â€œIt follows that they never understood Reginald, who came down late to breakfast, and nibbled toast, and said disrespectful things about the universe. The family ate porridge, and believed in everything, even the weather forecast.â€? Issue 5 Edition 1 May 2020
CQ Magazine says, "Dark Words is the literary equivalent of listening to Leonard Cohen, wonderfully soothing for the soul." Paperback UK https://amzn.to/34KtOYk International https://mybook.to/DarkWords
I N THIS EDITION Neologisms Page 7 - An article on Words Restitution Page 11 - A short story from Vanessa Thibeault Caleb Compton Page 15 - Author Interview
Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 Page 19 - Literary competition Using books Page 21 - Lifestyle feature Rika Inami Page 27 - Poetess Our Cover Story Page 29 - Author Feature
Electric Press History Page 35 - Editorial Article Dogs Without a Home Page 39 - Lifestyle article by Rick Step-Bolling Isandraâ€™s Purchase Page 43 - A short story from Nolan Locke The Flower Eating Woman & Me Page 50 - A short story from Bob Van Laerhoven Colours and Emotions Page 55 - Design article by Valentina Cirasola Book me a drink Page 59 - Editorial feature Not Even You Page 63 - A short story from J W Goodwin Two authors, two books, one reason Page 68â€” Dual author interview Talking Books Page 75 - life article by Karen J Mossman Contribute Page 82 - Invitation to submit to Electric Press
Three anthologies from Electric Eclectic authors
If horror, crime, paranormal, sci fi and thriller, are among the genres you enjoy, you will love these books. Here are some quotes from the stories within: 'I don't believe in magic, but I do believe in strange occurrences.' Reflections by Rick Stepp-Bolling. 'Lucifer was busy brushing down non-existent dust from the legs of his trousers.' Eviction Notice by Michael J. Elliott 'Who would volunteer their face for a scientific experiment? ' Butterfly Effect by Karina Kantas. 'I sensed something not right with him. He was too friendly for a stranger.' The Man with a Flask by Karen J. Mossman. 'Carefully withdrawing the 9mm SIG-Sauer P228, he grabbed a box of ammunition.' R.I.P. Michael Robbins by Elizabeth Horton Newton.
Mayfly Recitals 10 stories https://amzn.to/3bwmLVU Butterfly bats 6 stories https://amzn.to/3bwoGts Moth Balls 5 stories https://amzn.to/2yEESKw
Sample these â€˜tasterâ€™ stories for just .99p
Since the February edition of Electric Press - Literary Insights, 2020 has presented us with an extraordinary series of events, many which have yet to play out. A great proportion of the world's population are in or have been… according to when you read this, either self-isolation or a kind of flexible 'lockdown'. The message from many governments during this period is, 'Stay at Home'. Whilst the world comes to terms learning how to live our daily lives under restrictions and shortages, I hear peoples saying, "When this is over" and "When things get back to normal". I do think life will return to 'how it was before'. It never does after a major crisis, there are always lasting consequences which affect the way our future lives will play out. I see no reason this event will be any different. One benefit of stay-at-home is, we can all catch up on those jobs and tasks we have put off for too long. Now is the time to stop procrastinating and turn out the shed, the loft, the junk cupboard, deep clean the house and tidy the garden… especially when the sun is shining. Of course, not all our time should be spent grafting. We must take 'me time' and find periods to relax and unwind. This is where Electric Press – Literary Insights come into your life. Simply browse through the pages, we have a plethora of wonderful articles, short stories, author interviews and features for you to enjoy. What's more, you do not need to read the whole magazine in one sitting, feel free to pick up where you left off after your last break. Interspersed throughout Electric Press you will find a whole host of book and suggestions for your reading pleasure, all with direct links to make it easy to download or order online, knowing your choice will be delivered safely to your door without the need for you to risk your health wandering the stores. Enjoy this May edition of Electric Press and keep safe and well.
Paul White, Editor, Electric Press.
Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities.
N E O LO G I SM S OR
NOTES ON THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE OR
CURRENT SOCIAL WRITING TRENDS IN CONNECTION TO TECH DEVICES & THE INTERNET. Language pedants have long bemoaned the rapid changes in English since the advent of the internet. 'Internet People' not only enjoy online neologisms but are also often involved in their creation.
appear in dictionaries, not yet, at least, and are often the result of combining words cleverly and practically (such as the widely used brunch, Oxbridge, sitcom and email).
As a global language, English is evolving notoriously fast as well as being adapted to the needs of the changing world. New
This phenomenon has a proper name:
words, 'neologisms', come from every domain and aspect of life and here relies the importance of tracking them. Language and academic institutions, scholars, translators, terminologists are constantly keeping up with them, it is not difficult to find good resources plenty of useful information and fresh words. The word neologism was itself a brandnew coinage at the beginning of the 19th century when English speakers first borrowed it from the French nĂ¨ologisme. Its roots, however, are quite old. Ultimately, 'neologism' comes from Greek neos (meaning 'new') and 'logos' (meaning 'word'). Focusing on the important role the Internet plays in everyoneâ€™s life, we find many curious and useful words do not
which is a
linguistic blend occurring when the sounds, spellings and meanings of two words are combined to create a new one. In an era where we are often reading on small phone screens, writing concisely is more important than ever before. And yet, we seem concerned about sounding abrupt when trying to use our words sparingly. Striking the right emotional note has always been a part of great writing. With the explosion of long-form Instagram captions, direct messages and tweet threads, considering the emotional response your writing might evoke is more important than ever.
lists some current
examples of the most particular, handy, clever and funny words we think are worth adding to your personal lexicon.
Beerboarding A controversial process of extracting otherwise-secret information from a friend or co-worker by getting them drunk. Chairdrobe The art of piling clothes on a chair to be used in place of a closet or dresser. Deepfakes (lookup) Historically a slur used for members of the LGBTQ+ community, “queer” is now embraced by some as a catch-all term for their identity or the community to which they belong. Two things to keep in mind when using this word: it’s an adjective, not a noun, and don’t call anyone queer if they do not self-identify that way. Read up on the language of gender and sexuality. Cellfish An individual who talks on his or her cell phone even when doing so is rude or inconsiderate of other people. Destinesia The moment when you get to where you were intending to go, you forget why you were going there in the first place. RT RT stands for 'retweet,' the sharing function on Twitter that has been a part of the social network’s culture for years. Although this term started on Twitter, it is now being used to mean 'agree' on and off the platform. For example: 'It’s truly been a hot girl summer.'
'Yes. RT RT RT!!' Errorist Someone who repeatedly makes mistakes or is always wrong. Hiberdating The time when a person ignores their friends in favour of a boyfriend/girlfriend. They In September 2019, Merriam-Webster added the singular 'they' as a nonbinary pronoun to its dictionary. The official definition of this usage is “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.”
The cocoon of blankets, pillows and comfortable things you gather around yourself to keep warm whilst spending long amounts of time on the internet. Witchy It is old hat to declare any one year the 'year of the witch,' so let’s just say witchy language became more popular this year. With the appearance of television shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and much-lauded books like The Witches are Coming, 2019 was a great year for witchy language and culture. Terms like 'retrograde' and 'binding spell' have gone mainstream, they might even be called trendy. Nonversation A completely worthless conversation, wherein nothing is illuminated, explained or otherwise elaborated upon. Textpectation The anticipation one feels when waiting for a response to a text message. A.I. Hallucinations Machine learning systems operate by identifying complex patterns—typically imperceptible to humans—in data. But when they get something wrong, they often get it wrong in a way no human possibly could, like insisting that a picture of a baseball is an espresso (hence the term 'hallucination'). Unkeyboardinated Lacking physical or mental keyboard coordination; unable to type without repeatedly making mistakes.
This is just a sample of 'new words' which only scratch the surface of the accelerated evolution of language, especially and particularly English, in all its guises.
Maybe, only a few years from now books currently being published will seem to have been written in a vintage form of English. Much as we deem Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, or even Saki.
All of Me, All of You is Book #1 in the Broken Circles series. Neither Emily nor Anika expected to fall in love at this point in their lives: young children, messy marriages and exhausting workloads kept these two friends busy and tired. After a failed attempt to spice up Anika's marriage and Emily struggling to gain the dedication she needed from her own husband, the two women found the love and support they had been craving. Both women had become so caught up in creating the family they lacked growing up, they pushed aside their needs to fill the emptiness that still haunted them. All of Me, All of You touches on the very real fight that everyday women have between their true desires and who society expects them to be.
Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/All-You-Broken-Circles-Book-ebook/dp/ B06Y4CNPKZ Amazon UK https://amzn.to/3awAR9p
RESTITUTION A SHORT
TA L E F R O M
V A N E S S A T H I B E A U LT
“It’s not enough to be sorry for what you’ve done.” Footsteps echoed around Sylvia, she was unsure if they were a figment of her imagination or real. She listened closely as they faded away and muffled voices floated to her, before the gentle click of a door closing. Sylvia opened her eyes tentatively, aware of the pounding in her head and the soreness of her body. Her eyes blurry, she blinked and rolled her head from side to side to clear her vision. When her eyes came into focus, Sylvia saw she was in a small room with a window to her right. From her position she could see nothing but a grey sky. Laying her head to the left, the door to the room was ajar, but not enough to see beyond. Closing her eyes again, she took a deep breath, feeling a sharp pain in her chest. Sylvia reached towards her chest but shackles on her wrists restricted her moving any farther than a few inches. She struggled for another minute before the pain overtook her. The pain in her chest was almost
unbearable as she neared panic, her breath becoming shorter. Tears streaming down her face, eyes shut tight, Sylvia calmed herself enough for the pain to recede. She opened her eyes and looked at the ceiling. Above her were pictures of happy people. She saw they were pictures of herself with smiling friends and family. Pictures of perfect teeth and long blonde hair blowing in the wind. Bright blue eyes stared back. She looked down towards her arms again and saw in one she had an IV and in the other she could see track marks. The door to her room opened, “Sylvie,” a female voice called. “How are you feeling?” Sylvie looked toward the voicer and saw a woman in her mid-fifties in purple scrubs, with thick rimmed glasses, a stethoscope around her neck. She checked the IV and looked at the monitor as Sylvie watched her.
“I’m…” Sylvie paused and licked her lips, her voice cracking. “I’m ok.” “You’ve been through quite a bit these last ten days,” the woman said. “You were pretty rough when we found you.” Sylvie looked around, taking in smaller details. The room was painted a pale yellow with white trim and now, upon closer inspection, she saw pale yellow curtains, with tiny white and blue flowers, framing the window which framed the gray skies outside. Forget-me -nots, Sylvie thought to herself. A flash of a forget-me-not crown came to her mind with a small girl about four, with jet black hair and a beautiful smile, spinning around in circles, her arms out. “Maria,” Sylvie whispered, as a single tear escaped her eyes. She looked back up at the pictures on the ceiling. She found one of the little girl smiling. The nurse looked at Sylvie then up at the picture she was staring at. “She was a beautiful little girl. So full of life.”
The nurse clicked a button on Sylvie’s bed and it started to raise into a seated position. Sylvie grimaced as her body was moved to seated without her help. She blinked her eyes, again trying to clear her vision, and the names started to come into focus. Maria, Kole, Alexia… “My friends, my family… Where are they?” “They’re gone, Sylvie” “But… Why?” she whispered. “How?” “There was a fire.” The nurse rolled the bed closer to the chalk board. “No,” Sylvie whispered. Her tears fell on to her lap and she now realized she was naked.
“The drugs are finally out of your system, though we have a long way to go.” “No.” “First step was getting the drugs out of your system. Next is acceptance and responsibility for what has happened.” “I didn’t… I mean…”
Shaking her head, she moved to the end of the bed. Sylvie followed her movements and noticed a blackboard on the wall. There were several names and places written in boxes, though her vision was still blurry. Sylvie looked from the blackboard to the nurse. “Do you recognize any of the names?” Sylvie tried to remember where she knew the names from, looking from the pictures on the ceiling to the names and places written in front of her. “I… I’m not sure.”
“No, dear,” the nurse started. “We know you didn’t mean to, but there is still work to be done to make it right again.” She tapped the blackboard. “I don’t know all of those names. All those places.” “These are the people and places you’ve asked us to write down over the last ten days. The people and places you must make restitution to.” “I… I don’t remember.” “We will help you.”
Vanessa Thibeault is a mother of two intelligent little girls who keep her on her toes daily. She is working towards her Bachelor of Arts degree through Thompson Rivers University with a major in English. Vanessa currently runs a day-care from her home as well as facilitates 0-6 programs in her community and spends much of her days reading and gardening, making memories with her children. Vanessa enjoys evenings with close friends, good wine and conversation. She would like to travel and explore the world one day. Currently she resides in Southern British Columbia where she enjoys warm summers and mild winters, where she can enjoy the outdoors.
Website: www.vanessamthibeault.ca Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vanessamthibeault
A book of Rather strange Animals (ISBN 9781788785327) is available from all good booksellers. From the creator of the hugely popular @StrangeAnimals on Twitter comes A Book of Rather Strange Animals - a collection of one hundred remarkable animal specimens from around the world. With fascinating descriptions of nasty feeding habits, bizarre mating rituals and shocking defence mechanisms, you will marvel at both the splendour and gruesomeness of nature. Meet the lizard that shoots blood from its eyes, the isopod that replaces the tongues of fish, the bug that stacks the corpses of ants on its back and the amphibian that looks like a penis. Come and discover the world's most peculiar species!
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/3ax9OdL Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/Book-Rather-Strange-AnimalsExtraordinary/dp/1788785320
C ALEB C OMPTON &
A BOOK OF RATHER STRANGE ANIMALS
Caleb Compton is an author and biosciences graduate from Redruth, Cornwall. Specialising in animal biology in his final year, he completed his degree in 2016 from the University of Exeter. His passion for animals and conservation started whilst watching nature documentaries with his family, presented by the great Sir David Attenborough. In 2013, he created a Twitter account, which brings obscure and bizarre creatures into the spotlight. Starting with just a handful of followers, it has now grown into one of the most popular animal accounts on Twitter.
What message are you hoping that your readers learn from A Book of Rather Strange Animals and your Twitter account @StrangeAnimals? The message I am aiming to give my followers on Twitter and the wider public is that the species we share our planet with are beautiful, but also that their existence is fragile, and they need our protection. I want people who read A Book of Rather Strange Animals to be inspired to do something to help these endangered species, whether that is donating to charities, signing petitions or volunteering in conservation. How did you first become interested in animals and conservation? I've always loved animals and nature. I think my interest started whilst watching nature documentaries and reading books on the subject when I was a kid. I
remember reading a book on the tropics and learning about the sloth for the first time, I was in awe at this bizarre creature and wanted to learn more. As I got older, I continued to research strange animals and then I created the @StrangeAnimals Twitter account in 2013, posting pictures and facts in my spare time. My interest in conservation spawned from my love of nature, and after learning more about animals, I found out that so many of them were threatened by human causes. Why did you start your Twitter accounts @StrangeAnimals @Extinct_Animals @NatureIsWeird? I used to write articles for a trivia website called Listverse, and these were mostly about strange animals. I set up the @StrangeAnimals account first in 2013, just to document these animals as a reference for future articles.
Then quite a few people started following me, so I decided to keep posting on there. After a few tweets went viral, I hit around 10,000 followers in the space of a year. After the success of this Twitter, I decided to create another one called @NatureIsWeird in 2015 so I could also post about strange plants, fungi, and geological formations. Then in 2017, I created the @Extinct_Animals Twitter to post about strange extinct species. As of September 2019, @StrangeAnimals has nearly 50,000 followers, @NatureIsWeird has 80,000 and @Extinct_Animals has an audience of 77,000, with a combined total of over 200,000. My latest Twitter venture is @EveryBat, where I aim to post every bat species in the world - all 1,300 of them!
Were there any animals in your book that you felt are most important to highlight and educate people about?
Why was it important for you to highlight the conservation issues faced by lesser known creatures in your book?
We are aware you received a handwritten letter from Sir David Attenborough, how did this come about?
I think that putting a focus on lesser-known creatures in this book is crucial for fairness in conservation. A lot of money goes towards the preservation of tiger habitats or panda breeding programmes, which is great, but a lot of other species go unnoticed. Some animals that people would class as more 'mundane' don't really get the attention they deserve, and there are many wonderful species out there that are threatened with extinction but are relatively unheard of. Everyone is aware of the plight of the rhino, but who knows about the rare purple frog of India or the critically endangered crested iguana from Fiji? I wanted to put these creatures into the spotlight and focus on why they are so rare and what can be done to help them.
Sir David Attenborough was my inspiration for writing this book, without his amazing work, I may not have become so absorbed with the natural world and I probably wouldn't have created my @StrangeAnimals Twitter or book. I wrote to him after my book was published and sent him a copy as a thank you for inspiring me to write it. A few days later, I received a hand-written letter in response from the man himself, saying thank you and that he was looking forward to reading it.
One of the more important species to educate people on, in my opinion, is the vaquita, which is a critically endangered species from the Gulf of California. The reason I think it is so crucial to raise awareness of this species is because scientists estimate that the vaquita population has shrunk to as little as 12 individuals, and they may end up vanishing from existence in as little as a year. They have become critically endangered due to death via bycatch and I thought the message here was very powerful, and that it highlights the bigger picture of humancaused extinctions.
If you were to be one strange animal from your book, what animal would you be and why? I think I would be a large flying fox, because I love bats and I think it would be cool to fly.
Flying foxes are the largest bats, with a wingspan of up to 1.5 metres, so they don't have too many predators. They feed on flowers, nectar and fruit, which sounds like quite a nice diet, and they live in Southeast Asia, which is one of my favourite places that I've been. So, life as a megabat sounds quite nice (except the fact that I would be endangered). What makes an animal strange in your opinion? There are lots of different attributes that qualify an animal as 'strange' in my opinion. The Oxford Dictionary has two definitions of the word 'strange'. The first is "unusual or surprising, especially in a way that is difficult to understand". I think a lot of species I post on @StrangeAnimals fit this definition, as they may be lesser-known species of more common animals, such as the coconut octopus or Amami rabbit. They may do things that are really extraordinary such as the bar-headed goose, which regularly flies over Mount Everest to migrate. The second definition in the dictionary is "not previously visited, seen, or encountered; unfamiliar or alien." Again, I think this is fitting, as many people have never heard of these creatures before, or seen them in the wild. Whenever I come across a new species online, I will research its lifestyle and look at its characteristics. If it does something surprising, or looks odd in any way, I will share it on @StrangeAnimals. What are your hopes for the future of our planet and its strange animals? I think it is important to stay optimistic
about the future, as a pessimistic attitude often leads us to give up. I believe with concerted efforts by all countries, we can drastically reduce our carbon emissions and slow climate change. By putting the environment at the top of the political agenda, we can invest in our planet by planting more trees, creating more national parks and marine protected areas, and work to protect the habitats of endangered species. This would be an investment, because if these steps are not taken, it will cost us an immeasurable fortune, not only in terms of money, but also lives. This world is beautiful, but our presence on it has made it fragile and it is our responsibility now not only to save it, but to restore it. I believe this can happen, but it will require everyone to play their part.
Where can people buy your book?
https://amzn.to/3ax9OdL Amazon US https:// www.amazon.com/BookRather-Strange-AnimalsExtraordinary/ dp/1788785320
Are you an aspiring writer or an indie author looking for a publishing contract? If so, the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is ‘right up your street’.
Top prize is a full paperback publishing pack age. Second and third places having their work published as eBooks.
Simply write a 20K to 30K word story, in any genre and about anything you want, and enter the Novella Fiction Prize. Entry is just £10.00 GBP, (via official entry form) and the winning authors will have their manuscripts published as Novellas.
There are also associated prizes, such as cover designs, marketing packages and author assist support. The Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is an international literary competition for emerging writers and indie authors. Submissions are encouraged from all literary fictional genres with no restrictions on theme or subject. The emphasis of the judging will be on ambitious, imaginative and innovative approaches which explore and expand creative writing. Details of ‘How to Enter’ are on the Electric Eclectic website
THIS IS NOT A â€˜WARâ€™ STORY. Life in the War Zone brings you the emotional truth about the effects and the longlasting legacy of pain and suffering, to both combat troops and innocent civilian lives, devastated by war and armed conflict Each story and article is formed from interviews, discussions, reports and dialogues from those affected by conflict. Paperback
UK https://amzn.to/2wLZa4i International https://mybook.to/LifeWarZone
Using books Does your home look more like a Barnes and Noble store? Well, youâ€™re not alone; at one point or another, many an avid reader has found themselves drowning in a sea of unwanted hardcovers and paperbacks. Many books you may find
difficult selling second-hand can easily be repurposed and are a great way of reflecting your bookworm personality in your homes interior design. Electric Press has a few ideas which will save giving away your favourite or most memorable books to a charity store or even, if one has such a cold heart, to throw them into the local recycling bin. Perhaps now is an especially good time to get creative. Check out these ideas for inspiration.
Wall art When cut and formed into a DIY wreath, the yellowed pages in an old book lend vintage charm to a rustic room. Here, book pages have been cut, rolled, and glued
onto a cardboard round. Because the all-season decor is made of paper, it's light enough to hang from just about any blank expanse in your home. To make your own, follow the tutorial from A Wonderful Thought.
Secret Stash Where do you hide private or sensitive items? Some of the most common hiding places (under the bed, in the sock drawer) are also the first spots that snoops will look. Create a secret stash they'll never think to raid by covering a wooden box with book spines, as in this clever hack from Jen Woodhouse. When placed on a shelf, the box will look like an ordinary collection of books, although it contains any items you'd like to hide from prying eyes.
Bookshelf This is one bookshelf that lives up to the name. This project comes together with three books of the exact same width, an important detail that ensures the top of the shelf is level. For the full tutorial, refer to A Piece of Rainbow.
A Novel Idea Succulents can grow almost including this unusual planter.
To create a planter, the pages of a book are first glued together, then cuts are made in the cover and the pages. After that, the hollowed-out area is lined with plastic, filled with soil and a small plant. Keep an eye on this one.
Although it's a cute idea, if the plastic liner comes loose, you could be left with a soggy book, and without drainage holes, your plant could suffer from overwatering.
Book Lamp Reading by candlelight is sooo 1879. You need a practical, modern lighting option. Something interesting. So how
about making your own table lamp from a stack of old books? Itâ€™s easier than it looks: Drill a hole through each tome, string some lamp wire through, then glue a socket to the top book. Flip the switch and, somewhat literally,
illuminate your world with the written word.
CONSTRUCT A BOOK TABLE Anyone who loves reading in bed knows the importance of a nightstand. Create one in a jiffy, for little or no money, using some of your extra reading material. First, stack books into a circular structure or a Jenga-esque tower. Next, secure the
books with either string, strapping, or glue. Then finally add a tabletop made of wood or even cardboard, and that’s it. You’ll never again fall asleep on top of your eyeglasses. Your optometrist might even thank us, well, probably not.
https://www.bobvila.com/ articles/repurpose-books/ Make a clock Instead of placing a clock next to the classic you’re reading, try making a classic into your next clock. Go further and fashion a whole shelf-full of clocks, each displaying the time in a different city. Use The Hound of the Baskervilles for London, The Great Gatsby for New York, Crime and Punishment for Moscow. Your hobby shop probably stocks basic clock mechanisms, and they’re super easy to fix into a book. Now hurry up and get cracking, I’m timing you with my own.
twigs of a plum tree resign themselves to being unable to refuse any things … today, sparkling in rime
Tanka by Rika Inami 19
UK https://amzn.to/3eICzHc USA https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B700SOE
UK https://amzn.to/2wULHaC USA https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01JVWXG9Y
UK https://amzn.to/2RNK6L1 USA https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071VH2LR6
Rika Inami lives in Akita, Japan.
She is a member of ‘Tanka Association Mirai,’ ‘Muro Saisei Learned Society,’ and ‘Akita International Haiku Network. Rika first composes her original Japanese tanka in the archaic Japanese, then translates it into English. Her tanka theme is mainly nature. Not only does she praise nature, but she expresses herself in it. Now we are facing pain we have never experienced before. Living in this era, she observes the circulation of nature, and the flow of this problem. Akita International Haiku Network’ https://akitahaiku.com/ Tanka Page: https://akitahaiku.com/category/tanka/ Blog: Poet of the Fifth Dimension https://poet-rikainami.blogspot.com/
In this edition of Electric Press you will find Rika Inami’s Tanka on the following pages and throughout the magazine. The Tanka are accompanied by her own photographs.
Electric Press magazine says, "Intrigue, manipulation and outright lies abound throughout this story, making it a genuine 'unputdownable' book. This is a 'Must Read'." Available as eBook & Pocketbook paperback UK eBook https://amzn.to/2yuJ5jV UK Pocketbook https://amzn.to/34O4iBq International https://mybook.to/newsummergarden
This editions cover story is one selected by our editor, a fan of H H Munro's writings.
Paul explains, "At around the age of seventeen, I was lucky enough to be introduced to H H Munro through the Bodley head Saki, fifty-two pieces of Saki's delicious brevity, plus 'The Unbearable Bassington' entire. I immediately fell in love with the wonderful, often cutting, but always light as a feather satirical wit Saki is renowned. Those who have already fallen under Saki's spell will understand; those who have yet to do so can look forward to a literary pleasure. My dilemma is how to tell you about H H Munro while justifiably convey his flippant wit. Perhaps it is something I cannot do and I should simply say read a book by Saki and you will be hooked but if I did this would be a very short article indeed. With the above in mind, let me first explain the name Saki is the pseudonym of H H Munro - Hector Hugh Munro.
It is generally acknowledged Munro borrowed the pen name Saki from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. This is not too surprising when considering Munro was born in Akyab, Burma in December 1870. Akayb, Burma is now known as Sittwe, Myanmar. Munro was killed in action during world war one, on the 14th of November 1916, near Beaumont-Hamel, France. Munro was the son of a Scottish officer of the Burma Police. At the age of two, he was sent to live with his aunts near Barnstaple, Devon, England. He was educated at Exmouth and at Bedford grammar school, and in 1893 he joined the Burma police but was invalided out. Turning to journalism, he wrote political satires for the Westminster Gazette and in 1900 published The Rise of the Russian Empire, a serious historical work.
After acting as foreign correspondent for The Morning Post in the Balkans, Russia, and Paris, in 1908 he settled in London, writing short stories and sketches: Reginald (1904), Reginald in Russia (1910), The Chronicles of Clovis (1912), and Beasts and Super-Beasts (1914). Written in a style studded with epigrams and with well-contrived plots often turning on practical jokes or surprise endings, his stories reveal a vein of cruelty in their author and a self-identification with the enfant terrible. Among his most frequently anthologized works are “Tobermory,” “The Open Window,” “Sredni Vashtar,” “Laura,” and “The Schartz-Metterklume Method.” His novel The Unbearable Bassington (1912) describes the adventures of a fastidious and likeable but maladjusted hero, in a manner anticipating that of the early work of the English satirist Evelyn Waugh.
Munro's stories depict the Edwardian social scene with a flippant wit and power of fantastic invention used both to satirize social pretension, unkindness, and stupidity and to create an atmosphere of horror. He often takes revenge on the strictness of his aunt's lack of understanding by portraying tyrannical aunts in many of his stories about children. Munro is one of the wittiest and funniest writers of short fiction, (many no more than four or five pages), in all of English literature, arguably the not-so-missing link between Oscar Wilde and P. G. Wodehouse. Yet his work remains less widely read and appreciated than it deserves.
The following Saki shorts represent, in my opinion, the perfect introduction to the witty and unsettling world of Saki’s short stories. ‘The Lumber-Room’. Possibly Saki’s best-known story, ‘The Lumber-Room’ is a classic short story about a child who is too clever for the adults. Specifically, it is about how one clever but mischievous boy, Nicholas, seeks to outwit his aunt so he can gain access to the lumber-room with its hidden treasures and curiosities. Nicholas’ clever use of his aunt’s own logic and morality to justify his refusal to rescue her from the rainwater-tank is one of the finest moments in Saki’s fiction. ‘The Open Window’. The shortest story on this list and most of them are no more than a few pages, ‘The Open Window’ contains a twist in the tale. It concerns a nervous man, newly arrived in town, who is told the tragic story of why the French windows in the house he visits are always kept open. ‘Sredni Vashtar’. This story contains many of the ingredients we find in Saki’s best fiction: it challenges the idea that children are innocent and free from designs or cunning (or, indeed, evil), it pricks the pomposity of adults and their conservative treatment of children, and it suggests a kinship between children and animals. The story also draws on the fairy-tale trope of the child having a wish granted but here, with appalling results. The young Conradin lives with his cousin and guardian but worships a ferret in the garden shed and is best friends with a hen. If that doesn’t make you want to read it, what will? ‘Gabriel-Ernest’. This classic story fuses Gothic horror with Edwardian wit and more than a dash of homoeroticism. It’s about a teenage boy who transforms into a werewolf and preys on small children. Saki was writing at the height of his powers here, and every sentence is laced with fine wit
‘The Lumber-Room’. Possibly Saki’s best-known story, ‘The Lumber-Room’ is a classic short story about a child who is too clever for the adults. Specifically, it is about how one clever but mischievous boy, Nicholas, seeks to outwit his aunt so he can gain access to the lumber-room with its hidden treasures and curiosities. Nicholas’ clever use of his aunt’s own logic and morality to justify his refusal to rescue her from the rainwater-tank is one of the finest moments in Saki’s fiction. ‘The Open Window’.
The shortest story on this list and most of them are no more than a few pages, ‘The Open Window’ contains a twist in the tale. It concerns a nervous man, newly arrived in town, who is told the tragic story of why the French windows in the house he visits are always kept open. ‘Sredni Vashtar’. This story contains many of the ingredients we find in Saki’s best fiction: it challenges the idea that children are innocent and free from designs or cunning (or, indeed, evil), it pricks the pomposity of adults and their conservative treatment of children, and it suggests a kinship between children and animals. The story also draws on the fairy-tale trope of the child having a wish granted but here, with appalling results. The young Conradin lives with his cousin and guardian but worships a ferret in the garden shed and is best friends with a hen. If that doesn’t make you want to read it, what will? ‘Gabriel-Ernest’. This classic story fuses Gothic horror with Edwardian wit and more than a dash of homoeroticism. It’s about a teenage boy who transforms into a werewolf and preys on small children. Saki was writing at the height of his powers here, and every sentence is laced with fine wit. ‘Tobermory’. The cat is the perfect subject for a Saki story, and there is something catlike about many of his young protagonists: aloof, urbane, poised, louche, and yet underneath it all there is a feral streak. So, it comes as little surprise that Saki wrote a wonderful cat story, ‘Tobermory’, about a cat that is taught to talk. The result is one of Saki’s best stories and one of the funniest stories in the English language (as well as one of the best cat stories). ‘Filboid Studge, the Story of a Mouse That Helped’. This short masterpiece is not one of Saki’s best-known stories, but it’s a gloriously satirical take on the world of advertising, when this ‘art form of the twentieth century’ was still in its infancy, or at least its adolescence.
A prospective son-in-law of a cereal magnate devises a new poster to advertise his new father-in-law’s product, a disgusting breakfast cereal. But although the product tastes foul, the advert compels people to buy it by guilt-tripping them if they refuse. Unfortunately, since then, a million advertising copywriters have taken Saki’s story as an instruction manual.
‘The Unrest-Cure’. One of Saki’s Clovis stories, and one in which Clovis plays a main part, convincing the inhabitants of an English country house that they are about to be attacked by an antiSemitic bishop and his helpers, a bunch of Boy Scouts. As the Broad Street Review puts it, it’s probably ‘the only humorous rendering of a pogrom (albeit an entirely imaginary one) in all of literature’. As is the case with many of Saki’s best stories, the humour comes from the protagonist’s desire to make mischief, and the po-faced and sharp-witted way he does so.
‘The Jesting of Arlington Stringham’. ‘Arlington Stringham made a joke in the House of Commons. It was a thin House, and a very thin joke; something about the Anglo-Saxon race having a great many angles. It is possibly unintentional, but a fellow-member, who did not wish it to be supposed that he was asleep because his eyes were shut, laughed. One or two of the papers noted “a laugh” in brackets, and another, which was notorious for the carelessness of its political news, mentioned “laughter.” Things often begin in that way.’ And this is how this delightfully funny story by Saki begins. As so often in Saki’s stories, the tale takes a dark turn, but to say more than this would be to risk spoilers.
‘The Music on the Hill’. If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise if your name’s Sylvia (suitably wood-y given its Latin origin) and you’ve just got married and moved to the country. Saki’s tale of growing panic reminds us of the origin of that very word, in the pagan god Pan, haunting the woods and playing his seductive flute.
‘Laura’. A short tale about reincarnation, ‘Laura’ is about a woman who dies, only to come back, apparently, as an otter. ‘She’ proceeds to wreak havoc.
You can buy The Collected Short Stories of Saki (Wordsworth Classics) for a couple of quid and possess most of his classic work (and all the stories mentioned above).
https://amzn.to/2ycSCvV If you browse Amazon, or possibly some other sites, you may find a reasonably priced copy of 'The Bodley Head Saki' in good condition. This was, as I mentioned above, the very tome of Munro's I first read. As a very small snippet, here are a few quotes from Saki's stories.
“He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.” “But, good gracious, you've got to educate him first. You can't expect a boy to be vicious till he's been to a good school.” “She was one of those who shape their opinions rather readily from the standpoint of those around them.” “To a woman who dressed well on comparatively nothing a year it was an anxious experience to have a son who dressed sumptuously on absolutely nothing.”
“When one has nothing left to one but memories, one guards and dusts them with especial care.”
Believe me, Saki's stories are guaranteed to raise a smile.
Electric Press history This is the first-anniversary edition of Electric Press â€“ Literary Insights, to give this magazine its full title. However, it is far from one year ago the roots of this publication began to take form. Way back in January 2015, our editor, the author Paul White, decided to 'upscale' his personal newsletter called 'Rambling Away'. Paul created a magazine he titled 'Creative Quarterly'. The first edition launched in August 2015. A magazine which was still more of a newsletter than a professional publication in design, yet holds some amazing and fascinating content from international creatives. You can read the first edition of Creative Quarterly HERE Two changes occurred in May 2017, almost two years after the first edition. The first, with the exponential growth of our readership CQ magazine was given the sub-heading of 'International'. The magazines header was altered to reflect this change.
This was also the time when CQ International began to focus each edition to a theme or genre. The May edition of CQ was subtitled 'Focus on Japan'. This was followed by 'A Summer of Fantasy' in August and 'Sci-Fi Season' in November of that year.
A special note should be made for the November, Sci-Fi Season edition, as this was the first issue of the magazine to carry the new name and logo of 'CQI' magazine. Referred to from that date simply as 'CQI'.
2018 saw editions of CQI called 'A New Year of Romance', 'Crime Wave', 'Summer of Sound' and finally for 2018, the November edition 'The Horror Quarter', the last published edition of CQI. Click on the cover image to read that edition
Paul decided, in its current format, CQI had run its course. A course which saw a humble writer's newsletter with a dozen or so readers expand to become a recognised, award winning periodical publication with approximately 50 thousand regular readers in over 90 countries.
Luckily for us, in May of 2019, Paul decided to launch a successor magazine to CQI, and
Electric Press was born. The prime difference from CQI, which encompassed all forms of creativity, Electric Press is firmly focused on the literary world. Published by CQ International Publishing, Electric Press is the magazine of Electric Eclectic book branding. You can find out more about Electric Press magazine by visiting our blog at, (Don't forget to follow/subscribe)
https://electricpressmagazine.wordpress.com/ Read about Electric Eclectic, find our books, enter the Novella Fiction Prize and learn how to become an EE author and more, simply follow this link,
https://electricpressmagazine.wordpress.com/ On the following page are the cover images of previous editions of Electric Press, just click on the cover to read that edition.
Edition number 1
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https://goo.gl/eDLECv The Rabbit Joke is a large, A4, fully illustrated, glossy, full colour, perfect bound, hardcover book for reading to children. Only available DIRECT from the authors printers.
This book is NOT on Amazon https://goo.gl/eDLECv
D OGS W ITHOUT
Rick Step-Bolling is an Electric Eclectic author and a regular contributor to Electric Press. Rick and his family are devoted animal rescuers as the following tale explains. However, Rick also reveals where many of his ideas for his books originate.
As a writer, I know inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources. I’ve written poems based on tragic events in our country’s recent history, a short story whose theme was guided by the gridlock I found myself in on the 210 Freeway, and a novel inspired by the addictive quality of computer games. So it is not very far fetched to imagine stories about the influential lives of those around us, and at our house, that means animals. Tess and Cole—names taken from the Old West outlaws Cole Younger and Tessie James (wink, wink)—were twin rescue dogs who entered our household in a most unusual way. They were abandoned on the doorstep of a local pet shop just after their birth. The pet shop owners, with no real medical background, did the right thing and delivered them to a veterinarian clinic whose lead veterinarian was well acquainted with us. Not only did we supply her with more work than her office could possibly handle, we also gave her a rare Indian Star tortoise because she
was a kind and caring doctor for all of our animals. My wife happened to be in our vet’s office to euthanize a pet rat dying from cancer the day the twins were delivered. As serendipity would have it, upon seeing my wife in the office, our doctor asked if she would be willing to foster the twins until weaned. Understand this: my wife does not know the meaning of the word “No,” when it comes to animals. “Yes, I’ll be glad to help out,” is what she said instead. The vet checked to make sure the pups were healthy, and sent them off with a large bag of puppy formula and a few small bottles. The small hairs on the back of my neck prickled when I heard two newborns would be joining our motley crew of three other rescue dogs, three rescue horses, three rescue cats and a few dozen snakes recently rescued from unscrupulous former owners. “It’s only until they’re weaned,” she said softly.
“And how long would that be?” I asked trying to sound angry while I watched these two balls of fur squeaking in their box. “Six weeks. Six weeks and they go back to the vet,” she said. “I promise.” I gave her my best harrumph and went out to clean horse stalls. What, of course, she neglected to mention, was that these motherless puppies would need to be hand fed, hand cleaned, and pretty much hand handled throughout the six weeks. That meant midnight feedings, as well as hand feedings every two hours during the day. It was like having a baby again, except these twins would not be staying for twenty years. Six weeks . . . max! The small bottles lasted only a week before larger ones were needed. Francie, my wife, managed a majority of the feeding and cleaning tasks for the pups on a twenty-four hour, seven days a week basis. Believe me, Francis of Assisi never had such stiff competition for sainthood.
A couple of problems arose for the pupswithout-a-mother. Tess developed vaginitis because she was never licked and cleaned by her mother. Cole, without a mother to feed from, acquired a need to suckle a blanket as a substitute for a teat. As the two puppies grew older, they did what all twins seem to do . . . they developed a special bond. The one rarely strayed far without the other right behind. At first it was difficult to tell who was who. Their markings and distinguishing features didn’t become obvious until later, so while they were still young, we would have to look
long and hard at what made them different (other than their genitals) . . . and that was their personalities. Tess loved the outdoors. Once she was old enough to use the dog door, she spent most of her time in the backyard. The horse trailer became her special place and it was where she spent most of her time during sunny days. Tess was also the less sociable. She tended to stay away from the other dogs. But what she lacked in packsocialization, she more than made up in her bond with humans. Tess, to this day, is my special friend. She is also the hunter of the two, as the rats around our yard will testify. I have no doubt that if left in the wilderness, she would survive just based on her hunting skills. Cole, on the other hand, loves people, loves other dogs, loves the horses, and strangely enough, loves Penny, the pig. Penny and Cole have a symbiotic relationship. When Penny comes out of her pen to get her apples and Cheerios, Cole waits patiently until Penny has tossed all the Cheerios out of her rubber ball. Then he happily eats along side of her, the two grazing like old chums. While the other dogs back away from Penny’s enormous size and girth, Cole hangs with his friend, knowing she will share her food with him and he will share his friendship with her. As you might have guessed, the six weeks turned into six months, and the six months turned into ten years. When my wife asked if we should return the pups because they were weaned, I said something like, “Over my dead body!”
Sometimes I think the love we receive from our animals is like getting a second chance in life. Just when you think your emotional gas tank is on zero, a warm hug and a wet kiss from your best bud can change your whole attitude, and suddenly the world
looks rosy again. Oh, by the way, Tess and Cole made the front page of the Bonelli Park magazine a few years back. It seems they were destined to become stars, even if they started out life with a real question mark.
For Summia, the war against Imperiana has reached the point of desperation. President Gelfson vows to end the fight with the total annihilation of every Summian man, woman and child. Var, the Patch Man, has been trapped inside the Source for seven years, unable to use its magic until now. He knows that Summiaâ€™s only hope for survival lies in their ability to recruit warriors from other domains. Meesha, the one-armed teenager, and Ten, the leader of a rebel band, travel to Haba-Yan in search of the Lore Mistress, Kerash, but they find more than they bargained for in the attempt. Meanwhile, the former Imperial assassin, Ulan, has ventured back to the Chunee seeking redemption. What she finds instead may well turn the tide in the final battle for Summia.
Amazon USA https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YS729SV/ Amazon UK https://amzn.to/39ryNOp
I SANDRA’ S P URCHASE A SHORT STORY BY
N OL AN L OCKE
Isandra got the distinct impression she was in well over her head, further even than the leather cord holding her red-streaked hair in a messy ponytail. She thought she’d taken precautions, brought two friends, but Remmy had gotten drunk in an awful hurry and was now surrounded by exotic beauties. Alleyah had begged off almost as soon as she’d gotten a whiff of scented smoke. One drink and Alleyah had snuffed aether conversation like the coal over a water pipe. She was gone before Isandra could even ask about splitting the bill.
The best thing about Remmy was his ability to scare off unwanted male advancement; not that Isandra was a great beauty, but that never seemed to deter them. The worst was his fundamental lack of knowledge or interest in anything related to her lab work. Remmy flattened any attempts to get him serious or responsible with those sculpted muscles of his. And now she was at the bar with one lunk beside her in a stool, cutting off her line of sight to Remmy, and this sly young person to her left. A xhimale, neither male nor female, a curiosity absent from Galaria proper. “I heard you’re into aether research.
Something exciting?” This individual was lean and hungry and reminded Isandra of a sleek tiger watching the flock from far off. The plunging neckline on their rahm somehow ignited a hot flush in Isandra’s face and neck. The xhimale glittered in the gloom of dancing torch flames, all subtle curves ending in sharp angles. “Uh… I…” “Forgive my fumbling manners,” they said. “Please call me Maylee.” “Isandra,” she said, and immediately kicked herself for using her real name. It was foolish to come here, and even more foolish to be doing this without Remmy watching. Maylee placed their hand on Isandra’s, a brief and electrifying touch, and chuckled. “Let me buy you a drink. Poor thing, worn out from those long hours of research with nothing but stress, and only laboratory rats to keep you company.” Isandra laughed at the name for aether researchers and their various underlings. Maylee pushed a goblet of white into her hand. “Firewoven and barrel-aged wine out of the Southern Provinces. The aether they use it harvest out of the open seas every year come summer’s end, so it roils ever so slightly in the glass. A storm of strawberries, I call it.”
of her neck after another sip of the wine. “Ages away, really. No one will fund it, and no one will release bottled aether to test out my charged netting system.” She went on laughing, then quashed the urge to begin crying at the unfairness of it, with a stormy, fruity wine. Maylee put their goblet down and brushed Isandra’s hand lightly. An accident? She hoped not. Isandra needed something out of tonight, and she’d settle for paying out her last few coins for a bed to find out if what she’d heard about xhimales was true. Her satisfaction was guaranteed either way, so far as the rumours went. Isandra couldn’t keep a healthy dose of bitterness out of her voice. “Oh, there’s no shortage of aether, of course. The empire bottles and funnels Smoky, fruity flavours clashed in her mouth, and she smiled in delight and appreciation. More so, she revelled in both the forbidden act of drinking alcohol (oh, if only her mother could see her now) with the safety of knowing poison or drugs would kill the
aetherweave’s miniature storm brewing
all of it off. The premier researchers get their cut and the nobility, and of course, most of it goes to the gods damned military.” She clapped a hand over her mouth and cast a glance to the huge form drinking just to her right, but they seemed not to have noticed. Allmother protect her from her babbling mouth.
amid the wine. She lost herself in it for a few
Maylee stood up, a slight smile playing across
moments before opening her mouth and
sparkling lips, just a tug at the corner. Isandra felt
gushing to this ravishing ambiguous being.
a great chasm of hope and lust and want and
“My research is revolutionary: a way to better trap wild streams of airborne aether at much higher altitudes without fear of strong turbulence.”
shame and embarrassment roiling up within her, the wine dancing about in her stomach in a storm of her making. They extended a hand out to her, and dreading she might end up tonight with her throat cut, Isandra nevertheless lost the struggle
“How close are you to publishing?” The
at the first touch of Maylee’s silken skin. She stood
dazzling Isfarani xhimale asked.
and took the warm hand on offer.
“Oh!” Isandra laughed and rubbed the back
She’d barely got through the beaded curtain
separating the bar’s common room from the
behalf of her people forever inconveniencing
hall that lay beyond before Maylee had their
this delicate and marvellous creature.
face inches from her own. She smelled the fire
“We might have access to what you need,”
woven wine on their breath, and couldn’t tear
Maylee explained, and led her back to a
her eyes away from those expressive lips. Fear
locked door at the far end of the hall, on the
and lust did a furious battle in her stomach.
right. A series of knocks later, and several
“You wouldn’a been dumb enough to be so
obvious with your goon if you were imperial
peculiar beauty gestured for them to enter.
police, would you?” Maylee breathed into her
Isandra wasn’t quite sure what she expected,
ear, and to her surprise the lunk was there,
but it wasn’t the room of a brothel laid out
crushing Isandra’s hand to the wall while
with a handful of aether vials on the vanity.
Maylee went through her pockets. The
She briefly noted the worn tapestries hiding
seductive creature still felt so good, even
the clay walls, the heaps of rugs keeping the
pinning her right arm to the rough clay of the
chill-out, the filmy fabric obscuring the bed on
the floor, and the twin armoires flanking the
answer, and their free hand went through her pockets quickly and efficiently. “Seems not,” they said and nodded to the hulking form of the man taking up most of the doorway. The lunk released Isandra and turned back to the bar, while Maylee smoothed out wrinkles in her clothes and settled everything back to where it had been… gently. Sensuously. “I hope you understand the need to take precautions. No offence against Galarian people in general, but the ones who come in here with their rules and their truncheons put me in a sour mood.” Isandra never wanted Maylee to be in a sour mood. She felt the need to apologize on
“May I ask how you came by your name?” Maylee inquired.
“Oh!” Isandra laughed nervously again. “My mother did a stint aboard a seafaring vessel, a trade ship, long before the first airships ever took flight. She travelled here, and…” Here she fished a pendant of glass out of her camel-coloured explorer’s shirt. The shirt was perhaps last year’s fashions, but Isandra had given up trying to pretend she came from money: the work was more important, and no one remembered the names of the dilettantes anyway. The pendant had the unmistakable touch of a master glassblower and was filled with enough aether to make streamers of light and powdery smoke flit around within. Whoever capped it off had been a genius of fine gold filigree workmanship. “Isandra veradanadeem quennerialyn seranach,” Maylee read quietly, turning the bauble to make out the words form from the filigree, running around the centre. “The petal of the flower releases fragrant pollen as it dances in the breeze. Curious your mother would name you ‘dances in the breeze’.”
Isandra had difficulty reminding herself she was actually here to do something illegal and was procuring aether for her experiments, not the very legal act of purchasing some of Maylee’s time in bed. She swallowed back the lust and peered at the vials of aether before her. And what if she failed? The strong possibility of a failed experiment hung in the air, like the promise of Maylee’s lips doing more than speaking the Isfarani tongue. She could take the very real coin in her purse and purchase some release from the stresses of her denied imperial
grant, the certain future involving her parents learning she’d failed and demanding she return, and the knowledge that she was living off the cheapest rice she could find, just to keep this deluded dream alive. She steadied her nerves and focused on the work at hand. “I need wild airborne aether. Please.”
“The airship crews risk life and limb for diffuse streamers, and it can take weeks of tracking down a slipstream of quality aether. This is a pricy bit of aether you’re asking for.” Maylee told her the cost, and she had to sit down. Her hand drifted to her mouth. “I… that’s… I’ve wasted your time. I’m sorry.” She turned to leave, but a feather touch stopped her from heading out the door with tears spilling down her face. Maylee stood close enough to smell when she finally turned back. They peered deep in Isandra’s eyes. “Perhaps there’s some arrangement we can come to. Your research, once published, will be in every airship from here to your homeland, no?” “Yes,” she breathed. Maylee was too much. “There is a great deal of patent money to be made from the sale of such an advancement. I believe we can loan you this vial for your test, and one more for a secondary test, should the prototype fail to meet expectations.”
The other divine figure glided over. They were garbed in a long, flowing garment of
many colours, which meant it was handdyed, and clasped at the breast by a gold brooch nearly the size of Isandra’s fist. The whole ensemble would have been very feminine save for the lack of sleeves, and that it hung open to the bellybutton, and exposed an impressive array of muscles. “We would rather worry about the future in the future. We could feasibly also give you a session with our Maylee. I have seen how you fancy them.” The eventual costs, the ownership by some shadowy syndicate of… criminals… were eclipsed by the thought of kneeling before Maylee and slipping silky undergarments down their legs, and eventually discovering if the rumours were true. “Yes,” she breathed, and Maylee’s silken lips perked up in response. “Very good,” the other one said. “Maylee will take you across the hall while I draw
up the necessary contract and prepare it for you and my employer to sign. Take what time you need.” Isandra didn’t hear any of these words. Her fears, of ownership by contraband dealers, and her eventual disappearance somewhere in Isfaran’s writhing, sensual underbelly had already been massaged away as Maylee ran their hands up the sides of her neck and bent forward to kiss the perfect spot, just below and behind the curve of her jaw. She made a very unladylike sound and was subsumed beneath further crashing waves of pleasure. Oh well, even if the syndicates owned her by the end of the day, at least she would enjoy it.
Worldwide link mybook.to/RetHiroshima
ABOUT 1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis. Fate brings several people together in Hiroshima in a confrontation with dramatic consequences. Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to the city, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister. Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima's war history. A Yakuza-lord, rumoured to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane. And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will "overturn Japan's foundations".... Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel. Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII become unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and the Japanese society as a whole.
Review I have a healthy appetite for noir fiction and found "Return to Hiroshima "a sumptuous and wonderfully grotesque feast. Centred in Hiroshima and written for a Western audience, Van Laerhoven paints a vivid and dark portrait of Japan, its culture and society, and an equally vivid and dark portrait, both immediate and fifty years on, of the aftermath of Little Boy - the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. Through the eyes of a diverse cast of characters, the reader enters a deep-state reality, shadowy, deceptive, peppered with lies and brutality. The author slowly reveals in short sharp chapters, the twisted and corrupt interplays at work behind the scenes as Japan endures a cataclysmic economic crisis. (….) Superbly written in an easy, fluid style with characters that are complex and believable, Return to Hiroshima contains a taut and artfully constructed plot. The reader is kept on edge. At any moment the tension will release. Eventually, it does, dramatically yet incrementally, intertwined with revelation upon revelation, carrying the reader through to the last page. While there are a few confronting scenes in this novel, with various victims meeting their awful ends, the ultimate victim in "Return to Hiroshima" is truth, at once laid bare by the narrator and distorted by the characters. Driving the plot are themes of memory and remembering, childhood trauma and unhealed wounds. Gruesome mutations caused by the atomic bomb are set alongside those caused by secret medical experiments. In all, Return to Hiroshima is an elaborate and insightful depiction of obsession. Younger readers may not recall the sarin attack in a Tokyo subway that took place in March 1995, and the religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo who claimed responsibility. They may not know of Unit 731 and the atrocities the Japanese meted out in WWII on their prisoners of war, atrocities ignored by the West as we focus all our attention on the Nazis. Cruelty is a global phenomenon, then as now. In addressing this, “Return to Hiroshima” and its author deserve to be acclaimed. Isobel Blackthorn
THE FLOWER EATING WOMAN AND ME A short story from
Bob Van Laerhoven “Tell me why you keep on writing these multi-layered, sad, shocking, and noir novels,” the Flower Eating Woman said over dinner in Brussels. She read my latest novel, “Return to Hiroshima,” and had called me: “You’ve made me cry while reading your book, so now you have to take me to dinner.” I agreed. The Flower Eating Woman and I go back a long way, so I forgive her squeezing my thumbs. She insists I was her lover once. I don’t remember. I have forgotten so many things. The details she brings up to prove that we were enamored in the past could have been made up by a novelist. As usual, she had chosen the restaurant; she’s a vegan and very fond of flowers on her plate. She asks the deep-colored ones for forgiveness before eating them. “My novels aren’t nearly as multilayered, sad, shocking, and noir as current world politics,” I answered, smug. She shook her head. Such a dim-witted boy, her table-companion, tsk, tsk, tsk.
“It’s the masques, and the emotions behind them, I’m after. That tragic villain of yours, for instance, the deformed Japanese Yakuza boss, nick-named after a rare Japanese demon. What was his
name again?” “Rokurobei.” “I don’t know why, but, while reading your book, that character, in all its confusing complexity, yet ruthless when thwarted, made me think of Bashar alAssad.” It’s a long leap from the schizophrenic Japanese mafia boss in my novel “Return to Hiroshima’ to the Syrian dictator and mass-murderer Bashar-al-Assad. But the Flower Eating Woman has a reputation for thought gymnastics. She saw me frown, and added, “Haven’t you ever noticed that Bashar-al-Assad is the spitting image of those vampires in old black and white movies?” She munched delicately on the reddest shredded cabbage I ever saw. “So?” “Your Rokurobei has, quote, ‘canines, filed sharp, and carefully set with small gems’ to better resemble the demon he’s supposed to incarnate.” “Did I write that? I must’ve been drunk.”
“Don’t try to be coy; it’s not you.” “You should become a reviewer. You make the weirdest comparisons. And assumptions.”
I don’t remember how we got into our conversation about the chemical weapons Bashar-al-Assad used against his people. But I do remember telling her in crisp terms that the Syrian government’s fighter planes were, as usual, immensely busy attacking Syrian civilians, deploying barrel bombs, phosphorus grenades, cluster bombs… In short, everything that can maim and kill. “So, what’s the difference in the end?” The Flower Eating Woman looked at me as if I was a Monster From Outer Space. “Where and when did you become like that?”
After yesterday’s night - an endless stretch of tossing and turning - I think I remember where my “disgusting cynical negativism,” as she called my state of mind, had started. Twenty-four years ago, during the Bosnian War, in a dusty, debris-ridden corridor of a Médecins sans Frontières hospital in the besieged Bosnian city of Sarajevo. There, a girl on a stretcher with a smashed face stared at me like the Flower Eating Woman often does. As if I was a Monster From Outer Space.
“Like what?” “Remember what you said to me a long time ago? If you’re convinced that you’re living in a cold, violent, and cynical world, you help to make it even more cold, violent, and cynical even though you do nothing.” “Outmoded, vegan thinking,” I said. “I assume you still eat daisies for dessert?” Let me spare you her answer.
I just e-mailed the Flower Eating Woman that, for a vegan, she can be exceptionally sharp-tongued. And that I hadn’t really stopped caring about the world and people. I was only, among other things, tired, getting old, sad, disappointed, lonely, and grumpy. Although she tends to exaggerate, I wrote that she’d made me realize that my view of the world over the years has indeed become tainted, disdainful, lame, and tired.
A bullet had shattered the Bosnian girl’s left cheekbone and reduced her left ear to a pulp. Her eyes were huge and hazy, a merciful sign of the morphine-blanket that had tranquilized her. In the corridor, floating above the sharp smells of disinfectants, was the poignant reek of copper. An eerie silence hovered above the row of wounded on their stretchers, waiting for treatment. I remember walking self-consciously through the corridor as if I was in a church, stopping when I came to the girl with the smashed face. I stood there, looking at her, scribbling in my pathetic notebook: she must be about the same age as my eldest daughter.
Her eyes locked on me, and I, the wartourist, the travel writer who earned his daily bread with vivid descriptions of other people’s suffering, suddenly felt myself a mean voyeur.
scream and thrashed around.
I wanted to leave there and then. I wanted to return home. My emotions sent me into a depressing labyrinth: compassion mingled with fear, anger intertwined with sadness, and the bitter deposit of helpless frustration.
There he was, this 71-year-old surgeon, hurrying over to her, laying a soothing hand on her forehead, murmuring in her ear a fragment of what seemed a French lullaby.
A tall, white-haired, distinguished-looking, French physician, inspected the line of stretchers. I had interviewed him earlier that day. He was a retired surgeon who had started working voluntarily for MSF in war-torn civil Bosnia. Due to the shortage of medical supplies in Sarajevo, he had to select those who stood a chance to survive. The others received no treatment. The attack happened without warning. Heavy shells hit the hospital that sported visible flags of the International Red Cross and Médecins sans Frontières on top of the building. In full daylight, Serbian turrets on the hills surrounding Sarajevo were trying to demolish it.
I wanted to console her, but something happened with my heart. I could feel it becoming smaller. I had no breath left and felt paralyzed.
Like a loving father would do.
He must have felt my gaze; he looked up, and my eyes met his above his surgical mask. I think he saw my shame. A wave of irrational anger hit me. Why could this older man do what I couldn’t? “Pire que ceci n’est pas possible,” Worse than this is not possible, I blurted out in my accented French. “Pire que ceci reste toujours possible.” Worse than this always remains possible. His voice was absent as if he spoke to no one in particular. He stroked the girl’s face and kissed her forehead.
The impacts shook the hospital tremendously. Mortally afraid, I fell on my knees and tried to protect my head. Plaster, flying pieces of bricks, parts of beds and trolleys, all kinds of debris, clouded the corridor, turning the air into a caustic mixture. The grenades’ resonating bellows were like savage blows to my ribcage.
Again, the building was hit with a sound as if a giant rolled a drum. Srdan, my Bosnian fixer, bolted into the corridor, grabbed me by the arm, and lead me away.
The surrounding violence tore the morphine veil from the girl with the smashed face. She uttered a high-pitched
At that moment, I hated the world as never before.
I looked over my shoulder as the next grenade struck. A cloud of green-gray dust transformed the corridor in a shadow play.
“Worse is always possible,” the old French surgeon in Sarajevo had said. So many years later, on my laptop, I am gazing at the proof of his words. It is visible in the huge and hazy eyes of Syrian children, hooked on primitive life support systems in cranky hospitals, fighting for their lives. I have never known if the people in the Sarajevo hospital corridor survived. I have never known if the surgeon selected the girl with the smashed face for treatment. Neither do I know if the Syrian children in the pictures I’m looking at will survive. What I do know is that I wrestle with the same confusing array of emotions as 24 years ago: compassion, shame, anger, guilt. And underneath all that, a dark and painful layer that I cannot clearly describe, but that feels like this: I felt helpless all my life in the face of the misery man inflicts upon man, and it made me angrier and guiltier with the passing of each year. As a result, I vomited on the world and called my puke novels.
The Flower Eating Woman and I skyped a few hours ago. She invited me to come over for dinner. She said that we would have marinated daisies as dessert.
I told her about the girl with the smashed face in Sarajevo, and called that occurrence, “The beginning of my irrevocable descent in negativity.” I produced some more pompous and somber metaphors to make sure she understood that I was just joshing her. She didn’t want to understand I was just joshing her. I should’ve known. It is in her nature. “At last, now I know why you have been publishing all those pitiless, noir novels, packed with characters suffering from intense self-hate,” she said on my screen, looking at me in a very peculiar way. Not as if I was a Monster from Outer Space. “I did it to become a rich and famous yuppie-writer!” “Huh-huh-huh.” “Out of impotent anger, then? Does that suit you better?” “No,” the Flower Eating Woman answered. “I think you did it out of fear. Fear that you would become suicidal from the atrocities you’ve seen during your traveling years. You had to prove to yourself that you were strong by writing novels that, in some ways, are even worse than reality.”
B o b Va n L a e r h o v e n – B e l g i u m / F l a n d e r s h t t p : / / w w w. b o b va n l a e r h o v e n . b e / e n / pa g e / 4 6 / globetrotter-and-writer
From the dawn of time, every race and population have attributed various meanings and symbolism to colours.
Red - A Voyage into Colours, talks about colours, how humans can benefit from them, how our health, spirit, and state of mind can improve by using all colours without distinction. It teaches how to create and mix colours as a study for people who have an interest in becoming artists and are just starting. Red delves into understanding colours from a spiritual point of view and how to use them, technically, for interiors, fashion, food, entertainment and much more. It is so important when mixing colours to look at nature as our best teacher, where all colours are mixed together and co-exist well without rules and prejudices. We can simply copy nature and feel perfect in our choice of colours.
Colours and Emotions Valentina Cirasola
An article about interior design in a literary magazine… are we crazy? No, we are not. As Valentina explains in this article, the interior design of our homes and workspaces have an important bearing on our health and wellbeing and, ultimately, this is reflected in our creativity.
“Colour is the language of the listening eye” ~ Gaugin. What emotions do you feel in your home? Let’s say when you get up in the morning, do you feel energized, do you feel your mind is in the clutter, do you wake up sluggish, or do you feel to fly away freely? Having a good night sleep, followed by healthy nutrition and some kind of exercise program, going to a job you like, having a supportive family, a nice circle of friends and comfortable financial stability will determine how you wake up in the morning. Aside from these elements, I call “the good life” elements, our first positive feelings start in the morning when our open eyes get hit with colours. Not many people pay attention to colours as the first thing to do in the morning and yet, the colours surrounding the bedroom, the closet where we select our clothes, the kitchen where we prepare breakfast and the bathroom where we do our ablutions are the colours that will shape the day. If you live in a mortally beige home, you will feel very “beige” during the day. No space will leave us completely indifferent, whether a room is well-designed, decorated,
well cared for or not. Entering a room, we need to fuse with the space and environment. The eye functions as a camera scans the room, receives the images, sends those images to the brain and brain activity forms. The eyes always seek chromatic relief, a colour to make a stop and rest on. If there is no chromatic relief, the eyes will create additional brain activity until they will stop on the total volume of the room, meaning its lines and forms. The majority of people live enclosed in those four walls called “Home”; it is a necessity to make those four walls our harmonious cocoon. How do we do that? We start surrounding ourselves with colours suitable for our zodiac sign. Knowing the colours of the planets that revolved over our head the very second of our birth, when we came “into the light” is very important. Those planets shaped our personality and our traits. If the colours of our home are in tune with those planets, we feel coordinated with the cosmos, through the day those colours will help unconsciously our wellbeing and aesthetics.
Certain elements create atmospheres and emotions. Following certain strategies, it is possible to achieve rooms that will caress our soul. For example, the placement of mirrors and lighting is of the utmost importance.
Mirrors play a large role in decorating. According to the Feng Shui theory, mirrors are considered the water element. The reflection they create clear feelings of stagnation and bring in beneficial and healing energy. However, a mirror can work against beneficial energy if they are not positioned correctly.
the room. The reflected image projected out from the mirrors is the important focus. Would you want to see a large clutter in the living room doubled through the mirror reflection, or would you like the see a beautiful, colourful painting reflected twice? The best strategy for using mirrors in the décor is to group various shapes and sized towards the light, then it will appear like a wall full of windows in the daytime and an art gallery wall in the night-time. In my second book, “Sins Of A Queen”, I wrote that “Salt is the spice of food, attitude is the spice of life”, and in my design business, colours and lighting are the spices of a home . The playfulness of a room depends mainly on the games created with lighting. I like to create shadows and lights without showing the lighting fixtures. Of course, when the room is filled with artistic and beautiful lighting fixtures it is a must to show them off, they represent the illuminated jewels of a home, but where the function of a fixture is to emanate suffuse light effects, it is not necessary to show a light in the can, or a spotlight, just to name a few.
Make sure your mirrors reflect only beautiful things, refrain from positioning mirrors towards areas of the home that are not so attractive or placing them directly across for one another. Place them instead in areas where they will increase and spread light, such as across from windows and light sources. For an interesting look, don’t match the frame style of mirrors, but do match them to the walls, the floor or the décor colour of
Having said this, I feel very comfortable filling dark corners with lighting, illuminating dark cabinets, creating silhouette effects on walls, or an aura behind furniture with lighting set inside the floor. This way to illuminate a room is my way of sculpting with light.
Being the extravagant designer as I am, in my home, I filled glass tables with lighting, illuminated plants from inside the pot, bullet lighted the ceiling of my studio and hung objects of interests on the ceilings of some rooms. The playfulness of a room depends mainly on the games created with lighting. I like to create shadows and lights without showing the lighting fixtures. Of course, when the room is filled with artistic and beautiful lighting fixtures it is a must to show them off, they represent the illuminated jewels of a home, but where the function of a fixture is to emanate suffuse light effects, it is not necessary to show a light in the can, or a spotlight, just to name a few.
that goes from the office to the cocktail hours and dinner out, do you decorate your home in a total black as well? I don’t think so, thus if you decorate with some colours, why don’t you wear them? I guess this would be an article for the next time. In anything we do, the gamma of colours will help us creating a message, a mood, a feeling, a character, and especially harmony, which human being need to create a good life. If we don’t have these
Having said this, I feel very comfortable filling dark corners with lighting, illuminating dark cabinets, creating silhouette effects on walls, or an aura behind furniture with lighting set inside the floor. This way to illuminate a room is my way of sculpting with light. Being the extravagant designer as I am, in my home, I filled glass tables with lighting, illuminated plants from inside the pot, bullet lighted the ceiling of my studio and hung objects of interests on the ceilings of some rooms. Colours you wear, just think about them. Ask yourself if they give justice to your texture, to the colour complexion you have and your body shape. Are they right for you? Do they emphasize your beautiful features?
We often decorate with the colours we wear. With your décor are you able to create a mood or the cosy atmosphere you seek for your peaceful and relaxing moments just using the colours you wear? If you wear black 24/7 as the one basic colour
elements in our rooms it’s like living in a cardboard box, or worst if these elements are not present in the clothes we wear, we would feel exactly as boring as all those clothes on the racks that people touch with boredom and uncaring eyes.
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Book me a drink
Library and bar should, in my humble opinion fall into being the new binomial, simply because the two go so well together, they compliment one another as few other things do. Allow me to elucidate.
There is something magical about a beautiful, old library, images of dark-wooden panelled walls. Shelves lined with jewel-coloured books. The scent. The tranquillity. Many of us love looking around such splendiferous interiors but did you know they can become even more delicious at night, especially when accompanied by a cocktail menu. Library bars have become a must visit for every avid reader of author who visits London You can find these bars hiding away in all sorts of places, from Soho House to Benugo cafes. They are the perfect place to hold an informal interview, or meet other authors, to catch up with friends and even for your first date. (Iâ€™m open to invitations btw.) However, many of these charming and wonderful little bars are 'cultish' and hidden away so, Electric Press reveals six 'tried & tested' Library bars for all those bookworms and writers who enjoy books & booze and are looking for an extra special night out.
Maison Assouline is what happens when all of the right stars align. By that we mean, a place where you can browse design-focussed tomes and rare first-editions of classic titles. But, as well as a gorgeous book shop, it also happens to be a museum of eclectic artefacts, a concept store and a Parisian style eatery and bar.
It seems even London pubs are getting on the literary action. The
Gorringe Park Pub
is a quirky little
boozer in Tooting, only a year old but with bags of character, not least in its library room. Shelves are packed with a wide range of whimsical books to suit all tastes, from novels such as Alice in Wonderland to Encyclopaedias. Tucked away on the first floor of the pub, the library bar is a quiet space to hide away with a coffee and a book, or beaver away on your laptop with the pub’s free Wi-Fi. They also have a free cinema room in case you need another helping of culture with your cocktails.
Scarfe’s Bar. This may look like your generic (but equally beautiful) countryside cottage getaway, but it is in fact so, so much more. Named after British caricaturist, Gerald Scarfe, the bar is filled with Scarfe’s own collection of amusing paintings – making it an educational trip for art fans. Music lovers will enjoy selecting a ‘potion’ of their choice from Soul inspired by Aretha Franklin, Rock inspired by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Hip-Hop inspired by Tupac, Electro inspired by Daft Punk, or one of their many other genres of cocktail. Choose a ‘piano’, ‘mezzo forte’ or ‘fortissimo’ depending on your preferred level of flavour. The Rosewood London Hotel, 252 High Holborn,
The Malt Whisky Library Bar in the Grange Hotel offers a quintessential British setting in which to enjoy a dram or two with friends. Guests can unwind amongst the Downton-esque décor, whilst taking in the impressively stacked bookshelves. A range of classic bourbons, single malts and spirits is available.
Named after the poker-playing Bond villain in Casino Royale, Le Chiffre is the epitome of a suave London library bar. Created to replicate the feeling of a private members’ club for guests at the South Place Hotel, the room features superchic furniture and a stylish library of books and magazines. Guests can spin classic vinyl on the turntable, challenge someone to a board or card game, or order from the bespoke cocktail menu at the slick new marble bar. Entry is restricted to hotel guests, club members and a select group of friends and neighbours.
You’ve heard of Secret Cinema but what about a secret library bar? If you’re visiting the BFI on the Southbank, chances are you’re already a bit of a culture vulture, so this highbrow bar should suit you down to a T. In Benugo Bar & Kitchen, a faux
bookcase hides a secret drawing room cocktail bar lined with yet more bookshelves.
Evelyn's camping trip takes a surprising turn when she gets caught in the woods during a wicked snowstorm. After a handsome stranger comes to her aid, Evelyn is quick to follow his lead.
Soon, she realizes something unusual about the strange man. After he leads Evelyn into a world of everlasting winter, a chain of events is set in motion, forever changing her life. What she doesn't realize is the greatest discovery of all lies within herself... something which has been slumbering inside her all along.
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N o t E v e n Yo u A short story by
J . W. G o o d w i n A team of surveyors neared the charred remains of an old village on the outskirts of a large, bustling city. It would be a new site for a planned expansion, but the idea of living anywhere near the cursed land horrified the residents of the district. The sponsor waived it off as superstitions and old wives’ tales, bribing the locals with luxuries and promises of a better future. Still, the populace treated the tales as truth and refused any offers. To ease their worries, the sponsor hired a local boy to show the surveyors to the site. The lad was barely twelve and lived in a dumpster located down a dangerous alley. It took convincing, but he accepted the offer, even at the cost of waking the curse.
The team pitied the boy with his unkempt hair and torn clothing. They heard the whispers of how his parents died near the site and how the youth was found days later, mute and unresponsive even though fully alert. They discovered he learned to speak again in short, broken sentences. Normally he spewed gibberish, but at rare time his words were profound and wise. The team followed the boy through the dense woods, untouched by humans for decades. The equipment needed be
shared between the party members so not overburden the labourers hired outside the district. With axes and saws, they carved a path forward. It was slow progress, but if they needed an escape, they could run. Black clouds gathered above, threatening to unleash their load. The canopy above blotted out most of the sun’s rays but the cloud covering snatched the little light that snuck through. It only stopped the surveyors for a moment while they dug out their floodlights. Even with the bright lights, they couldn’t see far ahead. The boy led on silently, hesitating only when the path was obstructed by overgrowth. He stayed back, watching the limbs of trees hacked off by axes. One of the key members tapped on the captain’s shoulder and pointed to the boy. He stood still, never moving or flinching, staring into the darkness of the thicket. The captain waved it off and told the others to ignore the child’s behaviour. They had one task and they would complete it before the dawn.
Further along, the group consulted the maps and satellite images to check their location. The one smoothed his hair back, wiping the sweat from his brow. “We should have made it there hours ago,” he
complained. Others agreed. “Have you been leading us in circles, kid?” demanded the captain. The boy stared into the distance. He walked up to him and nudged his shoulder. “I’m talking to you, boy. We should have made it there by now.” “Circles lose demons,” the boy mumbled. A burly labourer spun the boy around to face him. “Are you telling us we have gone nowhere?” “Circles for safety. Lines for danger.” “Shit. Captain you hearing this?” He knelt and placed his hand on his arm. “We can’t play games. We’re only paid for the day, same as you.” The boy remained still. “You understand?” “Don’t hurt friends.” The boy walked off into the woods, shoving branches aside. The labourer glanced at the captain while pointing his thumb where the lad had been. “You trusting this moron?” “No choice. He’s the only one who could be bribed to
surveyors. The boy continued forward, no longer waiting for the crew to keep up. A few caught themselves on thick branches and abandoned their packs to move faster. Soon all parties left most of their equipment behind to follow him. The boy stopped before his feet touched the blackened cobblestone path. Those behind him stopped to stare at the sight before them. Skeletons of old colonial log cabins stood before them. Moss grew along the outer edge of the wood but never dared pass the black stones. No vines nor trees nor flowers nor bushes dared to touch anything which was been charred. The regular animal sounds expected were also missing.
Though odd, the team took photographs and samples with the little amount of equipment they kept. They walked the cobblestone paths and explored the abandoned village. One team member noticed the houses were a late seventeenth century and mentioned the findings to the captain. Some members swore at the news as it meant the site was historic and off-limits for expansion.
take us here.”
The group continued onward, hoping the child understood they couldn’t waste more time. If it wasn’t for the few members with watches time would be non-existent. Rain drizzled down from above, soaking their jackets as droplets fell from the canopy. Some complained and asked if they could go back. The captain refused, forcing everyone onward. The rain pounded on their backs. A wind picked up, bending the trees and chilling the
The youth shuffled to the town’s centre and stood before a mass of tombstones. The stone plaques sparkled brightly from the light of the flood lamps. If the houses were old, there should have been moss or grime. Something to show the passage of time. The others gathered when they noticed the boy swaying. The captain looked closely at the graves and noticed each had a black mark instead of an angel’s face. All except one. They all
took a step back. That was the reason no one dared to near the settlement, let alone repopulate it. Black marks were known to be used when there was no logical reason for the body’s death. Only one place was known to have a mass of the unmarked graves and it had been regarded as a myth. They had stumbled on the fabled place of where an entire colony dropped dead from where they stood without reason, in broad daylight no less. Only one remained standing to wander the streets in a daze. He left in a trance and made his way to a nearby settlement. The captain cautiously approached the tombstone with an angel’s face. It was the only one coated in grime and dust. He cleared the etching and aimed his flashlight on it. Here lay Adom, the sole survivor of the Ashrun Catastrophe. Cause of death: crushed by debris. He shivered, remembering his grandmother’s rendition of the tale. The man entered the nearby settlement and warned of Ashrun’s demise before the collapse of a nearby house buried him. The team turned to the child, demanding answers. Unlike before, the boy’s head was downturned and limp. A labourer shook his shoulders, screaming at him to answer. His head snapped up and looked at him with hollowed eyes. “He may have lived,” he wheezed, “but no one escapes Ashrun.” With a flick of his wrist, the team dropped to their knees, their eyes hollow and glazed, before falling face-first into
the mud. The earth trembled. Short pillars of stone shot up from below, consuming the deceased. Each marked with a black spot. The captain fell against Adom’s tombstone. His body shook as the boy shuffled over. The cross his grandmother had given him burned on his skin. If only he had listened to her and stayed home. She warned he would regret his greed. She warned she could not protect him from the devils if he had no faith of his own. If only she knew how right she had been. The boy grabbed the captain’s chin and forced him to look at his face. His skin peeled, revealing rotten muscle beneath. His lips parted in a wide grin, causing some teeth to fall from his gums. “Should have walked in circles instead of lines,” he cackled. He shoved the man down in the mud, his laughter deep and loud. The captain bolted from the town square. The buildings cracked and snapped as he passed, peppering him with ashes and dust. He could see the tree line shortly past the last building. He must make it. He needed to warn the government of the danger of Ashrun, its demon, and the curse surrounding the town. Something had to be done to keep the demon away from the people and prevent further deaths. He was steps away from exiting the village when the ground shook again. He tripped and tumbled, stopping when his back hit the last corner he needed to
pass. A scream escaped his vocal cords as waves of pain washed over him. His eyes watered as he tried to struggle to his feet. His heart hammered hard in his eardrums when he realized he couldn’t feel his legs. He pulled himself forward with his arms but, try as he might, his legs remained still.
The boy shuffled toward him. The captain looked away. He had to focus on moving; he desired to get back to his family. He had to protect those who would go looking for the team. His arms ached the more he struggled to crawl forward. He had to escape. The boy cackled behind him. “No one escapes Ashrun.” He fell limp before the
captain, his hollow eyes gazing back at him. His rotten hand reached out and touched his face. He was right. With no legs to run, he couldn’t leave. The boy smiled, but his jaw unhinged in his attempt. With a snap of his decayed fingers, a piece of the nearby building broke off, showering them in splinters. If only he had listened to his grandmother. If only he had more faith, more foresight. If only he didn’t accept the ludicrous job of exploring a cursed village which the locals insisted they avoided. If only, but ifs meant nothing in the face of death. The boy’s body crumbled to dust just before the debris crushed the captain. His voice rang out over the empty village. “Not even you, Captain Adam.”
J.W. Goodwin is the author of the novel By the Light of a Darkened Forest. She was born and raised in Northern Ontario, Canada where she still resides. It is where her love of nature grew, and her writing flourished. Even when she moved away for a time, her heart she knew she would always return home.
Website: authorjwgoodwin.wordpress.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaWGoodwin Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessWGoodwin Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/authorjwgoodwin/
wetting with spring rain crystal petals of plum blossoms don’t separate from the celestial
Tanka by Rika Inami 22
a dual in
Two authors, two b Caroline Cook – Where There is Life There Really is Hope Motherhood wasn’t in Caroline’s plans for life as a youngster. But the moment Vea was born, it turned her world around. She felt an instant bond with her baby girl and an instant determination to protect her from all the evils of the world.
Valeria Tokoar – Rehabilitated Valeria Tokoar never saw herself as a writer until the recent events in her life. These
have given her an opportunity to give back, to help people who have gone through or going through similar events in their life. This is her story, the events leading to the choices and decisions she made and the amazing turn around by the strength of God. Valeria is involved in road and driveway campaigns which are very close to her heart. Her story is part of the campaigns, which tell her story and life journey through 60 Minutes seven sharp and has been printed in woman’s weekly and
women’s day to help raise awareness of being mindful when behind the wheel of a vehicle. Valeria is still and will always be on the path of recovery and embracing the gift of life.
books, one reason What inspired you to share your stories? Was that something you decided together?
Caroline: My paragraph turned into my own book as there was so much I wanted to share with other parents I wish I had known, or been able to discover, at the beginning of Valeria’s drug addiction.
because we felt compassionate towards each other. We were also able to share what we would have done if we had known more details of the situation at the time. And so, the pain, hurt, anger, frustration etc dissolved. We always checked in with each other to see if there was anything else that needed to be shared so that we finished our conversation in a good place. Sometimes we had to take time to process our emotions and then come back and chat about the same thing again. We made time to do that and it really helped us.
How do you believe your relationship has changed in the wake of exploring your stories together?
Caroline - was it hard to reconcile the Valeria you knew with a Valeria suffering from addiction?
HUGE! Our relationship wouldn’t be what it is today had we not explored our stories together. We shared our experiences with each other which meant that we did 2 things: 1) spoke openly and honestly (but not maliciously) about our experiences 2) listened to each other to understand the other’s experience. It brought us closer
Yes, it was hard. The drug had invaded her and morphed her and caused her to do and say things that she would never have done otherwise. When very hurtful words came out of her mouth towards me, I told myself it was the drugs talking not her because it was true. She didn’t speak like that before taking drugs and she doesn’t speak like that now –
Valeria: I wanted to share my story to let others know there is hope and you can be free of meth and to share how God gave me the strength to recover from my addiction. I invited Mum to write a paragraph…
she only spoke like that when drugs were driving her. Valeria - at what point was it that you realised things had gone too far and you realised you needed to seek help? When I was going to lose custody of my son. I had already got to the point of being fed up of the highs and lows and dealing with all the stuff that comes with that lifestyle when you’re feeling low and then just wanting more drugs. But when I was going to lose custody of my son…that really affected me, and I forced myself to change. What do you both feels are the biggest challenges that face a family who have a member who is struggling with addiction? Drug addiction is an infection in the whole family. The addict is doing their thing and the effect of their behaviour ripples through the whole family and so there is conflict. Different members passionately want different things – the addict wants their drugs and the family wants them to stop. The family cannot control the addict and make choices for them, so they feel powerless and hopeless. Looking after your own mental health when you have an addict in the family becomes a challenge within a challenge. Parents can feel rejected as their efforts to help their child are unwanted and their child pushes them away. They often blame themselves and wonder what they have done wrong in their parenting. This takes the focus off what they can do in the present to help their loved one. Thankfully Valeria did not indulge in criminal behaviour at home, but some people do – they steal from their family and physically abuse them. Decisions around that behaviour are heart-breaking as the parental instinct wants to protect their child but the survival instinct wants to protect themselves from the
harm that their child puts on them. When the addict has children it is really hard to know when to step in and protect them as the child loves their parent. You don’t want to remove a child to protect them but end up traumatising the child in the process. Sometimes the child’s presence is the reason that things are not worse. It’s a balancing act. Valeria - will you use what you have learnt through your rehabilitation to support your son in not ever struggling with the same triggering problems that led to your addiction? Yes. He has seen the devastating effects of alcohol and drugs and has decided against them for his life. I tell him honestly how it is and I don’t hold back. Caroline - do you feel there are enough resources available for educating families about what to expect and how to deal with a family member who is an addict? No definitely not. It is not something you expect to happen, so you do not prepare for it. I felt very ashamed of my situation too so that kept me quiet and I just wanted to find resources I could educate myself with from home. I struggled to find anything when I needed it. I have since discovered there are lots of online support groups where parents help and support each other. What was your personal experience with the official resources available for addicts and their families? What were the most valuable? Valeria: I attended a support group for a while. It was helpful at the start but when I relapsed, I felt too ashamed to go back because I felt embarrassed and I didn’t want to face them but I didn’t want to lie about relapsing either. My biggest inspiration at the beginning was a friend who had been a drug addict many years before me and he had turned his life around. He got in
touch with me when I was on drugs and he was very supportive and encouraging. I had a lot of help from a friend I made outside of the family who was a great influence and helped heaps and was there for me all the time when I needed her. Her family were very accommodating and never once judged me - that had a huge impact on me to change my behaviour and where my life was going. It makes a huge difference having someone outside of the family because in my head my mum would always build me up and tell me all my good characteristics, but she is my mum, to me it was her job to say those things, she had to be biased. Whereas, in retrospect, she wasn’t saying that stuff because she had to but because she fully believed those things and she wanted me to know that about myself. Having a family member let you know that when you decide to change then they will be there for you, is a huge thing that really helped. Knowing that you have that choice to move out of the life you have created if you choose to, has a huge impact on whether that is even an option. Caroline: I couldn’t find anything helpful.
When Valeria was ready to go to a rehab facility, there were no spare beds. I went to a support group but didn’t like it. Everybody shared what they were struggling with and that was it. No support, no advice – people put themselves out there and then are left hanging – that’s how I felt from observing it, so I didn’t go back. I found a grandparent raising grandchildren support group, but they were all retired and met on a mid-week morning. I worked fulltime so I couldn’t do that. In an age where awareness of mental health is ever growing, do you feel yet that enough is being done to combat this? No. The government allows cigarettes, alcohol and drugs into our society, so the government is responsible for helping to resolve the consequences of their decisions. We need to teach kids in primary school, secondary school and at University level how to process emotions - it needs to be part of our school syllabus. We know that humans are driven towards pleasure and away from pain. So, we need to learn how to process our emotions that don’t feel good. Then we
won’t turn to alcohol and drugs etc to escape those uncomfortable feelings. There is already proof that meditation instead of detention/ punishment has a great impact. That needs to be implemented more widely in learning institutions at every level and age group. Teaching needs to start at home preferably. But many parents don’t know how to look after themselves emotionally so they cannot be good role models for their children. But they can all learn together. Free counselling/ therapy needs to be available in all learning institutions. Some children must cope with horrendous things at home or in other aspects of their lives. They need somewhere to go to process how they feel so that their experience makes them stronger. Free counselling/ therapy is cheaper than free rehab. Rehab is expensive and takes a long time. Counselling/ therapy helps people cope better with life as they live their life. This is better for everyone because no one is an island. When one person struggles, everyone around them is impacted. Just as when one person is strong and capable, they can have a positive impact on those around them. But they need strong, capable people around them to stay that way. Do you believe, Valeria, that with better mental health services when you were younger, you might have not become an addict later in life? Yes. I received counselling a couple of different times, but it didn’t really help. Better services would have helped me deal with my problems and to respect myself and my body. They would have helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses along with getting to know myself, my qualities and what I have to offer. I would have learnt the tools to be able to deal with situations differently and to learn about healthy habits and how to live life
differently. Do you think there is enough public education with drug use and is it effective? Valeria: No. When I was at High School, we had the DARE Programme which educated us about marijuana and so I never tried that. Meth was the first drug I took because I didn’t know anything about it. I was feeling really down one day, and an acquaintance told me I would feel better if I took what she offered me. I would have said no if it had been marijuana because I knew about that. But I was clueless about meth. What advice would you both offer to someone going through something like you? Valeria to an addict: It’s never too late to change; you can always turn your life around; you can have a great future and be happy no matter where you are now or what you have done. Valeria to a person struggling in life but not yet addicted to anything: Learn and form healthy habits, like waking up make your bed it is that sense of accomplishment that starts the day off on the right note, go to the gym, eat healthy, read books that help you to grow and be a better person. Learn how to deal with emotions in a healthy way by recognising it is ok to feel how you do but don’t stay and dwell in that place, let the emotions flow through and let them go before you get to the point of taking drugs to escape the pain. Having a good support system, people around you to keep you accountable that care for you. If you feel you don’t have that go to group meetings where you meet others that are going through the same thing because it is easier to have a connection with someone that can be empathetic and understanding towards you.
Caroline to a parent: love your child no matter what but look after yourself and their children too – you will have to make some decisions you never imagined possible but do it anyway; you are not alone – look online for online support groups through Facebook etc and be encouraged; know that your child’s decisions are not your fault.
Caroline, would there be something you would have said to your daughter if you could go back and speak to her before addiction took hold?
Equally, if you could go back and speak to your younger self Valeria, what would you say to her? Do you think the right advice might have changed things?
Caroline: Well of course. If I knew what to say that would have made a difference, I would have said it. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing seemed to hit the mark. She has since told me that she took it out on me because she knew that I would love her no matter what. Right from the start, I always wanted Valeria to know that I loved her. So, I’m glad that she felt so sure of that through her darkest times.
Valeria to her younger self: You have so many good qualities and you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else; you don’t need a man to feel ok about yourself; you are strong enough to do what you want to do and to be where you want to be; you have the brain smarts that you need; you have a lot going for you, you can be the strong independent woman that you want to be. The right tools and knowledge would have changed things.
Valeria: Since I can remember, Mum would always praise me and tell me all the qualities I had to offer but it didn’t make a difference because it was only her telling me and to me I believed she had to say those things to me because that's what a good mum does. I was just so caught up in looking for acceptance from the wrong people and in my hurt that mum would say all these nice things, but I never believed her.
USA https://www.austinmacauley.com/book/ rehabilitated
残りゐし桜のはなびら朝影にかすかにふるへ時を放てり some left petals of cherry vibrating with the morning sunshine … release time
Tanka by Rika Inami 22
Karen J Mossman shares her views, insights and memories of reading I am one of those people who always has a book on the go. I prefer stories to have a little romance, although romance on its own is not enough. It must have some other element, and many books do these days. It had not occurred to me until recently how my main authors were male. Since the advent of the Indie author, it is flipped, it is more female authors. Perhaps most authors used to be male, and if that is so, it is changed. If you are one of the few that does not know what an Indie author is, then let me explain. The authors you have heard of publish through a traditional publisher who funds all aspects of a book. That means the formatting, proofreading, cover design and promotion. An Indie author does everything themselves; they are like your local, friendly family store in comparison to the impersonal huge supermarket chains. Indie authors need all the support they can get, and by reading and reviewing their books, you can help with that. The next obvious question for the uninitiated is where do I find these books? The answer is here - Electric Eclectic or type Electric
Eclectic Books into your Amazon search bar. Many are novelettes, great for finding new authors. There are plenty to choose from and most genres are covered. The two I rarely read are science fiction and horror. It was not always that way. During my teens and early twenties, I devoured most of James Herbert’s books. The Fog, The Rats, Fluke, Jonah, and Stephen King’s, IT, The Stand, Misery, to name but a few. I have tried Science Fiction but many of them have unpronounceable names for characters or planets and it distracts from the story. Fantasy has evolved and standing alongside that genre is dystopian. These stories appealed to me. The Reacher series, for example by L. E. Fitzpatrick is superb and I have read them all, The Running Game, Rising Fire, Every Storm Breaks and Border Lines. Another dystopian series I loved was C. L. Cannon’s The Kingdom of Waldren series, After Oil, The Last Iron Horse, Ghost Walker and Between Silence and Fire. Back in 2018, I came across a book called On the Brink, A Dystopian Anthology. It had twelve stories, and the first one was called The Machinist’s Daughter by Alison
Ingleby. It completely captured my imagination. I loved it. What I had not realised was it was a taster, or maybe a prequel to a story. It was unfinished and left me hanging. I was devastated. So much so, I could not read any of the others in case they were the same. Having checked it on Amazon, it says limited edition, and the book is no longer available. I still have it on my Kindle and may go back to it at some point just to see. Another book I loved was called Flawed Perfection, a collection of winter wishes. This was an excellent collection of stories by different authors. I read the whole book, even though there was one story that stopped mid-flow. The writer, apparently, was just giving a taster to a book she was writing. I was so annoyed at being left hanging again. However, I went on to read novels by some of the other authors. Once more this book disappeared and is no longer available to buy. Having teased you with two anthologies you cannot buy, let me tell you about one you can. Looking into the Abyss. Eleven fabulous stories which will capture your imagination. Although each one was excellent I had five outstanding favourites and you will find the review and details on my website mentioned below. Anthologies are a great way to discover different authors, and more so having a book you can pick up and put down and read one whole story at a time. My love of books came from my Dad. He was a prolific reader, and members of his family were too. Dad used to make us laugh because he would become so absorbed in a book he could not see or hear anything going on around him. In fact, as children, we used to tease him.
“Dad, can you lend me a million pounds?” Or, “Dad, can I drive your car?” His reaction was always the same. Nothing. For him, the outside world had disappeared. Dad’s favourite place to get away from his brood was the bathroom. Off he would go with his book and a packet of cigarettes. He could easily spend an hour in there, much to everyone’s annoyance! Now, I completely get it. Although I am always conscious of what is going around me, and unlike Dad with his paperbacks, I have my Kindle. There is something magical about a good book, and if the circumstances are right, no distractions, I love how I can vanish inside it. I am there; I am lost; I am the main character. Then just as suddenly, I am back in the room. Who said time travel is not possible? At the time of writing this, I had just finished reading a western called The Yellow Rose by Wesley Tallant. It is been on my Kindle for a while, and I forgot about it. It is a long time since I read a cowboy book. As a child, I was brought up on westerns, and over the years, they have gone out of fashion. There is something special about cowboys and injuns. I loved the long-haired, colourful and often handsome injuns. I also loved the horses and watching them galloping across the plains. I enjoyed The Yellow Rose. It has ranch hands, sheriffs, gorgeous horses, and gunfights. As I read, it reminded of dad again. He loved the Sudden books, and I am fairly certain I read a few as well. Sudden was created by Oliver Strange in the thirties. His character was James Green, whose nickname was Sudden because of his lightning speed with a gun.
Back in 2018, I came across a book called On the Brink, A Dystopian Anthology. It had twelve stories, and the first one was called The Machinist’s Daughter by Alison Ingleby. It completely captured my imagination. I loved it. What I had not realised was it was a taster, or maybe a prequel to a story. It was unfinished and left me hanging. I was devastated. So much so, I could not read any of the others in case they were the same. Having checked it on Amazon, it says limited edition, and the book is no longer available. I still have it on my Kindle and may go back to it at some point just to see.
was a prolific reader, and members of his family were too. Dad used to make us laugh because he would become so absorbed in a book he could not see or hear anything going on around him. In fact, as children, we used to tease him. “Dad, can you lend me a million pounds?” Or, “Dad, can I drive your car?” His reaction was always the same. Nothing. For him, the outside world had disappeared. Dad’s favourite place to get away from his brood was the bathroom. Off he would go with his book and a packet of cigarettes. He could easily spend an hour in there, much to everyone’s annoyance!
Another book I loved was called Flawed Perfection, a collection of winter wishes. This was an excellent collection of stories by different authors. I read the whole book, even though there was one story that stopped mid-flow. The writer, apparently, was just giving a taster to a book she was writing. I was so annoyed at being left hanging again. However, I went on to read novels by some of the other authors. Once more this book disappeared and is no longer available to buy.
Now, I completely get it. Although I am always conscious of what is going around me, and unlike Dad with his paperbacks, I have my Kindle. There is something magical about a good book, and if the circumstances are right, no distractions, I love how I can vanish inside it. I am there; I am lost; I am the main character. Then just as suddenly, I am back in the room. Who said time travel is not possible?
Having teased you with two anthologies you cannot buy, let me tell you about one you can. Looking into the Abyss. Eleven fabulous stories which will capture your imagination. Although each one was excellent I had five outstanding favourites and you will find the review and details on my website mentioned below.
Anthologies are a great way to discover different authors, and more so having a book you can pick up and put down and read one whole story at a time. My love of books came from my Dad. He
At the time of writing this, I had just finished reading a western called The Yellow Rose by Wesley Tallant. It is been on my Kindle for a while, and I forgot about it. It is a long time since I read a cowboy book. As a child, I was brought up on westerns, and over the years, they have gone out of fashion. There is something special about cowboys and injuns. I loved the long-haired, colourful and often handsome injuns. I also loved the horses and watching them galloping across the plains. I enjoyed The Yellow Rose. It has ranch hands, sheriffs, gorgeous horses, and gunfights. As I read, it reminded of dad
again. He loved the Sudden books, and I am fairly certain I read a few as well. Sudden was created by Oliver Strange in the thirties. His character was James Green, whose nickname was Sudden because of his lightning speed with a gun. When Strange died in 1952, Frederick H. Christian picked up the character and wrote a series. I presumed it was probably these books Dad read and nipped over to Amazon to look. Immediately I recognised the covers from Strangeâ€™s books, a typical cowboy sitting on a rearing horse. I then looked for the Christian covers, and they were naff. Pictures of real cowboys superimposed on a background did nothing to enhance the
story. Covers play a key part of a book, and they must capture you and lure to pick up. Most of all, they must be attractive. There are still many awful ones out there, just photos plonked on a matt cover. It is such a shame because some readers will not see past that, particularly when there is a good story waiting to be discovered.
I review every book I read on Magic Reviews and you can find all the books I have mentioned there.
What happened that night down by the river? When Shelby's best friend goes missing, she has to return to her hometown to search for her. As soon as she steps off the bus, she knows it is too late. Her visions are vague but the sense of foreboding is not. What is Mary-Jo's boyfriend not saying, and why is Sheriff Rawden Hughes so convinced he is guilty?
UK https://amzn.to/2xKkFDd International https://books2read.com/DownbytheRiver Karen J Mossman lives on the isle of Anglesey in north Wales with her husband and two dogs. Website - https://magicofstories.net/ Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/kazz_magic_of_stories/ https://books2read.com/DownbytheRiver Karen J Mossaman's Magic of Stories on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ karensmagicofstories/
through the celestial does spring festival flow over and fall? ...fascinated with ecstatic dance of drooping cherry blossoms
※ Tanka by Rika Inami 10
About the photo, it is a drooping (weeping) cherry tree on the Samurai Houses Street in Kakunodate, Senboku City, Akita Prefecture, Japan.
UK https://amzn.to/3bmgsEl USA https://www.amazon.com/TANKAHARAKO-3-Book-Series/dp/ B0716PVXMD
Electric Press Literary Insights magazine is the quarterly digital periodical of Electric Eclectic. Electric Press magazine is published each February, May, August and November. We welcome submissions relating to writing, books & publishing; which are written for ‘the reader’. Suggestions for content include the following topics and subjects: 'A day in the life of '….'?, Author interviews, Author Profiles, Illustrator/cover designer interviews,. Words on Editing/Formatting, Poetry, Short Stories, Book reviews, Life Stories, Blog Posts, Publishing Insights, Market trends/movements, Reports, Upcoming/Events/Shows., Forthcoming Online Events/Broadcasts, Competitions/Challenges and other book and publishing related articles. Contributions are welcome from Indie authors, Small Press authors & Publishers, Author & publishing support services, Illustrators, Photographers, Artists & Cover designers, Book related websites/blogs, Book Reviewers., avid readers.
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The May 2020 edition of Electric Press - Literary Insights magazine.