Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sunday Kind of Love


I don’t usually put a story this long on here – it’s about 800 words, so I would still call this flash fiction. Let me know what you think. I’m breaking one of my self-imposed rules on story writing. Typically I’ll write a story, let it sit for a day or so, come back to it and then see if I really want to publish it. But I felt like throwing caution to the wind today and going for it. I may wish I’d kept to my rule if I discover some hideous mistake tomorrow! You’ll forgive me won’t you? Thanks always for reading…



Sunday Kind of Love

Nothing could have startled Andrea more than when Martin whispered those words into her ear, especially since a crowd of people at St. Mark’s Worship Center surrounded them. The parishioners were greeting one another with handshakes and smiles. His whispered, “I love you” certainly didn’t come from a well of Christian love, but that of romantic depths. His hands lingered on hers longer than usual; his gaze seared his devotion into her eyes. Andrea’s cheeks flushed red. She feared everyone in the room saw her discomfort…and excitement. She realized right away that he knew he was being clever. He winked at her and continued into the crowd with the customary ‘hello’ and ‘good to see you’ greetings.

Andrea had no idea what the service was about. She didn’t hear a word the pastor spoke. Her skin reacted with gooseflesh every few minutes with  awareness that Martin’s eyes bore into her from a few rows back.

They’d met at the church. He’d sought her out for her natural talent with marketing. Although Andrea had never worked as such in an official capacity, she’d been very successful at organizing several events at the church, managing a great turnout every time. Martin approached Andrea to help him with his fledgling restaurant. He’d been successful in his venture at first, but the past year he’d only lost business and was desperate to turn it around. He made his case to Andrea. No doubt, she was interested in seeing what she was capable of doing in a real business setting. She smiled inside thinking of how someone recognized her for something, for anything. She smiled thinking of how someone needed her. She realized she hadn’t felt that way in a long time. Sure, she was appreciated at the church, but to have someone seek her out, recognizing a talent she had, made her feel special.

As Andrea sat in the pew next to her husband and three daughters, she thought of how she’d been brought to Martin through the church. She was a woman of deep faith, always turning to the Scriptures for guidance and understanding. This relationship with Martin was confusing her. He disarmed her with his charm, with his affection and attention. He knew it, too, as her rosy glow gave her away with every flirtation.

She’d grown quite used to simply being a mother and housemaid. Although Andrea was still a young woman at 34, she didn’t bother coloring the gray beginning to show in her hair or wearing lipstick anymore. The last time she did make an effort was for an evening out with her husband. She’d carefully applied her makeup, styled her hair and put on a new outfit. He glanced up at her and only said, “You ready? Where’s your coat?”

Martin noticed her, though. Of course, at first, she believed his intentions were purely about improving his restaurant. That changed one night when they met after the restaurant closed. The two of them sat together at one of the tables near the kitchen, writing out suggested plans for improvements. He looked into her eyes. Something, besides work, was on his mind. She thought she saw desire staring back at her.

“So, um, we were talking about the new layout, for the, um…the…” Her faced flushed and she was grateful the lights were low in the room.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me Martin,” she tried to laugh, but her breath caught in her throat. “I must be tired because I’ve completely lost my train of thought.”

He smiled at her, one of those smiles that indicated amusement.

“You’re quite beautiful when you’re embarrassed. And when you’re not embarrassed. And when you’re sitting across from me.”

Andrea looked down at the pen in her hand. She didn’t know how to respond. No one had called her beautiful in years. She was taken completely off guard.

Martin spoke again. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I have to be honest, though. I’ve been attracted to you since the first moment I laid eyes on you.”

She realized the nerves, the flushing cheeks, the tingling she felt whenever he was near her was her attraction to him.

And there it was. Two adults, married to others, finding themselves caught in electrifying, unexpected, desire for each other. He’d confess to a ‘show’ of a marriage. She’d confess to feeling completely neglected. Thus ensued what each believed a new reality, a hope for something more than they ever imagined possible only a few weeks earlier.

The organist’s mishap with the unyielding instrument jarred Andrea back to the worship service.  The pastor was bringing the service to a close. Her husband was doodling on the bulletin, writing the initials of his name and her name and finally drawing a heart around them. Andrea’s gooseflesh disappeared. Nausea replaced the tingling in her body. Her husband did love her, in his own way. Now all Andrea needed to do was decide if it was enough.

And all God’s people said, “Amen.”


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And Does My Savior Weep?



John 11:35 “Jesus Wept”


I’ve believed in people, foolishly,

Thinking others to be as forgiving as they claim to be


Especially those who wear the cross, or carry it

Upon their backs, as if struggling under its weight;

It isn’t the cross that’s so heavy to carry – it’s the hypocrisy


Bearing down on their souls, calling out others in shame

All the while smiling through covetous eyes, gossiping tongues,

Greedy hands, lustful hearts, raging tempers, gluttonous hungers,

Lazy countenances, prideful braggings and oh must not forget the

Secret imbibers (medicinal reasons, really?)


None of us are sinless, as some would have them thought to be

Point your self-righteous nose to the wind, gather stones at your

Pure feet; I’ll pray for you tonight, that one day you might see

Maybe you don’t want the prayers of a sinner?

Maybe you don’t want prayers from me?

Another prime example of why so many shun Christianity…


We are called to share His love and we waste it finger pointing.


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Present Circumstances



Headlights reached into the darkness,

I searched for a place to stop,

To get off this road to nowhere


Giants lurked in the shadows,

Unsettled, I continued on

Should morning happen to find me;

I’m only a grifter seeking the sun,

Willing to lay down my transgressions,

You can count them one by one


I’ll not be beholden to tomorrow

I’ll not gather food as the autumn squirrel

Today’s the only day I’m claiming

Won’t depend on the mussel with the pearl


My eagerness to follow the dream,

The one that keeps me out of yesterday

Only serves to run me ragged;

I’ll grasp on to today


Ram your shovel into the earth

Dig up all that you can find

I’m happy to keep on believin’

There’s a place for you and I


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‘Jerry the Angel’ on Titles


(I thought it only fitting to have a proper title for this post – hope you approve Jerry.)

It’s been a crazy week and I was stressing over what to post about – yes, I have a poem or two in wait but I wanted something else to blog about. And that’s when an angel of mercy arrived by way of my inbox. Yes, Jerry Guarino may not look like your average angel, but I’ve learned he’s a real sweetheart and boy did he come through for me! So please, read and enjoy Jerry’s insights and be sure to check out his books, his website and follow the guy on Facebook. By the way, he started a Facebook Short Story Writers group that is 338 members strong. Be sure to check it out, too, if you write short stories! Thank you Jerry!


Are titles important and where do they come from?

By Jerry Guarino

            First, let me thank Sheila for this opportunity to share my ideas about titles.  We all know that a title is the handle for a story, a novel, screenplay or dramatic play.  It is the first clue to what the content will be and the last way for an author to leave a lasting impression to the reader.  We all have an instant visual when we hear these titles:

The Raven

            The Old Man and the Sea

            West Side Story


            Death of a Salesman

            Personally, I use titles to give the reader something to keep in their mind.  I do so for many reasons.  Sometimes I do it to mislead or misdirect the reader, in order to keep them from guessing where the story will go.  Other times I use it to set up a multiple meaning word, phrase or idea.  I have used titles to intrigue, to question, to mimic a sound, a theme or an idea.  To me, titles are very important and I write them before I write the story.

Titles can’t make the story great or memorable but they can detract from the effectiveness of the story.  You don’t see bad titles published very often because authors, editors and publishers will correct that before printing.

Here are some of my titles and the way they are related to the content of the story.

The Bridge Game – uses the word bridge in three different ways.  First, as the card game that two couples play.  Next, as one of the women uses the other to bridge her relationship to the other’s man.  Finally, at the end of the story, the woman crashes her car into a bridge.  Using a key word in the title in different ways is a common device authors use.

Who Stole Asbury Park? – In this story, I used the title to preview the main idea.  It is the story of a New Jersey resort town on the ocean that once was vibrant with people, amusements and life, but has lost all that over time due to fiscal mismanagement and apathy.  It also serves the purpose of disguising the more interesting coming of age love story between a young boy and girl and their first explorations into the opposite sex.  Using a title to set up part of a story, especially with a question is a good way to give the reader something to think about.

Boxes and Ladders – is about three men all interested in the same woman.  In this case, the title refers to concepts.  Boxes are used to hold things, but in the story it also refers to the personality of one of the men, an engineer, who likes to compartmentalize everything, including people.  He takes this into extremes by categorizing people into boxes on a computer program, trying to find a mate.  Ladders refers to the other man’s way of attacking life, by climbing ladders to reach goals.  Of course the woman falls for the third man who approaches life and relationships in a mature and generous way.

Preheat the Microwave.Com – is a story looking at the funny things senior citizens do, although pushed to extremes for effect.  This title uses a quote from the book as the elderly woman tells her niece “You have to preheat the microwave.”  Using a quote from the book can be an effective way of making the story both memorable and different, as the title also suggests a website, another reference to the website the niece sets up in her aunt’s senior citizen center.  Using a quote is particularly effective when it refers to a joke as it is used here.

Coq a Doodle Do – this is one story of a trilogy of love stories featuring roosters as characters.  Here the title gives the reader a clue to one of the characters, by making a play on the sound a rooster makes in the morning, an essential element in the story.  Coq is also the French word for rooster and the theme of France runs through the trilogy.

Practical Goldberg (A Love Story in 3 Parts) – uses the name Goldberg for the main character, a college student, who creates an elaborate bird-feeding machine to attract women for love.  Of course we find out in the end that although he is successful in doing so, the woman was actually doing the same thing to get him to love her.  Using a reference like this (i.e. A Rube Goldberg Machine) makes your title reflect what happens in the story and for those of us old enough to know what that machine was, a delightful but overly complicated way to do something, the story works nicely.

Starbanks – this is a story I wrote about a bank with a Starbucks coffee shop inside.  It is merely a play on words, but one which works well in this quirky look at a how prevalent coffee shops have become in our lives.  I sent the story to Starbucks and it is actually an idea they have thought about doing.  I have no doubt we will see them in banks sometime in the future.

Well, that’s my thinking on titles.  I’ll leave some more here for you to ponder.  The Duke of Yelp, The Grand Poobah, Pie or Die,, The Rich are Going to Hell, Like Father, Like Son, Overdue, The Tightrope and The Devil’s Orchestra.  So pay attention to the title of the next story you read.  The author probably put a lot of thought into it.


Jerry Guarino’s short stories have been published by dozens of magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. His latest book, “50 Italian Pastries”, is available on and as a Kindle eBook. Please visit his website at


The Girdling Root – Flash Fiction



I’m feeling a bit experimental in my writing. The following has no dialogue and the sentences are long. I see it more as an exercise for exploring a future character and perhaps using some of it for that purpose. What do you think? And, while we’re on the subject – do you jot out character sketches in an attempt to get to know your characters better?

The Girdling Root

Once root girdling takes hold of a tree, suffocation and death are imminent unless the extreme decision to remove the offending root takes place. The specimen may succumb to death even with the procedure, most assuredly if nothing is done.

At first, I thought I’d had a stroke or a heart attack. In a way, I suppose it was the latter. My limbs still functioned as normal. My brain still registered date and time with the ability to recall any detail it so wished within reason of a ‘normal’ 48-year-old female. The problem wasn’t the body or the mind. The problem was the heart. Pain, alternating with numbness, pushed through weakened spots between heartbeats, grabbing hold, suffocating the source of oxygen and nutrients required for proper health. A doctor was of no use; however, the damage begged for repair.

Heartbreak is a fickle disease; one that requires constant monitoring, else irreversible damage may lay waste to any individual who harbors the ailment. As with a heart attack, once a piece of the heart actually dies, there is no repair of the dead area. If no treatment is secured for what remains, hope for survival wanes with every passing day. What of a transplant? No such convenience for the heartbroken I’m afraid.

I chose the path of so many. I ignored the symptoms for as long as possible until my breath caught at my own stabbing foolishness. No other option but to open my chest for examination. Ugly, regrettable and useless pandering to the emotion of grief that served no purpose settled into a lifeless area of impending necrosis. It was do or die time.

Accepting the void left where another once held court daily proved a vicious exercise of my recovery, but a necessary one. Recognizing that the risk was worth the potential reward, I cut away the offending root of my grief that served no purpose but to strangle my happiness.

I am now like the grasping, growing, forward-seeking roots of a maple tree forcing their way through unyielding sod, seeking new ground to explore. If I should, once again, encounter the pain of a broken heart, I will seek out the girdling root and I will cut it off before it threatens my existence. I will cut it off, and I will thrive, for I will not be suffocated by grief ever again.


—-The most I learned about this character came at the end of this writing exercise –  I thought she was guided by her need to heal and be whole, but that wasn’t the case after all. It seems she was guided by survival at any cost.—-

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Balanced Diet



Do not offer me dessert,

I need more than a temporary high;

I seek to be well fed


I’ve worn broken bones,

Suffered broken dreams

I’ve lost myself to a broken heart,

Recovered to let myself go again


Into that place where trust becomes

A dagger pushing into the deepest places,

Testing resistance, the breath catches


Bleed tears that flow

Until they dam

Against promises, hushed whispers, sentimental feelings


Your smile, pressed into my existence,

Your dreams intertwined with mine

Your love, a healing balm, soothing the

Ache of a soul on fire


Layers of seduction form within a

Palette desiring gratifying flavors

My appetite is whet…


Do not offer me dessert



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Writing and Routine



I should be writing, of pleasant

Dreams and the usual things,

The jester’s in court after all


I should be rhyming, words within

Reason while they’re in season,

One never knows when they’ll fall


Laboring efforts by a hand with a pen

Or fingers on keys, if only to begin

Dawn turns to dusk on another day

Stories unfold, as is their way

My desk bids me to sit, continue to stay

Surely I’ll finally find something to say…


I don’t usually mention my children on this blog, but I am going to say something now – It’s been three weeks of Christmas vacation for my children and they need to go back to school! Thankfully, that day comes Monday. I’m hoping that my brain returns to full function then, as well. I’ve had one truly productive day in this time, and that was only because they were at their grandparent’s house! Isn’t that awful? I simply need the peace and quiet, at least 20 minutes where I’m not being called upon for a snack, stop an argument between brothers, or soothe an upset child after a skinned knee or a forehead-meets-doorknob incident. Can anyone out there relate?

One great entertainment I’ve thoroughly enjoyed during this break time – my little guy has a penchant for story telling. He has been sharing stories with me nearly every day, and wow, he’s got a creative little mind! I love it. However,  I’m very much looking forward to getting back to routine.

This year I have two professional objectives – write, write, write and grow my yoga business. I don’t make resolutions so much as I set goals.

How about you? Are you a resolution maker? Do you like to follow a routine? If you have kids, how long of a Christmas break do they get? Let’s chat…


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