Smashwords Promotion Week – Spooky & Kooky Tales is FREE

Our pals at Smashwords are offering a site-wide promotion this week.  Use code RW100 to download either a Kindle edition or an Epub edition of my (entertaining) story collection.  Collection includes:  CHOPIN FOR IGOR, STRANGER IN PARADISE, THE RABBI'S LESSON, MY NAME ON IT, HAPPY HALLOWEEN, and others.  You can also download my other books, too.





Smashwords – Spooky & Kooky Tales – a book by Carla Sarett

Valentine's Month: A MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS by Samantha Memi




Our Valentine's celebration continues, this time with the idea of the always interesting and very British flash fiction writer, Samantha Memi, whom we've interviewed on this blog. Samantha has a new collection, ALL IN LETTERS BOUND IN STRING-- 40 new pieces of microfiction, flash fiction, and short fiction, available for the first time in paperback.   Publication date is planned for April 2015.

You can order the book from Samantha's website:
http://www.samanthamemi.net/


In the meantime, enjoy this comic Valentine, reprinted here through the author's permission.  It's one of my favorite of her stories.


A marriage of true minds

                    by Samantha Memi
   

I put on my hat and my coat and my shoes. I knew something was missing but I couldn’t think what. When I looked in the mirror I saw what it was: my underwear. How silly of me. If I took off my coat I would be naked. That wouldn’t do at all.
I looked in my sock drawer; no underwear. I looked in my underwear drawer; only socks. I looked in all my drawers and could find no underwear. I knew I had some because I’d worn it before. Underwear was essential, especially for a girl like me going to a party where all kinds of special people were bound to be. By special people I mean men, particularly unmarried men. In fact only unmarried men. I wanted to get married, have a family and sit around the house all day watching daytime TV and eating chocolates. The only way I could do that was if my husband worked hard to keep me in hats, coats, shoes and underwear. But where could my underwear be.
There it was. When I looked out the window I saw it hanging on the line, drying in the sun. I hated drying my underwear in the dryer. It always got sparky with static. Once, when I put on a lacy bra, my nipples pinged out and surprised me. I mean that’s the sort of thing you want to happen when you’re in the company of a handsome young man and he pushes against you, and your thin summer dress and your thin summer bra make it quite clear what your nipples are doing, but it’s not the sort of thing you want to happen when you’re at home alone.
I went out to the garden. I said, —Hello garden, what a lovely day. The garden didn’t say anything because it’s just a garden, or if it did speak it did it in such a low whisper I couldn’t hear. I collected all my underwear from my washing line and brought it indoors. I would wear the white and beige matching bra and panties and suspender belt. I didn’t have any stockings. Was it silly to wear a suspender belt if I wasn’t going to wear stockings. I thought it probably was, but I wasn’t sure.
I phoned Maisie and she said, —Why aren’t you going to wear any stockings? so I said, —I don’t have any, and she said, —I’ll bring some over. Apparently Maisie has lots of stockings. I don’t know why, and I don’t know
why I have a suspender belt if I don’t have any stockings.
She brought two pairs; brown and black. I chose the brown, although
she said the black would be sexier. I didn’t want to seem like a whore. Then she left and I said, —Thank you, bye, and she said, —Have fun, and I waved as she drove away.
Then I went indoors and put on Maisie’s stockings. They felt really nice and I looked in the mirror. I definitely looked good but I still felt something was missing. I didn’t know what. I picked up my tiny tiny handbag and went out to the car.
As the engine started I looked down at my legs and realised I wasn’t wearing a dress. I switched off the engine and went back in the house. I had so many dresses; which would I choose. I wondered briefly why I had forgotten to put on a dress. Was it a subconscious desire to appear naked in public? I didn’t want a subconscious like that. What if I hadn’t noticed and I’d gone to the party. Then, when I took off my coat, everyone would have gasped and giggled and I’d’ve said, What? what’s wrong, and a kind person would whisper, You’re not wearing a dress, and I’d’ve had to leave the party, and even if I found my dress I’d still be too embarrassed to go back. I was glad I’d noticed the lack of adequate clothing.
After some deliberation I chose something red. I think it was modelled on a Hussein Chalayan creation, but I’d bought it from Zara, so it was cheap, or it might have come from a discount warehouse, I couldn’t remember. I went back to the car. Before I started the engine I made sure I had everything, hat, shoes, coat, underwear, dress. I didn’t have gloves. I started the engine. Should I wear gloves? Was it awfully faux pas to wear a hat but no gloves. Did it look sluttish? I’m sure Jacqueline Kennedy would never have worn a hat without gloves, nor would Princess Diana. I had to aspire to the best, not just accept that I wasn’t much to look at and my prospects of finding a handsome rich young man were negligible. I switched off the engine and went back in the house. I began to feel sorry for the engine. It must have been thinking, What’s happening, on off on off, when am I going to drive?
I found the perfect gloves that matched my hat, not so exactly that I looked like something from a magazine, but close enough to look stylish. I drove to the party.
Obviously I switched on the engine but I didn’t want to tell you that because I thought you must be sick and tired of hearing about my engine but then I thought you’d wonder how I drove my car without switching it on, I mean as I’d mentioned it before, why not this time, so I thought I’d just say it was switched on.
When I arrived the party was in full swing and most of the eligible bachelors had been picked up by eligible young ladies, and some not so young but pretending to be. As usual I would be left with the dregs. A very
nice young man came over and asked, —Have you just arrived?
—Yes, I said, —yes I have.
—So have I, he said, —I was a bit delayed. It’s really rather silly. I got into the car and started the engine and I realised I wasn’t wearing any trousers.
—Oh no, I said. —How awful! Thank goodness you realised in time and didn’t arrive at the party trouserless.
—Absolutely, he said. —That would have been very embarrassing. Would you like to dance?
—I’d love to.
We held each other close. I think it was a two-step, but where he was correct and took two steps, I was greedy and took three. If we hadn’t been holding each other tight we would have come apart. As it was our bottom halves parted then sprang back together. I suppose that’s just the way it is sometimes.
After the dance he said, —You have a unique style of dancing.
I told him I’d had a charismatic dance teacher, who I’d found both appealing and repelling at the same time.
—Ah, he said, —that explains it.
We had champagne and the bubbles went up my nose and I sneezed and sprayed snot on his jacket. Instead of saying, You filthy trollop, look what you’ve done, he laughed and said, —Oh dear, I hope you’re not the same with cocaine. We went to the bathroom and he showed me a trick where you fill an enema with champagne and squirt it up your back passage.
—It saves bubbles going up your nose, he said.
—It certainly feels funny, I replied.
We danced some more and I laughed at his jokes. The bathroom was our pied-à-terre where we became acquainted, imbibing champagne cocktails.
We were the last to leave the party. I was pissed at both ends and could hardly walk. I left my car and he drove me home. I can’t remember much of what happened that night, but in the morning my carefully selected clothes lay crumpled on the floor.
We ate toast and drank coffee. Outside it rained. Trouserless, he took my hand and asked if I'd like to get married. Joyous, with my dress round my ankles, I demurely squeaked yes.


Forever Unread: Thoughts for Valentine's Day

This originally appeared as part of 2012's Lost in Romance celebration.  Celebrate Valentine's Day by downloading your free Smashwords copy of STRANGE COURTSHIPS:NINE ROMANTIC STORIES using coupon SS97A.  Click here for book 

A batch of submissions sits on the editor’s desk at Forever Unread. Among them is a well-plotted short story in which a man and woman, after a number of mysterious events, sip brandy at the Algonquin Hotel. Alongside it is another story in which two men, after any number of disgusting events, curse at one another at a dirty diner.
The ever-so-educated literary magazine editor reads both of these – one with pronounced boredom, the other with genuine gusto. It’s the second piece that excites him. To the cursing scribe, he gushes, “It’s edgy and gritty. It takes us to new places.”
To the other author (who naturally is an authoress), he writes, “Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, this is not for us. You might consider submitting this to a romance genre publication.”
The romance author, having surveyed the contents of Forever Unread, is philosophical. She has no plans to write about dirty diners, street fights or toilets. Most definitely she wishes to avoid toilets.
She meets her dear friend, Dr. Jill Evans, esteemed head of the literature department at a prestigious university. “Are vomit and pee-pee the new literary status symbols?” the author wants to know—for she is curious about the editorial fascination with bodily excretions.
“People need things to be real,” opines the professor, who herself edits a magazine called Literary Ammonia. “Vomit is real.”
“I want magic,” our author admits. “I like landscape paintings. I like Chopin and Faure. I like movies like Casablanca, books like Green Mansions.”

“Romance has sappy Hallmark card happy endings,” Jill sighs.
The author is annoyed, but only mildly. “Casablanca doesn’t have a sappy ending--neither does Green Mansions. A lot of romance is sad, it’s just not ugly.”
Jill opens a bottle of fine Cabernet. “Life’s dark.” (The author suspects that Jill’s sole contact with the Dark Side comes from HBO or other “edgy” TV fare, but she remains wisely silent.)
“Sewers aren’t any more real than parks. Anyway, you don’t lead a gritty life,” the author replies, sipping wine and admiring the view. “Take Laurie Colwin—she writes about women I might know. She writes about women who have affairs, but not because they’re unhappy. They have affairs because their life lacks… magic.”
Jill immediately writes the name, Laurie Colwin (Find her books now). “Any other suggestions, I mean for just guilty pleasure reading?” she asks, rather eagerly.
The author lists her favorites with delight. Nancy Lemann, whose dizzy Southern girls long for loony men and sometimes get them, but only sometimes; the conjurer of all things Gallic, Dianne Johnson with her dazzling array of schemers, sophisticates and naives; Cathleen Schine whose heroines bump into love like Buster Keaton in a fast-paced chase scene; and recently romantic Allegra Goodman whose heroine in The Cookbook Collector charms without effort.

“They are stories of love – it’s sometimes flawed and it’s often brief – and they’re dreamers, even if the dreams don’t come true,” the author concludes. “Sure, promises get broken and kisses are fleeting, but without them, life’s pretty humdrum.”
Jill Evans looks out of her window and notices how beautiful Central Park is, when seen at twilight—and how quickly the light changes. “Dreams,” she repeats, and wonders where her girlhood copy of Green Mansions might be.
The next day finds Dr. Jill Evans immersed in the books of Laurie Colwin-- a writer who died as young as Jane Austen and whose spirit was as generous. Jill opens Goodbye without Leaving and swoons along with the heroine when Len first appears—and Jill feels a pit in her stomach when the two part—and a wish that the book would go on.
Soon Jill is seduced by Nancy Lemann’s Lives of the Saints. She finds herself yearning for the French Quarter in New Orleans, jazz, and hot drunken nights. She is heartsick to learn that many of Nancy Lemann novels are out of print but consoles herself by re-reading The Fiery Pantheon.
To the author’s amusement, Dr. Jill Evan’s undergraduate syllabus now includes Barbara Pym’s  A Glass of Blessings Grateful undergraduates have nominated Jill as Teacher of the Year—and many young women are seen, on park benches, reading and laughing at Pym’s Excellent Women.
The romance author cannot help but notice that the latest copy of Forever Unread sits on Jill’s desk – unopened and, yes, forever unread.

The Study of Comets By Daniel Essman

I'm a big fan of Mr. Daniel Essman, that mysterious poet fellow from Willits, California. Mysterious, yes....Dan tends to hide his work at poetry readings in Mendocino and the like, and I'm forever nagging him to publish it so I can keep it on my iPad, at the least.  But he has (don't quote me on this) hinted that he might release a short-story collection of his amazing supernatural noirish tales. Let's hope that this time, he keeps his promise.  But I digress.

You can hear this wonderful story of Dan's, "The Study of Comets," read by the lively authoress, Giana de Persiis Vona.  It's a fine reading.  Listen.  And incidentally, she offers other readings on her interesting Podcast site, Staring Problem.  

The Study of Comets By Daniel Essman | Staring Problem Podcast's tracks | Spreaker

Valentine's Month Continues: "Split Peach" by Rafeeq O. McGiveron




Yes, it's the month of Cupid, which we celebrate here.  From comic flights of fancy, we move to something a tad sexy.  This week, a poem from author, Rafeeq O. McGiveron.  

Rafeeq has published Critical Insights: Fahrenheit 451 and Critical Insights: Robert A. Heinlein (forthcoming 2015) for Salem Press, and in 2014, a self-published novel, Student Body, which is available in paper and Kindle editions.  


The poem below appeared in 2008 in the literary journal, Clean Sheets:

Split Peach

by

Rafeeq O. McGiveron


Velvet split peach,
so juicy,
overripe,
liquid and fragrant
in the soft, sighing night,

a plucked-open fruit-bowl
to wallow within
as slippery nectars
smear lips, nose, and chin

and sticky-soft flesh
slides ’neath a tongue
wordlessly writhing
in worshipful song.

What other night-treat
could satisfy like this?

Ah, love—

to devour thee is bliss!

Forget the Hollywood Effect: Guest Post by Georgina Ramsey

Georgina Ramsey lives in the North of England with her husband, son and numerous animals. She has been a teacher, and broke into the Indie market in 2013 with the release of ‘Love, Life & Cream Cakes!’ 

Here is what she contributes for Valentine's Month.

I asked my husband the other day what ‘romance’ meant to him.

His reply:  “Romance? Nah, it doesn’t really exist!”

I faltered.  It seemed that to him, romance was no different to a cheese and pickled onion sandwich! (The idea of which is quite appealing, but it requires a bit of effort to pull off, and there are easier options in the cupboard.)  Now, I could have taken his remark as an insult.  I might have concluded our cat arguably has more romance in his left paw – at least he bothers to bring me the occasional gift! But I didn’t feel dejected.   I decided that my husband is misinformed.

I blame the Hollywood Effect.  

My husband, by the way, hates romcom movies (he says they’re not “real life”) so I used to sit and watch them by myself, with a bar of chocolate and a nice cup of tea.  Now what’s the Hollywood version of romance?

Well, you shower your special someone with spectacular presents costing the Earth, a la ‘Pretty Woman.  You make a gesture that requires months of planning.  A flash mob, perhaps? If you combine the two you’ve scored! 

Patrick Dempsey’s hero in ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ whisks Reece Witherspoon’s heroine to Tiffany’s afterhours to pick any engagement ring she wants.  You find me a woman who did not swoon. I don’t fancy Patrick Dempsey, but with that kind of wooing I could be persuaded!  I worry that the Hollywood Effect has resulted in a chunk of the population feeling incapable of pulling off a romantic gesture.

Yes, there’s something magical about fantasies like Cinderella. I admit that one of my earlier novels (‘Sex, Lies & Corned Beef Pies!’) is a modern day Cinderella story.  But my latest romantic comedy, ‘When Love Feels Like A Pocket Full Of Snails,’ is a down to earth look at how couples fall for one another when their paths cross. And I fell for the lead male in this story good and proper when I was writing it!

Romance is about making that special someone feel just that – special. It might be a simple note, a morning selfie, a cuddle or a kiss goodnight. Do you know what? My husband does that each and every day. And when we’re out walking, he offers me his work coat, sometimes smelly.   I’d say the romance in my life is pretty perfect. 

When Love Feels Like A Pocket Full Of Snails! is available here



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