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Monday, May 31, 2021

Easy Cowboy Salsa


First - credit where it is do. This is a recipe adaption of the one HERE

She has several great ones listed on her site worth checking out. Hers is "Texas Caviar." I think I have deviated enough that mine does not deserve that title. However, mine does not necessitate roasting and shucking corn. The ingredients are simple and easy to assemble (no cooking on this one). I will eat on it for a week. Here is my version:


Two Red Peppers (diced)

Jalepeno (or 2) chopped small

Cilantro chopped (3/4-1 cup)

Large red onion diced (or 2 small)

1 can Black Beans (drained)

1 can Black-Eyed Peas (drained) (sometimes these are not in the bean aisle)

1 can Rotel (I like the original)

1 can corn (whole kernel, not cream corn)

1/2 tsp garlic powder, salt, and pepper (or to taste)

3/4 cup Italian Dressing (I prefer Olive Garden. be sure to shake well first!)

That's it!!  Mix it all together and refrigerate. Best if it can marinate a few hours.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Interview with John-Michael Gariepy


Interview with 

John-Michael Gariepy, 

Author of 

Winning Streak: 

Tales and Trivia of the 

40 Most Popular Board Games.

Follow Gariepy on Twitter

Follow Gariepy on FaceBook

Visit Gariepy's website

So I went over to the website, popcornroulette.org, and found it a fun site to peruse. I especially got caught up in the discussion about "Can Lobsters be Immortal."  Our readers can check that site out here: 


But today we are focusing on promoting your book, Winning Streak: Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games.

The Book Landing Page is: www.winningstreakbook.com


Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?

I was always a creative kid who liked to entertain. So I spent a lot of time in theater groups and singing in choir. I went to college for dance, and was pretty good at it.  You’d never know it now because I’m such a big guy and terribly out of shape.  But if you threw a pair of tap shoes to me, I’d tap circles around you until I start gasping for breath.

At some point in college I picked up writing and began to understand I was on the wrong path.  I wanted to create my own stuff instead of replicate other peoples’ work.  It would take years before I had enough experience to choreograph, so I put down the tap shoes and picked up the pen.  I admit, there’s a part of me that wishes I stuck with it.  A decade seems like a much shorter amount of time when you’re in your 40s.

Yes it does. I won a writing award in High School and swore writing would be part of my life. But I didn't pick it up as a serious hobby again until I was in my mid-forties  Now, I usually ask if people have hobbies and how those play into their writing. However, your hobby seems to also be the subject of your work?


I’ve always been fascinated by board games. Ma wallpapered houses for a living, she’d drag me along, and I needed to find ways to entertain myself. I’d put together puzzles, read children’s encyclopedias as literature, and play a lot of board games by myself, keeping score for each ‘player’.  Classic games like Monopoly and Upwords, as well as the Milton Bradley flashes in the pan, like the F-16 combat game, Screaming Eagles, and the Rodney Dangerfield licensed game, No Respect.


Since I spent a lot of time studying board games one-on-one, I guess I was priming myself to become a board game reviewer. I talked board games on three defunct podcasts, and the occasional review popped up in my blog.  But even after reviewing three hundred plus games, I still have a fondness for the clunky, flawed, Milton Bradley games of my youth. That’s one of the reasons I started writing about popular games.  As backwards as a game like Monopoly is when compared to stellar modern games like Pandemic and Carcassonne, it’s still one of the most commonly played games. And that’s because for so many things it does wrong, it does a surprising number of things right. And that’s worth acknowledging. We can’t improve if we downplay our past successes.



Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?


I’m a security guard, and I work third shift. Every now and then I get caught up thinking about switching jobs, but then I remind myself that I’m currently working my dream job.  I get paid to sit, and take an occasional walk.  And my boss encourages me to write.  If I’m writing, that means I’m not sleeping.

I had never thought about a security job on third shift as being a great place to get some work done? But that makes sense, that your boss would want you to stay alert. I remember a security guard at a plant I once worked at did puzzles all night.

I don’t think I can advertise third shift security work enough to anyone who wants to seriously write. I know a lot of people think it’s dangerous to be a security guard, but all of the buildings I guarded were well-fortified with alarm systems. My bosses are more concerned about roof leaks or the boiler melting down.  An actual event that I need to respond to might happen once a month.  In the meantime, I write without interruption, and I get paid.


Please tell us about your current release.


Winning Streak uses the incredibly flawed Best Board Games of All Time list on Ranker and digs into each entry. There’s straight reviews in there, often for games I thought the general public might be less familiar with, such as the Battlestar Gallactica board game. With games like Stratego, I instead dug into the history of the game, and then the potential secret history of the game (Stratego might have evolved from a couple of older Chinese board games, but it’s difficult to say.)  Some games, like with Operation, I mostly cracked jokes. And with some games there’s already been so much said about the topic, so I jumped off the rails and told a different story all together. For example, I took a deep dive into the ill-fated Monopoly game show from the early 90s produced by the makers of Jeopardy, and tried to understand why it was such a miserable flop.

This isn’t a straight book of reviews or a history lesson. I’m a goofball, and it shows in my writing. This is a walk past a library shelf of board games as told via bathroom reader. And it’s got over one hundred pictures in it, because I’m bad at limiting myself.


I always love Bathroom Reader's. In fact, I think I have read almost every one of the Uncle John's out there. Can you provide us with a small exert of your book?


#38 – Operation

The Operation commercials always make the game out to be a farcical romp. Leering over this horror show of a body that is our unlucky patient, however, is as tense and nerve wracking as using your amateur skills to perform a real-life appendectomy with a gallery of doctors watching and tens of thousands of dollars on the line. Maybe more so. No amount of fake money is worth the stress of never knowing when the buzzing beehive in your patient’s nose will unleash.

Of all the crazy maneuvers in which your skills as a fake surgeon are requested, I’m most perplexed by the rubber band which you must remove, turn around, then replace in the opposite direction all while touching nothing, ever.

“Well, it’s not good Sam. It turns out your heart is upside down. I’m afraid we need to operate. Now I’m not going to lie to you. This won’t be easy. I need to open up your chest, remove your heart with a pair of tweezers, spin it around, then put it back inside without grazing any other part of your body. If my tweezers so much as touch anything, then your nose will explode. Needless to say if that happens, I won’t collect my standard fee of $200.”


That is great stuff! I really do wish you the absolute best in promoting the book and inspiring others to love board games. I know at my house we always enjoy game night. Before we close, let me give our readers your link one last time. If there was a first place you would want them to go, where would that be?


Htpps://www.winningstreakbook.com is the book’s landing page.  There’s a fun video there where I mostly flip board games into the air.

Hopefully no one will step on the little pieces walking to the fridge or bathroom at night! Thanks again for being with me.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Interview with Price Doom


Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Price Doom.  

Price has written the book, Weatherman


First, let me thank you for joining me.  I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.






That is great.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?


Growing up I didn’t have many friends and was bullied quite often, so I wrote to escape the isolation and the anxiety that comes with bullying. 

Bullying is such a huge issue in schools. As a teacher I see it everyday. In fact, it was the topic I chose for my first book. When did you start writing books as a way to cope with anxiety?

I started writing stories in 4th grade and didn’t really stop. I tried many times later in life to stop writing as I would spend countless hours writing characters and scenes and saw how much time that was taking away from living my life. I have since learned to balance my time where I can enjoy writing and my life. 


That work-Life-Write balance is so important. What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?

Write every day, no matter what, even if it is only a sentence or two. The more you do it, the easier and routine it becomes. Writing is like exercising. Once you stop, your form goes away. 


That is good advice. I know all writers, but especially young writers need that type of encouragement. What is the best advice you have ever been given as a writer?

The best advice I got was from an editor. She told me never worry about page length, and that not all stories require three hundred pages. I was always trying to hit that page count, trying to force subplots and dialogue, and because of that, my stories were not well told, and quite boring; the more I had, the less interesting the story and characters were. Once I took her advice, the pressure disappeared, and I was able to just write what I wanted, and not worry about the structure of a traditional novel.  


Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?

I used to write full time, but that made my writing stale, and I lost interest, and I felt my writing would improve if I did something else for a profession. When I started working full time as teacher, I was able to connect with people and have new experiences (good and bad). More importantly, I was living in the moment. All of those helped my writing, especially creating scenes that require human connections. I write three and half hours a day every morning. In the evening, I spend an hour rewriting/editing what I wrote. At night, usually before I sleep, I think about what I will write the following morning.


What is your favorite part about writing?

My favorite part of writing is when the characters take over the story and I no longer need to lead them. The characters know the way to the end and have already accepted their fate. All I have to do is follow along. 


What exciting story are you working on next?

I was planning on writing an epic love story about an affair, but every time I attempt to write it, I get bored, so either I am not ready to write it yet or it is just something I am not interested in. I have started outlining my next story, which is a continuation of Weatherman. It is not about the character, rather an exploration of the world that I created for him. Weatherman’s solar flares had shot into space and affected an astronaut repairing a satellite. The astronaut becomes a superhero with different abilities than what Weatherman had. The astronaut spends his life only using his abilities to protect his family, who never find out about it. I have never written in the superhero genre before, but am I looking forward to the challenge.


I have a lady in my writing group that writes love stories. Are you involved in any writer groups?

No, I would like too though. I have just spent some much of my childhood and teen years not being included or accepted. A part of me still has that insecurity if I joined a group or community I’d be rejected. I am always open to recommendations. 

For what it is worth, I have found most writing groups I have been a part of to be very accepting. I have been part of several that came through memberships such as the Atlanta Writer's Group or Southern Children Writers and Illustrators. Those groups will actively help you locate a group and have very active boards to scan and use to network. I'm also in a local group. We have writers with agents and writers who never publish outside our collections. It is a great way to find that encouragement to write everyday. 

I appreciate you taking some time to answer my questions and I hope you the very best on promoting your new work, Weatherman.

To my readers, go check out the book: Amazon


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Borrowed Lives


 Today's prompt was to write a story where a ghost appears to someone doing an everyday task. Since there are no story-a-day police I ignored it and wrote this little tale. The story itself is an okay first draft (write one story every day, so never really edit them. They should have edit-a-day in June?) But I love the idea of this first line. I think it would make a great opening to a mystery or crime novel. I've got it down in my thoughts notebook and hope to make use of it soon.

Borrowed Lives

    by Jerry Harwood

People have made good lives out of borrowed ones before. That’s what I read once and suppose its true enough. I’ve borrowed a few lives in my day. I once got a Banana Split at my hometown soda shop just because the lady behind the counter thought I was some boy who hit a home run in some regional tournament. Funny thing is, I don’t even play ball. And in college I got to go to a sorority dance with the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen just because her boyfriend, my roommate, broke up with her the morning of the dance. She even kissed me at the end of the night and then asked me back to her place. I freaked out after the kiss and made an excuse to leave. Just left her there on the steps of Founder’s Hall. Still today, that was the best night of my life and it was borrowed. I wonder every day what would have happened if I had not walked away. I suppose nothing. After all, it was a borrowed night. Yes, a person can make a good life out of a borrowed one.

“This is it. This is the room. They won’t even let us clean inside. They just set the trash outside and we collect.” Simon and I grew up together. As kids we dreamed of being astronauts. I suppose a janitor and file clerk were as close as we could make it. But our lack of rank hadn’t stopped us from being explorers. Couple nights a week we roam the halls.  Most of the time all we find is some engineer’s expired diet bars or some unrecognizable data sheet. Once we found some blueprints to an inflatable space station. It was a draft model and looked like one of those giant bouncy houses just without the clown head on top. But tonight, our hopes are high.

“I heard them talking about this one at lunch. Don’t think they recognized I was there. It is a prototype but they said they have already had success.” Simon said as he picked the lock. In the movies there are always electronic key cards. But we have found the most interesting rooms still use the old deadbolt. Picking a lock was a skill I never mastered but Simon took to it quick when we were in high school lifting cars. Probably good I never did. Landed him jail time and a janitor position. Simon popped the door open.

Inside there was a round table. Hovering over it was a hologram of the earth. “Whoa! This looks like something out of Tony Stark’s Iron Man movie,” Simon said.

I concurred and then added, “What does it do?”

Original Source

“I don’t know. Heard them say ‘gateway’ and sounded like something you might see on Stargate or – what was that show they jumped realities trying to get back to their own?”

“Sliders? That show was the bomb. So what do we do with this thing?”

“Don’t know Jimmy. Thought you were the college grad?”

“Community. They don’t cover Tony Stark Doesn’t-exist-yet tech there. Hell, we still had to use the Duey Decimal System in the library.” I said. As I did I raised my hand up near the hologram of the earth. It began to rotate. “Whoa, look at this.”

Simon took a turn swiping his hand across and giving the earth a rapid spin. I raised my hand in a stop motion and the globe stopped. Above it stood a date: March 14th, 2018.

“Is it… a time machine?” Simon asked.

“I don’t think so. Look.”

On the table there was a couple sitting outside a café. The woman was yelling at the man while showing him something on her phone. I looked up. The map was on Seattle, Washington.

“I have an idea,” I said. Without waiting for Simon to agree I moved the globe over to Texas and put my finger on HoldDale Community College. Then I spun the globe forward. Every time I stopped it, the date above changed. I rotated it to December 19th, 2019. It was hard to move within a set date. It would jump ahead to December 20th, but I finally got it to 10pm. Carefully, I zoomed in on the exit ramp to Founder’s Hall. There I was kissing my date.

“Jimmy getting some!” Simon slapped me on the back. Unprepared, I stumbled forward. My face entered the holographic screen. As it did, I felt the cold chill of the wind that night and my memory. I recalled the outside smelled like someone cooking BBQ. I smelled it again, except it wasn’t a memory. I was really there. I backed up and instead of re-entering the lab, I stumbled over a bush edging the sidewalk.

I was in 2019 again. I stood up. The girl was standing on the steps as other me scuffled around the corner. I remember being giddy with my first kiss, terrified at the invite to go further. I looked back. The NASA lab was no where to be seen. Somehow, I had invaded my own past. It was as if I was borrowing my own life, getting a second opportunity. This time I would not leave.

Original Source

“Sarah, Sarah!” I yelled as I ran down the walkway to where she still stood on the stairs.

“Jimmy?” She pointed to where my other self had walked and then to my clothes. “You were over there? And dressed up?”

I looked at my wrinkled khakis and polo shirt, definitely not formal wear. “I thought quick and offered up the lame comment, “If we are going back to your place I wanted to change.”

“You are a quirky one, for sure. Cute, but quirky,” she pinched my cheek before planting another kiss on my lips. This time we also embraced. I held it till she made the motion to let go.

The next morning I offered to run to the corner store to get some coffees and bagels. Outside the door stood Jimmy. He was in a convertible Mustang. “Jimmy,” he shouted. As I walked over to his car he said, “Guess what? Once you left I figured I’d give it a go. Dropped myself somewhere to make a whole lot of money. Invested most of it in Pfizer and Zoom. This time next year, you and I are going to be rich! How’s it going with the girl?”


Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Wall Who Liked Spaghetti


 Today's prompt was to write a story from the perspective of someone other than a human. This is what rattled around in my head.

The Wall Who Ate Spaghetti

By Jerry Harwood


Stu was thrilled when the young boy stopped by his outlet cover and asked, “Hello?” Adults never listen to anything it seems. Kids do, but their preference is almost always to listen to dogs, cats, or for some a tree or special toy. Very few are able to listen and talk to a wall.

“Good day, sir. I believe you and your family are new to this abode?”

“Abode?” The boy’s question both alerted Stu to his antiquated English and the fact that this boy seemed to think nothing odd about a talking wall.

“So sorry sir, my last resident who took time to speak to me was, shall we say, another generation. I meant home. You have just moved to this home?”

“That’s right! And this is my bedroom. Sure enough, one of my sisters wanted it because you are colored pink, but I said, ‘No!’ because I wanted to be in the room on the highest floor. I’m a big boy now, so I can be up here on the third floor all by myself. And don’t have to share a bathroom with my two sisters.”

What is your name, good sir, since we will be sharing this room together?”

“George. But all my friends call me G-Bird.”

“Master George, where did the name G-Bird originate? I mean, how did you come by such a peculiar name?”

“When I was little, like last year when I was six, I was convinced I could jump out of a tree and fly. You know, like a bird. Tried it a few times till I broke my arm. Mom made me promise if I was up in this room, I wouldn’t try and fly out. I wouldn’t though. I know now I can’t fly until I make a good pair of wings.”

“Master G-Bird, then. I would highly advise against flying from any significant altitude – wings or not.”

The two continued on as G-Bird explained to Stu his plans to get cardboard from his parent’s delivery packages. Acquiring tape would be more difficult, but he was determined to do so. Stu was just delighted to have someone to talk with. He had heard people over the years, and had years where his room was nothing but a storage space for clutter, but it had been near a century since he had someone to talk with. It had been since the Captain Maddox was here in resident. Well, since he was in residence as a living person.

He had not heard Captain Maddox speak for a decade or more. The Captain, a crazed old man with dementia by the time Stu met him was kept by his family in this room. Stu knew it was usually children who spoke to walls, but the Captain had degenerated enough mentally that he acted like a three year old. He would spout the oddest nonsense and gibberish.

Image Original
It was three weeks into G-Bird’s new residency that the Captain came for a visit. He burst into the room through Stu’s left piece of wood paneling. The piece had pulled a bit off the wall over the years of the Captain’s explosive entries. Why the ghost would never use a door perplexed Stu as well as caused him no low level of acid reflux. Or as close to such a thing as a wall could get.

“What is going on in here Stu? Did you know there were two girls downstairs? Good scarring, it is. I set sail for the one girls room the day she arrived. Drafty closets, a tail wind under her bed, and me best pirate scowl to wake her in the middle of the night. Sure enough, I have that scallywag sleeping with her mum now. The other one is a bit more resolved I am just her imagination. But time will… What have we here? A young lad I see all tucked in and asleep?”

“That is my friend G-Bird, master George to you, and he is off limits.” Stu said. He tried to always be a gentlemanly wall, but he knew his voice carried a tone of anger and resentment. “You can travel anywhere you like. I seldom have a friend up here to talk to except your rattled mind. He stays and is safe up here.”

“Ah, a challenge you set before me? I shall have to load the harpoons then!”

“You shall do no such thing.” Stu huffed and his wall studs creaked. A bit of plaster cracked where his head met the ceiling.

The captain paid no heed and immediately began circling G-Bird’s bed. He swished through the bed itself, sending a chill to the young boy. The boy shivered and then woke as the Captain and his wild Einstein – looking hair hovered over the boy’s bed. Stu turned on his lightswitch and the room lit up.

“Stu? What are you doing? Don’t you know it is bedtime.”

“Sorry, master G-Bird. It is, you see, we have…”

“Was it the ghost? My sister said there is one? I very much would like to see a ghost.”

At this, Stu felt the Captain push through Stu’s midsection and out into the main hall. The captain only wanted attention if it was to frighten or scare. “Master G-Bird, that was marvelous! I have never seen the Captain so disgruntled. In a single comment you have deflated his whole purpose of being.”

“That was cool! Did you see him run through the wall!”

“I both saw and felt him, for it was my body he passed through.”

“I would love to see what that felt like.”

Stu thought for a moment and then flicked the lights on and off in a sign of excitement. “then I have an idea Master G-Bird. It is one that will give you the experience, give me something I have ever longed to do, and mayhap rid us both of this perplexing pink wall.”

Stu shared his plan and G-Bird loved it. Stu explained he normally couldn’t really feel anything, but whenever the Captain’s ghost flew through him he had a moment of sensation. He also explained that the reason the captain never used the door is that doorframes made him for the briefest moment recognize his forgone mortality. It took a while to explain in terms G-Bird could understand “forgone mortality” and the closest they got was “going through a door felt like standing in warm sunshine just as lightening hit you.” It was a rough metaphor, but G-Bird seemed to get the gist. And if Stu was right, everyone but the Captain were going to have a great evening.

Stu instructed G-Bird to sneak a hammer from the garage. G-Bird slowly peeled the wood paneling with pink paint off the wall in the section the Captain always entered through. Then he laid it on the floor in front of the area as a makeshift tarp. Stu then helped push out nails by sucking in and then blowing out his breath as G-Bird pulled the door frame molding off. The top piece was smallest but hardest to reach for G-Bird. It took a desk chair, four books, and a precarious  brick from the yard to build enough scaffolding. There wa a moment Stu was sure the whole project would come collapsing around them as the chair rocked back and forth with each pull of the hammer’s prybar. Fortunately, the molding popped off and was much easier to reassemble where the wood panel once stood.

“Now, all we have to do is wait for spaghetti night,” Stu said. “For of all the meals I have ever seen it is that one I wish the most to taste.”

Four nights later, Stu gave G-Bird a double wink of the lights as G-Bird went downstairs to tell his parents he was hungry and was getting a snack. He grabbed the Tupperware of leftover spaghetti, still a bit warm from dinner. He set it in a chip bag just in case his parents would ask question. Stu thought this an exceptionally clever trick when G-Bird told him.

G-Bird crawled into the wall holding the spaghetti container open. On his back was his two cardboard wings. They were not the same size and the right tilted downward as the duct tape faltered. “I’m Ready!” G-Bird said.

Original Site

Stu then turned his attention to his outer wall. The Captain was no where in sight. All this planning and this would be the night the crazy old ghost chose to take off. Then there was a faint, “I’ll be back tomorrow!” come from G-Bird’s sister’s room. Then a breeze as the Captain turned the corner.


“Oh Captain, do not bother master George tonight. He is very frightened.” Stu had a whole speech prepared. He did not need it.

The captain rose up near the hallway roof and shouted, “Tis the very night I’ve been waiting for then!” The Captain charged down the hall and shot straight through Stu where he always did.

As the Captain came through the moved doorway he gave a shriek. Simultaneously his ghostly presence was, even if for a fraction of a second, compromised. The surge of his flight lifted G-Bird off the ground and into the air. He flew seven or eight feet onto the bean bag below, but not before his Tupperware of spaghetti tossed upward into the Captain’s aura and more importantly, onto Stu’s palette. The leftovers sprawled over the pink wood paneling that would need to be replaced. The Captain, likely, would never enter again after this trick. But a young boy would know he truly could fly and Stu would forever be the first wall to eat spaghetti.


Original Site


Monday, May 10, 2021

A letter to 14 year old me.

 Today's prompt was to write a letter to fourteen year old me. It turned into a reflection of my relationship with my father, whom I lost a few months after graduating college. Two years ago I had officially lived longer without him than with him in my life, but still miss him and think about him daily.

Dear 14 year old me,

If I remember right, the highlight of your year will be your dad bringing home a bootleg copy of Return of the Jedi and kissing Melanie at the school dance. Or was her name Nicole? Obviously Return of the Jedi made the more lasting impression.  You will wonder if you will ever gain rhythm and not have two left feet. You will not. But your dad will pay for a year of guitar lessons before you realize it.


But to more serious matters, your father will over the next few years give you several pieces of advice. At my current age enough time has lapsed to evaluate them with the benefit of hindsight.


-1. “Son, do not become a pharmacist.” He will tell you it will end in third shift at a wal-mart pharmacy and being underpaid due to socialistic government controls. These are both likely true at some point in your career, but there is still enough time to make good money. Don’t let him deter you. His profession could be yours as well and you would be okay – maybe better than okay.


-2. “Go to UTC on the Broch.” This one is a toss up. Probably pre-med / pre-pharm better at UTK to stay in-state but UTC isn’t all bad. It was his and your mom’s alma mater.


-3. He never said this, but your dad oft tells how he dated one girl, your mom. You have this model in mind because it worked so well for him. The world has changed a lot since the 1940’s. Do not hitch your wagon to the first girl you date in college, especially if she cheats on you. Not saying she will, but she will. Save the heartache on that one.


-4. “Son, you can lead a horse to water, but if you shove his head under long enough he just drowns.” Your dad always tells you this when he is giving advice and realizes you are not listening. When he says that, listen. Time with him is precious. He has a lot of wisdom to offer.


Oh, and that night the two of you lose that one small piece of the grandfather clock you are building… take some time to look for it. I’ve been hauling that thing around to every house I own for forty years now and it sure would be nice if it worked. The company went out of business, so I can’t order another part.


See you in a bit,


Older self.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Review: The Locust Years by Kelly Hanwright

 I purchased a copy of The Locust Years to review. Opinions are my own.

The Locust Years

by Kelly Hanwright


The Locust Years - link to buy

Kelly on Facebook 

Kelly on Instagram


Kelly says that in her childhood she "created the thickest possible fog in order to protect me from an unlivable reality." This auto-biographical book, and it really is a book more than a collection of poems. It is a life story, told through well written poetry and organized for the reader to walk alongside Kelly. As someone who has worked with mental health patients, this work brought me to both tears and smiles as I saw the life of a household through the eyes of a child. The lines of poetry evoke deep emotion and do what great poetry always can - place you in the moment portrayed in a small turn of phrase.

"I didn't think shadows made noise until Mama and Daddy started shouting in the dark."

"Mama, I want to go to school. I am not asking for the world, just a little part for myself."

"The art of your grand design was stealing while pretending to give, all the time making us feel the weight of your great sacrifice."

The poems are not isolated instances, but walk the reader through a journey of Kelly's childhood and her journey in adulthood to cope and recover. There are scenes where school counselors are teaching her hygiene and she hopes they will ask whether her mother prevents her from cleaning. There are moments where her father sneaks out to attend church, even though her mother claims he is an agent of Satan. What arises is a tapestry where the household becomes a living thing in the mind of the reader. The poetry allows the reader to join Kelly in a way straight prose might not allow.

I read the book in two sittings. Each page led me to the next. I expected to find the book a request for pitty or a declaration of shallow restoration. What I found was so much greater. I won't ruin it for you. Instead, I will point to the opening Bible quote, "And I will restore unto you the years that the locust devoured. (Joel 2:25).

Stay Tuned!  We have an interview 

with Kelly coming up in June!!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Story-A-Day: The Ear

Here is my story for 5/5/21. The prompt was to write about something you lost. It recalled for me one of my favorite stories by Nikolai Gogol. He wrote The Nose somewhere near the year 1835 about an official in St. Petersberg whose nose leaves his face to join society by itself. You can buy it HERE

I hope I did him justice in my satire. This is one I may polish and put somewhere else someday. Mine is titled: 

THE EAR by Jerry Harwood


Joe Smith did not realize until he got out of the shower that his ear was gone. He looked around the room, only to find no trace of his left ear. Nor was there blood or any sign of wrongdoing. It was as if his ear had just decided it had enough of living in a cramped, third floor apartment and went for a walk.


On a lark, Joe lifted the blinds and looked at the street below. To his surprise, his ear was there, buying a bagel from the corner market. Joe reached on the counter for his wallet and saw it was missing. The ear had apparently asconded with his ID and money as well.


Joe dressed quickly and placed a toboggan on his head to avoid inquiry. Then he descended the steps. The elevator had been broken since he moved in and the government appointed landlord showed little signs of help. Exiting the building, he approached the corner market and spke with the cashier.


“Sir, did you see an – um – ear come thorugh here?”


“Why, yes indeed, I did. A few minutes ago. Bought a bagel and two packs of Marlboro Reds. Asked for a beer, but I’m not allowed to sell it before noon on a Sunday, you know. Peculiar fellow. Was humming a tune. Didn’t recognize it at first. Then realized I had seen it on a commercial. One of them politician commercials where they show their family and such.”


“Thank you, sir. That is very helpful as that is actually the last thing my ear and I watched yesterday before going to bed.”


“Yes sir, big rally today in town center. I saw it on the news as well.”


Joe thanked the cashier but declined to buyt anything since he had no money. It was a brisk day and threatening to rain. Joe considered going back to his apartment and collect a heavier jacket and gloves. However, he decided his light rainjacket would have to do. He made his way toward the city center.


As he topped the hill to the city, a group of angry protesters waved handwritten posters. As he passed they yelled at him, calling him names such as “killer” and “murderer.” Joe was confused, because he could not remember killing anyone. One gentleman in the crowd was an ear. Excited Joe approached him. “Sir, I do believe you are my ear,” he said.


“Your ear? Why never! That is racist to think I would ever be your ear? Indeed!”

Joe saw the ear’s tone was a darker shade and apologized. “I am deeply sorry my good sir. Honest mistake, I promise. However, have you seen any other ears walk by this day?”


“Why yes, a group of ears just descended the hill not twenty minutes ago. Headed to the rally, I suppose. Listen to that wicked man spout his venom.”


Joe started to ask what man and what he said that was so horrible, but the ear seemed to have no further interest in discussing the issue. Instead he again began chanting that Joe was a murderer. Without any reason to consider, Joe decided his best bet was to continue downward.


At the bottom of the hill a huge crowd had gathered. Joe bumped into another rman.


“Excuse me, sir. I didn’t hear you coming up beside me,” Joe said.


“Oh, perhaps it is my fault, young sir,” said the elderly man. “You see, most peculiar. This morning I awoke and my ear was gone. Had a terrible time getting around. Followed it here.”


“I as well,” Joe stated, glad to have someone in the same predicament.


As he looked around he noticed all the men and women standing on the outskirts of the event were either missing an ear or were, like Joe, wearing some form of head covering over their ears. Joe pressed through the crowd to the center. As he did, he realized he was surrounded less and less by people and more and more by ears.


Most were smoking ciggarrettes and many were raising hip flasks in joy. Joe finally found his own ear.


“Where did you go?”


“Oh, hello Joe. Why here, of course. To hear the man speak.”


“Yes, yes. I know here, but why? Why would you leave me?”


“You just seemed so sound asleep and I hated to wake you. And the melody of his voice was so very soothing. Listen, every word is just pure nectar.”


Joe lifted the tobagan so his remaining ear could better hear. The man on the podium screamed and ranted. He talked of taxes. They were too high for those in front of him and too low for others. There were too many guns and cops but not enough of either. There were people who were hungry and could not get help  but also people who needed to get jobs and take care of their own problems. There needed to be more spending but also less. There needed to be a return to the good old days but also an announcement that those days were racist and evil. He declared that the environment must be saved and that it was already beyond saving. He declared that all lived in the best country of the world even though it was a disgrace and horrible place to be.


Joe’s head began to hurt, but his ear simply waved and cheered. It was as if it was hypnotized to the ranting, guttural screaming of the podium man. Joe tried to persuade his ear with logic, “You know that ears are to be on one’s head, not out running about?”


“Why no, I now have my own voting card. Human oppression has ended. We now are the voting block that decides the future!”


“Well then, could we go elsewhere? Perhaps even hear another speaker? One who has different views, like about ears being independent?”


“Oh no! I have turned my ear deaf to all but this man. He alone is the truth and all others are false media. I must stay true!”


Finally, Joe tried to pull his ear away physically. Two other ears came and declared he was being an oppressive dictator. One screamed, “His ear, his choice! Stop telling him what to do!”


Joe sighed, “But he is MY ear!”


His ear did not respond. Rather it moved up closer to the front where it could cheer for the next occupant of the podium.


Sad, Joe made his way back home, aware that the world would be a bit quieter for him. He met up with the elderly man who had a similar experience. Together they altered course to a small café where the drank coffee and watched as ears of others made their way to the man on the podium and his victorious message of triumph. 

  I did Story-A-Day for the first time last year during the pandemic. It was a great distraction while working from home and trying not to go stir crazy. It also, as it turns out, was an excellent tool for learning to write better. I learned how to make writing a part of my everyday life. I learned the value of friends and writing groups (particularly Jim and Calvin who participated with me from my local writing group). And I learned the value of prompts. I came up with a handful of decent stories, but I walked away with great material for my WIP's side characters, plot twists, and insights how to craft a better yarn.

I would encourage you to join us if you are a writer or an aspiring writer. I hope this year to post a story or two on my blog for your perusal. Throw a comment on it if you like where it s going. Remember, the challenge is to crank out a first draft in one day, so sometimes they need a good bit of spit and polish!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Story-A-Day in May


Here is my story for 5/3/21. The prompt was to write a story where the opening scene sets up a situation and then flash forward to a later time. The prompt was very specific but I took some liberties once I caught the idea of a nocturnal otter being terrified of the daylight instead of the nighttime. Need to come back and revisit. Could make a fun children's book. It needs some editing for sure (it was written in one sitting and all of these are drafts) as well as correct the page count for children books. However, there is I think a good story here. Someone want to help with illustrations? Email me with "Oscar" in the title at jerryharwoodbooks. My email is of the google variety for its ending.

Oscar the Otter is Afraid of the Light

By Jerry Harwood

Page one:

Jimmy, a seven year old child comes into the aquarium, he sees the fish and butterflies. He points and loves the otters. However, it is dark in the room where the otters are.


Page two:

“Dad, why don’t they turn the light on so we can see the otters better?”

“Otters sleep all day and come out to play at night,” his dad says.


Page Three:


Child buys a stuffed otter at the gift shop


Page Four:

Jimmy goes to bed. Holding Oscar.

“Goodnight, Jimmy” his dad says.

“Dad, say good night to Oscar too.”

“Goodnight Oscar,” his dad says before turning on the light.


Page Five:

The room is dark. Jimmy says, “Dad, I’m scared!”


Page six:

Dad reenters the room and turns on the night light. “There you go, a little light makes the whole room safe.”


Page Seven -Nine

Jimmy sleeps, but Oscar comes alive.

“Oscar loves the night. He plays with Jimmy’s toys, explores under the bed, and even checks the closet for fun things to do! Oscar loves the dark.”

Page Ten:

Original Source

Jimmy wakes up and Oscar is a stuffed animal again.

“After a long night, Oscar is all wore out.”


Page Eleven:

Daylight. Sun is shining through the window casting a shadow on the floor. We can see outside the window a boy playing in the yard. Oscar is under the sheet on the bed poking his eyes out.

“During the day, Jimmy plays outside. But Oscar hides in the room”


Page Twelve – Fourteen:

A page of the mom cleaning the bed and Oscar being uncovered, one of a TV turned on while Jimmy watches it, and then one of a shadow moving on the wall looking scary“

“Daytime is scary for Oscar.Moms uncover beds, Loud noises come from boxes, and  shadows move all about.”


Page Fifteen:

Original source

“Oscar the Otter is scared of the Daytime.”

Picture of Oscar frightened in room – two page spread?


Page Sixteen:

“What’s wrong, Oscar?” Jimmy asks hugging his stuffed animal.

“Are you scared?”


Page Seventeen:

“I’m afraid of the dark, but you like the dark. You are afraid of the day.”


Page Eighteen:

“My dad says, ‘A little light makes the whole room safe.’  I wonder if a little dark, also makes the whole room safe for Oscars?”


Page Nineteen: Oscar and Jimmy build a fort out of cardboard and blankets – These items in earlier drawings?


Page twenty: Picture of Oscar during the day, happy in his dark fort.



Monday, May 3, 2021

Review: Red Blood by Kaitlyn Legaspi


Red Blood follows Neela, a young girl who lives with her brother, Jacen. Jacen is bound (no magic) and Neela is unbound (magic). The characters offer more and more depth as you read, but what I really enjoyed about the book was the world building. I liked the characters, especially Amil and Brochan, but the reason I would pick up book two would be to see how the world build continues. The card holders is both unique and engaging as well as makes use of familiar elements of other works.  The idea of a world where some have power and some do not and there are really strong prejudices was reminiscent of Marvel stories such as the X-Men. Her journey has overtones of Hunger Games or even the first book in the Maze Runner series. I'd mention Highlander here as well, though that reference probably dates me a bit. But Red Blood is so much more than just a rehash of other yarns. It is something cool and very unique.

Neela, as it turns out, ends the book with a twist that leaves you with both answers and questions. Overall, it was a fun journey. At one point she offers the line: "I'm just the paragon of the phrase, 'don't judge a book by its cover,' aren't I?"

Well, the cover is really great but the read is even better. I would highly recommend.

I was given a copy of Red Blood to review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

“Do you people think we’re just animals to be thrown into a ring to fight for your entertainment?


If you do, you’re twisted, because not only is this a tournament to decide your next leader, but the people forced into this ring are human. We unbound are all human and we feel emotions that bound people feel, too."

What follows is my interview with Kaitlyn:

Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Kaitlyn Legaspi.  Kaitlyn has written the book, Red Blood.  


First, let me thank you for joining me.  I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.


Author name: Kaitlyn Legaspi

Blog link: Kibble Corner Writings – Welcome to indie author Kaitlyn B. Legaspi's official site! (home.blog)

Link for all buy links: https://books2read.com/u/3n8G5P

Instagram: YA Indie Author (@kaitlyn_b_legaspi) • Instagram photos and videos

Title of book we’re promoting: Red Blood


That is great.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?


I am the self-published author of the Dark Irregular Trilogy, a young adult fantasy trilogy I wrote in middle school, and the first book to my new Card Holders series, Red Blood. 

I saw that in your initial bio. Publishing a trilogy in Middle School is incredible! I teach middle school and can attest that doing so really puts you head and shoulders above your peers. Where are you in school now?

Currently, I am a third-year business undergraduate student at the University of Florida. In addition to writing, I love singing, studying in the nearby boba tea shop, and reading whatever has caught my interest. 


I am the self-published author of the Dark Irregular Trilogy, a young adult fantasy trilogy I wrote in middle school.

What led you to write and want to become a writer?

I didn’t get into writing until I was in middle school. Up until this point, I’d always been an avid reader, and I was happy just reading the stories I’d pick off the shelves of my school’s library. When I was in middle school, I started getting into watching shows on Nickelodeon, and I started visiting its website. There, I found the Message Boards, and one of the categories on them was writing. I scrolled through all the fanfiction and original stories people my age were posting on the boards, and they inspired me to start writing my own. I started off writing fanfiction. In fact, Power Rangers: Samurai was my first. My first original story, Dark Irregular, came soon after, and I’ve been writing ever since. 


Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books?

I actually get a lot of my inspiration and ideas for my books from the shows I watch. I’m a huge fan of anime, and a good number of them are fantastic examples of shows that have excellent, in-depth world-building. A few minor aspects of some of these worlds have made it into my books—usually after the fact—and I owe a lot of my creativity to them in terms of the worlds I build. As for the stories themselves, no doubt they’re influenced by the anime I watch, the books I’ve read, and the experiences I’ve personally gone through in life. They’re really an amalgamation of everything.


What are your hobbies and do they ever play into your writing?

Outside of reading and writing, I absolutely love music. I used to play the clarinet and the piano, and I’ve always loved singing. In fact, I’m part of one of the a cappella groups of my university, and whenever I’m able, I try to schedule the Women’s Chorale class to my schedule. This has definitely made its way into my books. My main character of the Dark Irregular Trilogy, Kanna, has a power that based on singing, and both main characters of my completed YA romance WIPs are musically inclined. One is good at singing and playing the guitar while the other is a talented pianist. 


What is the best advice you have ever been given as a writer?

The absolute best advice I’ve ever been given as a writer is that not everyone is going to like my writing. Going into self-publishing, already knew this, but I didn’t truly understand it until I got my first one-star review on the first book of my trilogy, Dark Irregular. 

It really hit me that there are people who didn’t like my stories, and I fell into this sad little hole for a bit before pulling myself out of it. This piece of advice prepared me for the worst and taught me to take the constructive criticism of the bad reviews—if there was any—and use the feedback to improve my writing in the future.


Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?

As much as I would love to write full-time, I don’t. I’m a full-time college student participating in extra-curricular activities, and once in a while I do have an internship, so I’ve got a very full schedule outside of all the things I do to write and promote my books. Truthfully, I don’t schedule my time to write. I write when I can because of my busy schedule, and that’s okay with me because outside of my published trilogy and first book of my new series, I have seven completed first-drafts that I’ll be able to work on in the future. I’m in no rush to complete another manuscript anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try when I do have the free time.  


Please tell us about your current release.

My current release is titled Red Blood, and it’s the first book of my new young adult urban fantasy series called Card Holders. It features a tournament, a complex magic system utilizing the standard deck of playing cards, and a character-driven story told in the first-person perspective of seventeen-year-old Neela Blydes. 


Can you read / provide us with a small exert? 

This excerpt is from Chapter 8 of Red Blood!

“Do you think that just because I’m unbound I can’t experience human feelings?  That I have this proud, superior mentality? I’m sure you’d all say no... Well, you know what? I’d say you're all liars!”

I bit my bottom lip, urging it to stop trembling. “You came to see me beat the life out of a child, and you didn’t get what you wanted. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been booing at my ‘compassionate’ performance.

“Do you people think we’re just animals to be thrown into a ring to fight for your entertainment? If you do, you’re twisted, because not only is this a tournament to decide your next leader, but the people forced into this ring are human. We unbound are all human and we feel emotions that bound people feel, too. We have morals, and we have virtues. I should know. Hurting an innocent kid like Ken is one of the very last things I’d want to do.

“So, don’t you dare say this ‘fight’ was too compassionate! I am human first and unbound second, not the other way around. Don’t you dare forget that!”


Thanks for sharing. I remember that part of the story well. What exciting story are you working on next?

Currently, I am working on two projects. The first is a new young adult romance WIP called Faded Words, and I’m happy to say I’m almost 30,000 words into the first draft! The second is that the second book of Card Holders is in its first editing stage, and I’m aiming to release it spring 2022! 



One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?

Blog link: Kibble Corner Writings – Welcome to indie author Kaitlyn B. Legaspi's official site! (home.blog)

Link for all buy links: https://books2read.com/u/3n8G5P

Instagram: YA Indie Author (@kaitlyn_b_legaspi) • Instagram photos and videos