINED TO PROTECT
UNDERCOVERING COLTON’S FAMILY SECRETS

UNLUCKY CHARMS

Buy now!
UNLUCKY CHARMS

VISIONARY WOLF (Alpha Force)

Buy now!
VISIONARY WOLF (Alpha Force)

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Choreographer

July 26, 2022 by in category Poet's Day by Neetu Malik tagged as , , ,

Choreographer

She plays with shadows
twirling them with her fingers
making shapes she doesn’t
understand       though
they are
but shadows, they dance–
she is too rapt in 
their movements to realize
the choreography is in
her hands.

© Neetu Malik


Some of Neetu’s Books

THE OCOTILLO REVIEW SUMMER 2018 VOL 2.2

THE POETIC BOND V

Buy now!
THE POETIC BOND V

THE POETIC BOND VI

Buy now!
THE POETIC BOND VI

THE POETIC BOND X

Buy now!
THE POETIC BOND X

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The Eviction of Figures of Speech

July 22, 2022 by in category Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , ,

The current trend in writing is to tread carefully when using figurative language because descriptions may be offensive, such as comparing people with foods. So, even though my complexion is cappuccino and my eyes are almond-shaped, I’m not allowed to say that; even about my own self. It’s considered feeding a stereotype. In the Caribbean, we often made jokes by claiming, “I’m not really brown, I just stayed in the sun too long.”  Or, “My hair’s not really kinky, it’s the humidity.”

From time immemorial, (I’m not really saying that time is old. Experienced perhaps?), people have been all colors, shapes, and sizes. Writers, artists and photographers capture what they see. Okay, maybe some artists were punished if the sovereign didn’t like how they were depicted, but a photo doesn’t lie. Yeah, that’s really you. Though nowadays you can doctor it up in photoshop.

It would seem that one may no longer describe characters as ‘cute as a button,’ ‘cool as a cucumber,’ ‘mean as a junkyard dog,’ ‘thick as thieves’, or ‘slow as molasses.’

Although, I don’t think the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz would be offended if I called him a stuffed shirt ‘cause he was. And Jacob Marley will forever remain ‘as dead as a doornail.’

When we order coffee, do we no longer ask for a ‘short’ or ‘tall’?

The characters writers create are fictional. Figurative Language: metaphors, similes and personification, show the reader how the character perceives themselves and/or how they are perceived by others. All of which help the reader to understand the conflicts and motivations in their lives that cause them to act as they do. Descriptive language is also the artistic palette that allows readers to see the characters.

Mirror, mirror on the wall. We are who we are. When did we become so sensitive and easily offended?

In our overzealousness to be politically and diversely correct, we risk creating flat, unrealistic and unbelievable characters that by page five are dead on arrival.

Sometimes I wonder who is this collective that wants to do away with metaphors, similes and personification? As in the Wizard of Oz, I would like to draw back the curtain to reveal the ‘all-powerful’ entity controlling the literary world.

I don’t care what anyone says, the truth is the truth. My grandfather was black as tar, my father thin as six o’clock, my best-friend cackled like a chicken, my aunt nattered like a monkey, my uncle snored like a chainsaw.

And the world really is round, no matter how flat ‘they’ think it is.

See you next time on August 22nd!

Veronica Jorge

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Linda O. Johnston Featured Author of the Month

July 21, 2022 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , , ,

Linda O. Johnston enjoys writing, romance, puzzles, and dogs.

A former lawyer, Linda is now a full-time writer and has published 57 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. She has written several cozy mystery series including the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. She also writes romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Writing as Lark O. Jensen, her latest release is Bear Witness from Crooked Lane Books. No matter what name she uses, nearly all Linda’s current stories involve dogs!

In addition to blogging for A Slice of Orange on the 6th of every month, Linda blogs at Killer HobbiesKiller Characters, and Writerspace. Linda was interviewed by Jann Ryan, you can read all about it in Linda O. Johnston—Mysteries, Romantic Suspense and So Much More!

Linda enjoys hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.LindaOJohnston.com or friend her on Facebook.


A Few of Linda’s Many Books

BAD TO THE BONE

Buy now!
BAD TO THE BONE

BEAGLEMANIA

Buy now!
BEAGLEMANIA

BEAR WITNESS

Buy now!
BEAR WITNESS
COLTON 911: CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE
COLTON FIRST RESPONDER (The Coltons of Mustang Valley)

COVERT ALLIANCE

Buy now!
COVERT ALLIANCE

FOR A GOOD PAWS

Buy now!
FOR A GOOD PAWS

GUARDIAN K-9 ON CALL

Buy now!
GUARDIAN K-9 ON CALL

HER UNDERCOVER REFUGE

Buy now!
HER UNDERCOVER REFUGE

HOUNDS ABOUND

Buy now!
HOUNDS ABOUND

PICK AND CHEWS

Buy now!
PICK AND CHEWS

PROTECTOR WOLF

Buy now!
PROTECTOR WOLF

SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER

Buy now!
SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER

THE MORE THE TERRIER

Buy now!
THE MORE THE TERRIER

TO CATCH A TREAT

Buy now!
TO CATCH A TREAT

TRAINED TO PROTECT

Buy now!
TRAINED TO PROTECT
UNDERCOVERING COLTON’S FAMILY SECRETS

UNLUCKY CHARMS

Buy now!
UNLUCKY CHARMS

VISIONARY WOLF (Alpha Force)

Buy now!
VISIONARY WOLF (Alpha Force)

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