Book Reviews

Queen Mary’s Daughter

Queen Mary’s Daughter by Emily-Jane Hills Orford  Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s new novel, “Queen Mary’s Daughter” is a highly original, fast-paced, skillfully written alternate history set in the sixteenth, seventeenth and twenty-first centuries. The central character, a young Canadian editor named Mary Elizabeth, journeys to Kinross, home of Loch Leven Castle, to trace her roots. Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ accidental death, she has grown up on stories about Scotland, and is fulfilling her grandma’s last wish in making this journey.    The first hint of time travel in “Queen Mary’s Daughter” occurs when Mary Elizabeth feels strangely drawn toward the loch. Just as someone is pulling her back to dry land, she hears, from far away and from within herself, a scream. Then she blacks out. A scream occurs in the next chapter, which flashes back to Loch Leven Castle in 1567 where a woman has just given birth to twins. When one…


The Way Through

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. The Way Through By Rebecca Olivia Jones Fears change over the years Never being good enough The youthful drive for perfection   The impossible   Competition and proving myself The best daughter The best dancer The best singer The best at all attempts   Not possible   Time has mellowed anxieties into a soft pillow of joy Fear now is the walk toward unknowing A loss of self The fading memories of life’s struggles   I witnessed Mother’s decline into helplessness The night wanderings The frightening hallucinations Her ultimate vanishing   Will I vanish, too?   The slow breaking of synapses Unable to make decisions Thoughts like ghosts The fear of losing control over choices Existing in a continuum of uselessness   I also watched my father’s vanishing But he held on Giving until his music…


The Smell of Old Leather, the Scent of Cigars

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. The Smell of Old Leather, the Scent of Cigars Karen FitzGerald Every so often Georgia would pull out that tin cigar box her Gramps gave her some 75 years ago. Imagine—75 years she’d been hauling that old tin box around, moving it from the family homestead to her college dorm, to that sweet pensione in Italy in her 20’s, to the little garden apartment when she and Gitulio married. Good gosh! And how many other moves in her 85 years had there been? But, here she was, in Happy Valley Seniors’ Residence with her tin box from Gramps, about to open it for possibly the last time in her life; open it to retrieve the cherished item inside —her very first diary. Her arthritic hands wrestled with the lid of the container while a thought crossed her…


Just Looking

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. Just Looking By Ken Delpit What’s in a look? Quite a lot, actually. Consider looks in their simple verb forms, for instance. The meanings range from imperatives to advisories to admonitions to out-and-out warnings. Look away. Look up. Look over there. Look down. Look around. Now, look here! Look sharp! Look out! Look at you! Or, consider the noun forms. As with its cousin verb forms, noun looks span a range of meanings, from complimentary to critical to probing to mysterious. Let’s take a quick look. That is a bad look for him. They kind of gave me a funny look. We need to take a deep look. Now, that is a good look for you. I was left speechless when she gave me that look. Or, consider “ing” forms to describe appearances and states, from…

Places to submit


CAGIBI is versatile in its purpose and mission to readers and writers. The journal centers on literature in which character conflict, ultimately story, is tied to place.  Nicole R. Zimmerman succeeded with what CAGIBI looks for in a story. Read “Autumn Inferno” by Nicole R. Zimmerman, an example of exceptional, extraordinary writing, an unforgettable story told in an illuminating format. Cagibi, qu’est ce que c’est? What is a cagibi? American phonetic transcription: /kä’jēbē/ A cagibi, from the spoken French, is versatile in its purpose: it may be a shed, a cubbyhole, a cupboard. It is a space to store tools or personal items for safekeeping: shovels, love letters, suitcases, pails, heirlooms, tchotchkes. It is a space too low for grown-ups but perfect for children to hide and play. It is that snug space under the stairs just large enough to fit a small writing desk. It is a space that isn’t quite a room, usually windowless, but also door-less, a space…


Choose a scene . . . Prompt 607

Choose a scene and write. Scene 1 You are sitting at your kitchen table. The morning sun lights up the room. You wrap your hands around a mug of warm, steaming, fragrant [type of drink]. What are you daydreaming about? Scene 2 You are sitting on a porch, looking out at [wherever you are]. A movement catches your eye, reminding you of . . . Scene 3 You and (name of dinner partner) are enjoying dessert. You are surprised by . . . Scene 4 There you are, in the middle of [something]. What are you thinking about? #amwriting #justwrite #creativewriting


Ekphrasis . . . Prompt #606

Ekphrasis: Art describing other art. Created by the Greeks, the goal of this literary form is to create a word-painting, so the reader can envision the item described as if it were physically present. Write whatever the image conjures up. You can see ekphrasis art at the Artists’ Co-op of Mendocino, a collaboration between writers and visual artists where writing is paired with visual arts. Writing was nspired by art as well as art that inspired writing:  2021 Ekphrasis X Exhibition. #just write #amwriting #ekphrasis


Weave narrative, dialogue, and action . . . Prompt #605

Have you read something that feels “off?” Or been bored with the sluggish, plodding plot? Do you wonder why the novel isn’t moving along? It could be the lack of balance between narration, dialogue, and action. As a writer you want to keep your story moving and engaging. Weaving “We want to balance our scenes using three elements of fiction: dialogue, action and narrative. This is one reason you want to put your character in a scene with other characters as often as possible: Scenes that weave together these three elements engage the reader at an emotional level much more effectively than scenes that are only dialogue, only narrative or only action.” —Gloria Kempton One at a time Sometimes you want to focus on one aspect. Use dialogue, for example, to show a character’s personality and motives. “If you want to highlight a particular character trait in your viewpoint character…