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Eye of the Beholder

September 30, 2022 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic tagged as , ,
Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

Amy dipped her pen into the container of ink and added a few lines to the portrait of the white-haired man before her. Evaluating the results, she nodded slightly. Done. With a quick spray of sealer, she unfastened the paper from the holder and offered it to the patron.

His face crinkled into a smile. “My lord, you made me look charismatic, dear.” He stuffed a twenty into her tip jar and walked away with a bounce in his step.

It was just after one p.m. at the Art in the Park summer fair, and Amy ticked off her day’s productivity: Since the event opened at ten, she had sketched at least twenty people, and the queue of those waiting stretched toward the ice cream stand a hundred feet away.

“You are amazing,” gushed Beth, the fair organizer, sweeping past Amy on her rounds. “We’ll definitely want you back next year. I can’t believe the crowd.”

If I don’t burn out first, Amy thought. She had taken the gig at a friend’s urging, expecting to be bored with no clientele. Instead, she was giddy at the response. Old or young, tall or short, happy or glum, the people had flocked to the novelty of having their likeness drawn. A selfie on their phone was one thing; Amy guessed it was her unique perspective that was the attraction. Patron after patron had remarked, “You’ve zeroed in on the essence of me.”

“Next,” Amy called. Better keep the line moving while she still had the energy. 

A slender man with a shock of chocolate hair perched on the stool and looked at her. His eyes seemed like pools as dark as the ink she used. She tried to guess his age, but he could have been thirty or sixty.

“Hold that pose.” She dipped her pen into the liquid ebony and went to work. For each person she drew, so rapidly did the portraits come together, it was as though she was channeling directly from her eyes to her hands. But something was wrong with this one. The minutes ticked past, and the line of people fidgeted. She looked from the model to the paper and back. And once more, to check. 

What she had sketched bore no resemblance to the man on the stool. 

“What is that?”

The question from behind her shoulder made her jump. It was Beth, passing through again. With a quick grab, Amy crumpled the paper and dropped it into her makeshift trash bag. “My pen is acting up,” she lied. “I’ll just start over.”

Beth tsked sympathetically. “Take a break. You’ve been going nonstop.” Without pausing, she strode toward the queue. 

“Folks, our artist needs to give her hand a rest.” Beth’s tone was friendly but authoritative. “She’ll start up again in twenty minutes.”

A few people groaned, but no one challenged her. They drifted off to buy a hot dog or visit the crafter booths. The aroma of barbecue and wood smoke drifted in from the food trucks on the park perimeter.

Taking a deep breath, Amy turned to the patron still seated on the stool. She hesitated, then plunged ahead. “You’ll be first when I come back.” She closed the ink container and cleaned her nib with shaking hands, then shut her supply box with a click. 

She walked away from her portrait stand, pitched in the shade of a massive oak tree. Maybe the odd fellow with the wild mop of hair would move on, and she would not have to sketch him a second time. 

What had she drawn? She puzzled over the image, which was already fading from her memory, yet she could recall with ease the other faces she’d captured that day.

Fifteen minutes later, her shirt damp with sweat after wandering past the flea market tables and the used book tent, she was back at her easel. She relaxed to see that the stool was unoccupied, with the slim fellow nowhere nearby.

“Hey,” Beth called to her, hurrying over. “If you’re ready to start up again, I’ll make an announcement.”

“Sure.” Amy unscrewed the ink container, wiped her hands, and checked her nibs. 

“He left you this.” Beth held out a olive green sphere the size of an orange and etched with a pattern of dark lines that seemed to dance across the surface. “I don’t know what it is, but he said to tell you thanks.”

“Why?” Amy mused. The who was implicit. She turned the ball in her hand. Its coolness made her think of metal, but the exterior with its etching seemed organic, like a seed pod. “I didn’t finish his sketch.”

Beth shrugged. “He dug it out of your scrap bag. Didn’t seem to mind that it was wrinkled. I hope that was okay.”

Amy nodded. “Of course. It was his to take.” Although she could no longer recall what the fellow looked like or what she had drawn, she knew what to do with his gift. The answer floated into her head unbidden: a terracotta pot filled with rich, dark earth, daily sunshine, and regular watering, and the pod—because that’s what it indeed was—would sprout.

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Jina Bacarr September Featured Author

September 29, 2022 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , ,

About Jina Bacarr

I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve.

I grew up listening to their wild, outlandish tales and it was those early years of storytelling that led to my love of history and traveling.

Jina Bacarr | A Slice of Orange

I enjoy writing to classical music with a hot cup of java by my side. I adore dark chocolate truffles, vintage anything, the smell of bread baking and rainy days in museums. I’ve always loved walking through history—from Pompeii to Verdun to Old Paris. The voices of the past speak to me through carriages with cracked leather seats, stiff ivory-colored crinolines, and worn satin slippers. I’ve always wondered what it was like to walk in those slippers when they were new.

You can follow Jina on social media:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest
Goodreads
Bookbub

Jina also has a column here on the 11th of every month: Jina’s Book Chat.

Jina’s newest novel, The Orphans of Berlin, is available for preorder and will be published November 10, 2022.

THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN
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A Few of Jina’s Other Books

A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

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A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

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A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN

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CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN

COME FLY WITH ME

Buy now!
COME FLY WITH ME

LOVE ME FOREVER

Buy now!
LOVE ME FOREVER

RESISTANCE GIRL

Buy now!
RESISTANCE GIRL

THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS

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THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS

THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN

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THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN

THE RUNAWAY GIRL

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THE RUNAWAY GIRL

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Wedding Wagers and Dukes, Dukes, and More Dukes

September 28, 2022 by in category Quarter Days by Alina K. Field tagged as , ,

I’m back with a quarterly post!

And this time I’m sharing three fantastic new collections of stories about every Regency romance reader’s favorite topics: weddings and dukes.

The Wedding Wager

My fellow Bluestocking Belle authors, Jude Knight, Cerise Deland, and Elizabeth Ellen Carter, have stories in this multi-author collection, released 9/27/22.

Here’s the Blurb:

The Boast—pride goeth before the fall…

After facilitating the match of the season, Lady Pandora “Pansy” Osbourne, has boasted that she is the best matchmaker The Ton has ever seen. Always willing to bring her cousin down a peg or two, her cousin, Lady Octavia Sewell insists that was no feat of matchmaking at all, as the couple involved were clearly destined for one another despite Pansy’s meddling. A bitter argument ensues and a dreadful challenge is issued. Pansy must do more than say it… she must prove it.

The terms of the wager are set!

Pansy must produce no less than one match per month between people who have been notoriously unmarriageable—spinsters, bluestockings, rakes and fortune hunters, oh my! But there’s more riding on this than simply her pride! If Pansy loses, she will have to give up her most prized possession—a tiara that belonged to their grandmother will be forfeited into Octavia’s grasping hands.

15 authors. 15 original novellas!

Download the prologue here: https://BookHip.com/SVWMCTV

Buy link: https://books2read.com/weddingwager

A Duke in Winter

Bring on the Dukes! This collection includes stories by fellow Bluestocking Belles Caroline Warfield and Elizabeth Ellen Carter and is available for pre-order for the 12/29/22 release.

“It was a dark and snowy night…”

Winter has come and the holiday seasons have arrived. ‘Tis the season to be jolly for most, but beneath the joyous celebrations lurks moody, dark, and seductive dukes that make England’s most famous bard’s brooding lords look like charm boys. But this isn’t a tortured Danish prince or a tormented king with three conniving daughters. This is…

A Duke In Winter.

Ten of your favorite historical romance authors have come together for this wintery collection to set your pulse racing. Melt the snow a little with this collection of sexy tales of moody dukes and the women hot enough to warm them.

Indulge in the most unexpected of winter romantic tales!

Available for pre-order at Amazon.com

And if you don’t want to wait until December for your dukes…

Get Your Duke On

This summertime collection of stories released in August 2022 and was a USA Today Bestseller!

Welcome to a rollicking summer in Regency England, where the weather is warm, the ladies warmer, and the dukes sizzling-hot!

For lovers of historical romance, lose yourself in this collection of never before published Regency tales. From gambling halls to ballrooms, you’ll enjoy a summer with a wide cast of unforgettable characters. Themes from your favorite summertime songs have inspired these tales, so get ready for fun, fun, fun or a little old lady who drives her phaeton far too fast.

It’s glamour, passion, and adventure in one magical summer in Regency England!

Available at Amazon.com

If you’re a fan of historical romance, some of your favorite authors will be gathering on October 1, 2022 at the Westgate Hotel in San Diego for a book signing as part of the 2022 Historical Romance Retreat. Don’t miss this event!

I’ll be back after Christmas for my next post. Until then, happy holidays, and happy reading!

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New Release: An Element of Mystery

September 27, 2022 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Spotlight tagged as , , , ,

An Element of Mystery is available now in both print and ebook formats.

Dare you read our latest Sweet, Funny, and Strange® Anthology?

The Bethlehem Writers Group is pleased to present this collection of tales of mystery and intrigue—the latest in its award-winning series of Sweet, Funny, and Strange® anthologies. From classic whodunnits to tales of the unexplained, each of the twenty-three stories contained herein have an element of mystery that will keep you guessing and wanting to read just one more story.

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Buy from Google Play
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Buy from Amazon

We’re thrilled to have old friends, but new members of BWG, join us this year. Award-winning author Debra H. Goldstein favors us with a mystery set among volunteers at a synagogue entitled “Death in the Hand of the Tongue,” while “Sense Memory,” by the multi-talented Paula Gail Benson, brings a

delightful mix of mystery and the paranormal that helps a young couple find their way to each other.

In addition, we are happy to bring you the winning stories from two of our annual Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award competitions: “Good Cop/Bad Cop” by Trey Dowell (2021 winner) and “The Tabac Man” by Eleanor Ingbretson (2022 winner).

You’ll also find stories from your favorite BWG authors, including Courtney Annicchiarico, Jeff Baird, Peter J Barbour, A. E. Decker, Marianne H. Donley, Ralph Hieb, DT Krippene, Jerry McFadden, Emily P. W. Murphy, Christopher D. Ochs, Dianna Sinovic, Kidd Wadsworth, Paul Weidknecht, and Carol L. Wright.

So get ready to be mystified . . . or intrigued!

An Element of Mystery is available now.

More Books from the Bethlehem Writers Group

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A Walk in the Rain

September 26, 2022 by in category Poet's Day by Neetu Malik tagged as , , , , ,

A Walk in the Rain

Paris, they say, 
is beautiful 
when it rains—
now I know.


The cobblestones 
gleam beneath 
our feet, as you 
and I, our arms 
entwined, 
inhale the scent 
of romance 
washed clean 
of old arguments 
betrayed loyalties. 


Nothing in between 
but occasional 
crisp sparks 
of our own 
lightning, intense, 
tempered only 
by the summer 
zephyr carrying 
whiffs of rosemary 
drenched in the ardor 
of Paris. 

©Neetu Malik

Previously published in The Poetic Bond V by Willowdown Books, U.K, in 2016


Some of Neetu’s Books

THE OCOTILLO REVIEW SUMMER 2018 VOL 2.2

THE POETIC BOND V

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THE POETIC BOND V

THE POETIC BOND VI

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THE POETIC BOND VI

THE POETIC BOND X

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THE POETIC BOND X

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