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Happenstance


One-February, 2013, Page 2

Happenstance Literary

Next issue: On or about Feb. 15, 2013 Submisson deadline, Friday, February 10, 2013 Creative Prompt: Love, Love, Love

“Your credibility as a writer rests primarily in the story you have to tell, whether you are spinning purple prose, poetry devine or the latest thriller.” —From Editing, the work of writing well Page 4, by Sharon Vander Meer

Picture prompts inspire poetry by LV Writers group. See “My Hogg” by Lin Chibante Page 6, Poetry

Happenstance Literary One-February, 2013 Happenstance Publishing Sharon Vander Meer Permission to use content contact:

sharon@vandermeerbooks.com

Cover image: Write now... IMAGE: clipart.com Some interior images from clipart.com

“He once had a shouting match with a priest a nun and an alley cat. He had his black voodoo magic so much so that when angry he turned into a red werewolf and ate cabbages by the bushel. He’d been called childish (with good reason) and a cat-napper of women who belonged to the landed aristocracy.” —From The Changeling King

In this issue: Page 3 • I can change my mind; it’s what I do Page 4 • Editing: The work of wrting well

• The writing life, by Sharon Vander Meer

Page 5 • Stop with the flowers! by Cindy Charlton Page 6 • Picture prompts lead to poetic expression by LV wriiters’ group Page 7 • The Changeling King by Sergio Hartshorne Page 8 • Q&A with Sergio Hartshorne Page 10 • Episode 5: Thunder Prime: Hunter’s Light, by Sharon Vander Meer Page 12 • Poetry LV writers’ group Page 12 • Reflection: You are stronger than you think

Page 7, by Sergio Hartshorne

Letters and comments are welcome at sharon@vandermeerbooks.com

Subscription: $12 annually Free to contributing writers Mail check to Sharon Vander Meer Happenstance Publishing PO Box 187 Las Vegas, NM 87701 Subscribe online at Happenstance Literary All rights reserved by Happenstance Publishing in Las Vegas, N.M. Reproduction of contents in any fashion without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Happenstance Publishing is not responsible or liable for the loss of any unsolicited materials or incorrect dates or incorrect information in articles. Opinions expressedwithin the pages (or web posting) of Happenstance Literary do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the magazine. By-lined articles and editorial content represent the views of their authors. For permission to reprint any part of a by-lined article, contact the author. www.vandermeerbooks.com Copyright 2013


Happenstance Literary

Call for Submissions These creative prompts are suggestions, not fences to corral the writing muse. February: Love, Love, Love March: Spring Things April: Flower Power May: Transitions June: Traditions July: Summer Celebrations August: School Days September: Autumn Leaves October: Spirits and Ghosties November: Fabulous Food December: Winter Celebrations Submission deadlines: One week prior to the publication date, which is typically on the 1st and the 15th of each month.

Writer’s Guidelines: 1. Must be original work. 2. Grammar, punctuation and spelling must be correct. 3. Maximum length 1,500 words. 4. Acceptable genres and styles: poetry, humor, essay, memoir, short story, photo essay, feature articles, travel, social commentary, food, wine and dining, book reviews, fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance and sci-fi/fantasy. 5. Submission does not guarantee publication. 6. Submit work to: sharon@vandermeerbooks.com. If you have specific questions about the submission process, please e-mail sharon@vandermeerbooks.com

Compensation not paid at this time. Contributors receive a free subscription.

One-February, 2013, Page 3

I can change my mind; it’s what I do O

kay, I’m back to not doing the radio program, effective my last booking, which is in February, if I can get my March booking to switch to a February Tuesday, otherwise it will be the first Tuesday in March. Got that? You probably don’t care, but it’s a really big deal for me. I love doing Writers’ Block, and I’ve very much enjoyed talking to the various writers I’ve chatted with, but at this point in my life I want to do less and enjoy what I do more. If my husband says on any day of the week, “Let’s get in the car and take off for a few days,” I don’t want anything to stand in the way of that. I do not, however, intend to give up the Writers’ Block concept entirely. I will be doing author interviews, books reviews and writing tips through Happenstance. Instead of being broadcast, it will be in print – or at least a digital version of print. I would like to clarify that Writers’ Block isn’t about that bane of all writers – the inability to come up with a coherent thought or brilliant plot twist – it is indeed about writers. Writers’ Block is like a block party for people who love to put their thoughts on paper (or in a computer) and share their brain-baby with the world. Whether it’s poetry or prose, once it has been formulated it represents something no one else could have created. It’s uniquely the work of the one who wrote it. I don’t do memoir. I’m not ready to open a vein and bleed my life all over the place, but I admire people who share snippets of their lives through short memoir, some of which you have read, and will continue to read, in Happenstance. I am also a fan of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and... well, think of a writing form or genre and I’m pretty much a fan. Well, maybe not horror or erotica, but that’s just me. It is through the work of others my imagination is awakened. That’s what writing does. It wakes people up. It gets them thinking in new ways. It inspires laughter and tears, abates loneliness and wipes away fears. People who read are compelled to take action. They want to be more than the world they live in. Their hearts yearn to understand their neighbors across the street and around the world. The writer is a candle; the reader is the match. The flame that ignites sheds light on both. So, no more radio program after February but Writers’ Block isn’t going away. On a different note, Happenstance is a hoot to do. I’m writing more and enjoying it more. My episodic novel, Thunder Prime: Hunter’s Light (working title), is making me work hard at writing a cliffhanger. It almost has to be on the order of a “perils of Pella” approach, with the heroine in deep distress at the end of every episode. Keep in mind I’m writing this as I go, so from one Happenstance to the next (are we seeing a pattern here?), I’m coming up with the story. Perilous indeed. —Sharon


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Happenstance Literary

Editing: The work of writing well “Your credibility as a writer rests primarily in the story you have to tell, whether you are spinning purple prose, poetry devine or the latest thriller.”

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here is no new thing in the universe, just new ways of delivering or using old ideas. The form rejection letter often leaves the impression that one’s work is lackaday and boring, even when it may be the most wonderful story ever penned. As someone who has read quite a lot of self-published genre fiction, and nonfiction about a variety of subjects, I can only say the most common problem with many of these books is the rush to publish without having a qualified editor read the work. I speak from experience, having published three books that are riddled with careless errors. So much so I hesitate to promote them. The worst thing that can happen to a book is for the author to have no confidence in it. A good editor is priceless. Find one you can afford, and make sure he or she knows the ropes. Trust is critical. Writing in fresh ways about tried and true storylines is the difference between a successful author and an unpublished wannabe. Most critical to the process, especially if you plan to self-publish, is to have a reliable editor. If you can’t afford one, and must self-edit, be thorough. Read your manuscript through multiple times with a different focus each time. Yes, it is work, and yes, it is time consuming, but it also makes a huge difference in the final publication. Begin by printing out a hard copy. Highlight every “ly” word in the manuscript. Don’t correct or fix as you go, read through the entire work. Then go back and get rid of the passive voice. On the next read-through, check for grammar and spelling. Do not rely on spell check. There, they’re and their may be spelled correctly, but incorrect in context.

Once more into the breach. Read for flow and continuity. Highlight anything that slows you down or baffles you. Again read all the way through before you revise. If it’s confusing to you, it will be confusing to your reader. If the heroine’s eyes are blue on page ten they’d better be blue on page 110. Are you grinding your teeth at this point? Forge ahead! Read your book aloud. Anything that trips you up, highlight and reconsider. Is there a better way to write that troublesome phrase? Should you leave it out altogether? Sometimes we overwrite to make a point that has already been made. Revise accordingly. Deep sigh. You’re done! Hug the child of your mind to your chest with well-deserved satisfaction. But wait! There’s more! Put your beautiful child in a drawer (or in a file on your desktop) and let is sit for a period of time: two weeks, a month, enough time for you to distance yourself from what you’ve written. Go back and read it as your audience would, as though you had just pulled it off the shelf (or downloaded it from iBooks). Are you proud of it? Is it satisfying? Do you feel it is a story you’d ask your friends to read? If the answer to these questions is, “Yes!” by all means get that book out there through the means that works for you, self-publish or try the traditional route. Your credibility as a writer rests primarily in the story you have to tell, whether you are spinning purple prose, poetry devine or the latest thriller. Writing well keeps the reader coming back for more. –by Sharon Vander Meer, self-published author and freelance writer.

The writing life “What do you do?” “I’m a writer,” you say. “Really? Way cool! What are you writing today?” Good question, no doubt Let me give it some thought, I spend time writing And don’t get overwrought. What am I writing? I ask of myself Two chapters I hope That don’t sit on the shelf. Or worse yet in a digital file whose name I forgot A fact that makes me frantic And boil like pot. I’m sure that manuscript Would be a blockbuster If I could find the thing, But its name I can’t muster. What am I writing today? A blog on digital filing That will get me organized And keep me smiling! —Moi

Quotes from famous writers It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. – Herman Melville It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly. – C. J. Cherryh Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemingway


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Happenstance Literary

Stop with the Flowers! Bring on the chocolates

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f I had my druthers, I’d celebrate Valentine’s Day surrounded by flowers and eating strawberries drenched in chocolate. I’d do nothing but speak epithets of love, quoting Browning, Shakespeare, Keats. I would bask in the warm glow that love brings, drinking in the desire in my lover’s eyes… Yeah, well that ain’t gonna happen. Even if I had a lover, the only thing I’d be drinking would be coffee, or water, or maybe a beer. And chocolate, who needs Valentine’s Day to eat chocolates? I have come to know myself rather well over the years, and as much as it hurts me to admit this, I’m simply not a romantic. I’m uncertain when this realization came to me. I don’t believe it came in the form of an epiphany, or an “aha (so that’s what’s wrong with me) moment.” I think it was gradual. But it finally sunk in just this year. I recognized my un-romantic tendencies when I caught myself rolling my eyes in the Valentine’s Day aisle at Walgreens. My reaction to chocolate filled pink hearts, and cards entrenched in flowery prose was visceral—a vampire caught in the sun—I may have uttered “run!” out loud. I wasn’t always unromantic. I remember the days of swooning at the thought of love. Roses delivered to me could elicit desire that steamed wall paper off of walls. I would hold my breath in anticipation of a romantic tryst. I would luxuriate in a perfumed bath, and spend hours picking the right clothes, the right makeup, doing my hair. There was nothing I didn’t love about “love.” My husband, Michael, was a romantic. He would write cards and letters to me daily, when we were living apart before we were married. He would decorate the envelopes with mountain scenes, wild flowers, and sometimes hearts. He would address them to “the beautiful Ms. Cindy Charlton.” I readily admit that receiving those cards in the mail had an instant effect on me. Cupid’s arrow struck me and struck me hard when it came to Michael. He had my heart with the first kiss. He wooed me off my feet, and quite frankly, I enjoyed every moment, every piece of his art, a la colored pencil on envelope. Now, I cringe at the thought of anyone sending me romantic sentiments via USPS. So what is it about me now that steers me clear of romance? I certainly had a loving childhood. My parents’ marriage was filled with love. I had romantic encounters, interludes, and relationships. And yet, here I am rolling my eyes in Walgreens. I guess I could blame it on my more “mature” age—although some would

argue that rolling one’s eyes isn’t considered mature behavior—but many people I know are mature and romantic. I have delved into my recent “non-romanticism” state of being, and have encountered glaring truths. I was discussing this very issue with a friend of mine the other day, when I heard myself say, “I am terrified of intimacy.” Those words fell out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop them. And there it was… the stark boldfaced truth. I am certain that I can get to the bottom of this intimacy thing. But, am I willing to do it? The easy answer is, “heck no!” My friend suggested that I may reconsider my position when someone comes along, and once again sweeps me off my feet. Darn her! She has effectively planted this unwanted seed in my head. I am now entertaining the thought of romance. Could I have a relationship now? I wonder who would be brave enough to engage in a romantic liaison with someone over fifty, someone a little heavier than she was in her 20s… 30s… and 40s. And who could be committed to someone whose parts are plastic and metal? “Aha,” I think, there’s the answer. That’s at the crux of this (non) romantic issue. It’s the body image factor. I do recognize that the dissection of this issue is best left for a Psychologist’s office, a Psychiatrist’s couch, or maybe—as in the immortal words of Scarlett O’hara—“I’ll think about it tomorrow.” And when (and if) “tomorrow” comes, I’ll take on the challenge of self examination, and do the “dirty” work which will catapult me to the top of Maslow’s pyramid. I will radiate self-actualization. I will re-discover my romantic nature. I will bathe myself in perfume. I will wear lace, and silky lingerie. I will whisper sweet nothings in my lover’s ear. But for now, I’ll roll my eyes at pink hearts, and stay out of the Valentine’ Day aisle at Walgreens. I’ll let those around me, whom I love, know that they are always in my heart and not just on Valentine’s Day. There will be no flowers sent, no sonnets recited. There will be no flowery prose laden valentines given. There will simply be three words spoken, “I love you,” followed by three other words…”pass the chocolates.” –By Cindy Charlton, motivational speaker, advocate, and freelance writer. Her essays are in three “Chicken Soup for the Soul” volumes, including “Family Caregivers,” “Power of Positive,” and “Angels Among Us.” To read more about Cindy go to her website, cindycharltonspeaks.com.


Happenstance Literary

One-February, 2013, Page 6

Picture prompts lead to poetic expression

Wheeler Peak, New Mexico. Photo by Tom Till Photography. Postcard from Smith-Soutwestern, Inc.

Route 66 in Arizona. Illustration and postcard from Smith-Southwestern, Inc.

Wolf Creek, Dale Beckman, www.dalebeckman.com.

Time

My Hogg

Postcard View

Sliding down the rocky slopes Getting dirt all in my clothes It feels like small kid time again But such freedom, then, I never knew

I think I left my hog somewhere on Route 66. Really don’t mind that so bad But I left my headflag there too. Now I’ve got to get back to Arizona.

Above the trees The hills roll on forever . . . The river feeds them all. The sky is multi-blue.

Getting dirt all in my clothes Reminded of scuffing feet in sand When I walked, alone, on Rehoboth Beach And watched gray breakers crash ashore

Really don’t mind that so bad ‘Cuz I’m in the can on old 283 in New Mexico And Arizona is a dry flat old place. Need to talk to the local man here first.

The hills roll on forever . . . Into the mountains beyond. What is beyond the mountains? I wonder.

‘Cuz I’m in the can on old 283 in Las Vegas. Someone here don’t like strangers going 85. Not when the stranger is a DWI and Don’t understand how to get back to 25.

Into the mountains beyond I wander in my mind, Looking for signs of wildlife And whatever else I can find.

Someone here don’t like strangers going 85 But I got to get back to Route 66 Someone might get away with my hog D----, here I am, stuck in New Mexico. —By Lin Chibante

I wander in my mind Living the beauty of this world. Finding myself refreshed, I can now rest well. By Cecile Zeigler

Reminded of scuffing feet in sand The grit a contrast to rolling waves Metaphor of the silk and grind Of passing life, and fading mind The grit a contrast to rolling waves Such as pushed against this desert rock In times long past when it left behind Its trace on the slope down which I slide —By Niki Sebastian More from LV writers on Page 12

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One-February, 2013, Page 7

Happenstance Literary

The Changeling King: Episode 1 Travels with the king

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he Changeling King masqueraded at day and at night, but more so at night when every one else was asleep. He wore his howling wolf mask just as often as the owl next door consented to the borrowing, which was almost, but not quite all of the time. He once pioneered a line of wearable flap-jacks and inflatable shoes. He forged million dollar checks and swore in the rain – for more rain. He had mild anxiety attacks and learned to chill out by sitting in freezers. His strongest curse was, “By Golly!” He was an amiable enough fellow with a good side a mile long. He knew about shoes with a capital “S”. He loved many women who had tilting style battles over his lips and the contested kissing rights thereof. They fought over him like a lion and a tiger in the same cage. His steady girl, as much as he had one, was named Sharon, but an inn-style gal named Darla had it out for him ten sheets to the wind. He once had a shouting match with a priest a nun and an alley cat. He had his black voodoo magic so much so that when angry he turned into a red werewolf and ate cabbages by the bushel. He’d been called childish (with good reason) and a cat-napper of women who belonged to the landed aristocracy. He lived in medieval times and was ahead of the curve. He went by Jim, Jimmy, Bob and Mikey, depending on the province he was visiting. He was an outlaw before such things became fashionable. He was an old-fashioned time traveler and a hard guy to find. He dressed in women’s clothes to hide from hard cased iron knights. He lived in Paris, Greece and London consecutively. He went without sleep for a solid week during his journalist phase. He was like a butterfly, each new chrysalis a gateway to a new identity. He slept out of doors and begged like a king down on his throneluck. He lost his kingdom to a shyster lawyer and an evil mage by betting on cards. He was young when Genghis Khan was old. He weighed two-fifty and was six foot five inches of iron hard muscle. He hadn’t an ounce of spare fat on him. He was a

summer time ninja and a winter pirate. “Excuse me sir,” a tiny voice said. “You are standing on my foot.” “Oh, gracious me,” said the King. He noticed a small, waifish looking dwarf with a full beard outside the local tavern. He moved his stance slightly; always ready for a fight the King was, but he never enjoyed them… much. Dismounting the dwarf ’s foot he tipped his hat and bowed his farewell. “Hold on there,” the dwarf said. “I know you! You danced with Delia Milton at the summer harvest festival! God, what a show!” The King did not deign to reply, except to move on his way and say, “So it was! What year is this?” He tossed the words jauntily back over his shoulder. “It is the year of five hundred and seven of our lord’s grace after his death and rising. What are you, mad?” “I’ve been called that,” answered the King, “but never truthfully.” The dwarf was pursuing him now, trying to catch his coat sleeve. “Ha’penny sir!? HA’ penny!” It was then that the King noted his unwanted companion’s style of dress: an ill fitting pair of much be-stitched hose, a sleeveless doublet kept spotless in spite of its worn condition – a merchant down on his luck judging by the round velvet hat which only that class was permitted to wear by kingly decree. Only the king of Halyard was permitted a square cornered hat. The Changeling King remembered where he was, just not when. Seeing that he was not likely to get rid of the beggar so easily he ventured an alliance. “Show me to Doubloons’ Wharf and I’ll buy thee a meal.” “Oh, ‘tis easily done my lord, go to the southernmost orchards, the ones growing peaches; they are the only peach orchards within five hundred miles. Turn left and take the street straight down to the wharf.” “That makes sense.” He stopped abruptly, crouching on his haunches to help him think upon completing the map in his head, causing his companion to jostle into him and stagger back, astonished with the pain of his nose, which had prodded the King in the spine between his shoulder blades.

“Where is the nearest inn?” “You’re standing in front of it,” the dwarf said. Over dinner at the White Pony the King became acquainted with his companion. The man’s name was Shenk. He’d been compelled to beg by losses incurred from several bad investments and his son’s gambling away a fortune in money he earned from his work selling iron to local blacksmiths at discount rates. This earned him the resentment of the local guild, which prohibited such practices in their charter. They got a clique together and had had Shenk banned from the Earldom’s trade. The Earl in question was the Earl of Forsyth, who turned a deaf ear to Shek’s complaint on account of owing money to the Merchant’s Guild at usurious rates. The Earl’s word was Law and he’d settled the dispute in favor of the Guild. Shenk obviously didn’t consider any of it to be settled. The King found himself liking the truculent little dwarf in spite of himself. The dwarf was much like the mythical stories in build and mannerisms, with his ginger beard, barrel chest and his apparent habit of drinking copiously (he was on his second pint), and not feeling the ale in the slightest. “I have a business proposition, Shenk,” said the King. “Since you can’t work at your chosen trade, how’s about you hire on as my bodyguard. I’m rich, you see, but, much as I have cause for it, I detest fighting.” The king put three gold coins on the table. “Your first day’s wages,” the King said. Shenk belched loudly. “Aright, I’ll do it. By the way, where did you get that sword?” Shenk was apparently a talkative drinker, not all were, but the King liked that just fine. The sword was worth a king’s ransom; it was a big broad sword with jagged spikes on the ends of the down swept cross guards. On the blade (Damascene steel) there were scrolled letters between the fuller of cold steel. They spelled out Fury. It was, if you judged it by appearance alone, a king’s sword. Judging by the appearance, its owner, with his deeply cowled, red hooded (much be-patched) cape, and his flint-hard blue eyes was a


Happenstance Literary perfect rogue. “This? I won it in a fight.” Shenk nodded and belched again. “I thought I saw you walking like a fighter. Guess I was right.” “I seek the three magic stones of The Fisher King,” the king replied crisply. “They allow the possessor to right any wrong, and I want them to get my kingdom back.” “That’s a tall order,” Shenk slurred. Then he yawned and belched. Scratching his nose, he called for another round. Just then something happened to interrupt the two happy adventurers. A dog barked outside. The waiter tripped, spilling ale all over a table of some of his rowdiest clients. One of them, a huge bear of a man with a big belly and a bigger ego swore and seized the waiter by the collar. Raising one fist threateningly, he pulled back his arm, loading up a punch. Before he could deliver it, the king moved. Lightning fast, he interceded. “My good man, are you out of your mind?” quoth the king as he caught he big man’s fist in mid-air. The man’s friends stood up. Each of them pulled a weapon free. One had a knife, another a club and a third an oaken axe handle. “All right,” the king said, “have it your way. If it’s a fight you want I won’t disappoint you.” The Changeling King changed the color of his eyes from ice blue to sea green. What happened next was a blur in Shek’s vision, already occluded by the ale. Before a bystander could spit, the king had disarmed all four of his opponents and used a judicious combination of ninjutsu and gutter fighting to knock the biggest one out cold. The rest slunk away like a pack of defeated coyotes. “Now that’s impressive,” Shenk said around his mug of ale. “When can we get going?” “Bright and early tomorrow morning.” –Sergio Hartshorne was born in Taos, NM about twenty-three years ago, and grew up in Black Lake. He graduated from high school in Las Vegas and is currently attending New Mexico Highlands University where he is majoring in history and minoring in political science. For more about Sergio see the compaion article to the right.

One-February , 2013, Page 8

Q&A with Sergio Hartshorne Young author takes on satire, time travel and fantasy in a lively story. In this Q&A he talks about this work. H. In your bio you talk about being a “passable woodsman.” What does that mean and how does that inform your writing? S. I frequently go for walks in the woods outside my house as well as having hiked the trails to Lone Pine, Hermit’s Peak, at least once every few years. I write asbout things I see in the woods, interesting movements of animals, scenery, etc. H. In The Changeling King you’re kind of all over the place with language, time, and genre. Is this, YA, historical fiction, fantasy or time travel? Talk about that and why you chose this method of telling this story. S. I would say The Changeling King is fantasy satire. I chose to tell the story of a time traveler because I’d never done that before, and I thought it would be both interesting and fun. H. What is the inspiration for The Changeling King? S. I was thinking in my refuge in the mountains and I thought to myself, “Why not try writing some humor?” The supernatural elements stem from my interest in fantasy and paranormal fiction. I love the novels of Terry Goodkind and Stephen King. H. The pacing of the story is crisp and lively. Talk about why this is important in the context of creating character and mood. S. The pacing is important because a short story form permits little deviation on tangents and because the humor demands a certain fast pace to make the jokes work. “Surprising the reader,” is a statement of my intent. H. What are the three most important things you wanted to know before you started writing this story? S. I wanted to A: Learn how to write humor. B: How humor has been writtent by other authors, primarily O. Henry and Mark Twain who are two of my favorites in this genre. C: What life was like in the middle ages. I cite as sources for this type of research A Connecticut Yankeee in King Arthur’s Court and The Prince and the Pauper. You may notice how I haven’t cited any non-fiction sources, this is more from a failure to remember specific names of titles than any intentional slight to historians at large. H. If someone said to you, “Write to story,” what would that mean to you and how would you apply that principle to your writing? S. I focus on writing stories that I myself might enjoy reading. H. Is The Changeling King part of a completed manuscript, and if so what are your plans for it? S. The Changeling King: Travels with the King is episode one in a serial. As of now I have written the first paragraph of the follow up: A Rain of Frogs. H. What do you want readers to get from The Changeling King? S. I hope people read it and laugh. I hope to bring a little joy into people’s lives with my writing. H. In what ways does your writing make you think differently or more broadly? S. I think a little differently than most in that I’m an obsessive perfectionist. H. What topic would you like to write about and why? S. I would love to write more about people in the middle ages and their quaint ways of thinking. H. You are a history major studying political science. How has this helped you in your work as a writer? S. It has helped me be more aware of the wealth of info out there to process, filter and then write about. H. What would you like people to know about you they don’t already know? S. I’d like people to know that I am open to critique about my writing and that I am very happy to get this, my first short story, published.


Happenstance Literary

One-February, 2013, Page 9

Review: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel T

he Best Exotic Marigold success and they would get paid back. Hotel as a funeral film is Muriel just wanted to get her hip rean excellent movie that addresses placement done quickly - something aging issues, and it shows Hindu the medical system in Britain couldn't funeral rites. Plus, there's great do for months. humor throughout the movie. Lack of funds may be a big Seven English seniors expeconcern for many baby boomers as rience life changes which result they age. If retirement funds run out, in their coincidental departure to and medical costs soar, retirees might be the first guests at the enticinghead for Mexico, India and other ly-pitched Best Exotic Marigold places where they can stretch what Hotel, a hotel "for the elderly and Judi Dench, Tim Wilkinson and Bill Nighy stroll through the funds they have. How are you set for streets of Jaipur, India, in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. your golden years? People don't plan beautiful" in Jaipur, India. The characters are: to fail, yet they fail to plan, and that • Recently widowed housemakes all the difference. are active, curious, and eager to explore wife Evelyn (Judi Dench), who had to sell their new environment. The actors playing her home to cover huge debts incurred in Hindu Funeral Rites them range in age from 60, (Celia Imrie as secret by her husband. As Evelyn narrates, "Of course, it was Madge) to 78 (Judi Dench as Evelyn). • Graham (Tim Wilkinson), a high inevitable. Put enough old people in the Evelyn gets her first job, advising the court judge who grew up in India, decides same place, it won't be too long before one staff of a marketing call center how to betto retire and return there to find someter interact with their British contacts. Jean of them goes." I won't spoil the surprise by thing he lost long ago. saying which character dies. Suffice to say mostly stays in the hotel reading, whereas • Jean (Penelope Wilton) and Doug there is a beautiful Hindu funeral scene: a Doug explores city sights suggested by (Bill Nighy) seek a retirement they can burning pyre that lasts all day, reducing the Graham. Madge and Norman join an exafford with the money they have left after body to ash, and the ceremonial scattering clusive club to meet well-off singles. Even investing in their daughter's Internet start- Muriel gets out and about a bit, and her of ashes in water. up company. You can read more about Hindu fubigotry begins to fade, albeit gradually. • Muriel (Maggie Smith), a retired neral rites in these Family Plot Blog Posts: In Gail Sheehy's 1996 book, New housekeeper, needs a hip replacement Hindu Funeral Traditions and Eyewitness Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time, which she can get more quickly and to a Hindu Funeral. she writes about new frontier in aging: a inexpensively in India. She's also highly The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a Second Adulthood that starts after age 45. bigoted against anyone with dark skin. Instead of declining, men and women who wonderfully entertaining and emotionally • Wealthy Madge (Celia Imrie) seeks embrace a Second Adulthood can progress satisfying film. Check it out today! adventure while she hunts for another The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is through entirely new passages into lives of husband. deeper meaning, renewed playfulness, and available on Netflix and for sale on DVD • Norman (Ronald Pickup), an aging (as available) through this link to Amazon. creativity well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. lothario, still wants to believe he has what com. The characters in The Best Exotic it takes to be a success in the sack. Marigold Hotel illustrate this concept well. Their journey from England to the —By Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of When Evelyn sighs, "Nothing here has Best Exotic Marigold Hotel takes a deDeath™. Gail is author of the awardworked out quite as I expected," Muriel tour as their flight to Jaipur is cancelled. winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral crisply replies, "Most things don't. But They begin bonding as they take a long, Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die sometimes what happens instead is the crowded bus ride for the final leg of the and host of A Good Goodbye TV. She speaks good stuff." trip there. They arrive to find the palace is to groups using clips from funny films to a shell of its former self, greatly in need of illustrate funeral planning issues and help Financial Planning and Literacy repair and renovations. With the assurstart serious conversations. Her website is Finances were a key reason many of ances of young hotel manager Sunny (Dev AGoodGoodbye.com. American Funeral Dithe characters went to India. It offered a Patel), they settle in and the adventures rector magazine has a profile article about less-expensive lifestyle than they experibegin in earnest. Gale in the February issue. To download a enced in Great Britain. Evelyn had to deal with the debt incurred by her late husband. PDF of the story, and get more details about Vital Aging February talks go to http://agoodgoodbye. She had no clue about her family finances, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ilcom/events/upcoming-events-with-gailthat was something her husband handled. luminates the idea that we can still be vital rubin/. Doug and Jean were hoping their daughas we grow old. Many of these characters ter's Internet company would become a


One-February, 2013, Page 10

Happenstance Literary

Thunder Prime: Hunter’s Light In Episode 4 Pella hunted for clues about the mysterious attempts to lure her away from her routine. In the environs of Chase Cantina, earthers and off worlders gathered to exchange scuttlebutt and maybe a punch or two. Pella’s intervention kept one shipmate from getting hammered, but her search for information went nowhere. Episode 5: Lights Out!

B

art Casey’s lean body stretched as he jumped for the ball. He snatched it out of the hands of his opponent and charged down the court. His long legs carried him across the goal to combined cheers and boos of onlookers. Creds flew from one account to another, as bets were paid off. Bart grinned as the man he’d bested clapped him on the back. “You win this time, but you’re on for a rematch next week.” “What, old man, you looking to lose again?” Jake Casey cocked an eyebrow. “Old man?” Bart tossed him the ball and backed away with raised hands. “Got an off-world transport next week. We’ll do it when I get back. Maybe you’ll be in shape by then.” Jake made a rude noise just as the feed cut off. The father and son moved out of range of the public observation vids, and although I could see them walking toward the spansalator, I could no longer hear them. The feed had come on the instant I awoke. Box’s doing. I cut the vid ignoring the squeeze in my chest. Because of Box’s AI attempts at match making I knew more about the CaseyConner clan than I wanted to know. My trusted ANAI, a non-sentient being with a sentimental streak, captured images of Bart on public feeds and played them back, usually when my energy was at low ebb.

I wasn’t sure if he did it to irritate me or as a comfort. Either way it was something the ANAI shouldn’t be able to do at all. If I tried to question him his logic would be indisputable. I never won an argument with Box. Now and again I was tempted to send the ANAI back to the manufacturer and have him rebooted. Clear out all his learned data. Sterilize him. Serve him right for being always in my business. I once again quashed the thought and bounded out of bed. Box was the only constant in my life, and I didn’t have to worry about hurting his feelings, because as an ANAI, he didn’t have any. Although at times I wondered about that. Nevertheless I liked him the way he was, quirks and all. I showered and dressed mulling over how best to ferret out any information that would explain the incidents from the previous day. In a stretch the attempted hijacking of the ATV at Safe Haven could be exactly that, with no connection to the other two incidents. The sudden attack at the Wayfarer and the fake Romani couldn’t be so easily rationalized away. The Hermes was in for a complete overhaul, which could take up to two weeks. Plenty of time to scout around for information. The fake Romani’s comments about my father troubled me. Was he somehow a part of these threats? Was he trying to make contact? Based on the implied violent nature of the first two incidents, it seemed unlikely the intent was friendly. I would need to be on my guard. “Good day,” Box said when I emerged from the sleep room. I ignored the greeting, still miffed about the wake-up vid of Bart and Jake, like the snub would have any effect on Box. “Your breakfast is on order. Do you have instructions for the day?” “Yeah, stay out of my personal life and tell me what you found out about our ANAI visitor.” Box ignored the first statement and flashed a summary of his findings about the fake Romani to my vid. The results were disappoining. Whoever had programmed the ANAI had left no trace.

When breakfast arrived, I reviewed the report as I ate, and asked Box to track down Romani. “Already done. Chief Pilot Romani is in the company of a fem, Garnet by name. She is a woman of...” “I know what she is a woman of,” I said. Garnet, Sapphire, Diamond, Emerald. Where Romani found these jewel named fems I never knew but he managed to hook up with one when he had nothing better to do. “I take it he’s all right, then?” “It would seem so.” “Let him know I’ll be off grid for a few days.” “Shall I advise him of the Romani ANAI?” “Absolutely not! He’d want to do something.” “He wisely wishes to keep you from harm.” “Box, I DO NOT want Romani to know about this. Understood?” “As you will.” Did I detect a hint of censure? With Box it was hard to tell, and given he was an ANAI and therefore incapable of such a characteristic, I shrugged it off. “It seems these attempts have all been for the purpose of abducting me. What are your thoughts?” “I concur.” Until the words had been uttered I didn’t realize how much I’d hoped Box would have a less troubling rationale. “See if you can find connections between these attempts.” “In process. I must necessarily be away for a time to speak with sources. You would not venture beyond the Wayfarer Inn and Chase Cantina in my absence.” “I’m not a fool, Box. Where I go, you go.” Why did I get the sense Box didn’t quite trust that statement? Not that I didn’t go places without him, but he was always with me because of the AI link. As long as that was intact and he was in range, I could call on him and he would be there as fast as he could. He’d never failed me. “With respect, please take SPIN.” I started to argue and then realized it


One-February, 2013, Page 11

Happenstance Literary would be foolish to exert my independence given recent events. I allowed Box to secure SPIN on my eyebrow before he left to be about his business. I sat for a few moments trying to figure out why anyone would be interested in me. Was it because of my search for Mother? Why would that matter to anyone? I didn’t have answers, which irritated me all the more. The room’s com tone startled me out of my reverie, and the image of B.J. Conner set me in motion. I wasn’t any more anxious to see her than I had been to see Bart. B.J. would try to convince me to get on with my life. Forget the past. Forget Mother. Wasn’t going to happen. Until I had absolute proof Trish Soames was dead I would never stop looking for her. I grabbed my gear and fled the room. The insistent tone of the com pursued me into the hallway. I headed to the cantina where, despite it being mid-morning, the place was already rocking. Jabber clanged louder than usual, but perhaps that was just me. I much preferred life aboard a transport. “Pella.” I flinched, and turned toward the voice. “B.J.! What a surprise.” “Really. Sure you’re not just running away from me? I called your room.” “Uh, no. Really? Must have just walked out the door.” “Well, now that we’ve run into each other, how about joining me for breakfast?” “Well, umm, I’ve already eaten and I was sort of on my way out.” “Then sit with me. I want to catch up.” I didn’t need this, but neither could I ignore B.J. Bart yes, for so many reasons, him I could ignore, but not B.J. “Sure, but just for a few minutes.” We went through the atrium and into the inn’s dining hall. Luck was with me. We were seated quickly, which meant I didn’t have to make small talk while we waited. The server was there in a heartbeat to take our order. Max caf

for me, and oatmeal with dragaun milk for B.J. with, ugh, hot Alzaiersi0an tea. “So, kinder, how are you doing?” Kinder. Not in a long, long time, if ever. B.J. reached over and patted my hand. “Sorry. I’m doing what I promised myself I wouldn’t do.” I toyed with the fork in from of me. “What’s that?” “I always think of you as a kinder. I can’t help it. Maybe because you had to grow up so fast and is hurts my heart to know that.” “B.J.” “I know, I know, you’re perfectly capable of taking care of yourself.” She smiled and shook her head. “For the longest time I’ve gone along with Jake and Bart in their attempts to divert you from this quest of yours to find your mother.” I started to speak, but B.J. waved me to silence with a ripple of her slender fingers. “I’ve been thinking about how hard it was for me to get my pilot’s license and how difficult it was for me to be accepted as competent and capable by Jake.” She grinned. “Of course he was angry for other reasons.” I laughed, letting go of tension for a moment. B.J. had always been one of my favorite people. Her sneaky actions following her twin’s death, actions that led Jake to believe she had an inherited right to a pilot’s position with Thunder Transport, was a gutsy move that paid off. “I wanted to contact you because Bart told me he’d seen you and you...” “Gave him the brush off?” I looked at my hands and felt color flood my cheeks. “Pella, dear, he cares for you.” “I value his friendship, but I can’t have him constantly ragging on me. He doesn’t understand.” B.J. looked at me oddly and gave an imperceptible shake of her head before continuing. “No, he doesn’t, and he isn’t the only one.” Again she raised her hand to

silence me. “But I do understand this is something you have to do. It is a road you must follow until you reach its end, whatever that may be. I’ll do everything in my power to keep anyone from interfering in that. Just remember, we’re here for you, all of us, if you need us.” I swallowed back a lump in my throat. My nod was a noncommittal gesture, one that conveyed none of the mix of emotions boiling up inside me. If I spent another second in B.J.’s company I’d start blubbering like a kinder with a skinned knee. “Look, I gotta go. Good to see you. Bye.” I spit out this rush of words and hurried off leaving B.J. to make of it what she would. Not entirely sure of my plans I hurried to the ATV, still embroiled in my unsatisfactory talk with B.J. No doubt she meant well, but her promise to get everyone off my back was just one more way to get inside my head. Make me somehow dependent on the Casey/Conner clan. It couldn’t happen. What I was doing was dangerous. I had no intention of putting anyone else’s life on the line. I keyed open the ATV hatch and boarded. The Alzaiersian menthane hit me like a wave. I staggered and buried my mouth and nose in my elbow, but it was useless. The sedative affects were more than I could overcome. Sensing more the seeing my abductors, I managed to instinctively lash out with my foot, and had the satisfaction of landing a kick that knocked the mask off one of my attackers before the gas took me down. I was alert enough to realize a jamming device was being laid against my AI link cut cutting off contact with Box. Then a hood was pulled over my head and everything went black. ___________ Pella’s abductors have succeeded. Who are they? What do they want with her? Where are they taking her? Who is behind it all? Her father? Is she the target of slaves traders? Episode 6 coming in the Mid-February issues of Happenstance.

Thank you for recommending Happenstance to a friend.


One-February, 2013, Page 12

Happenstance Literary

Poetry First House Life in a small house at the end of a long graveled lane 10 miles from any city On top of a hill – with a cushion of dark green grass and weeds Rolling slowly down it and savoring the tangy smell of the ground

Williams Memorial Chapel, Hard Work U in Branson, MO.

Warnings of fox dens below the hill Rolled down it anyway

The Chapel It stood magnificent on the crest of a hill, this symbol of truth, a hallmark of Devine will

Hunting rabbits and picking wild mushrooms with parents and cousins Wet mushroom filled bucket bouncing against an electric fence Ouch! Kneaded bread waiting to be baked Sneaking a taste of rising yeast dough and loving it… Turning the handle of the meat grinder to blend ground up bologna with pickle relish; then mixing it with homemade mayonnaise A favorite lunch A concrete platform positioned over our water well with a bright red hand pump Enjoying the rhythmic sounds of the creaking blades Snake living under the pump house – slinking out and creating fear Maybe it will bite – Maybe it’s poisonous Night time cold and dark – Making trips to the back yard outhouse – Hearing creepy sounds of night critters Fear of being small and falling down into the hole There was a small wood-burning stove in the winter time – meant to keep us warm But it didn’t —By Carole G

Reflection: You are stronger than you think Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 In Genesis 37 we read the story of family treachery. The coat of many colors was tainted with blood. Jacob was convinced it was the blood of his beloved son, Joseph. Though much loved by his father Joseph was resented by his brothers. Relationships sink or swim on as little as this. None of the family could predict what God could and would do with this act of betrayal. The story is a reminder of how important it is to be absolutely certain God’s plan is greater and more intricately connected to end results than anything we can do. Trust in the Lord. Be strong under fire. Make the most of who you are. God has promised to be with you, even when those around you sell you out, life hands you bitter gall instead of ambrosia, health fails, and trouble bubbles. You are stronger than you think, not because of who you are, but because of who God is.

On the crest of the hill standing stately and true were trees rooted deep and magnificent too. Standing stately and true, was a Cross weathered and old, its timbers worn but straight His sacrifice our hearts enfold. Was a Cross weathered and old as magnificent as the edifice there? More! It is a simple symbol of love and grace beyond compare. —By Sharon Vander Meer

Blessed Ringing moments knell Soaring minds not earthbound Beauty whispers loud Angel wings, voices swelling Sing the truth of grace’s sound. Do not say that now, We will not hear “no” today There is too much in Need of “yes” to speed us on To the moment we are blessed —Sharon Vander Meer


Happenstance  

A literary magazine featuring fiction, poetry and nonfiction by talented writers.

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