Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chia Gnome

My friend Amanda gave me a Chia gnome for my birthday. I created a photo diary of its growth over the past two weeks.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snow and Rain on Christmas Night

I cried,
She danced.
The snow began.
It turned to rain.

And I loved her more
Than each crystal in the sky
Or each droplet
On the ground.

We were lost
Caught cold against the moon
On Christmas night.

I was frozen
You were warm
And your hand
Felt like fire,
Holy fire,
Christmas night
Oh, that holy,
Christmas night.
Caught cold against the moon
On Christmas night.

We were warm
If only for a moment
Christmas night.

*Inspired by Christmas Canon from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confronting the Demon by Ciara Ballintyne

I'd like to introduce a book from a great author and friend, Ciara Ballintyne. She's very clever and I hope you give her book a read.


Blurb

The gates to hell are thrown wide when Alloran is betrayed by his best friend, Ladanyon, and framed for forbidden magic. He is hunted by the guards and the wizards both, tormented by the gruesome murder of his friends and loved ones, and crippled by fear for the living. Now Alloran must face his demons, or damn the woman he loves.

Including bonus short story A Magical Melody


When a lethal spell is stolen from a locked and warded room, Avram must hunt down the thief before the song of power buries a city of innocents beneath a thousand tons of ice.

Buy Links


Book Information

Confronting the Demon by Ciara Ballintyne
Date of Publication – 24 September 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0-9923466-0-7 (print)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9923466-1-4 (.mobi)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9923466-2-1 (epub)(not yet available)

About the Author


Ciara Ballintyne was born in 1981 in Sydney, Australia, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, one masochistic cat, and one cat with a god complex. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and has been a practising financial services lawyer since 2004. She is both an idealist and a cynic.

She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book.

She enjoys horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D.


EMAIL – info@ciaraballintyne.com
WEBSITE – http://ciaraballintyne.com
TWITTER – @CiaraBallintyne


IndieVengeance Day


Confronting the Demon is due to be released 1 October 2013, and I’ll be signing copies at the IndieVengeance Day Book Signing in Dallas, Saturday, October 12, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM (CDT). Register for free here if you’re interested to come along - http://www.indievengeanceday.eventbrite.com/.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

What You Don't Understand

I can't kill
and I can't win
a peace prize for it.
I can't save the government
It's too far gone.
I never sleep,
I'm like a drone
On Snowden's trail.
I hear voices
From a soldier's family
Who won't eat tonight.
Maybe I'm seditious,
another victim to shutdown,
But you can't kill what you don't understand.
And you'll never understand.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Abstracted

She calls the moon distracting
stars imperfections in a velvet cloth
the nighttime unromantic
owls heard in the distance
are unsettling and artificial light
cannot compare to dawn.

Crescent moon over Highway 5 bridge, reflections in Montlake Cut, Seattle, Washington, USA

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/4366842103/

Saturday, September 14, 2013

We've All Got Something

I wrote a poem to the beat of Let Her Go by Passenger


I’ve got something
But it’s not a lot.

I’ve got sunlight
But I want the rain.

I’ve got love
And I want some more.

I’ve got demons
But I let ‘em be.

I’ve got eyes
That don’t always see.

I’ve got legs
That won’t always run.

I’ve got a heart
And I hope it beats.

I’ve got a soul
Somewhere deep inside.

I’ve got time
To dream a dream.

I’ve got stars
To count at night.

I’ve got screams
That interfere.

I’ve got a feeling
Something isn’t right.

I’ve got nothing
We ain’t got nothing
If we cannot act.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rainbow Lullaby

rainbows
Somewhere
Bluebirds cry
Silently.

Somewhere
Dreams really do
Come true.

Somewhere
The clouds aren’t far
Behind me.

Somewhere
She’s still
Singing.

Somewhere
She has found
The rainbow.

Somewhere
I can hear
A lullaby.

Somewhere
There isn’t any
Trouble.

Somewhere
Beyond the moon,
The stars…

Somewhere
Over the
Rainbow.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Love

Books are time machines.
Books are cars, and planes, and submarines.
Books are rocket ships and magic beans.
Books are goblins, dragons, kings, and queens.
Books are beating hearts and things unseen.
Books are marijuana and caffeine.

Fantasy Castle

   http://www.flickr.com/photos/rlfantasy/4703159475/

Monday, August 12, 2013

Poetic Perspectives on Love

I'm often fascinated how differently people view the same words, ideas and concepts.  I find this especially true with the word love and recently asked several poets to describe what loves means to them.  Perhaps we can get closer to unraveling something so painfully elusive?

Huge thanks to Amber Jerome Norrgard, Regina Puckett, Poppy Ruth Silver, Helle Gade, Brock Gates, Sreya Bremtin, and Susie Clevenger for their beautiful words.

August 6th 2008 - Leave a Little Room In Your Heart



I will fight against you, for you
Because you mean more to me
than any fight can ever erase

Amber Jerome~Norrgard


Breathes held between
lingering sighs. Tangled thoughts
hemorrhage through loving eyes.

Regina Puckett


It is the surrender
that loses light
and yet invites

Poppy Ruth Silver


I walked into your soul
Embraced all that you were with my love
But death is a jealous lover
Now that you are gone
I'll forgive, but never forget

Helle Gade
Silent Dreams - Nocturnal Embers


When hate dies, compassion begins, when a violent urge to take care and be one with another, that is a two side deal, to break free of the curse of loneliness

Brock Gates
Website on Tumblr


Love is energy
And motion over time
Transcending distance.

Love will save us
If it doesn't kill us first.

Broken bottles
Shatter glass
Into a love letter
On the tear stained floor.

Ben Ditmars


I.
midnight rain kisses
shower eye lashes with dew
the sweet love of you

II.
spider web wishes
tangle around thoughts of you
to hold fast my heart

III.
you spoke, i answered
together we wrote the words
that said everything

Sreya Bremtin


I came with heartbreak
and you never left my side
through sickness and health

together we stood
facing every storm trusting
faith would see us through

goodnight never saw
our heads lay upon anger
forgiveness our choice

life came with its thorns
but they couldn’t divide us
love defied all odds 

Susie Clevenger

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Let the Seed Decay

I dream in ways
my mouth cannot articulate
in ways my hands refuse to write
I am a prisoner inside
and there are bars
the world will never break
because they are made from fear
of death and losing all that
I have hid inside them
for so long.

let the seed decay
and never bloom
it will be better
understood that way.

. Dreams

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Spiced Dawn, Eclipsed With Venom (Collaboration with Ben Ditmars and PoppySilver)

She bathed in surreal/resembling a dream/an incubus hallucination/trance, vagary and wrath/in the shadow she dwelt/mystified by death/it curved around her thighs, thoughts and heart/while daylight teased her lips/leaving strings of fire like saliva/caught between the stars/her soul had met its match/had suffocated lives long past/she had seen the doorway/invited him to witness it/he only had to offer her his blood/a simple sacrifice/yet more than picturesque/aesthetic qualities/one might taste/but never know/he would be a part of her/lost within the vast miasma/of her ventricles and veins/there he would swirl for longer than a lifetime/and a day/treason lingered in her soul/smeared with distaste for heaven/she absorbed his apathy/inhaled his sadness/such a succulent whirlpool of transparent fear/ beyond the pale of human skin/passive velleity turned raw emotion/the timbre of a voice/becoming one/within the walls/fingernails dug deep into/the fabric of eternity/and stretched time as it was known/pierced the core/ripped the dreams assundar/death was pungent/spiced with life/merged/they breathed/rapidly/let snakes hiss around their feet/venom writhed through their auras/oblivion never tasted so sweet/or putrid to vainglorious believers/in the craft of celibate demise/souls decay/if day by day/our sins become our passion/and she was more than vice to him/a guilty pleasure/sweet dessert/engorging all his senses/tasting, touching, hearing/more, than even five/he felt her on a cosmic plane/away from earth/she tasted his primal/raw/surge/engulfed him/released him/an orb unto the night/forever in her aura he remained/shone like a star unseen before/when she panged for more/he yearned for more/both/breathed/continually together/forever/continium/they had eclipsed the dawn/

(c)2013 Ben Ditmars and Poppy Ruth Silver


Poppy's Website - http://poppysilver.weebly.com/

Speak to the Stars

If I could echo
One small word
Across the universe
It would be love.
The hottest and most distant
Coldest planets,
Black holes and
Neutron stars will know
A species overcame
Their greed and lust
For that one, small word
If only for a moment
As they spoke to stars.

Crab Nebula: Energy for 100,000 Suns (NASA, Chandra, 11/23/09)http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall/4128229979/

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Everville: The First Pillar Kindle Ebook Giveaway Contest by Roy Huff



Owen Sage is the emblematic college freshman at Easton Falls University. With all the worries about his first year in college, he was not prepared for what would happen next. His way of life was flipped upside down when he mysteriously crossed into another dimension, into the beautiful land of Everville. His excitement was abruptly halted when he discovered that there was a darkness forged against both the natural world, which he knew well, and the new land which he discovered, Everville. He must devise a plan to save both worlds while joining forces with the race of Fron and The Keepers, whom both harbor hidden secrets he must learn in order to gain power over the evil that dwells in The Other In Between. With a race against time to save both worlds, his short time at Easton Falls did not quite prepare him for the evil, dark forces he must fight in order to conquer The Other In Between

Everville: The First Pillar Kindle ebook giveaway contest

Enter a chance to win a free Kindle ebook of Amazon's #1 international epic fantasy bestseller Everville: The First Pillar. Also, be sure to stay tuned for details on the upcoming second book in the series Everville: The City of Worms, expected to be released in late Summer.

To enter, you must have a valid non-Kindle email address. The winner will be sent a free Kindle ebook directly from Amazon. In order to enter you must reside in a country that allows Kindle downloads. If you do not have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app for iPhone or Android or Kindle Cloud for PC’s.


Buy links

http://tinyurl.com/c645pc7 Kindle ebook regularly $2.99

http://tinyurl.com/blbpv22 Paperback

http://tinyurl.com/cg8rtxr Hardcover

http://tinyurl.com/ktc9abl Audible audio book (Also available on ITunes)

Author Bio

Roy Huff is the author of Amazon's #1 international bestselling epic fantasy novel, Everville: The First Pillar. This is the first installment in the remarkable Everville series which combines elements of epic fantasy and young adult fiction in a form that nearly anyone will enjoy reading, young or old. He is a man of many interests including but not limited to science, traveling, movies, the outdoors, and of course writing teen and young adult fantasy fiction. He holds five degrees in four separate disciplines including liberal arts, history, secondary science education, and geoscience. Roy Huff's background includes work in art, history, education, business, real-estate, economics, geoscience, and satellite meteorology. He was born on the East Coast but has spent more than half his life in Hawaii, where he currently resides and writes his epic fantasy sagas.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Telescopic Memories

I never stopped
and thought of time
like gravity or motion-
maybe oxygen draining
from an underwater tank
or the wrong end of a telescope
where everything is smaller
than it was a minute
or a year before.

  Telescope
     http://www.flickr.com/photos/darksidex/414679569/

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Majesty

Be beautiful
Be spacious
Be the sky.

You are purple mountains
You are majesty.

America The Beautiful

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Blame

I blame the poor
And not the ones
Who put them there.

I blame women
Who are raped
Because they dare
To go outside
Or dress as less
Than nuns.

I blame
Young black men
Because I am taught
To fear them.

I blame
Single mothers
Who destroy our values
As they sacrifice everything
They have for love.

I blame
Homosexuals
And their pursuit of happiness.

I blame
Everyone.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Witch and the Virgin

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT

Cast:
WITCH
VIRGIN

Setting: a dusty room with shelves and a cauldron.

WITCH: A virgin lights the candle!  I am reborn!

VIRGIN: I am NOT a virgin.

WITCH: Well, the enchantment said virgin and I’m here… so who do you think is right?

VIRGIN: I’m just saying the standards for virginity are different than they were in your day.

WITCH: That sounds like something a virgin would say; even in my time.

VIRGIN: Trust me, if you eat my flesh, you’ll be feasting on a very dirty boy… I’ve done things.

WITCH: Really?  What things?

VIRGINS: Sex things. (Pause.) I’ve touched boobs and junk.

WITCH: You heathen!  My sister got pregnant from boob touching and junk.

VIRGIN: Really?

WITCH: Of course not, you imbecile.  Now sit still while I prepare a soup to devour you.

(She goes to a nearby shelf and starts looking through her ingredients.)

VIRGIN: It’s going to taste horrible.  I have a lot of VD.

WITCH: You are speaking to the bride of Satan, the queen of the vilest VD!

VIRGIN: But mine are worse than yours.  You’ll get probed with a Q-tip in your witch snatch and no one will love you.  The gym teacher said so.

WITCH: I have bathed in fire and orgied with demons on a thousand knives.  Love is nothing.

VIRGIN: Golly, I mean goddamn.

WITCH: Such a virgin.  (She puts her ingredients in the cauldron and it bubbles.) It’s time to jump inside, my little one.

VIRGIN: Not until you have sex with me.

WITCH: What?

VIRGIN: You can’t eat me until I eat you.

WITCH: My unholy snatch will curse your member.  It will bleed fire -

VIRGIN: Blah, blah, blah… now get your cloak off and get nasty on the spell books with me.

(They began kissing and undressing each other.)

WITCH: Not the broomstick.

VIRGIN: It’s only half as long as mine. 

WITCH: My cauldron is bubbling!

VIRGIN: It better be.  I’ve got all natural ingredients for it.  My eye of newt is going in your toe of frog tonight.

WITCH: (panting.) You really aren’t a virgin.

VIRGIN: I told you so.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Response to Carlos Vigil

"An openly gay New Mexico high school student who spoke out against bullying died Tuesday after his family removed him from life support following a suicide attempt over the weekend. Carlos Vigil Carlos Vigil, 17, posted a suicide note online on Saturday where he described being the target of bullying, and wrote, 'The kids in school are right, I am a loser, a freak and a fag and in no way is that acceptable for people to deal with.' His father rushed home when he heard about it, but it was too late." - LGBTQ Nation


I’m sorry to those who I offended over the years.

You spoke for those who couldn’t speak.

I’m blind to see that I, as a human being, suck.

You’ve never sucked.

I’m an individual who is doing an injustice to the world and it’s time for me to leave.

Please stay.

Please don’t ever feel sorry for me, or cry – because I had an opportunity at life and that opportunity is over.

It isn’t over; you have so much more to give.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to love someone or have someone love me.

We love you.

I guess it’s best though, because now I leave no pain onto anyone.

Believe us, there is pain.

The kids in school are right, I am a loser, a freak, and a fag and in no way is that acceptable for people to deal with.

You are special, you are not a freak, and one day, they will see how beautiful it is.

I’m sorry for not being a person that would make someone proud.

You’ve made so many proud.

I’m free now. Xoxo.

We wish that we could be.

Carlos

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flash Fiction at Five

Flurries of Words has featured my flash fiction on their site today. I wrote it about a year ago and it remains a favorite of mine.  Sirens takes place in a dystopian world where all the rich kids explode nuclear weapons for fun as if they were fireworks.  I hope you enjoy it and check out the other great authors on the site.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Libertas

This poem takes inspiration from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Her safe word is freedom
She lifts the golden door
Her mild eyes commanding
Sea-washed, sunset gates.

Flowing robes meet
Broken chains
Her outstretched arm
Yearning to be free.

Conquered limbs
Are mine and I
Imprison lightning
In her ancient lands.

Statue of Liberty 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Old Crone and the Princess

When I was a child, my grandmother read my siblings and me pages from a lost story book. This book had no author, title, or publisher. None of us could find out where it came from, and did not think to ask until long after grandma had passed away. I previously published a story in an old blog post about a year ago. I had hoped to get a few leads, but nothing came. This year I've decided to make it a free public domain book. You can find this book free on Smashwords and eventually Amazon. If I can think of how to create a free paperback, I will offer that as well. My main goal is to keep the memory of these stories alive for adults and children.  The title I gave the stories is taken from transition pages where an old crone tells the stories to a princess.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

William H. Weaver

There was something I learned from my grandfather’s passing beyond the natural progression of life into death. He was afraid at times, but seldom angry. He was less angry than I saw myself being. How had he forgiven his wife who let him waste away to ninety pounds? How did he not think the world owed him more, than selling his house to pay for nursing home care? He was a veteran, after all, and had given his country a great deal. Maybe service to him was just that: service. He didn't expect to get anything for having risked his life. I realized how unselfish my grandfather was, especially compared to myself. My family and I wanted his wife (he had remarried after grandma died) to pay for allowing him to physically and emotionally starve. Grandpa would have none of it. He firmly held his faith, and belief in the New Testament. Love your enemies and eternal life were not merely ideas for him. He had seen through war the value of peace and the ugliness of hate. He regretted his own actions more than those of others. I take this not as a sign of how to end a life, but rather how to live. Our actions define us, and affect the ones around us, more than we will ever realize. Grandpa knew where hate would lead his friends and family. He also knew that faith, and love, were greater than mortality.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Odds are

Odds are

Odds are
Dreams come true
So wish upon a star
Become the blue
And stretch as far
As planets do.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Haiku

I dated Spring
and slept with Summer
before Autumn.

I ravaged Winter
in a hot December
without snow.
 
Rain

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When in Eden

Cast:
Young Girl
Judge
Bailiff


Setting: a courtroom in Eden, Mississippi.

YOUNG GIRL:  Your honor, he attacked me.

JUDGE: Boys will be boys and bitches be trippin’.

(The courtroom laughs heartily.)

YOUNG GIRL: But-

JUDGE: (interrupting) It’s clear you were asking for it with your overall straps down.

Young Girl: It was a hot day in July, sir.

JUDGE: That’s no excuse to strip down to your skivvies and leave your legs wide open, now is it?

YOUNG GIRL: Your honor, I didn’t do that at all.

JUDGE: I know what you think happened.  But young women seldom can control their  baser urges.  You run along now and keep decent.

BAILIFF: The courtroom is adjourned.

(The young girl is left stunned as her assailant leaves the courtroom a free man.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shoestring

Organic Shoe String
 
 
you are the pebble in my shoe
I can't shake out
and I will wear the pain of you
until my sole is worn
tie myself to you each day
with courage and a perfect loop.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Delusions and Dreams by Maria Savva


First of all, thank you to Ben, for letting me take over his blog today.

My new collection of short stories, Delusion and Dreams includes two stories that have phobias as a theme. This seems to be a recurring theme in my writing. I’m not really surprised about that as I have had various phobias in my life.

In my novel, Second Chances, the main character, James, has a fear of flying. I used to be terrified of aeroplanes when I was a child. It was only when I finally took a journey by plane that I got over that.

In my short story collection, Love and Loyalty (and Other Tales), I have a story with the title ‘Atychiphobia’, which means the fear of failure. I thought it would be a nice idea to share that story with you all.



Atychiphobia

Vivienne knew everything. You could always trust her to have the answer to the crossword puzzle you were trying to solve, even when you had been on the internet and ‘Googled’ the clue, but still couldn’t find the answer.
At school she had been very competitive. She once got 99% in an exam, but was sure that she should have got 100%, so she went and spoke to the teacher about it and sure enough her mark was changed to 100%. That was Vivienne. Always right.
The one thing her friends and colleagues didn’t know though, was that the reason she was always right, was because of her deep rooted fear of failure. This fear had increased steadily as she grew up, so much so, that she would study longer than any of her fellow students; train harder than anyone for sports; and would always be reading and looking things up, so she would not be caught out.
Her fear of failure ensured that she got to the top in her profession. She was working as a successful manager of a local estate agency.
On Friday evenings, it was usual for a few of the office team to go for a drink at the local pub, before going home. One particular Friday, Philip, one of the estate agents, suggested that they take part in the pub quiz. Vivienne suddenly felt queasy. She would be facing her worst fear. She didn’t like being put on the spot. She preferred to study things beforehand, to make sure she knew the answer; that was how she had lived her life. But before she could do anything about it, she was sitting around the table with the other three members of her team.
Philip smiled at her. ‘We’re counting on you, Viv. You’re the brains of this team!’
He winked at her, and she felt herself tremble. How can I get out of this? she wondered.
The pub quiz began, and the first question was read out: ‘Which of these wines is a white wine? A. Merlot, B. Zinfandel, C. Gewurtztraminer, or D. Shiraz?’
‘I’ve got no idea,’ said Philip. He looked at Greg and Lisa, the other members of the group, but they had blank faces.
Suddenly, they were all looking at Vivienne, expectant. She had no idea what the answer was, but she couldn’t say that. People relied on her to know everything. She would be humiliated.
‘Come on, Viv, you must know this?’ said Philip.
‘It’s C,’ she said, quickly. She could feel the perspiration on her brow. Why hadn’t she just said she didn’t know? What if she was wrong?
‘Great!’ he said, writing it down.
She looked at her watch. ‘Oh dear, is that the time? I have to get home. I’m baby-sitting my grandson tonight,’ she lied. She stood up quickly, before they could protest, and ran out of the door.

*
At work on Monday, Philip greeted her at the door. ‘Here she is, the wine expert!’
She smiled. ‘Wine expert?’ She tried to feign obliviousness, as if she was unaware what he was talking about; but that pub quiz question had haunted her all weekend. Had she got it wrong?
‘I only wish you’d stayed. We didn’t do very well in the quiz, we needed you there,’ said Philip.
‘Sorry,’ she said.
‘But, anyway, it’s given me a great idea for the annual quiz between us and Smith’s Estate Agents. We’re going to have a wine-tasting competition. You’ll be our representative.’
‘Er... Phil, I don’t think we’ll have time to enter that this year.’
‘Time? Johnson’s Builders will be at the event this year. I’ve already invited them. You know they’re building that new development? It will be a chance to network, and hopefully get the contract. We need the clients this year, what with the credit crunch. We have to enter, or Smith’s Estates will get the contract with Johnson’s.’
Every year at around Christmas time, Vivienne’s estate agency and their rival, Smith’s, would get together with big names from the property world, in the hope of drumming up business. They always competed in a quiz, and the winner of the quiz usually ended up getting the most interest from prospective clients. Vivienne was well aware that this year, more than ever, the event was necessary, as the firm was losing money due to the lack of movement in the property market and the global recession. But she was mortified that Philip was organising a wine-tasting competition. She knew absolutely nothing about wine, and the big event was less than two weeks away.

For the next fortnight, she worked hard to learn everything there was to know about wine. Her husband thought she’d gone mad when she took a selection of wine home one evening and suggested that he blindfold her in order for her to guess which wine was which. She then booked them a last minute weekend away, to a wine-tasting holiday in Italy.
‘I think you’re taking this a bit too far,’ said Jude, flicking through the travel agent’s brochure. ‘I’m certainly not going all the way to Italy to spit out wine into a barrel.’
But she managed to convince him to go along with her, and they spent a miserable weekend in a cold vineyard. Only one other couple had booked the trip, and they were native Italians who didn’t speak a word of English—so the guide spent most of the time speaking Italian. Jude was hardly talking to Vivienne, apart from the odd complaint about the weather, or to say things like: ‘Why have you brought us here?’
On the plane back to the UK, she felt frustrated. She didn’t know anything more about wine now than she had when she’d arrived in Italy.

On the day of the competition, she considered phoning the office and saying that she was too ill to attend, but she knew her employees were relying on her. She felt trapped.
As she walked through the main door of the office, she could hear raised voices coming from Philip’s room. She closed the door quietly, walked slowly towards the room, and listened.
‘How are we going to have a wine-tasting contest if you’ve only bought one type of wine? Five bottles of Chianti,’ said Philip, angrily.
‘Well, you asked me to get them cheap from my cousin’s warehouse, and these are the only ones he could get,’ said Greg, his fellow worker.
‘When I said I needed five different wines, he thought I said five bottles. Why don’t we just take the labels off and pretend they’re different?’
Vivienne heard footsteps coming towards her from the other side of the door. She walked back to the reception area and opened and closed the door, to pretend she’d just arrived. Philip came out of his room. He appeared startled when he saw her.
She smiled at him. ‘I can’t wait to get stuck into this wine-tasting contest! Shall we be on our way?’ she said, feeling much more confident now, knowing that all the wine was Chianti.

*
She stood on the stage at the front of the hall, with five glasses of red wine on the table in front of her. On the other side of the stage stood Neil, the manager of Smith’s Estate Agents, with another five glasses in front of him. Philip stood in between them.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the ninth annual Estate Agency event,’ said Philip, into the microphone. ‘Tonight we have a wine-tasting competition. May I introduce, Vivienne, to my right—representing Glass Estate Agents; and Neil, to my left—representing Smith’s Estate Agents. Viv and Neil will taste the five wines in front of them, they will then guess the names of the wines, writing them down on the cards we have given them. Whoever guesses the most correctly, will win. Let the competition begin!’ The crowd applauded.
Vivienne lifted the first glass, sniffed it, took a sip, swished it expertly around her mouth, and spat it out. She wrote ‘Chianti’ on the card in front of her. She did this again for the other four glasses and stood back. She’d finished, whilst Neil was still on the third glass.
‘Aha! I see Viv has finished. This is a woman who knows her wine,’ said Philip, smiling.
They waited for Neil to finish.
‘Time for the results!’ announced Philip. ‘The first wine was a Chianti,’ he said, walking towards Vivienne’s table. He picked up the card in front of the first glass. ‘Well done, Viv.’ He walked over to Neil’s table. Neil had wrongly guessed ‘Shiraz’ for the first wine. ‘Never mind, Neil; the night is young,’ said Philip, smugly.
‘The second wine was a Merlot,’ said Philip. He walked over to Vivienne’s table and turned over the card in front of the second glass, which read ‘Chianti’. ‘Oops, you got it wrong.’ Neil had correctly identified it as Merlot. And so it continued.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner: Neil, from Smith’s Estates, who scored three out of five,’ said Philip, somewhat dejectedly.
Vivienne stepped forward and took the microphone. ‘I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but there must be some mistake. I tasted each of those wines and they are all Chianti. I’m sure of it. I demand to see the bottles from which the wine was poured.’ She stood back proudly, arms folded in front of her. Philip looked nervous. He called to Greg who was backstage. Greg came out with a tray of wine bottles.
She inspected the labels: Chianti, Merlot, Shiraz, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. ‘Well, you must have switched the labels,’ she said, adamantly.
‘Er...’ Philip did not know what to say.
‘Hey, why don’t we get an independent opinion!’ shouted a voice from the crowd.
Vivienne was feeling flushed and wanted to get off the stage as soon as possible. What if Greg went out and bought some wine after his conversation with Philip in the office? she thought. She felt embarrassed, and looked out at the crowd of people waiting on the edge of their seats for a final decision. Many of them knew her, and they were expecting her to be right.
‘Does anyone here know anything about wine?’ said Philip into the microphone.
A hand went up.
‘Please, sir, join us on the stage.’
There was a round of applause as the white-haired man walked up the steps onto the platform.
He walked over to the table where Vivienne was standing, and took a clean glass. He tasted each of the wines and spat them out into the bucket, like a professional.
She could feel her heart beat faster with each moment that passed.
Finally, the man approached Philip. ‘I can’t be sure either way. I have to admit they do all taste like Chianti,’ he said, and walked back off the stage.
The colour drained from Philip’s face. ‘Well, ladies and gentlemen,’ he said into the microphone, ‘I’m afraid we have to make a decision on this, and as you can all see—please feel free to come and inspect the bottles—there are five different types of wine here. As much as I hate to say it, Neil is the winner. Sorry, boss, you can’t be right all the time.’
Vivienne began to laugh, just a giggle at first, but then it became a much louder laugh. It was infectious. Soon Philip was laughing. Neil and Greg joined in. The whole room filled with laughter.
Vivienne felt the weight of pressure lift from her shoulders, realising that the whole crowd was laughing with her, and not at her. It was okay to be wrong sometimes. Eventually the laughter died down. She took the microphone and spoke to the audience. ‘Well, they all tasted pretty much the same to me!’ she said. The crowd exploded with more laughter, and this time applause. She had never felt so liberated.

Later that evening, as she was walking out of the door on her way home, she heard Philip’s voice, and noticed he was standing outside talking to Greg. She was sure she’d heard them say her name, and felt embarrassed for a moment remembering her defeat in the wine tasting contest, but then she took a deep breath and decided to listen in to their conversation. It would do her good, she thought, to hear what people thought of her now—now that they knew she was not a born genius. She was glad she had drunk a couple of glasses of wine; that would soften the blow.
She stood behind the large industrial waste bins, and tried to catch what they were saying.
‘I just don’t believe it,’ said Philip.
‘I know,’ said Greg.
There was silence. She was sure they must be disappointed in her, and she felt a bit guilty for ever having tried to lead them to believe she was something better than she was. Her whole life had been a bit of a sham, she realised. She felt a stronger determination to change and to accept her limits.
‘I mean,’ Philip continued, ‘how did she know they were all Chianti? She really does know everything. Maybe we should have owned up? At least then we would have won the competition. Now Smith’s have all the glory, and their man didn’t know much about wine.’
‘It would have been more embarrassing to own up, though,’ said Greg.
‘I’m not sure. I have to admit, I was really nervous when Viv sent you backstage to get the wine bottles. Where did you get those other labels from?’
‘I stopped by my cousin’s warehouse on the way here and he gave them to me.’
Vivienne couldn’t help smiling to herself as she stood in the shadows, behind the bins...


Blurb:

Twelve stories of betrayal, greed, revenge, deception, dreams, and courage.

We all struggle to find our way. What you see isn't necessarily all there is. This collection takes you into the grey area, because the world is never just black and white.

Life is all about perspective. One person's delusion is another person's dream.

Includes five bonus stories.



Author Bio:

Maria Savva lives and works in London. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She is a lawyer, although not currently practising law. She writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Many of her books and stories are inspired by her years working as a lawyer, although she has not written a courtroom drama to date. Her most recent novel is Haunted, a crime fiction/psychological thriller.

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