Thursday, February 21, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Food for Thought with Nancy DeRosa

The Write Way Café welcomes Nancy DeRosa, who truly writes what she knows about food and how it brings people together.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? 
I have wanted to write books since I was eight years old. It just took me a while to actually sit down and do it! Lol!

What was your path to getting your women’s fiction series, Food for Thought, written and published? What type of research did you do? 
My Food-centric Series; Food for Thought; First Course, Second Course, and Just Desserts, published by Black Opal Books, started out as a short story, published by Lines in The Sand, a small literary journal out in California. The editor asked me what happens next? The concept, or should I say challenge to write my series sprang forth from that question. It’s amazing how that editor had inspired me. It leads me to believe the series had always been a part of me just waiting to be developed.

Where did the idea for Food for Thought come from? 
My idea for Food for Thought came from every-day experiences we all go through in our busy lives. Love, friendship, family struggles, career choices; “Slices of Life”, as I like to call it is what I write about in The Food for Thought Series. I wanted to make this work relatable to everyone, all told with the backdrop of delicious food. Food becomes the prop as social interactions take place. If there is a family fight at the dinner table, the chicken loses it glisten and the spinach wilts. Most of our social interactions take place around a table, whether it be having a cocktail, lunch, or a four- course dinner. I bring you into the restaurants, the diners, outdoor picnics, and family dinners. The scenes and drama unfold while my characters share a meal. I also describe the meals my characters eat. Food is always a part of my story line.

Tell us about the books in the series. 
The series celebrates life and how my characters all strive to progress as they navigate through conflicts. I love to cook, entertain, and I love spending times with friends and family. They say write about what you know and that’s exactly what I did! First Course, Second Course, and Just Desserts are drawn from real life experiences, the characters are fictional, but some of my characters are composites of me and many people I have met along the way. Many of the scenes unfold around the dinner table and I take you into each restaurant, diner, or family meal. What happens at the dinner table laden with delicious food is what I write about.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
That question is easy! I live in New York so once again, I wrote about what I know and where I’ve gone out to eat. The first restaurant my main character, Emma Craven, dines in with her friends in the series, is based on one of my favorite restaurants; Rubys Oyster Bar in Rye, NY. The grill pit I write about where Emma first sets eyes on her love interest, chef, Gary Parker, in the restaurant, Murry’s Grill, is loosely based on the grill pit in Ruby’s. That’s the setting I imagined for Murry’s Grill.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
Yes, as I had said earlier in this interview, I draw from real life experiences as well as from fiction to create The Food for Thought Series. The food aspect is very much drawn from me though, I love to cook and dine out and the characters are often drawn from some of my own relationships and people I have met throughout my life. My secondary characters are well developed to realistically depict the many complications that can arise in all relationships, whether it be friendships, family connections, or a love interest. Many readers will see an aspect of themselves, or a situation they can relate to in my series. Relationships are always changing, there are always challenges, an ebb and flow. I try to reflect that in my writing.

Did you face any blocks while writing your series, and if so, how did you handle them? 
The story just flowed, but I found the editing and tightening of my work the most challenging. To make the characters jump out and resonate with my readers was what I spent the most time on perfecting to make them real and multi-dimensional. To create dialogue that is true to life and characters relatable to my readers was the most difficult piece of this series and the most important to me. I want readers to connect to my characters and say; yes, that happened to me, or, I have felt the same exact way! That was how I approached this series on the onset. I really wanted to strike a chord with my audience while they sat at the table with my characters.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing your Food for Thought series and after? 
When I knew my work was going to be published that was the happiest surprise. I have a cooking/lifestyle show premiering very soon on Footprinttv, a streaming channel, produced by Starbaby Enterprises, based on my Food-centric series. In Food for Thought; The Series with author Nancy Dee, I cook some of my favorite meals to share with others and I will be having guests on to share their favorite recipe, or food product, along with the story behind it. I will also cook meals that I describe in The Food for Thought Series. This is the most exciting and surprising development thus far and I am very excited about it!

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about restaurants, chefs, and relationships people have with food? 
My main character has issues with food and a poor body image. I write about her struggles and how she learns to love herself and enjoy the food she eats without guilt. I hope her journey and struggles will connect with my readers as women can be so hard on themselves and I wanted to write about that in my series. I have also learned that everyone enjoys a good meal, shared with family, and good friends. Food feeds the soul, connects us all. It is the thread that binds us. We all have coming together for a meal in common. It’s universal and I have found that it doesn’t matter to people where you go to share that meal. It’s really who you are sharing it with that brings the most joy.

Tell us about your other food-related endeavors. 
I am so excited about my new cooking show premiering on Footprinttv. That will be the first place it will debut, we are developing this show for other outlets as well. I want to share delicious meals and recipes drawn from my books as well as from family favorites. I will also have guests on Food for Thought; The Series to share their favorite dish, or food related product as we share the story behind it with our viewers. Every meal has history, a story or memory behind it. I will be exploring that theme in my show. It is so special for me to share a recipe with others who will, hopefully, make it a staple in their home. To share a meal, or recipe, and have it become a part of another’s thread of their tapestry is wonderful and what I am aiming for!! I want to share dinner with as many people as I can! What can be better than that? One of my favorite recipes I cook on my show is my grandmother’s chicken and rice. She had brought it over to America from Portugal when she was very young and had cooked it for her family, passing it down for generations. It’s delicious, healthy, and relevant today. I can’t wait to hear from my viewers to see who made it in their kitchen!

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
I sit in my sunroom with my dog named Freddy. It has windows on everywhere and I love to look out at my red maple tree.

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
There are so many books that I love, I couldn’t possibly name them all, but a few come to mind; Charlottes Web by Stuart Little, when I was young it had such an impact on me, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Christmas Carol. It amazes me how relevant that book is today, along with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, which also stands the test of time. Kite Runner, and Sarah’s Keys has stayed with me and The Shining by Stephen King had my heart pounding the entire time I had read it which makes it an unforgettable read for me.

What are you working on now? 
I am working on Not My Fault, which deals with children as they navigate through their parents devastating divorce written from their perspective. I am also beginning to work on After Dinner Drinks, the fourth installment of the Food for Thought Series.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why? 
I would love to attempt a screenplay. I will be exploring options for Food for Thought, The Series for a television series, or movie. I believe Food for Thought would be perfect for this medium as it’s fast paced, scene, and dialogue driven. It wouldn’t be difficult to turn it into a screen play. I will be exploring that at some point. There are many ways I would like to springboard off from this series.

If you were not a writer, what would your real job be? 
A teacher, preferably with small children.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? 
Making my characters real and relatable. That’s the most difficult aspect of writing for me as well as developing believable dialogue, making my characters come to life. That can be painstaking. Writing is a craft I am always learning from and it’s a process I will always strive to be better at.

In Just Desserts we find Emma Craven's life has become more complicated and difficult to navigate. She's student teaching and working at her husband Gary Parker's restaurant; The Green Spruce Grill. An unexpected pregnancy has Emma's head whirling, and she can't keep up with all the responsibilities she now has in her life. She begins to resent Gary, as his life won't change, while Emma fears she will have to shelve teaching for the time being because she's about to become a mother. Her relationship with Gary's family begins to unravel even further and, for the first time, Emma, takes some responsibility for the problems and misunderstandings she has with others.

Black Opal Books
Barnes & Noble

Nancy DeRosa is a resident of Westchester County, NY. She graduated from SUNY Purchase, NY, with a Bachelor of Arts. Nancy is an actress and published writer of a children’s book; “Lazy Robert” which had been featured in Teacher’s media magazine and women’s fiction; “There’s No Place Like Home, A Penny’s Worth, and Food for Thought; The Series.” Food for Thought; First Course and Second Course is available wherever books are sold. The third installment of The Food for Thought series; “Just Desserts” is due out later this year. Currently, Nancy is working on the fourth installment of Food for Thought; “After Dinner Drinks.”

Among some of the films Nancy has been involved with; she had worked with Chip Hourihan in a supporting role, (director of Frozen River) on his short film; “Twist.” The short film “In Parallel,” in which Nancy had a supporting role, had been accepted and premiered in the Short Film Festival in Canne, 2016. Her feature film; “Home by Now” which she had a supporting role, is now available on Amazon.

Currently, Nancy is rehearsing for the play; “Roundelay” which she has a supporting role. Roundelay will premiere at the White Plains Performing Arts Center, NY, February 25th, 2017.

Nancy had been a member of Actor’s Project NY and has appeared on The Food Network’s “Food Detectives.” Her Food-Centric Series Food for Thought, a cooking and lifestyle show loosely based on her women’s fiction; Food for Thought the Series, will be premiering soon, produced by Starbaby Enterprises. It will debut on Foodytv, and Footprinttv. Nancy is busy working on the fourth installment of The Food for Thought Series; “After Dinner Drinks”, and she is also currently working on a novel about how children deal with a devastating divorce in their family, titled; “Not My Fault.”

Contact Nancy at:


Tuesday, February 19, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: The Dying Hour

Nancy A. Hughes

by Nancy A Hughes
Charlie Alderfer’s grandfather survived the Battle of the Bulge and his father, Omaha Beach. Wounded in Vietnam, Charlie was sent home where he married, raised two daughters, and lived a quiet, productive life. Now, twenty years later, a medical catastrophe nearly kills him.

Not expected to live, the widower awakens in a VA hospice ward, only to face three final battles. An inoperable aneurysm lurks in his chest; a mute and despondent five-year-old visitor harbors a terrible secret and needs compassionate help; and a nocturnal intruder is murdering Charlie’s roommates, one by one.

When Charlie reports that they did not die of natural causes, no one believes him and label him as confused. But when the five-year-old boy finally tells Charlie his secret, the former soldier quickly realizes that the death of the boy’s grandmother and the death of his terminally ill roommates could be related.

Is there really a serial killer roaming the halls of the VA hospice, preying on defenseless old veterans? And if so, how can Charlie stop the killer? Using himself as bait, Charlie faces certain death. But if there’s one lesson he internalized being a soldier, it’s that “freedom isn’t free.”

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About Nancy:  Journalist turned murderer? How did that happen? Nancy Hughes followed her dream from PR, community, and media relations to writing mystery novels. Her debut book, The Dying Hour, was released in 2016. The Trust series followed: A Matter of Trust and Redeeming Trust, both in 2017, and Vanished: A Trust Mystery in 2018. Her publisher is Black Opal Books.

Living in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, she is inspired by her beloved garden; her “big green cathedral.” Working with perennials and flowers clears her mind, letting inspiration enter about good gals and bad guys and which poison mushroom or weapon to choose.

Nothing encourages her more, however, than visiting old friends and making new ones at the Mystery Writers of America’s New York chapter meetings in Manhattan. MWY, Sisters In Crime, and International Thriller Writers energize her with industry news and professional direction. She hopes her novels entertain, inspire, and provide escape for readers who love a mystery.

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Monday, February 18, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Softly Say Goodbye

...a taste of romance

Softly Say Goodbye (Redemption's Price Book 3)
by Rachel Leigh Smith 

Blair Kincade pasted on his five-millionth smile of the last six weeks and lied to the camera. Thank the gods, the photographer didn’t linger. The Fund banquet always drew them by the dozens and he was in no mood to pretend a second longer than necessary. Dad didn’t deserve it.

He pulled away from his father and tossed back the rest of his champagne. Not that it’d do anything to him, but half his life was about appearances. Tonight, it was the appearance of a happy family, by putting on an act for the cameras and grant recipients. Right now, he wanted every person in this place to leave him the hell alone. Including his father.

“Thank you for doing this, son.”

A soft growl escaped. “I’m here for Owen. Not you.”

John Kincade sighed, just as softly as Blair had growled. Which meant every set of shifter ears in the room heard it. “I messed up, Blair. I admit it. You’re still my son, and I couldn’t love you any more if you were my flesh and blood.”

Blair counted to three so he wouldn’t start a fight. The last thing he needed was to loose claws and fangs on the man who’d raised him, while half of Denver watched. They didn’t need to see their beloved Super Bowl-bound quarterback turn into a snow leopard and get his ass kicked by an almost two-hundred-year-old cougar-turned-lion. “I’m grateful you protected me. But you also denied me everything I was born for.” His throat tightened almost to the point of pain. “After losing your own pride, how could you do that to me?”

“They’re dead, son. All of them. Had you stayed out there as a helpless cub, you’d be dead too.”

“It wasn’t your call to make.” He faced the man who’d raised him, loved him, protected him. “You lied to me for almost thirty years, and I’m supposed to be okay with it? Newsflash, Dad. I’m not.” His human side still thought of the man as his father, but his leopard rebelled at any thought of him as Dad. The fight almost caused physical pain sometimes. Like now. Along with a burning need to get out of the same space.

“Another reporter’s coming.”

“Nice sidestep. This conversation is over anyway.” He brushed past Dad and started looking for Owen.

The annual awards gala of The Samuel Kincade Fund wasn’t a place for the faint of heart. Denver’s elite came in droves, along with politicians, a few celebrities, athletes, and many of the grant recipients. This year the latter group included his older brother Gabe’s mate, Dr. Autumn Dailey. She was doing a DNA study on wild cougar populations, had accidentally tangled with the now-dead Teton pride, and mated with Gabe in the process.

Which made Blair jealous. He longed for a mate of his own, someone to share life with. To share his pain with. When carried by two, it ceased to be as heavy.

Blair followed Owen’s scent to a corner where he hid behind some plants. An undertone of bitterness laced his scent, and Blair put his body between Owen and the crowds. “You don’t look so good.”

A pale and shaking Owen met his gaze. “There are…so many. People.”

Blair moved in closer. Put his hands on Owen’s shoulders. “I know. If you need to leave, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

“I’m alpha, Blair. This shouldn’t…I can’t—”

“You can leave, Owen, if you really need to. This is a huge thing, and you’ve already been braver than expected.”

Owen leaned forward, and Blair enclosed him in a tight hug. The future alpha of the Boulder pride was a certified agoraphobic. Blair held him as tight as he dared, since Owen outranked him on the alpha scale. “Are you still taking your medication for this?”

“I stopped because it hasn’t happened in ages.” Owen shuddered. “I’d hoped Sekhmet fixed this too.”

The Egyptian goddess of healing and one of the eyes of Ra. She’d healed Owen physically last summer, when he’d been returned to them after being missing for twenty-two years. “I think she heals physical things. This is mental.”

Another shudder, and Owen pressed in tighter. “Can we go outside for a little while?”

Outside. Into gardens covered with snow. His snow leopard forgot all about being mad at Dad and pressed so hard against him, fur rubbed the inside of his skin. “Of course.”

He steered his trembling baby brother outside, nodding to Gabe and the other security guys as they went past. All acknowledged the movement, but none followed.

An expanse of fresh snow met them, and Blair drew the scent into his lungs. Nothing in the world smelled better than fresh fallen snow. It sparkled in the soft light of a garden lit with strands of white twinkle lights woven into now-bare trees and hidden in hedges. It was also deserted—exactly what Owen needed right then.

Owen peeled away from him and wandered into the shadows. Blair knelt on the pea gravel path and dug his hand into the snow mounded on the side. He let a partial shift go through his hand so his leopard could feel the snow on a paw and quiet down. The leopard didn’t approve of sacrificing their last free night to be here at the gala instead of roaming the snow-covered mountains in the pride lands.

“How come there aren’t any snow leopards in the pride?”

Blair lifted his gaze toward where Owen’s voice came from. Switched to his leopard vision so he could see his brother. “We don’t play well with other cats. Then there’s also the whole communist countries part, and the Himalayas.”

“I can see why they’d want to stay in mountains like that. Where did your pride live?”

Blair raked his paw through the snow once more, shifted it back to his hand, and remained crouched by the soothing chill of the snow. “Siberia.”

“That’s a lot of territory.”

Want to read more?

by Rachel Leigh Smith

The dream of a pride and a mate isn't supposed to cost him everything.

Snow leopard shifter Blair Kincade has spent a lifetime using football to fill the gaping hole in his soul. Being an alpha without a pride sucks. As does being lied to about it his entire life by none other than the one he should've been able to trust: his adopted father. Meeting a visiting Russian snow leopard turns into finding the last survivors of his destroyed pride. And the possibility of a mate bond with a woman strong enough to stand by him.

Ballerina Oksana Bukovskaya has come to Colorado with one goal in mind: to save her adopted father, who's slowly losing his memory. There have been one too many attempts on his life, and she's not leaving until he's safe in the Boulder pride lands. Falling for an alpha she thought dead is an unexpected complication.

Uncovering the pieces of what happened to their pride reveals Ares's fingerprints all over a slaughter no one remembers. Plus he's sent one of his assassins after the only man who could've stopped it. Finding the answers--and the killer--is the only way Blair can protect his pride.

There's just one problem. It might cost him his mate.

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📚  Find Rachel Leigh Smith here:

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Friday, February 15, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Your flaws are perfect for the heart that's meant to love you. 
- Trent Shelton

Thursday, February 14, 2019 | By: Lynn

Expressions of Love

Here at The Write Way Café, love (or romance) has been a big part of our blog.  In honor of Valentine's Day, we would like to share some of our thoughts on how love makes our world go 'round. We're also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card, so be sure to respond to our question for a chance to win!

One of my favorite movies, Love Actually, begins with Hugh Grant narrating, and he says, “Love, actually, is all around.” I believe that. I like that outlook. I think in life and in fiction, love is expressed in a myriad of ways and we don’t always see it or feel it, or know how best to express it. But it’s still there.

One way my husband and I express sentiment is by writing to each other. We’ve been married for many years and the practice of writing each other began early in our relationship. When we first met, we lived hundreds of miles apart, but we got to know each other well through phone calls and letters. Yes, hand-written letters sent via the post office. We’d both come out of divorces and were equally determined to be ourselves in this new relationship. Letter writing gave us space to gain a sense of trust.
After we married and blended a family of five children, life was hectic and at times chaotic. Alone time with each other was hard to come by and our struggles with some people gave us a rich environment to develop our relationship skills. Sometimes I would write him a note in the night and leave it for him to see in the morning on his dresser.

This is a sort of a free-verse note I wrote after one challenging time and left it for him to read before he went to work.

Why do I pack your lunch every day and try to make it varied, sometimes with special treats?
Why do I plan meals that are what you like, do your laundry, clean the bathrooms, bake a pie?
Not, I assure you, for the simple pleasure of doing those tasks. So don’t ask me if I still love you.
For my every day, in every way, I express my love to you.

It was and is natural for me to write down on paper my feelings and it was not so easy for my husband. But he wrote to me anyway, making his notes even more meaningful to me. This note was tucked into a birthday card one year.

I just wanted to thank you for being in my life!! When you and the boys joined me and the girls, my life became complete. You filled me with love, happiness, movement, and so much fun. Thank you so much. I love you and always will.

Throughout our life together, moments came up that were fun and full of love and laughter. But there were also moments, over and over again, of assessing if we’d made the right decision in bringing our families together and once again, choosing each other. Because of the baggage from our past relationships, the notes Mike wrote me touched me deeply with his unconditional love. This note is one he wrote for an anniversary.

I know that you have heard, love makes the world go round.
The love you have shown me in so many different things and in so many ways sure makes my world go round. P.S. I love you.

Of course the pain of the past healed and the chaos that had surrounded us lessened and time and again as my husband and I centered our lives on the amazing love in our family. It was from that love I wrote this verse.

My love is a man,
A gentle, rolling laugh that draws me in,
Filling my heart with a song we share.
Let me come to him,
Put my head against his warm chest and breathe in his scent.
I would open my heart to let my love enter him,
To comfort him and ground him in the timeless
But ever new breath of us.

When writing a romance, I seek words that will do true love justice and provide a visceral experience for readers. Even though we all experience and express love uniquely, common themes of needing to belong, to feel cherished, and to engage are a part of each love story, real or fiction. The fundamental need for true intimacy is realized through self-expression and no holding back. I hope readers see that in my stories. I’m grateful my husband and I have developed it in our relationship.

- Lynn Crandall

I have to agree with Lynn: In life and in fiction, love is expressed in a myriad of ways and we don’t always see it or feel it, or know how best to express it. But it IS still there.

My husband prides himself on being off the grid: no cell phone, no email – he is not an electronics fan! And when it comes to love, I would say he’s off the grid, too. He’s not big on PDA’s, or what he calls “Hallmark” holidays like Valentine’s Day. He believes he should show his love every day, not just on designated days.

I should have known love with him would be different. Our early discussions of marriage were frustrating. Both of us had parents who had divorced and remarried. While I still believed in marriage, I’m not sure he did. If I really loved him like I said I did, he argued, why did that little piece of paper matter?

After two years of dating, I was starting to feel my clock ticking. I took my future in my hands and told him “that little piece of paper” was important to me, and if he didn’t want the same things, then maybe it was time for me to move on. And mercy me, what was I thinking? I gave him an ultimatum: if I didn’t have a commitment by the end of the year, I was moving out. Moving on. Lucky for me, that didn’t scare him off, but independent fellow that he is, he did wait until December to propose!

Over the years, he has remained true to his beliefs. He is always showing his love in little ways. He mows my mom’s yard so she doesn’t have to pay someone to do it. He loves to cook, and does most of the house-cleaning. (Yes, I am VERY spoiled!) We spend as much time as possible out in nature, hiking trails where he patiently waits while I take too many photographs.

Store-bought roses are reserved for our anniversary, but I often find other flowers on my dining room table, on the kitchen windowsill, or maybe even in my vehicle when I leave for work: violets, wildflowers, or roses from our yard. On starry nights, he sets up reclining lawn chairs side by side, and we cuddle under a blanket, picking out constellations and watching for falling stars.

Sometimes I find heart-shaped love notes posted in unusual places: on my bathroom mirror, or on the landline phone on my bedside table. Other times I find foam hearts lovingly arranged on my steering wheel. Store-bought cards are rarely seen. Instead, I have a wonderful assortment of playing cards marked with his words of love.

Twenty-eight years later, he continues to surprise me. After a particularly rough day recently, I was on the phone with my mom. He came into the room, gesturing at his eye and making hugging motions with his arms. I thought he was just trying to make me laugh. A few minutes later, he came back in with a long piece of wadded up brown kraft paper. He gestured at his eye again, made hugging motions, and then held up the long piece of paper in a giant U. I. Love. You. How can I not love that man? It’s the little things that make me feel special.

When writing romance, I try to imbue my characters with unique perspectives, not just in love but in their everyday lives. Their words and actions are extensions of their own life experiences, just as ours are. As Lynn says, whether real life or fiction, people share common themes of needing to belong, to feel cherished, and to engage with others.

If your Valentine’s Day is not what you expected, or maybe not what you wanted, try to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective. Remember: It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. – Henry David Thoreau

- HiDee Ekstrom w/a Lainee Cole

For a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, tell us your stories of how you express and experience love, not just for Valentine’s Day but any day of the year.  Be sure to include your email – or check the comments on this post on Monday February 18th to see if you’ve won!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 | By: Lynn

Playlist to Boost Confidence by @lcrandallwriter

In June I’ll be standing in front of a group of writers giving a presentation/workshop at the Write Like A Pro Author Conference. I’m excited for the opportunity to speak to writers and make new friends. But a part of me initially said, “Egads!” In other words, fear and self-doubt popped up. I can’t do that. What do I say? To the rescue, a playlist.

I felt confident I could do a good job giving the workshop, but I needed background music that carried a theme of “You can do this!” while I put together my presentation. I needed to override the doubts with triumphant songs.

I make playlists for every book or writing project I work on. The hand-picked songs inspire me, energize me, and set a tone. Check out my playlist for writing my presentation. Maybe you’ll find songs that express a Can-Do attitude perfect for your next project.

Gonna Fly Now (Theme from “Rocky.”)

Hell Hath No Fury (Wonder Woman Soundtrack) 

If you’re a writer looking for a conference, visit the Write Like a Pro website for details. The conference will be held in Peoria, IL, from June 7 through June 9.

Monday, February 11, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Wishes in a Bottle

by Allie McCormack


     Julian stood motionless at the side of the bed. Not a muscle twitched in his handsome face, though his jaw was set tight, his gaze fixed on the wall. He would not look at the woman, at that cunning, avaricious face. She sat back at her leisure, the back of the hospital bed raised up. Her infant son, swaddled by the nurses in a blue blanket, a little knit cap on his head, was cradled in her left arm. In her right hand, her fingers tightly wrapped around it, was an ornate bottle of blown glass, tinted purple and trimmed in gold leaf. Aware of that tight grip, a muscle twitched at the corner of his mouth. He knew of her plans to try to keep him at her service. They would fail, however. The magic protected him against such as her; that much, at least, it did for him.
     "Your wish?" His voice held a complete lack of expression, and his stomach gave a vicious churn. It was almost over, and he would be gone. If only... He broke off that train of thought, aware his fingers were clenching. He forced himself to relax. One way or another, it was almost over.
     He was aware of the woman's gaze, greedy and possessive, on him. Delores was the Sahiba, the Master of his bottle. To her he must grant three wishes. Her first wish had been for a child, a son. She and her husband had long wanted one but she'd been infertile. She had kept his bottle close during the months of her pregnancy, refusing to make her remaining wishes, keeping him for surety until her child was born. Now she had called him from his bottle to make her final wishes.
     "I want a million dollars."
     Julian moved then, one hand coming up to touch the blue gem that lay, suspended from silver chain, on his chest.      
     "Very well."
     There was a faint sizzling crackle in the air, like electricity, and a burst of tiny sparks flickered about the gem, then subsided. Holding his hand to the woman, he opened his fingers, a small piece of paper in his hand. She snatched it eagerly, scanning the printing on it.
     "These are the winning numbers?"
     "They are," he confirmed. "These are the numbers for tonight's lottery draw."
     He didn't have to look at her to know there was satisfaction spreading across her face.
     "Get me my purse," she commanded.
     He leaned down, opening the nightstand beside the bed and pulling out her purse, placing it beside her on the bed. Technically he was not required to obey such petty commands. But he wanted out of here, and more, he didn't wish to anger her. Not now, when she had one wish left. Not when a child's life hung in the balance.
     His gaze jumped to the window, instinctively, looking across the courtyard to where a young boy lay in his bed, the end of his time coming nearer. He had told Delores of the boy. Just one wish, that was all it would take and he could whisk the boy's illness from him, replacing the faulty blood cells with healthy ones. Just one wish to bring happiness beyond belief to the sad, silent mother who sat in lonely vigil at her son’s bedside, choking back her own tears to give strength to the dying child. Just one wish.
     He waited as Delores pulled out her wallet, placing the ticket inside. He was aware when her gaze followed his across the courtyard, to that window in the pediatrics wing. He would not, could not, look at her, but every muscle in his body was taut to the point of pain. Please, he prayed silently. Please let her do this thing, this one kindness.
     "And your final wish?"
     "For my third wish," she spoke slowly, drawing his eyes to her. She looked at Julian, then back out the window, tilting her head. Then that sly, cunning look came into her eyes, and the bottom seemed to drop out of his stomach. He knew that look, what it meant. She'd never even considered using her last wish for the boy.
     "I wish..." that hateful voice paused... drawing out the moment? But he already knew, bitterness burning in his gut. "I wish for a diamond necklace, one that's really fancy, with lots of diamonds. And set in gold. Like the kind from one of those expensive places that the high society women go to."
     Her fingers clutched the bottle more tightly. He knew what she intended. To keep possession of his bottle after the final wish, and pass it on to a family member in return for a share in their good fortune, perhaps for one of their wishes. But it would not work. The magic of the bottle saw to that.
     He pushed back the fury, the despair that pulsed through him, once more touching the gem that rested just below his neck. The familiar zing and sparks filled the air, and a black velvet box materialized in his hands. Placing it on the sheets across her knees, he watched impassively as Delores opened it, gasping in astonished pleasure at the sparkling necklace displayed there.
     He bowed then, spreading his hands wide on either side of his body. "Farewell."
     Only for an instant did he get the fleeting satisfaction of seeing the dismay on her face, hear the startled, angry exclamation as the bottle she held so tightly dissolved into nothing. Then he too was gone, dissolved into nothing, pulled away from her along with his bottle.
     It was over.

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Centuries ago in plague-struck Italy, Julian DiConti cast a powerful spell in desperation to have the magical power to be able to help his people who were dying in horrific conditions. The spell goes spectacularly awry, leaving Julian enslaved to a Djinn bottle, bound to grant three wishes to each Master of the bottle until the spell can be broken. More than anything, Julian longs for a normal life – for a home, and a family. After six hundred years, however, he has begun to despair of ever being freed from the spell.

Enter Alessandra Taylor, a young woman who has followed her calling to help others, in the face of vociferous disapproval from her family, particularly her controlling father. Working at a shelter for battered women, she's thrilled to meet the reclusive Julian DiConti, whose collection of garments from third world countries has provided funding for shelters across the country. When Julian turns out to be a Djinn from the old bottle she found in her attic, she hears his story and empathizes with his despair. Although she's willing to free him, he can't tell her how. As time goes by, their initial attraction blossoms into a love that both realize is doomed. Once she has made her third wish, the magic of the bottle will whisk Julian away and out of her life forever... unless she can somehow figure out how to free him. But one by one, she's forced to use the precious wishes to help others.


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