November 29, 2020

“Memories Like Scars,” Poetry by Topper Barnes

“Memories Like Scars,” Poetry by Topper Barnes

Memories like Scars    There is a 22-year-old somewhere   Buried beneath the layers of abuse  Curled up like a starving street cat  Its fur caked with grime, oil, and feces   Those star speckled marble eyes  Bulging from the frail skull   And the shy stomach purring   While the confident takes its milk  With a trowel she can be found  A bit of digging and smoothing over  With time  Her blistered lips that have been  Bitten by glass roses  Will heal  The gory craters dotting her face  Torn open during 4am battles  With invisible insects  Will recover  Her skeleton will grow a new coat  Night by night  Day by day  Meal by meal   A shape will appear where a spike  Once stood  And those tear tracks dipped  In mascara   Running down her cheeks  Simply vanished  With a…

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November 26, 2020

Holiday Gift Ideas for Bookish Friends and Family

Holiday Gift Ideas for Bookish Friends and Family

The holidays are upon us! What better way to celebrate than with books and book-based products? I know, I’m biased. BUT there are many of us out there and we can be tricky to shop for. Here are some gift ideas for the bookivores in your life with a special offer from us at the Café at the end. I got my first Kindle recently! I finally caved because I was getting more than a stray submission to The Fictional Café as an e-book. I begrudgingly used it, hoping my REAL books wouldn’t scoff at me. Yet, I found myself loving this portable bookshelf for vacations or reading on the subway. Hey Jack, can I count this as a business expense for reimbursement? All kidding aside, here is a gift idea for readers that I…

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November 25, 2020

“Nothing Against Ms. Johnson, But . . .” by Patricia Callahan

“Nothing Against Ms. Johnson, But . . .” by Patricia Callahan

Nothing against Ms. Johnson, but when she read aloud to us, her head wobbled on her long neck. And she licked her thumb to turn pages. Nobody ever checked out a book she had read aloud during Library Hour.  The day she tried to read us The Mouse and the Motorcycle, her thumb had just smudged page one when Evan stood on a library stool and threw the recess kickball at her. It smacked her in the face. The chapter book dropped to the floor, its pages fanning out before us as Ms. Johnson let out a high “Oh!” of surprise. Then a smaller “Oh.” Of realization. She brought her knuckles to her nose. Nobody breathed. “Tissue,” she said through her hand, and brought her other hand to the blotch of pink swelling on her cheek. “Please.” The kickball, bumping across the carpet, tapped against the picture books lining a bottom shelf and dribbled to a stop. Then Evan wound up and toe-balled…

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November 24, 2020

November Edition of “The Break from HOKAIC”

November Edition of “The Break from HOKAIC”

We’d like to welcome back our new monthly feature by-writer and writing coach, and longtime FC friend Jason Brick. He brings us news from around the writing world. Here’s his November Edition of The Break from HOKAIC (Hands on Keyboard, Ass in Chair). Greetings all! As many of you know, I run a weekly newsletter of useful, fun, or amusing pieces of writing industry news called The Break From HOKAIC. As writers and lovers of writing yourselves, The Fictional Café thought you’d enjoy some highlights for your information and entertainment: Does Twitter pitching work? Four common pieces of writing advice that don’t go far enough A guide to influencer marketing for authors Alan Dean Foster and Disney are fussing over something important Some fabulous writing quotes you should know 8 Must-read self publishing blogs If you’d like more, delivered…

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November 22, 2020

“Letters” and Other Poems by Morgan Bazilian

“Letters” and Other Poems by Morgan Bazilian

LETTERS    The economists argue  about the shape of letters.    They consider  V and U and even W.    The letters, though  have their own ideas    about their shapes, and futures  and destinies.     The experts try to force them  to fit a mold    or a pre-conceived notion  related to time and space.     Ultimately, the letters  dance    across the graphs, unencumbered and  uncaring of the constraints    placed on them by nearly everyone.   ** DAYS    A day transitions  under its own  volition,     without heralding   anything  of consequence.     And then, two more  or three  in an un-syncopated beat.     Boundaries do not exist,  even circadian rhythms  are not respected.     This time has no empathy,   no forgiveness  as the fourth dimension.     ** The LAWN    The grass is blooming.   It looks haphazard  and unkempt.    The sun is mixing with the rain  and producing poppies  and dandelions.    Weeds…

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November 19, 2020

“The Blind and the Seeing Are Not Equal” by Ikjot Kaur

“The Blind and the Seeing Are Not Equal” by Ikjot Kaur

Before I stopped seeing, I started dreaming a lot more. The dreams, if they can be called that, gradually increased in frequency and intensity. The whimsical visions of my dreams spilled over into my waking life, the line between the two states smudged. In the unravelling, I discovered a senseless, feral urge to read.   Books multiplied on the shelves overnight, in the dark, while I was asleep. I wandered into used bookstores and rifled through the pages with a hunger for ink. I pored over the manuscripts in my office, the paper rustling under my fingers. Boxes filled with paperbacks arrived at my doorstep. I cracked open their spines. Words crept under my front door, slid over the carpets, climbed into my bed. I read passages out loud, swirling the syllables around my mouth like sips…

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November 17, 2020

“Your Rising Moon,” Poetry and Photos by Jon Meyer

“Your Rising Moon,” Poetry and Photos by Jon Meyer

Editor’s Note: We present the poetry and photos of Jon Meyer, paired together as he has done in his book, Love Poems from New England: reflections on states of mind and states of heart. *** Jon Meyer‘s previous book “LOVE POEMS FROM VERMONT: reflections on an inner and outer state” has won these awards: Reader Views Choice: Best National Poetry Book 2019/2020 Best Regional Book 2019/2020 Best Northeast Book 2019/2020 2nd Place Travel/ Nature 2019/2020 Next Generation  International Indie Book Awards: Finalist: Poetry 2019/2020 Finalist: Gift/ Specialty 2019/2020  This is his first feature on The Fictional Café.

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November 11, 2020

“Teddy Levine,” Poems by Robert Cooperman

“Teddy Levine,” Poems by Robert Cooperman

Teddy Levine, on Line to Buy Girl Scout Cookies, Outside the Wild Weed Dispensary:  Denver    “The Girl Scouts of Colorado have decided it’s now cool to peddle their baked goods    outside marijuana dispensaries.” —The Denver Post    Jesus-freakin’-Christ,  this woman’s taking all day,  can’t make up her mind,  so she’s demanding free   samples of every variety.    The girls behind the table  roll their eyes, but afraid   to tell her to screw off,  so the scout leader informs her,   with a smile tight as a dolphin’s   rear end in a rip tide,    “I’m so sorry; we can’t   break open boxes.”  Madam Entitled stalks off  as if a butcher had tried   to pass off gristle for T-bone.    Finally, it’s my turn!  But I forget what I want,  the kids snickering  like I’m already stoned,  which, I confess, I am, a little.    I point, while the ounce   in my pocket gets hot   as a fired .45 on old TV westerns,  when cowboys rode off  into the sunset, free as mustangs,   and schoolmarms waved goodbye  and tried not…

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November 9, 2020

“Barry and the Trumpet,” A Short Story by Nancy Kissam

“Barry and the Trumpet,” A Short Story by Nancy Kissam

Barry always wanted to play the trumpet.  Sure, he was a lemur and that made his dream a bit more of a challenge, but he had faith in himself.  “Listen,” Barry thought, “if I could peel a mango in an hour, I can certainly learn to play the trumpet.  How hard could it be?”  As it turns out, pretty hard.  Barry had a sister.  Actually, he had twelve sisters if you counted his nine half-sisters.  Lemur dads were not known for sticking with one partner, not that his mom cared one wit about it.  “Good riddance,” she once told Barry.  “That guy got on my last nerve.  Did you know he’d constantly accuse me of going out at night?  ‘Of course I go out at night, I’m nocturnal. Ya dummy.’”    Barry’s sister, Colleen, always tried to encourage Barry.  If he was inclined to hang from…

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November 5, 2020

Free IPNE Writer’s Conference Starts Today!

Free IPNE Writer’s Conference Starts Today!

Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) is hosting a virtual conference for all writers this Friday and Saturday. Free and open to everyone! Check out the details below. FREE WRITING AND PUBLISHING CONFERENCE! Please Join Us for IPNE’s 9th Annual Independent Publishers & Authors Virtual Online Conference, Nov. 6-7, “Publishing During the Pandemic!” Conference Details and Registration at IPNE.org Are you planning on writing a book? Already working on one? Are you interested in learning more about the publishing process, from manuscript to published work? How to build an audience? “Publishing During a Pandemic” is the theme of the 2020 Conference, presented for you on Zoom over two days, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 6 and 7. There’s no charge to attend and you don’t need to be a publisher, published author, an IPNE member, or…

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