Thursday, March 23, 2017

GETTING HIP




GETTING HIP
an adventure in recovery
By John M. Daniel


How It Happened

At about two-thirty Thursday afternoon, February 23, 2017, the business telephone rang. It was a call Susan and I were expecting and had planned our day around: Chris, the delivery truck driver announcing that he had arrived in McKinleyville with a pallet of books from our  printer in Michigan.
We sprang into action, as we always do when Chris calls: we left our desks and left the house and drove to Rainbow Storage, where we receive and warehouse our books. We led Chris through the maze of “streets” to the storage unit we had selected as the new home for our new books.
I used to do this job by myself. I regard the warehouse as my domain in the division of labor for our company, but we had decided of late to receive shipments together, because it made the job go faster.
Part of the job is to give back to Chris the empty pallet from the previous delivery. So while Chris was lowering the lift gate at the rear of his truck, I walked into the storage unit and took hold of the empty pallet standing against a wall of cartons. I lifted it. It seemed heavier than usual, but I was confident and I knew what I was doing; after all, I’d been receiving shipments for thirty-two years, the whole time Susan and I had been publishing books together. So I began carrying the heavy load out of the unit and into the street. Damn, that pallet was heavy!
Halfway across the street the pallet got out of my control and began falling forward. I reached out to grab it, missed, tripped on the low side of the pallet, flew forward across the street, smashed my head against the opposite wall, and fell to the asphalt, landing on my left hip.
I tried to move.
I couldn’t move.
I began to worry: maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for me to try carrying that pallet by myself.
Somehow Susan and Chris got me into our Honda CRV and Susan drove out of Rainbow Storage, with Chris following close behind in his delivery truck. We left the new books half in and half outside the storage unit, to be dealt with later. As for now, we were on our way to the emergency room at Mad River Hospital in Arcata. At this point in the story my memory is hazy, and the following events are jumbled for a few days.
At Mad River I was X-rayed and found to have a fractured hip. I couldn’t be admitted to the hospital because Mad River Hospital didn’t have an orthopedic surgeon on staff, so I was delivered to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka, where I remained for “observation” until I could be turned over to Eureka Rehabilitation and Recovery, a for-profit institution which I will refer to as rehab, although I increasingly  thought of it as dehab. I was in the hospital six days. I was in Rehab for six eons.

The Back Story
In my novel Vanity Fire, the protagonist, Guy Mallon, who happens to be a small press publisher, is injured—almost killed—by an accident in his warehouse. A pile of books falls over on top of him, knocking him down onto the cement floor and covering his body with full cartons of books. After getting out of the hospital, Guy jokes that he always knew he’d die with his boots on, but this time he lucked out, thanks to the good friends who rescued him.
A few years ago I began losing weight. Susan and I both noticed it.  The weight loss disturbed Susan, but I welcomed it. When we first came to Humboldt County fourteen years ago I had weighed 151 pounds and had considered myself unattractively fat. But over the first few years I began to lose weight gradually, dropping to the high 140s. A bit later I had slipped to the mid-140s, then the low 140s. I was proud of my slim naked reflection in the bathroom mirror, but getting a little concerned that I was losing out of control. And so on until shortly before my accident, when I weighed 131, which was no longer welcome. It was a loud alarm.
About five years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The symptoms weren’t and still aren’t especially severe—an intermittent tremor, an annoying stammer, atrocious handwriting—and are kept under control by medication, Carbidopa-Levodopa. But there’s no sense in denying that Parkinson’s is a progressive disease and I have experienced its subtle but worrisome progress.
For almost as long as Susan and I have been together (thirty-four years) prior to my accident, we took early-morning walks every day, five days a week. We walked a mile each morning and it took us twenty minutes to half an hour. This habit felt good and we both remarked often on how alive and healthy it made us feel. In recent months, however, I’ve experienced growing fatigue in my legs. This has been concurrent with a general weakening of my arms. Opening pickle jars for Susan is no longer a snap, and a forty-pound suitcase is a struggle to schlep. Was this loss of strength connected to the Parkinson’s?
Last November (2016) I turned seventy-five.
A couple of months ago we purchased a stationary bicycle, because the motion of pedaling a bike is considered helpful for controlling the progress of Parkinson’s. I very much enjoyed adding twenty minutes of “biking” to my daily routine, and kept the habit going until the day of my accident.

BONG!
I can’t remember when the move to rehab happened, but it was a cold night outside and I was transported in an ambulance equipped to carry a stretched-out  patient. I was drugged at the time, and the only sensation I was aware of as I waited in the hall was a repetitive, intrusive, irregular BONG! Eventually I awoke in a bed, to the sounds of televisions and human snores. I had no idea where I was, but I didn’t like being there.
Somehow I got out of the bed and began walking, using my wheeled bedside table as a walker. I walked toward the light, which turned out to be a hallway. A powerful-looking and -acting woman stormed up to me and demanded, “Where do you think you’re going?” I’m told I answered, “McKinleyville.”
BONG!
I was put back in my bed, where I somehow fell asleep to the gentle lullabies of snoring roommates and TVs. The next morning I woke up but still felt goofy. This goofiness was a part of my brain’s mad adventures for as long as I remained on a diet of Norco, which I took whenever I had severe pain (several times a day) and whenever I couldn’t sleep (every night). This Norco dependency had to stop, lest I get addicted and remain half-brained forever. Half-witted and constipated. (Constipation was a major motif in my stay at dehab, but I’ll spare you the details.)
I tried to give the drug up, by my brain went wild in the night, with fantasies of a main boss who lived in the mansion up on the hill and gave orders to the minions down around the lake, including me. These announcements were heralded by spasms in my left leg. The boss wanted the minions’ labor to help him recover. Somehow I vaguely reminded myself that my mind and my body were both parts of the same person, and that person was me, but the nightmare was every bit as real as the reality that I was responsible for my own recovery. BONG! BONG!
Several times a day I was helped out of my bed, sometimes to take a wheelchair ride to the Physical Therapy gym, where I did repetitive exercises both boring and difficult. Twice I was taken to a scale and weighed. The first time I weighed 121 pounds. Thirty pounds below what I had weighed when Susan and I moved to Humboldt. BONG!
I went through a cesspool of depression. I saw so many people in their endgames as I plowed my wheelchair around the land of dehab, people sunk into easy chairs in the lobby with their eyes closed and their mouths gaping open like their own private gates of despair. And I realized, or at least imagined, that I was on the same train ride.
And I wondered if it was worth fighting. Did I really need to be alive? I was mostly gone anyway. All I’d have to do was refuse to eat any more of this place’s refusable food. Why was it important to stay alive anyway?
I found myself unable to read. My short-term memory couldn’t retain the contents from line to line, let alone page to page. Not read? Not write?
Why live?
BONG!
And then it became obvious. I was willing to give up life, but I would never, ever give up my life with Susan.
BONG!
Susan came to rehab and kept me company for many hours every day I was there. Her smile was what recharged my belief in the beauty of life. I am certain it was thanks to her that I survived dehab and am now at home…and writing.
BONG!

Lessons Learned
Love makes life worth living.
Learn and practice humility. Humble is the new hip.
If you’re underweight and over-aged, don’t pretend to be young and strong. The people you’re trying to impress, including yourself, will just think you’re an idiot.
Leave the heavy lifting to the able-bodied upstarts without Parkinson’s Disease.
BONG! is a patient’s request for help from the staff. Don’t be too proud to use it.
Choose life.

Note:
I just wrote “Love makes life worth living.” Of course I was thinking primarily of Susan when I wrote that, but I was also thinking of the many, many other kind people—family members, friends old and new, colleagues, and people I have never met but whom I know through my seldom and shallow dips into social media. From these treasured friends I received love in the form of help with making my home more cripple-friendly, loans of equipment, get-well cards, cookies and chocolates, visits, phone calls, and emails bearing love, support, and good wishes. I have intentionally left their names out of this account, for fear of turning this simple narrative into an awards ceremony acceptance speech. To those many saints (you know who you are) I send back my gratitude and love.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

RODNEY TRAPPER, THE GOATHERD’S SON


 THE JOY OF STORY
John M. Daniel’s Blog
February 25, 2017



Greetings, friends and celebrators of the joy to be found in stories—writing them, reading them, telling them, or hearing them. If you enjoy a good story, this weekly blog is for you.

This week, beginning the fourth Saturday in the month, I offer you another installment of my novel The King’s Eye: A Fantasy of the Farther Isles.
In case you missed last week’s installment, here’s a recap:

The kings and queens of the Farther Isles gather on Blackberry Island at the castle of High King Rohar, as they do every year on the Solstice, to pledge their allegiance. The Giant Clobber from the Isle of Wind shows up and steals the High King’s crystal eye right out of the High King’s eye socket. The High King offers to reward anyone who will kill the Giant and bring back the crystal eye. The reward: half of Blackberry Island and the hand of the High King’s daughter, Llanaa, in marriage. The only one to stand up to the challenge is Prince Frogge, a 12-year-old boy from the Isle of Fens.

That was the Prologue, and this week you will meet Rodney Trapper of the Isle of Goats. Rodney is the protagonist of the novel, and he’s Prince Frogge’s partner in peril.

§§§

THE KING’S EYE

A Fantasy of the Farther Isles
John M. Daniel



Chapter 1:
Rodney Trapper, the Goatherd’s Son

Rodney Trapper, the Goatherd’s son, walked out of the copse at the end of the day, carrying a sack heavy with dead animals he had caught in the farmers’ fields and the villagers’ gardens—two weasels, four coneys, three moles, and a fox. He didn’t like catching foxes, but his grandmother, Aggie Crone, prized their skins and tails, and she ground the foxes’ teeth into a powder, for a special cure she said she hoped Rodney would never need.
Plodding across the meadow toward the high road that led to Goatstown Harbor, Rodney whistled a tune inspired by the songs of birds in the copse. Now, in the late, late afternoon, with the sun on his back and his stretched-out shadow loping along before him, he breathed deeply the thick, sweet scent of summer grasses.
When he reached the high road, he was lucky enough to catch a ride with old Jode Farmer, whose ox-drawn wagon was lumbering toward town. Just as the wagon reached the outskirts, Rodney gave old Jode one of his coneys, climbed down off the wagon, and said his thanks and goodbye.
Rodney was where he wanted to be, and where he often was after a long day tending to his traps. Ralf Alehouse’s tavern, a friendly spot to sit and drink while the warm afternoon outside darkened into a cool summer evening. Rodney Trapper did like an ale or two before he went home to Grandmother Aggie’s cottage in the forest on the other side of town. A laugh or two with fellows whom he considered stupid but fun.
He also enjoyed sharing smiles with the barmaid, Bromalynn Alehouse, Ralf’s daughter, who sometimes took him out behind the alehouse and up the stairs to her room, after all the other customers had staggered out and stumbled off into the night, and she had shut and bolted the tavern door. There in her garret, Bromalynn and Rodney would take pleasure in lying down together after working all day on their feet.
Bromalynn was older than Rodney by seven years, but she swore her love for him was as young as it was generous, and how was a lusty lad of seventeen to complain about that? Generous indeed she was, and Rodney Trapper had no complaints at all.

Rodney walked into the tavern and saw that it was filled with the usual after-work tosspots, but this time instead of sitting at the long table they were all standing around slurping ale from mugs and laughing at a fat young lad who appeared to have no business being in a peasants’ tavern. The pudgy boy stood on a bench before the cold fireplace, waving his hand for silence. He was dressed like a foreigner, a rich foreigner from one of the prosperous islands, and the locals were hooting at him for putting on airs. But the young roly-poly fop only grinned back, waiting for their attention.
Bromalynn came out from behind the bar and stood in front of the boy on the bench. She poked two fingers into her mouth and gave forth a shrill whistle, which quieted the jeering locals. “This lad’s money is good in this tavern,” she let the men know, “and he has a right to be heard. Any of you sods who wants another ale will be courteous enough to heed what he has to say.” Bromalynn tried to sound stern, but Rodney heard the mirth behind her words. So did some of the louts, perhaps, but they all quieted down and gave the young dandy their ears.
“Gentlemen,” the boy said in a high-pitched voice, “thank you for your attention.”
“Gentlemen?” Rishru Sawyer called out. “What’s that supposed to mean?” A crescendo of laughter threatened to reclaim the room.
“Hush if you want another drink, Rishru,” Bromalynn snapped, “and if you don’t want another drink, you may show yourself out. And that goes for all of you rascals. Hello, Rodney.” She filled a mug and handed it to the handsome trapper.
Rodney grinned and nodded, then turned his attention to the lad standing on the bench.
“My name is Frogge,” the young man said. “I am Prince Frogge of the Isle of Fens, but you, friends, may call me simply Frogge. I’ve come here to the Isle of Goats because I’m looking for a strong, brave man who wants to become very, very rich!” Frogge paused, raised his eyebrows, and said, “Anybody interested?”
“Go on,” said Smith, a man of few words. He glanced at Bromalynn, who nodded.
Frogge held up a sheet of heavy paper. Rodney had heard about paper but had never seen it before. Frogge held the sheet out for the tosspots to see and he said, “This is a proclamation from our beloved High King Rohar the Seventh, from his castle on Blackberry Island. I shall read it to you.” Frogge cleared his throat and began:
On the Summer Solstice of this year, the twenty-first year of my peaceful reign over the Farther Isles, I suffered a grave injury, as witnessed by the assembled loyal kings and queens of the Alliance of Farther Isles, at the hand of the Giant Clobber, King of the unfaithful Isle of the South Wind. The villain robbed me of my left eye, the Crystal Eye, and in so doing subjected me to physical pain, which is bearable, and insult, which is not.
Let it be known throughout the Farther Isles that I, King Rohar the Seventh, will have my revenge. I swear this by my faith in the Stars above us all.  I hereby proclaim throughout the Farther Isles that to the man who kills the Giant Clobber from the Isle of the South Wind and who brings back to me my left eye, my crystal left eye, to that man I shall give the hand of my only daughter in marriage, as well as the western half of my Kingdom of Blackberry Island. There may he live as a king for the rest of his days.
This is my pledge, the pledge of a just King and a man of his word.
Frogge grinned at the assembly of louts and said, “Well, that’s it, gentlemen. Signed by the High King and sealed with his ring. Any takers?”
The crowd quietly shuffled with their mugs back to the long table and sat down on the long benches. The first man to speak up was Smith, a man of few words. “Ale!” he said. “More ale.”
Bromalynn brought a pot of ale to the table, and then another, and then a third, until every man had a full mug. The men mumbled and drank, and none of them smiled, except for Rodney Trapper at one end of the table, and the plump young dandy, Frogge, who sat at the other end and drank only berry leaf tea.
Conversation never fully resumed in Ralf Alehouse’s Tavern that evening. Rishru Sawyer asked, “Who would want to live on Blackberry Island? Those who’ve been there say it’s foggy and cold.”
“I couldn’t leave my crops anyway,” said Siler, Old Jode Farmer’s eldest son.
“I have roofs to mend,” said Garrett Thatcher.
The men drank in somber silence, and every time Bromalynn found an excuse to pass by Rodney’s end of the table she laid a hand on his shoulder and squeezed.
Rishru Sawyer’s brother, Knox Carpenter, broke the silence and spoke directly to the boy at the end, the stranger from the Isle of Fens. “It’s folly, you fool. They say the Giant Clobber is as big as a tall oak tree, and as strong, and fast as a snake.”
Frogge shook his head. “Not as tall as all that,” he said.
“Tall, though. Big, and vicious,” Knox Carpenter insisted.
“Vicious, yes. And yes, big,” Frogge admitted. “But he’s stupid. Everybody knows that.”
“Not as stupid as anybody who’d want to fight him,” said Fisher. He rose and said, “This is nonsense, and I’ve heard enough.” He threw a coin down on the table and shambled out of the tavern.
One by one the men left the tavern and returned home to their families in town. Soon only Bromalynn, Rodney, and the boy remained seated at the table. Bromalynn’s father, Ralf, came out of the kitchen with a pot of chicken stew, which he set on the table. He went back into the kitchen and brought out bowls and spoons.
“It’s humble fare,” Ralf told Frogge, “but it comes with your room.”
“Are you stopping here for the night, then?” Rodney asked.
Frogge nodded. “I am. And you, too?”
Rodney stole a glance at Bromalynn, who blushed and said, “Rodney’s welcome to stay.”
Ralf smiled and said, “Rodney is a frequent guest.”
“It’s a long hike to my Grandmother’s house,” he explained. “She lives in the forest east of the town. Sometimes it’s hard to find my way home in the dark.”

Later, upstairs in the candle-lit garret, after Bromalynn and Rodney had feasted on each other’s lips with their loins locked in a slow, long dance, Rodney lay back and smiled up into Bromalynn’s face.
She smiled back, tickled his chest with her long blond hair, and said, “What are you smiling about, you silly tomcat?”
“That little chap,” Rodney answered. “You know, Bromalynn, it does sound like quite an adventure, killing a giant and all that.” He stroked her chin with his thumb.
Bromalynn pulled away from him and slapped his sweaty belly. “That was not the answer I expected,” she said in a trembling voice. “And you are not going off with that little idiot to risk your life. You’re not leaving this island, my friend, and you’re not leaving me.”
He put a hand on her shoulder. “I’d come back. Come back to you.”
“Probably not.”
“Bromalynn, I swear by the Stars that I shall return to you. By the Stars, Bromalynn.”
“Oh, I have no doubt of your good intentions, my lad. But can’t you see you stand more than a good chance of dying in battle against this monster?”
“I’m not afraid. I’m a good trapper. I’d build a trap big enough to trap that villain, and then I’d demand that he give me the High King’s eye, and then I’d poison him to death. My Granny will make me a poison. You see? And then you and I can move to Blackberry Island and live like a king and a queen. Wouldn’t you like that? And raise goats, like my father did before he lost his mind.”
“You’re the one who’s lost your mind. You’re not going. You’re not going to fight a giant and die. And you’re not going to kill a giant and win, because then I’ll lose you for sure!”
“But Bromalynn—”
“If you give the High King back his crystal eye, you’ll have to marry his daughter Llanaa. I’m told she’s beautiful beyond measure.” Tears ran down Bromalynn’s cheeks. “I forbid you to go to battle on the Isle of the South Wind. If you lose or if you win, I’ll lose you, Rodney.”
“Who told you the High King’s daughter was beautiful?” he asked. “Who told you this? Frogge?”
Bromalynn rose from the bed and stood in candlelight. “No, not the little boy. He didn’t tell me about Princess Llanaa. I learned about her from another visitor, who stopped at the inn last night. He told me all about the evening the Giant Clobber robbed King Rohar’s eye, and about the High King’s pledge—including the bit about the beautiful daughter, who the High King thinks he has a right to just give to any brute foolish enough to do battle with a giant.”
Rodney Trapper propped himself up on one elbow and stared at the woman he loved, who was no longer weeping. “Who was this visitor?” he asked her. “Who stopped for the night in this inn? And did he stay in the guest room downstairs, or—”
“What difference does it make?”
“Who was he, then, this man who knew so much?”
“His name was Tamber. Prince Tamber, if you must know, from the Isle of Mirth.”
“A prince? He stopped for the night in this inn? What did he look like? All jewels and fancy clothes, I suppose.”
“No. Plain clothes. Honestly, Rodney—”
“What did he look like?”
Bromalynn took her time, and while she took her time a small smile began to play on her lips. “He was the handsomest man I’ve ever seen,” she said.

§§§


Call for submissions: Your 99-Word Stories

The deadline for March’s 99-word story submissions is March 1, 2017. The stories will appear on my blog post for March 11, and will stay posted for a week.

note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.

Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to: jmd@danielpublishing.com

THIS MONTH’S PROMPT FOR NEXT MONTH’S 99-WORD STORY (choose one):

Make up a story inspired by the following quotation from Julius Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March,”

 or inspired by the following couplet:
“The winds of March that make my heart a dancer;
A telephone that rings, but who’s to answer?”

§§§


Calling all published authors—

I try to feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book—email me directly at jmd@danielpublishing.com.


§§§


Thank you for visiting. Please drop by next week!

 


Saturday, February 18, 2017

ALAN BERN WRITES POEMS OF LOVE AND DEATH


THE JOY OF STORY
John M. Daniel’s Blog
February 18, 2017




Greetings, friends and celebrators of the joy to be found in stories—writing them, reading them, telling them, or hearing them. If you enjoy a good story, this weekly blog is for you.

This week, beginning the third Saturday in the month, I am happy to introduce you to Alan Bern. Alan is a friend of mine, and I was proud to publish two of his poetry collections some years ago: No no the saddest, and Waterwalking in Berkeley. The former book is a sequence of linked but independent stories, which combine to form a narrative of Alan’s first wife’s aneurysm, brain surgery, coma, and eventual death. It is indeed a sad story—a nightmare, in fact, but a beautifully told account of a defining episode in the poet’s life.

Alan’s second book, Waterwalking in Berkeley, is an affectionate tribute to Berkeley, California, where Alan was born and where he has spent most of his life. A theme running throughout the book is the importance of place. This is a collection of narrative poems that read like stories about people, scenery, and the spirit of community.

I invited Alan to write something for this blog, and he has taken the opportunity to tell us about his latest book, which I can certainly recommend. The design of the book, the illustrations by the book designer, and of course the poems themselves, are stunning.

§§§


In the central section of his book greater distance, which is based on the last years of his parents’ lives, poet, translator, and performer Alan Bern gives us a quiet pathway of observed moments and invites the reader to walk it with him... since we all must travel it. Also included in this volume are adaptations of two broadsides written by Bern and illustrated by his friend and collaborator, the artist and fine printer Robert Woods. Under the imprint of Lines & Faces they designed and printed both original broadsides on a Vandercook proving machine, “Dialogue” and “From Futility.” In “Dialogue,” San Francesco d’Assisi and Hildegard von Bingen meet as breezes to speak about their lives and views. Reminiscent of Dante, this poem is translated into Italian by poet and Neapolitan educational theorist and activist, Marco Rossi-Doria.



Alan Bern is a poet and storyteller, a performer, a printer and designer, and a librarian. As a prize-winning poet (eighth annual Littoral Press Poetry Prize, 2015, and Semifinalist, 2016 Center For Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Competition), Bern has been published in both print and online magazines and journals and has published three books of poems: No no the saddest (2004) and Waterwalking in Berkeley (2007), both with Fithian Press, McKinleyville, CA, and greater distance and other poems (2015) with Lines & Faces.
Bern has worked for nearly 45 years with artist Robert Woods as Lines & Faces (linesandfaces.com) to design and produce illustrated poetry broadsides of their work.
As a performer, he has read his poems and told stories for almost 50 years and for the past 15 years has worked with dancer/choreographer Lucinda Weaver as PACES: dance and poetry fit to the space. Their current work will be performed at the Gualala Arts Center, March 10 and 11, 2017. And from March 10 – April 1, Lines & Faces will have a broadside exhibit at the Gualala Arts Center. http://gualalaarts.org/.
As a librarian, Bern has been a tireless advocate for improving services and programs for the underserved. He has worked primarily in community outreach and children’s and teen services for the past 25 years in San Francisco Bay Area Public Libraries.


§§§


Call for submissions: Your 99-Word Stories

The deadline for March’s 99-word story submissions is March 1, 2017. The stories will appear on my blog post for March 11, and will stay posted for a week.

note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.

Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to: jmd@danielpublishing.com

THIS MONTH’S PROMPT FOR NEXT MONTH’S 99-WORD STORY (choose one):

Make up a story inspired by the following quotation from Julius Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March,”

 or inspired by the following couplet:
“The winds of March that make my heart a dancer;
A telephone that rings, but who’s to answer?”

§§§


Calling all published authors—

I try to feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book—email me directly at jmd@danielpublishing.com.


§§§


Thank you for visiting. Please drop by next week!



Saturday, February 11, 2017

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED?


THE JOY OF STORY
John M. Daniel’s Blog
February 11, 2017



Greetings, friends and celebrators of the joy to be found in stories—writing them, reading them, telling them, or hearing them. If you enjoy a good story, this weekly blog is for you.

This week, beginning the second Saturday in the month of Valentine’s Day, I take pleasure in presenting love stories submitted to me by writers who read my blog. This feature is open to all who want to submit. If you want to send me stories but don’t yet know how to participate, you’ll find out how it works in the rules that follow the stories below.

This month’s 99-word prompt, “I can’t give you anything but love,” comes, of course, from the Dorothy Fields lyric to the Jimmy McHugh song of the same name. The song was released in 1928, a year before the great Stock Market Crash, but it became an anthem of the 1930s, an optimistic defiance of the Great Depression.

Love stories—all stories, but love stories especially—need conflict. The love in the story has to be the source of or the cure for the problem in a relationship. As a general rule, the more challenging the problem, the stronger the story.

I am pleased with the stories I received this month. I was particularly impressed by “A Mother’s Love Is All You Need,” by Diane S. Morelli. Note how much of the story is compressed and clarified by the last sentence. That’s good story structure.

§§§

NOTHING BUT LOVE
eight  99-word stories



§

ONE WISH
by Cathy Mayrides

“Make a wish,” he said, “and you will have the whole world.” I don’t know where he came from, but this genie stood in the middle of my living room and my busy day.
I wasn’t welcoming. After all, why would I even believe that he could give me everything? He didn’t know me. He didn’t know what I wanted.
Suddenly it was clear and I knew I could have the keys to the kingdom.  I silently wished for that thing that opens hearts, stirs longings, and motivates ordinary people to do better.
I didn’t want anything but love.
•••


I  CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE
BY Marilyn London

 “Hey Jack, how’s it going today?”
Ting
“Cold, man. God bless.” Jack nodded.
Ting, ting, ting. “Thank you ma’am.”
She turned. “How’d you know I was a woman?”
“Those steps and heels, clap-clapping.” Toothless smile.
Ting
 “Bless you. Have a good one.”
The wind blew. Rain pelted Jack’s shivering body. He rocked to keep warm on the hard, wet sidewalk.
“Hey. What? Ah. You poor wet thing. Come cuddle up here. What soft ears. Whoa, whoa! You’re going to knock me over. So cute! You’re making a big mistake adopting me, pup. I can’t give you anything but love.
•••


I  CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE
by Tom Donovan

 “Please play the song and tell me, “Gee I’d like to see you looking swell baby.”
“I don’t play requests. I play Beethoven.”
“I love you; you must have feelings.”
“Feelings yes, but not the love you crave.”
“How can you be so cruel?”
“The love you get is not always the love you want.”
“Where there is great love there is often little display of it.”
“Could it be I love the talent and not you at all?”
“Is the painful eagerness of unfed hope my despair?” she asked.
“You’re getting damned romantic.”
“No,” said Lucy. “Just bored”
•••


I LOVE YOU, MAX
by June Kosier

Those big brown eyes and the long, soft, dark brown hair!  You meet me at the door when I come home making me feel welcomed. I must be a gourmet cook because you hungrily eat my cooking, cleaning your dish. When I am ill, you never leave my bedside. You love to go for walks with me, anytime, anywhere. You aren’t a backseat driver, even when you are in the back seat.   
The way you love life lifts my spirit.  So what if your breath stinks or you often pass gas?
You are my buddy, my protector. My dog.
•••


by Donna Silverman

“What are you talking about, Dad? I hurried home because you wrote that you’d be dying soon, and you wanted to give me everything you had. Now you tell me you’re broke?”
“I’m afraid so, Timmy. All I have to give you is all my love. There’s plenty of that.”
“You lied to me. You wrote and told me you were rich!”
“I felt rich because you wrote and told me that you loved me.”
“I told you I loved you because I thought you were rich.”
“Well, Son, it seems the joke’s on both of us.”
“Who’s laughing?”
•••


I CAN DO THAT
by Jerry Giammatteo

She was so graceful.
He was so ordinary.
She walked that runway every night, bedecked in the latest from the famous designers. He set up the lights. She was major league and he was the sandlot.
Occasionally, she’d glance at him and smile warmly, and he’d feel his face turning crimson, though that smile made his night.
One evening, after the show, she looked unhappy. He mustered his courage.
“Anything wrong,” he asked?
She swept her hand across the room. “I’d give all this up for love.” She gave him her sweetest smile.
I can do that, he thought.
•••


A MOTHER’S LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
by Diane S. Morelli

Layla’s daughter Eve didn’t speak during the car ride home from her dorm at Princeton. “You’re unusually broody.”
“Sorry, Mom. I’m working through some things.”
“Like what?"
“Oh, a paper for my Culture and Reproduction course. I have to write about pregnancy that ends in abortion or with adoption.”
“Poignant assignment.”
“I can’t do it without your help,” said Eve.
“Nonsense. You can do anything you want or have to do. Personally, if I couldn’t have given you anything but love, I still couldn’t have given you up.”
Layla didn’t know that her powerful sentiment quelled Eve’s morning sickness.
•••


THE MAN WHO LOVED TOO MUCH
by Christine Viscuso

“It’s great that we could meet for our fiftieth high school reunion.” Posey raised a glass to her two friends.
“I notice you’re wearing a bracelet like mine.” Hortencia extended her arm, revealing a heavy gold ID chain.
 “I have one too.” Monique pushed up her blazer sleeve. “My husband gave it to me. It’s inscribed, ‘I can’t give you anything but love’.”
 “Why, mine says that too.” Hortencia and Posey chorused.
Hortencia took a deep breath. “What are your husbands’ names?”
The other two called out, “Brad.”
Posey stood. “Come ladies. Let’s give our Bradley everything but love.”
•••



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Call for submissions: Your 99-Word Stories

The deadline for March’s 99-word story submissions is March 1, 2017. The stories will appear on my blog post for March 11, and will stay posted for a week.

note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.

Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to: jmd@danielpublishing.com

THIS MONTH’S PROMPT FOR NEXT MONTH’S 99-WORD STORY (choose one):

Make up a story inspired by the following quotation from Julius Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March,”

 or inspired by the following couplet:
“The winds of March that make my heart a dancer;
A telephone that rings, but who’s to answer?”

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Calling all published authors—

I try to feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book—email me directly at jmd@danielpublishing.com.


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Thank you for visiting. Please drop by next week!